by Michael Vance & Jon Suter
Marvel Comics has published The Golden Age of Marvel Comics, a large paperback anthology of representative stories from the time the firm was better known as Timely.
The stories range from 1939-1957 and are a good sample of Timely's major and minor characters.
Foy Thomas' introduction is a good thumbnail sketch of Timelys history, a topic on which Thomas is an undisputed expert. His efforts in such titles as Invaders in the 1970s were based on his extensive knowledge of these early stories.
The 17 stories vary in quality, but editor Tom Brevoort has chosen wisely.
The first story is the first appearance (1939) of Namor, the Sub-Mariner, in the obscure Motion Picture Funnies Weekly. Examples are included of artist Bill Everett's renditions of Namor in the 1940s and 1950s; they prove how great a master of the comics medium he was from his earliest days.
Many of the stories which appeared during World War II reflect the spirit of the times. Roy Thomas states, and I agree, that it would be wrong to try to remove those elements which seem offensive a half-century later.
There are some surprises. I would never have recognized the art of Mike Sekowsky. His work in 1944 was very different from that of the 1960s when he drew Justice League of America as well as numerous science fiction short stories for DC Comics.
Joe McNeely's Black Knight character from the 1950s is represented by a six-page story.
The Black Knight story is important since the medieval version of the character has been made an important part of the modern Black Knight's origin. (Even without that, McNeely's work is worth perusing.)
I am impressed with the careful attention the publisher has given to the colors. Too often, reprints appear far more garish than the original comics.
Roy Lago's cover illustration is remarkable. For $19.99, this is a bargain. I have seen the book in several comic book stores, but not in book stores. It is worth the search.
Questions? Comments? Email to Suspended Animation c/o Starland.