Comics : Marvel Collectors Item Classics #1

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: From The Beginning

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2, 1965 reprinted the first story from ASM #1, March 1963, the second story from ASM #2, May 1963, and the full story from ASM #5, October 1963. So what about the stories that were passed over? Well, we have to wait another five years before the leftover stories from #1 and #2 are re-presented but here's ASM #3 in a brand-new annual-size reprint book as 1965 comes to a close.

In Detail...

Marvel Collectors Item Classics #1
Feb 1965 : SM Reprint
Reprints: Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #3
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Review

Now I know your first question. Why am I only getting to this issue now when it's cover-dated as February 1965? Well, the thing is... it isn't. The Overstreet Price Guide assigned that date to this issue and everyone else (including we at PPP) followed suit. I have no idea where Overstreet got its date since this issue actually came out at the same time as the books cover- dated early1966. (It is advertised on the "More Triumphs for Marvel" page in ASM #32, January 1966 and ASM #33, February 1966. Still, the issue is dated "1965", so I am wedging it in just before ASM #31, December 1965.

The issue consists of four reprints, all represented by their original covers laid out on this cover before a purple background. (Well, all the original covers except for Journey into Mystery #97, October 1963, which shows Odin bursting through the issue, since Tales of Asgard wasn't represented on the cover.) Each reprinted cover has a red arrow pointing at it filled with text hyping the story. The cover of ASM #3, July 1963 is shown with the arrow saying, "The story that cinched Spidey's fame! The premiere appearance of dazzling Doc Octopus! Absolutely unabridged!"

So, is it "absolutely unabridged"? Let's look. It's the last story in the issue, following the introduction of the Skrulls from Fantastic Four #2, January 1962, Ant-Man's tussle with Comrade X from Tales to Astonish #36, October 1962, and the origin of Odin from the very first Tales of Asgard story in the aforementioned Journey Into Mystery #97, October 1963. Allow me to place it side-by-side with the original story in ASM #3 and see for myself. Let's see now... hmm hmm hmm, "The Strangest Foe of All Time"... hmm hmm hmm, "Somehow my mechanical arms have almost become a part of me!"... hmm hmm hmm, "He beat me! I... I never had a chance!"... hmm hmm hmm, "The important thing is never give up!"... hmm hmm hmm, "Strange that an old-fashioned punch to the jaw defeated the most dangerous villain I've ever faced!"... hmm hmm hmm, "Flamin' fireballs! I don't get it! What did I do?" Yep, it's all there except... the coloring has been changed all around. Take a look at the splash page: lettering and arrowed caption boxes are blue, background is white, spotlight in which Ock is standing is yellow in the original. The reprint has green lettering, yellow arrowed boxes, blue background and a red spot. A scan through both issues reveals coloring changes on every single page. So, yes, it is "absolutely unabridged". But is it the exact same story? Well, no, not quite. I mean, it's still Stan and Steve and the colorists aren't even credited in these early issues. So, does it matter? Well, I suppose it depends on how picky you get about these things.

In General...

I gave the original story in ASM #3 five webs. This book gives you that story plus the second FF tale, the third Ant-Man tale, and the first Tales of Asgard. Yes, the FF and Ant-Man stories are dopey in the way that only very early Marvel Age stories can be but that's part of their charm. So, it's got to be another full five webs.

Overall Rating...

A common complaint concerning these early Marvel Tales and Marvel Collectors' Item Classics is that they are priced rather high in today's guides even though they are reprints. This issue, for example, is listed at $120 (in Overstreet) in mint condition. Well, no one ever said you needed a reprint book in mint condition. Believe me there are plenty of copies of this book in much lower grades that are much cheaper. Besides, have you looked at the mint prices of the originals lately? JIM #97 is $260, TTA #36 is $875, ASM #3 is $3,600, and FF #2 is $5,500. Don't worry about the coloring. Get this instead.