Collected Comics Library Podcast #372
29.6Mb; 31m 42s
Well it’s that time of year again, time to Adopt a Character, creator, genre or just about anything else in the world of comic books and get acquainted with it all year long. It’s more of a challenge than anything else, and it’s been a fun way to read something out of the norm or try something new.
Here’s the rundown of what I have picked in past years:
2008: Luke Cage and Iron Fist
2009: The Spirit Archives Volumes 1-27
2010: Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man
2011: Silver Age X-Men
2012: Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
2013: Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
As you can see, it’s been mostly Marvel and that’s no different this time around. I’m going with Namor, The Sub-Mariner. I have all of the Masterworks, but I am going to forgo the Golden Age for now and start with Namor’s appearances in the Atlas Era and then move to his solo Silver Age adventures. Namor, of course, was created by the great Bill Everett and was with him all the way up until his death, a death that came all too soon. You may recall that Blake Bell has put together a very nice two-volume set of The Bill Everett Archives and the biography Fire & Water over at Fantagraphics. I read Volume 1, but have yet to read Volume 2. I think that is where I will begin. I will keep you posted throughout the year on my progress and for fun I will also be reading more of the Classic Valiant universe. More on that in the podcast.
Also on the show there’s a great question that I received from LinkedIn, of all places, on “What are the best Omnibus’ to buy?” – a loaded question, if there ever was one! That’s leads me to the unofficial announcement of the Infinity Gauntlet Omnibus due out in July. Here are the particulars (which are different from the Wikipedia entry):
Lastly, I do a rundown of the contents included in Batman: The TV Stories. This book is on the heels of the excellent Batman ’66 comic and the companion book will add a “Biff! Bam! Zonk! Pow!” punch to your collected editions library. You’ll be surprised just how DC put together this very affordable, very fun trade.
Many of your know that I’ve been reading Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s epic run of Fantastic Four #1-102 by way of the Marvel Masterworks series. I finished it a few weeks ago and although I had a few problems with the early stories I have come to realize that Stan and Jack were just getting the Marvel Universe off and running and the characters themselves had yet to come into their own. The best of the FF was came in Volume Five where the team met The Inhumans, The Black Panther and Galactus and his herald, The Silver Surfer. The latter half of the run where – again, while great – had a few bumps in the road. The stories seemed forced with too much bickering between Johnny Storm, The Human Torch and Ben Grimm, The Thing. Sue Storm (Invisible Girl) was still the lady-in-waiting even though she was married to Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic). Always the clod, Reed treated his three extended family members like has-beens. Going into the run I had always disliked The Thing for his self-loathing, but I have now come to have no respect for Reed. Empty promises and lies to Ben, giving no credit for Johnny for saving Earth from Galactus and being a terrible husband to Sue. Even in the pages of Fantastic Four in comic shops right today, Reed is a liar and self-absorbed. And that will always be his problem – not trusting in his fellow team members or family. Shame on him. It also didn’t help that one of the Fantastic Fours greatest adversary Namor, The Sub-Mariner, did not appear between #33 and #102.
But it was Fantastic Four #98, May 1970, that had me the most dumbfounded. This issue celebrates the Apollo 11 moon landing from July 1969 (you must forego any continuity to real world time). With all his brilliance; with all his scientific know-how; with all his “I must help and save the human race”, it seems that Reed has never bothered to share his achievements with the US government or more specifically, NASA! We as readers know that the Fantastic Four had already traveled to the moon on more than one occasion to visit The Watcher. We also know that the Earth has been visited by alien species (the Kree and The Skrulls) and the Human Torch and The Thing has traveled half way across the cosmos on separate occasions! But noooooo, Reed has some sort or Prime Directive with his own planet and thus gives no tech or guidance to the astronaut crew. The ending makes it seem that Neil Armstrong is the first man on the moon, however we know Reed was first — in April 1963 (oh and the human villain The Red Ghost was also on the moon.
But now that my FF is done I went ahead and picked up Stan and Jack’s other creation in Masterwork form – The Silver Surfer Volumes 1-2 (this time with pencils by John Buscema). Collected here is the full run of #1-18 from August 1986 – September 1970. It was not a lighthearted read by any stretch. The premise is a sequel to The Galactus Trilogy (Fantastic Four #48-50, March – May 1966) and deals with the Surfer’s exile on Earth. Most of all it’s a prison story. The Silver Surfer is confined to Earth and some space above our planet, but how far out is never told. It is here that we learn more about the man Norrin Radd. Every comic is that of despair. He longs for space travel and to see his beloved Shalla-Bal from his home planet of Zenn-La. The Silver Surfer, is good-hearted and forgiving even though he keeps running into diabolical humans, monsters, witches, and super villains like Doctor Doom who have it in for him. He even fights with Thor, Human Torch, and Spider-Man for no real good reason. It’s upsetting to see that the Silver Surfer’s faith in humanity fades with every turn of the page. In the pages of #17 it looks like Mephisto may finally get his way with him. Transporting Shalla-Bal to Earth, he and makes a deal with the Surfer that if he destroys Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. he will be free and be with his woman forever more. However Mephisto places Shalla-Bal in S.H.I.EL.D. HQ in hopes that the Silver Surfer will kill her too by mistake, and thus go bat-shit crazy and destroy the Earth leaving Mephisto ruler of a dead world. The plan is thwarted but Mephisto may have gotten closer to his master plan without even realizing it. In #18 we meet the Silver Surfer in mid-fight with The Inhumans! How he got there we do not know, but it’s good to see Jack Kirby back on the pencils. At the end, our “hero” is so enraged at the human race that he vows to finally take matters in his own hands. This is what Mephisto wanted all along. Unfortunately the series abruptly ends and we are left with perhaps the biggest cliffhanger the Marvel Bullpen has ever created. As you know the Silver Surfer would calm down and become a hero here on Earth (with The Defenders) and in the vastness of space thanks to the 1982 one-shot by John Byrne and Stan Lee.
Speaking of The Inhumans, that is where I turn to next in my extended Fantastic Four/Lee & Kirby family of Marvel Masterworks. But I’m a bit perplexed as to why Silver Surfer #17 (September 1970) is not included in The Inhumans Volume 1. After all this Two Volume Masterworks series collects all the Inhuman back up stories from Thor and Amazing Adventures. It would have been easy to add in SS #17 and place it in between Marvel Super-Heroes #15 (July 1968) and Amazing Adventures #1 (August 1970). Yes, it is more of a Surfer story then Inhuman, but it would have given context to just where Black Bolt & Co. have been with their ongoing fight with Maximus. It should be pointed out that on September 18, 2013, Marvel will release a more comprehensive Inhumans collection with Inhumans: The Origin Of The Inhumans TP, Fantastic Four (1961) #36, #38, #41-47, #54, #62-65 and Annual #5, plus portions of #48, #50, #52 and #55-61; and material from Thor (1966) #146-152, $39.99. A Volume 2 would start with the aforementioned Marvel Super-Heroes #15. We’ll have to wait and see if Silver Surfer #17 gets included.
Back to the grind.
It’s been a long time since I last recorded friends, but fear not, I have several things lined up this summer for the podcast. So stay tuned.
Today on the show I go over all three Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Masterworks. This includes the good, the bad and the ugly. I also talk about the more recent reprints of Nick Fury Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. HC, Wolverine & Nick Fury: Scorpio TP and Nick Fury, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Classic Vol. 1 TPB.
I also talk about the new book Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero by Larry Tye. I wrote a review of the book last week.
All in all it’s good to be back.
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This is truly a historic time that we live in. Not only is the Avengers movie out Friday (in the States) but today we get the first collected editions of the New 52. That is if you don’t count the New 52 Hardcover that came out last December. Take a step back and let it all soak in.
Soon you are bound to see several reviews of the first two released – Justice League Vol. 1: Origin HC (collects Justice League #1-6, $24.99) and Animal Man Vol. 1: The Hunt TP (collects Animal Man #1-6, $14.99) which if you ask me should also be a hardcover. You can’t really go wrong with Geoff Johns who is the solid architect on everything in the DCU and Jeff Lemire is a rising superstar in all things comics. I have yet to be disappointed by either man. Both series are very good choices to kick off these brave new waves of the DC Universe.
But getting back to The Avengers, Marvel has made some interesting choices when it comes to promoting the movie property with their collected editions. You see, in the past a movie will conveniently coincide with an Omnibus or Masterwork. That what we got with Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor. However, The Avengers Omnibus that collected the original Sane Lee/Jack Kirby run of The Avengers #1-30 and Annual #1 was released back on February 15! This week is a bit odd. The only “classic” material we are getting is Avengers: Kree/Skrull War HC (collects Avengers  #89-97, $34.99). A seminal story, yes, and recently published in Marvel Masterworks Avengers Volume 10 but not exactly the best one to introduce the team to a new generation. I trust that this Saturday, which is Free Comic Book Day, most local comic book stores will have a nice display of Avengers and “solo” Avengers books that will be available for purchase. That should include another book out this week Marvel’s The Avengers Prelude Fury’s Big Week TP (collects Marvel’s The Avengers Prelude #1-4, $14.99) that ties directly into not only The Avengers movie but all the movies! I read it online, and I enjoyed it very much. Patrons should also be aware of The Ultimate line of comic books. These may be better suited for the movie crowd who are interested in more “movie” Avengers and/or the Disney XD series Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I say this because many of the 1960′s Avengers comics are just not that good and will feel dated to a new reader. But if it’s the classic Avengers you want then here’s a short list of the best and all should be easy to get:
The mail just came 15 minutes ago and in it I received my Marvel Masterworks Thor Volume 11 from In-Stock Trades. Upon opening the box, I could plainly see that Marvel has added something to the dustjacket design:
As a Masterwork completist you can imagine my horror at the sight. OK It may be anal of me, but I like my books in uniform. You can now see how it lines up on the shelf:
I should point out that I don’t yet own Uncanny X-Men Volume 8, the overall 175th Masterwork so I don’t know if Marvel made the change with that book. If you know, please pass that info along to me. Thor Volume 11 is 176th and we’ll have to wait until next week when Marvel releases Masterwork 177, Golden Age Young Allies Volume 2 to see if this the design sicks.
And just to be clear, I don’t have a problem with the new look. I do have a problem with the new look on an already current series. If Marvel wanted a new design they should have put it on a new Volume 1.