Comics are expensive. Trade paperbacks while sometimes can you give more bang for your buck than buying the individual issues outright can also be very expensive. Marvel’s big project a few years ago was to release the Essentials; budget line black and white trades the size of phone books. Now they’ve moved on to the Epic Collection, claiming to trade entire series’ but highlighting some of their previously uncollected issues. This (as long as it’s seen through all the way) is a great idea. Many of the more famous titles did start with a volume of their respective series inaugural issues. I bitched about their treatment of Claremont’s X-Men run but since then they have released information that they will be releasing a pivotal Epic Collection volume that covers a desirable non traded run of issues so that’s a step in the right direction. We are here today though to discuss Silver Surfer’s first volume of the Epic Collection.
We’ve talked here about our favorite covers on many occasions in the past, but it’s time we showed a little respect to the books that set the stage for the comics on which we were raised and the ones we’ve found in recent years. So buckle up for a bombastic ballyhoo of the best and brightest sequential showcases the swinging sixties saw fit to print. Man, talking like Stan Lee is exhausting. No wonder he’s looked worn out for 50+ years now.
Secret Six #1 , May 1968, Frank Springer
The cover of this debut issue is remarkable in that it’s also the first page of the actual story. I’ve always been fascinated with that notion, it’s not just some pin-up but in fact your first taste of the action. Sure, Secret Six was never one of DC’s hottest comics (certainly not in the Silver Age), but it’ll always have a place in history because of this cover.
Not long ago, I published an article featuring my own personal top ten list of Fantastic Four covers from the first hundred-or-so issues. Naturally, the Lee and Kirby run on Fantastic Four is one of the most highly celebrated collaborations in the history of comics. However, in my own tastes it’s about tied with John Byrne’s work on the same title. Perhaps it’s because they were some of the first books to which I was exposed as a child, perhaps it’s just because of their unchecked awesomeness, one way or another Byrne’s FF issues ought to be recognized. So away we go.
Although I am indisputably a child of the X-Men generation, my heart has always belonged on a very important level to the Fantastic Four. My first experience with FF comics came well after my early encounters with Spider-Man and the X-Men, but there was always something about the dynamic of the Fantastic Four that drew me in. Perhaps it’s because I, myself, came from a large family and the relationship between that team is very much that of a family. Perhaps it was the fact that one Christmas of 1991 I received a video cassette copy of “The Menace of Magneto”, an episode of the 1970s Fantastic Four cartoon in which Reed, Sue, Ben and H.E.R.B.I.E. take down the Master of Magnetism himself, with the help of a WOODEN GUN(!?!?!).
So often, when I set down to write an installment in this series of articles, I do so without joy. Then again, that’s the very idea of the column; I put my sanity on the line to read the worst of the worst so that you fair readers never have to. I suppose you could say that I’m a hero, sure… but I don’t do it for the glory, I do it because if I don’t no one will. This week, however, I stumbled across a bit of history that was delightfully dreadful, and I want the rest of the world to see it in all of its glory… or at least a few dozen people.
Alex Maleev very well might be one of my favorite comic book artists in the medium today. He’s magnificently talented, but I stumbled upon some of his water color paintings that showcase another dimension of his work. If your lucky enough to see him at a convention he often sells these one of a kind creations and does commissions. So check it out and get yourself a healthy dose of some serious nerd art today.