Tom Brevoort points out what we’ve been discovering as we’ve cleaned up both home and office: a lot of these reprint books can quietly be…ignored.
Now, don’t get me wrong—I love the fact that so much of this material is readily available, and every reader makes their own evaluation of the work. By the same token, for every real classic run, stories of undeniable merit, there also seems to be a compilation of journeyman quality, or even just out-and out hackwork. This is especially true on the ESSENTIAL collections (and their differently-named counterparts uptown) where entire runs are being reprinted sequentially.
I’m a sentimental for the books of a certain period as anyone you’ll find (in my case, the books of the ’70s, when i started reading this stuff), but most of that sentiment is fueled by nostalgia rather than the quality of the material. I realize that a lot of these books really aren’t all that objectively good. For example, with rare exception, most of the run of MARVEL TEAM-UP is unspectacular. It’s fun, but not especially meaningful. And don’t get me started on the misnomer of ESSENTIAL WEREWOLF BY NIGHT.