While it’s true that good things come in small packages, it’s also true that great things come in giant, Treasury-sized packages. Back in the 70s, these huge books were everywhere. When I was a kid, it was also a very exciting day when one of my parents came home with a Treasury (a.k.a. Tabloid). Much has been written about particular Treasury-sized books, such as Superman vs. Muhammad Ali or Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man, but I’d highlight some of the hidden treasure to be found in these slightly lesser known Treasuries.
There is one good reason for tracking down a copy of Limited Collectors’ Edition C-31, and it’s a very good one. The cover features the unbelievably gorgeous Superman painting by that hung in the lobby of the NYC office of DC Comics for decades. It was painted by pulp artist HJ Ward, and would have been the first thing that every aspiring artists and writers saw when they first show up at DC. Oh yeah, there’s also a good variety of stories through the ages herein, and a Neal Adams drawn piece on a Superman theme park. I don’t know if it was ever built. Buy this one, if only for the cover.
Obviously the wonderfully cheesy photo cover to Limited Collectors' Edition #C-35 (Shazam) alone makes this a worthy addition to your collection, but there’s plenty of good stuff inside. This issue does have a small feature on the TV show, but it otherwise focuses on reprints from some tough to find Fawcett stories. The complete 33 page story “Captain Marvel Battles the Plot Against the Universe” from Captain Marvel Adventures #100 is included, as well as one of my all-time favourites “Captain Marvel Battles the World”, a 10 page masterpiece that is a great example of good, clean Golden Age fun. All of the Shazam tabloids feature reprints that may never be available again (unless DC ends up reprinting the entire Fawcett library), so get them while they’re still available.
Limited Collectors’ Edition C-35 (Super Friends) is another gem that should be in everyone’s collection. At first glance, you may simply think that it’s a basic reprinting of some random Fox/Sekowsky era JLA stories. Take a closer look and you’ll see that this is a smorgasbord for any Alex Toth fan. Many of you will have heard that Superman’s face on the cover was retouched by Murphy Anderson, but there’s still plenty of untouched Toth inside. There’s a slightly goofy framing sequence, but the real treat is the 10 page feature on the creation of the TV cartoon written and drawn by Toth. The Silver Age reprints all also tons of fun; you can see that Sekowsky and Toth shared similar approaches to comic book storytelling.
All-New Collectors’ Edition #55 is an absolute must have for any Legion fan (but you already know that, don’t you Legion fan?), as it features the highly anticipated wedding of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl. I guess if you’re completing a collection of ‘superhero wedding’ issues, you should track this one down as well. I’d think that half of your collection would be Legion books. This is a Levitz/Grell love letter to the Legion, enveloped in a gorgeous wraparound cover. The features and bios at the back drawn by James Sherman are great to have as a resource, and they certainly were helpful to my young brain, which struggled to sort out all things Legion.
Marvel was a bit slow to hop aboard the Treasury bandwagon, but when they did – it was spectacular. The first one I’d like to note here is Marvel Treasury Edition #7, featuring the Mighty Avengers. This book contains several great Silver Age Avengers reprints, including the Wasp/Yellowjacket wedding, which looks particularly awesome. Big John Buscema’s artwork is even more explosive when it’s blown up real big. A real bonus is the awesome back cover by Jack Kirby. It’s a fairly iconic image (used for the cover to the Jack Kirby Collector #29) and you may have wondered where it came from.
If you’ve congratulated yourself for completing a Howard the Duck collection, but are still missing Marvel Treasury Edition #12– you’ve still got some work to do, my friend. By my count, there’s 30+ pages of new material (most of it drawn by Sal B.) in here – including a team-up with the Defenders and a bit on Howard’s presidential campaign – with nice art by Mirthful Marie Severin. Add this to the smattering of fine, early Howard story and the very funny back cover – which is a rear view of the front cover. Our Pal Sal may bring the same atmosphere to the book as Brunner or Colan, but he does an admirable job, as always.
I know quite a few collectors who have sizable Treasury collections, but it seems that many of them are missing (and have never even seen) Marvel Treasury Edition #18. At first glance it may appear to be a simple collection of early Marvel Team-Up reprints, but you must trust me and pick this one up, if only for the cover. The Bob Budiansky/Ernie Chan cover is one of my all-time favourites – with the superheroes on the front, and the villains on the back, all spotlighted against a brick wall. It is gorgeous. The stories ain’t half bad either. A Treasury sized rendering of Morbius by Gil Kane leads to some very, very big nostrils, and the image of the Eye’s burn ravaged face completely shocked me as a child. Grab this one, and spend and afternoon flipping from front cover to back cover to front cover etc…
Our last stop is the Land of Oz, features in the Marvel Treasury of Oz. As you may know, DC and Marvel did a joint venture on the initial Wizard of Oz treasury, but Marvel planned to continue the journey down the yellow brick road with further adaptations of Baum’s stories. This was the only one to ever hit the shelves, and you really don’t see it for sale that often. It features very nice front and back cover by John Romita. The story adapt Baum’s Land of Oz story with a very hybrid look – some characters are based on the old Neill drawing, while others have the MGM look. All in all, it’s an entertaining read beautifully drawn by Alfredo Alcala – a perennially underappreciated artist. For extra fun, you even get a cool map of Oz for reference. If you see this one at a decent price, grab it – as it may be a while before you find another and it’ll never be reprinted.
So that’s a quick look at some buried treasure amongst the treasuries. I think these fell out of favour over the years because of the cost combined with the fact that they are nearly impossible to sore. That being said, I recommend picking up any treasury you see at a nice price, as they all contain some great stories and quirky bonus material. It's nice to have a small slice of history in your collection.
For more classic comics talk, and other such nonsense, please stop by my blog Seduction of the Indifferent