I have to confess to a weakness for 1960s Marvel reprints, in any format. I open up any kind of book that reprints a story from that era and I am sucked in by the art and the memories. I remember long, hot, summer afternoons which began with a trip through the noon-day sun to Moser's and Brady's Newsstands in downtown Tamaqua, PA, resulting in a brown paper bag filled with new comics. The afternoon was spent in the shade of my grandparents' back porch, the comics splayed out next to me on a table, carefully set aside from the sweating anodized aluminum tumbler so they won't get dripped on. There were DC comics in those stacks, for sure, but those eight or ten monthly Marvels took centerstage, and anything by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were the first reads out of the bag...
Marvel is re-releasing its run of Marvel Masterworks in new paperback editions. For a series of books that has been reprinted ad infinitum, they're a pricey $24.99 each, but the choice of covers is up to you. I myself am head over heels over Dean White's painted recreations of classic Marvel covers. Some work better than others (his version of Kirby's "It Happened on Yancy Street"--above--is a masterpiece; the Cap cover at left not so much), but I pretty much love them all, which I know is a bit of sacrilege. The latest in the series is Captain America vol. 1, which reprints those amazing stories from Tales of Suspense, when Cap first came back. This one covers issues 59-81, most of them drawn by Kirby and all of them written by Lee. And while they are--at times--a bit hard to read--Kirby's art has never been more dynamic. Drawing Cap again seemed to invigorate him, or maybe it was because his entire output at the time (mid 1960s) was such a whirlwind of creativity that he himself just got caught up with it. But those first issues, from number 59 through 66 or so, are so dynamic, so action-packed, they're still a revelation 40+ years later. This, to me at least, is Kirby at his absolute best.
Speaking of Kirby, there is no better run of superhero comics than his 100+ issues of Fantastic Four (along with the six annuals he and Stan Lee also put out each summer). I'm never really sure which weighs more in my mind: how good the actual books are (issues 44-94 are the greatest 50-issue run of comic books, EVER, for me at least), or if it's the age I first read them at, when I 5-15 years old. Whichever it is, that run spoiled me forever, at least when it comes to the FF. No one else has held a candle to those stories, that incredible spurt of creativity. John Byrne came close in the 1980s, and I had high hopes for Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch after their great run on The Ultimates series, but they just kind of petered out. Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham are at the helm now, and I've heard great things about their run, so I picked up the first collected volume of their work, and found myself somewhat disappointed. Hickman certainly nails both the family aspect and the science fiction story aspects of the FF, but there's still something missing. Eaglesham's art doesn't help. His beefy Reed Richards is like an alternate universe Mister Fantastic (made all the more apparent by their first story arc together, featuring Reeds from across the Multiverse working together). And his Sue Storm isn't going to sneak up on anyone with those double D's she's packing, invisible or not. I know the Lee/Kirby stuff is the toughest act in comics to follow, and anyone tackling the FF has their work cut out for them. I'll probably give the second volume of Hickman's run a look-see, but so far, I'm not getting what all the hype is about.
Last but not least in this "Wednesday is new comics day" post is DC Universe: Origins, a slim volume that reprints the 52 2-page origin stories originally presented in 52. These are pretty to look at, with some of comics' biggest names tackling the heroes and villains of the DCU, including Brian Bolland, Bruce Timm, Kevin Nowlan, Walt Simonson, Gary Frank, Andy Kubert, Adam Hughes, and many more. But collapsing decades of continuity into a two-page origin story isn't a great idea. It might have worked for Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster and Bob Kane & Bill Finger back in the day when they threw together a couple of cursory origin stories for their creations, but not here, not now. For the most part, these stories are better looked at than read.