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The Golden Age of Marvel Comics, Volumes 1 and 2 can be considered Marvel's equivalent of a public service. It's historical preservation in a market that has a notoriously short attention span. When the majority of fans and retailers were demanding more high-octane heroes showering their foes with bullets, we got two beautiful yet affordable collections of Golden Age greats, showing readers that, while the stories and art of the Golden Age might not have been all that "golden", the characters and their appeal more than made up for it. You can clearly see the elements of these stories that fascinated aspiring writers and artists, leading to their expanding these characters in ways never dreamed of during Marvel's Silver Age and beyond. The covers for both volumes are beautiful: for 1, a battle scene by Ray Lago; for 2, a Kirby/Theakston image. The intros provide some very good historical perspective on the contents.
Marvel is now back on its feet, sort of, but don't expect these books to be reprinted anytime in the near future. The current crowd at Marvel seems to be even more out of touch than the previous one and apparently has no understanding of the treasure it is sitting on.
The stories themselves aren't bad- they are at least a match for other "Golden Age" comics, and some of the stories are fairly lyrical, such as the reprint of the first Sub-Mariner story in Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1.
A large proportion of the stories reprinted concern Captain America, Nazis, or both- the ethnic represntation of the Germans (and occasionally the Japanese) might be highly offensive to people unaware that they are reading uncensored stories published at the height of WWII.
My complaints are: many/most of the stories published in this trade paperback have been heavily reprinted in the past. Anyone with a collection of older Marvel Superheroes or Marvel Tales will already own half of the stories. Also, the printing quality of a couple of stories is akin to reading color photocpies... but for the most part the reprints are clear and clean.
If you're interested in Marvel's past and don't yet own a stack of their reprint comics, then this trade paperback is a good investment.
This book features stories with Marvel's "big three": the original Human Torch, Captain America, and The Sub-Mariner, as well as lesser known, now obscure characters like The Fin, Red Raven, and The Vision (I don't think this is the same one as the android Vision now appearing in Marvel's The Avengers series), as well as a few others. These classics are by the writers and artists of comics' Golden Age: Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Bill Everett, Carl Burgos, and many others, including one story written by Stan Lee. The book also features an introduction by the legendary Mickey Spillane.
Overall, this book makes for an excellent read, especially for people interested in the early years of comic books. Most of the stories are set during World War II, so some people may be offended with the Germans and Japanese as the Nazis villains.
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