Marvel is putting some of its older comics on the internet hoping to capture the interest of young readers in the exploits of the X-Men and Fantastic Four by featuring the original issues.
"You don't have that spinner rack of comic books sitting in the local five-and-dime any more," said Dan Buckley, president of Marvel Publishing.
"We don't have our product intersecting kids in their lifestyle space as much as we used to."
Comics will be proffered online Nov. 13, viewed through a web browser. They will not be downloadable.
Marvel is hoping fans will get hooked and be willing to shell out $9.99 US a month, or $4.99 US a month with an annual membership, for the privilege of viewing old issues online. About 2,500 issues will be available at first with 20 more released each week.
Fans will be treated to the first 100 issues of Stan Lee's 1963 Amazing Spider-Man series and other titles such as House of M and Young Avengers.
The move comes after Marvel's two competitors began showcasing their products online.
Dark Horse comics puts monthly anthologies for free viewing on its MySpace site.
DC Comics offers weekly peeks at the first few pages of upcoming issues.
The publisher also gives out PDF files to download of the first issue in a comic series whenever the series is being launched as a book or graphic novel.
Comic shop owner Michael Ring of Portland, Ore., applauded Marvel's move to use the internet, calling it a "feeder system."
"They give people that initial taste."