Sunday, October 16, 2016


ACG COLLECTED WORKS: ADVENTURES INTO THE UNKNOWN VOL. 2 (PS Artbooks, First Printing, 2012; Hardcover)

Collects Adventures Into The Unknown #6-10 (cover dates August/September, 1949- April/May, 1950)

Writers: Lynneal H. Diamond, J. Yakayima, Robert Brice, E. Nelson Bridwell, and other unidentified writers

Artists: Edvard Moritz, Robert Brice, Jon Blummer, Paul Gattusso, Charlie Sutton, John Celardo, Bob Lubbers, R.S. Pious, Johnny Craig, Harry Lazarus, Bob Jenney, George Klein, and Ed Good

This series was the first ongoing Horror comic book, predating even EC's entry into the field by a year. This series runs through the usual Pre-Code Horror gamut, with scenarios such as deals with the devil, ghosts, vampires, knowledge forbidden in the Western world (such as tribal voodoo, witchcraft, swamis, etc.), ancient curses, mummies, etc.

#5's Spirit Of Frankenstein became an ongoing strip in this series, with the characters and their “Frankenstein” robot appearing again in #8, 9, and 10, with a promise of more in the next issue. I guess I'll find out if that's the case when I read Volume 3 in this line of books.

Issue 6's The Mummy's Cloth features artwork by EC great Johnny Craig. I always enjoy stories like #9's The Thing At The Bottom Of The Sea. The writing and artwork are all solid and typical for the era. I'm still in the early pre-boom part of the series.

Dark Horse launched their own line of Archives for this series since it is in the public domain. The primary difference between their line and this line is that this book has raw scans of original comics and the Dark Horse one has full blown restoration. My friend bought both and we have compared them side by side. I was already several volumes into this run and decided against the double dip. The Dark Horse line stalled, presumably because most people bought this line first and were reluctant to double dip.

A lot of these 1950s Horror comics are admittedly interchangeable, but I enjoy them all. I am glad that PS Artbooks is rescuing these lost gems from obscurity. I just wish that they didn't pump them out so dang fast. I can't keep up on buying them, and I certainly can't keep up on reading them. I'm pretty sure that my Halloween reading is all set for the next 40 years.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- I enjoy huffing these Chinese made books. PS Artbooks smell the best. Whenever I crack one open I sit there and snort it...Oh yeah, that's the stuff.
Linework and Color restoration: Raw scans with minimal tinkering. They remove all color from the word balloons, leaving them as bright white as the paper stock. The original printed comics had shoddy printing, and that is presented here warts and all. Off register printing and line bleed are all present, just like they were back then. The scan quality seems to vary from one issue to the next.
Paper stock: Uncoated bright white stock.
Binding: Sewn binding. Lies y flat in one hand when reading.
Hardback cover notes: No dustjacket. Image printed on casewrap with matte finish and spot varnish.  

Monday, October 10, 2016


WEREWOLF BY NIGHT OMNIBUS (Marvel, First Printing, 2015; Hardcover)

Collects Marvel Spotlight #2-4, Werewolf By Night #1-43, Marvel Team-Up #12, Tomb Of Dracula #18, Giant-Size Creatures #1, Giant-Size Werewolf #2-5, Marvel Premiere #28, and selections from Monsters Unleashed #6, 7 (cover dates February, 1972- March, 1977)

Writers: Roy Thomas, Jean Thomas, Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Mike Friedrich, Tony Isabella, Doug Moench, Don Perlin, and Bill Mantlo

Artists: Mike Ploog, Werner Roth, Ross Andru, Tom Sutton, Gil Kane, Gene Colan, Don Perlin, Pat Broderick, Virgil Redondo, Yong Montano, and Frank Robbins with Inking by Frank Chiaramonte, Frank Bolle, Jim Mooney, Paul Reinman, Tom Palmer, Mike Royer, Vince Colletta, Klaus Janson, Sal Trapani, Howie Perlin, and Steve Gan

This book has been a dream of mine ever since I reentered this hobby in 2003. I had (and still own) some of the originals of this series from days as a quarter box diver in 1983. I also bought, and subsequently sold when this book was announced, the black and white phonebooks Essential Werewolf By Night Vols. 1 and 2. I've read this stuff before and read this book slowly over the course of eleven months.

The series launched after a trio of Marvel Spotlight issues, which was Marvel aping DC's “try out book” format. If someone picked up issue 1 of this title off of the stands in June of 1972 they would find themselves in the middle of a story. For those of you new to the character, here's the gist. On Jack Russell's 18th birthday he inherited his father's curse...a father who comes from a long line cursed with Lycanthropy. Jack never does find a cure for his affliction in this book but towards the end becomes able to manage it and even talk(!) in his werewolf form.

One of the nagging questions that I had when I started reading this book was the pronunciation of Jack's sister's name, Lissa. As a kid I always pronounced it Lissa, as in short for Melissa, but as an adult I wondered if that were correct. I Tweeted her creator, Gerry Conway, and he confirmed that the correct pronunciation is indeed Lissa, as in short for Melissa. This is why the Internet rules.

I like how the Werewolf is often overpowered by foes and gets out of predicaments by dumb luck or an ironic twist. Seldom does his animal instinct win the day. This series is probably the first ongoing comic book to use first person narrative. All comic books today use it, but in the early 1970s it was groundbreaking. It gave the book an offbeat flavor. Our “hero” was not even heroic. If he saved the day it was almost always by accident.

Note the Will Eisner homage.

Mike Ploog is the original artist, and he got better with each issue. My favorite issues in the book are non-Ploog ones, believe it or not. I found #8 and 9 in a quarter box in 1983. I didn't have many comics back then, so the ones that I had I read so many times that I would memorize them. I can still recite those two issues word for word for the most part. #8's “The Lurker Behind The Door!” is a Len Wein masterwork. Werner Roth and Paul Reinman handled the artwork, and little did ten year old me in 1983 realize that those cats were turning out some serious artwork in the 1950s. I read this issue so many times as kid, and Wein really nails a foreboding atmosphere. I love the ending, which I won't spoil for you. Suffice it to say that Krogg, The Lurker From Beyond rules. #9 introduced me to the work of the legendary Tom Sutton. I had no idea what a lucky kid I was.

Issue 12 introduced us to Raymond Coker, Jack's neighbor in his new apartment. Coker is caustic, and there is something about him that raises a flag for Jack. By #18 we learn what that is: Coker is also a werewolf! Coker is featured throughout the series, even curing his werewolf affliction at one point using voodoo. #18 was another quarter box find from 1983, also coincidentally with Don Perlin artwork. Issue 13 introduces Topaz, who would go on to become Jack's love interest throughout the series.

Future Avenger Tigra makes her first appearance in Giant-Size Creatures #1. Glitternight is the most ridiculous villain in this series, a problem made worse by Doug Moench heaping even more importance on him toward the end of the series. He is fun in an offbeat, only in the Bronze Age of comics sort of way. I used to own Giant-Size Werewolf #4 as a cheapo back issue in the '80s. I bought it for probably .35-.50 because it had Morbius The Living Vampire in it. These old monster comics were worthless back then.

Doug Moench wrote the majority of the series. While Moench is best remembered for Shang-Chi, Master Of Kung Fu and his work on Batman this is where he made me a fan. If I had to pick a favorite issue of his run it may have to be Giant-Size Werewolf #5. It's filled with all of the Hollywood inspired faux occult goodness that you could possibly want. Yong Montano's artwork on that issue is exquisite. He was a Filipino comic artist who did some work in the '70s and one or two things after, but other than that is among the largely forgotten artists from the Filipino comic book scene who did so much good work in the Warren Magazines in the '70s.

Another thing that Moench is remembered for is his co-creation Moon Knight, who first appeared in #32 and would go on to become a fan favorite. He is a mercenary who was hired by The Committee, an ongoing threat to the Werewolf throughout the series, but revolts after he is paid and sets the Werewolf free. Moench ramps things up, but the radical shift in tone at the very end of the series is evidence that he was trying to bring the Werewolf more into the main Marvel Universe by featuring Brother Voodoo and then Iron Man. The second issue of the two-parter with Iron Man, #43, was another quarter box find for me in 1983. Unbeknownst to me and every other reader of that issue at the time, it was the final issue of the series. Moench explains on that issue's letters page, reprinted here. In a pre-Internet world I wondered how many issues there were in this series, and now I knew. I found it in a quarter box as a kid and was bummed with the series ending. The book ended on a whimper, with Iron Man being the final one on stage, so to speak. It bothered me as a 10 year old kid how the series ended, and it bothers me now. Obviously the plug was pulled with little notice, and I always wonder what would have happened next if Marvel would have allowed him to wrap things up.

The only downside to these Bronze Age monster comics is that they are set within a superhero framework. It's always fun to see monsters duke it out, so who's complaining? Werewolf By Night was considered crap by the “serious” comic collectors who scoffed at this scruffy kid poring over quarter boxes at Magina Books back in 1983. I always thought that the joke's on you; you don't get it. All these years later it appears we were both right. It is crap compared to serious comics of the day, but it is fondly remembered fun crap. This title remains a not-so guilty pleasure of mine and I will always scream it's greatness from the top of the rooftops of the Internet.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.

The OCD zone- I have a love/hate relationship with the Omnibus format. On one hand, it's great to get everything available to you in one fell swoop. On the other hand, these books are heavy and unwieldy.

The recoloring is very good but not Masterworks perfect.

Linework and Color restoration: The linework is good. Not Masterworks good, but very good overall. The original color palette is faithfully maintained. I did comparisons with the original comics side by side and was pleased with the accuracy of the recoloring, although the trained eye can spot errors all over the place.

The original comic.

The Omnibus.

Paper stock: Marvel switched the paper stock in their Omniboo a while back, but this is the first book that I have read with it. It is noticeably thinner but it still has a fair weight to it. It's bright white coated stock with a slight sheen. The plus side to the thinner paper is that the book block weighs less. Heavy blocks can pull away from the casing, causing the condition known as “Omnibus sag”.
Binding: Sewn binding. Lays flat like all 2007-on Marvel Omnibus hardcovers.

Front cover sans dustjacket.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: The dustjacket has a glossy lamination. The hardback has a paper wrap with a matte coating which is sufficiently resistant to scuffing. 

Back cover sans dustjacket.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


LEONARD STARR'S MARY PERKINS ON STAGE VOL. 8 (Classic Comics Press, First Printing, 2011; Softcover)

Collects Mary Perkins On Stage strips originally published on May 5, 1966- November 19, 1967

Writer and Artist: Leonard Starr

It was 1966, and the times they were a-changin'. Topics like the Cold War, divorce and drugs crept into the strip. There was still plenty of lighthearted fun, as evidenced by the wafer thin metaphor for the 1966 Batman television series by the way of Captain Virtue, but the world was a rapidly changing place that bled into all forms of art and entertainment.

We see the return of beloved characters like Major Grisha Volkov, who is unwittingly caught in a plot to retrieve a defected actor Valerian Stepanovsky to Russia. Sabakin and Katerina Verna are trying to bring the famed Stepanovsky back because they believe that he is a cultural treasure who belongs to the Soviet Union. Things go horribly wrong for them, with it escalating to kidnapping and a hostage situation. This arc has one of the most intense sequences in the strip so far.

The Beauchamp family storyline is another example of the strip reacting to the changing times. Much like today, the old guard back then was so clearly out of step with the way things were going that they do things which are bizarre and even downright harmful in order to keep up appearances. The Vanna Croy arc shows how ruthless ambitious people are. People today seem to believe that folks have never been as self-centered or self-serving as they are today. I think that some people have always been out for themselves, but either they were better at hiding it or maybe it was because they didn't broadcast it on Facebook.

The Vanna Croy arc flows into the return of Johnny Q, where Eddie the assistant stage director is caught up with Johnny Q's friend Hickey, who manages his dischoteque. While the “white powder” is referred to as “dope” it is apparent that growing drug use among the youth was a cause of concern for everyone. The arc ends with Johnny Q telling Mary goodbye for good. We have heard that before, but will it really be goodbye this time? Time will tell.

This is some of Starr's finest artwork yet. I am always blown away by strip artists who put so much effort into their work when it was intended to be read once and then thrown away. It makes me wonder why they didn't cut corners or omit details. It almost feels like art for the sake of art at times. Starr plays with shades and solids a lot during this era to great effect. His scripts are becoming increasingly complex, with more moving parts in each story arc. Starr keeps thing moving fast while not bogging the proceedings down with endless recaps. Many strips lose a full panel every day bringing in new or lapsed readers up to speed. Starr doesn't waste any time.

I give this strip my highest recommendation. It really doesn't get any better than this.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Like most strip books, this is presented in landscape format.
The Sundays are presented here in black and white. They were originally printed in color.
Linework restoration: Excellent throughout.
Paper stock: Uncoated stock paper.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Cardstock coating has a matte coating that is resistant to scuffing.

Friday, September 30, 2016


THE WORLD ON SUNDAY: GRAPHIC ART IN JOSEPH PULITZER'S PAPER (1898-1911) (Bulfinch, First Printing, 2005; Hardcover)

Reprints the first and last page of the The World's Sunday supplement section unless otherwise noted. Each date shown is two pages. Reprinted here are 2/13/1898, 2/20/1898, 3/20/1898, 3/27/1898, 4/3/1898, 5/29/1898, 7/3/1898, 7/24/1898, and 9/19/1898.
1/1/1899, 2/12/1899, 3/19/1899, 4/2/1899, 10/15/1899, 10/22/1899, 11/5/1899, and 12/10/1899.
3/18/1900 and 8/26/1900.
3/10/1901 (3 pages total), 3/11/1901 (front page of Monday paper), 6/2/1901, 8/11/1901 (back page includes Sherlock Sam and Little Willie half page strips), and 10/13/1901.
3/23/1902 (back page includes Chollie And Gawge and Alpha, Omega, And Their Sister Sue half page strips), 5/11/1902 (four pages total, including A-Maying full page strip), and 11/23/1902.
1/31/1904 (six pages total), 3/13/1904 (including Superstitious Smith full page strip), 5/8/1904, 5/22/1904, 9/11/1904 (back page includes The Angel Child And The Professor half page strip), and 10/2/1904 (six pages total).
4/8/1906, 4/29/1906 (four pages total, with the back page including The Bad Dream That Made Bill A Better Boy and Billy Bragg half page strips), 6/17/1906, 6/24/1906 (including The Bad Dream That Made Bill A Better Boy half page strip), 7/8/1906 (including The Bad Dream That Made Bill A Better Boy half page strip), 7/22/1906 (including The Bad Dream That Made Bill A Better Boy half page strip), 7/29/1906, and 8/5/1906.
1/20/1907 (including The Bad Dream That Made Bill A Better Boy and Little Sammy's History Of The World half page strip), and 4/21/1907.
4/5/1908 (including Pups and Yens The Janitor half page strip), 4/19/1908, and 10/11/1908.
2/14/1909 (back page of the magazine section only), 2/15/1909 (front page of the Monday paper), 3/14/1909, 3/21/1909, and 3/28/1909 (includes The Newlweds strip).
7/16/1911, 7/23/1911 (four pages total), 10/1/1911, and 10/15/1911.

Newspapers are important cultural artifacts. They are snapshots of a moment in time, here one day and then replaced by the next day's events. This books shows reproductions of the only copy of these newspapers in existence today. These were rescued from a library in England that was going to sell them to private collectors at great financial expense by Nicholas Baker and Margaret Brentano. This collection, which contains every single paper from 1898-1911, now resides at Duke University in their Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. I would love to see it, but I somehow doubt that they would let me go there, pull up a chair, and pore over each bound volume.

Think of all of the great art and important documentation that has been lost. Newspapers are disposable items, meant to be read once and then discarded. Most newspaper collections were scrapped in the '50s for inferior microfiche. Everything is digital now, and I can't help but think that we are an EMP away from losing our entire culture and history. That is why I like books and paper. Barring flood, theft, or fire they can last hundreds of years and survive almost anything besides silverfish.

Joseph Pulitzer's paper was important for a number of reasons. As explained in the introduction of the book, the paper contained the earliest published works of H.G. Wells and many others, the first crossword puzzle, and was also one of the very first to use the color printing press.

The paper also had a view of the evolution of New York City from the ground floor. You can read the dilemmas and philosophical debates of things like skyscrapers (The American Skyscraper Is A Modern Tower Of Babel from 2/20/1898 and How Far Can New York Climb Into The Sky? From 1/20/1907), the onset of the kite flying craze (The Present Kite-Flying Craze And What May Come Of It from 10/22/1899), the ramifications of the electric light (The New Broadway- The Street That Knows No Night from 11/5/1899), the celebrating of the opening of the New York subway system (New York's New Wonder: The Subway. From The Battery To Harlem In Fifteen Minutes from 10/2/1904), and the impact of automobiles. The world was changing at a rapid pace that must have been even more confusing to people then than it is to people today.

I enjoyed the political cartoons as well. More truths were told in those than in news articles, as the greatest truths are often told in jest. Teddy Roosevelt was depicted in a less than favorable light a few years before he ran for President of the United States Of America. It's fascinating to see how people believed that politics was as corrupt around the turn of the 20th century in the same way that we do today. The more things change, I suppose. It's funny that people look at these as the good old days. When you read some of the articles you can see horrific labor battles, fears about the influx of immigrants and the subsequent increase in homicides, and concerns about the monopolies of Rockefeller, Ryan, and Morgan. It saddens me that the people of 2142 will look back on 2016 and think Man, they had it made. No robots ordering them around and they were able to eat food that was not synthesized in a lab.

I bought this believing it to be a collection of Platinum Age newspaper strips. What I got instead was a fascinating look of a world long gone. A world that would be lost forever if a husband and wife didn't raise a small fortune and save these newspapers from the scrap heap. This book is a treasure.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- The material is shrunk down from it's original publication size by a third. It is still readable for the most part, with only the text in some of the ads and articles requiring a magnifying glass.
Linework and Color restoration: Photographed or scanned high in high resolution. The browning and discoloration found in paper of this vintage is present, although they are remarkably intact with no flaking or cracking.
Paper stock: Super thick coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding: Sewn binding.
Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Thick matte dustacket. The hardback casewrap has the same images as the dustjacket on it and has a matte coating that is resistant to scuffing.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


STAR TREK: THE JOHN BYRNE COLLECTION (IDW, First Printing, 2013; Hardcover)

Collects Star Trek: Alien Spotlight- Romulans, Star Trek: Romulans- The Hollow Crown #1, 2, Star Trek: Romulans- Schism #1-3, Star Trek: Assignment Earth #1-5, Star Trek: Crew #1-5, and Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor #1-4 (cover dates February, 2008- July, 2010)

Writer and Artist: John Byrne
Colorists: Leonard O'Grady, Tom Smith, Lovern Kindzierski, and Mario Boon

I owned, read, and subsequently sold two of the John Byrne Star Trek trades, Romulans: Schism and Crew. Since I didn't care enough about them to keep them it made perfect sense to buy this deluxe hardcover collecting those as well as the rest of Byrne's Star Trek output for IDW in one handy package.

Byrne was part of the original generation of Star Trek fandom, watching it as a teenager who grew up studying at the altar of comic books and science fiction of the 1960s. His love and knowledge of this era's art is genuine. Byrne was from the generation of creators who knew that this stuff was important and tried to make it clear to the rest of the world that it was just as important as the fans always believed. The fans that Byrne influenced went on to become creators who did just that, making nerd persecution a thing of the past. Nerds are now free to be themselves in public.

I don't know what's what here, as I am a casual Trek fan. Time travel has always been a pet theme for Byrne, and he uses Gary Seven from a single episode of the original series to pepper throughout the various series, giving them a common thread. Star Trek: Assignment Earth is a lot of fun, with Byrne exploring what could have happened if Roddenberry's spin-off series had been greenlit.

My favorite issues in this book were Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor, a fantastic set of tales which take place after the original series somewhere near the first movie. I am not a Trek expert but could follow the stories here easily enough.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is one heavy book.
Paper stock: Thick glossy coated stock.
Binding: While this book has sewn binding, the book block is super heavy and I worry about its durability over the long haul. It almost feels like it is pulling out of the casing.
Hardback cover notes: The hardback has a pretty fancy embossing, with the Starfleet A being stamped into the cover. The cover has a thick waxlike lamination that will provide years of enjoyment. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Review- PRINCE VALIANT VOL. 4: 1943-1944

PRINCE VALIANT VOL. 4: 1943-1944 (Fantagraphics, First Printing, 2011; Hardcover)

Collects Prince Valiant Sunday strips 308-412, originally published on January 3, 1943- December 31, 1944

Writer and Artist: Hal Foster

It takes me forever to get through one of these books. I sit and stare at the artwork so long that I spend months and months reading each volume.

Prince Valiant is set to return home to Thule and has several minor adventures along the way. Nothing makes Val happy, as his heart yearns for the hand of Queen Aleta of the Misty Isles. So he does what any young man would do: he goes out and finds her. This is where the book ends, with Val kidnapping her on the eve of when she is going to pick a suitor to marry. Val and Aleta are on the run, being pursued by Aleta's subjects.

This stuff is required reading for lovers of art. There aren't many artists who are Hal Foster's peer, and his writing remains sharp and witty many decades later. I know that many comic book fans are leery of dipping their toes into the waters of the newspaper strips, but if you have ever been curious about how serious comics started then pick this book up. The writing and artwork are head and shoulders above anything published at the time and hold up even today.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone- While presented smaller than the original publications, these books are large enough that you get the feel of the artwork and can read the text with ease. They are also easier to handle than many strip books which are unwieldy due to the dimensions of newspapers 70-odd years ago.
Linework and Color restoration: The strips are scanned from pristine syndicate proofs. Color restoration is faithful to the original strips.
Paper stock: Matte coated stock with the slightest sheen to it.
Binding: Sewn binding.
Hardback cover notes: No dustjacket. Image part of the paper of the casewrap. Portion around the spine has a faux leather casewrap.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FALCON: NOMAD (Marvel, First Printing, 2006; Softcover)

Collects Captain America #177-186 (cover dates September, 1974- June, 1975)

Writers: Steve Englehart with John Warner
Artists: Sal Buscema, Frank Robbins, and Herb Trimpe with Inking by Vince Colletta, Joe Giella, Frank Giacoia, and Mike Esposito

Steve Rogers has quit being Captain America, leaving The Falcon flying solo. Things start out with a ridiculous, it could only happen in the '70s storyline where C-Lister Lucifer returns to our dimension. He ends up spotting a store and, missing our Earthly food, breaks into it and eats a snack cake that bears more than a passing resemblance to a Twinkie. I swear that everyone that worked at Marvel in the '70s was high, because a chemical in the snack cake causes Lucifer to slip back into his own dimension. He quickly possesses another body, but sensing that he is burning out the frail human form, decides to split his power across two humans. Again, everyone was high back then, because these are some overly labored stories. I have a soft spot for Englehart's writing in spite of his flying by the seat of his pants because he is so stoned and has no idea where he is going style of writing.

Issue 179 shows Hawkeye return a favor to Steve Rogers. By posing as a villain called The Golden Archer, Hawkeye convinces Steve to become a superhero once again. This issue has a DC Silver Age feel to it. #180 finds Steve reinventing himself as The Nomad, a man without a country. Tapping into the zeitgeist is what Englehart did best. Everyone was disillusioned with America in 1974, with the Viet Nam War and the Watergate scandal. Steve Rogers decides that he can no longer be the symbol of a country and Government that he no longer trusts. Nomad's first battle is with the Serpent Squad, who by the end of that issue team up with Warlord Krang to use the lost Serpent Crown of Lemuria to enslave the entire world. One thing is for sure, villains in the Bronze Age of comics went in large or they stayed home. No two bit heists in the '70s.

#182 and 183 are marred for me by Frank Robbins' overly cartoony artwork. I loved his stuff as a kid, as he did many of my 1980s quarter box finds favorites (Adventure Into Fear with Morbius The Living Vampire, Man From Atlantis, etc.). I find that his work leaves me cold as an adult. I know that I am in the minority, but I dislike his art.

This is all revealed to be the grand scheme of none other than The Red Skull. It is fitting that Steve Rogers faces The Red Skull as his first battle after becoming Captain America, as he was the villain that Cap fought in his first issue back in 1941. As a nod to that issue, the Skull once again plays Chopin's Funeral March before murdering his victims with an overly elaborate and dramatic method.

I was severely disappointed with the ending of this book, as the Red Skull convinces Cap that The Falcon was really his sleeper agent all this time. While we know that this wasn't the case, it was the plot that Steve Englehart envisioned and it stuck for a time before someone else thankfully ret-conned it away later.

Frank Robbins' cartoony artwork is occasionally effective.

The writing was very good and the art was a mixed bag, but all in all I had a good time reading these comics. The Bronze Age are seldom considered a high point in the history of the artform, but I enjoy these comics for their sheer lack of self-importance. The people who made these comics didn't even care enough to take themselves or the material too seriously, which is something that is healthy for everyone to do once in a while.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The OCD zone-
Linework and Color restoration: Some issues look better than others, but overall this is a serviceable restoration job with the original color palette maintained for the most part.
Paper stock: Matte coated stock of sufficient thickness and weight. This is the same stock found in the softcover Marvel Masterworks and Epic line books. This paper is my favorite paper used in any collected editions published by any company.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.