On June 5, 1962, with a crack of thunder, a new hero burst on the scene. Well, not a new hero exactly. A very, very old hero who'd been reimagined for a modern world. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at the height of their (dubiously balanced) creative powers, with scripting help from Stan's brother Larry Lieber, took a millennia-old Norse god and made him into a superhero in Journey into Mystery #83, the debut of the Mighty Thor.
The Marvel Unlimited app is a gigantic, messy cache of awesome and terrible old comic books: a library of 13,000 or so back issues of Marvel titles, available on demand for subscribers with tablets or mobile phones. Like any good back-room longbox, it’s disorganized and riddled with gaps, but it’s also full of forgotten and overlooked jewels, as well as a few stone classics. In Marvel Unlimited Edition, Eisner-winning critic Douglas Wolk dives into the Unlimited archive to find its best, oddest and most intriguing comics.
Two spin-offs of Guardians of the Galaxy launch in recent weeks: The Legendary Star-Lord and the already-surprise-hit Rocket Raccoon. Marvel Unlimited's got a fairly thorough, if not quite complete, selection of most of the Guardians' previous appearances, especially the ones in the Annihilation/Annihilation: Conquest/Annihilators sequence. But their prehistory is worth digging into, too, and there's some choice proto-Guardians material in the archive.
I think it's safe to say that Spider-Man has been through some pretty weird stuff in his time, right? I mean, that's a fifty-year saga that started with a radioactive spider-bite that gave him limited psychic powers and super-strength that he immediately used to try to find fame as a professional wrestler, and the fine folks over at Marvel Comics have somehow managed to top that for weirdness time and time again. Heck, right now, Spider-Man comics are in the midst of a supervillainous Freaky Friday story that has been running for over a year. That should tell you something.
But for my money, the absolute craziest and most hilarious Spider-Man story in years isn't the one you'll find in the comic shops on Wednesday. It's the one that's happening right now in The Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip, by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Alex Saviuk and Joe Sinnott.
Once in a generation, a story comes along that completely redefines a character. It happened with Batman in the '80s with Frank Miller's game-changing stories, it happened recently with Grant Morrison and All Star Superman, and now, it's happening again with Spider-Man...