Marvel 75th Anniversary Omnibus (英語) ハードカバー – 2014/11/25
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In late 1939, the fledgling Timely Comics published MARVEL COMICS #1 - introducing the Human Torch, Sub-Mariner and more to an unsuspecting populace. Seventy-five years later, Marvel Comics has become a world-renowned multi media empire, home to some of the most recognizable and beloved fictional characters ever known. Now, the cream of the crop is presented in one deluxe, oversized hardcover! That's right, it's the best of the best from Marvel's 75-year publishing history - from the Golden Age to Marvel NOW! - as chosen by you, the loyal fans! So face front, True Believers, and prepare to relive 75 years of greatness as only Mighty Marvel could do it! Collecting: Captain America Comics (1941) 1; Fantastic Four (1961) 1, 48-50, 285; Amazing Fantasy (1962) 15; Hulk (1962) 1; Avengers (1963) 1, 57; Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 31-33, 50, 121-122, 248; Incredible Hulk (1968) 181; Giant-Size X-Men 1; X-Men (1963) 141; Uncanny X-Men (1981) 142; Daredevil (1964) 181; Marvel Graphic Novel 1, 5; Thor (1966) 337; Marvels 1; X-Men Alpha; Thunderbolts (1997) 1; Amazing Spider-Man (1999) 36, 700; The Ultimates (2002) 1; Captain America (2005) 25; Hawkeye (2012) 11
The book opens with almost 50 pages from the first issue of Captain America, with his origin, a few stories, a prose tale and the first appearance of the Red Skull.
No introduction…no essay…no “hello”….just right into the good stuff.
And this “good stuff” is printed in dazzling color…Jack Kirby’s early kinetic style on full display.
Then we skip forward to a two year period, from 1961-1963, where we discover the first stories of The Fantastic Four (#1), The Hulk (#1), Spider-Man (Amazing Fantasy #15), and The Avengers (#1)…cornerstones of the Marvel Universe.
We are then given Amazing Spider-Man #31-33, from 1965-1966. This classic is most famous for the sequence where Spidey, trapped in the Master Planner’s underwater lair beneath tons of collapsed steel, escapes by dramatically lifting a massive pile of debris off his back, in order to save his dying Aunt May. The issues still work incredibly well; I’ve read this a hundred times, and I still couldn’t skip ahead. I got caught up in the drama all over again. Within these pages, we also get the first appearance of Gwen Stacy, as well as a return visit of one of the series’ greatest villains.
Also from 1966, the famed “Galactus Trilogy”, (FF #48-50)…where we meet Galactus and his herald, the Silver Surfer. There is some Inhumans stuff, and Johnny Storm goes all the way from the infinite recesses of the universe to, um, college. Lee and Kirby’s wild, imaginative storytelling is firing on all cylinders here.
Spider-Man #50 is up next. An argument could be made that as a single issue, there is not one better. Equal perhaps, but not better. First…stone cold classic cover. This story segues nicely from issues #31-33 too. Say hello to the Kingpin. Gwen Stacy AND Mary Jane. Apoplectic J. Jonah Jameson. High drama or rollicking action on every page.
You will think, “they really don’t make ‘em like this anymore…” when you finish.
Avengers #57, from 1968, gives us The Vision, dynamically drawn by John Buscema. His clean, muscular lines immediately distinguish him from Kirby’s bold (and Ditko’s limber) exaggerations. Hawkeye, The Black Widow, The Black Panther and Ultron all have big roles. And after 288 pages, it’s the first story (after Cap #1) not written/plotted by Stan Lee in this volume.
Then we jump forward five years to Amazing Spider-Man #121-122, one of the five greatest, most important, most influential stories in the history of Marvel Comics. The death of Gwen Stacy STILL resonates to this day in Marvel literature, and these books came out in 1973! Gil Kane’s lithe, graceful art simply MOVES on the page. It’s like an optical illusion.
Incredible Hulk #181(1974) in comic book circles has the same shorthand recognition as, say, the number 714 does in baseball fan circles. Instantly recognizable. The debut of Wolverine. There is no way that THAT character’s success could have ever been guessed by this relatively simple tale.
Giant-Size X-Men #1 (1975), on the other hand, with it’s well-designed characters, snappy dialogue and bracing plot, is clearly the beginning of something special. Re-reading this one is like peeking (and understanding) someone’s DNA. Here’s how this whole current X-thing all got started. And it should be noted that this is the first appearance of the X-Men in this volume. None of the early stories…like the original first issue, or one of the later tremendous Roy Thomas-Neal Adams creations…are here.
Now we get more X-Men, #141-142 (1981). This is the “Days of Future Past” story, one that was already recognized as a classic upon it’s initial printing. I vividly remember picking up those comics in the local comic shop (a relatively new thing then, the comic shop) and the buzz was already there. Claremont and Byrne’s stellar run on the series was taking us to new heights each and every month, but THIS one…THIS was something special. The sophisticated story-telling, the expressive art…completely deserving of the clichéd “instant classic” title.
Some of the best fight scenes ever drawn, can be found in Daredevil #181, from 1982. Frank Miller’s Daredevil/Bullseye/Elektra epic has not aged one iota. Miller’s heavy, later style here was tempered by his almost Gil-Kane-like anatomy and energy. Wildly cinematic, which now seems totally obvious. The fight scenes are creatively drawn, easy to follow and loaded with dramatic impact, not just costumed folks punching and kicking. I’m sure people in the industry study this issue as part of their formal training. If they don’t, they should.
What follows are two of the earliest, and best, example of the nascent graphic novel format. Starlin’s “The Death of Captain Marvel” still holds its’ elegiac power, and “X-Men” God Loves, Man Kills”, clearly a major inspiration for the first X-Men film, is still impressive for it’s literacy, depth, and Anderson’s art…a mixture of Adams, Byrne and John Buscema.
Thor is not given a chance to shine until 623 pages into the Omnibus, and the opening issue of the famed “Beta Ray Bill” saga is not a bad selection (Thor #337, from 1983). But it’s merely a tease. Walt Simonson’s opus needs to be read in it’s entirety, and this teaser will only make you NEED to go and find the whole thing, whether in comic-book form or in trade paperbacks…
Amazing Spider-Man #248 needed to be in this volume. I am a card-carrying Spider-geek, and I love all things Spidey. If you have not yet read, ‘The Boy Who Collects Spider-Man”, from 1984, your life is about to get a little bit better. I may have read this story a hundred times. The ending still affects me each and every time. A knock-out.
The subsequent Fantastic Four issue, #285 (1985) has a similar theme as the preceding story, but not its’ gentle nature.
The first book of the “Marvels” mini-series is next, coming almost ten years later (1994). Kurt Busiek’s genius take on early Marvel history, with Alex Ross’ breathtaking art, brought startling immediacy and life to the dawn of the Marvel Age. It is as enthralling as it was 20 years ago.
The decision to include “X-Men: Alpha” (1995) is confusing, as is trying to actually read it. This prelude to the Age of Apocalypse saga suffers from a number of maladies. One, the reproduction itself is poor. It appears as if the “resolution” is off, so that straight lines have a rough edge. It’s looks gritty. Two, the story itself is bordeline impenetrable, only made better if you have some sense of where the story is going to begin with. Three, it is an example of that era’s manga-influenced art, and this isn’t that good of an example. I’m not sure why of all the 90’s-era X-Men books, this is the one they singled out. A rare misfire amongst the editors’ choices for this Omnibus.
However, Thunderbolts #1, from 1997, was a terrific choice. In the aftermath of another Universe-wide event/reboot, this new supergroup rises from the ashes to battle evil-doers, and just in case this is one of the stories you aren’t familiar with…the last page is, as they say, a doozy.
Amazing Spider-Man #36, from December 2001 was Marvel’s response to the events on 9/11…the black cover, the raw, aching panels passionately drawn by John Romita Jr., the horrifying reality amplified by the inclusion of these fictitious characters…is note-perfect in tone and execution. It has lost none of its’ powerful impact.
The Ultimates #1, from 2002, is probably the only issue from the Ultimate universe that would work as a single example, and it’s a barn-burner. Exquisite art, gorgeous action sequences, and the tantalizing twist on Captain America’s origin make it a welcome addition. A nice counterpart to the opening story of this Omnibus.
Captain America #25…where he gets shot, is perfectly fine, and Amazing Spider-Man #700 just makes me angry (I really, REALLY didn’t like the whole switching-with-Doc-Ock thing…)…
…but ending with Hawkeye #11, from August 2013, feels like somebody sneaked in something before anybody noticed. And not in a bad way.
A coda…an article of the “75 Greatest Marvel Comics of All Time” (“chosen by YOU!”)…lists the issues and arcs voted in by fans on Marvel.com…was a fun list to peruse. Many of them are found within these thousand or so pages of this truly wonderful volume.
I looked closer at the cover illustration, and noted that there was quite a bit that didn’t make it in this book. Pretty much no Iron Man. Hardly any Hulk, really. Doctor Strange, Power Man, Iron Fist, Ghost Rider, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool, the Punisher all can be found on the cover…(but then again, I see the Winter Soldier, She-Hulk, Giant-Man/Wasp, Fin Fang Foom…and is that Dazzler?)…but I didn’t miss ‘em too much…
Once I closed this book, I felt like I had received a grand tour of the Marvel Universe.
It made me want to go back to my comic book collection and read…everything.
You will love having this in your collection…