Marvel announced a new digital comics feature today: Digital bundles! You can now buy complete comic arcs of some of Marvel’s best series, or sampler packages of some newer issues, for a reduced digital rate.
To those keeping up with the digital comics revolution, this is actually a repeat of the Comixology news last week, and yes, Marvel’s digital comic store bundles are the same offerings as those on Comixology. Nonetheless, it’s as good a time as any to take a closer look at these bundles, and determine the quality of the series and how much of a value these digital issues really are.
Marvel currently has 6 digital bundles available, ranging in price from $19.99 for 12 issues to $59.99 for 51 issues. I’m going to list the bundles in order of best to worst value, and I’m also going to do it wearing nothing but a towel. Because I want you to suffer that image while I try to piece this together. Malicious, I know.
1) Uncanny X-Force – 37 Issues – $49.99
Rick Remender’s run on Uncanny X-Force, collected in its entirety in this bundle, is one of the best arcs to come out of the Marvel Universe in a very long time. I’d go as far as saying it’s my favorite sustained X-arc since Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men.
As far as price goes, if you were to try to buy the individual trade collections, you’d surpass the $49.99 digital price point in about two and a half volumes, or less than half the total arc. You could try and go the used route to cut down below $50.00 total, but even that is no sure thing. This one’s a deal.
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Verdict: Buy & Read & Love!
2) Infinity Gauntlet Trilogy – 4 Trades – $39.99
The Infinity Gauntlet bundle does a pretty cool job putting the whole event continuity into package and collects Infinity Gauntlet #1-6, Infinity War #1-6, Infinity Crusade #1-6, Warlock and the Infinity Watch (1992) #7-10 & #18-22, Warlock Chronicles (1993) #1-5, & Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #108-111.
If you’re unfamiliar, the Infinity Gauntlet is probably Marvel’s most successful ever crossover event, from a time (early 90’s) long before the crossover event a year status quo hit the comics industry. It’s also the shining culmination of all things Thanos, Marvel’s most underrated villain by FAR (from a mainstream perspective; at least until the next wave of Marvel movies hit).
For reasons maybe only Adam Warlock can understand, Marvel doesn’t have a print omnibus version of Infinity Gauntlet, so this is actually your best bet for all the cosmic madness in one place. The individual trades run in the $20 range on Amazon, with even used copies consistently running in double digits. Believe it or not – we have another deal!
Verdict: Buy & Read & Love!
3) X-Men: Schism – 12 issues – $19.99
X-Men: Schism is a fairly important moment in Marvel Continuity that maintains most of its value in the comics that have happened in its aftermath. Quite simply there is no Avengers vs. X-Men or Wolverine & The X-Men (this is most important – what a series) without X-Men Schism.
That said, Schism is also smack in the middle of X-continuity, meaning you might be a LOT in the dark if you’re working your way through the quagmire of Marvel continuity like some of us.
That caveat out of the way… is it a good deal? Not particularly. You can get the actual six issue Schism trade for less on Amazon, and the prelude issues and Generation Hope are pretty passable material. When you factor in those extra issues, this does look like a value, but again, I don’t think the payoff is there.
Verdict: Slight value, skippable material!
4) Wolverine Origins – 51 issues – $59.99
Although the Wolverine Origins bundle is basically a $0.99 sale, it’s not an easy recommendation. While interesting in theory (how did Wolverine become the man he is now that he has his memories back!), Daniel Way’s story arc is very uneven.
There are some major Marvel continuity bombshells throughout this arc that will play a huge role for years to come – and actually, you’ll kind of need to read this series to fully appreciate Remender’s Uncanny X-Force above – but I’m just not sold on shelling out $60.00 for this series in any form.
I’ll mention this below as well, but for just $10 more you could get access to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited for an entire year, which has this series (along with 13,000 other Marvel titles) available at your fingertips. Feels like a no-brainer to me, but you’re your own man/woman/mutant/gentle soul.
Verdict: Marvel Unlimited your way to the same series.
5) 7 Marvel Masterwork Volumes – Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #1-10, Avengers (1963) #1-10, Fantastic Four (1961) #1-10, Incredible Hulk (1963) #1-6, Tales of Suspense #39-50, Journey Into Mystery #83-90, X-Men (1963) #1-10 – $74.99
As awesome as these issues are, and as much as I want you to enjoy the magic of Stan Lee & Steve Ditko & Jack Kirby for the first time, it’s impossible not to factor that price against the $69.00 yearly subscription to Marvel Digital Unlimited.
For $5 less, you can get all these Spider-Man, Fantastic Four & other birth of the Marvel Universe issues, plus 13,000 other Marvel Comics for an entire year.
Now, I’ve had my issues with Marvel Unlimited (or sometimes I haven’t), but it’s still an incredible value for reading older Marvel series, especially if you have an iPad or tablet (and can get the Marvel Unlimited app to work properly for you).
So the final verdict here is I HIGHLY recommend you read these issues, but I’m not sold on the value of this particular bundle. Plus, if you look at the Amazon listings for these books, you can generally find the first masterwork volume for $10.00 on the Kindle. So… $10.00 times seven volumes… I’m not seeing value at $74.99
Verdict: Marvel Unlimited your way to the same series.
6) Marvel NOW! Starter Bundle – 11 issues – $34.99
My least favorite value of the bunch (bundle?) by a longshot. What do you actually get here? All-New X-Men #1, Iron Man #1, Captain America #1, Uncanny Avengers #1, Avengers #1, Superior Spider-Man #1, Uncanny X-Men #1, Indestructible Hulk #1, Thor: God of Thunder #1, Guardians of the Galaxy #1 & New Avengers #1.
While there are plenty of interesting #1 issues in there, I just don’t see much point in starting eleven different series for $35. There’s not a single self-contained issue on that list, meaning this is meant to guide into the series you want to begin actively collecting. Let me help: Thor: God of Thunder, New Avengers, and All-New X-Men. Problem solved.
Factor in that Marvel has actually given away all of their Marvel NOW! number ones via Comixology recently, it feels like there are better approaches to me.
There you have it – the complete Marvel digital bundles recap. Check ’em out for yourself here. Think any of these are better or worse values than I’m letting on? Do what feels right to you in the comments!
Joshua Hughes says
There is an Infinity Gauntlet Omnibus print now.
Good call, I’ve got it listed in my omnibus guide: https://www.comicbookherald.com/the-complete-marvel-omnibus-guide/
Deborah Desmone says
Since I’ve no idea what you look like I choose to imagine a positive image of you in a towel as I read this, to enhance my reading experience, ‘Mr. Jackman’
I’ve decided to subscribe to your blog since I find your writing to be intelligent. As I am a lover of comics but a person of limited discretionary income I’m looking to find some worth my money. Not sure I’ll always agree with your opinion, but your reviews are reasonable enough to be very usefull.
Thanks for the comment Deborah, and glad I roped you in! You’re pretty much spot-on with the toweled Wolverine assumptions, so no need to change anything there.
Discretion becomes really important with comic book lovers (so easy to get caught in a months long rut of the mundane) so hopefully I can help some more moving forward.
Happy comic reading!