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.

[Via Graeme.]


  1. I think Marvel should also have an “Inessential” line of books.

    I mean I didn’t need the Son Of Satan collection to better understand the Marvel universe.

    I just really wanted it.

  2. A lot of the stuff Marvel is publishing right now isn’t “all that objectively good”, yet that’s not stopping them from rushing it into trade. Frankly, most of the ESSENTIAL or SHOWCASE volumes deserve reprinting for nostalgia, historic value or just plan fun, far more than most of Marvel or DC’s current product deserves to be collected. When Brevoort starts kvetching about stuff like Marvel producing a hardcover collection of “The Other”, then I’ll start taking him seriously.


  3. One of the bestest things about DC’s Showcase series is how it put stuff like Ramona Fradon’s Aquaman and Metamorpho into a nice cheap format that shows what a wonderful job she did on those stories. My Showcase Aquaman and Metamorpho books are a couple of my favorites.

    I look forward to Showcase versions of their Golden Age library ’cause those Archive editions is way too expensive for my budget!

  4. I’d rather have reprints of wacky 70s and 80s books than some of the stuff being published today.

    FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL SHOWCASE featuring Lady Cop, The Green Team and the Outsiders!

  5. Marvel Comics has this awful history of the young execs disrespecting the generations before them. Granted, not every issue is classic, but slamming books such as WEREWOLF BY NIGHT and, by extension, other second-stringers such as A MAN CALLED NOVA, MS. MARVEL, SPIDER-WOMAN (and even some of the better second-stringers like MOON KNIGHT and IRON FIST), etc., when they’re presently ACTIVELY REVIVING many of these characters is the height of hypocrisy.

    Add to that the fact that if you took all the books that Tom B. has edited, you’d be hard-pressed to find enough material to collect in a third of one of those ESSENTIALS collections.

    At least Marvel was experimenting back then. WEREWOLF BY NIGHT was an original (if derivative from the movies) concept for Marvel’s books. Even on a B-level book like WBN, a writer like Doug Moench is more fun to read than nearly anyone working in comics today.

    When Tom B. and his colleagues stop re-hashing the same Silver and Bronze Age stories that the guys before them came up with over and over again (see anything Ultimate, Spider-Man: Blue, Daredevil: Yellow, the recent death of Captain America, etc.) and create some GOOD original books, then his quote will actually mean something. But that day doesn’t seem to be in sight at the moment.

  6. You know Tom – I was watching that special FF # 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer disc you can only buy through Best Buy this morning – you know the one that pieces together that lost Jack Kirby/Stan Lee FF issue??

    You sir – make a lousy looking Galactus.

    ….just had to get that off my chest.

    Ok, carry on.



  7. My favorite old comics are the romance comics published by Atlas, very campy and where artists like Vince Colletta, Jay Scott Pike, etc. cut their teeth. I would love to acquire some of those oldies but goodies.