Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Oh That Pesky Generational Gap: Marvel Essentials

Over at Continuity Error is a post on the Essential series by marvel, which adds a wish list of new essentials.

This paragraph caught my eye:
Pretty much anything by Stan Lee is unreadable (sorry, Stan, you're a great creator but those old issues were baaaad), who the hell is Killraven and I don't think I'll ever want to read 500 pages of Ant-Man
as did this is at the top of the Essentials list most wanted:
Secret Wars: You can go two ways with this. There can be a single volume version with both Secret Wars and Secret Wars II along with some essential tie-ins, or it could be a two-volume set, one for the original and one for the sequel and each with plenty of tie-ins. I think it this would be a cool Essential mostly because I'd like to see the series feature important and classic storylines, not just reprint old stuff in order.
I respect Continuity Error greatly, first because I love the title of the blog and wish that I'd thought of it, and secondly because he featured the Godzilla vs. Barkley comic that a good friend of mine was the inker on, but that first paragraph just got to me. After all, I understand that you can't immerse yourself in that much Hank Pym at any one time without going so mad that you might find yourself turning into Yellowjacket.

However, I would make the case that McGregor and Russell's Killraven (i.e. The War of the Worlds) was an astonishing read in its day. Without having the issues in front of me, we had an interracial romance (which was not the sole focus of the sub-plot thank you), a father-daughter horror story as one of the band of adventurers has to care for her father who has had his mind taken away, and a whole host of emotionally wrenching episodes as they journeyed across the Martian devastated USA.

While starting out in a fairly generic Marvel style, P. Craig Russell moved forward at lightening speed (as did a number of his Marvel contemporaries most notably Starlin and Gulacy) both in terms of layout and illlustrative style. The rotating series of inkers on the book may have had the effect of making sure that some of the artistic growth was being buried under diverse hands, but for those who were looking it was apparent that Russell was something special. The series finale Mourning Prey was a monster step forward with P. Craig Russell's style, one that would signal his shift artistically to where he has gone to today.

And when it comes to the Secret Wars essential: Jeez, I can hardly believe that anyone would want read that again, much less have it in a squarebound edition, but hey, someone bought the thing in the first place, so there must be a level of nostalgia around it. I think that I would love this essential: Marvel's Essential Failures. Comprised of Omega the Unknown, Black Goliath, the odd Marvel Premier (Legion of Monsters, Seeker 3000, and Paladin), and The Champions (with unpublished material). Lets hear it for '70's Marvel goofiness!


Rob Monroe said...

In my defense, I simply didn't know what Killraven is, having never heard of it until the Essential was released. If it's as cool as you say, I'll be sure to check it out next time I'm at the shop.

And as for the Secret Wars thing, I've never read it but I am curious and I think an Essentials edition would be a good way to satisfy that curiosity.

And the idea for Marvel's Essential Failures is great. Too bad Marvel seems to take itself a little too seriously to do it.

Glad you liked the Godzilla/Barkley post and OMG @ you knowing the inker. I got the feeling no one had read that post, which is perhaps the great post I've ever made.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

keith aiken and I both got into the industry at about the same time as inkers, and had the habit of putting little in jokes in to the work. Somewhere in the godzilla comic is a guy wearing a shirt with a small stuffed dalmation plush, which was the one that I had sitting in my studio as my mascot.

I also thought that keith did a good job of really working the barkely reference, and he was the biggest godzilla fan that ever was, so it was a dream come true. It was great to see you bring the book back to light! I had fun reading the post.

James Meeley said...

Stan Lee is unreadable? Heck, I've been reading some old FF and avengers by him recently. Sure, the jokes and pop-culture references are a bit dated and some of the dialogue a bit stilted and cheesey, but it's all good stuff. Heck, some of that even makes it a bit of fun to read.

As far as pacing and amping up your excitement to turn the page, as well as (for their time) more full-rounded characters, you can't beat him. There is a reason they call Stan "The Man", you know. At least he didn't drown you in angst and hand-wringing for issues on end, like most supposedly great writers of today do. Stan always put having fun at the top of the list of priorities and more writers would do well to remember that today!

Shamus said...

I agree with james. Stan wrote comics that were fun to read. they were written mainly for kids too and at that level they were really entertaining. Today's Marvel comics aren't fun to read. At least for me.