The Marvel Masterworks hold a special place in my heart. Back in the 1980s, reprints of the early Marvel Age were almost non existent. I fondly recall reading the first few volumes that my parents picked up for me at Christmas. Sure the artwork was rough and the dialog was awful and the narration was over the top, but it was the Silver Age at its finest and I loved every brightly coloured page.
The Marvel Masterworks hit the stands in 1987 with its first volume, Amazing Spider-Man, reprinting Amazing Fantasty #15 and Amazing Spider-Man #1-10. This hardcover collection featured a unique and distinctive marble dustjacket that is still available today as a variant edition.
Volumes featuring the Avengers and X-Men and Incredible Hulk and Uncanny X-Men and Iron Man quickly followed. Each of these volumes generally reprinted 10 issues (in chronology) and for some like Captain
It was a wonderful way for a young comic book reader to catch up on back issues without having to pay a fortune for them. And as an adult now, it’s nice to have a full bookshelf of these beautiful hardcover reprints that are very close to reprinting the entire Marvel Silver Age.
The first phase of the Marvel Masterworks ran from 1987-1994 and put out 27 volumes.
Between 1995 and 2004, a handful of volumes were produced, some with the ComicCraft dustjackets which was a break from the traditional marble dustjackets. Only a limited number of the marble dustjackets were produced making them rare and expensive collector’s items.
In April 2004, new life was breathed into the Masterworks line and starting from volume #33, it has been regularly producing volumes on a monthly and sometimes twice a month (with the addition of Atlas Age Masterworks). Currently, the Masterworks are over 120 volumes and have reached well into the 1970s.
It’s amazing the progress they’ve made in just over five years. I never imagined seeing hardcover reprints of Jim Starlin’s Warlock, or the Defenders, or Captain Marvel (Captain Mar-vell).
Recently, a softcover version of the Masterworks line has been launched. And with the success of the Masterworks, the Marvel Premiere editions reprinting a lot of 70s and 80s content have also been a success.