“Golden Age Marvel Comics” Omnibus

I purchased the “Golden Age Marvel Comics” omnibus a year ago and have sampled it off-and-on. I’m not sure that I’ll read it from cover to cover, but the Bill Everett “Sub-Mariner” work in it had some really nice art and that was my main draw when purchasing it.  That series of stories was probably the most relevant material to modern-day Marvel Comics.

Marvel used this omnibus project to fund a re-do of the “Marvel Comics” art restoration.  When the original Marvel Masterworks volume of “Golden Age Marvel Comics” was released, many collectors complained about what was felt to be a lackluster result.   As a result of the extra effort, the contents of the omnibus looked much cleaner than the same material in the first “Golden Age Marvel Comics” masterwork that I had previously owned.

The assortment of the content, with super-hero stories mixed in with western and crime shorts, made for an interesting range of reading options. That variety caused me to think of the Golden Age “Marvel Comics” as a sort of 1940s “Marvel Comics Presents.” Most fans of Golden or Silver Age comic books would find something in the omnibus to enjoy.

That said, readers of modern comics would be advised to read the stories within the context of comics of that era.  Namely, the stories were often aimed at younger readers – although that wasn’t always the case – and were written in a rather verbose style.  Also, the art followed a standard ‘grid’ layout and wasn’t nearly as dynamic as the more-modern art that would develop starting in the 1960s.  Mr. Everett’s work was probably the ‘most modern’ of the bunch and stuck out because of it.

One unexpected bonus was a massive introduction by historian Will Murray that detailed the early history of Marvel. That essay was a significant 15-20 pages of small-print text that told the early history of how Marvel got rolling. As a fan of comic book history, I found it to be very engaging.

As evidenced by my not having yet read it in full, this was obviously not my favorite Marvel Omnibus.  However, “Golden Age Marvel Comics” did seem like a much better addition to my collection than many of the recent Marvel Omnibus volumes that no one was really clamoring for, such as “Atlantis Attacks” or “Evolutionary War.”

 


Bell, Blake, ed. Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives (Vol. 1). Fantagraphics, 2012. Print.
Comics, Marvel. Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics – Volume 1. Marvel, 2004. Print.
Compton, John et al. Golden Age Marvel Comics Omnibus – Volume 1. Marvel, 2009. Print.
Evanier, Mark. Kirby: King of Comics. 1st ed. Abrams, 2008. Print.
Lee, Stan, and Bill Everett. Marvel Masterworks: The Sub-Mariner, Vol. 1. 1st ed. Marvel, 2004. Print.

 

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