Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Golden Bookshelf:

A warts-and-all collection of some of Marvel’s Silver Age favorites. This Giant-Size Marvel collection is an affordable steal for the nostalgic collector.

 

Giant Size Marvel

The mid-70s were definitely a hit-or-miss period for Marvel. Hardcore Silver Age fans will swear that the company went straight down the drain following the departure of Jack Kirby and the retreat of Stan Lee from his day-to-day writer and editor duties. There was certainly a drop-off in consistency as the company amped up its output three and four-fold. A promising core of good young talent was diluted by a fair share of embarrassing hackery. But for readers of a certain age, this is the Marvel they remember and love. And few artifacts of that era typify it better than the Giant-Size issues featuring “novel-length” tales of the company’s leading characters.

Giant-Size Marvel is a warts-and-all collection of the finest examples. It ranges from the predictable (Giant-Size X-Men #1) to the underappreciated (Giant-Size Invaders #1) to the questionable (Giant-Size Creatures #1). Great stories like Roy Thomas’s re-introduction of the Golden Age Whizzer and Miss America in Giant-Size Avengers #1 or Steve Gerber’s near-classic battle between the Defenders and the Squadron Supreme in Giant-Size Defenders #4 are undone by barely-competent art from the likes of Rich Buckler, Don Heck, Dan Atkins, and the unspeakable Vince Colletta.

Admirably, the reprint keeps the coloring from the original stories rather than opting for a Photoshop “updating.” Half the fun of a collection like this is the nostalgia value, and half the nostalgia value is in the dayglo palette and wide-open art that Marvel employed back in the day. For that reason, it’s worth paying a premium over the bargain “Essentials” prices for the full-color Giant Size Marvels trade. Here’s hoping that the House of Ideas follows up with a second volume that includes Jim Starlin’s beautiful Giant-Size Defenders #5 and the amazing (if regrettably titled) Giant-Size Man-Thing #4.

 

Giant Size Marvel

Marvel, 2005

Various Writers and Artists

TPB, 214 p., Color, $24.99

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 rob_comics@yahoo.com. Use "ComicBase" as the subject line.

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