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20 must-grab digital Marvel Comics

Andy Ihnatko | April 16, 2013
Marvel's promoting free first issues of its comics. Please allow our comics steward, Andy Ihnatko, to make some recommendations

It's accurate to say that I'm not pleased with Marvel has done with--see, I almost wrote "to"--the team in the past few years. Reed Richards is a total jerk and borderline evil, Sue Storm is Superman, and their daughter is Stewie from "Family Guy." I've no idea why.

But I can't help but love "FF" (not "Fantastic Four," "FF"). "The art is by Mike Allred" is reason enough and this launching-off issue, as the regular team prepares to set off on a time-and-space-spanning family car trip and hands the Baxter Building over to some temporary replacements, sets the stage nicely and is packed with fun and sad character moments.

Spider-Man

"Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1" wins on page count alone: 73 pages packed with feature after feature. And it's still brilliant stuff, even fifty years later.

And yes, Peter Parker has been through some changes since then. He's now a member of the Avengers. It's another move that I don't really understand. Peter Parker? Experiencing acceptance and acknowledgment? You did say "Peter Parker," yes?.

But the pleasure of "Avenging Spider-Man Annual #1" cracks through my crusty reactions. It helps that I try to think of it as an issue of "Marvel Team-Up" featuring Spidey and The Thing (who also is an Avenger now, somehow). And hey! It's an annual with no connections to any mega-crossover-events, so it's a nice self-contained issue.

Dan Slott, the current master of Spider-Man's fate in Marvel comics, has a lot of guts. He concluded Spidey's original series by having Doctor Octopus swap minds with Pete, leaving our hero to "die" (required emphasis) in the battered, aged body of a internationally-loathed super villain.

Yes, we all know full well that the status quo will be restored before the Spider-Man movie sequel is released next year. But Slott has hit on an intriguing premise: in the new "Superior Spider Man," a baddie is now determined to live out the rest of his adversary's life, with the benefit of the expanded perspective and sense of responsibility that Parker's left-behind memories deliver. Further, he's going to take up Spider-Man's mantle and continue his heroic mandate. But he's going to do it better, (hence "Superior Spider-Man"), and naturally he'll execute his acts of genuine heroism from the mindset of an experienced villain.

I wish Marvel had thrown more of its classic graphic novels into the Free 700 mix. I grabbed up "Spider-Man: Hooky," a self-contained epic that can be neatly summarized as "Spidey fights a giant cockroach." But! It's lavishly illustrated by Bernie Wrightson. It's a triple-win to anybody who reads their comics on a Retina-display iPad or MacBook.

 

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