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THE GOLDEN YEARS GUIDE TO MARVEL'S GOLDEN AGE CHARACTERS THE HEROES OF TIMELY COMICS THE COMICS ARCHIVES GOLDEN AGE COMIC COVER GALLERY MIKEL MIDNIGHT'S GOLDEN AGE DIRECTORY
GUIDE TO MARVEL'S GOLDEN AGE CHARACTERS
THE HEROES OF TIMELY COMICS
THE COMICS ARCHIVES
GOLDEN AGE COMIC COVER GALLERY
MIKEL MIDNIGHT'S GOLDEN AGE DIRECTORY
Golden Age Marvel Comics Volume 1
Reprints: Marvel Comics #1, Marvel Mystery Comics #2-4
(Vol. 36 in the Marvel Masterworks Library)
Current In-Print Edition: First Print
REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1609-5 • List Price: $49.99 272 Pages Scripted and pencilled by Carl Burgos, Bill Everett, Ben Thompson, Al Anders, Paul Gustavson, Paul Lauretta, and others Foreword by Roy Thomas
REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1609-5 • List Price: $49.99
Scripted and pencilled by Carl Burgos, Bill Everett, Ben Thompson, Al Anders, Paul Gustavson, Paul Lauretta, and others
Foreword by Roy Thomas
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Finally, Marvel Masterworks the Golden Age! It took 65 years of comics history, and 17 years of Marvel Masterworks history, but finally- finally!- the dawn of Marvel Comics gets its due in a comprehensive reprint collection. Therehave been a few glimpsed into the distant past of Marvel, with reprints dotting any number of comicslike Marvel Tales, Marvel Super-Heroes and the like. Then, in 1990, there was a hardcover that reprintedthe complete first issue of Marvel Comics #1. A smattering of trade paperbacks called The Golden Age ofMarvel Comics came in print, and a deluxe edition hardcover of the first ten issues of Captain America was printed in the early nineties, as well.
But there have been noticeable pangs of angst from the Golden Age Marvel community, wantingdesperately for more! Why? Well, first things first, the Marvel Masterworks library started in the late 80sand slowly matured over a period of years, satisfying the archival instincts of Marvel fans...but after 27 volumes-no Golden Age material was reprinted! The line went dormant for several years, then came back to life, but years went by, and still no Golden age material! Making matters worse for the hardcore GA Marvel fan, DC Archives was routinely pumping out tales from their primordial days of glory. Nearly every other month, the GA adventures under DC's purview was seeing the light of day in hardcover. But...wherefore art thouGolden Age Marvel?
Wait no more. The 36th volume of the Marvel Masterworks library is none other than a complete reprintingof Marvel Comics #1 and Marvel Mystery Comics #2-4. Every page and every panel, including text features,are included for your reading pleasure. (The only material omitted was the inside the front and back cover humor features.) The anthology nature of this book makes for this reader an imminently pleasurable experience,with the super-heroics of Human Torch and the Angel balanced against the borderline villainous Sub-Mariner,the dry Western feature The Masked Raider up against the jungle drama of Ka-Zar, and a bunch of otheroddities along for the ride.
I normally do not comment on reproduction in the text of these featurepages, since I want to focus on the content of the issues themselves and their historical influence.So leaving aside issues of poor reproduction in this volume (many Masterworks devotees are disappointed in the quality of GA Marvel Vol. 1; in fact, Marvel is currently reviewing their approach to restoring these age-old comics), let's take a look at the comics characters that stand as the definitiveannouncement to the world that Marvel Comics are now on the block!
Carl Burgos started off with an intense bang in his creation of an android that bursts into flame when exposed to oxygen. The story of the Human Torch begins with ominous forboding, as the inventor Professor Horton worries that he has created a powerful force that he cannot control. As he says "Even Ifear the monstrosity I've created!" Sure enough, the Human Torch proves to be a raging anti-social force, leading to a shocking reckoning for the Professor. As the Human Torch only wants to be left alone, so too does he wish to fight on the side of good. So it is that we see the Human Torch match up againstthose who might prey on humanity- gangster thugs, Martians from outer space, and "Green Flame" creaturesin the employ of a maniacal genius. In issue #4, we finally see the Torch adopt the pseudonym "Jim Hamond."(Note, only one "m"!)
A hero? A villain? Who knows? To his people, he is the avenging son of an Atlantean mother and a humanfather, a man between races who has the power and lust for revenge to lead those who would follow himto a self-determinant future. Namor, the Sub-Mariner, is written by creator Bill Everett as a man of passion, acting on terroristicwhims more often than not, kidnapping women, wreaking havoc on city structures, and out-and-outkilling public officials who try to stop him. But he is not immune to the womanly ways of one Betty Dean,one of New York's top cops, who also happens to be a sultry femme fatale. She tames him and coerceshim into helping Allied forces fight German menaces in the air and sea. In the epoch before hostilitieswere formally announced between Allied and Axis forces, we can read in these pages where Namor, theSub-Mariner is feeling the enemy out, testing their resources.
Creator Paul Gustavson imbues the origin of the Angel with much mystery, in that he doesn't give us anykind of origin at all! The Angel just sorta shows up whenever there's some untoward activity going oninvolving gangsters and other lowlifes, and he sorts things out with his power of flight, his super-strength,and his Marlboro Man good looks. This caped crusader is always where the action is, whether it is in Hong Konghelping a damsel in distress with impolite thugs snapping at her heels, or in the bowels of a secret cult's human sacrifice chamber, saving a beautiful young woman from being delivered to some kindof bizarre, demonic death.
From the jungle of the Congo comes the white jungle demon that natives around the continent fearin hushed whispers. The son of a diamond merchant, David Rand crash landed in the jungles of the dark continentalong with his mother and father, who later perished from the elements. But David took to jungle lifequickly, and befriended many of the animal kingdom, like Zar, his faithful lion friend, and Trajah, the kingof the elephants. But he also struck fear and envy into the hearts of fierce beasts like Chaka the ape andN'Jaga the leopard. Tensions run high in the jungle at all time, especially when humans like Paul "Fat Face"de Kraft make moves to rob the land of its splendors. This feature has some pretty nice art, with large-scalepanels showing nicely rendered animals and some nicely imagined landscapes and environmental scenes.
The Masked Raider
Jim Gardley is a decent sort of fella, one who doesn't take kindly to the rich and powerful pulling landgrabs and violent acts on the weak and small. He finds himself on the brunt end of one such visceral interaction, and decides to devote his life to frontier justice in the guise of his alter ego- the Masked Raider!Along with his trusty horse, Lightning, the Masked Raider stays only as long as it takes to rescue smalltowns and remote frontier homes from those who would disposess them, and then he rides off into thenight for his next mission.
Also included in this volume is the feature "Jungle Terror," which tells the story of arescue undertaking deep in the heart of the South American jungle. In issue #2, that spot is taken upby "American Ace", an odd feature showing an alternate reality version of the awesome worldevents of WWI and WWII taking place in the faraway lands of Attainia and Castile D'Or, with itinerant minerPerry Wade finding himself in the middle of the action in his biplane. But before this story can even begin, it is left behind, for in issue #4, we see the introduction of two new features: "Electro", a charming if not odd tale of a professor, his robot and his romantic ideas to save the world and protect justice, libertyand the American Way. Closing out the new features in issue #4 is the absolutely, stone-cold weirdnessof "Ferret, Mystery Detective." This is one of those you'll just have to read yourself. I'm notsure I could accurately explain it to you myself!
This is the first Golden Age Masterworks, but it won't be the last, and we can only hope that the canonof Masterworks is ready for more and more of Marvel Mystery Comics, as we leave 1939 and explorethe rest of the pre-WWII era of Marvel Comics. Reading these comics is a real treat for comics fans as wellas history buffs, as it gives you a valuable insight into the zeitgeist of the times, a time which, for manyof us, is so distant in the past that it is books like this that really help bring it alive to us. These creatorswere writing comics in the time before the Atom Bomb, before Pearl Harbor, before the threat of Hitler, Mussolini,and Hirohito's Japan were fully articulated. It is a time before Marvel Comics, when this great companyand its heritage were at its conception. What a treat to finally have these comics available to eager readers!
-- by Gormuu
-- front and back cover scans provided by Avengers Assemble
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