LOS ANGELES • Want a super read? Marvel Comics is celebrating its 80th anniversary with a massive issue that pays tribute to its history and introduces a new object with implications for the superhero universe going forward.
The Marvel Comics 1000 issue pays homage to many recognisable characters, including Iron Man, Hulk and Spider-Man, and also spotlights some lesser-known ones.
Each page is devoted to a year in Marvel's history, with the first recounting Human Torch's creation in Marvel Comics No. 1 in 1939.
A mix of serious and humorous stories follows, like the page devoted to 1944 in which Captain America explains why he fights.
Mr Tom Brevoot, the issue's editor, said: "I definitely wanted this to be a range of experiences and not have it be an 80-page chucklefest nor an 80-page downer".
Many of the pages adopt what he called a "confessional" approach, where a character is speaking to an interviewer. The page for 2017 features superheroes' answers to "What do you regret?".
Guest writers include authors Neil Gaiman and Brad Meltzer plus film directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
While many of the pages are one-offs, about a quarter of the issue is devoted to a storyline that traces back to Marvel's infancy about a trio of men trying to harness the power of a black mask that has been passed down for centuries.
Before Marvel 1000, the trio called Three Xs appeared in only a single issue from 1940.
Writer Al Ewing said the old story of the Three Xs "had something very familiar about it" and provided a seed to bring a broad story that fits not only the anniversary issue, but also one that will continue in upcoming comics.