Giant-Size Marvel TPB

The new *Giant-Size Marvel* trade paperback reprints “Too Cold a Night for Dying”, originally published in *Giant-Size Defenders* #4. It’s one of my favorite Defenders yarns, featuring some beautiful artwork by Don Heck. (Yes, I just used the words “beautiful” and “Heck” in the same sentence. Don’s work has been vastly underrated. His style and storytelling are powerful enough in this tale to overcome Vince Colletta’s inks and a ghastly lettering job.)

Sundry additional attractions include: Egghead turning really mean…Dr. Strange actually consulting on a surgery…the return of Yellowjacket (Henry Pym’s third or fourth secret identity)…and, of course, an obligatory comic book fight scene, this one between the Defenders and the Squadron Sinister. The very nice Gil Kane cover is there, too.

My only complaint is that the color wasn’t adjusted for printing on whiter paper. The story was intended to take place entirely in the gloom of night, but there’s no gloom here. The mood of Petra Goldberg’s original color work has been completely lost.

Still, I’m fond enough of the story that there are Amazon links to the book above, below, and in the right-hand column of this page.

*Giant-Size Marvel* also includes vintage material by Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, John Buscema, Roy Thomas, Rich Buckler, Gerry Conway, Frank Robbins, Tony Isabella, and others.

13 Responses to “Giant-Size Marvel TPB”

  1. Bob Kennedy Says:

    God I remember that issue so well. “Mister, I have met ants who walk taller than you!”

  2. gordon kent Says:

    Y’know, I don’t know why I should be ashamed to admit this, but I liked Don Heck. Sorry if that offends you.

  3. haven o'terrorism Says:

    For me, this is the comic that lays to rest all the snarky comments that have ever been made about the quality of Don Heck’s artwork. He is stellar here, to the point where I can’t imagine anyone else providing the art for this story, he’s just perfectly in tune with what’s required for it. And in fact it seems that everytime he worked on a Gerber script he turned things up a notch, don’t you all agree? And so how all his critics have managed to keep bad-mouthing him over the years is beyond me. I re-read this regularly, it’s an extremely fine 70’s comic book (which is saying a lot, if you think about it), and if I taught a class in how to write it would definitely be on the syllabus. Nice one, Steve! This one never gets old. Although I’m disappointed to hear that great gloominess has been lost in the reprinting…man, there is something about that four-colour printing on crappy paper that brings the mood alive on the page, isn’t there? Although maybe that’s just nostalgia talking.

  4. Steve Gerber Says:

    In this case, it’s not nostalgia. The comics of that era really did look different.

    It wasn’t just the printing process, though. It was also the color and the absorbency of the paper. The old newsprint “took” the ink differently, muting the colors in a very specific way. The better colorists of the time — e.g., Marie Severin, Glynis Wein, Petra Goldberg, George Roussos — knew how the ink and paper would interact. They used their knowledge of the physical medium in the same way painters use the consistency of oils and the texture of canvas to achieve a desired effect.

  5. Bart Lidofsky Says:

    Don Heck had a quality missing in many “fan favorite” artists: You could tell the characters apart without resorting to looking at the hair and costumes.

  6. Bryan Headley Says:

    The one thing I liked about that story was that Heck got the notion of YellowJacket floating instead under power flight. Carlos Pacello tried the same approach, by showing those goofy things were actual wings.

    Truly, what I liked about the story was that the traditional villians weren’t guilty of anything… yet. Although, they did eventually go after Nighthawk.

    These books make me remember how much I miss Heck, Mooney, Tuska, Sal Buscema’s presentation…

  7. Cory!!Strode Says:

    As a kid I found Heck’s work bland…not bad, because I still liked the stories, but there always seemed to be a dull flatness to how it took to color. Now that I’ve read his work on westerns, horror and romance comics, it’s clear that he was the kind of artist who was hurt when comics went to an nearly all super hero format. His western work was simnply amazing, and if he could have gotten a daily comic strip or a non super-hero strip to draw, I’m sure he would be remembered as one of the best artists of the time.

  8. Bob Kennedy Says:

    I only saw Don Heck’s artwork at the tail end of his career. There seemed to be some conscious choice in the mid-70s to only pair him with Colletta and Esposito; Klaus Janson and Bob McLeod were just getting started around this time, and I saw them resuscitate much less-worthy artists.

    Still, I noticed that his figures had the same limited poses as those wooden artist’s dummies. This was fine for his slick, ad agency-type work, but not much good for superhero stories.

  9. Greg Hatcher Says:

    I’m just happy to see some of Mr. Gerber’s DEFENDERS work back in print. I certainly hope that there’s still a couple of volumes of Essential Defenders to come; as much as I enjoyed seeing the first volume, to me it’s not REALLY the Defenders unless Steve wrote it and Sal drew it.

  10. Jason Schulman Says:

    I must ask — why did Steve — and other Marvel writers of the time like Roy Thomas and Steve Englehart — refer to past events in the Marvel Universe as though they happened in real time (it was “four years” ago that Hank Pym last became Yellowjacket in the story reprinted in GIANT-SIZE MARVEL). Deliberate mocking of convention for the hell of it?

  11. Spence Says:

    I completely agree with ya Steve. I think with old newsprint, some comics just carried a mood around them that we’ve never seen since.

    Loced those days, but I’m sure someone will realize that we’re not getting the muddy colors we were used to.

  12. Alex Krislov Says:

    Talk about timing.

    A month or so back, I splurged on eBay and bought a complete set of Defenders, mostly to replace my old copies of your stories. It was easier to buy the whole set than to try to put together a set of Gerber Defenders issue-by-issue. And I just re-read the story you’re talking about, not realizing the “Giant Size” treasury was appearing. I’m glad I did, too. The differences the color brings are important. I’ve noticed the same effect with Marv’s Tomb of Dracula — those black-and-white treasuries don’t do Gene Colan’s art justice.

    Yeah, it’s a damn good story, one of your best, I think. It might not have the breadth of the “Headmen” sequence, but the emotional depth and plotting complexity are similar–and both are unusual for comics of the period.

    Now if only they gave you some damn money for it!

  13. haven o'terrorism Says:

    My favourite topics, hooray! Jason, I don’t know if this is the most accurate or even true answer, but the conventions you speak of (all brainchildren of Roy Thomas, if I am not wrong) didn’t really exist in a strong form in those lazy hazy crazy days when Captain America had only missed twenty years of his life, and there was no reason then not to have Marvel Time happen in NEAR-REAL TIME. Like Numbered Issue Time or something. Lord, that was fun when that was happening! No rules, man! Just action! Remember folks, if you meet Johnny Storm on the road, and he asks you how old he is, you’re supposed to kill him…it’s the only way to achieve enlightenment. You know, if it’s 1964 or later. Otherwise leave the poor kid alone.

    Ah, but Roy, crazy Roy, Roy the Boy, the Rascally One…I question if there was ever a more insane comic-book scripter, I really do. His somewhat looney and unnecessary idea of the 70’s blossomed into a world-beater in the 80’s, and then in the 90’s a world destroyer, and then finally in this godforsaken decade I will not dignify with a name it has become the Supreme Intelligence, it has become the facehugger from Alien, it’s Starro, it’s Chandler on the last season of Friends, it has become that stupid alien in Star Trek V that comes on at the end, no not when they sing the campfire songs but later. It has become very surprisingly serious, but not — as the kids have it — in a good way.

    But, who knew? I thought Roy was quite clever to think of it at the time, at the time it made things realer instead of less real, like it does now.

    And to Greg, I feel your Sal Buscema jones, so let me just say a word about our pal Sal. To me he will always be THE Marvel Artist, he draws everything neat as a pin and perfect, and to say he is grossly underrated is a gross understatement of a gross understatement. Hey Steve, now would be a good time to give us some of your favourite underrated artists, writers, inkers, letterers etc., since we already heard you drop some colourist’s names. Also do all that stuff, that desert island disc stuff, where you pick who you like in mainstream and other comics these days. You know you’re going to have to do it sometime. You might as well do it now.