Marvel Mangaverse Collection Coming a Decade or So Too Late

Marvel Mangaverse Complete Collection

In the current Previews catalog is a listing for the Marvel Mangaverse Complete Collection, a 400-page $34.99 paperback that reprints comics originally published from 2000-2002. Here’s the solicit:

East meets West as your favorite heroes are reimagined in hyper-kinetic style! It’s a new dawn as the Marvel Universe emerges like never before. Brace yourself for a kaiju-esque Hulk and a mecha-style Iron Man! Plus: Versions of the Avengers, Spider-Man, Punisher, Ghost Rider, the X-Men, and more unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! The excitement only builds with a fresh take on the Galactus saga! Can the Fantastic Four and friends save the day, or are they destined to meet their Doom?! Make yours Marvel manga! Collecting MARVEL MANGAVERSE #1-6 and MARVEL MANGAVERSE: NEW DAWN, AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, FANTASTIC FOUR, GHOST RIDERS, PUNISHER, SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN, and ETERNITY TWILIGHT.

Marvel Mangaverse Complete Collection

As you can tell from that breathless, keyword-stuffed ad copy, much of this effort was about surface appearance. Some of the writers and artists they got for this attempt to make their heroes look hip by giving them a Japanese-themed makeover actually knew their stuff, like Adam Warren, Lea Hernandez, Kaare Andrews, and C. B. Cebulski. But overall, the whole thing reeked of desperation and a misunderstanding of what manga was and, more importantly, why kids were buying it instead of Marvel superhero comics. (Some answers: better value and more in-depth stories with greater variety of subject matter.) Plus, it just looked wrong in floppy comics instead of chunky books.

You want to read manga-inspired tales of Marvel characters that are actually of interest to manga readers? Check out the Del Rey Manga adaptations Wolverine: Prodigal Son and X-Men: Misfits, done by experienced comic creators who got the appeal of manga. (Raina Telgemeier co-wrote the latter!)

I’m surprised to see Marvel bothering to dig this stuff up a decade and a half later. I didn’t think anyone much remembered it as more than an amusing attempt for a US corporate publisher to co-opt an industry trend.

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