Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Collect This: Marvel Visionaries

One reason I love being a part of Marvel is our incredible Collected Editions department and our immense backlog of trade collections, both because I can fairly easily access some of the best comics ever and because that in itself is something to be proud of.

In particular, I’m a big fan of our Visionaries series, devoted to collecting the key works of marquee creators on characters that made them famous (and in many cases vice versa). Again, the folks responsible for these fine books have done an excellent job covering a significant breadth of Marvel’s immense history, but the pursuit of perfection is one that never ends, so thusly here are a few more classic runs I’ve both read and want to check out that I think merit Visionaries status.

Of all the numerous characters that Stan Lee has had some hand in creating, he has often cited The Silver Surfer as his very favorite, and it shows in the laborous love “The Man” applies to Norrin Radd’s pathos and prose. Now you can get Surfer’s debut by Lee and Jack Kirby in the classic Galactus Trilogy in several Fantastic Four collections and pick up his origin by Lee and Gene Colan in Essential Silver Surfer, but it sure would be neat to have both those tales, plus some more Kirby FF goodness, as well as the early Surfer solo stories Lee wrote topped off by his classic collaboration with Moebius all in one handy set.

I got to see cosmic kingpin Jim Starlin play plenty with Adam Warlock as well as his friends and foes with the Infinity trilogy in the 90’s and other subsequent follow-ups, but I’ve longed wanted to check out the gonzo stuff from the 70’s that established both the character and creator as mainstays. Gimme the stuff from Strange Tales and that kooky Warlock ongoing that transformed him from tossed-off Lee/Kirby creation to put-upon interstellar messiah and introduced The Magus as well as ignited his feud with Thanos.

The much-beloved and greatly-missed late Mark Gruenwald spent a whopping 10 years chronicling the adventures of Steve Rogers and company, and as one would expect, had his ups and downs as anybody would over the course of a decade on one title. Gru’s swansong, Fighting Chance, has been collected, but I want to see the goods from his first five years in particular, including the establishment of the second Baron Zemo, the Sourge saga, the introduction of Flag Smasher, and of course Rogers’ replacement by John Walker and stint as The Captain; cherrypick for a first volume and then we’ll see what’s left for a second.

A lot of folks know Roger Stern for writing one of the very best Avengers stories of all time in Under Siege, but the guy spent 75 issues with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, starting with the trial of Hank Pym and ending with an assault on Olympus itself. In between, he brought some wild members like Starfox and Doctor Druid onto the team, established both The Wasp and Captain Marvel as impressive female leaders, and crafted some fine stories alongside one of my favorite artists of all time, John Buscema, that I’ve love to see all in one place.

John Byrne already has one impressive multi-volume Visionaries collection to his name displaying his awesome run on Fantastic Four, a tenure greatly aided by his bringing the boisterous She-Hulk on the team as a replacement for The Thing. Following the end of his FF sting, of of Byrne’s next opuses was a lengthy period on Shulkie’s solo series—albeit one broken up by a hiatus of 22 issues. From all I’ve heard, it was Byrne at his funniest and She-Hulk at her sassiest, but no decent trade exists and I’d like to see that change.

For 62 issues over five years, Christopher Priest’s Black Panther was widely hailed as one of the most critically-acclaimed comics on the racks, yet despite every effort on the part of both creator and publisher, it never quite achieved commercial success and always hovered near cancellation level before finally caving. It’s a shame, because having read all 62 of those issues, I can assure you it’s one impressive body of work from start to finish; a true epic with a great beginning, exciting middle, and satisfying end, albeit one that came a bit too soon. With the Panther enjoying some renewed success in print and on the small screen, it would be great to get Priest’s work out there, as he’s responsible for introducing so many characters and components contributing to that resurgence and left an indelible mark on Wakanda.


Darren said...

100% behind you on Black Panther by Christopher Priest. The first 12 issues were solid, but once Sal Velluto became the artist, that's when the series was really hitting its stride. It was such a complex series that it would deserve several re-reads in trade paperback.

Got any sway with the collected editions dept to make this happen?

Ben Morse said...

Probably not enough, but I can at least pester them. :-)

pmpknface said...

I'm with you on the She-Hulks, and I'm sure they'd sell quite well too. Marvel did a tpb of 1-9 years ago too.

On Warlock, they already have this v1 & 2:

(not 100% sure what's in it)


Anonymous said...

SOOOOO would love a Stern Avengers collection!

Ben Morse said...

Ooh, nice find, pmpknface. Once that goes to softcover, really no need for a Visionaries I guess.

seth hurley said...

I saw that Marvel/Panni has collected Priest's Panther run in 4 volumes when I was in Paris last year.

wish I stuck with my high school French.

seth hurley said...

and another thing! (wah wah)

Daredevil Visionaries: Ann Nocenti

her run with JRJR should be ranked with Miller, Bendis, and Brubaker. There was one volume produced right after the Miller Visionaries, but it cherry picked the Typhoid Mary issues.

I know Marvel is putting out a Nocenti/JRJR Daredevil trade soon, but again, it is from the midst of their run. It leaves out about a dozen issues leading up to the trade's contents and another dozen that wraps up the run.

demoncat said...

i would go for all though think marvel figures warlock would not sell much. that plus like dc view on reprinting things from the seventies marvel may be hesitant to publish stuff like warlock. and she hulk is a must for john work on her was breaking the fourth wall of fun.

Drake Mallard said...

I want to read Black Panther by Priest but Sal Velutto's art is awful, so I can't bring myself to buy it.

Trinity said...

I am actually for the Moebius to be back in print. Loved that story.

I am actually in the middle of reading the Stern Run on Avengers in single issues and loving it. Also picked up the lot of Shehulk to read at some point.

Black Panther was one of those great books that was at times so so but in total was a great read. Everett K. Ross was the ultimate sidekick.

JimmyGlenn711 said...

I own the Moebius Silver Surfer in issues. Its one of my favorite comics of all time.

Generic Viagra said...

classics all of them, specially the issue of She-Hulk and Black Panther, this heroes are not most know in the world so I propose a special issue with both together in adventure.
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muebles zamora said...

Well, I don't actually think this is likely to have effect.

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