Saturday, June 1, 2013

Century 21: Menace from Space

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Century 21: Menace from Space (Signum, 2012).

It's been a long time since a Century 21 collection drifted across my shelves. I resolved, after a late copy of the third volume showed up that I wasn't going to buy any more of these. The beautiful artwork of Ron Embleton, who painted the Stingray episodes, was ruined because the paperbacks didn't accommodate the art with adequate "gutters" on the interior margins, leaving both images and word balloons disappearing into the center of the paperback where they could not be read. I was certain that the editors loved the material, but the rotten presentation looked slapdash, no matter how nice a paper stock they used.

I had no idea that a fifth volume had been released. Another publisher, Signum, came to bat. And it's in hardback, no less! Joy of joys, the artwork problem is gone when you're opening a hardcover. I opened the book just to confirm across a couple of pages and punched the air. I found it purely by chance - somebody at the McKay Books in Nashville filed this in the "humor" section instead of "graphic novels" - and walked that book to the register with a spring in my step and looked forward to seeing some unexpurgated Embleton artwork on Stingray.

There's no Stingray in this book.

Oh, there's Zero X and Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds and there's very good artwork by the likes of Frank Bellamy if you can get through the odds-n-sods "greatest hits" presentation of the stories, and I sure did enjoy reading them, but you're telling me that after four paperback editions with Embleton's Stingray all ruined, you finally put out a hardback that won't have that problem and it doesn't have any Embleton in it?

I wish somebody would put out a complete archive of these comics, in hardcover, with no margin issue. I'd buy those suckers in a heartbeat and sell back all five of these well-meaning turkeys to McKay. Sheesh!

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