Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reviews: G.I. Joe Special Missions Vol. 2; The Creeper By Steve Ditko; Marvel Masterworks The X-Men Vol. 8

G.I. JOE SPECIAL MISSIONS VOL. 2 (IDW, 2010; softcover)
Collects G. I. Joe Special Missions Nos. 8-14 (cover dates December, 1987- October, 1988).
I think that I dropped this series around Issue 10. I was dropping more and more monthlies around this time, and likely dropped the main series too. Larry Hama and Herb Trimpe turned in some entertaining stories here, and the amount of military research involved is impressive. The restoration is so-so, but at least it seems to be improving.
THE CREEPER BY STEVE DITKO (DC, 2010; Hardcover)
Collects Beware The Creeper Nos. 1-6, Showcase No. 73 and selections from Canceled Comic Cavalcade No. 2 and World's Finest Comics Nos. 249-255 (cover dates April, 1968- March, 1979).
The first six issues in this book (Beware The Creeper Nos. 1-6) were mind-blowingly good. Ditko's art was even better here than his run on Amazing Spider-Man, with his action sequences ramped up to borderline ultraviolence levels, plenty of shading and atmosphere, etc. He was the plotter for this series, and early on seemed to hint that the Creeper's personality might be creeping over into Jack Ryder's. This plotline was never fully explored in this book. Pity. (Note: I just checked on Wikipedia, and other writers explored this later. Sorry, I am a Creeper "virgin".) Some of the later issues in this book, while very good, don't even come close to the greatness achieved in the first six. I guess there are lots more Creeper appearances out there. I hope that DC makes a companion to this hardcover, or a Showcase Presents phonebook at the very least.
OCD department: This book, like most of DC's modern classic material collected edition hardcovers, could really use an upgrade. The paper is very thin and the binding is glued, which doesn't help the tight gutters I had to endure while reading this book. (Note to civilians: The gutter is the white borders on the inside of either page outside of the panels. There is usually a visible white line when reading floppies, and here it is almost panel on panel.) While there are many fans out there who enjoy toilet paper thin paper and glued bindings that prevent the book from laying flat, I am not one of them. The coloring and restoration look good, though. This book is worth picking up, but the production values may underwhelm connoisseurs of high end hardcovers.
MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE X-MEN VOL. 8 (Marvel, 2010; Hardcover)
Collects The Avengers Nos. 110, 111, Captain America Nos. 172-175, Incredible Hulk Nos. 172, 180, 181 and Marvel Team-Up Nos. 23, 28 (cover dates August, 1973- October, 1975)
As hard as it may seem to believe to modern comic fans, there was a time when the X-Men were canceled due to low sales. That's right, after Issues 66, the title became a reprint magazine until the infamous Issue 94. This volume, along with volume 7, document 'The Hidden Years' of the X-Men, where assorted Marvel Bullpen-ers kept the team alive with guest spots in various titles. Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 would be released in the Spring of 1975 and introduce the "New" X-Men, and change the course of comic book history along the way.
Writer Steve Englehart did an excellent job of having an actual ongoing plotline for the X-Men through these various Marvel mags during this time, if readers cared to follow or piece it together for themselves. I had never read any of his run on Captain America and was very impressed with those issues. Artist Herb Trimpe's rendering on the Incredible Hulk issues was great, too. His version of Wolverine would be tweaked by Dave Cockrum and then perfected by John Byrne. What started out as a quasi-villain in the Hulk would go on to become one of the most recognizable characters in all of comics.
This Volume isn't essential for the casual X-Men fan, but if you are a diehard, it's a must. Seeing the puzzle pieces all together like this really changes one's perspective on what would appear to be a scatter shot of issues in one hardcover.
In closing, this book, like all Marvel Masterworks and Omnibus editions released in the last few years, is perfect. The paper, the coloring, the binding, are all done to perfection. DC would do well to take notes, as this is the standard to beat.

3 comments:

  1. Great reviews, and I'm especially happy to hear that the eighth X-Men Masterworks is a solid book. I kind of expected the stuff outside their own title to be kind of lame, and I wasn't aware that it was people like Steve Englehart doing their best to keep the characters around.

    I definitely want to read those issues now, and the only question is how I'm going to do it. I'm not usually a big Marvel Masterworks collector, as I prefer the Omnibus editions. The second X-Men Omnibus is going to collect up through the first six Masterworks, though, leading me to believe the seventh and eighth ones might not get the same treatment.

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  2. Yeah, I would guess that Vols. 7 and 8 will not got Omnibus-ed in the future. Vol. 7 is worthwhile because of the Beast stories from Amazing Adventures.

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  3. I can't wait for it to come out in paperback!

    Re quality: I would actually prefer it if the Marvel trades were on matt paper like some of those Vertigo trades (eg. Scalped or DMZ). Sometimes they look too glossy and the colours are too bright and solid.

    But, hey, these Masterworks are a dream come true for the comic mad kid I used to be... : )

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