Friday, February 2, 2018


MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE ALL-WINNERS VOL. 4 (Marvel, First Printing, 2011; Hardcover)

Collects All-Winners Comics #15-19, 21, Vol. 2 # 1 (cover dates Spring, 1945- August, 1948)

Writers: Bill Finger, Otto Binder, William Woolfolk, and other unidentified writers

Artists: Alex Schomburg (covers), Mort Lawrence, Art Seymour, Al Bellman, Vince Alascia, George Klein, Al Avison, Clem Weisbecker, Mike Sekowsky, Maurice Gutwirth, Syd Shores, Allen Bellman, Mort Leav, Carl Burgos, Al Gabriele, Bob Powell, Louis Ferstadt, Carl Pfeufer, and other unidentified artists

Superheroes weren't selling very well after World War II. With the wind taken out of their sales, these comics come off as also rans, plodding along with writing and artwork that was vastly inferior to the earlier issues in this series.

By the time that we reach #17 there is a massive uptick in quality. Gone are the rush jobs done by the second tier comic book journeymen of the day, in is the more refined artwork by the likes of Al Avison, George Klein, and others. The writing in that issue is also head and shoulders above the previous two collected in this volume. Issue 18 is even better than #17.

Unlike DC's Justice Society Of America over in All-Star Comics, the All Winners Squad didn't really work together as a team until #19. This issue aped the JSA formula so well that had they employed it earlier they might have saved the title. There was no #20, and #21 occurred because the title took over the numbering from another title. 

Don't worry, kids! Those gorillas which Bucky is gunning down turned out to be wearing bullet proof vests later...not that Bucky knew it at the time. No PETA in the 1940s.

This was a common practice back among magazine publishers then, as they had to pay to file a new magazine title with the Post Office. Ditching titles while keeping numbering was common through the 1960s. This makes the relaunched #1 in 1948 even more curious. Was it a last ditch effort to save the series? An oversight? We can only guess now, as nearly everyone who worked on these comics is dead and gone. Record keeping wasn't much of a consideration in the comic world back then.

The Human Torch gives The Gay Blade a what-for in 1948.

#21 sees the All Winners Squad battle Future Man, a menace from the year One Million AD. He gives the team a run for their money. The relaunched #1 from 1948 was the best issue out of all four volumes in this line of books. We finally get to see the Blonde Phantom! I would love to read more of her exploits. Alas, Marvel has mothballed all plans for this Golden Age line of Masterworks, citing the unwelcome combination of soft sales and high restoration costs. I hope that they reverse that decision one day, as there is a lot of material that deserves to be restored and rereleased.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Linework and Color restoration: Think of the post-2007 Masterworks as definitive Blu-Ray editions, with painstakingly restored linework and a color palette that is 100% faithful to the source material. Those who claim that the colors miss the “artistic choice” of so- called Ben Day dots are nuts.

Paper stock: Thick semi-glossy coated stock.

Binding: Rounded book casing and Smyth sewn binding allow this book to lay completely flat in one hand as Godzilla intended.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Spot varnish on the dustjacket, faux leather casewrap with dye foil stamping.

1 comment:

  1. This is some of the material I read in Fantasy Masterpieces and/or Marvel Super Heroes back in 1967-68 I'm pretty sure..?