The Marvel Collection

Eagle eyed comic fans based in the UK may have noticed recently that Hachette, who in the past have published such part-works as The Agatha Christie Book Collection, Ben 10 Hero Vision & Tractors & the World of Farming, have now elbowed their way into the hero game with The Marvel Collection.  Retailing at the price of £9.99 per issue The Marvel Collection is a 60 volume hardback series, released fortnightly, that are what Editor Marco Lupoi considers to be the best Marvel tales from the past 30 years. What’s more, when lined up in order the volumes join together to form a particularly pretty Gabrielle Dell Otto picture along the spine. Now, being that I had at least some small part of my monthly wages not being spent on comics I decided to rectify this. I mean if the worst comes to the worst hardback books make excellent building materials for a house right?

It’s worth pointing out here that Hachette have employed the clever technique of releasing the volumes out of order so that you quite literally have to wait to see the bigger picture. Also details of what books are coming up in the series are sketchy ay best making it difficult to plan ahead & inevitably any long time fan will probably find that they end up with some duplicates along the way. That said the books still constitute pretty decent value for money as far as I can see (some of the titles on here cost more in paperback than it would to buy them in hardback form here) & offer a decent incentive for both old school fans & newbie’s alike to lay down some cash, be it for the individual volumes or for the whole collection.

So what have we had so far  Well, here’s a list of what I know for definite is in the collection thus far. The latest issue is Captain America: Winter Soldier which I estimate will be a volume in the early 30’s. The following one is a Peter David Hulk story whose name escapes me, but I reckon it’ll be around  volume 12. Here’s the list:

Vol 1: Iron Man Demon in a Bottle.

Vol  2: Uncanny X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

Vol 5: The Mighty Thor: The Last Viking.

Vol 9: Spider Man: The Venom Saga.

Vol 10: Spider Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt.

Vol 16: The Mighty Thor: In Search of Gods.

Vol 21: Spider Man: Coming Home.

Vol 22: Spider Man: Revelations.

Vol 25: Spider Man: Blue.

Vol 28: The Ultimates: Super Human.

Vol 29: The Ultimates: Homeland Security.

Vol  36: Astonishing X-Men: Gifted.

Vol 40: House of M.

Vol 43: Iron Man: Extremis.

Vol 50: Civil War.

Vol 52: Thor Reborn.

Vol 53: Eternals.

Vol 55: World War Hulk.

Vol 56: Thunderbolts: Faith in Monsters.

Vol 60: Siege.

So, what else could be included? Well first off I’m hoping volumes 37, 38 & 39 will be “Dangerous”, “Torn” & “Unstoppable”, the other arcs of Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run. It would be odd to have “Gifted” & not include the others as the story was hugely popular (& if The Avenger’s turns out to be any good then Whedon will be too, in mainstream terms anyway) as well as a genuine classic. The current crop of issues also seem unsurprisingly Avengers centric which is as good a marketing ploy as any & I have no doubt that around summer we’ll get a crop of Spider-Man stories too. Also what with House of M, Civil War, World War Hulk & Siege being on the list it seems inevitable that Secret Invasion & Dark Reign will be there too.

As of yet however there has been no mention of any Fantastic Four stories. Given that they are Marvel’s first family they are no doubt going to appear somewhere. Alas my knowledge of previous FF stories is relatively sparse so I’d like to read something earth shattering written by somebody other than Jonathan Hickman. Could volume 3 or 4 possibly be The Trial of Reed Richards? Speaking of absent characters there has also been no mention of Daredevil, Ghost Rider or The Punisher. It seems unthinkable that Born Again wouldn’t be included somewhere around volume 7 or 8. Some might opt for a sliced & diced version of the Elektra saga in much the same way that was successfully managed with the Venom Saga, but Born Again is a more concise story that fits in with the series 6 or 7 issue count (& it also qualifies as a great lament to Frank Millers talent which hasn’t been seen since). As for Ghost Rider, well his publication history has been somewhat sporadic & Marvel may not want the flame headed one mentioned with all the recent controversy over his creation but I think Road to Damnation by Garth Ennis & Clayton Crain would make a nice volume  in the early 30’s.

This series may feature a lot of Marvel’s big hitters but that’s not to say other smaller scale characters aren’t deserving of a place as well. What about Luke Cage & Iron Fist? Surely the Heroes for Hire had an adventure or two worthy of inclusion somewhere, & if we’re talking about Luke Cage then we have to include Jessica Jones, one of Marvel’s most prominent & interesting female characters. While Alias may be far too potty mouthed to include in the collection The Pulse could fit in very nicely indeed. All of which brings me nicely onto my next point…

As good as the books listed are it’s all a bit heavy on the testosterone so far. Surely one of Marvel’s lead female characters must have a classic story in them somewhere? Truth be told I’d like to see the controversial “Rape of Miss Marvel” storyline in the collection. Don’t get me wrong the story was a low point for Marvel in general, but I’ve always wanted to see Chris Claremont’s outstanding f**k you at Marvel firsthand – That point, when Carol Danvers returns in Avengers Annual #10 & balls out Marvel’s major league (& their management) for the way they carelessly tossed her aside. The inclusion of Kraven’s Last Hunt proves that the collection isn’t afraid of printing some of Marvel’s edgier ories, but in all seriousness if you want to show me the best of Marvel then don’t just show me the point’s where they’ve fearlessly pushed the envelope, show me the points where they’ve got it wrong but been willing to own up & push the envelope in a different way because of it. Also, talking of female led 6 or 7 issue stories, I wouldn’t complain if the collection happened to include Jimmy Palmiotti’s Daughters of the Dragon miniseries in its later volumes either.

As I’ve said before I think The Marvel Collection is actually pretty decent value for money & even if you don’t have the financial fortitude to shell out for the whole thing a lot of the books are still quite cost effective & the back matter in each of them, while sometimes brief, is still consistently interesting stuff. I just hope that Hachette leave off announcing the inevitable DC version till after my finances become solvent again from collecting this one – otherwise the next part work collection I get may be How to build a house from comics.

P.S. Please include Kurt Busiek & Alex Ross’s Marvel’s. Just sayin’.