Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Definitely the most unique treasury comic is this great collection of Bible stories by the great Joe Kubert and Nestor Redondo. Edited by Kubert and the comic book adaptation by veteran DC editor Sheldon Mayer, this book was an exciting look at the, as the cover pointed out, most spectacular stories ever told. The unique Fillipino style of art like Redondo's was very prevalent in DC books of the '70's. I still have mixed feelings about the Fillipino artists. On the one hand, the art is very unique and dynamic. On the other hand, it's very different from the stuff I loved (and still love) at the time. Stuff like Jim Aparo's Batman and Curt Swan's Superman for example. Anyway, this treasury showcases the Filipino style in its 68 pages to quite good effect. It's a great book that any '70's DC lover should have.
My favorite Silver Age Marvel book was always Thor. The cosmic grandeur and scope of Jack "King" Kirby's art always blew my 12 year old mind. This great art still blows my mind over 20 years years later. If you thought it was great in the standard comic book format, wait 'til you see it in treasury size. Wow!! This great book from 1976 reprints four classic issues of the Thunder God's exploits from 1968. "To Wake The Mangog" from Thor #154, "Now Ends The Universe" from Thor #155, "The Hammer And The Holocaust" from Thor #156, and "Behind Him...Ragnarok" from Thor #157. All stories by Stan "The Man" Lee and Jack "King" Kirby with inking by Vince Coletta. It doesn't get much better than that. Maybe if Joe Sinnott inked it, but I digress.
My all time favorite treasury comic is this masterpiece from 1978. It was one of the first treasuries I bought and it holds up great almost 30 years later. It contained an original story by Gerry Conway centering on Superman and Wonder Woman being set up by the insidious Nazi super villain Baron Blitzkrieg to fight each other during the dark days of World War II. Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and Dan Adkins were a great team on the cover and interior art. It just blasted off the page. I was fortunate to meet Garcia Lopez a few years ago and he graciously signed my well worn original copy of this book. If you haven't read any treasury book before, definitely start with this one!
From August-September, 1976, we have this beauty celebrating our nation's 200th birthday. As a kid, I thought anything having to do with the Bicentennial was cool. So when I saw the ads for this book, I was pretty excited. At the time I first saw it I was disappointed however. It barely had Superman in it. He just introduced the Tomahawk stories inside. As an adult though, I really dig this book. First off, the Fred Ray cover is just gorgeous. The Tomahawk stories inside by Ray are great too. He, along with Jack Burnley, are my two favorite Golden Age artists. The Curt Swan framing art featuring Superman is great too as usual. This book did a very good job teaching American History to thousands of 6 year olds like myself back in '76!
Marvel also got into the treasury business with the Marvel Treasury Edition series. This series featured almost all reprints but that was OK because some of this stuff was simply stunning in the large format. A case in point is this issue featuring everybody's favorite barbarian from 1977. Featuring a gorgeous cover by the great John Buscema, this issue contains stories by four of the great Conan artists of the 70's. It reprints "The Song Of Red Sonja" by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith from Conan #24, "Night Of The Dark God" by Thomas and Gil Kane from Savage Tales #4, and "Black Colossus" by Thomas and Buscema (the quintessential Conan team, by the way) from Savage Sword Of Conan #2. If you like great fantasy art, look no further than this beauty!
Perhaps my favorite comic book format growing up in the 1970's was the over size treasury format. I loved seeing the four color adventures of my favorite heroes in this large format. DC combined reprints with all new stories to thrill their readers. One of the first treasuries I ever bought was this gem from August-September, 1975. Sporting one of my all time favorite covers by my favorite artist, Jim Aparo, this issue reprinted several stories from the Golden and Silver ages of comics featuring the caped crusader vs. some of his most dangerous foes. Reprinted in this issue are "The Cross Country Crimes!" from Batman #122, "The Blackbird Of Banditry!" from Batman #43, "The Scarecrow" from World's Finest #3, and "The Lady Rogues!" from Batman #45. To top it off, there's a very neat tabletop diorama by Aparo. To learn more about treasury comics, check out the great website www.treasurycomics.com.
Monday, January 1, 2007
In my earlier post I talked about how underrated Irv Novick was as a penciller. Proof positive of his talent is this gorgeous cover to Brave And Bold #21, from January 1959. One of my great wishes for the new year would be for DC to reprint the adventure stories that were in Brave And Bold during the first 25 or so issues of the title. Viking Prince by Joe Kubert, Robin Hood by Russ Heath, and Silent Knight by Irv Novick were some of the most beautiful comics any company produced during this time. This particular issue featured a Viking Prince story by Kubert and a Silent Knight tale by Novick and writer Bob Kanigher. The Viking Prince story was written by one of my favorite writers, the great Bob Haney. I always loved the flag motif of the cover titles. I always thought they should have kept it even through the great team ups Haney and Aparo did in the 70's. It was probably my all time favorite comic. Cross your fingers and hope DC reprints this stuff soon!
From right in the middle of my first phase of comic collecting comes this beauty from June, 1980. This issue had everything I loved as a ten year old DC lover. It had a stunning Jim Aparo cover (I've never seen an Aparo cover that wasn't stunning), a great feature length Batman story by Len Wein and Irv Novick, a Hostess Twinkle ad by Curt Swan, and a Fred Hembeck cartoon to top it all off. I always loved the Hembeck cartoons that appeared in the Daily Planet sections of DC books of the late 70's and the Marvel Age book of the 80's. His humor always cracked me up as a kid and adult. It was a huge part of why I liked those comics so much. He has a great website www.hembeck.com that showcases his fine work. This particular Batman tale was the second part of a Batman, Catman, and Catwoman tale that I was anxiously awaiting the conclusion of. I always thought Irv Novick was an underrated Batman artist. His work on Batman and The Flash during this time was some of my first introductions to those characters. A lot of people aren't crazy about late 70's DC, preferring the earlier part of the decade, but I'll always have a special place in my heart for this era. It was a huge part of my childhood.
One of my all time favorite comics growing up was The Legion Of Super-Heroes. I loved the Dave Cockrum and Mike Grell eras of the 70's but my favorite period for the Legion was the 60's, when the group first started developing its varied history and continuity. Although it was a Mort Weisinger edited book, which usually meant silly plots and contrived storylines, the pure number of characters and the different powers they had intrigued me as a kid. It didn't hurt that the great Curt Swan drew a lot of the issues. Swan was a master at detailing the futuristic landscapes and alien worlds the stories required. This issue, cover dated September, 1962, was the first issue of their long run in Adventure Comics. The run lasted 80 issues and was one of the longest runs of the Silver Age. This was one of Swan's finest covers and one of the most iconic of the Silver Age. The interior art in this issue was by John Forte however. This issue marked the first appearance of Mon-El as a Legionnaire and is reprinted in Legion Archives Vol. 1
I thought I'd start off the new year with one of my all time favorite Golden Age covers. Batman #10, cover dated April-May, 1942, was similar in content to many other books of the era. There were four Batman stories inside, none of which were real different than other Batman tales of the time. The cover, however, would distinguish itself as one of the greats. Drawn by classic Bat-artist Jerry Robinson, the uniqueness of seeing our heroes on the artist's board as he was drawing it was a very cool concept. Jerry also drew all four stories inside, although they were all credited to Bob Kane. It's a shame Robinson and other ghosts like Sheldon Moldoff and Dick Sprang weren't credited for these stories until decades later. I thought they were superior artists to Kane, although I do like Kane's character design on the main characters. All the Batman stories in this issue are reprinted in the excellent Dark Knight Archives Volume 3.
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