I’m back from the comic shop this week and I only got one new thing:

  • Love and Rockets: New Stories – 2
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

  • Captain Marvel Masterworks Volume 3 by Jim Starlin and others
  • This volume reprints the Jim Starlin drawn and plotted Captain Marvel comics from 1973-1974. These were some of my favorites when I was a kid so it’s nice to have a new hardcover printing of them. They came out a few years before I started collecting comics so I never bought them off of the racks but borrowed a friend’s copies (probably in 1979 or so). It was always one complete story to me.

    Even years after they came out these stories had a big impact on me. They were the first time that I read comics that had a real far-out “cosmic” plot that was epic in scope. It starts our with Captain Marvel being a regular super hero and ends up with him being some sort of special cosmic protector. It also starts out with Thanos being a typical strong armed super villain and ends up with him being a mad god.

    I’ve known people ten or more years younger than me who find these comics too old fashioned for them. They like Starlin’s “Infinity Gauntlet” Thanos stories better than these. I find those stories a pale imitation of these issues. I guess it matters which ones you discovered first and how old you were when you read them.

    The one old fashioned thing about these stories is the amount of recapping that’s done. When these were first printed the comic came out bimonthly. That’s eight weeks between issues and it was always assumed that each issue might be someone’s first so they’d do a quick recap to catch people up. There is a lot of plot going on in these comics so there is a lot to recap. Every two issues or so we get a recap. These are actually well done and integrated into the story but to a modern comic reader they are out of place. We barely get a story these days and never a recap.

    One of the reasons I like these issues is that you can see Starlin’s work growing by leaps and bounds issue to issue. He was just starting out back then and his artwork and writing grow as issues pass. He gets more and more ambitious and it’s fun to watch.

    I still like these comics. I think they hold up well and that is not nostalgia talking. The artwork is nice and I enjoy the story line. There is a reason it’s such a famous run of comics. Starlin took the Lee/Kirby cosmic “Galactus Trilogy” story and ran with it a little further. He added some 1970’s acid trip mysticism to it and made it his own. Fun stuff.

    I must say I was even impressed with the three Wayne Boring drawn issues that started out this volume. Captain Marvel wasn’t a well respected comic before Starlin took over and I expected nothing from these three issues but they were okay. I’ve never been a big fan of Boring’s Superman but he can draw well and tell a story. I was well prepared to skip those three issues but I didn’t.

    So if you’re a Starlin fan or are just curious about the antecedents of a lot of today’s comic book cosmic epics check out this volume of Captain Marvel. It’s still a favorite of mine. Now I have to read Stalin’s original “Warlock” run.