I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got no new comic (zip, zero, zed, nothing!) but I did get two new hard cover collections:

  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier
  • Captain America: Omnibus (The Ed Brubaker written issues. I’ve been meaning to check this out but it’s fairly expensive.)
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read this week.

  • “Amazing Fantasy” Omnibus by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby
  • Wow, did this book blow me away. I was originally undecided about whether to get it or not. It collects the whole fifteen issue series from the early Sixties in which Spider-Man debuted in the fifteenth and last issue. I, of course, have read that Spidey issue as has almost every other comic book fan an Earth but I knew almost nothing about the other fourteen issues. All I knew was that they were some monster and fantasy stories by Lee, Ditko, and Kirby.

    I had recently bought and read the Atlas Era Marvel Masterworks “Tales To Astonish”. This is another collection of what I thought to be similar stories by the Marvel crew. I enjoyed them but there is really not a lot to eight page monster stories besides good craftsmanship. I was unsure if I really wanted to spend more money on similar comics. But there was something about being able to read the first Spider-Man story in the context of the whole “Amazing Fantasy” series (which has never been reprinted before) that intrigued me. I’m a history fan in general and history is all about context. That and knowing that once these Marvel Omnibuses go out of print I would no longer be able to find them for as cheap as I can now. I waffled on the Jack Kirby “Eternals” Omnibus for so long that I can only find it for a couple of hundred dollars or so on the secondary market. So I pulled the trigger on getting the “Amazing Fantasy” Omnibus. I’m glad I did.

    These stories are a cut or two above the Atlas era collections. The first six issues were a mix of Kirby and Ditko drawn stories with a long lead story and then a couple of shorter ones. The long lead stories allowed for more complex tales to be told than the Atlas Era stuff. The stories were also fresher and more sophisticated. There was one continuing character Dr. Droom who was resurrected as Dr. Druid in the 1970’s. It all made for a nice mix of stories.

    From issue seven to issue fourteen we get just Lee and Ditko. Each issue has five short stories that they were purposely written for an older audience. Each issue has a well designed table of contents and each story has a Ditko drawn splash page that acts like a cover. These are among the best splash pages I have ever seen and each tells a story in and of itself. I lot of work and talent went into these issues.

    A couple of the stories get redundant and aliens are always secretly planning to invade Earth but it’s hard to write five short stories an issue. They succeed more than they fail. Over all I was really blown away by the quality of these “Amazing Fantasy” issues and the stories were all so much more engaging than others of this type that I have read. A lot of imagination and skill went into the making of these comics and it shows. Oh yeah, and Spider-Man appears in the last issue. Give it a read. Recommended.