- Series: Marvel Masterworks (Numbered) (Book 1)
- Paperback: 280 pages
- Publisher: Marvel (April 9, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0785167773
- ISBN-13: 978-0785167778
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,037,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Human Torch - Volume 1 (Marvel Masterworks (Numbered)) Paperback – April 9, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
Extras include house ads within the four comics, including Captain America #1, 3 and #7 (all Red Skull issues), Young Allies #1 (with the Red Skull), Mystic Comic's new hero line-up, Marvel's pinwheel of stars, fantastic Alex Schomburg covers on Marvel Mystery Comics #16 and #20 (featuring Torch and Namor, respectively), Sub-mariner Comics #2, and All-Aces ad (which became All-Winners). There's also house ads for the first issue of The Human Torch in Marvel Mystery Comics #13, second issue in Marvel Mystery Comics #15, third issue in Marvel Mystery #19 and the fourth issue ad in Marvel Mystery #23. (the ads have incorrect page counts for the Namor stories in #3 and 5a, stating 22 and 20 pages respectively, when the actual issues had 20 and 10-page stories). There's also a promotional flyer from distributor Kable News announcing 92% sell-through on the first issue of The Human Torch. Marvel does a great job preserving their history in the Golden Age Masterworks line.
This collection has some of Bill Everett's best pre-war artwork as well as the origin of Toro, a continuing story between Torch and Namor, and a team-up between Namor and Angel to battle "Nazombies".
The first issue of Human Torch had a different format from subsequent issues: a gamut of heroes co-starred with the mag's headliner. Torch had a 19-page story, Namor had 12 pages, a text story had creator features on Carl Burgos and Bill Everett on their creations, the Human Torch and the Sub-mariner, the Falcon had 7 pages, Microman had 6 pages, Mantor the Magician had 8 pages, and the Fiery Mask had 10 pages. Only one of the other three issues in this volume had the standard two 20-page Torch and Toro stories and one 20-page Sub-mariner story that the comic would take on going forward. Spring and summer have a 10-page Namor and a 10-page Patriot story.
The great Alex Schomburg illustrates four amazing covers, each with The Human Torch, Toro and Namor. No one drew the Human Torch as well as Schomburg. I would've loved to see a whole story illustrated by him. I'd love to see an artbook on just Schomburg covers for Timely.
Highlights for each issue (spoiler-free):
Fall 1940: Toro's origin was fun if a bit hard to believe. I loved the circus setting. The last panel asks readers to write in their thoughts on the fiery duo.
"Sub-mariner Crashes New York Again!" is a great story with excellent Bill Everett art with Namor trying to clear his name and help fend off a Nazi u-boat in the harbor.
To save a beautiful woman, Mantor the Magician battles an axe-wielding maniac and a creep in a skull mask and cloak. I'd really like to know the artist for this story. Though it's a bit rough, I thought the artwork showed promise.
Joe Simon does a decent job on The Fiery Mask tale " The Strange Case of the Bloodless Corpses". He seemed to have a long view on developing this character. It's too bad he didn't have the chance to explore this world further. Even though the powerless heroes usually don't appeal to me, the weird adventures for the Fiery Mask were compelling. Roy Thomas states that Simon didn't draw this adventure. I don't know. To me, there's a bit of Simon's style in a few of the faces, in our heroes stance and in the nurse.
In the Winter issue, Toro battles the Torch in a two-part 40-page epic. The text story has Namor and Torch arguing about whose artist is better. Namor has a great naval battle in his 20-page story and it finishes by asking the readers if they'd like to see Namor get his own 64-page comic. I wonder how many wrote in? On top of all that, there's a house ad on the inside front cover for Captain America Comics #1.
In the Spring issue, we're treated to another two-part 40-page Torch and Toro epic, in "The Mystery of the Disappearing Criminals". The text story by Ray Gill has an illustration by Bill Everett and features the Patriot. The copy is interesting: "This is the story of one American who decided to do something about it all." By the Patriot as told to Ray Gill. I love this stuff! The text is enclosed in a shield-shaped text box and has a light red and blue tone to the top and bottom with a white stripe bisecting it. The Sub-mariner story takes place in Alaska where doctors are fighting a flu epidemic. When a terrible blizzard grounds the rescue flight, they ask Namor to deliver the new serum through the storm. Bill Everett does a marvelous job rendering the ice and snow. The end of the story asks if readers have picked up Namor's new book "The Sub-mariner Special Edition".
In the last issue, we get a third 40-page Torch and Toro epic, "the March of Death". At one point, Torch fishes his junior partner out of the water pulling him up by his hair. Ouch! To top it off, he uses the weirdest form of artificial respiration ever seen. Stan Lee's text story is a team-up in "The Human Torch and Sub-Mariner Battle the Nazi Super Shell of Death!" In "Blitzkrieg of the Living Dead", Angel teams up with Namor to fight the Nazombies (they even have Shark diving suits!) There's another 10-page story with the Patriot, a pale imitation of Captain America.
This first volume has some terrific stories in it as well as historically significant work, like Stan Lee's text story team-up or the Angel an Torch teaming up, as well as three epic 40-page Torch stories. True, much of Burgos' work is crude, especially when compared to Kirby or Everett at this time, but he renders the fire effects very well. I would've liked more from the Fiery Mask, but not at the expense of Namor's page count.
This is one of the better Golden Age pre-war volumes from Marvel/Timely. The softcover Masterworks has better restoration than the hardcover for this volume. I hope Marvel Masterworks relaunches the Golden Age and Atlas Era lines. I'm very interested to see what types of stories were in the post-war years, especially when Torch had Sun Girl in his title.