In January, Marvel Comics will collect 14 of its popular -- and difficult to find -- hip hop variant covers in a single issue. Announced via the New York Times, the 32-page comic will be available for free at participating comic shops.
"The hip-hop variants were a really special initiative that caught fire in the outside world," Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso said of the collection. "We thought this was a great opportunity to highlight that and make it available to fans for free."
While the covers were initially met with controversy from some corners of the comic book industry, the hip hop artists being homaged have largely praised the variants. Daryll "DMC" McDaniels told CBR TV he was thrilled with the variant homaging Run DMC's "King of Rock," and with the covers as a whole.
"[Y]ou have to understand something: Marvel has been hip-hop," DMC said of the controversy over the variants. "I don't care if it's Marvel or DC, I don't care, I guarantee you, those superheroes, when they're not out fighting evil, they're sitting listening to hip-hop. [Laughs] When we do our variants, it's the same thing. It's a tribute."
Alonso described the thought behind the initiative in an Axel-in-Charge interview, saying, "This variant program is an opportunity to show not only my love for hip-hop culture, but also the love of so many in Marvel's freelance community. Hip-hop inspires a lot of us. It is the musical score for a lot of our lives. This comes from a place of love."
The following covers will be included in the free comic, which arrives in stores January 6.
- INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1 by Brian Stelfreeze
Homage to 50 Cent's "Get Rich or Die Trying"
- DOCTOR STRANGE #1 by Juan Doe
Homage to Dr. Dre's "The Chronic"
- MS. MARVEL #1 by Jenny Frison
Homage to Lauryn Hill's "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill"
- EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN #1 by Sanford Greene
Homage to De La Soul's "3 Feet High and Rising"
- MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #1 by Jeffrey Veregge
Homage to Vince Staples' "Summertime 06"
- ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS #1 by Jim Cheung
Homage to The Roots' "Illadelph Halflife"
- AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 by Mike Del Mundo
Homage to A Tribe Called Quest's "Midnight Marauders"
- CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS #1 by Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkewicz
Homage to GZA's "Liquid Swords"
- VISION #1 by Vanesa Del Ray
Homage to Wiz Khalifa's "Rolling Papers"
- ALL-NEW X-MEN #1 by Ed Piskor
Homage to Camp Lo's "Uptown Saturday Night"
- WEB-WARRIORS #1 by Damion Scott
Homage to Clipse's "Lord Willin'"
- ALL-NEW INHUMANS #1 by Marco D'Alfonso
Homage to Future's "DS2â€³
- ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #1 by Keron Grant
Homage to DMX's "Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood"
- CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON #1 by Mahmud Asrar
Homage to A$AP Rocky's "Long. Live. A$AP."