Saturday, August 26, 2017


MONSTERS VOL. 1: The Marvel Monsterbus by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby
Publishing Date: May 2017
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Format: Hardcover, color cover and interiors
Pages: 872
Editor: Cory Sedlmeier
Contributors: Stan Lee (script), Larry Lieber (script), Jack Kirby (illustrations), Various (inks and lettering)
Price: $100.00

When I want a book that gets in the neighborhood of costing a C-note, my financial sense either goes out the window or kicks into hyper-drive -- usually it's the latter and not the former. It just hurts to break out a hundred bucks for a book! Oh, I have laid down a hard-earned Ben Franklin a time or two over the years, but those times it was strictly for books that were out of print or really hard to find.

My usual strategy is to seek out the deep discounts that are offered online by Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The last time I did this was at B&N; I had received a 30%-off discount coupon and I really wanted to sink my claws into a copy of American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films, 1913-1929 by John T. Soister and Henry Nicolella, an enormous, 830-page printed block of indispensable Monsterology. With my coupon, I could get the price down to 70 bucks, which I thought was a steal for this gargantuan, two-volume tome. The day came when my order showed up at the door. Imagine my disappointment to find only the first volume in the package! Without sounding too much like I need cheese with my whine, after a couple of emails and phone calls, I couldn't get anybody to even take a look in their blasted warehouse to see if they had the second volume! The sad ending was that I sent the book back (they wouldn't take it back at my local brick and mortar store because they "didn't carry the title in the store"), lost my chance at using the 30%-off coupon again and had them offering me a 20% discount for my troubles. Feh!

Well, I'm happy to say that I fared better this time. With the reduced listed price online and another discount coupon, I had all 5 pounds of this massive beast on my doorstep at just about half the retail price. One last thing: I may sound like a skinflint when it comes to buying books, but you'll never catch me stealing salt and pepper shakers from a restaurant or towels from a hotel, just so you know.

As I have mentioned, this book is no wimp, and you'd have to be one of the title characters in these stories to be able to hold it in one hand. What you get is 800-plus pages of pure monster comic madness. The stories have been "remastered", that is, they've been scanned, cleaned up, sharpened and re-colored to a state that's even clearer, crisper and more vibrant than when they first appeared on the spinner racks as a comic book. Some purists don't particularly like this technique, but trust me, this is the way to read these tales.

And what tales they are! Stan Lee and his brother, Larry Lieber, were honing their scripting chops on these stories about all sorts of monsters, mostly of the giant type (kaiju-size if they had been published in Japan) but other kinds as well, who ravaged, destroyed and otherwise menaced the unsuspecting and hapless people of earth.

For instance, you will be thrilled by the rampaging tree monster, Groot (I suspect the name to be a hybrid of "Giant" and "Root"), terrified by the mighty Rro, menaced by the dragon-giant, Grogg, and stupefied by Shagg, Googam, Son of Goom and Monstro!

These tales were written before Marvel Super-Hero mania took over the comics industry in the 1960's, and King Kirby's art is noticeably picking up momentum in these stories, with his use of foreshortening and other dynamic techniques in full swing, promising the greatness that was to come.

Just like water seeking its own level, these stories found a way around the post-EC horror comics meltdown of the '50s which forbade blood and guts, but allowed the science-fiction and giant monster themes like these to flourish. The generous collection is selected from STRANGE TALES (1951) 67-70, 72-86; JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY (1952) 51-70; WORLD OF FANTASY (1956) 15-19; STRANGE WORLDS (1958) 1, 3-5; TALES TO ASTONISH (1959) 1, 3-19; TALES OF SUSPENSE (1959) 2-19.

If you are in the mood for some nostalgic big monster and sci-fi comic book stories, go no further, as this book is hard to beat. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be going as I try and find a way to get a deal on -- Gads! -- Vol. 2, that has just been released!


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