Friday, April 8, 2016

Crabby Marathon! Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars Battleworld Box Set, Part Eleven: Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Behind the Scenes

 Another big reason why I bought this box set.....

 I'm a sucker for behind-the-scenes stuff. I'm the guy that buys Blu-Rays of favorite movies and watches the "Making-of" documentary first. Backstage comic-book stuff is more hit-and-miss for me, as I don't enjoy reading scripts and pitches, but I love unseen art and sketchbooks. Thankfully, MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS: BEHIND THE SCENES has no scripts, and is filled to the brim with the kind of stuff that I do enjoy reading. I'm going to break this book down segment-by-segment, since I haven't really found anyplace online that has done that, and reading a complete listing of the contents would have been very welcome when I was agonizing over whether to buy the box set.

 First up is a new interview with SECRET WARS II artist Al Milgrom, conducted by Donovan Yaciuk. Milgrom, as always, comes across as a good, personable guy, and Yaciuk uses his four pages to good effect.

 Next up, also by Yaciuk, is "Secret Wars: Where are they now?", which catches readers up with the current (As of mid-2015) whereabouts of Arachne, Boom Boom, Kurse, The Molecule Man, Titania, Puff, and Volcana.

 Yaciuk returns with "The many shapes of The Beyonder", which focuses on the various looks of the "One From Beyond".

 An introduction to the SECRET WARS collection, by Tom DeFalco, and a prologue to that same collection, by Barry Dutter.

 Some content descriptions of the various books that led into SECRET WARS, from MARVEL AGE.

 Various covers, artwork, and articles related to SECRET WARS from MARVEL AGE, including a lengthy collection of fan letters regarding the series, which didn't have a letters column of its own.

 Next is a segment on the SECRET WARS toys, which includes house ads, pictures and descriptions of the figures and vehicles, and a breakdown of the collection by Jason Geyer. Lots of nice pictures and background information here, especially regarding a few figures that were only released in Europe.

 A section of cover art from various SECRET WARS coloring, sticker, and activity books.

 Related covers and house ads from MARVEL AGE, AMAZING HEROES, and MARVEL ZOMBIES, as well as the original, uncorrected page from THOR #341, with the blank panels.

 Next is a lengthy segment of original art from SECRET WARS and the various related books, including unused covers, and pre-correction pencils. This section, while featuring GREAT art (Mike Zeck's pencils are staggeringly good...much better than the finished, inked work.), notes all of the art that was changed before printing, but doesn't address the reason for the corrections, or speak about the numerous fill-in and patchwork art that I spotted in the original series, including work from John Romita, Sr., Art Adams, and Butch Guice. I've wondered why those corrections were made for decades, and this would have been the place to address the hows and whys regarding the changes to Zeck's art. Great art, but the lack of answers kind of diminished my enjoyment.

 This is followed by a selection of covers from SECRET WARS collected editions, as well as Barry Dutter's epilogue to the series from the SECRET WARS OMNIBUS.

 Next is a selection of related covers from MARVEL TALES and X-MEN CLASSIC, as well as recolored covers from collected editions featuring Spider-Man, Thor, and The Thing.

 More MARVEL AGE content, this time regarding SECRET WARS II, and Al Milgrom's "Editori-Al" introduction to the SECRET WARS II OMNIBUS.

 Next are 10 pages of the 25-page MARVEL AGE ANNUAL #1 story (Only the pages relating to SECRET WARS II and The Beyonder are included...I would have loved to see the whole story reprinted, because...where else are you ever going to see this story collected, if not here?) The story is a round-robin affair, featuring work by Kurt Busiek, Kerry Gammill, Tom Morgan, James Fry, Keith Williams, Jim Shooter, Al Milgrom, Steve Leialoha, Walt Simonson, Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz, Joe Rubinstein, Roger Stern, Tom Palmer, Bill Mantlo, Rick Leonardi, Terry Austin, Louise Simonson, June Brigman, and Bob Wiacek.

A series of house ads for SECRET WARS II, a Sal Buscema AMAZING HEROES cover, and a Ron Wilson SECRET WARS II poster, which proudly hung on my bedroom wall back in The Bronx.

 The next segment is the reason why I decided to buy the box set: Unseen art from the series and a few of the crossovers, and a treasure trove of the scrapped Sal Buscema art of the first issue of SECRET WARS II. I'm a HUGE Buscema fan, and his work here is some of his best. It was a treat to see him working on characters like The X-Men, who I've never seen him illustrate before. This was great stuff, and as much as I enjoy the often-maligned art of Al Milgrom, Sal Buscema blew him away with this lost issue. After the Buscema art, we get the entire first issue of pencils from the Milgrom version, and again, the pencils are MUCH better than the inked version. I hope some of the Milgrom haters see this and rethink their stance on his art, because it looks great here in its raw form. Next is a lengthy section of original art from the main book and the various crossovers, followed by more covers from collected editions, MARVEL TALES, X-MEN CLASSIC, and recolored art from various related collections.

 Next is the introduction to SECRET WAR, as well as the series pitch by Brian Michael Bendis, and a plethora of related art and production stuff from SECRET WAR and THE PULSE.

 This is followed by minuscule selections of original art and character designs from NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI #3 and BEYOND!, as well as some art from WHAT IF? SECRET WARS and SPIDER-MAN AND THE SECRET WARS.

 I hate reading OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE text pages, and we get a LOT of them here. I slogged through them, because I paid a fortune for this set, but I didn't enjoy them. I did, however, find it odd that the entry for THE BEYONDER put the infuriating events of NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI #3 during the events of SECRET WARS II, not after, and really downplays the Inhuman connection...retconning Bendis' retcon...? Good riddance.

 Hitting the home stretch, we get a HUGE section of cover art from the 81 issues of the Marvel UK SECRET WARS series, aaaaand...that's a wrap!

 This is a massive, exhaustive look behind the curtain of the contents of the box set, and it's, so far, exclusive to the set, so you're only gonna get it here. I loved it, and I'm sad to be putting this last book away and closing up the beautiful slipcase for the last time.