AVENGERS: THE COMING OF THE BEAST (MARVEL PREMIERE CLASSIC VOL. 56) (Marvel, 2010; Hardcover)
Collects Avengers Nos. 137-140, 145, 146 (cover dates July, 1975- April, 1976)
Writers: Steve Englehart (137-140) and Tony Isabella (145, 146)
Artists: George Tuska (Penciler, 137-140), Vince Colletta (inker, 137-140), Don Heck (145, 146), and Keith Pollard (146).
Boy, that Marvel sure is sneaky. Over the course of four Marvel Premiere Classic hardcovers, we now have issues 137-166 collected. The Masterworks are currently at issue 119 with Volume 12, so within a couple of volumes we will begin to see some overlap. I am so ill that I will upgrade to the Masterworks anyways, and probably give this book to my son at that point in time.
George Tuska and Vince Colletta are a mediocre art team. Tuska's craft had deteriorated by this point in time, and Colletta is not my cup of tea when paired with Tuska. Steve Englehart is in the upper echelon of Avengers writers. Sure, his writing and dialogue are occasionally dated and corny, but these comic books are nearly 40 years old. I suspect that Bendis' run on the title will not fare anywhere near as well as Englehart's does 35+ years after it sees print.
Issues 145 and 146 were a two part fill in story by Tony Isabella and Don Heck. I've always enjoyed Isabella's writing, and Don Heck turns in some solid artwork. This two-parter was done to give Englehart and new penciler George Perez some breathing room as they fell behind schedule. Nowadays they would've just delayed the book two months. In any case, I enjoyed these two “extra” issues more than the core arc collected here. Don Heck's artwork is much, much easier on the eyes than the team of Tuska and Colletta's.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.
The OCD zone- The late, lamented Marvel Premiere Classic line of hardcovers were a sort of junior Masterworks line, with decent restoration, nice paper, and sewn binding at a much lower MSRP. I'll admit that I am part of the problem as to why this line was cancelled. After buying the first bunch of them at regular price, I quickly became discouraged seeing them clog the remainder bins at conventions at steep disounts and quit pre-ordering them. I got this for $10, sealed and in mint condition. While I prefer this Direct Market variant dustjacket design to the regular bookstore market one, they were branded with volume numbers on the spine. If you didn't buy them all, your shelves would look strange with these random volume numbers on them. For $10, I can live with this bookshelf anomaly. For full price, no way Jose.
Linework restoration rating: 4 out of 5. There are several pages with spotty restoration. Even Cory Sedlmeier couldn't make the team of Tuska and Colletta look good.
Color restoration rating: 4.5 out of 5. The colors are spot on and faithful to the original comics.
Paper rating: 4.5 out of 5. This line of books have a thick coated stock.
Binding rating: 5 out of 5. Wonderful sewn binding which allows the book to lay flat from the first page to the last.
Dustjacket coating rating: 3 out of 5. This has that image coated/ solid blacks not coated approach that so many publishers have adopted. It is easily scuffed and therefore loses points here in the OCD zone. Durability trumps fancy production values every time out in my world.
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