VALOR ANNUAL VOL. 1 (Gemstone, 1999; Softcover)
Collects Valor Nos. 1-5 (cover dates April- December, 1955)
Writers: Carl Wessler, Otto Binder, E. Toomey, and possibly other unidentified writers
Artists: Wally Wood, Al Williamson, Angelo Torres, Bernie Krigstein, Graham Ingels, Joe Orlando, Reed Crandall, and George Evans
Colorist: Marie Severin
Valor was one of the 'New Direction' titles, which were a self-censored attempt to assuage Frederick Wertham and the Comics Code Authority. Gone are the blood and guts and violence, in are semi-historical tales of battle in Medieval days. Tales of knights storming castles, the Crusades, Rome, and the French Revolution are all found here.
Even though this was the “kinder and gentler” EC there was still plenty of action as well as the ironic twist endings which were an EC hallmark. The writing and artwork are as high quality as ever, just read the list of creators above. It's a regular who's who of 1950s greats.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- If you do not know what an EC Annual is, then pull up a chair. I'll give you the skinny on these great books. Gemstone overprinted their single issue reprints in the '90s with an eye toward selling their own back issues. They re-purposed this overstock by gluing 5 entire issues into a cardstock cover. While this is not technically a trade paperback (it has no ISBN), it is squarebound and has the title on the spine. Close enough for Rock and Roll in my book.
My only gripe with this book is that the gutters are occasionally tight, the result of the material being formatted for Golden Age comics but reprinted in modern comic size, which is slightly narrower. Nothing is lost in the gutters but I thought that I would make a note of this for those who are concerned with such things.
These EC Annuals can be ordered directly from Russ Cochran at his site for a paltry $7.50 each. You can't find a better entertainment value for that price anywhere.
Linework restoration rating: 5 out of 5. William Gaines kept the original artwork, or filmed it, and so what you have here are superb presentations of this material with no line dropouts.
Color restoration rating: 5 out of 5. The color palette is entirely faithful to the original issues with the exceptions of the covers. Marie Severin recolored them all for the EC Library sets, and those same versions are found here.
Paper rating: 3.5 out of 5. The comics themselves are printed on the mando/heavy pulp paper of the day, while the covers are presented on the original slick cover stock. Issue 1 was swapped by the printer from mando to baxter paper, and I'll give that issue a 5 rating. It's too bad that they didn't print every issue on baxter paper.
Binding rating: 4.5 out of 5. The glued binding is 15 years old and has nary a creak when you flip through it.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 4 out of 5. There isn't much in the way of coating, but this book has a nice thick cover and a fair amount of flex.