Wednesday, April 19, 2017


BATMAN VOL. 2: THE CITY OF OWLS (DC, First Printing, 2013; Hardcover)

Collects Batman #8-12 and Batman Annual #1 (cover dates June- October, 2012)

Writers: Scott Snyder with James Tynion
Artists: Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, Rafael Albuquerque, Jason Fabok, Becky Cloonan, Andy Clarke, and Sandu Florea
Colorists: FCO Plascencia, Dave McCaig, Peter Steigerwald, and Natahan Fairbairn

It should come as no surprise to readers of my blog that my tastes skew toward vintage material. That's why I enjoy reading comic books with my son. He's 10 and prefers modern comics, DC over Marvel, although he seems to love both universes. We checked this out from the library and read it together, one issue per night before bed.

I was completely blown away by the quality of the writing in the core series. The Annual seems like a throwaway to me. The whole Court Of Owls being a longstanding enemy to generations of the Wayne family was an interesting angle, but I do have a gripe about it. Why are all of the interesting concepts presented as some form of ret-con (retroactive continuity, where something is inserted into the backstory while generally going against what has been previously established)? Why can't something exciting be new? If the Court Of Owls were presented as something that popped up here and now, with the now being the ground floor, would this have been less enjoyable? My gut says no.

My son's review: It was good, full on great spectacular. Just a little too much swearing. My favorite parts are where he fights his brother in the Owl suit. (Note: My son believes that Lincoln March was indeed the second Wayne child, given the lack of concrete evidence to the contrary despite what Bruce Wayne uncovered.) Once it got into the action it never let down. He gives it a 4 out of 5.

This was an enjoyable read, even more so because it was free through my local library. I like reading comics with my son that I normally wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. I get to see things differently through his eyes. I do not give him my opinions about things in terms of a critique while we are reading, nor do I instill any of my biases or tastes about comics into him. I prefer for him to mold his own opinions and tastes, and I like seeing how he interprets and enjoys things whether I agree with him or not. 10 is a good age for comics. I remember when I was 10 every single comic that I read was Earth-shakingly important, and those very comics formed the foundation of my opinion about what comics should be and remain favorites to this day. I won't shit on his opinion of new comics, nor will I do anything to dissuade his budding love of the medium. Even if he moves beyond comics I have instilled a love of reading into him which he will have for the rest of his life.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The OCD zone-
Paper stock: Thick glossy stock.
Binding: Perfect bound (read: glued). This is a library copy, and it is fascinating to see just how durable these books really are. Most of my books are read once, if that, and yet this book has been read countless times by hands less careful than mine. Maybe when I die I'll leave my collection to a library if my kids don't want it.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: This is a library copy, and the dustjacket has a Brodart sleeve which is taped to the hardback. I cannot comment on them since I couldn't inspect them. 

Friday, April 14, 2017


CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES VOL. 3 (Dark Horse, First Printing, 2012; Hardcover)

Collects Crime Does Not Pay #30-33 (cover dates November, 1943- April, 1944)

Writers: Dick Wood, Milton Kramer, and Lev Gleason

Artists: Charles Biro, Dick Briefer, Volman, R.W. Hall, Jack Alderman, Carmine Infantino, Alvin Hollingsworth, Jack Cole, A. Kaplan, Rudy Palais, Louis Trakis, Alan Mandel, Lol Silver, Volp, and Bob Montana

As tolerant and accepting as people claim to be, many people seem to enjoy seeing criminals get theirs, at least if the comments section of any news article on Facebook are any indication. This was the most popular comic book of it's day. Name any superhero on the stands and this title outsold them. In a world where organized crime was an ongoing concern, it was cathartic for people to pick up a fat 68 page comic for one thin dime and get lost in a world where bad people have good things happen to them for a while but they all inevitably learn the fateful lesson that CRIME DOES NOT PAY!

Mister Crime is the host of the series, and he whispers in the ear of the various crooks, giving them advice along the way. Mister Crime also routinely breaks the fourth wall, speaking to readers while everyone in the story is oblivious to him. Societal mores and slang of the day are on full display.

Lots of future greats worked on this series during this time. Carmine Infantino is well known to all DC fans, while Jack Cole and Dick Briefer were known in their day and have enjoyed a renewed interest in recent years due to relatively affordable collected editions like this one which reprint their work for the masses.

While the material is stronger here than it was in the first two volumes this series still hasn't reached it's high point yet. As crudely written and drawn as many of these stories are it's the promise of what is coming in future issues that makes some of these turkeys readable. Golden Age comics are crude but they certainly have their charms. It's just that the novelty of reading previously rare, expensive comics has worn off for me and I call them as I see and read them. This might have been the best selling comic at the time but DC was burying this in terms of quality. This was still very enjoyable, but the best is yet to come.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- There is a typo on the Table of Contents page. The cover date for #33 is incorrectly listed as May, 1944, when it is in truth April, 1944.
All original text pieces and advertisements are presented. I dig looking at the old ads.
Linework and Color restoration: Solid “frame up” restoration done off of scans of the original comics.
Paper stock: Thick uncoated stock. It has a creamy off-white color, being close to Mint condition pulp paper in appearance while being of sufficient thickness that it feels like 'Archival' quality paper.
Binding: Sewn binding which is stiff and does not lay flat. This book is light and small enough where it is not an issue.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Nice faux leather casewrap with die foil stamping. Dustjacket has a decent lamination.

Monday, March 27, 2017


ALL STAR COMICS ARCHIVES VOL. 4 (DC, First Printing, 1998; Hardcover)

Collects All Star Comics #15-18 (cover dates February/March- Fall, 1943)

Writers: Gardner Fox with Sheldon Mayer, and Jack Kirby 
Artists: Frank Harry, Joe Gallagher, Sheldon Moldoff, Stan Asch, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Ed Dobrotka, Bernard Baily, Howard Sherman, Pierce Rice, and Arthur Cazenueve

One thing becomes crystal clear five volumes (Vols. 0 and 1-4) in to this series of the original Justice Society Of America: They had a winning formula and they stuck to it. Kids back then didn't always have access to every single issue like they would today, and this approach probably wasn't even frowned upon even if they did discover it. In each issue there is an opening scene with a meeting. Each member sets out to do their part and they meet up again at the end of the issue. I like how each character's creator does their part of the story and they all contribute to the panels where multiple characters appear. It's a precursor to the comic jam.

Issue 15 introduces the Brain Wave, a villain with an enlarged bald head who “can create anything that he can think of—and control it!” He returns in #17 after surviving his seeming suicide at the end of his first appearance, reducing the JSA to the size of toy dolls. #16 finds the JSA battling the Nazis on the home front when they infiltrate the coal mines and factories that the Allies needed to assure their victory. The absolute good versus evil of Golden Age comics is something that you would never see today. Nowadays we would be told by Social Justice Warriors how we should be sensitive to Nazis or how not all Japanese are like the ones who attacked us at Pearl Harbor. #18 is fun. King Bee uses insect hormones to trick men into committing crimes for him. The insect hormones gives the men the proportionate strength and abilities of the insects.

Wonder Woman doesn't see much action here, as she is merely the team secretary. It's amazing how different the world was 75 years ago. A woman could only be a secretary on a team of men. Hawkman's portions of each issue rule. Simon and Kirby's ham-fisted reboot of the Sandman sucks. The original was so cool. Starman is pretty cool too. The Spectre is more powerful than any member on this team and yet he never wins the day here. His portrayal in More Fun Comics is more in line with what modern fans might expect. Johnny Thunder is annoying, as his shtick wore thin fast. His Thunderbolt saves the day more often than not. It's omnipotent, and only it's sense of humor making Johnny jump through hoops for it makes things somewhat interesting.

The days before drunk driving laws.

This was a fun read. Golden Age comics are simplistic and crude by today's standards but they ooze with charm. I have to be in a certain mood to read them, but they read fine as both comic book entertainment and from a historical perspective.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.

The more things change...

The OCD zone- There are multiple omissions from the original issues reprinted in this book. #15 omits the Flying Colors one page strip as well as the Hop Harrigan text story, also one page. #16 omits the Victory Puzzles half page and the 1.5 page Hop Harrigan text story. #17 omits the 1.5 page Hop Harrigan text story, ditto #18.
Linework and Color restoration: I did not do any comparison to scans of the original issues this time out. I have been very busy refurbishing and relocating my Fortress Of Solitude. Sorry.
Paper stock: Off-white matte coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding. It's pretty tight, requiring two hands to keep it open. It's not a huge deal since the book is 224 pages.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Thick laminated dustjacket. Casewrap has faux leather grain with foil stamping. It's a shame that DC doesn't do this for their Omnibus hardcovers these days. 

Monday, March 20, 2017


JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOL. 10 (2000 AD, First Printing, 2008; Softcover)

Collects the Judge Dredd stories from 2000 A.D. #474-522 and 2000 A.D. Sci-Fi Special 1985 (cover dates 1984 for the 2000 A.D. Sci-Fi Special 1985 and June 14, 1986- May 16, 1987).

Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant

Artists: Kevin O'Neill, Ian Gibson, Cam Kennedy, John Higgins, Barry Kitson, Robin Smith, Ron Smith, Brendan McCarthy, Cliff Robinson, Garry Leach, Steve Dillon, Mark Farmer, John Cooper, Jeff Anderson, Jose Ortiz, Kim Raymond, and Paul Hardy

I discovered something when reading this volume: Judge Dredd ages in real time. They refer to his decade of service as a Judge, and this book collects the tenth year of publication of the character. I wonder if this is still the case today. It would make him pretty darn old if it's true.

As usual, the artwork is all over the place in terms of quality. Some of it is photo realistic, while some of it is too cartoonish for my tastes. The writing is consistently solid. Gone are the huge sprawling “arcs” found in the earlier volumes in this line, in are short stories that are cranked out so fast that your head spins. The Taxidermist is one such idea that is tied up in one short story but should have gone on longer. The Shooting Party is another. I've always subscribed to the notion that it's better to be left begging for more than screaming for mercy, but some of these plots have legs beyond their seven page per week allotment.

The Interrogation is brilliant, and again, it's another idea wrapped up in a scant six pages but could have gone on ten times as long and still have been interesting. 10 Years On is amazing, a standout among the standouts in this book. There are some incredible artists who have worked on this title over the years.

I have to be in a specific mood to read Judge Dredd or else it leaves me cold. But when I am in the mood for it I enjoy the heck out of it. It's black humor and satire wrapped in an ultra-violent package. I have Volume 11, and whenever the mood strikes me I'll crack it open and tear through it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- These are wider than standard trade paperbacks. The material is still reprinted smaller than it was in the original publications.
There is a cover gallery in the back of the book which features only six of the twenty two covers that Judge Dredd appeared on out of the issue collected in this book.
Linework and Color restoration: Everything looks clean and clear. This book is printed in black and white, which is fine since that's how the title was back then with the exception of the occasional color double page spread which kicked off the strip. Those are scanned and printed in black and white, resulting in a grayscale mess.
Paper stock: Uncoated paper stock. The paper used in the European printed versions (like my copy here) feels odd to the touch. I can't quite explain it.
Binding: Sewn binding. There is gutter loss across the double page spreads, which is often annoying as the word balloons get sucked right down the middle.
Cardstock cover notes: Super thick cardstock covers with a matte coating that is sufficiently resistant to scuffing. 

Monday, March 13, 2017


NIGHTCRAWLER VOL. 1: HOMECOMING (Marvel, First Printing, 2014; Softcover)

Collects Nightcrawler #1-6 (cover dates June- November, 2014)

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Todd Nauck
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg

My kids love going to the library, and I enjoy taking them there. My local library system has an extensive graphic novel section, and I peek at it from time to time to see what they have. I was curious about how this series was when it came out, as I enjoy both Claremont and Nauck. Alas, there are so many books being pumped out at all times that it is impossible for me to keep on buying or reading them all. We live in an era where available content has outstripped both time and money for even the most lifeless loser. The library removes the barrier of money, so if I were willing to dedicate an evening or two I could finally answer the question about this book.

Chris Claremont is unjustly vilified by modern day comic fans as being overly wordy, having unnecessarily complex ongoing subplots, and too many stylistic ticks. While there is some merit to all of the above criticisms, make no bones about the fact that the man saved The X-Men from extinction as well as helped pave the way for the sophisticated adult fare that you find in comics today. Many of your favorite current writers would not be here if he didn't help expand the notion of how fully formed a comic book character could be. I will admit that my pet peeve with his writing is that he often overdevelops a character, but that is a discussion for another time. Right now I'm going to go into this book.

Claremont seems to have taken a razor blade to his writing, chopping off all manner of dialogue and captions to better suit modern day audiences. It works, and his writing is still meatier than many writers nowadays.

Nightcrawler is back from the dead. As someone who jumped off of The X-Men merry-go-round years ago, this doesn't surprise me. There have been so many deaths and resurrections during the history of the title that even the characters seem to yawn about it. This is a major problem. The death of Phoenix was a powerful story in its day because it showed the high stakes of being a superhero. In the decades since then it has become little more than a sales stunt, a gimmick with no real bearing on the story itself. No readers take comic book deaths seriously any more.

There are S P O I L E R S ahead. People's mileage may vary on the shelf life for the spoiler tag, but I use it regardless of age of the material.

Claremont does a good job at weaving several smaller stories into the prerequisite six issue arc. In the '80s there weren't “arcs” as they currently are, a story simply took as many or as a few issues as necessary. Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner) is reunited with his longtime love interest, sorceress Amanda Sefton. He runs into a robot called Trimega, which can split into three different robots with powers of fire, water, and wind (the elements being a pet favorite of Claremont over the years). Claremont complicates things by bringing in Margali Szardos, who not so shockingly turns out to be the villain of the piece.

I don't know why the Beast has changed his appearance again, but I am thrilled to see the Grant Morrison era bastardization thrown out the window. Todd Nauck's artwork is decent enough. His action sequences and layout for story flow are excellent, but there are some panels where something seems off with the way people look. Art is subjective and your mileage may vary, this is just my two cents. This is a decent read, and I'm glad I finally found out what this series is about. My library unfortunately does not have Volume 2 available.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Standard fare Marvel trade paperback.
Paper stock: Fair weight coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock. Marvel switched to thinner cardstock a few years ago, and they end with this “curl” effect when you set them down. It's odd.

On the flip side, this being a library book is a fascinating scientific experiment of the workmanship and durability of the materials used in these trade paperbacks. Bent corners, dog ears, and creases aside, this has held up very well with the rigors of handling by hands less gentle than mine. 

Monday, March 6, 2017



Facsimile edition of the 1904 hardcover collection Buster Brown And His Resolutions, which collects fifteen Sunday newspaper strips which were originally published in 1903 and 1904 in the New York Herald.

Writer and Artist: R.F. Outcault

Before there were Buster Brown shoes there was Buster Brown the comic strip. R.F. Outcault was the premiere cartoonist of his day, arguably the first “superstar” in the world of comics. His Hogan's Alley (later The Yellow Kid) strip, published during the mid-1890s through the turn of the 20th century, made his name. His work on this strip and Pore Lil Mose remain criminally neglected in this golden age of comic reprints. I have been waiting for Sunday Press Books or another publisher to preserve them for posterity. The sad fact of the matter is that comic fandom as a whole has little interest in the history of the medium prior to superheroes, and reprints of strips like this would be expensive to produce and sell very few copies for any publisher brave enough to even try. If I ever win the Lotto I will procure a complete run of this series and start up a publishing company to rescue these lost classics from obscurity.

Early 20th century newspaper strips were compiled and reprinted in hardcover books. These were the first collected editions, if you will. I was looking at Buster Brown books one night on eBay when I came across this book. A few minutes on Google and I was able to peg this as an affordable reprint, and in color no less! Dover must have photographed the old book that they did this facsimile off of, as the colors are completely authentic and scanners as we now know them were science fiction back in 1974.

The strip itself is charming. Buster Brown is a child in a well to do family during the then-contemporary Victorian era. The fashions and furnishings were current when published but look like something out of Henry Ford Museum today. Buster and his dog Tige always get in trouble, with Buster often finding his posterior region on the receiving end of a hairbrush. Buster tends to get himself into all manner of trouble with a resolution provided in a text panel in each strip. This book seems to span all seasons and doesn't seem to follow any publication order, as it skips back and forth between 1903 and 1904 copyright dates. The strips themselves are undated.

Beating your children with a hairbrush was not only acceptable, it was passed off as wholesome lowbrow family entertainment in 1903-1904. 

Outcault remains a genius. Many modern comic fans are willfully ignorant of the history of the medium. I am by no means an expert, but I am learning more all the time, and the Internet has made studying the history of the medium easier than it would have been in my younger days. Unfortunately many strips like this remain out of reach of most fans due to expense or scarcity. We have been living in the golden age of comic reprints over the past dozen or so years, and in spite of everything that has been published one thing remains clear: We have barely even scratched the surface.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This opens like a calendar, meaning that it opens vertically and not horizontally like a normal book. The strip was originally published as a full sheet. Those old newspapers were huge, so each one is cut in half, with one half on one page and the other half on the next.
Linework and Color restoration: I have no source material to compare this to, but everything looks “authentic”. It's interesting how some of the earliest four color printing presses were more accurate than the ones which would turn up and print early comic books.
Paper stock: Thick uncoated stock with minimal browning on the edges, a real feat for a forty-plus year old book.
Binding: The binding is a stapled, saddle-stitched book.
Cardstock cover notes: Extremely thick cardstock cover with a durable lamination.

Monday, February 27, 2017


STEPHEN KING: THE STAND OMNIBUS (Marvel, First Printing, 2012; Hardcover)

Omnibus dustjacket cover.

Collects Stephen King's The Stand: Captain Trips #1-5, Stephen King's The Stand: American Nightmares #1-5, Stephen King's The Stand: Soul Survivors #1-5, Stephen King's The Stand: Hardcases #1-5, Stephen King's The Stand: No Man's Land #1-5, and Stephen King's The Stand: The Night Has Come #1-6 (cover dates December, 2008- March, 2012)

Companion book dustjacket cover.

Writers: Original story by Stephen King, comic book adaptation by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artist: Mike Perkins
Colorist: Laura Martin

Spines with dustjackets on.

Stephen King is synonymous with Horror. The Stand is a fan favorite, and while my mom was an early adopter of King in the '70s, I have never read the book. I'm not embarrassed to admit that my only prior knowledge of this story came from the Anthrax song Among The Living. I have no idea how well this holds up when compared to the source material, so my review will be based solely on how well it reads as a comic book.

Slipcase spine and spines of both books sans dustjackets.

I got a free copy of the Captain Trips Premiere Edition Hardcover a while back, read it, and loved it so much so that I bought this. Anyone who says that free tastes don't work is wrong. The gist of this series, for all four of you that don't know, is that the Army accidentally releases a supervirus codenamed Captain Trips which kills most of the population and causes the collapse of society.

It's through this chaos that an ultimate showdown between good and evil surfaces. On the side of Satan comes a man named Randall Flagg, “The Walkin' Dude”, a supernatural person with no past whose power grows as fear increases due to society's breakdown and the Government's attempts to suppress information. Flagg reaches out to the disenchanted through their dreams, playing on their fears and insecurities. He calls the survivors to Las Vegas, Nevada, where they will make their stand.

On the side of God is the world's oldest woman, Mother Abagail, who lives in rural Polk County, Nebraska. She reaches out through to the survivors through their dreams, with all of them making a perilous cross country journey to her farm. They end up reestablishing society, and the notion of a showdown with Flagg causes them to send spies to find out what is going on in Nevada. One of them, Tom Cullen, a man with special needs, ends up having a God-given shine that Flagg cannot pierce. Cullen ends up being my favorite character in the book, a real feat when you consider how fully formed the entire cast of characters is.

I won't go into the whys and hows of the battle, nor the outcome, nor how the story seems to continue on in an anticlimactic manner only to be saved at the last minute by a clever ending. I realize that my synopsis is vague, but that was done deliberately. I never give a blow by blow of the story when I do my reviews, as I am opposed to spoilers no matter how old the material is. I prefer to offer up an idea of what I have read as well as my thoughts about it. I am all about the joy of discovery. If this blog has a purpose it is to turn people onto comic books that they may missed amidst the never ending flurry of releases.

This was an incredibly satisfying read with beautiful artwork and tasteful coloring. It's dense and slow burning but it's a real page turner. It demands that you finish it, becoming more urgent with each passing issue. This material is available across a number of formats (original single issues, Premiere Edition hardcovers collecting each mini-series, softcover trade paperbacks which mirror those releases, this book, and of course digital), so there's no excuse not to check it out. Heck, your local library might even have it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Stephen King's adaptations of this and both The Dark Tower sets received a unique slicpase for their Omnibus releases not found in any other book in the line. They collected thirty or so issues in one book and then had all of the extras in a second hardcover. They were also priced 50% higher than any other Marvel Omnibus during this time frame. While the second book and cardboard slipcase certainly added an expense, was it really fifty dollars more of expense? Come on, man. That said, it is a beautiful set.
Paper stock: Thick glossy stock. I miss the high quality paper that Marvel used to use in their Omniboo five years ago.
Binding: Sewn binding, lays flat. This book will last longer than I will.

This stamping appears on the cover of both books in this set.

Dustjacket, Hardback, and Slipcase notes: Dustjacket has that frosted matte feeling with spot varnish. Hardbacks have the faux leather casewrap, front cover stamp, and dye foil stamping on the spine that Marvel has sadly since done away with on their Omnibus line of books. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017


MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE AVENGERS VOL. 11 (Marvel, First Printing, 2011; Hardcover)

Collects Avengers #101-111 and Daredevil #99 (cover dates July, 1972- May, 1973)

Writers: Roy Thomas and Steve Englehart with Harlan Ellison, Chris Claremont, Stan Lee, and Steve Gerber

Artists: Pencilers- Rich Buckler, John Buscema, George Tuska, Jim Starlin, Don Heck, and Sam Kweskin; Inkers- Dan Adkins, Joe Sinnott, Jim Mooney, Dave Cockrum, Frank McLaughlin, Mike Esposito, Frank Giacoia, and Syd Shores.

In this volume we find The Vision and the Scarlet Witch become the focal point for the series. Thomas builds on The Vision's discontentment with his lack of humanity in #102 while introducing a foe who soon-to-be Avengers writer Steve Englehart would use quite often: The Grim Reaper. The Grim Reaper was the brother of the late Wonder Man, whom the Vision's android brain patterns were modeled after. The Grim Reaper offers The Vision his deceased brother's body, which is in a form of stasis, in exchange for him standing aside while he destroys the team to revenge his fallen brother.

While all of that is happening, we see the return of The Sentinels, who have returned to Earth to save humanity from the “threat” of mutantkind. I dig this aspect of Silver and Bronze Age Marvel. The true shared universe aspect, where one hero's villains turn up in another magazine. There didn't have to be some lame tentpole event series with umpteen crossover titles to make it feel that way, either. The shared universe wasn't just implied, it was successfully implemented in an organic way. The suspension of disbelief was easy during this era.

Roy Thomas hands the title off to Steve Englehart with issue 105 after his Sentinels three-parter. Unlike today's comics, The Avengers were left with no time to catch their breaths before being called into action again, this time to the Savage Land. Having scooped up the Black Panther and losing Quicksilver in the previous issue, the team fights another Thomas/Adams X-Men era foe: the Savage Land Mutates: Gaza, Barbarus, Equilibrius, Amphibius, Lupo, Lorelei, and Brainchild. These comics are so action packed and fun to read. Comics without a whiff of self awareness or irony are refreshing when compared to today's hamfisted soapboxes.

#106 is a reframed Captain America inventory story that ties up a dangling plotline from a few issues earlier: The Vision and his desire for humanity. In one of those convoluted, it makes sense because everyone was stoned back then kind of way, the Grim Reaper's partner is none other than the Space Phantom. What makes it even more bizarre is that they use the inventory story as an even more confusing backdrop, inserting the Space Phantom disguised as the head of Hydra for the time being because he was biding his time in order to destroy The Avengers. None of it makes any sense to me either, but it was a blast to read nonetheless.

This “arc” is resolved in #108, which also neatly ties up the Vision and his desire to be human. He and the Scarlet Witch profess their love for one another at the end of that issue, setting the stage for a bizarre human-synthezoid relationship that will culminate in The Celestial Madonna storyline. I read the old trade paperback of that a decade or so ago, and look forward to rereading it remastered in “high def” in the Masterworks. I already own that volume, but it's the whole finding time to read everything that is the challenge. My backlog is like fine wine, aging to perfection. The older and more out of print a book is, the more enjoyable it is to read.

#109 and 110 tie up the loose ends of the Savage Land adventure from a few issues earlier, revealing Magneto to be behind it all while bringing The X-Men into the proceedings as well. Remember, The X-Men were cancelled, with their title being relegated to a reprint series. Writers like Englehart kept them alive, limping along from guest spot to guest spot until Len Wein and Dave Cockrum would give rebirth to the series in 1975. These two issues lead into Daredevil #99, acting as a way to get rid of Hawkeye and bring back the Black Widow, who has been Daredevil's love interest and co-star in that series during that time. #111 wraps up the Magneto/X-Men/Savage Land saga nicely.

The writing is great, while the art is uneven. It starts out very strong. Rich Buckler, an underrated artist if ever there were one, nails the Marvel house style of the era. I'll take this aesthetic over what passes as comic art any day of the week. Jim Starlin and Dave Cockrum aid and abet, adding their polish to various issues. Things go south with the then over-the-hill Don Heck, who phones in weak artwork with weak inking by various folks. Don Heck did some solid work, it's just that this ain't it.

Forget ham-fisted “writers” who write endless pages of talking heads Avengers sitting around a breakfast table. These Avengers save the world on a daily basis, giving the bad guys a what for in the process. I urge folks to pick up some real Avengers comics and see for yourselves.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Marvel Masterworks remain my poison of choice. Indeed, they are the reason that I reentered this accursed hobby lifestyle.
Linework and Color restoration: Marvel Masterworks are the Criterion Blu-Rays of collected editions. Top shelf restoration and a color palette faithful to the original comic books, all lovingly restored to the highest standards. Make mine Marvel Masterworks!
Paper stock: Thick coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding. Lays flat.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Dustjacket has a lamination as well as spot varnish. The hardback casewrap has a faux leather texture with dye foil stamping on the front cover as well as the spine.