Friday, July 6, 2012

Review- MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE MYSTIC COMICS VOL. 1

MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE MYSTIC COMICS VOL. 1 (Marvel, 2011; Hardcover)
Collects Mystic Comics Nos. 1-4 (cover dates March- July, 1940)
Writers: Will Harr, Joe Cal Cagno, Robert O. Erisman, Leo Stalnaker, Norman Daniels, S.S. Bedford, Bill O'Connor, George Kapitan, Andrew McWhiney, and others.
Artists: Jack Binder, Fred Schwartz, Alfred H. Newton, L.F. Bjorklund, Fred Guardineer, Arnold Lorne Hicks, E.C. Stoner, Gus Ricca, Eddie Heron, Malcom Kildale, Ben Flinton, Leonard Sansone, Harry Sahle, George Harrison, Bill Everett, Russ Lanford, Alex Schomburg, and others. 
I have read a pretty fair amount of Golden Age comic books, thanks to wonderful collected editions like this one. The novelty of something being old, and of reading something solely for historical value, is enough to draw me into buying these books. Having said that, this book falls short on entertainment value in the first two issues. They were filled with excess inventory strips from various sweatshop comic packaging companies, and were a chore to get through. Issue 1 especially sucked. By issue 3, things were picking up, and by issue 4, I was in. The Black Widow? Dynamic Man? The Thin Man? I am a sucker for this type of cheesy goodness. 
I am also a sucker for the politically incorrect, excessively violent nature of these old-tyme comic books. Heroes killed villains at every turn, and you cheered them on for it. I can't cheer on the X-Men doing that because it goes against the foundations of the characters, but for these post-Pulp heroes, it's kosher. 
If you have read The Twelve and are curious about the origins of Dynamic Man and the Black Widow, then this is book is a must read. Dynamic Man's origin is incredibly stupid, even by Golden Age standards. He was a synthetic man created for a better tomorrow. So rather than just going out and bashing in the heads of the bad guys, he gets a job with the FBI. Wouldn't the FBI have had rigorous background checks in place, even back in those days? Its as nonsensical as the Golden Age Human Torch, who starts out as an android, becomes a cop, and is never referred to as an android again until the '60s. 
The Black Widow is great. I love the whole servant of Satan angle, as it must have been super cutting edge at the time. The Spectre was going on during this time over at National Periodicals (DC), and I am curious what other macabre heroes existed during this era. Can anyone point me in the right direction? The Thin Man pre-dates Plastic Man, and contorts his body in many of the same ways as ol' Plas. Influence or happy coincidence? Who can really say, since these cats are mostly dead and gone. 
The OCD zone- Superb color and linework restoration faithful to the original issues, godlike paper, and sewn binding, all of which make my heart flutter. 
 
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