Friday, November 26, 2010

Reviews: Marvel Masterworks- The Silver Surfer Vol. 1; X-Men- Mutant Massacre; Dark Reign- The Hood & The Smashing Pumpkins- Teargarden By Kaleidyscope Vol. 2

Collects The Silver Surfer Nos. 1-6 and material from Fantastic Four Annual No. 6 and Not Brand Echh No. 13 (cover dates November, 1967- June, 1969).
My OCD sucks. I had an older printing of this same book and sold it off to upgrade to this refurbished back-to-press edition. Marvel Masterworks didn't have coloring faithful to the original issues when the line launched, because they didn't figure that people cared one way or the other. Comic book fans are among the most anal-retentive purist types around, so this was a gross underestimate of their target audience. The Internet has helped Marvel know just how anal we are! In the old printing that I had, the Silver Surfer was colored a light blue to simulate silver. When Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer came out several years ago, Marvel issued a Silver Surfer Omnibus with restored linework and coloring faithful to the original issues. I resisted the siren's call of a lush, over-sized hardcover because I already had both Masterworks. Then I read that it had glued mousetrap binding, and that made it much easier to avoid. They did some side-by-side views of the material, and it was then that I realized how god-awful my versions looked. The Omnibus fell out of print and life went on. Marvel reissued the Masterworks using the restored Omnibus files, and I resisted for a while. I was afraid that these would fall out of print, so I snatched them up. Then Marvel reissued them in softcover AFTER I plunked down the cash for the hardcovers. &$^#&^*^(*&^*&#$*!!!
This is some of the best writing of Stan Lee's career. Way melodramatic and riffing on Shakespeare, the Bible, etc., this character echoes much of Lee's personal philosophy and reflects the times that it was originally published in. John Buscema's artwork is simply stunning, especially on the first 3 issues where Joe Sinnott inks him. His brother Sal Buscema inks issues 4-6, and while I feel that Sal is a competent penciler, he is a terrible inker. He barely traces the linework of the penciler, and I prefer a more heavy-handed approach, like Sinnott has. Issue 3, the first appearance of Mephisto, is the best of the entire 18 issue run. Stan Lee really knocked that one out of the park, and John Buscema's artwork is just amazing. Well worth picking this stuff up if you've never read it, or re-reading it even if you have.

Collects Daredevil No. 238, New Mutants No. 46, Power Pack  No. 27, Thor Nos. 373, 374, Uncanny X-Men Nos. 210-214 and X-Factor Nos. 9-11 (cover dates October, 1986- February, 1987).
...and here we have what you would call the TRIPLE dip. I bought the Uncanny X-Men and Power Pack issues when they were originally released back in 1986, and then bought the softcover Mutant Massacre trade paperback several years ago. Then Marvel announced this expanded, high-end hardcover, and with this being a beloved memory from my youth, how could I resist? Nice paper and sewn binding, the only letdown was the inferior linework restoration in Uncanny X-Men Nos. 211-213. I think that those issues looked better in the otherwise inferior trade paperback release.
These were among my favorite issues of the X-Men that summer (cover dates were 4 months ahead in the Direct Market in 1986). I remember being bummed after John Romita, Jr. left the title, only to discover the wonderful artwork of Alan Davis. These issues were also the first time that Wolverine fought Sabretooth, although Marvel would ret-con that to an asinine degree later on. Sabretooth started out as a B-lister, fighting Iron Fist, etc, and then Marvel made him into a "star" in the '90s. Then they crapped up both his and Wolverine's backstories to the point that they don't even resemble the characters they once were and I no longer care about either of them. Back in 1986, though, Issues 212 and 213 were a different story. Wolverine was one of my favorite characters circa 1986, and the fight between him and Sabretooth was something that my comic book collecting buddies and I talked about ad nauseum back then.

DARK REIGN: THE HOOD (Marvel, 2009)
Collects Dark Reign: The Hood Nos. 1-5 and material from Dark Reign: The Cabal (cover dates June- November, 2009).
The only thing that I like better than comic books are CHEAP comic books! I found this in a $5 box at the Motor City Comic Con last May, and flipped through it. Once I noticed the Kyle Hotz artwork, I decided to give it a try. I really enjoyed his artwork on the two recent Zombie (Simon Garth) mini-series that Marvel put out a few years ago. The Hood is an interesting character even though I mostly dislike his appearances in New Avengers and the whole Norman Osborn/ Dark Reign concept. The $5 box is the quarter box equivalent for trades, so it wasn't a huge gamble.

The Smashing Pumpkins/ Teargarden By Kaleidyscope Vol. 2- The Solstice Bare
The second of eleven 4-track EPs, The Solstice Bare is a different beast than Vol. 1- Songs For A Sailor. The Fellowship finds Senor Corgan and company delving into electronica/techno/whatever it's called these days, and wouldn't have sounded out of place on his 2005 solo album TheFutureEmbrace. Freak U.S.A. (as it is titled on the CD's digipak), formerly known as Freak when it first appeared as a free download last July, sounds much better here than the mp3s on the main site. Tom Tom is a decent song, not as great as everyone hyped it to be, but decent. Spangled is absolutely gorgeous, the best post-reunion song. Cottonwood Symphony, the B-side on the accompanying 12" vinyl record in the box, is good as well.
The packaging on this release is fairly elaborate, with it being in a box with a reflective psychedelic "wall paper" wrapping. The vinyl is 180g 12", and unlike Vol. 1, all 4 songs from the CD are on it, with the B-side song being the only song on that side. The CD comes in a gatefold digipak, which again is nicer from Vol. 1's cardboard sleeve for the CD. I am a sucker for physical media. There is no other reason why I would buy this, since 3 of the 5 tracks are available for free on the website.

1 comment:

  1. RE: Silver Surfer:"Issue 3, the first appearance of Mephisto, is the best of the entire 18 issue run. Stan Lee really knocked that one out of the park, and John Buscema's artwork is just amazing" - Oh, so true!