MARVEL MASTERWORKS: FANTASTIC FOUR VOL. 13 (Marvel, 2011; Hardcover)
Collects Fantastic Four #129-141 (cover dates December, 1972- December, 1973)
Writers: Roy Thomas (#129-133, 136, 137) and Gerry Conway (#133-141)
Artists: John Buscema, Ross Andru (#131), Ramona Fradon (#133), and Joe Sinnott (Inker)
The early Bronze Age seems downright quaint by today's event driven comics standards. While some of the writing may come off as overly wordy to modern audiences, it is the nuances afforded by the third party narrative which allowed more characterization in far less space. Some of the dialogue is dated and cringe-worthy but that is easily overlooked when one considers how cringe-worthy so much modern comic dialogue is.
There is a lot going on, with appearances by the Inhumans, Miracle Man, Dragon Man, and The Frightful Four. The break-up of Johnny (the Human Torch) and Crystal of the Inhumans is finalized in this book, setting the stage for her eventual marriage to Quicksilver. The Frightful Four get a new member in Titania, who will go on to be a major supporting cast member in the Thing's solo team-up series, Marvel Two-In-One.
#136 and 137 features Roy Thomas 1950s nostalgia porn. I can't condemn the man for it too much, seeing as how everyone eventually looks back to certain eras with fondness. I just don't care much for the popular culture of the 1950s outside of the comic books published in that time.
Gerry Conway takes over the writing of this title, which is crazy when you consider that he was 19 or 20 years old at the time. Can you imagine the suits doing that today? It would be impossible for Conway to do what he did with the umpteen levels of editorial and marketing that each and every thing must get past nowadays. It's one of the main reasons why Bronze Age comics have a breath and life to them that makes them bounce. Modern comics have a sterile, calculated feel to them that feels boring and stale to me.
One of the nice things about being so far behind on my reading is that Vols. 14-16 are already aging to perfection in my backlog, with Vol. 17 to be added upon release this June. Make Mine (old) Marvel!
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Marvel Masterworks are my poison of choice. For Masterworks of this book's vintage, rest assured that this is the definitive Blu-Ray edition of this material. No line bleed or off register printing. No mouldering pulp paper. The art and the colors look like the artists intended and are not hampered by primitive printing processes.
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.
Paper stock: Thick coated semi-glossy coated stock that has that sweet, sweet smell that all Chinese manufactured books have. I theorize that this delectable aroma is caused by the toxic stew of broken asbestos tiles, lead paint chips, heavy metal industrial waste, and mercury from recalled thermometers combined with the blood, sweat, and tears of the Chinese children working the sweatshop printing presses. The frosting on this delicious cake scent is the paper which is likely sourced from virgin Amazon rainforests.
Binding: Rounded book casing and Smyth sewn binding allow this book to lay completely flat in one hand as Godzilla intended.
Hardback notes: Faux leather grain texture with foil stamping. Dustjacket has spot varnishing. The next step in my OCD evolution is going to be putting Brodart sleeves on all of my dustjackets.