At Marvel’s South By Southwest panel on Sunday, one of the major announcements made was that the House of Ideas would be releasing over 700 first issues for free on the Marvel Comics app and ComiXology in an effort to get more people reading their books. Well, their plan worked. The deal was set to last from Sunday until 11:00pm EST on Tuesday, but the overwhelming demand for issues crashed the systems and forced the deal to be temporarily halted. However, once the problems are addressed the Marvel #1 initiative will return once again and fans will have access to some amazing digital comics for the low, low cost of absolutely nothing.
As of now, there isn’t an official date for the return of Marvel #1, but when it does come back, over 700 titles to go through is a lot though. That’s why we here at ScienceFiction.com though we’d lend a hand by offering up some suggestions about what to pick up. Luckily, I was able to acquire a good number of books and scour the listings during the short time that the promotion was active, so I have no problem offering up some recommendations for you if you have no idea where to start. All in a days work and all that 😉
Not only will this list serve as a handy guide as to what to check out when Marvel #1 comes back, but it might also help those of you looking for a place to start if you’re new to Marvel Comics or if you just want to find something new.
‘Avengers’ Vol. 1 #1
History is very important. Knowing your roots should be a priority for everyone. For comic book fans, this is a must read because it’s the first appearance of The Avengers. Written by Stan Lee with art from Jack Kirby, this is a landmark book no matter how you look at it. Yes, it’s not what happened in the movie by Joss Whedon that everyone saw and these characters have definitely gone through a number of changes throughout the years, but this is where Earth’s Mightiest Heroes first started. It’s a must-read for any comic book fan.
‘Civil War’ #1
I’ve said this on more than a few occasions on this site, but the comic that got me back into reading comics on a regular basis was ‘Civil War’. Divided by the Superhuman Registration Act, the heroes of the Marvel Universe take sides and duke it out to determine whether they should be allowed to keep their secret identities a secret. The anti-registration side led by Captain America went toe to toe with Iron Man and his pro-registration team. Friend vs. friend. Teammate vs. teammate. Before this, I had never read a story that involved heroes fighting each other on this scale. The effects of this story are still being felt today even. To me, this was one of the major turning points for Marvel that turned it into the success that it is today. It shook things up and brought modern-day comics to the forefront of entertainment.
‘Irredeemable Ant-Man’ #1
Though I’ve always been interested in Ant-Man, I only really knew the character in a team capacity. I had never really checked out his solo adventures. When I saw this issue in the Marvel #1 category and saw that Robert Kirkman of ‘The Walking Dead’ wrote this book, I figured that I’d check it out. I found out quickly that this wasn’t the Ant-Man that I knew. It was Eric O’Grady, not Hank Pym or Scott Lang, both of whom I’m more familiar with. With Deadpool-esque humor set in front of a S.H.I.E.L.D. backdrop, I found Kirkman’s story to be quite entertaining and I’m definitely interested in checking out the rest of the run at some point because I was left wanting more when it was over. Basically, it was just a fun read because of the crazy things O’Grady does and says.
‘Captain Marvel’ #1
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, this is where we were first introduced to the brand new Carol Danvers. After getting a new uniform, the former Miss Marvel finds herself at odds with herself when Captain America suggests that she take on the mantle of Captain Marvel to go along with the new clothes. DeConnick’s writing is spot on with heart, laughs, and action, which result in a pretty great issue. Dexter Soy’s art isn’t too shabby to look at either. Ladies, if you think that the boys have all the fun in comics, well this one will prove you wrong.
‘Marvel 1602’ #1
Alternate universes are so much fun. Thanks to the amazing Neil Gaiman, we now have the answer to the question “What would happen if the Marvel Universe took place in the 1600s?”. We end up with ‘Marvel 1602’, which features the monarchy of England, the discovery of the new world, and Elizabethan Avengers. Anyone familiar with Gaiman’s work knows that the man can construct a story very well, so seeing what he did with this reimagining of the Marvel heroes is so fascinating. When I first read it, I found much joy in finding out who was supposed to be who since some weren’t terribly obvious at first.
‘Young Avengers’ #1
Okay, I’m gonna cheat a little bit with this one. There are two ‘Young Avengers’ #1s that were released as part of this promotion: The one from the original run by Allen Heinberg and Jim Cheung and the Marvel NOW one from Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Both of them are great. There’s even a ‘Young Avengers: Special’ #1 and that’s great too. I’m a sucker for teen heroes and both versions of this team are just great. Heinberg’s story introduces the team consisting of Wiccan, Hulkling, Patriot, and Iron Lad, which forms in the wake of ‘Avengers Disassembled’, while Gillen’s version catches up with the remaining members after ‘Avengers: The Children’s Crusade’ in the new status quo of the Marvel Universe and some brand new faces that have been added to the roster as well. Both books have great writers attached and two of the best artists in the game right now bringing the characters to life. If you want to know more about the Marvel NOW incarnation of the team, you can check out my review of ‘Young Avengers’ Vol. 2 #1.
‘World War Hulk’ #1
Before/during the events of ‘Civil War’, some of Marvel’s most intelligent heroes banded together to form a secret group known as the Illuminati. With the intentions of making the world a better and safer place, Black Bolt, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Mister Fantastic, Professor X, and Namor conducted many secret missions, including one that sent Bruce Banner into space “for his own good and for the good of the Earth”. Greg Pak’s ‘World War Hulk’ features the not so jolly green giant returning to Earth to get revenge on his allies that cast him away on a journey that resulted in quite some dark times for Hulk including the death of his pregnant wife. Basically, upon his return to New York, Hulk takes Manhattan as his own and forces the Illuminati to suffer for their crimes against him. Seriously, how don’t they know by now not to make the Hulk angry?
‘Indestructible Hulk’ #1
Speaking of the Hulk, his new Marvel NOW series stands out among the rest as one of the best that this relaunch has to offer. Like I said in my review of this issue, Bruce Banner has gone through a whole lot over the past few years. He’s pretty much been a sad smashing sack with some heroic moments in between for as long as I can remember. But two things came along to change that: Joss Whedon and Mark Waid. In this new book, Banner is determined to make the best out of his situation and no longer spend all of his time trying to fix his Hulk problem. Instead, he uses his time for science to develop things that would improve the world and occasionally hulks out when he needs to. Or, actually, whenever S.H.I.E.L.D. needs him to because he’s now an agent of the peacekeeping force. Newer fans may like this version of Hulk because there are a ton of similarities to Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of the character, but comic fans will appreciate the reinvigorated Bruce Banner in this amazing series.
This is literally my favorite comic series available today. Matt Fraction and David Aja are an amazing team and should get all the awards for what they’re doing with Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. Mostly, I tell people to go out and buy the physical copy of this book because the panel placements add to the gloriousness of it all, but picking up the digital copy for free to get the same story isn’t bad either. Following the Hawkeyes when they’re not running around with their respective teams, ‘Hawkeye’ is an average Joe sort of book. Except that these Joes tango with supervillains from time to time. In short, it’s an awesome series and this issue is where it all begins. I haven’t read a bad issue yet and if you’re not picking this series (or this issue) up, you’re not doing it right. I mean, spoilers, Barton saves a dog. Who doesn’t love dogs?! Hawkeye loves dogs, so go on and love Hawwkeye.
‘A-Babies Vs. X-Babies’ #1
Okay, I’ll admit that this one is a joke, but Skottie Young’s work is too awesome not to share. Young’s Marvel babies have become a hit with readers today, so his variant covers for Marvel NOW books don’t stay on the shelves for very long. In ‘A-Babies Vs. X-Babies’, the writer and artist puts his spin on ‘Avengers Vs. X-Men’, except with his trademark babies. Basically, I just put this book on this list because it’s so cute seeing baby Cap take on baby Cyclops over a teddy bear. Sure, I could have suggested ‘Superior Spider-Man’, ‘Deadpool’, ‘Thor’, ‘House of M’, ‘Ultimates’, ‘Secret Wars’, ‘Invincible Iron Man’, ‘The Runaways’, or a whole mess more, but this book is way too adorable to over look.
And with that, I think you have an all right sampling of what’s available in Marvel #1. Be sure to stay on the look out for when the promotion kicks back into effect so you can score a ton of awesome and free Marvel comics to read. And if you have any other suggestions about what to pick up from Marvel #1, leave them in the comments for all to see.