ComiXology has become a godsend for readers who have decided to go online for their weekly comics fix (as long as those readers don't mind paying full price for a comic they don't own and which could be snatched away at a moment's notice, but that’s another issue for another time). It’s been helpful to those readers who are looking to get those hard-to-find back issues without having to pay out the nose for them. Like your average LCS, though, ComiXology has the rather annoying habit of not having the stuff back-issue hunters are really looking for. This goes double if you're looking for golden age of silver age books.
The publishers are probably more guilty of the dearth of key quality back issues than ComiXology is. There seems to be some correlation with what stories are available in trades or hardback editions and what’s available on the service. That said, it makes it frustrating when stories have been collected, but aren’t available there anyway.
With that said, here are ten runs I’ve picked out that are conspicuous by their absence on ComiXology. They’re mostly runs from the Silver and Bronze Ages, with a couple of notable Golden Age omissions and a popular early 80s run.
Giant-Size X-Men #1 and Uncanny X-Men #94-#124
Let’s give ComiXology some credit. The complete original “Strangest Teenagers of All Time!” run of Uncanny X-Men #1-66 is available. What’s not available? “The All-New, All Different” X-Men run of UXM #94-124, as well as Giant-Size X-Men #1, that’s what. Which means that the early days of the Chris Claremont/David Cockrum/John Byrne run that changed comics as we know it is unavailable. Yes, Marvel gives you the right to read it with the low, low, price of $69.00 a year on their Marvel Unlimited subscription service. Let’s be honest, though. That’s like paying a yearly fee for a library card.
Fantastic Four #31-#102
FF back issues are the most annoyingly lacking on ComiXology. FF #1-30 is there, but that’s really about it. Not only is the bulk of the legendary Stan Lee and Jack Kirby run not available, neither is much of anything else, including all of Byrne’s run. Between the two, I’ll go with Stan and Jack, because they really ought to be here.
Justice League of America #139-#200
The catalog for the original JLA series is all around very hit-and-miss. You can find the JLA/JSA team-ups up to the two teams’ battle with the Secret Society of Super-Villains, but none after that.
The most glaring part of JLA history missing from ComiXology, though, has to be the highpoint of the “Satellite Era,” which for purposes here is from JLA #139 (Steve Englehart’s first issue) - JLA #200. It’s an over fifty-issue period featuring the return of Red Tornado and the League granting membership to Hawkgirl, Zatana, and Firestorm. It also features some of the late Dick Dillin’s most outstanding artwork.
All-Star Comics #3-#57
The most annoying thing about ComiXology is the dearth of Golden Age comics. The biggest jaw-dropper is the total lack of the original Justice Society of America's run in All-Star Comics. (You can find part of All-Star Comics #8, but it’s the part with Wonder Woman’s first appearance.) This one is a real head-scratcher.
All-Star Comics #68-#74
On the flip side, Comixology also fails to provide the final issues of the All-Star revival of the 1970s, which features writer Paul Levitz and artists Joe Stanton and Bob Layton kicking things into high gear on Earth-2. The biggest deal of this run is The Huntress joining the JSA’s ranks. You can find All-Star #58-67 on Comixology, along with the JSA’s stint over at Adventure Comics #461-466 (which includes the death of the Earth-2 Batman).
Superboy (aka Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes) #192 - #224
Trust me you don’t want to get me started on the Legion. I’m picking this run in the team’s history because it shows why the team was gathered such a cult following in the Seventies. The big draw here is the artwork of Dave Cockrum and Mike Grell, who made male readers’ eyes pop out with their interpretations of the female Legionaries. This period is also significant for the return to comics of Jim Shooter. (Note: Superboy #195 and #200 are available.)
Avengers #41- #74
There are so many areas of the first volume of The Avengers I could go with here. I would have gone with Shooter’s first stint on the book (#158-#177), but it was recently added, so you don’t have an excuse not to check it out.
Instead, I chose Avengers #41-74 because it’s the high point of Roy Thomas’ long stint as the writer for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes outside of the Kree-Skrull War (which is on ComiXology). Highlights include the crossover with the X-Men (#53), the first appearances of the Vision and Ultron, and Hank Pym’s transformation from Goliath to Yellowjacket.
Marvel Comics #1
If you’re looking for Golden Age Timely Comics (aka Marvel before it was Marvel), then good luck. There’s slim pickings on ComiXology outside of the first six issues of Captain America Comics. I’m spotlighting Marvel Comics #1 because it’s the one Marvel comic that really should be made available because it is considered the first true Marvel comic. For the uninformed, MC #1 features the first appearances of the original Human Torch, the first complete Namor story (the first part was published in Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1, the “unofficial” first Marvel comic), the Golden Age Angel, and an early version of Ka-Zar.
(*Punches mancard*) Elfquest has a lot of historical significance as one of the earliest independent comics to be published in the 70s. It predated books like Sandman, which attracted a following amongst non-comic reading fantasy and SF fans, who were amazed by Windy Pini’s art and her husband Richard’s writing. The original “Quest” is must read for those who are into books like Saga or Sandman. “Journey to Sorrow’s End,” which comprises the first five issues, may be one of the greatest love story in comics.
Amazing Spider-Man #224-252
ASM is another title that is shockingly lacking in the ComiXology back issue bin. In respect for fellow OHer Zechs, I’ll point out Roger Stern’s celebrated run for attention, which includes the introduction of the Hobgoblin.
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