Saturday, May 27, 2017

The EC Archives: Crime SuspenStories, Volume 3

   Dangerous dames, cunning con men, scorned lovers, and murderous psychos fill panel and page of Crime SuspenStories, Volume 3. Reprinting issues 13-18 of EC Comics’ classic crime thriller comic, this book is lovingly reprinted by Dark Horse Comics.
    I consider myself someone of an expert on EC books. I’ve been reading and collecting them since I was about 10. So, I have seen a variety publisher’s efforts to reprint this stories in so many different styles. In my opinion, I can officially declare that Dark Horse’s efforts are clearly best.
    Up until Dark Horse took over the license, I would have rated the Russ Cochran editions the best. These hardcover collections from 1986-1988, are considered by many to be the standard for EC Comics reprints. They were printed on prestige acid-free paper with beautifully bright covers. Unfortunately, the Cochran interiors were printed only in black and white. The decision  was in an effort to cut costs down, but ultimately it was disappointment to readers. That’s not the case with the Dark Horse volumes. Every dismembered victim is brought to gruesome life in vibrant 4-colors on shiny, hi-stock paper.
    Dark Horse’s collections are little paper time capsules. This era of EC Comics lore is just as the publisher was beginning to overtake DC Comics as the industry leader. With EC’s popularity, new titles were being developed. Initial advertisements for MAD, originally published as a comic book, are highlighted throughout the run of these books. There’s also a number of stories written by Ray Bradbury. Just  prior to issue #13’s release, Bradbury signed an exclusive contract with EC to publish comic adaptations of his works. Also highlighted are masters such as Johnny Craig and Jack Kamen who spin original yarns of revenge gone wrong. Volume 3 also collects the first ever EC works by Al Williamson.
    Another thing that I appreciate with this collection is that the original letters pages are restored. These pages contained Bill Gaines insightful editorial commentary. The Russ Cochran volumes reprinted the original pages as well. Yet when Gladstone took over the licence, they were replaced with a letters page composed of modern readers opinions. That’s all well and good for Gladstone. But the new letters don’t reflect the irreverent tone that would inspire Stan Lee with his letter pages at Marvel.
    The book retails for $49.99. For many, this collection isn’t cheap. But it’s a superior omnibus of reprints that rival anything currently on the market. Collectors of 1950s shock comics will love this book.
    Book will arrive in stores on June 27th, 2017.
    Worth Consuming!
    Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars.
  (This review originally was posted on on 5/24/17.)

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