THE INCREDIBLE HULK OMNIBUS VOL. 1 (Marvel, 2008; Hardcover)
Collects Incredible Hulk (Vol. 1) Nos. 1-6, Tales to Astonish Nos. 59-101, and Incredible Hulk No. 102 (cover dates May, 1962- April, 1968)
I had never read anything in this book beyond the origin story in Incredible Hulk No. 1, and was blown away. Literally every single Silver Age great got a crack at this title. The stars of the show was the team of Jack Kirby and Bill Everett. Bill Everett's inking over Kirby's pencils rules, adding a staggering amount of both detail and heavy linework... just stunning to look at. If you get a chance, pick up the Marvel Masterworks Golden Age Sub-Mariner Vols. 1 and 2 to see more Everett's greatness; you won't be sorry. Everett is one of the "lost" greats, in that no one seems to talk about him anymore. Stan Lee crams a lot of story into each issue, something that Bendis should try. Bendis would stretch each issue into a 6 issue 'arc'.
MARVEL MASTERWORKS GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 2 (Marvel, 2008; Hardcover)
Collects Captain America Comics Nos. 5-8 (cover dates August- November, 1941)
Jack Kirby's Golden Age artwork oozes with raw charm. The team of Simon/Kirby's WWII propaganda is fascinating to read from both a historical and politically incorrect perspective. These issues were released prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I often laugh out loud when reading these, thinking Oh my God, I can't believe that this was printed and sold to children! There is lots of fighting and graphic violence in these old comics, with people getting killed left and right, often because they "deserved it" or "had it coming".
SEX, DRUGS & VIOLENCE IN THE COMICS (Pure Imagination, 2008)
Collects selections from Captain Science No. 1, Crime Detector No. 5, Fight Against Crime No. 4, Frankenstein Comics No. 32, Headline Comics No. 27, It's Best To Know About Alcohol, Justice Traps the Guilty No. 1, Menace Comics No. 3, Reform School Girl, Trapped!, True Crime No. 2, True Crime Comics No. 5, Wanted Comics No. 18, What If They Call Me Chicken?, and Young Romance No. 23
This is a compilation of assorted crime/ sensationalist/ exploitation style comics that were so popular prior to McCarthy-ism. Most of the artwork is serviceable for the era but not noteworthy, and the scripting follows suit. You get the occasional Simon/Kirby story, or even a Stan Lee, but most of this is not of that caliber. I just wish that these were collected in color and in hardcover like the Masterworks or DC Archives. Since these off brand stories are in the public domain, maybe I should do that and make some money off of it so that I can use that money to buy more comic books. Hmmmmmmmmm.....
NEW MUTANTS CLASSIC VOL. 3 (Marvel, 2008)
Collects New Mutants (Vol. 1) Nos. 18-25 and New Mutants Annual No. 1 (cover dates August, 1984- March, 1985)
Chris Claremont is one of my all-time favorite writers, except when he gets overly wordy. There are times, like towards the end of this book, where he over explains and over analyzes everything. There is a careful balance that I like, between having a lot of narrative and dialogue vs. modern day decompression. Too much, and the story becomes bogged down. Too little *coughBendiscough* and you have what amounts to little more than a picture book. Bill Sienkewicz's art leaves me cold, being too scratchy and unfocused. His early stuff of the Moon Knight back-up stories in Rampaging Hulk was brilliant. Hell, his early '80s Moon Knight stuff was brilliant! Maybe his latter-day scratchy style seems better suited to the crime/noir aspect of Moon Knight, or maybe it just looked better when it was printed in black and white in Essential Moon Knight Vol. 2 than it does here in color. He just got overly artsy for my tastes. I prefer photo realism, Ala Neal Adams, John Byrne and Gene Colan. Bob McLeod, the series' original penciler, returns for the annual, and provides a sharp contrast with his smooth, refined artwork. I bought issue 23 off of the stands when it came out.
MARVEL ADVENTURES SPIDER-MAN VOL. 9: FIERCEST FOES (Marvel, 2008)
Collects Marvel Adventures Spider-Man Nos. 33-36 (cover dates January- April, 2008)
This is an all-ages, directed at grade schoolers series. Think of it as Spidey Super Stories for the 21st Century. Oddly enough, this series provides more solid storytelling than the "real" Spider-Man series. The artwork has always been too mangish for my tastes. I truly despise Manga. It is the worst flavor to be introduced to mainstream superhero comics since Jim Lee/ Rob Liefield and those losers rolled into town.
X-MEN: EMPEROR VULCAN (Marvel, 2008)
Collects X-Men: Emperor Vulcan Nos. 1-5 (cover dates November, 2007- March, 2008)
Christopher Yost took what should have been a kick-ass, 48 page Annual and padded it into 5 issue limited series. Still, this was a satisfying if a tad too decompressed read for my tastes. I dislike the fact that Vulcan is yet another Summers relative. Isn't Cyclops, Havok, Corsair, Cable, Phoenix II/Marvel Girl II enough? Vulcan could have just been some evil guy, but they just had to add backstory to something that didn't require it.