Friday, December 05, 2008

Closing the Books

I know I'm a jaded guy at times, but I'm beginning to wonder just how many more books can carry the name Marvel Masterworks without the editor being required to cross his fingers when he refers to them as such. When Marvel is reprinting random non-X-Men books featuring the mutants to fill in the gap between X-Men #65 and Giant-Size X-Men #1, you have to wonder--and the appearance of any Defenders volumes in a book called a Masterwork seems contradictory.

So what is there to reprint at this point?

Well, there are still some missing gems.

Of course, the pre-hero Marvel run should continue under the name, particularly those issues that feature the core Silver Age Marvel bullpen (Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Heck, Ayers, and Sinnott). And we're still missing the greatest part of the SHIELD run from Strange Tales--those Jim Steranko issues. There are some great Lee-Kirby issues of Two-Gun Kid (who was, for all intents and purposes, a costumed hero in the West) that deserve reprinting. And I think they should go much further with Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos than they've gone so far--at least through the end of the Severin era.

While I enjoy seeing the Golden Age material, the truth is that most of it is really sub-par once you get past the prime Simon & Kirby-Everett period. Take a look at the most recent All Winners volume and you'll see what I mean--it's fun, but it's amazingly crude and hardly Masterworks-ish.

I think it may be time to retire the Masterworks line in the near future. I'd like to see Marvel instead go for a chronological series of books that lets us experience the Marvel titles as they originally appeared. Let us see all the 1961 books, then the 1962 books, etc.; add historical commentary, text pieces, letters columns, overviews, etc., and re-present the Marvel Universe as those of us who were there originally experienced it. It would be great fun to see what was happening in Spider-Man at the same time that FF #25 & 26 appeared, or what Thor was doing in his own book at the same time he appeared in issues of The Avengers.

I pitched this idea to David Gabriel at Marvel, but he didn't think it would sell. I'm not giving up yet, though; I think there's life in this idea, if I can just sell the right person on it. It was that sense of interconnectedness that made the Marvel Universe so distinctive at the time, and this would be a great way to re-experience that.

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