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  1. #1
    Ex-Cheeks Reptisaurus!'s Avatar
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    Default Marvel Masterworks Golden Age Marvel Comics Vol. 1 TPB

    Is a really, really long title. Anyway, this came out a couple weeks ago, and I have some thoughts.

    1) The book itself is absolutely beautiful - I don't know how closely the coloring follows the original - I suspect there are more than four colors used - but the art reconstruction is damn near perfect, and the color choices are alway aesthetically pleasing. I wasn't sure I was gonna buy this - I buy most of the Masterworks trades, but some I tend to be wary of Golden Age stuff - but after flipping through the book I was all "This is beautiful. I NEED this."

    And, apparently, this is a 1000% improvement over the hardcover thyat came out a few years back - Reviews on Amazon say that the original printing was smudgy and cheaply reproduced - and, horror of horrors, it left out the gag one panel gag strips! So, as with all the Marvel Masterworks, if you have a choice between the Hardcover and the Paperback get the paperback. The messed up chronology of the hardcovers is fixed, the special features are more extensive, you get a cool new Alex Ross style cover reproduction, and the interior content is often muchly improved.

    2) And I did enjoy the content. It's amazing to think how good a deal comics were way back when - 64 pages with hardly any ads, and five-to-six strips all chock full of content. The quality is variable - the Ka-Zar strip (Tarzan lite, with a little bit of Jungle Book thrown in) by Ben Thompson is quite nice, while the Masked Raider strip is, at best, endearingly incompetent. Which is also true of "Ferret, Mystery Detective" a cheerfully thrown together proto-noir pastiche which is probably my favorite strip.

    And there are text pages (surprisingly good) and repurposed and barely altered material designed for newspaper comics, which were tough for me to get through.

    The only character who's original appearances define him as anything like a "straight" superhero is the Angel, a moustached, motiveless do-gooder who fights organized crime in a bunch of surprisingly tightly plotted strips. I said "Hey, y'know, if this was fleshed out it could work as a movie" during all of 'em.

    Of the big two - I've always enjoyed Carl Burgos Human Torch strips. I remember reading the '70s HUMAN TORCH reprint series as a kid and thinking how much better the Golden Age reprints were than the Silver Age stuff. And all of these strips are enjoyable, with a surprising amount of pathos in the Torch's first excursion "Why must everything I touch turn to flame!"

    Sadly, after the first strip the Torch fights generic gangsters for the next couple outings, before ending with a neat fight with a green icy human torch critter.

    Everett's Sub-Mariner definitely showed the most potential for future brilliance - It was the only time I stopped and said "HEy, that's a really good panel by my "modern" standards!" but there's not much quality control and Everett doesn't seem quite as fluent at Burgos with the comic BOOK (rather than strip) format.

    Still, the idea of the strip is a solid one. The Sub-Mariner declares "espionage war" against the human race. And I was dissapointed to see him shift towards being slightly more heroic in the last few strips (because of the love of a woman) , rather than casually killing the crap out of divers. I also dug the issue to issue continuity, like a movie serial. I didn't know that continued stories existed during the Golden Age!
    MarkAndrew at Comics Should Be Good
    All my life, my Great Dream has been to grow a triangular head - Roy Thomas

  2. #2
    Senior Member CromagnonMan's Avatar
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    i read the omnibus version a while ago, didnt notice any particular problems with it apart from the usual over-bright colouring.

    had pretty much the same thoughts as you. The Ferret and The Angel being the best of the back ups, and Sub-Mariner and Human Torch getting more and more good with each issue too. i especially like the Human Torch vs Sub-Mariner fight issue, is that in your volume?

    also you forget Chauncey Throttlebottom III :)

    im just glad we get to read these reprints

  3. #3
    world of yesterday benday-dot's Avatar
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    I completely agree Reptisaurus.

    This is a great volume. I actually prefer the paperback reissues of Marvel Masterworks to the more deluxe hardcovers. I find the colouring has been much improved upon in these second go rounds. The colours are more authentic, having a flatter look that avoids some of the garish gloss of earlier reprint editions.

    I have noticed a similar improvement in the Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four MM paperbacks. The look is a more faithful repro, even after any neccesary "clean-up". Marvel is definitely getting better at the colouring of these classic works, carefully trying to get the right tone and switching from glossy to matte pages.

    I had originals, omnibus, hardcover and softcover trades of the Lee/kirby Fantastic Four reprint runs. I sold off all the hardcover books (omnibus and masterworks) and just hung onto the originals and tpb volumes. I did this after a close colour comparsion and decided which personally I liked the best in my often futile attempts to clear up shrinking shelf space.

    BTW... every time I see that Marvel Mystery Comics #1 Bill Everett work my mind is blown anew. It looks like Everett was using a sort of wash technique to provide colour and tone to the work. It has an utterly romantic and art nouveau look to it, a look that came to be to keystone feature of the great Bill Everett as his comic work developed in the coming decades. Its damn gorgeous!

  4. #4
    Ex-Cheeks Reptisaurus!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CromagnonMan View Post
    i read the omnibus version a while ago, didnt notice any particular problems with it apart from the usual over-bright colouring.

    had pretty much the same thoughts as you. The Ferret and The Angel being the best of the back ups, and Sub-Mariner and Human Torch getting more and more good with each issue too. i especially like the Human Torch vs Sub-Mariner fight issue, is that in your volume?
    Nah, the one I got reprints Marvel Comics 1 and Marvel Mystery Comics 2, 3 and 4. I didn't know there was an omnibus. (Which is worth looking into, because it's going to be two years and some change before they released the next Marvel Comics paperback.)

    Quote Originally Posted by bd
    I have noticed a similar improvement in the Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four MM paperbacks. The look is a more faithful repro, even after any neccesary "clean-up". Marvel is definitely getting better at the colouring of these classic works, carefully trying to get the right tone and switching from glossy to matte pages.
    I didn't notice this - I know that I've got (like you) multiple versions of some of the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four stuff - I'll do an issue by issue comparison.

    I had originals, omnibus, hardcover and softcover trades of the Lee/kirby Fantastic Four reprint runs. I sold off all the hardcover books (omnibus and masterworks) and just hung onto the originals and tpb volumes. I did this after a close colour comparsion and decided which personally I liked the best in my often futile attempts to clear up shrinking shelf space.
    I think between Masterworks, originals, reprints, and Essentials I'm missing six of the Lee/Kirby issues. SOMEDAY I'll probably copy your initiative and get 'em pared down to one (or two) formats.

    BTW... every time I see that Marvel Mystery Comics #1 Bill Everett work my mind is blown anew. It looks like Everett was using a sort of wash technique to provide colour and tone to the work. It has an utterly romantic and art nouveau look to it, a look that came to be to keystone feature of the great Bill Everett as his comic work developed in the coming decades. Its damn gorgeous!
    I'm really curious what the originals looked like - I've never seen anything quite like it. It really is completely original and very cool. I'd like to track down reprints of all the Everett Sub-Mariner stuff, from the '40s through the '70s - The character never feels quite "right" to me when anyone else handles him, even Lee and Kirby.
    MarkAndrew at Comics Should Be Good
    All my life, my Great Dream has been to grow a triangular head - Roy Thomas

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