Sometimes bigger is better. And sometimes it’s really, really better. That’s the idea behind the massive, oversized collection Marvel has been releasing the last few years. Roughly the height of of IDW’s Artist Edition collections and the width of a slightly smaller Marvel Omnibus, we’ve seen Wolverine: The Adamantium Collection, X-Men: The Adamantium Collection and Marvels: The Platinum Edition Collection. I’m the proud owner of that last one, it being the fourth time I purchased the seminal Kurt Busiek/Alex Ross story (after a softcover version, a signed hardcover, and then the 10th anniversary reissue). This is literally a tome, expensive yet well worth the money.
The latest large-sizedc collection to hit well-inforced store shelves is Avengers: The Vibranium Collection, itself perfectly timed to coincide with the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Our friends at Marvel were kind enough to supply a digital review copy of the title, which comes in at a massive 776 pages of Avengers action spanning the entire history of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. As one would expect, the collection starts off strongly with the first issue of The Avengers, the issue that brought Ant-Man, The Wasp, Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk together to form the ultimate team. This classic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby piece of storytelling is followed up with Avengers #4, where Captain America is fished out of the Arctic and made a member of the team. In total, you get the following issues:
Avengers (1963) #1, 4, 16, 57-58, 164-166, 273-277; Giant-Size Avengers (1974) #2; Avengers (1998) #19-22, 65-70; New Avengers (2005) #1-6; Avengers (2012) #1-3.
It’s a pretty solid offering, right?
While those early stories have made their way into the pantheon of classic Avengers tales, I have to admit that I enjoyed reading the great collaboration between Kurt Busiek and George Perez in issues 19-22, when Ultron does battle with the team in the Baltic town of Slorenia (sounds pretty close to Skoveia, doesn’t it?), in which Ultron comes across as positively inhuman. And while most comics fans associate Geoff Johns with DC at this point, his Red Zone storyline from #65-70 was actually very well-written. It was my first time reading that particular tale and I thought Johns delivered a very solid Avengers tale.
The final two storylines found in Avengers: The Vibranium Collection come from Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman, both of whom have crafted sprawling stories for the team throughout the last decade. Bendis first six issues helped define the team for new readers, adding in Marvel mainstays like Spider-Man and Wolverine, while Hickman’s first three issues set the tone for the Secret Wars happening in the spring of 2015. You’re pretty much guaranteed to want to pick up the issues that followed what’s included here – they’re just that damn good.
Every fan has to start somewhere, and the digital version of Avengers: The Vibranium Collection is a fairly cost effective way to get some of the core stories of the team. Now, if you’ve got a little extra cash floating around, and a solid coffee table, I’d definitely suggest picking up the physical version of the book (which, by the way, comes with a free digital copy). It will be a conversation starter. Whichever you choose, you’ll stepping into the Marvel Universe in a big, big way.