Strange 25th Anniversary Portfolio, part 3

Published in 1995 the Strange 25th Anniversary Portfolio contained 25 full-colour plates featuring covers from Strange, a monthly title published by Editions LUG that reprinted Marvel comics translated into French. I looked at the first eight plates here, the second eight are here, and this third batch contains the last nine plates in the portfolio.

Editions LUG was the brain-child of writer Marcel Navarro and would-be publisher Auguste Vistel, who established the company in 1950 to publish original comics as well as American reprints. In 1969 and 1970 they launched three monthly digests featuring stories from Marvel Comics translated into French. Two of the comics, FanTask and Marvel quickly fell foul of French censors who objected to their violence and forced the cancellation of the titles less than a year after their launch. The remaining title, Strange, was launched in January 1970 and quickly proved popular, remaining in print for over 25 years. Bolstered by the title’s success more Marvel reprints were added to Edition LUG‘s roster over the next decade: Special Strange; Titans; Conan; Une Aventure des Fantastiques (featuring The Fantastic Four); L’Araignée (featuring Spider-Man); Ka-Zar; Planète des Singes (Planet of the Apes); La Guerre des Etoiles (Star Wars); Nova; Spidey; Thor and X-Men.

Following the death of Vistel and the retirement of Navarro in the mid-Eighties, Editions LUG was sold to Scandinavian publisher Semic Comics who continued publishing Marvel reprints until 1996 when their licensing deal with Marvel ended. By that time only Strange, Nova and Titans were still being published and despite being relaunched using reprinted material from DC, WildStorm and Image, all three comics were eventually cancelled in early 1998.

The plates included in this anniversary collection measure 210mm by 297mm and are printed on thick watercolour paper. The portfolio shipped in a distinctive cardboard folder featuring Spider-Man’s mask, with a tracing paper inlay sheet to protect the plates. The portfolio was limited to only 5,000 sets, of which this is number 3699.

Here are plates 17-25, with annotations:

Strange 25th Anniversary portfolio: Daredevil

Plate 17: Daredevil
From Strange issue 199, July 1986
Artwork by David Mazzucchelli based on his original artwork from the cover of Daredevil issue 216, originally published in March 1985

Strange 25th Anniversary portfolio: Alpha Flight and The X-Men

Plate 18: Alpha Flight and The Uncanny X-Men 
From Strange issue 211, July 1987
Artwork by Mike Mignola, originally featured on the cover of
Alpha Flight issue 33, April 1986

Strange 25th Anniversary portfolio: The Avengers

Plate 19: The Avengers 
From Strange issue 218, February 1988
Artwork by Bob Hall and Joe Rubinstein, originally featured on the cover of The Avengers issue 254, April 1985

Strange 25th Anniversary portfolio: Spider-Man and Iron Man

Plate 20: Iron Man and Spider-Man 
From Strange issue 240, December 1989
Artwork by Jackson Guice and Bob Layton, originally featured on the cover of Iron Man issue 234, September 1988

Strange 25th Anniversary portfolio: Alpha Flight

Plate 21: Alpha Flight
From Strange issue 249, September 1990
Original artwork by Ciro Tota, based on the story from
Alpha Flight issue 69, April 1989

Strange 25th Anniversary portfolio: The Sub-Mariner

Plate 22: The Sub-Mariner
From Strange issue 255, March 1991
Artwork by John Byrne, originally featured on the cover of
Namor, The Sub-Mariner issue 1, April 1990

Strange 25th Anniversary portfolio: Spider-Man and Black Cat

Plate 23: Spider-Man and Black Cat
From Strange issue 270, June 1992
Original artwork by Ciro Tota, based on the story from
The Amazing Spider-Man issue 343, January 1991

Strange 25th Anniversary portfolio: Captain America and Quicksilver

Plate 24: Captain America and Quicksilver
From Strange issue 280, April 1993
Artwork by Andy Kubert, originally featured on the cover of
The Avengers issue 334, July 1991

Strange 25th Anniversary portfolio: The Sub-Mariner and

Plate 25: The Sub-Mariner and Tamara Rahn
From Strange issue 289, January 1994
Original artwork by Christian Goussale, based on the story from Namor, The Sub-Mariner issue 34, January 1993

I must confess that these last nine plates are my least favourite of the portfolio. I’m not a great fan of Marvel artwork from the late Eighties and early Nineties as it looks a little too homogenised to me. I much prefer the plates from the early Seventies and Eighties, especially the covers painted by Jean Frisano.

As this anniversary portfolio was published a year before the last Marvel reprint issue of Strange (and despite my reservations about this last batch of plates), this collection works as both a celebration and a eulogy for a title that helped introduce Marvel to a generation of French fans – a fitting tribute for this popular and influential comic.