Marvel Back Issues Online

Marvel Comics is putting back issues of its comics online, hoping to lure young fans. Excelsior!

Marvel Comics is putting back issues of its comics online, hoping to lure young fans back to their medium.

Amazing Spider-Man #1 Cover Marvel is putting some of its older comics online Tuesday, hoping to reintroduce young people to the X-Men and Fantastic Four by showcasing the original issues in which such characters appeared.

It’s a tentative move onto the Internet: Comics can only be viewed in a Web browser, not downloaded, and new issues will only go online at least six months after they first appear in print.

Still, it represents perhaps the comics industry’s most aggressive Web push yet. Even as their creations — from Iron Man to Wonder Woman — become increasingly visible in pop culture through new movies and video games, old-school comics publishers rely primarily on specialized, out-of-the-way comic shops for distribution of their bread-and-butter product.


The publisher is hoping fans will be intrigued enough about the origins of those characters to shell out $9.99 a month, or $4.99 monthly with a year-long commitment. For that price, they’ll be able to poke through, say, the first 100 issues of Stan Lee’s 1963 creation “Amazing Spider-Man” at their leisure, along with more recent titles like “House of M” and “Young Avengers.” Comics can be viewed in several different formats, including frame-by-frame navigation.

D.C. and Dark Horse have already gone online, although not nearly to this extent.

My guess is that the primary audience for this will be older readers with a nostalgia for the comics of their youth. The comic companies have long since abandoned the casual young reader for collectors and speculators.

When I started reading and collecting superhero titles avidly in 1977, each issue cost 30 cents with double sized annuals going for 50 cents. Adjusting for inflation, those books should be $1.03 today. Instead, new issues are cover priced at $2.99 and $3.99, depending on the paper stock. That means new comics have outpaced inflation by a factor of 3 or 4.

FILED UNDER: Comic Books, Economics and Business, Popular Culture, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Deathlok says:

    So we of the same ilk. I started collecting in 1975. I still have most of them which means my basement is crammed. . . .but in a neat and compulsive way.

    This is horrible. This takes the collectability right out of the hobby. It’s like having a stamp collection on the internet. Horrible.

    I collected these books for the love of the hobby, but knowing that they are now all but worthless offends me. It’s bad enough that the have to put collective works of everything now, but this just stinks.

    For the first time in 30+ years, I am considering putting an end to the weekly drain on my bank account.

  2. James Joyner says:

    This takes the collectability right out of the hobby. . . .they are now all but worthless

    No, I don’t think so. Indeed, there are plenty of reprints of the truly rare books – Action #1, Superman #1, Detective #27, all the early Marvels — out there and the prices continue to skyrocket.