It’s time for the next set of results from the 2016 Secret Ballot for Marvel’s Most-Wanted Omnibus by Tigereyes. I covered #30-26 in the last installment.
This set of books is decidedly more classic than some of the ones we’ve seen so far, with all of the issues under consideration released by 1991. Unsurprisingly, that means we’ve seen all of these votes on past year’s of the survey. They’re all relative longshots save for one, but for a number of different reasons.
Marvel has released these oversized omnibus editions for over a decade now, with a staggering amount of their most-popular material now covered in the format – from Silver Age debuts to modern classics. Is your favorite character or run of issues already in an Omnibus? My Marvel Omnibus & Oversized Hardcover Guide is the most comprehensive tool on the web for answering that question – it features every book, plus release dates, contents, and even breakdowns of $/page and what movies the books were released to support.
And now, it’s the omnibuses that placed at #25 through 21!
Last Year’s Rank: #44
Probable Contents: ROM #1-20, Incredible Hulk #262 (2nd story), ROM #21-22, Power Man & Iron Fist #73, and ROM #23-32.
Possible Contents: It could continue for more issues, in which case it would next include ROM Annual 1 followed by Marvel Two-in-One #99 before returning to ROM #33).
What is it? Marvel integrated this Parker Brothers toy directly into the Marvel Universe when they received the license in 1979, and the comic version long outlasted its inspiration both on the shelves and in the hearts of fans.
This book is a great white whale of many fans of Marvel’s 1980s output. I image its legendary status will only increase now that Marvel has the reprint rights to both Star Wars and Sax Rohmer’s Kung Fu books, while the Marvel years of similar toy license G.I. Joe is receiving an exhaustive reprint from IDW.
What’s the big deal? Marvel poured a lot of creative energy into their tie-in with a blocky, poorly-articulated toy. The comic launched with the creative team of Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema, who together stuck with the comic through nearly the entire 75-issue run. (Buscema was succeeded by Steve Ditko starting from #59 – not a downgrade).
The book depicts a cyborg Spaceknight who left his human form (well, humanoid alien, if we’re being specific) behind to defend his race and the galaxy against the ravages of the Dire Wraiths. Having eradicated them on his own planet, ROM is now far afield in his seemingly never-ending battle. He finds himself in West Virginia, of all places, hunting down a nest of Wraiths.
Mantlo and Buscema created a memorable foe in the form of Dire Wraiths, a magical Skrull-derived alien race capable of infiltrating human society undetected. Unlike ROM himself, the Wraiths were a Marvel concept. They continue in the universe to present day, and cannot be co-opted by new ROM material like a recently-launched IDW series. Also, there are many elements of the Spaceknights themselves not covered by the license, as Jonathan Hickman used them prominently in an issue of his run-up to Secret Wars in Avengers.
Chances we see this in 2017? Let’s be clear – there no chance we see this collection from Marvel in 2017. However, the license is freshly with IDW and they’ve got a great history of working with Marvel on Artist Select editions and G.I. Joe reprints. However, releasing this content is not as simple as G.I. Joe due to the appearances of many Marvel characters along the way. As a result, this white whale will likely keep on swimming for a while.
Want to read it right now? Better buy some floppies!
Last Year’s Rank: #32
Probable Contents: At minimum this would include Werewolf By Night #32-33; Marvel Spotlight #28-29; Spectacular Spider-Man #22-23; Marvel Two-In-One #52; Hulk Magazine #11-15, 17-18, 20-21; Marvel Preview #21; and Moon Knight #1-10 – though, it would more likely continue through #30.
Possible Contents: At that point we’re at 1168 pages, so squeezing in the final issues #31-38 of Moon Knight would stretch the upper bound of an Omnibus. If this was a Moench-only collection, some of the above would be omitted, as well as Moon Knight issues after #33. An Epic collection also included Defenders #47-51.
What is it? Marvel’s true Batman analogue is a willingly schizophrenic playboy avenging crime while tacitly under the command of an Egyptian god whose powers are both a blessing and a curse – basically, every bit as crazy as Batman ought to be played.
Marvel certainly has a good gauge of Moon Knight’s popularity between his currently ongoing series and the pair of Epic volumes they’ve released in the past two years.
Is he popular enough to merit a third format for his relatively closed loop of well-regarded early material?
Quite possibly, yes. Moon Knight’s early material is cohesive and memorable despite being highly-expository 1970s comics. While he starts out as an overly-enthusiastic mercenary werewolf hunter, his run in Hulk Magazine and Marvel Spotlight fleshes out his origin, canny investigative skills, supporting cast, and Moon Cave full of technology. (It’s not really called that.)
The result is that Moon Knight reads as a more grounded take on Batman – any man that smart with that much money and that much trauma would not be as stable as Bruce Wayne.
This rose in rank on the survey after two years of decline (it started out in the top 10), even with the release of a pair Epic collections that covers any possible iteration of the material in this volume. That hasn’t been the case for all of the other long-awaited color material that has recently hit Epic.
If this got a green-light, would Marvel go with a Moench-only book or simply ape the contents we’ve seen previously with no gaps? Moench-only would omit a few tie-in issues, which might lend some exclusivity to the Epic. Yet, Moench isn’t a big-name seller compared to Bill Sienkiewicz, who illustrates a stellar portion of this run.
Chances we see this in 2017? I think it’s more likely that Marvel pushes ahead with more Epic Collections while they have everyone’s attention, but with Moon Knight a highly-possible character for their Netflix engagement there could be a sudden reason to see this.
Want to read it right now? Nearly the entirety of potential contents of this book has been recently reprinted in color Epic Collections – Bad Moon Rising and Shadows of the Moon. See the Moon Knight guide for more informations.
Last Year’s Rank: #9
Possible Contents: Some portion of Daredevil #236, 238-245, 247-257, 259-291, plus Punisher #10. That could barely fit into one book. The following also fit into this period but are not by Nocenti (and, per the Miller omnibus, would be left out): Daredevil / Black Widow: Abattoir GN, Marvel Super-Heroes #4, Annuals 5-7. There is also a bulk of post-Daredevil Nocenti Typhoid Mary material to consider – more discussion below!
What is it? Dardevil in the wake of Frank Miller couldn’t get any grittier, so Ann Nocenti broadened the character’s scope both in personality and in the challenges he faced – including a decent into hell.
Ann Nocenti stepped into one of Marvel’s biggest challenges of all time when she began writing Daredevil: not only following up on a Frank Miller run, but on a Frank Miller return run that was as well-regarded as his first.
To that poin, Nocenti had primarily been an editor on some of Marvel’s biggest books, including Star Wars and their X-Men line through its explosion of mid-80s mini-series. She was relatively untested as a comics writer, having penned the Longshot mini-series. Thus, it makes sense that her second story of scripting Daredevil was a tie-in with Mutant Massacre, pitting horn-head against Sabretooth.
Miller reinvented Daredevil’s tone and setting and in his wake there was no going back to a world of fighting The Owl and Stiltman. Nocenti’s four-year run wisely picked up the conflicted Matt Murdock but inserted new themes while never trying to repeat the same story.
Superpowers and connections to the wider Marvel Universe were no longer off-limits, and being conflicted didn’t mean Daredevil had to be miserable. She introduced an epic story of tainted love with Typhoid Mary, which at points made Dardevil the damsel in distress. Nocenti penned a memorable Punisher confrontation, but also pitted Daredevil against enemies like Ultron and Dr. Doom and even introduced supernatural powers in tangles with Blackheart and Mephisto.
This run is 54 issues if you omit the handful of issues Nocenti skipped. That could just barely squeeze into a single omnibus volume. Would this run have the legs to sell two volumes? Hard to say, but if it did we could consider that Nocenti was also the writer of Typhoid Mary stories collected in the recent Typhoid’s Kiss TPB. It all falls after her Daredevil run and does not always feature Daredevil, so would best fit into a Volume 2. That material is Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #109-116, #123-130, Typhoid #1-4, & 150-151, Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #109-116, #123-130, and Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #213-214.
Chances we see this in 2017? When it comes to Daredevil Omnibuses we’re in a bit of a traffic jam – there’s also the long-awaited Silver Age and Waid as competition. Yet, this outranks them both on the survey! Is the Nocenti material still beloved enough to carry the sales of an Omni volume? This hit an all-time high rank of #9 last year, though some of the heat is likely off now that some of this content finally saw reproduction in an Epic collection (plus the aforementioned Typhoid book).
Want to read it right now? We’ve got almost half of Nocenti’s material covered; head to the Daredevil guide to learn more.
Last Year’s Rank: #34
Definite Contents: Incredible Hulk #103-134 & King-Sized Special #1.
What is it? A decidedly un-classic Silver Age Hulk run with few memorable aspects.
Marvel went all-in on producing omnibus volumes of their Silver Age solo heroes in the first few years of the line, and in almost every case those books sold out and became hard to find.
I’m obligated to say “almost every case” because of The Incredible Hulk omnibus. Despite being released alongside The Incredible Hulk film, Marvel could not even give away their stock of this unfortunate book. Despite many clearance sales, it just kept on lingering in the inventories of stores all over the internet. Even now that it’s finally gone at the distributor level, it remains one of the few pre-2010 omnibuses readily available at or under its original cover price.
Part of the issue is that – like Daredevil – Hulk’s marvelous history is less reliant to how he was depicted immediately following his debut and more on his evolution under the hands of several successive writers. While this run has a few memorable bash-ups (Warriors Three, Thing, Absorbing Man, Avengers), it’s a while still before we hit that more fully-formed version of the jade giant. The most notable issue here could be a King-Sized battle with the Inhumans.
That leaves me very skeptical that we’ll ever see a second Hulk omnibus of Silver Age material given how long the first volume languished. Marvel is under no obligation to keep omnibusing volumes of middling material that have no fan demand (survey result notwithstanding), especially with the steady progress of Marvel Masterworks and now Epic Collections for the hardcore completists. There’s all of one Hulk run from this original series that begs for omnibus treatment, and we’ll see that a little later on in the results.
Chances we see this in 2017? If there’s one caveat to be had there, it’s that 2017’s scheduled Thor: Ragnarok sounds like it could effectively be re-titled “Thor and Hulk.” Marvel has a rock solid history of supporting their own films with one or more omnibus volumes. While Thor is absolutely bristling with omnibus-quality material, with Hulk as a featured co-star could Marvel be compelled to squeeze out an omnibus of him as well? I think so, but I don’t think it will be this one.
Want to read it right now? See my Guide to Hulk to see how this is collected in other formats.
Last Year’s Rank: #17
Definite Contents: The Mighty Thor #153-183
What is it? More classic Thor by his creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby with epic stories that line up perfectly with the impending film
The first thing this run has going for it is that the majority of the issues of it remain a pure Stan Lee & Jack Kirby jam. The final four issues feature a pair by each of Neal Adams and John Buscema, the latter of whom would go on to be the regular artist of the series.
That’s as classic a creator line-up as you can get in late-60s Marvel without pitching in Roy Thomas.
Furthermore, there are solid, memorable moments in this run – not the least of which is a potential Ragnarok. It also includes answers about the true relationship between Donald Blake and Thor, space-faring battles that detail the origin of Galactus, a face-off with Dr. Doom, and a healthy dose of Loki. That dose of Loki includes an arc of him ruling over Asgard.
Basically, this book could not possibly be better aligned with the status quo in Thor: Rangarok unless it began a few issues earlier or stretched few issues later to capture an appearance from Hela.
This represents the tail-end of the Lee/Kirby partnership, and it ends just a few months shy of their final work together on Fantastic Four (which has not yet seen Omnibus print. I wonder if anyone voted for it…).
Chances we see this in 2017? A year ago I might have shown some restraint in guaranteeing the arrival of this run with the appearance of Epic Collections covering some of the material plus a lack of volume three Silver Age omnibuses. In the wake of Uncanny X-Men and Fantastic Four hitting a third volume, The Mighty Thor is the next obvious choice along with Amazing Spider-Man. I’d say it’s no coincidence that these are the next two most-developed Masterworks lines after X-Men and FF.
Want to read it right now? You have several options! The Thor Guide explains it all.