Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review: Marvel Essential Super-Villain Team-Up

I hate to say it, but this has to be one of the least "essential" volumes of the Marvel Essentials reprint series, followed only by any Essential X-Men after volume three and any Essential Wolverine. This was an average series with a fun concept, but it is hardly a necessary read by any standard. It does have some interesting moments though.

The series itself began in the final two months of Marvel's "Giant-Size" era. For about a year and a half in the mid-seventies, every title had a monthly or bi-monthly giant-size counterpart. While quite a few of them featured new material, such as in Giant-Size Spider-Man or Giant-Size Avengers or unfortunately Giant-Size Man-Thing, a good number of them were just reprints. Doc Savage, a book that had been cancelled almost a year earlier got a giant-size title, as did the perennial reprint title Marvel Triple Action.  

Giant-Size Super-Villain Team-Up lasted two issues. The premise, at the beginning, was that Doctor Doom and the Sub-Mariner were teaming up to take on all comers. Naturally, Doom had his own agenda on the side. The first issue had some new story pages framing a lot of reprinted material. The second issue was more notable to me, simply because it was the first time that I'd ever seen Mike Sekowsky work on a Marvel Comics title. Sekowsky is best remembered for his work on various Dell and Gold Key licensed properties, and as the first artist on Justice League of America. Sam Grainger provided some very good inking and the artwork was very enjoyable to read. The story itself was all-new material, as Doom and Namor battled an android unimaginatively called Andro, who was formerly the Doomsman, and had been created by Doom and revolted against his control.
The regular Super-Villain Team-Up series started off being almost an extension of the Sub-Mariner's recently cancelled comic book. Namor ended up fighting some his most powerful enemies in the first few issues, with Doom along for the ride as he tried to win the Avenging Son's trust. Naturally, that didn't get very far, and Namor sought out the help of the Fantastic Four. Eventually the mysterious Shroud is brought into the battle, as is Henry Kissinger of all people. After that story arc, there was a multi-issue crossover with the Avengers, which also saw the Red Skull replace Namor on the cover as the team-up partner with Doom for a couple of issues, followed closely by a crossover with the Champions and Magneto. The final two issues of the series featured the Red Skull and the Hatemonger.

The artwork on the series varied from issue to issue. George Tuska and Herb Trimpe did the majority of it, both artists known for being able to draw powerful characters convincingly. Carmine Infantino did the final two stories, but he had Bruce Patterson and Arvell Jones inking him, so even it looked pretty good for Infantino's later output. The series had a regular plethora of writers: Steve Englehart, Roy Thomas, Jim Shooter, Len Wein, Bill Mantlo, and Gerry Conway all took turns on the title. The book was readable, but there was too much inconsistency and way too many crossovers for the era.

Essential Super-Villain Team-Up also includes all of the crossover issues to the series. Since it ties in to two of the story lines, the book also reprints Doctor Doom's short-lived solo feature in Astonishing Tales. Those stories are delights to read, as Tuska, Gene Colan and Wally Wood provided the artwork. Those eight stories have never been reprinted before (at least to my knowledge) in one book, and I would consider that one of the main reasons for picking up this book.

If you can get Essential Super-Villain Team-Up off of Amazon Marketplace for a substantial savings, I would say go ahead and grab this one. It's a fairly good read, but I don't think it's worth that full $17 price point.


by Rich Meyer

If you remember how much department store clerks cringed when they saw Jack Benny coming on Christmas or remember listening to Martians attacking New Jersey or worried about how Kitty Kelly was going to be exonerated of those murder charges this time, then The Golden Age of Radio Quiz Book: 1,001 Questions About Old-Time Radio is an e-book you will enjoy!

This e-book quiz book contains 1,001 trivia questions (and answers) on all aspects of old-time radio: The shows, the stars, the characters, the networks. The well-known and the very obscure are featured throughout this quiz book, which is easy to navigate and can be used by the neophyte fan and the seasoned listener alike. The shows in this quiz book cover the entire span of radio performances, from the very first in the 1920s to modern programs in the eighties and nineties, and from soap operas to musical programs to news shows and quiz programs.

Please note that this e-book contains material previously published in The Golden Age of Radio Quiz Book I & II. 

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