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The Marvel Age of Comics 1961-1978 Hardcover – October 6, 2017
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About the Author
Since 1965, Roy Thomas has been writing for movies, television, and especially comic books. With notable runs on Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, Conan the Barbarian, The Incredible Hulk, and Star Wars, he served as a Marvel editor from 1965–80 and editor-in-chief from 1972–74. He currently edits the comics-history magazine Alter Ego and writes two online Tarzan strips as well as the occasional comic book. He and his wife Dann live in South Carolina.
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Top customer reviews
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Quality on this matches any book, hands down these are the best covers, front and back, color, clarity Marvel history,etc
The sheer size alone makes this book WAY WAY unique.
Highly Recommended and SIX True Believer stars all the way
Bought this in a comic shop, because, well, there it was, with no postage to pay, and long before October 6th, sorry Amazon, you’re still my first port of call, love ya. Unfortunately, despite being invited to “be the first to review”, I find I’m actually not allowed to review until “the item has been released”, so this information comes a little late to some buyers. It also won’t be flagged as a Verified Purchase, and nor would it be if I had bought it on Amazon.co.uk, which I prob’ly would’ve. Rest assured though, I have it here right in front of me.
Anyhow, the book—there’s a lot of good stuff in here, including what *should* be in here, but I can’t help feeling that even at a massive 400 pages, there’s lots of stuff that *could* have been in here. More Kirby, more Ditko, more Steranko, more Colan, more of everything. It’s not a bad book, but it’s not a great book. There’s a sense of skimming over everything, it’s not definitive, and at 400 pages and forty quid, it should be. Also, large chunks of it are reproduced from Taschen’s 2014 book 75 Years of Marvel Comics: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen, so if you’ve got that, you might feel a bit cheated. Frankly, there are better text histories out there, and better collections of art.
I can’t help feeling that it would have been a much better idea just to concentrate on the ’60s/Silver Age, and perhaps end with the ill-advised death of Gwen Stacy, which is pretty much when the dream died for me, rather to then go similarly skimming through the ’70s as well… which could have been a follow-up book, as Taschen recently did with DC. They probably realised there’s no market out there for eulogising the later stuff. In fact, and I’m not being facetious, the best use for this book is as a visual aid to Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold story, the events of which it illustrates perfectly (but only up to ’78, obvs), albeit with slightly less contentious versions of the same stories.
For example, Martin Goodman’s price-rise wheeze of the early ’70s is acknowledged as the moment Marvel overtook DC in sales, but the text then suggests that this was also down to the culmination of, and recognition for, all the Silver Age accomplishments. But then, why would sales *rise* with the retirement of Lee and the departure of Kirby? This is wishful rewriting of history. As Stan famously said in one of his soapbox columns, “everyone knows there’s more of their kind of people than ours”.
Hindsight shows us that, in fact, Marvel’s best days were now behind them, and it was far more likely to be a combination of the abolition of the quota that limited the number of Marvel comics that could appear each month (actually the beginning of the decline, alongside Goodman’s ‘single issue stories’ mandate), the aforementioned 20 cent trick, and the even more drastic drop in quality of DC’s comics. You will find yourself cackling cynically at some of the inevitable spin in this official history, although it’s not quite as glaring as that in the DC books by the same publisher. And, as in those, it’s true as far as it goes.
Also, I was surprised at the choices made as to which items to blow up full page and which to print smaller, but I concede that’s purely subjective. However, the choices do inevitably come across as a little, uh, Roy-centric. For example, seventy issues of the Thomas-free Tomb of Dracula, an extraordinary accomplishment by Wolfman and Colan, is dismissed with a thumbnail, albeit the Hulk’s thumb. Twenty-odd issues of the Thomas/Smith Conan, on the other hand…
And, a minor gripe, but if there’s one thing I really hate, it’s when comix people put themselves into the comic strips, and this element is really over-represented here. And 1978’s Superman, the first ‘serious’ super-hero film? What does that even mean?
Serious in terms of trying to make a profit? Serious in terms of special effects? Serious in terms of content? (I don’t think so!). Serious in terms of guys wearing long underwear and doing impossible things? Serious in spending a ton of money? Serious next to Brando in Last Tango in Paris, or Hackman’s genuine straight villainy in Prime Cut? Any more serious than Kirk Alyn or George Reeves?
I can’t even say this is a missed opportunity, because it’s already been done, and better. There’s quite a few of these ‘memory lane’ coffee table books out there now, and if you fancy a wander down the time tunnel, you don’t need ‘em all. If someone buys this for you as a gift, don’t hurl it at ‘em, it’s okay, but for some other options, DC, Marvel, all, others, and both, see ‘all my reviews’.