I'm considering picking up Tomb of Dracula in trades at some point. It might not be soon, but I at least want to add it to my wish list. Should I get the Essential Tomb of Draculas in black and white, or the color trades that are coming out now (volume 3 is due in January)?
"Okay, guys, here's what I need to know: If I want to read the best of the 70's Marvel, where would you suggest I go now?"
Essential Defenders Vols. 2 an 3 (for the Gerber scripts). Both volumes of Man-Thing (more Gerber). The first volume of Ghost Rider (it was more horror than superhero in the first two years, when Friedrich, Ploog and Sutton were on the book). Both volumes of Werewolf by Night.
I would recommend another Steve, Steve Englehart's Avengers and Captain America, though Gerber's work is as good. There's Roy Thomas' Invaders and Bill Mantlo's Marvel Team-Up.
I'd have the fewest reservations recommending Steve Gerber’s issues of Defenders or Jim Starlin’s issues of Warlock. Gerber’s issues of Defenders combined his quirkiness with a mainstream approach. Starlin’s Warlock issues (those I've seen) were more adult than most Marvel comics of the period, and have a character of reflecting his view of things while still telling a strong story. I think currently Starlin's Warlock and Captain Marvel stories are only in masterworks. I've not read his Captain Marvel stories. Both runs had baxter paper reprints in the 80s.
Gerber's Man-Thing stories might not be to everyone's taste. They're very off-beat, with a strong fantasy element, and sometimes have elements of violence, degradation etc.
Steve Englehart often tried to do something a bit different while still doing mainstream superhero comics. He'd give an issue a different twist than other writers of the period would've used and so on. His issues of Defenders have good points, but might strike you as thin. His issues of Dr. Strange were less mainstream, darker and imaginative, and were drawn by Frank Brunner and Gene Colan.
I remember the Wein/Perez issues of Fantastic Four as particularly good mainstream comics. The run wasn't very long, though. They're also among the issues that made me a Fantastic Four fan, so I'm not objective about them. These are in the Fantastic Four Visionaries: George Perez volumes.
OT, I believe you are the only person I have ever seen in my 52 years who ever spelled/used "by the bye" correctly (because you probably know what it means, which most Americans don't). My hat's off, sir!
The fourth Essential has a funny relationship to the the main series in the other three. Ostensibly they are stories from other Marvel Mags that almost all took place before ToD #1. However, often they either laid the groundwork for, or in some way built on the stories that were occurring around that time in the main series.
Ideally it would be good to read them concurrently with the ToD issues in much the same order as they were published.
I read up to the end of the second Essential or so, and then put them aside for a while. Then I thought that reading the 'prequel' stories in vol 4 would be a good idea before starting the whole series again, but I could see they didn't quite work that way...
A handful of stories at the very beginning of Vol 4 are true postscripts to the ToD series as well.
Which is all by the bye. Put me down as a vote for the B&W Essentials. They must have been huge sellers, as Marvel rushed out the last 3 volumes very quickly and put out as many of their other Horror comics as they could in pretty short order too.
"I would recommend another Steve, Steve Englehart's Avengers and Captain America"
Hear, hear. Englehart's run on Dr. Strange (1973-76) is also worth reading, if you're in the mood for the bizarre and hallucinogenic. They're in Essential Dr. S. vols 2 and 3.
I like Gerry Conway's much-maligned Daredevil run (1971-73). He was a young writer learning his craft, but bursting with enthusiasm and imagination. And these issues have some gorgeous Colan-Palmer art. Read them in Essential DD vol. 4.
Still not in Essential form (as far as I know): Warlock, the Starlin run on Capt. Marvel, and Master of Kung Fu. Glad to hear (via this board) that Marvel is working out a deal to reprint MOKF. The licensed character Fu Manchu has kept these stories in limbo for ages.
The Chronicles of Conan are collected by Dark Horse and include excellent afterwords by Roy Thomas.
In line with everyone else, I'd recommend the Gerber and Englehart stuff. <i>Defenders</i> and <i>Man-Thing</i> are quite good (although I think <i>Defenders</i> continued to be good after Gerber left), and I think the Captain America stuff really holds up.
For more mainstream superhero fun, the Avengers from before #150 up to #200 are pure superhero opera. After Englehart's stint as writer (105 - 152) the creative team changes quite a bit until #200, but it feels very consistent, and you have great art from Byrne, Perez and others. You'll see storylines that have been done to death since - Hank Pym goes crazy and builds an Ultron robot, Cap and Iron Man fall out, men and machines alike get lusty for Wanda, the Vision mopes around, etc, but they have a freshness here, being done for the first time.
There are also plots that have reverbated through to today. The Avengers meet both the future and present Vance Astrovik, the Korvaks Saga hinted at what Moore's Marvel Man showed explicitly, we see lots of core elements of the MU like the Darkhold of Wundagore Mountain for the first time.
Like Luke and his Defenders, I loved Avengers as a kid - they were my gateway drug in some ways - so can't be very objective about them. Still, I'd envy anyone sitting down to read them for the first time.
(And I'm looking forward to reading the Englehart issues some day, as my collection starts around issue 150.)
After Avengers #202, the team changed quite dramatically, with new members like the Black Knight and the Photon Captain Marvel becoming central, so it's like a different book.
If you are still crazy about Gerber, his Omega the Unknown might be worth a look. We only really get the low-key and intriguing build up of the story before it was cut short, but it was brave experiment while it lasted, years ahead of it's time. (It was really a Vertigo superhero book long before Vertigo.)
Thanks, guys! This is some great information. I've really gotten into the 70's Marvel stuff. Despite being a DC guy, for some reason my 70's memories of comic books mostly translate to the few Avengers and Defenders issues that were in my barber shop while I was growing up. I also remember having a Captain America comics when I was a tiny little kid. As I read through those Iron Fist, Howard the Duck, and Peter Parker volumes, I felt like a dog that was having his belly rubbed.
I distinctly remember being in the Esquire Barber Shop as a kid, waiting for my dad to be done having his hair cut, and reading through some Marvel comic, and seeing an ad for Howard the Duck. My thought as a four-year-old was, "Donald Duck sure looks different in the comics!"