Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Another Kind Of Archie Collection!

I bought The Manhunter yet again. Let me explain.

Browsing at my new favorite bookstore Half-Price Books I chanced upon the heavy DC tome Tales of the Batman Archie Goodwin. Now I'm an Archie Goodwin fan from my earliest days since I detected something crisp and different in the Iron Man story in issue five of that series. Then I learned that Goodwin was a great editor, one of good repute with is colleagues and so when he tumbled over to DC (he moved a lot) I was there to catch hold as he took the moribund Detective Comics brand and infused pure adventure into its veins. The Batman stories were better with brilliant art by Jim Aparo, Sal Amendola, Dick Giordano, Howie Chaykin and Alex Toth, and the writing was even better. But as good as the lead Bat tales were the wee back up feature by Goodwin and Walt Simonson was revolutionary. The Manhunter needs no introduction I'm sure, but reading it for this adolescent was intoxicating, tiny gems of great price they were indeed. Along with Kirby's "Fourth World" and Cuti and Staton's E-Man they are my favorite Bronze Age epics ever.

I did not know they had been collected into this book, assuming at most the epic finale which does co-star Batman was the extent of it. But they are all here under a new Walt Simonson cover. Actually the table of contents says the reprint is of the Manhunter collection from 1999 which also includes the silent tale plotted by Goodwin and drawn by Simonson but never scripted since Goodwin passed away before it could be completed.

In addition to these gems are stories of lesser interest to me, not an inveterate Bat-fan, but which nonetheless look pretty good. A five-part yarn with Marshal Rogers art (another talent who died too soon) and a graphic novel by Bo Hampton. There's great art by Gary Gianni too, lush and festive.

Archie Goodwin was renowned to be a good man, an editor who understood and managed talent with aplomb and with a skill which made them love him. He moved around a lot, working at Warren, Marvel, and DC but never staying anywhere very long. He was a great writer and I'm glad to have his Manhunter epic in a handy format yet again. If I get the chance I might well buy it again in the future. Now to read it.

Here's a cover gallery of what's in this tome.

(Batman story not included.)

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  1. I've definitely got the first 9 in your gallery, plus a few of the ones after that. There was an earlier reprint of The Manhunter stories (a Baxter edition), but without the un-dialogued tale, which is also worth having. I had dinner with Archie Goodwin and his wife Ann (along with a few other folk) one night in Glasgow, and we had an interesting chat as we walked through the city centre on the way to the restaurant. There's a photo of the two of us together on my blog somewhere. A very nice man indeed.

    1. There's a lot of later stuff I care little for, but I will admit the Marshall Rogers material is pretty handsome and I'm intrigued to read it. I'm not a big comic book Batman fan necessarily but in the right hands the character is fantastic. And you got to meet Archie Goodwin, I'm well and truly jealous. I'll look for the photo, thanks for the heads up.

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