Since I wrote about the DC reprints I’m dying to see, I only thought it fair to turn my attention to Marvel. This week, I’m looking at the first half of the top 10 books Marvel need to get on the shelves.
I must say that when I got to thinking about Marvel reprints, it became very clear that Marvel has done a much better job at getting reprinted material into the hands of readers. A couple of years ago, I would have included titles such as Yellow Claw and Deathlok on this list – but Marvel has announced those and more. When it’s all said and done, DC has far more glaring omissions than Marvel, but that’s partly due to volume. I’m not going to deal with licensed properties or trademark hamstrung properties we’d have a top 10 list right there with titles such as Master of Kung Fu, Planet of the Apes and John Carter, Warlord of Mars.
10. Cloak & Dagger
I actually don’t know too much about Cloak and Dagger. I’ve only read a few of their appearances as they were really scattered about the Marvel Universe in the early 80s. I have, however, always found them to be intriguing characters – a bit darker than your typical Marvel teen. It would be wonderful to see an Essential Volume collecting their first chunk of adventures. I’m not sure how far that would take us. Perhaps between all of the guest appearances we’d even have enough for two volumes. I just wanted to see someone else put it all together in one place, so that I don’t have to.
9. Strange Worlds
The past few years have been very good to us fan of the Monster Era at Atlas. We’ve been able to witness the greatness of pre-hero Kirby and Ditko in a variety of places. One title that has been overlooked to date is the short-lived Strange Worlds. This series is very tough to find, and commands hefty prices in the back issue market. Marvel would be doing us all (or me, at least) if it could just put together a nice, slim volume of this 5-issue series. This is a Kirby/Ditko extravaganza, but you’re also treated to work by the likes of Bob Powell, Al Williamson and Don Heck. I’d snap this one up in seconds.
8. The Human Fly
No, I’m not kidding. When I was a child, I would visit my local comic book shop every Saturday morning. This would be circa 1980. Outside on the sidewalk, the have a rack full of books at 10 cents apiece. This is how I started collecting Atlas-Seaboards, but that’s another story. The 3 Marvel titles that were on that rack week in and week out were Devil Dinosaur, The Eternals and The Human Fly. I know, I know – the first two are Kirby projects so they deserve the attention, but hear me out. If you have read even one issue of this series, you know that it’s good, clean fun. The typical story is as follows: “Human Fly is all set to perform a stunt to raise funds for a local charity, when a recently laid off, crazed lumberjack threatens to chop down landmark redwood, killing dozens in the crowd”. And it’s all real, folks. Bill Mantlo always knew how to tell a story, and he keeps the reader engaged. For me, the real treat is the artwork and it’s a real Golden Age/Caniff School love-in as Lee Elias and Frank Robbins handle the art on most of the issues and we some rare Marvel work by the great Bob Lubbers. Seriously, I never thought I’d see the day when Devil Dinosaur would be reprinted in hardcover, so can’t we get even a low budget collection of Human Fly.
7. Kid Colt, Outlaw
First, let me say how delighted I was when Marvel published not one, but two volumes of Rawhide Kid Masterworks. I’m a huge fan of the Mighty Marvel Westerns, so I thought that this was the beginning of a new era in western reprints. Well, things seem to have stalled there, and I’m not sure that any Kirby-free westerns will ever be reprinted. That’s a real shame, as there are plenty of great stories out there. I’d start with Kid Colt, as there’s a lot of material from which to choose. He appeared in his own eponymous title, but also popped up in Wild Western and Gunsmoke Western, among others. Knowing Marvel, they’re likely to skip over the 50s stuff and head straight to anything with a Kirby Connection. That’s too bad, but if that’s the only way to make it work – so be it. I think a few Essentials volumes would be just great. Long-time Kid Colt artist Jack Keller’s pencils would translate very well to the black and white page, as they are simple and he focuses on pure storytelling.
6. Best of Atlas Horror
Earlier, I heaped praise on Marvel for its fine job putting a good chunk of its inventory into reprint volume. The one area they have severely overlooked is pre-Code horror. It could be argued that at the height of the horror craze, Atlas had a stable of artists on par with the powerhouse that was EC. Scattered among the stories in Marvel Tales, Uncanny Tales, Menace and Journey Into Unknown Worlds, you will find great works by Atlas mainstays such as Joe Maneely, Russ Heath, Bill Everett, Gene Colan, John Romita and George Tuska. What’s even more impressive is the occasional story by all-time greats such as Dick Briefer, Basil Wolverton and Berni Krigstein. There is so much great stuff in these pages – and Marvel paid tribute to some of it during the 70s in various reprint books, but these beg to be collected. I’d start with a nice ‘Best Of’ volume, wait for the sales figures to roll in and go from there.
Next week – I’ll reveal my top 5. For more comic book chat stop by my blog, Seduction of the Indifferent.
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