The cover of 2015's Amazing Spider-Man No. 1, from Marvel.
Courtesy of Marvel
By Tom Huddleston Jr.
November 30, 2015

Comic book fans have been treated to a series of hip-hop inspired Marvel covers in recent months — think The Avengers meet The Roots, or Dr. Strange paying homage to Dr. Dre. Now, the comics giant plans to release a free comic book featuring reprints of 14 different cover mash-ups.

Marvel, which is owned by Walt Disney (DIS), plans to give away the 32-page comics featuring the reprints in participating stores across the U.S. starting Jan. 6. The New York Times reported the company’s plans Monday and a Marvel spokesman confirmed the details of the release in an email to Fortune.

The individual issues featuring the variant covers started hitting comic book store shelves in October, with Marvel putting out a total of 50 hip-hop themed covers to coincide with the comic studio releasing several new No. 1 issues for various comics series. Marvel announced the cover variants earlier this year, saying that mash-ups “pay tribute to iconic albums beloved by comics fans and creators.” The cross-overs included an Amazing Spider-Man cover that pays homage to the classic A Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders album, as well as one with Dr. Strange styled after Dr. Dre’s The Chronic album cover.

The cover variants inspired some criticism of Marvel, including claims of cultural appropriation, and an overall lack of diversity at the comic book creator. But, the covers have also been received enthusiastically by at least some of the artists to whom they pay homage, including rappers Eminem and Ice Cube.

“The hip-hop variants were a really special initiative that caught fire in the outside world,” Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso told the Times. The company sees releasing a comic with reprints of some of the covers as a way to attract readers who might not normally buy comics but are intrigued by the hip-hop covers.

 

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