02nd Jun2021

eBuying Comics: Week 58

by Ian Wells

This week I am going to talk about a subject that I have previously touched upon many times before. I felt it was a bout time I went more in depth on it, as I have some personal connection with it and so can go deep. Without further delay the subject in hand is the Marvel Ultimate Graphic Novels Collection (MUGNC from here on in). I will also go into the spins off this collection had, as well as looking at the DC equivalents. I had been skeptical about writing this piece sooner in the past. But with each trip to a comic shop I see these products on the shelf time and time again, so they are obviously good for business. Which makes them fair game to go under the eBuying Comics microscope.

My journey with the MUGNC began in 2011. You know the adverts you seen between Christmas and New Year trying to coax people into new hobbies, by subscribing to a monthly product? You have probably seen ones for cupcake making, replica sports cars and building your very own R2-D2 (Yes I subscribed to that one too)! In 2011 it was the time of Marvel Comics to join this market via Hachette Partworks. With the first Avengers movies just over a year away it seemed like a good a time as any to take a swing. I saw the advert on TV and went to the local newsagents on New Years Day to pick up the first book which was The Amazing Spider-Man: Home Coming which collects ASM vol. 2 #30-35 for the very tempting price of £2.99. £2.99 for a hardcover collection! Even if I didn’t get any of the others it was a bargain. My family were quick to start making jokes. Saying that these types of things never see completion. They will take your money and you won’t see any books and so on and so on. But I decided pretty early to take the plunge. Even if I hadn’t the second book was The Dark Phoenix Saga for half price. So another bargain before even signing my life away! Originally the MUGNC was advertised as 60 books, more on that later. When you subscribed you could either have them sent to a participating store like WH Smiths, your local news agent or straight to your door. There was slight differences in when you would receive your books depending on which you choose. I choose the latter which meant I got 4 books ever other month rather than 2 a month I think it was. Another thing to point out here because it will be important later is they books were sent out randomly. So the first month you didn’t get #4-7 you got four books from anywhere in the 60. As always with these things there are some incentives for subscribing. Firstly the third book was free. In the early months you also recieved some gifts as a thank you for subscribing. These were books ends which to be fair I do still use today. A mug and a bag. These I don’t use. So by January 3rd I was locked in to a three year commitment. Books were priced at £9.99 so with my subscription I was paying £39.96 every other month. That isn’t bad going. I bet you couldn’t go to an LCS and pick up one new hardcover collection for less than that. I think the first 5 books were advertised in the first week and through the whole three years I never looked online to see what I had coming my way. It was a nice surprise every time they turned up. Of course out of the 60 books I was expecting to already own some of them and by the end it was only 10 so not too bad. Selling my trade paperbacks of the ones I now had two copies of was my early days of eBaying. I would say my biggest complaint was that after the first 12 issues it was a very modern collection. Some may say it is MCU related characters heavy, but considering where Marvel was at that time, like I said one year out from Avengers hitting the big screen you can’t really blame them. Although I would argue there is a fair bit of X-Men, FF and Daredevil coverage. So fairly balanced over the 60 books.

Top 5 Best Reads From The Original 60

  1. Captain Britain: A Crooked World
  2. Doctor Strange: The Oath
  3. Avengers Forever (Split over 2 books)
  4. 1602
  5. House of M

Perhaps my biggest complaint should have been what happened towards the end of my three years. One day I come home from work and my package has arrived. I open it up exepcting four books, I then look at the spine and one of them has Roman Numerals on it and another has a number over 60! Here’s the catch my family predicted! So I go online and start investigating. The series has been extended. There are now 20 books preceding #1. These carry the Roman Numerals and our dubbed ‘Classics’ and a further 60 books have been added to continue from #60. I didn’t have space for 120+ hardcover books  so I had to do something. I sent an email declaring I only wanted the original 60 books as advertised. Which to their credit they were fine with. So I told them which issues I need to complete the set and they immediately stopped sending new books. Remember earlier when I told you it was important that the books didn’t come in numerical order? When I told them which books I was missing they sent the week correlating with that number rather than the number on the spine of the book. So that took two attempts but I was fully refunded for the first attempt and they said I could keep them, so more eBay fodder!

Top 5 Hidden Gems From Whole Series

  1. Marvel Origins:  The 60’s
  2. Marvel Origins: The 70’s
  3. Marvel Masters: Jack Kirby
  4. What If?
  5. Deathlok: Origins

Would I ever subscribed to something like this again? No. Would I ever recommend this to someone to subscribe to? No. That may seem a little harsh seeing as how much praise I have given it. But I think they are justified answers. But as a a product that can stand proud in your LCS it can not be faulted. A hardcover collection for £9.99 can’t be beat as I have said time and time again. The older stories that have been made available to a new audience via this collection make it a very competitive product in the market place. The series proved so popular that in 2013 it got its first spin off. Titled Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes the books were named after specific characters and highlighted a favourite story from their history. Often they would have a back up of the characters first appearance as well. It ran for 130 books up until 2018! If you are looking for books from either of these collections in your LCS I would say you really have to pick them up and look at them. The design doesn’t really pop on the shelves. In both collections the spines make up a panoramic picture with the MUGNC art by Gabrielle Dell Otto and MMH by Marko Djurdjevic.  They only have the number of the collection on the spine not the title so you have to pull them out to see what they are. As of yet I haven’t picked up any of the Mightiest Heroes collection but having now actually read through the list there are some books getting my attention.

Top 5 Curiosities From Marvels Mightiest Heroes

  1. X-Men (X-Men: Children of The Atom #1-6 + X-Men #1)
  2. Namor (Namor Vol.1 #1-9)
  3. The Punisher (The Punisher: Circle of Blood #1-5 + ASM #129)
  4. The Invaders (Giant Size Invaders #1, Invaders Vol.1 #1-6, Marvel Premier #29-30)
  5. The Thing (Marvel Two in One #53-58,#60 + FF #51)

With both series proving a success it was inevitable more spin offs would follow and in 2018 there was one character popular enough to carry his very own collection of hardcover books. That character is Deadpool. The All Killer, No Filler Deadpool Collection began in August 2018 and is still running today. I knew he was popular but I never would have thought he had enough good stories to keep a collection running this long. Of course there are a lot of X-Force and Uncanny X-Force books in the collection and only one book really stands out to me and that is Deadpool: Agent of Weapon X. The Deadpool collection earns extra points for the covers being covers from the actual issues rather than just a random image. Of course it wouldn’t be comics with out DC following suit. The DC Graphic Novel Collection began in 2015 from Eaglemoss and later spun into DC Comics – The Legend of Batman. The DC collections tend to have more stories spread over two books and they have a range of ‘special books’. For example all the ‘Crisis’ stories run in the ‘specials’ rather than the main collection and they are priced at £21.99 although you can find them cheaper online. I have picked up a few from the DC collection in recent years as again they other such a range of stories. To wrap things up I have hand picked a few books from each collection.

Top 5 Reads From DC Graphic Novel Collection

  1. The New Gods (split over 2 books)
  2. Solo (split over 2 books)
  3.  Quiver (split over 2 books)
  4. Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score
  5. JLA: Tower of Babel

Top 5 Reads From The Legend of Batman Collection

  1. Year 100
  2. Black Mirror (Detective Comics #876-881)
  3. Gates Of Gotham
  4. Prey (Legends of The Dark Knight #11-15
  5. Court of Owls (Batman Vol.2 #1-7)

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