Saturday, July 19, 2014



Collects Shade,The Changing Man Nos. 1-8, Stalker Nos. 1-4, and selections from Cancelled Comics Cavalcade No. 2, Ghosts Nos. 77, 111, House of Mystery Nos. 236, 247, 254, 258, 276, House of Secrets Nos. 139, 148, Mystery In Space Nos. 111, 114-116, Plop! No. 16, Secrets of Haunted House Nos. 9, 12, 41, 45, Strange Adventures Nos. 188, 189, Time Warp Nos. 1-4, The Unexpected Nos. 189, 221, and Weird War Tales Nos. 46, 49, 95, 99, 104-106 (cover dates May, 1966- April, 1982)

Writers: Steve Ditko, Michael Fleisher, Otto Binder, Dave Wood, Jack Oleck, David Reed, Jack Harris, Len Wein, Paul Levitz, Steve Skeates, Sheldon Mayer, Robert Kanigher, George Kashdan, Joe Cavalieri, Arnold Drake, Robert Ingersoll, Stan Timmons, J.M. DeMatteis, Mike Barr, Steven Utley, Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, and David Allikas

Artists: Steve Ditko with Inking by Sal Trapani, Mike Royer, Ernie Chan, Wayne Howard, Wally Wood, Vince Coletta, and Gary Martin

Steve Ditko is among the greatest comic book artists of all time. Anyone who created/co-created Spider-Man (and his colorful rogues gallery) and Doctor Strange has cemented their place in comics history. Having said that, the material that comprises this book is almost entirely culled from his, shall we say, less than illustrious era, the mid-70s to early '80s. 

While his contributions to the various Horror and Science Fiction titles are great, Shade,The Changing Man and Stalker leave a lot to be desired. His artwork is still solid and full of all of his idiosyncrasies that we all know and love, but the writing on those two titles straddles between tolerable and terrible. Stalker especially sucks, a weak concept with even weaker execution. If I ever reread this book I will skip these clunkers and make a beeline to the good stuff.

While I am glad that this material has been compiled in a collected edition, the idea of this book is better than the experience of actually reading it. Still, as a Ditko fan who strives to own his complete output in collected editions it is an essential part of my library, substandard presentation and all.

Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.

The OCD zone- DC released this during a period where they decontented their books across the board after consulting Direct Market retailers. Out were quality paper and binding, in was cheap paper, glued binding, and no shrinkwrap, all done to make books “more affordable”. These practices were penny wise and pound foolish. This book feels chintzy and weights about as much as a pack of cigarettes. Those of us who are connoisseurs of high end collected editions thumb our noses up at subpar products like this that try to pass themselves off as high end books.

DVD-style Extras included in this book: Introduction by Jonathan Ross. (3 pages)
DC likely uses first semester community college students who just learned how to use Photoshop to recolor these pages. 
Linework and Color restoration rating: 3 out of 5. While the linework would get a 4.25, it is the horrid, amateur hour recoloring that sinks this book. Lazy airbrush gradients instead of hand colored blends are the order of the day in DC books of classic material. It is harsh and sticks out like a sore thumb to my eyes. I would honestly rather read this stuff in black and white phonebooks than in an improperly colored book like this. While the spirit of the original publications is maintained the blends kill it for me.
A fine example of the horrid recoloring. I feel a stabbing pain behind my eyes when I look at this. 
 Paper rating: 3 out of 5. The paper is basically really thick mando paper, which is a slightly thicker and less acidic version of pulp paper. Hardly the type of paper that one would expect to find in a supposedly high end collected edition like this. It looks like real pulp paper.

Many DC collected editions fans are also binders, which means that they take their floppies and have them custom bound in hardcovers. DC's inattention to detail has earned them the nickname Defective Comics in collected editions circles (credit of term- Aussie Stu from the Masterworks Message Board), leaving many fans that map out and bind their own books. Since they are accustomed to crappy paper in their books they have lower standards for their hardcovers, even going as far as to defend DC's subpar practices like the toilet paper used in this book as well as...

Binding rating: 3 out of 5. ...the glued binding used in this book, which results in both tight gutters and the book not laying flat. Everybody wins!

Hardback cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. While the casewrap has a quality lamination, it's design is so ugly that it makes this book feel even cheesier than the materials used in the cheap boards on the hardback. I would take a picture to show you the horrid design found under the dustjacket but I would prefer to spare you the terror. 

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