Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Golden Bookshelf:

Monster Masterworks

Rob Salkowitz revisits the realm of early Marvel horror with this 175-page full-color trade paperback of old favorites like: Tales of Suspense, Amazing Adult Fantasy, Strange Tales, and Tales to Astonish!

Before Marvel struck gold (or silver) with superheroes in the 1960s, the company specialized in a corner of the horror genre involving giant monsters and hostile creatures from outer space. Working with artists like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Dick Ayers and Bill Everett, writer Stan Lee hacked out story after story with titles like “Groot, the Monster from Planet X,” “Kraa the Inhuman” and “Grottu, King of the Insects!” These appeared in early Marvel titles like Tales of Suspense, Amazing Adult Fantasy, Strange Tales and Tales to Astonish, which later became home to the more famous Marvel pantheon.

In the 1970s, Marvel discovered in these musty classics a new stream of revenue, as Fin Fang Foom, Xemnu the Titan, and the Blob were introduced to a new generation of readers in the pages of Fear, Monsters on the Prowl, and many many other reprint titles. By then, readers raised on Fantastic Four and the Hulk had learned to appreciate the greatness of the artwork and the over-the-top goofiness of the stories – possibly with the aid of drugs (it was the 70s after all). Enterprising writers even found ways to work the creature features into regular continuity.

Monster Masterworks , a 175-page full-color trade paperback, appeared in 1989, relatively early in the graphic novel/reprint era, and presents a representative cross-section of favorites. The reproduction isn’t great, and no effort has been made to recolor the original flat palette they used in the 1950s – but with these stories, that’s just fine. As Marvel recently revisited this era in the great Eric Powell-edited Marvel Monster series, Monster Masterworks is a neat little volume to seek out for a dose of the rare old stuff.


Marvel Monsterworks

Marvel Comics, 1989

Writer: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Dick Ayers, Bill Everett

175 p. color, original price $12.95





Rob Salkowitz is a Seattle-based writer and authority on all manner of aging newsprint. You can e-mail your comments and queries to Rob at Use "ComicBase" as the subject line.

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