Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Rogues All!

Judging by their continuing popularity in forums and elsewhere, it's regrettable that Marvel's rogues' galleries--which presented a rundown of a character's repertoire of villains in full-page profile format--never really caught on beyond the 1963-64 annuals of Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man, though they didn't stick around long regardless. As mostly a supplementary group of pages to those titles, it's possible that Stan Lee took another look at them and decided to instead offer more bang for the buck in annuals by padding the books with fresh and unexpected content that the reader didn't see coming. (Though padding them with reprints, as was often the case, was probably met with just the disappointment that Lee might have been trying to head off.)

Still, it would have been enjoyable to see other characters' annuals produce their own rogues' galleries, if only for the short term. One can only imagine how Jack Kirby's Thor galleries might have turned out, or John Buscema's take on Avengers villains--ditto for Herb Trimpe's Hulk roster, given how adept Trimpe was at stunning full-page renderings. Presumably, Iron Man's classic collection would have been taken on by Don Heck, whose portrait work I'd be curious (though admittedly not terribly excited) to take a look at; but other than George Tuska, I'm not sure who Marvel would tap for the job aside from Gene Colan. (Imagine the elation at turning the pages only to find, say, Neal Adams having rendered villain profiles of the Black Widow, the Mandarin, the Titanium Man, et al. Talk about the unexpected!) Daredevil, naturally, would be Colan all the way.

As for the galleries themselves, their main appeal eventually evolved into seeing them in their entirety--so, again, it's regrettable that we don't have more groupings to look at from either the Silver or Bronze Age. But having already put together Spider-Man's cast of nefarious nemeses, it's only right to give the FF their due, since their gallery paved the way for the concept, however briefly it lasted--yet time enough to be immortalized.

The FF's gallery in the Sept. 1963 annual preceded that of Spider-Man's by a year--though, like its counterpart in Amazing Spider-Man, it would follow up with a few more portraits in its second annual. But though the FF galleries would contribute additional profiles in its '79 annual, the FF's count of rogues would fall short of Spider-Man's gallery count by 8 portraits--a no doubt dubious honor for Spider-Man, seeing as he apparently had more criminals gunning for him than the Fantastic Four.

By the time of Daredevil's first annual in 1967, the rogues' gallery concept had been shelved indefinitely, so that only a few portraits graced DD's collection. Further weaning us from the concept was the retooling of it to a far less distinguished listing: "memory pages." Egad.

And I agree: they could have at least included Dr. Doom here.

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