Marvel Masterworks [ePub]

by Stan Lee

A pricey but lavish edition of pulpy, pre-Code 50s horror from the predecessor to Marvel Comics.

From the time the company was founded to the present day, Marvel Comics (and, in this case, its 50s predecessor Atlas) flooded the marketplace with material, jumping on every passing trendy genre and abandoning it just as quickly for the next one. Putting out so much material (over 30 comics a month) meant leaving quality behind and just filling pages. As such, competitors like EC Comics grabbed attention by allowing a few top-notch writers and artists to do their best work on a few select titles.

With "Menace", editor Stan Lee fought back, pulling together his best contributors and penning the stories himself, resulting in a gritty, violent, little morality tales that are a delight decades later. The artists in this volume form a murderer's row of talent: John Romita, Russ Heath, Joe Sinnott, and Bill Everett all contribute multiple stories that show off their prodigious talent. Some, like George Tuska and Werner Roth, were at the peak of their careers, doing atmospheric and suspenseful work that their later superhero work couldn't touch. Also wonderful is the presence of Joe Maneely, an underappreciated Atlas powerhouse whose untimely death in the late 50s kept him from being a name uttered alongside Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

As the series continued, though, Lee's attention wandered. The back of this volume is much more uneven than the front, filled out anonymously penned tales illustrated by Atlas also-rans. But a few stories still make the book worthwhile.

On the whole, a satisfying jewel from the archives.

15.10.2011

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