Thursday, January 1, 2015

Review- MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 1


MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 1 (Marvel, 2012; Softcover)

Collects Captain America Comics #1-4 (cover dates March-June, 1941)
Writers: Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and unknown writers for Tuk, Caveboy and Hurricane (#2-4)
Artists: Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, Al Liederman, Reed Crandall, Al Gabriele, Al Avison, George Klein, Syd Shores, George Roussos, Bernie Klein, Charles Nicholas Wojtkoski, and other unknown artists

Once...twice...three times a collection. I think that Lionel Richie sang that one but I could be mistaken. Anywho, I bought the old Captain America: The Classic Years Vols. 1 and 2 trade paperbacks a decade ago. While they collected the Captain America stories they did not include the back-up strips and the restoration left a lot to be desired. Then came Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Captain America Vol. 1 in hardcover, which I bought and read in 2006. Then this softcover came out, boasting state-of-the-art restoration above and beyond the as-not-yet-perfected restoration found in the earliest Golden Age Masterworks. There is a Golden Age Captain America Omnibus which also boasts this new restoration job but Vols. 2 and 3 of the Masterworks are fine, so I will keep this book and my original hardcovers of those and pass on that...especially since Marvel uses thinner paper in their newer Omniboo which is not to my liking.


It is important to note that these comics were released from late 1940 through the spring of 1941, well before the United States entered the second World War. It's interesting to see how gung-ho Captain America was to battle Nazis before they were “officially” the enemy. Simon & Kirby's original Captain America is great. The back-up strips are Hurricane, a Flash rip-off of sorts and Tuk, Caveboy, one of an endless array of Tarzan rip-offs. Originality wasn't always high on the list of priorities back then. The more things change...


This book is essential to anyone interested in the history of the character, the history of Marvel Comics, or of the medium in general. It's an entertaining, quaint snapshot of this bygone era.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- I really like these softcover Masterworks, as they are slightly wider than a standard trade paperback and lay flat in one hand like a big fat periodical, which is wonderful.
Linework and Color restoration: As good as it is going to get. Think of it as the Blu-Ray anniversary release.
Paper stock: Decent weight matte finish coated stock. I love it.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Thick waxlike lamination.
 

5 comments:

  1. This is such a great collection. I've only read it in the supposedly inferior hardcover form, which still looked pretty good to me. What do you think of the end of the softcover Masterworks? I'm rather disappointed since I unloaded a bunch of money for all the Fantastic Four and Avengers volumes just before the announcement, and now those lines will never be finished. I'm currently debating whether to sell and replace them with the Epic Collections.

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    1. I am bummed about the end of the softcover Masterworks, as I was using the line as a way to get secondary (to me) titles like Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Sub-Mariner, etc. I have decided to keep my collection a hodge-podge of formats, so long as I have the best possible restorations. For example my Avengers collection looks like this: Omnibus Vol. 1, Vols 4-6 MW TPs, Vol. 7-on HC MW. I love the Epic line, and will use that to pick up characters that I have a mild interest in (i.e. Captain America, Iron Man, etc.) as well as whatever is not covered by Masterworks or Omniboo. It all boils down to how important shelf uniformity is to you. Many of the softcover Masterworks are out of print and command double or better cover price.

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    2. Also, the restoration in the hardcover is serviceable but this version is much tighter linework-wise. Most folks can't tell the difference, but unfortunately for me I can.

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    3. I'm sure I would notice as well, if I saw the softcover. For now, I guess ignorance is bliss. I wonder what the chances are of Marvel releasing any of its Golden or Atlas Age titles in the Epic format...

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    4. I wouldn't hold my breath, seeing as how nearly all of the GA/AE Masterworks are still in print. Marvel did a GA Cap Omnibus, but that was just to recoup the restoration costs of the issues collected in this book as well as cash in on the movie. I could see Marvel doing character-centric Epic collections of GA/AE material once they are out of print, compiling all of Cap's, the Human Torch, and Sub-Mariner's appearances from all of the titles in chronological order like DC's (now also defunct) Chronicles line.

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