This will be a very speedy post and, as always, I apologize. Unlike always, this isn’t because of my own personal scheduling shortcomings this time around, but because—as mentioned in the header—this post is kinda time-sensitive. Through December 4, you can get a month of Marvel Unlimited for 75 cents. Exactly one year ago, a very similar deal got me hooked on the service, and I thought I’d return the favor to all of you. In, fact, just the other day on Twitter we got this question:
@WaitWhatPodcast@Lazybastid I feel like you talked about it earlier this year but what are the must reads/surprises that you’ve found?
— Timothy McCarthy (@casanovanaut) December 2, 2014
(Which, me being me, didn’t realize was in reference to this tweet:)
If you have a tablet, consider getting a month of Marvel Unlimited for seventy-five cents: http://t.co/wFPxdC2tku Absolutely worth it.
— Wait, What? Podcast (@WaitWhatPodcast) December 1, 2014
so it does seem this is the kind of thing some of you might want to know. What really could you read for your seventy-five cents? I tried to do some quick research of stuff I could advocate for and here’s what I came up with. Please note I stole a suggestion or two from Graeme who weighed in on the conversation above, and also note that I haven’t actually read all of what I’m about to list: some of it is what I’m looking forward to reading, what I’m looking forward to re-reading, and, in a few cases, what I actually have read.
So! Behind the jump so I don’t bump Graeme’s excellent Superman Unchained post off the page!
If you search on the app by creator, Jack Kirby is shown as having 720 comics on Marvel Unlimited, so in theory if you were a big Kirby fan, it looks like there’s close to 750 reasons to spend seventy-five cents right here.
But Marvel Unlimited is not perfect, and one of the ways in which you will end up ruefully shaking your head is how it indexes titles by creator. In Kirby’s case, it includes comics in the ’70s for which Kirby did only the cover and it also includes some stories multiple times, thanks to reprint editions. (That said, I find the MU search immeasurably more helpful than, say, searching on Comixology’s website which is, frankly, terrible.)
So let’s narrow it down a little. Why don’t we just say:
Eternals (19 comics plus an annual= 20 issues): From Kirby’s 70s return to Marvel, this story of superheroes who are gods who are genetic constructions from truly alien creators is insane and awesome and eye-candy. Some of Kirby’s most insanely inspired designs. Ditto:
Captain America (21 issues): He actually did a lot of great stuff with Cap, but let’s stick to the 20 issues he did from the late ’70s that introduce Arnim Zola, Madbomb, The Night Flyer (god, I love the Night Flyer) and more. A very atypical superhero title under Kirby.
Oh, and deep cut: Captain America Bicentennial Battles is on the service also, so check that out too because it is wonderful.
Thor (approx. 79 comics): This is what I’ve read the most of on Marvel Unlimited, and it’s pretty great. When I was a kid I read Thor kinda grudgingly but god do I love this stuff now. It’s grand mythology and dreadful soap opera and superhero title all at once? And is amazing? If nothing else, the passive-aggressive tug of war between Stan and Jack over what the title should be is amazing to see play out in between the lines (literally, I guess). I’m arbitrarily picking 79 comics as a number because there’s earlier stuff in Journey Into Mystery that didn’t really fry my burger (although there is some great stuff too). Strikes me as a solid number.
(Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m leaving off Devil Dinosaur! Or his original run on Fantastic Four! or his Black Panther run! Or…)
According to the search, Aaron has 183 titles and, frankly, I’d like to try to read all of them: Aaron at his worst can be kinda jokey and disposable, but he also at his worst is better than a lot of other dudes who work for Marvel regularly or semi-regularly. In particular, we should consider:
Wolverine & The X-Men (37 titles): This title was a big fave of Graeme’s…but there were also a lot of Whatnauts who sent me their digital copies of this title that really recaptured the fun of the X-titles.
Ghost Rider (16 comics plus 6 issue miniseries sequel=22 comics): Aaron didn’t do anything especially new with the book—in fact he pretty much pulled an Alan Moore 101 and turned the hero into a legacy character—but he had a lot of great ideas and a dark sense of humor that worked super-well with the character. (And made the previous run look properly terrible, I think.) If you like the character, try this run.
Although if you want to learn more about this character? You’re surprisingly shit out of luck, and MU only has one issue of his series from the ’70s and and ’80s, and only 7 issues of his infinitely more popular run from the ’90s. That’s shameful.
Wolverine: Weapon X (14 comics): I should probably create a more sweeping Wolverine umbrella since Aaron tackled the character both before and after this short-lived, uh, reboot? second title? can’t remember? But I’m gonna just go with this since it has some of my favorite big/dumb/dark moments from Aaron’s run with the character.
Incredible Hulk (14 comics): Again, another title where awesome Whatnauts sent me issues which I enjoyed. Again, with the big/dumb/dark moments.
As @casanovanaut pointed out in our Twitter conversation, this app needs a lot more Gerber. In fact, it lists 70 comics on the App but that number is woefully inaccurate as Gerber’s name pops up attached to 20 Marvel Comics Presents issues that only reprint the Wolverine story instead of the whole issue. (Booo.) If this was a different kind of post, I’d rant about all the great Gerber stuff that’s not on here: his Man-Thing run (and in fact they only have two of the four issues of the posthumous Infernal Man-Thing miniseries, which really hurts), his Defenders work, his Daredevil work (brief, but insane), his Guardians work, his Foolkiller mini…the list goes on and on, sadly. But for your seventy-five cents, you can read:
Howard the Duck (30 issues): almost his complete run on Howard minus the Giant-Size Howard that teamed him up with the Defenders; and
Omega The Unknown (8 issues): There are ten issues of this book but Gerber & Skrenes only wrote eight of them (which blows my mind). Nonetheless, they are a stunning mix of amazingly strange and all too painfully real. You could also read the ten issue re-imagining by Jonathan Lethem, Karl Rusniak, and Wrenchies creator Farel Dalrymple. But I’m not including that in the total so:
“And whenever I hear the wind it’ll whisper: Englehart, Englehart, Englehart! “ Where to start with Steve Englehart? The app says there are 135 Englehart comics and that actually seems accurate and features a lot of good stuff. (I’m not at all broken up that his Skull The Slayer issue is not on here, for example). Highlights?
Amazing Adventures (5 issues): Some of his earliest stuff featuring the Beast.
Avengers (45 issues, plus 9 Defenders comics= 54 comics) No Giant-Size Avengers issues, so this is actually kind of painful=there are at least three awesome climaxes to Englehart’s big stories you don’t get to see. But at least all of the Avengers-Defenders War is here? Kinda maddening, actually. What I wouldn’t give to get this app straightened out!
Captain America (33 issues): Fortunately, there were no Giant-Size Captain Americas so you get all of Englehart’s amazing run here. Unfortunately, you also get to see how the title explodes more or less in mid-storyline to make way for Kirby. Until it happens, it’s pretty glorious.
Fantastic Four (17 issues): I’m really looking forward to these deeply weird issues where Englehart follows Byrne. It looks INSANE.
Vision and Scarlet Witch (5 issues): Oh hey great, five issues of a twelve issue maxiseries!
West Coast Avengers (1 issue): WHAT
Oh, and speaking of Cap:
214 comics by Ed Brubaker? Geez. And a high degree of non-stinkers, too. Let’s see:
Captain America (110 issues?): He has 71 issues on Captain America, 15 issues on rebooted Captain America, 6 issues of Captain America Reborn, and at least 13 issues on Winter Soldier. I’m sure there are one-shots, anniversaries, and stuff I’m missing so let’s just say 110 issues. If you like this kind of thing, there is a lot of it here to like.
Daredevil (39 issues): His Daredevil stuff is pretty good too. I tapered off toward the end and have this marked to come back to.
According to the app, there are 51 Marvel books with art by David Aja. We should read all of them. (I kinda think a few might just be covers.) (It also kills me that the one-shot he did with David Lapham for Wolverine is apparently not on here, which makes sense I guess since they don’t carry Max titles on the app.)
It says Steranko has only 34 books on the app…which kinda sounds about right, sadly? A few of the issues they show are just covers, I think, but I can’t tell if they have all of his Strange Tales Nick Fury stuff? Let’s take them at their probably incorrect word. (Also, in a perfect world, the app would also have his issues of Foom!)
Total 34 books
Brian Bendis has 654 books on the Marvel Unlimited app, according to the app itself. If you were a huge Brian Bendis fan and a huge Jack Kirby fan and you had nifty state of the art tablet and you did NOT get this app for seventy-five cents for a month? I would seriously look askance at you, straw man. I would look very askance at you!
As for me, I’m trying to think if there’s any other comics creator I used to be huge a fan of that I now view with a lot of frustration if not actual disdain… Stan Lee, maybe? (1393 comics?) John Byrne? (275 comics?) But just as with Byrne and Lee, there’s stuff by Bendis I would find impossible to entirely dismiss and might actually get around to reading again:
Ultimate Spider-Man: let’s call it 100 issues? I really liked the first sixty or so a lot, then felt very lukewarmish, then was back on the train, then off the train. But, yeah, out of all his Ultimate Spider-Man I’m sure there are at least 100 good issues. And according to Graeme, this title is terrific for binge-reading in the app, which I can totally believe.
Daredevil (53 issues): Honestly, I felt like this book ran out of a lot of steam toward the end, with that Decalogue inspired arc being especially kinda frustrating and dumb. But a lot of great art, a lot of potential, some really enjoyably unique twists on where to take the character.
Moon Knight (12 issues): Let’s face it: for seventy-five cents, you can get a lot of hate-reading in, too. I’m really looking forward to checking out what sounded like an amazing train wreck.
All-New X-Men (26 issues): I really liked the first five or six issues of this, had Whatnauts send me more that I didn’t get around to reading…I’d gladly read all 26 of these.
Miscellaneous: Plus his Uncanny relaunch, his Miles Morales issues, The Pulse, Battle of the Atom and his Guardians? Let’s call it another 30 issues?
19 comics currently. All 19 comics by Al Ewing on Marvel Unlimited to date are easily worth 75 cents. EACH.
Okay, so what’s my total at the moment? [adds on his fingers and thumbs] 734 books.
Plus Bill Everett Sub-Mariner comics from the 1940s and early 1950s (Young Men #24!) Nextwave, Agents of Hate. 242 comics by Jeff Parker, including Thunderbolts and Agents of Atlas and his all-ages work. Thor: The Mighty Avenger by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee. 578 books by Chris Claremont, which probably reads like the same two stories 289 times. All 17 issues of The Champions (1975-1978). One issue of Super-Villain Team-Up (guest-starring The Champions) (Also: WHAT). 11 Ann Nocenti issues of Daredevil. Jim Starlin’s Warlock (not quite complete but surprisingly close?), Jim Starlin’s Captain Marvel (not the Death of Captain Marvel, but I think everything else?), Jim Starlin’s Infinity Gauntlet, both issues of Jim Starlin’s Thanos Quest. Frank Miller’s Daredevil. 131 issues of Peter David’s run on The Incredible Hulk. 37 issues of Daredevil by Mark Waid. 4 issues of Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona.
Seventy-five cents. If you get it before the end of tomorrow. Think about it.
Anyone know if they fixed their Android app? Last time I checked you couldn’t actually make the comics go full screen when reading and that would kill any interest I have, even at 75 cents.
I meant to bug Graeme about this, since I think he uses the Android app side-loaded on the Kindle Fire? I’ll remember to check with him when we next podcast.
I’m checking in late, but as Jeff says, I have sideloaded the Android app onto my Kindle and I’ve never had that problem. I have the problem of it crashing out if I try to read more than, say, six books without closing, but that’s easily worked-around; just CLOSE THE APP, dummy. (I’m the dummy, not you.)
Hurray for a new wave of Marvel Unlimited subscribers! I’m still waiting on the day when regular people will finally know the name of Kirby.
Some suggestions and comments on your suggestions:
– Bicentennial Battles was one of my very first reads on MU. Kirby making a statement, being typically weird while at the same time writing what he knows: amounts to an A++ in my book.
– I’ve also been making my way through Englehart’s Avengers on MU (inspired by the excellent discussion on the pod). I must say: subscribers beware. This run is a huge pain in the ass to read on Unlimited. In addition to missing big chunks of several storylines, there are two long stretches of issues which are literally unreadable (black screen of death) on Android because of a mistake in the credits (“MUDateBug”), which has remained unfixed for YEARS. I’ve managed to read them on PC, but the web interface is garbage and makes it a real chore. My favorite comment on one of the broken issues: “Cmon guys, it’s Avengers.” So spot on. Only DC or Marvel could treat a multibillion dollar property like an abandoned Geocities blog.
– Jeff kind of danced around this one in the Jason Aaron and Steve Gerber entries, but with Unlimited you can read Barry Windsor Smith’s Wolverine: Weapon X, as serialized in Marvel Comics Presents. Think David Lynch directing Wolverine in the Black Lodge. If that lazy description doesn’t do anything for you, read it anyway. It’s good and I can’t do it justice.
– Also, really good bedtime reading for me was Chuck Dixon’s Punisher. Very standard stories, ably told, but with a different great, A-list artist on each arc.
Thanks for this follow-up, Cass. Totally forgot about Wolverine: Weapon X. And I’ve kinda been meaning to just really dig into the Chuck Dixon Punisher stuff, too. That is the kind of stuff that’s just perfect for the app (when it’s actually collected and formatted properly).
I got this on your recommendation back in August when they had their last deal and have been loving it, aside from the bugs and the gaps. I was very much a Marvel fan growing up, but I started out with the X-books (X-Factor, New Mutants and Uncanny) and Larry Hama (G.I. Joe and Nth Man) in the late 80’s. Aside from some early Fantastic Four and other random stuff, I had a lot of gaps and basically read almost no Marvel Silver Age, 70s or early 80s material (aside from some omnibuses I have, like Ditko Spiderman, Simonson Thor and Miller Daredevil).
Since joining Marvel Unlimited, I’ve worked my way through (among miscellaneous stuff):
• Kirby’s Black Panther (amazing art)
• Gerber’s entire 70s Howard the Duck (great stuff, though getting cut short was tragic)
• Englehart’s Avengers (though I quit halfway through because of the gaps)
• Morrison’s Marvel Boy
• Starlin’s Warlock
• Marvel Zombies (read the first series, and that was plenty … terrible)
• Dr. Strange – the entire Ditko run (wow)
• Miller’s Daredevil: Born Again (also pretty amazing), plus a bunch of random Denny O’Neill from between Miller
• Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder (good, but not worthy of all the praise that was heaped on it)
• Secret Wars I and II (almost entirely awful, aside from the goofy Molecule Man/Volcana stuff, which I found oddly charming in a clumsy way)
• Cho’s Shanna (no excuses)
• Lee/Buscema Silver Surfer (still working my way through this)
• Tomb of Dracula, plus the adjunct titles (still another 15-20 issues to go)
• All of the Silver Age X-Men
• Claremont’s X-Men (about 20 issues in, plan to read up to Fall of the Mutants, which is where I started way back when)
• Miller’s Wolverine mini
When I finish Tomb, X-Men and the Surfer’s, plan to tackle both iterations of Omega the Unknown, Kirby’s Eternals, Captain America and Devil Dinosaur, X-Men by Morrison and Whedon, Superior Spiderman, Thunderbolts (I’ve only read the great Parker run),Wolverine and the X-Men and others. By the way, Death of Captain Marvel is available, finally read it.
Such a great deal – if only they could be more consistent in what they add and fix problems. By the way, love the podcast, been listening for a couple of years and it’s always one of my favorites (and the only comics podcast I listen to consistently aside from Comic Books Are Burning in Hell).
This was an exceptional follow-up list–thank you for posting it. I wasn’t in a place to reply to it when I first read it (and then of course forgot because i’m an eejit) but yes Tomb of Dracula! Can’t believe I forgot that.