Alter Ego #57

A book review article by: Jason Sacks
(if you care about the subject matter)
(if you don't care about Timely/Atlas heroes)

I bought a subscription to Roy Thomas's fanzine Alter Ego last year because I'm a big fan of obscure comics information. And there are few better places to get obscure comics info than AE; the whole fanzine is dedicated to exploring the minutiae of comics history, and I love it. I love reading the reminiscences by creators in their 60s and 70s about life in the industry, reading their stories about Syd Shores and Mike Sekowsky and Andru and Esposito and all the other creators who were always just names on paper for me when I was growing up.

Sometimes the minutiae gets even a bit too obscure for me. I have to admit a strong bias towards Marvel's history over the more unknown creators, though stories about the hard-drinking, hard-living creators of the early days are always fun.

Anyway, this issue has almost none of that. Fully 58 pages of this magazine are dedicated to an index of the Timely and Atlas heroes from 1939-1957. If you need me to explain that Timely and Atlas were the precursors to the company we know as Marvel Comics, you already are eliminated from the class of people who care about this magazine. If, however, you do care about history, you might find this magazine interesting.

For me, well, I gotta admit I didn't look at any of the index. It's all a bit too obscure for me, much as most indices are. I think that's logical - unless one is using the index as a buying guide (as I do with the long index at the back of The Warren Companion, another TwoMorrows publication), there's just not a lot of browsable content here.

The thing that makes it at least browsable, though, is the rare art and pictures shown as part of the issue. It's fun to see such golden age obscurities as the Vision, Miss America and the Patriot on display. Thomas presents some old ads, too, which are a kick, and I loved the glimpse at "Captain America's Weird Tales."

The one interview in this issue is of the legendary Gene Colan, who started out at Timely, and as always, Colan's grace and insight is wonderful.

So, if you care, this is indispensable. If you don't care, you'd never think of buying this.

Community Discussion