In addition to the Marvel Masterworks that have been coming out for twenty years or so now,

Marvel is also issuing Atlas Comics era Masterworks that collect approximately four volumes for each of the series "Tales of Suspense", "Tales to Astonish", "Journey into Mystery", "Strange Tales" and others.

I was wondering which of the series has the best representation of early but recognizable work by the Silver Age Marvel Bullpen....Kirby, Lee, Ditko, Colan, Wood, etc.

Are the stories as good as they seem? Or are they dreck?  Would you recommend buying any of them?

Second, It would appear that Amazing Adult Fantasy have only been collected or reprinted in an Omnibus edition.  Is it worth it at almost $100 per volume, to collect and enjoy those early Ditko works?

PS: My LCBS clerk/manager is a BIG Ditko fan, and he's urging me to order one of these. (I suspect it may be so that he can tell me that it didn't come in yet, and take it home to read, but I digress...)

Are they in fact available any more? Where's the best source for them?

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I picked up the Amazing Fantasy Masterwork in 2008 for $47 (retail was $75). I had to have it because of my fond memories of "Amazing Adult Fantasy". I wouldn't pay the $100-and-up they're charging today, either, and I have no interest in the pre-hero TTA, TOS, etc.

I've not read any of the Masterworks. The titles began at different times, so their earliest issues were in different styles. Strange Tales and Journey into Mystery started as pre-Code horror titles. I don't think (I did a GCD search) there were any Kirby stories in issues so far covered by the reprint volumes. There are apparently a couple of Ditko ones in the fourth Journey into Mystery volume.

Tales to Astonish and Tales of Suspense started in 1958. Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were present at Marvel then, but I don't think Wally Wood was. Gene Colan was also doing stories for Marvel by then but the GCD search I tried didn't find any stories by him in the early issues the two Tales titles. (The GCD doesn't currently list any Marvel stories from 1960-61 as by Colan.)

You should be able to preview issues of these titles in Marvel's online digital library. You won't be able to read whole stories without subscribing, but the opening pages of the issues might tell you some of what you want to know.

There is a big difference between the pre-Code series (Journey into Mystery, Strange Tales) and the post-Code series (Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish). The pre-code horror is as good as the horror produced by any other company which was not EC. If you agree that Marvel’s pre-superhero niche was giant monsters, then I recommend the later series.

NOTE: There is still a three or four year gap between where the JIM/ST Masterworks left off and the TOS/TTA Masterworks begin.

This has all been extremely helpful, guys, even if it repeats some of what's been said before.

I've got a "jones" for buying another masterworks, and as my family WILL NOT buy me comic related items (I know too much, and they know far too little to judge my tastes accurately enough) I find I have to shop for myself, and then wrap it and put it under the tree for me from Santa... oh my, what a surprise when I open it on Xmas morning, so that I have SOMETHING under the tree for me to do.

I agree with most all your comments above... even the concerns about pricing.

As a result, I've been watching ebay carefully for these volumes and trying to determine which, if any, of these masterworks (or the Amazing Adult Fantasy Omnibus) I care to invest in. I agree that anything approaching $40 or higher is probably going to go out of my price range... but I can't seem to find any Ditko AAF Omnibus less than $80 or so.

I decided that if I could find one of the TTA or TOS masterworks for under $40, that I might invest in one.

I'm just concerned that while the super low prices when they were first introduced in variant conditions are gone, I may never get a crack at a discounted volume...the way many of these items are priced through the roof!  Suggestions?


PS: My LCBS doesn't stock ANY masterworks volumes now, and if you don't pre-order your pull list, they have no point -of-purchase display of current comics left in their shop, with very few exceptions: Spider-Man, Avengers, Batman (whatever the current movie is).

PPS: I traveled 45 miles outside of town and passed another comic shop, and scored my own copy of Avengers vs. x-men round 5, since my LCBS never got them in, and shorted me.  I looked quickly at the masterworks volumes that they had around the shop, and very few were the gold foil variant hardbounds, NONE of the Atlast/Golden age masterworks at all, and most of the books were the Comeco version of the traditional superheroes.  And they had a butt-load of Essential collections on the shelves also. NO Omnibus volumes at all.

So, no local source for Masterworks or Omnibus(i).

Oh, quick thought: Does the last (fourth) TTA Masterwork from about #30-36 #45-52 include the Tales of the Wasp? Does anyone know? (I may have the issue numbers not exactly right here...)  Anyone know who  drew most of those?

What George said.

George Poague said:

All the Wasp tales are in Essential Ant-Man. I'd recommend getting that. It's not worth paying twice as much, just to have these stories in color and between hard covers.

Most (if not all) of the Wasp tales were drawn by Stan Lee's brother, Larry Lieber. So don't expect exciting art!

The Wasp tales are not included in the Atlas-TTA Masterworks, anyway.

(I think they're in the Ant-Man/Giant-Man volumes, though.)

Thank you George, Rany and Jeff.  That helps me decide.

I've been putting the money I used to spend on new comics into the Atlas Era Masterworks and have slowly built up a complete set. I got started when I got interested in finding art by Bill Everett and Joe Maneely.

Maybe this will help:

Journey Into Mystery Vol. 1 - Colan 1, Romita 1.

Journey Into Mystery Vol. 4 - Ditko 2 (first work for Atlas/Marvel), Colan 1

Menace Vol. 1 - Romita 4, Colan 1

Strange Tales Vol. 1 - Romita 2, Colan 2

Strange Tales Vol. 2 - Colan 3

Strange Tales Vol. 3 - Buscema 1

Strange Tales Vol. 4 - Romita 1

Strange Tales Vol. 5 - Severin 1, Ditko 1

Tales of Suspense Vol. 1 - Ditko 11, Kirby 8

Tales of Suspense Vol. 2 - Ditko 9, Kirby 10

Tales of Suspense Vol. 3 - Ditko 11, Kirby 20(!)

Tales of Suspense Vol. 4 - Ditko 14, Kirby 7, Colan 1

Tales to Astonish Vol. 1 - Ditko 9, Kirby 8, Buscema 1

Tales to Astonish Vol. 2 - Ditko 10, Kirby 12

Tales to Astonish Vol. 3 - Ditko 10, Kirby 15

Tales to Astonish Vol. 4 - Ditko 18, Kirby 8

I didn't include other Silver Age Marvel artists, most prominently Don Heck, Dick Ayers, George Roussos, Joe Sinnott, etc.

Also, you may want to check out the first two Atlas Heroes volumes, which feature a bunch of John Romita Captain America stories. Volume 3 is a treasure with a boatload of Bill Everett Sub-Mariner stories.

I recommend the Menace collection because it has a ton of Stan Lee stories along with a wide variety of artists. I like Jungle Adventures 1 and most of 2 because they have great artwork by Werner Roth on Lorna the Jungle Girl. His '50s work was so much better than his '60s work. I also like the one Venus volume because it is so different from anything else ever published, as far as I know.


Kirk, I recommend you encourage your library to pick up as many of these as possible, as my experience with several of these volumes has been that the stories are great fun to read... once. If you can read 'em for free, you'll definitely get your money's worth.

Also, the Marvel Visionaries: Steve Ditko volume has a lot of Ditko's early stuff, and it's a lot cheaper than 100 bucks. If you're a Ditko completist, though, and have to own as many of his stories as possible, you'll just have to suck it up and pay whatever Marvel (or Amazon) is asking.

Thank you, Dave and Hoy.  Those are great suggestions.

Hoy, I'd be a bit curious to learn how many stories Joe Sinnott contibuted as well.  I must admit that I only know him as the inker of the Fantastic Four from #44-102 or so, and in so doing, became the definitive inker for Kirby for me.  Certainly, his work from #44-88 or so is the cream of the crop. (Make that to #67 if you believe that Kirby started reigning in his creativity at that point.)

It would appear that Ditko's output in TTA and TOS  increased in the later years or last volume, or was it that Jack Kirby's output for these titles shrank some?  Perhaps Kirby was more busy dreaming up new concepts, new genre' for new titles?
(I'm guessing here with nothing else to go on.)


I may go with just one sample volume from each run, TTA and TOS if I can score them cheaply enough.  I think I should leave the early JIM and ST alone, as I'm pretty unfamilar with pre-code horror, except for the sample in Wertham's book "Seduction of the Innocent" that I skimmed as a child. (HEY, it was the ONLY book in our library about comic books during the 1960s.)

The first of the Atlas Era Masterworks volumes showed up just now. Tales of Suspense #11-20 in Volume 98.

I'm thrilling to work by Kirby, Ditko, Heck and others.  And some vaguely look familiar, but it may just been the familiar Ditko and Kirby artwork.

I have noted several 2 page text pieces in each issue. Some are clever, some are just there.  I'm curious, who wrote these?

There are no bi-lines for these little text pieces, which I understand were included to qualify for a discount magazine mailing rate.  Anyone more familiar with these?

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