Marvel Rarities Vol 1: Masterworks

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Includes stories from Amazing Adventures 1-4, 6, Tales of Suspense 49-58, Silver Surfer 1-7, Marvel Super-Heroes 20 & 23, and Astonishing Tales 1-8. This volume is jam-packed with extras: the lost Starhawk story that was supposed to appear in Marvel Super-Heroes 21, with gorgeous black and white art from Dan Adkins, fantastic Dr Druid covers for Weird Wonder Tales, 2 extra pages for the Tales of the Watcher story that had reduced page count for print, material on the Watcher and Doom from FOOM, MMMS pages, house ads, and t-shirt art.
Cover design and spine for Marvel Rarities Volume 1: Masterworks

Coming even before FF#1, Dr. Droom became a recurring feature in Amazing Adventures (which became Amazing Adult Fantasy and then Amazing Fantasy with the debut of Spider-man in #15). Dr. Droom has similarities to Dr. Strange: a doctor from the US goes to Tibet and learns mystic arts from an ancient mentor. The metamorphosis at the end of his first appearance is quite bizarre, but, his adventures are intriguing across these five issues. He essentially uses his training to investigate mystical events and prove that they’re aliens and not supernatural. I really enjoyed these and felt like the concept had more mileage. Later, Marvel brought him back as Dr Druid in Hulk 210-211 (1977).

The next set of stories are the Tales of the Watcher. The art was not Lieber’s best, nor were the stories, but with each one, there was a solid core concept. I found these entertaining, if a bit juvenile.

The next batch of Tales of the Watcher from Silver Surfer had much better art. The first three had scintillating art by Gene Colan, perhaps some of the best work he ever did for Marvel. The stories were really engaging. What a bargain those over-sized Silver Surfer issues must’ve been to be packed with Silver Surfer and these gorgeous Tales of the Watcher stories. Howard Purcell and Syd Shores do excellent artwork on the following tales.

The rest of the collection focuses on Dr Doom. These stories, about 120 pages of the volume, are worth the price of the book alone. Larry Lieber does some of his best work in the first tale. Roy Thomas captures Doom perfectly with the FF and Diablo guest-starring. Also Doom reveals more of his complicated humanity in his secret love, Valeria.
Wally Wood does the art for the next slate of Doom stories from Astonishing Tales, starring the Doomsman, Ramona and Rudolfo. We then see Doom vs the Red Skull and the Exiles, introduced by Wally Wood and then handed off to George Tuska for the next two issues.

Tuska does some great artwork here, with a few contorted figures and a maniacal Red Skull, harkening back to Kirby’s original. The last two tales are gorgeously rendered by Gene Colan, in my mind, the prototypical Dr Doom artist. Here and in Sub-mariner 47-49, he captures an essence of macabre and menace that I’ve never seen from another artist. In these last two, Doom battles Black Panther and then delves into the mystical side.

The legend of Doom only grows more tremendous through these volumes, further cementing his role as one of the most complex villains ever devised in any entertainment medium. These stories are not to be missed by any fan of Doom or Gene Colan.

This is one of the most intriguing collections that I’ve purchased. I bought it the week it came out and have read it cover-to-cover three times already. Here’s hoping Marvel is happy with sales and produces another Rarities volume. Highly recommended.


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