Marvel has announced a relaunch of their Masterworks series but in a new digest-sized format.
The Masterworks series was high-quality hardbacked reprints of classic series such as Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. The dust-jacketed books were designed to present complete runs of those original runs, that are now nearly impossible to buy due to scarcity and price.
The first volume is, of course, Spider-Man, and looks set to reprint the first 10 issues and the first-ever Spidey story from Amazing Fantasy #15 from Steve Ditko and Stan Lee.
Other reported initial releases will be Fantastic Four and X-Men, all with the same format.
The new trade dress for Spider-Man seems to have an illustration from Michael Cho and is branded as Volume 1. There may also be a classic cover variant available, and unlike its predecessor, these volumes will not be hardbacked.
The book’s measurements are 6×9 with reproductions of the covers of the reprinted material on the back.
It seems that this move from Marvel is designed for younger fans, and is an opportunity for Marvel to once again return to the well of their classic runs. The hardbacked more quality-driven original series of reprints still exist though, and I imagine that collectors of those volumes will stick with these, but for new Marvel fans, it seems this new launch will allow them access to those Silver Age classics at a more competitive price point.
It may seem cynical to some fans that Marvel is once again reprinting their legacy issues, but on the plus side, it allows new fans to see where their heroes of today came from, and hopefully helps a new generation of readers to discover the Marvel comic brand.
The volumes seem set for a Summer release.