Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Essential Marvel Two-In-One (Vol 3)

One of the things I've always done when visiting America is to buy a superhero graphic novel/trade paperback whilst I'm there to give me something to read on the plane back. Usually, this would be bought from a 'local' comic book store. However, due to a lack of nearby stores, I had to buy it from the comic shop in Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park during my recent trip to Florida. And this time I chose Volume 3 of the Essential Marvel Two-In-One, which reprints issues #53 to #77 and Annuals #4 and #5 of MTIO.

I'd considered buying this on Amazon a while back (where it is actually cheaper, as is often the case with TPBs) but had resisted. Seeing it on the shelf on holiday - and with nothing else to take my fancy - I succumbed and bought it. I'm glad I did.

I've never really been a fan of these Essential compendiums - nor of DC's Showcase collections. I like to read comics in full colour, not black and white. However, they are certainly value for money and probably the only way to get to see some of these older comic books without intensive searching through back-issue bins. Anyway, up until now, I think I only had two of these types of books - an X-Men one and the Batman and the Outsiders Showcase. So this is only the third of these affordable phone-book collections I own.

I should point out here that I prefer team books rather than those dedicated to individual superheroes. I was always a fan of the X-Men or the Avengers, the JLA or Teen Titans. Why have a story about one person with superpowers when you can read about six or seven (or a dozen)!? Marvel's Two-in-One falls somewhere in the middle. Yes, it mainly focusses on the Fantastic Four's Thing, but in each issue ol' blue-eyed Benjamin Grimm would team up with one or two other (often C-list) heroes - sometimes even a whole team!

As well as the wonderful (though early) John Byrne and George Perez art throughout much of the book, I was surprised to find that I remembered some of the stories and art. I actually remember having (and reading) the original issues that made up the Serpent Crown Affair storyline plus the Impossible Man issue and a couple of others. I fondly remember my original introduction to Stingray, a character I still love to this day (though, to be honest, I'm not sure why). Nostalgia is a wonderful thing!

I haven't actually read all of the book yet - I'm saving the latter half for the future - but this was a fantastic blast from the past for me. The stories are reasonably good too; there's no decompression in order to produce 6 issues for the trade here but, instead, plenty of action. It's also a good introduction to some lesser known Marvel characters. And the FF's Ben Grimm has always been a favourite. I may have to look out for more of these MTIO collections.

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