Since this week’s theme is, apparently, “Just How Self Indulgent Can Steve Be” I proudly present one of the seminal comic books of my childhood, Fantasy Masterpieces #11. I always had a soft spot for comics that offered a rich masala of reprints of comics I hadn’t been around for the first time around. And when that’s what you were looking for you just couldn’t beat Marvel. All of their Annuals were cool, but nothing was cooler than Fantasy Masterpieces, the title which specialized in those kind of reprints. Marvel was never afraid of using a little undeserved hyperbole when it came to naming their comics, but in this case they got it right; as far as I’m concerned these were in fact actual comic book masterpieces.
I mean, just check out the contents of this issue…
First up there’s the Golden Age story that introduced us to The Human Torch’s kid sidekick Toro which raises the question…did the creators actually knew what his name meant (it’s of course the Spanish word for bull), or did they just like the way it sounded?
Then there’s this beautiful Bill Everett Sub-Mariner story. I’m still a little unclear as to whether these stories “actually happened” or not in Marvel Continuity. Which is a shame since I just love seeing Prince Namor dressed and talking like a regular person.
Then there’s The Black Knight by the gone too soon Joe Maneely…
…and, almost finally,”Mister Morgan’s Monster” , my absolute favorite Lee/ Kirby monster story, which is kind of odd, since it’s one of those “message” stories they did that were altogether sans monster. It takes place in one of those “just like today except for one thing” futures, and that one thing is robots (kinda like the movie Real Steel). Humanoids, to be precise, large, lumpy, orange, underpants wearing ugly androids who naturally scare the crap out of people. Which is what you get when you don’t test market your product. I won’t “spoil” the story for you, but it ends on a moment of pathos that genuinely effected me when I was ten.
And finally, finally, there was a Joe Simon/Jack Kirby Captain America story that was a whirlwind of action that looked and read like an Universal horror movie crossed with an efficient little Warner Bros. thriller. Believe it or not, it wasn’t always about Nazi’s for them back then.
— Steve Bennett