Saturday, April 12, 2014

Marvel classics for a new generation

As most readers of this blog will know, Panini UK publish several 76 page comics every month which reprint various recent Marvel titles. What's not so well known, because they're not so well advertised, is that Panini also occasionally publish books that reprint older, classic tales from Marvel's early days, with around 200 pages each.


The two latest books are out now. Both are softback, digest-size (130mm x 200mm) full colour editions with excellent printing, featuring some great material. Thor: In the Shadow of Mangog reprints Thor Nos.189 to 198 (June 1971 to April 1972). Stories by Stan Lee and Gerry Conway with fantastic artwork by John Buscema (and a cover by John Romita). Captain America: The Coming of the Falcon reprints Captain America Nos.111 to 119 (March to November 1969). Classic end-of-sixties material by Stan Lee, Jim Steranko, Jack Kirby, John Romita, John Buscema, and Gene Colan.


Those credits are almost a who's who of Silver Age Marvel. Both books feature material from an interesting period of the company's history. The initial surge of the 'Marvel Age of Comics' was winding down and the comics were coasting a bit, - except for the dynamic and creative Steranko pages of course, which are worth the price of the book alone. However, even the other material (especially the superb John Buscema Thor pages) has a freshness and excitement often lacking in contemporary superhero comics. 


What these stories display is the fine skill of keeping a story lively whilst advancing the plot. Admittedly the plots are paper thin, and quite childlike at times, but they still feel more substantial than today's 'decompressed' storytelling techniques of extended dialogue sequences. It's also just... well, nice, that there's no sadistic violence and gore in these old stories. If, like me, you prefer comics as an hour or two of light escapism from the depressing real world, then these books are for you. 


Both books should be available in bookstores now, at £6.99 each. You'll find them cheaper to buy online though. However, if you want to order them from your local Waterstones or Smiths, heres the ISBN...

THOR: In the Shadow of Mangog
ISBN 978-1-84653-191-0

CAPTAIN AMERICA: The Coming of the Falcon
ISBN 978-1-84653-192-7

28 comments:

Peter Gray said...

These look great...I wonder what other silver age books I've missed of this series...

Britt Reid said...

If the printing is nice and clean (not scans of printed comics), then Panini is using the files/film created for the MasterWorks books, so this is an economical way to get the quality without the hefty price-tag!

mj said...

I've read these and similar Marvel comics through the years, seeing collections just brings it back, the excitement, the fun, the colour...i shall be picking these up.

Lew Stringer said...

Britt, yes they're printing from files sent over from Marvel US, but sometimes the Panini UK pocket books feature content that appears before the Masterworks. For example the Spider-Man pocket books have reprinted up to issue 180 of Amazing Spider-Man, even though the Masterworks are only up to issue 167.

Hibernia Comics said...

I didn't know Panini published collection outside of the the Dr. Who ones, that a great heads up, I have two here who will be happy to read them! While never a big superhero fan I always like picking up the UK reprints, the older stories were(as a reader as a kid anyway!) much more accessible, all you need to know was a vague outline of the origin and you were up to speed with whatever story was told. That's not a slight on the story telling either, probably a lot harder to do than tell an expansive epic. Its another reason why I really enjoy the Marvel and DC films, I don't have years of continuity to nitpick over, but have the jist of the concept.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, they've been publishing these books for years but they hardly ever advertise them. They usually do two or three a year, so this is probably it for this year. They usually do a Spider-Man collection but not this time.(My guess is they're waiting for Marvel US to remaster more issues for them.)

The titles vary. There are 17 Spider-Man pocket books, covering all the issues from the first Romita one up to issue 180. There are quite a few X-Men ones too, then a handful of others for Iron Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four, Avengers, and one Silver Surfer volume.

The first Thor one appeared last year, and this is the second. There was a Captain America one published previously, but it reprinted some of the later John Byrne stories.

Lew Stringer said...

Incidentally, Panini publish LOTS of collections in the standard graphic novel format too. Mostly modern material. Sometimes before the US collections.

Brian said...

Is this another April fools I went into Smiths and looked at the shelves with the Marvel comics on they don't have these two in I asked the assistant she'd never heard of them and they're not on her list lol.

Lew Stringer said...

They're not comics, Brian. They're books. If you give Smiths the ISBN I provided they should be able to order them for you.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

Thanks for the info Lew, these are two books I definitely would like to get but will need to be quick as even although we get them in the Glasgow/Lanarkshire area they're not heavily stocked in Forbidden Plant, Smiths etc(one or two issues a most)Saying that I have managed to get a handful of Romita Spider- man books, 2 early Trimpe Hulks and most recently the Silver Surfer edition (missed the early Ditko ones sadly) and they are really well printed and good long reads (folk shouldn't be put of with the Digest size these are quality books ). Waterstones usually stock these if folk cant find them in the normal places. Im sure you've already mention this and fans of your blog are aware of them (I wasn't until very recently) but Marvel (Pannini?) also publish nice hardback books (black) "The Marvel Graphic Novel collection" recent ones sem to have focused on more modern editions / collections but coming up in June is the Dr Strange Steve Ditko / Stan Lee collection for fans of the 60 Marvel (like me)

Lew Stringer said...

You didn't miss the Ditko Spidey ones Paul, because they started with the first Romita stories.

Hachette publish those hardbacks you mentioned, although I understand they work closely with Panini. (I think Panini editors produce them for Hachette.) You're right; they're now reprinting older material. There's a nice Thomas/Buscema Avengers collection coming out any day now.

Brian said...

Now you tell me Lou lol I got back from town now so won't be going to Smiths again until next weekend I'll ask them about ISBN or whatever it's called will they know what I'm on about then?

Lew Stringer said...

Brian, I did mention they were books in my post. Copy out the ISBN numbers and give them to a bookshop and they should be able to order them for you. Even easier, go to Amazon and buy them online. Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Wow-o! These remind me of the times of FANTASTIC AND TERRIFIC! How many books are there in the series?

Lew Stringer said...

I don't know exactly how many Pocket Books have been published. As I said, there are 17 Spider-Man books, a lot of X-Men books, and a handful of each of various others. If you look on Amazon you'll see whatever's still available.

Starlogged said...

There are three releases in this current batch: the two above and X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST which reprints the issues around the pivitol storyline which - not coincidentally I imagine - forms the basis of the upcoming movie.

I don't have my copy in front of me at this moment so I can't tell you the exact issues reprinted but all three of the Pocket Books are in London's Forbidden Planet at the moment... with £1 off the £6.99 cover price.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

Thanks Lew that will save me looking for these Ditko Spidey pocket books.

It seems really strange that these books are so poorly advertised I can't see anything definitive on-line about them. The best I could see was a discussion board on Amazon where someone in May 2012 gave what looks like a pretty good list - titles include: Dracula, Silver Surfer, FF, Spider-man, Venom, Avengers, Iron Man, Capt America, Hulk, Thor, Wolverine, - Amazon blog is here if anyone is interested:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/forum/comics?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=FxNKWFSZ9CGVWD&cdThread=Tx2AECB2YC14AUY

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Paul. That's a very useful list. I couldn't see the Dracula one you mentioned though, or did I skim past it?

Starlogged, I didn't mention the X-Men one as that seems to be a re-issue of a previous pocket book. Thanks for mentioning it though as I'm sure it'll be useful for anyone who doesn't already have it.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

Ooops sorry Lew my error it was the way it was written on the list ..Dracula no 1 - it was part of the content of one of the Spider Man pocket books :(

"The Amazing Spider-Man: The Punisher Strikes Back The Amazing Spider-Man #129-135, Marvel Team Up #22 & Giant Size Spider-Man and Dracula #1"

Starlogged said...

I've got the bulk of these Pocket Books and I don't think there was ever a DRACULA one.

Marvel USA also issued (still issues?) a range of digests so it can sometimes be tricky, at first glance, to pick out the Panini published ones. Their logo doesn't appear anywhere and the only mention is in the copyright/ publisher information.

Days of Future Past is indeed a reissue but it does have a new (old) cover and Panini has improved the print/ binding quality in the intervening years which makes this edition an easier read. It reprints X-MEN 138-143 and the 4th annual. In the original edition the annual comes after 143, the reprint places it between 138 and 139.

Dr Andy Oliver said...

Tempted by these but correct me if Im wrong are he digests smaller in size relative to the actual comics?

Rob Wells said...

I love these books and have bought quite a few as a cheap alternative to Marvel Masterworks. Whenever I go to comic events, I usually head for the Panini table first. I've been collecting the ones reprinting Bronze Age issues of the Amazing Spider-Man and issues of the Uncanny X-Men from the '80s (it was nice to get X-Men: The Hidden Years in this format, too) but it's more or less impossible to keep up with them without an up-to-date list of books and the issues reprinted in each one. I can't believe that Panini go to all the effort of publishing them and then put no effort at all into advertising them. A simple page on their website listing all of their Marvel publications would be good enough.

Lew Stringer said...

Not sure I'm with you Andy. What do you mean by relative? They're not abridged or resized by having art extended or cut if that's what you mean?

Dr Andy Oliver said...

Hi Lew. I was just wondering whether the books reprint the comics at the same size as the original.

Lew Stringer said...

No, they're digest size books. I gave the sizes above. They're smaller than the original comics but still big enough to read easily.

Dr Andy Oliver said...

Oooh, okay. Thanks for that Lew. I'll keep a look for them in any case .

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

They're digest size as Lew says Andy but larger than the Archie digests for example (in height and breadth) and the printing and papar is far superior and crystal clear

James Spiring said...

As luck would have it, that auction mentioned in the latest blog post happens to have a lot including a mixture of Beano and Dandy comic libraries, Battle and War picture libraries, and some of the previous editions of these Marvel digests. Namely one Spider-Man and two each of Hulk, Iron Man and Fantastic Four.

http://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/auction-catalogues/mullocks-specialist-auctioneers-and-valuers/catalogue-id-2901933/lot-21876864

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