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Giant-Size Marvel

A comic review article by: Shawn Hill

Collects: 
Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4, Giant-Size Avengers #1, Giant-Size Defenders #4, Giant-Size Superheroes #1, Giant-Size Invaders #1, Giant-Size X-men #1, Giant-Size Creatures #1

Comments: Oh, the seventies. Not only did we have regular annuals with deluxe-length stories, but we also briefly had these Giant-Size issues on popular titles. The stories were often by the writers on the main titles, and the art ranged from old masters like Gil Kane and Don Heck to relative newbies like Don Perlin and Dave Cockrum. Many of them have become collectible over time and, as you can see from the list above, this collection is hardly comprehensive.

In fact, a handy checklist in the back lets us know that while several comics of the era rated only one Giant-Size if any, there were a few that got several: a large part of the Avengers’ Celestial Madonna story was in three of its five Giant-Sizes, and the Fantastic Four and Spider-man each got six installments. Like the Avengers, the Defenders, Man-Thing, and Conan all got five. Even the Master of Kung Fu and the Werewolf (by night) rated five! It was clearly a heady time. 

In this collection, the FF encounters Madrox the Multiple Man and Professor Xavier, and Jamie’s a very sick fellow with little control over his power. Over at Avengers, family problems plague Wanda and Pietro (still unclear on their relation to Magneto) in the form of Nuklo, their “brother” by way of the Whizzer and Miss America. Rich Buckler does his best Kirby imitation with Dan Adkins, but Roy Thomas’s nostalgia and skill at weaving together disparate bits of continuity eclipse the art.

The Defenders story is another Steve Gerber gloss on fame, and he uses a very violent Squadron Sinister to drive his points home. Spider-man has to cope with both Man-Wolf and Morbius, but Gil Kane makes it all go down with style. Giant-Sized Invaders debuted the concept of that period-set comic, another Roy Thomas vehicle to look back at comics’ early days (a practice which has become a standard one in comics since). 

The “creatures” in Giant-Size are Tigra and Werewolf by Night, who make a good team as her transformation from The Cat is explained. However, the real star of the issue (interestingly not even hinted at on the cover; but then it has been widely reprinted) is Giant-Size X-Men #1, the debut of the team that revived the title to phenomenal levels. It features, of course, an innovative story by Len Wien and truly breathtaking art by Dave Cockrum.

The publisher’s have cooked up some odd throwaways: the cover of Giant-Size X-Men #2 (itself a reprint issue), and an editorial by Roy Thomas from the Werewolf comic. These additions enhance the project, as do the brilliant new colors, but it’s really that checklist that is nagging at me. Out of 70+ issues, there really had to be five Giant-Size Man-Things? When are we getting that reprint?

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