Archive for the ‘Collected Editions’ Category

Posted Sunday, April 7th, 2019 by Barry

The Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List (1990)

Comic book shops were common place by the beginning of the 1990s, but original graphic novels and trade paperbacks were not.

The Might Marvel holiday Wish List, sporting a caroling Spidey, Hulk and Cap, was a festive gift guide for the comic book fan. What could be simpler? Make a check beside the corresponding title, hand it to the gift giver and wait for Christmas morning.

Looking back at this pre-internet solicitation reminds me of how far the industry has come. Of course I forget this is 30 years ago.

The Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List (1990)

The Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List (1990)

The year 1990 doesn’t seem that long ago. Saying 30 years does.

Anyway, 30-years ago trades and collections were not the norm. Marvel had its high-end Masterworks and DC its Archive editions. Those were available in most comic book shops and retail book chains. They were just pricey for the day.

Trades were much more reasonable, but still a novelty. That’s why it’s so odd looking at the ad paper and seeing so few story arcs collected.

Readers must also remember this was a time when stories were written from beginning to end with no worries about how they would fit in a trade.

As much as I love Neil Gaiman and Sandman, I blame the wordsmith for the advent of trade-length story arcs. He invented the four- to six-issue story arc with a few one-and-dones in between that seem to have become the industry standard for trades.

So, sit back and check out the Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List – in full – courtesy ComicBookDaily.com. It’s a nostalgic look at the not-so-distant past.

Posted Thursday, April 4th, 2019 by Barry

Marvel Holiday Special (2005)

Marvel recycled the cover and stories for its Marvel Holiday Special trade, but the original 2005 one-shot was all original.

Marvel Holiday Special (2005)

Marvel Holiday Special (2005)

Shaenon K. Garrity serves up a jaunty pre-Christmas tale with shades of Citizen Kane. The Fantastic Four and Namor celebrate the holiday to satisfy an aggrieved Moleman’s childhood fancy in “Moleman’s Christmas.”

The disgruntled youth’s misgiving-theme is continued in “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santatron.” Spider-Man swings in late for the annual Avenger’s Christmas party. An unexpected – and unwanted – guest arrives in a Tannenbaum trimmed Trojan horse. Heroes prove their mettle as they circumvent the intrusion with a confederate confection.

Marvel’s holiday season comes to a close with “Christmas Day in Manhattan.” A rhythmic recital has the Fantastic Four saving another holiday from a poor-intentioned father. Their mercy provides presents for the innocents.

This 2005 edition is a worthy addition to any collector’s repository. A goodly portion of the Marvel U appears in either leading rolls or in cameos. The stories are heartwarming without being saccharine and the feeling of the season is almost tangible.

Posted Friday, March 15th, 2019 by Barry

World of Archie Comics Double Digest (2010) 64

This 2016 offering featured 150 pages of Archie and gang antics. Holiday hijinks sandwiched normal fare.

Celebrating the season were “Spinner Winner,” a cautionary tale of stubbornness and sledding; “Fresh Idea,” in which Archie drags Jughead about the country side to find the perfect tree; and “Clean Sweep,” with school custodian Mr. Svenson’s lesson in the true meaning of Christmas.

World of Archie Comics Double Digest (2010) 64

World of Archie Comics Double Digest (2010) 64

Other Christmas tales included “Engage the Enemy.” A misunderstanding the scale of any Three’s Company episode ensues when Veronica mistakes Archie’s musings for marriage.

“The Season of Magic,” has Jingles the Elf skedaddling back north courtesy of a gaggle of Santas.

Miss Grundy reminisces about her favorite gifts from students in “The Presents.”

“Aid Parade” is a one-page Mr. Lodge gag proving you’re never too old to believe in Santa.

Veronica and Betty have their “Santa Claws” out over a fashion faux pau.

Hot Dog is featured in a one-page skit entitled “Wrap Flap.”

Finally, “Holiday Prone” has Archie making amends Santa style for a stay of execution.

Posted Thursday, February 28th, 2019 by Barry

DC Universe Christmas TPB (2000)

DC opened the new millennium with a gift-wrapped Christmas trade in both cover and manner. Readers traverse holidays from the Golden to Modern Age of comic books in 160 pages.

As diverse as the stories, the characters chosen for the Tanenbaum tome are even more so. From the old west with Bat Lash to World War I Enemy Ace to wayward West waif Impulse back from the future.

Story wise are Frank Miller’s first take on the Dark Knight, “Santa Claus – Dead or Alive!”

Flash stars in the first of two “Present Tense” stories.

“The Story of the Fir Balsam” is a Golden Age story from Sensation (Mystery) Comics (1941) issue 14 involving Nazi spies.

Superman shines in “The Gift.”

One holiday tale that always pops up is “A Swingin’ Christmas Carol” featuring The Teen Titans. The original Teen Titans. Complete with hip and mod slang for the times. Those times were the 1960s; 1966 to be exact.

Darkseid appears in the second “Present Tense” story, guest starring Santa.

Captain Marvel Adventures (1941) issue 69 is been reprinted featuring “Billy Batson’s Xmas!”

“Alone for the Holidays” proves Robin will always have family.

DC Universe Christmas TPB (2000)

DC Universe Christmas TPB (2000)

The Legion of Super Heroes star in “Star Light, Star Bright…Farthest Star I see Tonight!”

“The Present” teams Green Lantern and Green Arrow again.

“Night Prowler!” is from House of Mystery (1951) 191.

“The Harley and the Ivy” is a lush retelling from The Batman Adventures Holiday Special.

Sandman and Sandy take readers back to the Golden Age of comic books again with “Santa Fronts for the Mob.” The story originally appeared in Adventure Comics (1938) issue 32.

“An Eye for Detail” showcases old west dandy Bat Lash.

Enemy Ace takes a break from the hell of war in “Silent Night.”

Impulse plays Santa’s helper in “No, Bart, This is No Santa Claus.”

Finally, Superman closes out the book with what could possibly be DC’s first super-powered driven Christmas story in “Superman’s Christmas Adventure” from 1940.

Posted Thursday, February 7th, 2019 by Barry

Marvel Treasury Special (1974)

DC beat Marvel to the holiday punch with the first of the Christmas specials beginning in 1974.

The Marvel Treasury Special was released Nov. 26 of that year on the heels of DC’s Limited Collector’s Edition (C-34) that hit newsstands Nov. 7.

Whereas DC had decades of material to draw from, Marvel had a little over 10-years worth of stories to plumb.

Naturally “Have Yourself a Sandman Little Christmas!” led the list.

It was a reprint from Marvel Team-Up issue one starring Spider-Man and the Human Torch battling Sandman. A sappy story that brought out the season in both heroes who allowed Sandman to visit his mother on Christmas Eve.  The good deed does not go unpunished leading both heroes to a continuation of the story in issue two.

The remainder of the book is what the title promised:  a grab-bag.

Marvel Treasury Special (1974)

Marvel Treasury Special (1974)

In “Mortal Combat with…Sub-Mariner” is reprinted from Daredevil issue seven. Namor makes land fall to seek out Matt Murdock to serve as his lawyer. The sea prince wishes to sue the surface world for its exploitation of the other three quarters of the Earth.  Murdock’s alter ego is called upon when he refuses to take the case.

Black Widow stars in the next story taken from Amazing Adventures (1970) issue five. An unremarkable story. Maybe the most noteworthy of the book is Neal Adam’s assumption of penciling chores on the Inhuman’s story.

Fantastic Four issues 25 and 26, a two-part tale, finish out the book. The Thing and Hulk go toe-to-toe in issue 25 with the Avengers guest starring in the second part.

Far from the holiday specials to come in the 1990s, but at least setting a precedence for the company.

Posted Saturday, December 22nd, 2018 by Barry

Marvel Treasury Edition 13

As America packed away its bicentennial banners and fervor, Marvel began packaging its third, and final, Holiday Grab-Bag. And, that’s what it was, a holiday-less hodge podge of reprints pulled from Avengers (1963) issue 58, Daredevil (1964) number 86, Marvel Team-Up 6 and Tales to Astonish (1959) 93.

Roger Stern was a lowly assistant editor in charge of choosing reprint material for Marvel’s stable of twice-told-tale books. He was tasked to fill the last of the holiday specials with suitable material. Having already used what little was available the previous two years, Stern was faced with a daunting task.

Marvel Treasury Edition 13

Marvel Treasury Edition 13

As Stern told Back Issue magazine, issue 85, Christmas in the Bronze Age, from 2015; he pulled the most tear jerking stories he could find to fill the book. Choices made, he found the book was still 10 pages short. Stern approached Editor Archie Goodwin who freed money for what Stern termed a “framing sequence” for the stories.

Fanboys were given the Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag Nov. 16, 1976, complete with a Gil Kane/Joe Sinnott cover featuring the Marvel mainstays. Stern penned the opening story, “Tis the Season,” showcasing the super heroes playing in the snow. Reprints included “…As Those Who Will Not See!” with Spider-Man and the Thing, “Even an Android Can Cry” featuring the Avengers, Hulk and Silver Surfer shared “He Who Strikes the Silver Surfer” and “Once Upon a Time – The Ox!” showcasing Daredevil and Black Widow.

This was the final Marvel holiday special until the 1990s. By then the House of Ideas would have a better catalog to choose from, even tossing in original material.

For me, nothing will ever beat the original specials from the 1970s. They were the perfect size to lie stomach down on the floor and marvel – pun intended – at the craftsmanship of those earlier Marvel Age stories.

Posted Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 by Barry

Marvel Treasury Edition 8 (1975)

Marvel’s Giant Superhero Holiday Grab Bag hit newsstands Nov. 25, 1975 on the heels of DC’s Limited Edition (C-43) Christmas With the Super-Heroes.

This second tabloid-sized special featured a collection of already told tales from the Bullpen’s fertile imagination. Having mined the few holiday stories the House of Ideas had floating around the previous year, this second book proved more Christmas in cover and theme than interior stories.

Marvel Treasury Edition 8 (1975)

Nick Fury opens the book with “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” taken from Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. issue 10 published in 1969. Nick’s night with surprise guest Laura is interrupted by a call to save the free world from the Hate Monger. Any seasonal spirit is forgotten as Fury does his best 007 impression to foil world domination. He’s rewarded for his efforts with his blond bombshell waiting for him at his apartment to watch the sun rise on Christmas morning.

There’s as much holiday spirt in the story “Spider-Man Goes Mad!” as there is in the name. Pulled from Amazing Spider-Man issue 24, the reprint marks the first time the story saw print since it was originally published.

“Jingle Bombs” uses a snowy backdrop and a few Christmas decorations to give the impression of the holidays for Luke Cage.

An abbreviated reprint of Incredible Hulk 147 is next. Entitled “Heaven is a Very Small Place,” the Hulk believes in a mirage where even he is accepted.

Dr. Strange battles Nightmare on New Year’s Eve in “Eternity, Eternity” reprinted from Dr. Strange 180.

Posted Tuesday, December 11th, 2018 by Barry

Marvel Holiday Special 1995 TPB

Riding high on the speculator market soon to go bust – the company would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a year later – Marvel released its 1995 Holiday Special trade paperback.

Flagship character Spider-Man carried the book with three stories beginning with “A Spider-Man Christmas Carol.” The Web Head saves a hospital ward full of sick children with a little help from Daily Bugle Publisher J. Jonah Jameson.

“A Miracle a Few Blocks down from 34th Street” showcases the X-Men in the oft reprinted Christmas tale outing Santa as the world’s most powerful mutant.

Spider-Man returns in another seasonal fan favorite, “Down and Out in Forest Hills.” The story is miss-billed as “Star Of the Show” that appears later in the book.

Marvel Holiday Special 1995 TPB

Marvel Holiday Special 1995 TPB

“Down and Out” features Peter and Mary Jane as they are ousted from their condominium on Christmas Eve. Uncle Ben is the Ghost of Christmas Past who provides wisdom in Peter’s decision to return to his roots. The story originally appeared in Amazing Spider-Man 314.

“Zounds of Silence” is a textless tale featuring Wolverine – of sorts – in an imaginative dream of consumerism during the holidays.

“Hopes and Fears” sees the return of Spider-Man in a test of faith against Mephisto.

“Free Will” is lifted from Peter David’s run on The Incredible Hulk. Banner Hulk questions the holidays and choices.

“Star of the Show” finally appears as a one-page, textless story with the jolly, fat one making a guest appearance.

The Punisher is shoehorned into the book with customary bullets flying and body count in “The Spirit of the Season.”

Finally, “The Big X-Mas Black Out” brings Spidey back for an encore appearance as he dukes it out with Electro using Rockefeller Square as a backdrop.

Slap an $8.95 price tag on the title and Marvel made itself and readers a little merrier in ’95.

Posted Monday, October 22nd, 2018 by Barry

Spider-Man: The Short Halloween (2009)

A one-shot of mistaken identity, revenge and redemption in a short 33 pages.

Everybody loves Halloween. Well, almost everybody. For instance, not Spider-Man. Spider-Man and semi-sober friends caring for their very drunk friends.

An amusing story as told by Bill Hader and Seth Meyers. Yes, that Seth Meyers: comedian, writer, political commentator, actor and TV host.

And, yes, that Bill Hader. Both are Saturday Night Alumni.

Kevin Maguire handled penciling chores. Yes, that Kevin Maguire. His resume is too long to list here, but, trust me, if you aren’t familiar with the artist, take time to get acquainted.

Anyway, back to the story already in progress…

In New York City it’s hard to swing a dead cat without hitting a super hero. Or villain. Halloween multiplies the meta population as the citizens emulate favorites. Normally not a problem, but this Halloween eve is plagued by at least one too many Spider-Men.

Rather than give too much away, go pick up a copy and enjoy some holiday hijinks Spidey style.

Posted Friday, October 12th, 2018 by Barry

Swamp Thing Halloween Horror

DC Comic’s latest tome of terror compliments the undressing trees, bite in the air and darkness that descends earlier.

The Swamp Thing Halloween Horror features 100 pages of retold Halloween stories culled from previous specials and stand-alone ongoing series. Mostly. The first story is an original from scribe Brian Azzarello and penciler Greg Capullo entitled “Hollow.” This Halloween there are more to fear than just snakes and alligators.

Dan Didio’s “The Pumpkin Sinister” is the first of three stories lifted from The DC Infinite Halloween Special (2007).  Blue Devil and Enchantress become honorary members of the Peanut’s gang in the homage to Linus’ obsession with the Great Pumpkin.

Swamp Thing Halloween Horror

Swamp Thing Halloween Horror

The second of the lifts from the 2007 special is “Taert Ro Kcirt.” Paul Dini turns more than the letters around with Zatana. A happy Halloween is spoiled for trick or treaters causing the mistress of magic to reverse roles.

“Strange Cargo” is the final retread from 2007. Poison Ivy spins a yarn of Superman v. Zombies.

“The Ballad of Jonathan Crane” is a reboot of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with the Scarecrow playing himself – or, his alter ego. This one was pulled from the DC Halloween Special (2008).

Aquaman and Etrigan the Demon form an unlikely alliance in “Night Gods.” Together they tackle a Cthulhu clone and his army of darkness called forth from those claimed by the sea throughout the millennia. The story originally appeared in The Brave and the Bold (2007).

Batman (1940) 237 is an October favorite appearing in other specials. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Rutherford, VT, was a destination for comic book creators and fans during Halloween. Eventually the annual parade became peppered with floats and costumes representing both Marvel and DC’s stable of colorful heroes and villains. “Night of the Reaper” immortalizes some of the magic as a backdrop for murder and the Holocaust remembered.

Finally, Swamp Thing returns in this reprint from House of Secrets 92 featuring his muck-covered origin.

The special is an exclusive offered through Wal-Mart as part of the department store’s team up with DC.