Saturday, February 9, 2013

Marvel Premiere Classic, Vol. 93: Cloak & Dagger: Crime and Punishment

 Man, do I miss the Marvel Premiere Classic hardcover line....Marvel recently ended the line, and although it seems to be living on as an unbranded line of trade paperbacks (See the recent FANTASTIC FOUR: REUNITED THEY STAND collection, which has the same interior design as the Premiere Classic hardcovers.), it's just not the same as having a beautiful hardcover collecting issues you read as a kid. I was especially crazy for the Direct-Market variant covers (See pic above), which were limited edition runs. This particular collection was limited to 360 copies, which really appealed to my collecting mania. All good things come to an end, I guess....

 This volume collects the debut of Cloak & Dagger in the pages of PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, and features issues 64, 69-70, 81-82, & 94-96, as well as MARVEL TEAM-UP ANNUAL #6 and MARVEL FANFARE #19. The bulk of the book is written by Bill Mantlo, who, despite writing almost everything that Marvel published in the 1980's, is really not a very good Writer. (I know that's not a very politically correct thing to say, considering Mantlo's current condition, but there you go.....I've returned to a lot of Mantlo's work recently, and it was all a chore to get through. That said, Mantlo thrilled my younger self multiple times per month, with ROM, THE MICRONAUTS, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, and may other books, and I guess that was the point. He was writing for the child of the 1980's, not the man-child of 2013.......) It's a CLOAK & DAGGER-centric collection, so it skips around a lot. A LOT. Don't expect any kind of resolution to the various sub-plots (Deb Whitman discovering Peter Parker's secret identity, Peter flunking his classes, Aunt May's money woes, what Flash Thompson is doing at night....look elsewhere for these answers, because they won't be found here. Nor will the in-between-the-panels moments from THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN that are constantly being referenced.) So if you're looking for a sit-down-and-read-it Graphic Novel, this isn't it. If you're interested solely in the Cloak & Dagger issues, then you'll be in Heaven. The art is standard 1980's Marvel...I've always had a soft spot for Al Milgrom's big, chunky lines, so this brought back a lot of fun memories. (I find the nostalgia these books evoke to more than make up for any story shortcomings....I can remember accompanying my Mother to her monthly trips to Franco's in The Bronx to get her hair done, and she's always let me get a coimc to read while I waited. More often than not, that comic was PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, for some odd reason. I sometimes have a hard time remembering my own phone number, but reading this book brought back so many childhood memories that I was amazed....I remember buying all of these individual issues, where I was when I read them, who I talked about them with at school....if that's not worth 30 bucks, I don't know what is.) Plus, Ed Hannigan is one of the real underappreciated artists of my lifetime....Go and Google some of his covers to check out his unique design sensibility. Great, great stuff. It was great to see a little bit of his work here.

 The Marvel Premiere Classic hardcovers are things of beauty...they look great, feel great, SMELL great...(Yeah, I smell my comics....)...they also lie flat when opened (Or the chunkier ones do, of which this is one....), so you don't have to hold them down to read them. The issues contained in this volume have some odd errors (Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, is called "Wilbur"...BY HIS OWN WIFE!!!!), and Mantlo's street slang is hilariously old and white: Drug Dealers are named "Shallacko", "Mouse-mutha", "Candyman", and "Pillsbury", there are white junkies who sport bright green mohawks, and such classic gritty dialogue as "We tol' yo' when yo' joined this gang that you TALK to NOBODY--and yo' SELL to EVERYBODY! We is equal-opportunity DRUG PUSHERS!" Even as a kid, I cringed at that dialogue.

 This is by no means a classic, but nostalgic children of the '80's could do worse......