THE COMPLETE GOLDEN AGE AIRBOY & VALKYRIE (Canton Street Press, 2013; Hardcover)
Collects the Airboy stories from Air Fighters Vol. 1 No. 12, Vol. 2 Nos. 2, 7, 12 and Airboy Vol. 2, No. 12, Vol. 3 Nos. 6, 12, Vol. 4 No. 10, Vol. 9 No. 2 (originally published by Hillman, cover dates September, 1943- March, 1952)
Writers: Harry Stein, Dick Wood
Artists: Fred Kida (Penciler), Bill Quackenbush (Inker), Arthur Peddy (Penciler), Bernard Sachs (Inker), Ernest Schroeder
Wow! I had never heard of this series before, but once they announced this book I couldn't live without it. I am sucker for obscure Golden Age stuff, even though this was not obscure at the time it was originally published. I have a passing familiarity with the artwork of Fred Kida, mostly from his work on Captain Britain of the 1970s. He is worlds better here, with his artwork being well above average for the era. I loved it. The writing is charming and this is a fun read. I really enjoyed the Skywolf guest spot. His sudden appearance was confusing since he was a supporting cast member whose introduction was not included here.
Valkyrie starts out as an enemy but quickly becomes an ally of Airboy, helping him fight the Nazis. The later stories are post-World War II, and things become hazy. She is an adversary again, albeit a somewhat playful one. In the earlier stories Airboy has a crush on this “older” woman, and vice versa. He is 15 years old and yet is allowed to fly an airplane, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Not just any airplane, though, but a one of a kind airplane that flaps it's wings named Birdie. Birdie boasts wrist controls that make it technologically superior to anything that even the Allies had in the war. No explanation is given to the whys and wherefores of any of this. With Golden Age comic books it is best to super size your suspension of disbelief.
The title of this book is marginally deceptive. While it is true that these are the complete adventures of Airboy and Valkyrie, there are a ton of solo Airboy adventures which occurred before, during, and after the issues collected here. One of his solo stories is included here for continuity sake, as it introduces the villain Misery who becomes a recurring arch-nemesis. All that I know is that these stories left me wanting more more more Airboy! Canton Street Press, answer the call! Please give us more Airboy hardcovers!
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Canton Street Press' inaugural entry into the collected edition world is impressive indeed! Golden Age material in a full color hardcover with decent production values at a reasonable price.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Introduction by Timothy Truman (4 pages)
Linework and Color restoration rating: 4.5 out of 5. These are very high resolution scans with all of the yellowing removed. This is all the more impressive when you consider that this is CSP's first book. The only downside to using scans of the source material is that all of the imperfections of the source material is present. Line bleed, off register printing, so on and so forth. It is historically accurate, however. Some fans prefer this approach, others prefer full blown restoration. It is subjective to one's own preference, really. I can see the benefits and drawbacks to both methods.
Paper rating: 4.5 out of 5. Decent weight uncoated stock paper. It is in the vein of Fantagraphics' paper but is slightly thinner.
Binding rating: 4.5 out of 5. Sewn binding, although I do not believe that it is Smyth sewn as I do not see stitches anywhere. I checked page by page, hoping to see stitches, as I love counting them. You can tell by glancing at the book block that it is indeed sewn. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
Hardback cover coating rating: 4.5 out of 5. There is not dustjacket for this book. The image is printed directly on the boards and sealed in a, for lack of a better term, rubbery feeling dull matte finish coating. It is scuff resistant and, while different feeling, is nice. I like it and can live with it. The closest comparison that I can make would be Marvel's Marvel Now Premiere Hardcovers.