SETTING THE STANDARD: COMICS BY ALEX TOTH 1952-1954 (Fantagraphics, First Printing, August, 2011; Softcover)
Collects selections from Best Romance #5, Joe Yank #5, 6, 8, 10, New Romances #10, 11, 14, 16-20, Today's Romance #6, Battlefront #5, My Real Love #5, Out Of The Shadows #5, 6, 10-12, Adventures Into Darkness #5, 8, 9, The Unseen #5, 6, Crime Files #5, Intimate Love #19, 21, 22, 26, Fantastic Worlds #5, 6, This Is War #5, 6, 9, Lost Worlds #5, 6, Jet Fighters #5, 7, Popular Romance #22-27, Who Is Next? #5, Exciting War #8, Thrilling Romances #22-24, and The Unseen #12, 13 (cover dates February, 1952- March, 1954)
Writers: Kim Aamodt and other, unidentified writers
Artists: Alex Toth with Inking by Sy Barry, John Celardo, Mike Peppe, Mike Sekowsky, and Mike Esposito)
The genius of Alex Toth may be lost on younger fans, as he was one of those artists whose voice was so different than his peers that those who followed in his footsteps stripmined his brilliance to the point where it became the norm. When you compare his Standard Comics output to his contemporaries he is head and shoulders above everyone aside from the stable of artists over at EC.
That said, the stories in and of themselves are unremarkable at best and banal at worst. Most of the writing is average or worse for the era, with the occasional story standing out. I enjoy this era of comic books, but if you are a fan of modern decompression style comic books then this book might be a chore for you to read. Toth did a lot of war and romance comics, and those are heavily featured in this book. I am not a big fan of either genre but Toth's artwork made them palatable. His Pre-Code Horror work is collected here as well.
His Horror and Sci-Fi stuff really pop, but to be honest none of the stories in this book are what I'd call great. This book is still a worthwhile addition to any serious comic fan's library. This is over 400 pages, so it is dense and will take a while to plow through it but it is worth it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- This book is larger and wider than a standard trade paperback, which is great because Golden Age comics were wider than modern comics. The material is presented in it's original size here.
Linework and Color restoration: High resolution scans, cleaned up and presented in a warts and all fashion. Some fans like the line bleed and off register printing found in collections like this, others prefer full blown “frame up” restoration. Your mileage may vary.
Paper stock: Heavy duty uncoated stock.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback. The binding feels a bit wonky to me, as the weight of the book block feels like it is trying to pull itself out of the cover. Handle this one with care, folks.
Cardstock cover notes: Thick cardstock cover with high quality matte lamination embellished with spot varnish.