Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Treasury of Reprints

Prepare to swing into another

Marvel Trivia Question

What first-of-its-kind comic book format did this image of Spider-Man kick off?

In 1974, Marvel decided to publish a series of 13½ x 10 "treasury editions" featuring a number of its characters. What would have truly made them "treasury" editions would have been to feature original stories and art in them; unfortunately, they were simply reprints of stories collected together according to some theme that was chosen. In the case of this first edition, the theme was to publish Spider-Man's "most memorable" stories, featuring almost every artist who had drawn him up to that point.

Still, the oversized format was something new (the closest thing to it I can think of was The Spectacular Spider-Man magazine in 1968), and the treasury editions sold fairly well--until the reprint aspect of them became something like a broken record, too difficult to obscure any longer with the excellent original artwork on their front and back covers. Once that became clear, I frankly couldn't see their value anymore.

The last one I picked up was one of the 1976 editions, this time one with original story and art--Captain America's Bicentennial Battles, written and drawn by Jack Kirby. It was produced to capitalize on coincide with the bicentennial celebrations going on at the time. It was a grueling experience; I was never a fan of Kirby's writing, which had little of the subtlety necessary to avoid patronizing the reader. A story of Captain America trying to define what America is--well, it was cleverly done, but disappointingly written.

Kirby did this one as well as a 2001: A Space Odyssey edition; but by this time, I'd soured on the entire treasury edition concept. In addition, they were difficult to find room for! It's not as if I had a library at the time. I was barely managing to store what I had. But I've kept them all, over the years, and they've held up remarkably well. More conversation pieces than anything else--I don't attach any real value to them. I'm frankly amazed Marvel published them as long as they did.

1 comment:

dbutler16 said...

Man, I LOVE the treasury editions! I have a stack of them. Yes, it would have been great if more of them had new stories, though. Unfortunately, I no longer have the Avengers and Batman issues I had. I have the Cap one pictured here, but not the Spidey.