DITKO MONSTERS: GORGO! (Yoe Books/ IDW, 2013; Hardcover)
Collects the Steve Ditko penciled stories from Gorgo Nos. 1-3, 11, 13-16, and The Return of Gorgo Nos. 2, 3 (cover dates 1960- Fall, 1964)
Writer: Joe Gill
Artist: Steve Ditko
A giant Godzilla-derived monster with Steve Ditko art in a title that most folks were unaware ever existed. It's like finding a lost Beatles B-side or something! Gorgo was a MGM film made to capitalize on the runaway success of Godzilla, the greatest monster of all time. One of the interesting things about this is that Gorgo is the baby, and many times his rampant destruction is no different than a toddler being playful or throwing a tantrum. His Mom will come along to retrieve her baby, and she seems to be more destructive. Instead of being the greatest book ever, as I had hyped myself up to believe, it was merely a decent, entertaining monster book that just happened to have artwork by Steve Ditko.
This is solid Silver Age Ditko but it is not as brilliant as his work on Amazing Spider-Man or on Doctor Strange over in Strange Tales. This is still something worth owning for Ditko and giant monster fans. Between this book, Blake Bell's wonderful Steve Ditko Archives over at Fantagrpahics, DC's The Steve Ditko Omnibus hardcovers and both Action Heroes Archives (his '60s Charlton superhero work), Dark Horse's Indiana Jones Omnibus books, and of course the various Marvel Masterworks, it has never been easier or more affordable to acquire most of Ditko's output. Aside from his work on ROM from the '80s, pretty much all of his major comic book work has been collected in the past few years.
There is a bizarre Jack The Ripper reference in The Hidden Witness from Gorgo #3. In this issue, the U.S.S. Ripper is trapped under a mountain of rocks from an undersea avalanche. The control tower for one of the fighter planes involved in the search and rescue mission is called Whitechapel. I just thought that this was a macabre reference by Joe Gill. Who knows, maybe Gill was watching a television show on Jack The Ripper while hammering out this script.
The obvious comparison for Ditko is Kirby, since they were peers and were largely responsible for the Marvel Age of Comics. Ditko is better at drawing weird, eerie things, but Kirby buries Ditko when it comes to monsters. Ditko is better at drawing people. There is a companion Ditko Monsters book, Konga!, this one about a King Kong derivative. I have that and will read that someday. I am never in a rush to read books of decades old material. What's another year or three when it comes to 50 plus year old comic books?
These comics are steeply rooted in their time, with all of the Cold War paranoia and fear of alien invasions common in comics of the early 1960s. Ditko loves his aliens, and this time we get a 15 foot tall frog being. The further along we go, the more outlandish and enjoyable the stories became. His artwork is tighter in the earlier issues, but his creativity is greater later on. I did a search at the Grand Comics Database, one of the greatest sites on the entire Internet, and looked up the issues not collected here. There are some name talents in every issue, and now I want to see the entire series collected! Damn you, completist OCD! Hopefully PS Artbooks or Fantagraphics or Dark Horse will pick up the mantle and reprint these in hardcover.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Craig Yoe understands why physical books must be something special, lest they be replaced by their digital tablet counterparts. The UPC design is frickin' incredible.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Introduction by Craig Yoe. Cover to Gorgo #1 by Dick Giordano.
Linework and Color restoration rating: 4.5 out of 5. These are digitally cleaned up high resolution scans. No need to worry about the linework or color restoration being unfaithful to the original publication. The drawback to this method is the line bleed and occasional off register printing which were inherent in the original comic books due to the primitive printing methods.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Wonderfully thick uncoated stock with zero sheen, may be enjoyed under any light source. Trust me, I read books in different rooms with different lighting as part of my insane OCD experiments. In my house I have incandescent, CFLs, LEDs, fluorescent, and halogen bulbs. I have also read this by natural sunlight. Science!
Binding rating: 4.5 out of 5. This has sewn binding and the book block is allowed ample room to flex within the squared casing. The book lays flat.
Hardback cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. Wow, this has to be the most unique collected edition hardback coating...ever! It feels like a scaly reptile hide, with selected parts being a smooth solid. It's unique and actually adds a level of enjoyment to the reading. Like I stated above, you can read books digitally now, so the physical product must become something really special in order to retain casual buyers. Physical media dinosaurs like myself will always prefer a real book in their hands.