Marvel Plus is a third party imprint for Marvel Comics, specializing in black and white comics in a digest format, allowing for several stories to be told in a "phonebook sized" volume, to be collected in soft cover and hard cover trade paperback volumes with higher paper quality.

This format is based on the manga publishing format, and offers several advantages to the single issue format published by Marvel. The trade off is that most stories are in black in white, which allows for more detail to be preserved from the penciller and inker, while coloring is to be approximated through various techniques, including the imagination.

Content typically focuses on telling stories as supplementary material, addressing loose ends, abandoned plot threads, and other details from the main comics that remain unaddressed and unresolved.

Phonebook formatEdit

The industry standard for one volume is one standard Knightfall, consisting of 24 issues, or 640 pages. This format is used to display a selection of ongoing current issues, to be collected into a higher quality format, and back issue collections, which conveniently cover approximately one quarter of a one hundred issue series, one half of a fifty issue series, or almost all of a twenty four issue series, by dividing the total number of issues in a complete series by twenty four.

Any remaining issues are counted as the remainder, and are added on to the issue count and page count of the final volume, giving readers a sense of greater value when purchasing the final collected volume of a series.

Using this format, comic book companies have easily and effortlessly collected long running series that may span over a hundred to three hundred issues, including any and all related spin-offs, mini-series, one shots, and limited series pertaining to the main work.

This twenty four issue format became the standard for works that did not involve crossovers, spinoffs, miniseries, and stories set in the past when those issues were published, but unfortunately, Marvel was full of those sorts of stories.

The immediate solution was to publish an 840 page standard "Daredevil Omnibus" size volume to contain the remaining issues, but this was only a short term solution. It turned out there were so many things wrong with collecting comic book issues in a comprehensible reading order starting from the year 1989 onward, approaching the decades of Crossover Hell and Mega Crossover Hell, that it was decided to collect stories in a story-relevant format without regard to numbering, which lead to the question, what do you do with those other stories that aren't part of the stories you happen to be collecting in one volume.

Fortunately, it was decided to collect those issues too, as the numbering would be retained in a linear sequence without skipping issues. Hence, the volumes became known for collecting all the issues in a linear order, plus all the issues involved in crossover, miniseries, spinoffs, and tangential stories in one-shots and special issues taking place in the past. This approach, combining linear order collection with story relevance collection, worked out pretty well.

Unfortunately, the large number of parallel series involving the same character made this compilation method a nightmare. It was decided to really, really look at these stories, and determine the starting and stopping of plot threads, in order to identify plot arcs that would best fit into parts or sections. Hence, one could reasonably turn to section one, two, three, or four of the volume and find stories relevant to a particular theme or idea. The other stories, piecemeal as they were, were included as vignettes, short stories, and little bonuses you just happened to have in that volume.

This method eventually gave rise to what was known as "book shelf" collecting, as each collection was presented in the format of a multi-volume Encyclopædia Britannica sized work. Want to read Thor? Have an Encyclopædia Britannica. Want to read Hulk? Here's an Encyclopædia Britannica. Captain America? Encyclopædia Britannica.

This format caught on in old folks magazines like Time, in those catalogs for fantasy knives, and on late night TV infomercials, until it was realized that these collections were redundant. For example, a crossover between X-Men, Spider-Man, and Thor would have the entire crossover story collected in each series of volumes, because each collection was presenting the story from the point of view of the entire story, each time the collected story got to that particular crossover event.

Hence, one collecting a full set of X-Men, Spider-Man, and Thor would eventually run into three copies of that same storyline. On the one hand, all the issues coming before and after that dreaded crossover would be collected and available to read. On the other hand, there was that dreaded crossover.

Not to give up hope, the publisher decided redundancy was no problem at all. There would be collections focusing on one particular character, theme, plot element, or plot thread, so one could read all the appearances of Psylocke in order, or all the issues dealing with Genosha and the Legacy Virus.

"Huh, that's neat," said readers, "but what about those plot threads that are never picked up again, even, like, ten years later?"

And that's when the supplementary material began.

At first, it was just a bunch of stuff to explain what the Hell was going on, but it began taking on a life of its own. Plot arcs, crossovers, references to other stories. A whole other tangle of stories the collected volumes attempted to solve.

"I guess you could, like, collect those in the other volumes that are like, collecting one thing, and they're like, that's just a new story that's sort of part of that." And that's what they did.

"You mean like Marvel Point One?"

No. Those are recaps that took on a life of their own. These happen at the end of the story. And they're also collected in their own volumes if you want to read those. Or check out the original digests they were published in, though the paper has likely faded by now.

And so, there were yet again more things to read. Instead of reducing the eyestrain associated with reading comics, it was increased. And they kept it in black and white.

They kept it in black and white.

"The stories? They kept them in black and white?"

"No. Just the supplementary ones. The original stories had the same coloration. It wasn't like, digitally altered or cleaned up or anything."

"Huh. Couldn't you just download the stuff online."

"Maybe. Just maybe you could find a better reading order that way. But the truth is, those things aren't always seeded properly. You'd best leave it up to the experts."

"No! No, I want to download them now."


List of PublicationsEdit