Marvel Comics of New York, originally founded as Timely Publications in 1939, is one of the most important comic book publishers worldwide. Comic book fans all over the world are grateful for superheros as Captain America or the Sub-Mariner.
And particularly for superheros of “a somewhat other kind,” as the mostly troubled, eccentric and characters burdened with lots of personal troubles such as Spiderman, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, Daredevil, Iron Man and many others entered the pages of Marvel Comics.
Those characters were always a bit on the creative, misunderstood and not-too-certain-of-themselves side; a very different sort of hero compared to Superman or Batman (by DC Comics).
It was the competition of DC and Marvel – rivals in business that nevertheless often saw their writers and painters interchanged by artists from the respective other company – that let a huge universe of superheroes grow steadily and that even overlapped in individual comic books.
Marvel can be credited with giving the heroes a more human and everyday people image, nevertheless Marvel’s heroes had real jobs, took the subway, went shopping, lived next door to the average citizen not in a fictional town but in New York City. In November 1961, Fantastic Four No. 1 hit the newsstands and Marvel had invented the first unique superhero team.
At Marvel, they also were blessed with exceptional authors like comic book mastermind Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Buscema, Marie Severin, Jim Steranko and Roy Thomas, author of this 400 page edition.
He wrote for the Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, Conan the Barbarian, The Incredible Hulk, and Star Wars and was a Marvel editor 1965-1980 and editor-in-chief from 1972–74.
The six pounds of The Marvel Age of Comics comes with tons of covers, sketches, hundreds of multi-panels, historic editions, and also introduces some rather unfamiliar heroes from the 1970s and 1980s.
The emphasis, however, is on the graphics art, so do not expect too much text here.
As usual, this is a masterpiece of comic book culture from Taschen that convinces easily by print quality, size (10 x 1.8 x 13.2 inches) and concise essays built on insider knowledge by Roy Thomas.
There are altogether five editions in the respective languages of English, German, Spanish, Italian and French (this review is of the German edition).
Review by Dr. A. Ebert (2017)
Roy Thomas. The Marvel Age of Comics 1961–1978. Taschen, 2017, 396 p., ISBN 978-3-8365-6777-0.