Is Marvel's line of cheap comics still essential?
What makes Marvel's Essentials so essential?
In 1997, Marvel launched a new series of reprinted material. Designed as a cost effective way of reading some of Marvels best and most popular stories, the black and white essentials typically cover 20-30 issues of comics for a very low price. Starting with X-men and Spider-man vol 1, some essential lines have had almost 10 volumes. Marvel still publish new editions constantly. But in 2010 what makes the line worth continuing ?
For people who've never read such classic stories, having most of Claremont's entire X-men run, Lee's full FF run or even Gerbers Howard the Duck available for low prices is amazing; the content you're getting for so cheap is often top notch. Furthermore the series is constantly selling for Marvel, even with such series as Essential Dazzler vol 1 fetching an estimated 3,458 copies. Indeed for how cheap the essentials are to produce, Marvel must be making a lot of cash on these books.
But it's all well and good for the comic companies to be making money, as a reader, is the continuing Essentials format worthwhile? With lesser known comics such as Hulk! (The 1977 magazine) getting Essentialised, do they still represent value for money? Well according to MileHighComics yes. The Essential Rampaging Hulk volume 2 would cost you a minimum $129.70 on MileHigh (before any discounts), but the same stories would get you change from a $20.00 albeit in a cheaper format.
It's the same with Fantastic Four vol 8, another recent volume. The new Essential collects less known stories than the earlier volumes, but for classic Roy Thomas F4 with art by Buscema and Sinnott, the volumes are still at least ten times cheaper then buying the issues separately.
The point of the article is this, whilst the Essential line is not very often talked about, and the volumes never sell particularly well, the line of comics is an awesome cheap way to read classic stories featuring the characters you love. Looking forward to the future, I'm hoping there is a Nick Fury Essential, an Inhumans Essential, and a West Coast Avengers essential. Any new lines any other readers would particularly like to see?
And for those who have not tried out the line yet, here's a list of what I think are the top 10 Essentials:
1. Essential FF vol 3
2. Essential X-men vol 2
3. Essential FF vol 1
4. Essential X-men vol 4
5. Essential Spider-man vol 1
6. Essential Howard the Duck vol 1
7. Essential Iron Fist vol 1
8. Essential Dr. Strange vol 1
9. Essential Tomb of Dracula
10. Essential Spider-man vol 3
(Avoid the Human Torch essential like the plague though)