When I heard about this, I was floored. At the height of the Adam West Batman show Japan was given full license by DC to create a Batman Manga “adaption”. I use the term adaption loosely for reasons you’ll see shortly. Western audiences weren’t privy to much information about this until the 2008 publication of Chip Kidd’s Bat-Manga!: The Secret History Of Batman in Japan book blew the lid off it. This gave the world some context and background and the first translations of artist Jiro Kuwata’s fabled Batmanga stories albeit incomplete.
DC got the hint though and have started a campaign to release the Batmanga across 3 trade paperbacks in its complete form for the first time. The first two have seen release with the third getting put out near the beginning of 2016. I recently sat down and took Volume 1 head on.
Legendary artist Jim Steranko did 3 issues of Captain America in 1969 directly coming off his groundbreaking run on Nick Fury. I’ve been waiting a long time to read this, it may only be 3 issues but there’s criminally little comic book output from Steranko and it’s worth pouring over. Stan Lee is on scripts here and the storylines are in step with his silver age zaniness but when the art is this good it doesn’t matter.
So what was I in for?
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.
Today’s cover has us going all the way back to 1969 during the X-Men’s initial run and classic first lineup in issue #58. The art chores were performed by the legendary Neal Adams that gives the world a first glance at the character of Havok. While I always thought Havok’s costume was a striking design this is a unique way to show it off. Check out how his helmet peaks over the X-Men logo at the top ever so slightly, it’s a nice little touch to help the perspective.
Neal only ended up doing 9 covers for the X-Men in this time period, most of which could be highlighted here. For me it’s this one that’s the most eye popping and stands head and shoulders above the rest.
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After falling in love with Jim Steranko’s art work from afar I decided it was about time I check out his (criminally small) comics output on Marvel’s Nick Fury: Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and later the first ever Nick Fury solo series. These have been packaged together many times, but might I recommend the trade paperback for S.H.I.E.L.D. by Jim Steranko: The Complete Collection which basically has ever scrap he’s ever touch on the subject bundled together but more importantly the art is restored to the proper coloring it was when it was originally published.