The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three poster

“Gesundheit.”

I do enjoy a good heist movie, always have. The intricate planning, the recruitment of the gang (all of whom have specialised skills necessary to ensure success), and the inevitable misdirection when something appears to go wrong but is actually all part of the plan. That and the desire to see the thieves pull off the seemingly impossible caper – the more improbable the better – and get away scot-free all makes for great viewing. It’s strange then than one of my favourite heist movies, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, features none of these elements. Continue reading The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

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The Andromeda Strain (1971)

The Andromeda Strain 1971

“That’s what we’ll find out now… the mechanism of death.”

Riding the new wave of intelligent and speculative science fiction films initiated by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Andromeda Strain takes one of the tiredest of sci-fi tropes, the alien invasion, and reinvigorates it. Instead of giant bug-eyed monsters from space attacking the Earth it’s the turn of microscopic organisms and the resulting film is a masterclass of mounting tension and suspense. Continue reading The Andromeda Strain (1971)

The Superhero Women (1977)

The Superhero Women, front cover
The Superhero Women by Stan Lee

Published in 1977 The Superhero Women by Stan Lee was the fourth, and last, of the Marvel/Fireside Books Origins collaborations. Sadly it’s also the weakest of the bunch. Although it follows the format established by its predecessors – reprinted ‘origin’ stories of Marvel Comics superheroes and villains prefaced by text introductions by Stan Lee – this volume doesn’t really work. What is clearly meant as a celebration of Marvel’s female heroes instead just highlights the publisher’s lack of strong, independent female characters and reinforces male stereotypes of women in tight-fitting, revealing outfits. Continue reading The Superhero Women (1977)

Bring On The Bad Guys (1976)

Bring On The Bad Guys cover

Bring On The Bad Guys by Stan Lee

The third Marvel/Fireside Books team-up continued the best-selling formula established by the series’ previous entries, Origins of Marvel Comics and Sons of Origins of Marvel Comics, but this time with a twist. In Bring On The Bad Guys by Stan Lee it’s not Marvels Comics’ superheroes who grabbed the spotlight but rather their nemesis. Continue reading Bring On The Bad Guys (1976)

Son of Origins of Marvel Comics (1975)

Son of Origins of Marvel Comics front cover

Son of Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee

In 1974 Simon & Schuster imprint Fireside Books published Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee, a soft cover book that reprinted the origin stories of five of Marvel Comics’ most popular characters with accompanying text written specifically for the collection by Lee. The book was the first of its kind and is now widely regarded as the first reprint collection, or trade paperback, a format that now dominates the comic book industry. Continue reading Son of Origins of Marvel Comics (1975)

Origins of Marvel Comics (1974) and the birth of the trade paperback

Origins of Marvel Comics 1974

And Marvel said, Let there be The Fantastic Four.
And there was The Fantastic Four.
And Marvel saw The Fantastic Four. And it was good.
Stan Lee, from his introduction

Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee

Browse through any comic shop (if you can find one) and you’ll doubtless notice the proliferation of reprint collections, also commonly known as trade paperbacks. With editions numbering well into the thousands trade paperbacks, or trades, have become an important part of the comic book industry offering readers the chance to read and collect their favourite comic book stories reprinted in tidy, book-shelf friendly volumes. They are so popular that many high street bookshops now stock them – although they tend to be erroneously labelled as graphic novels – helping to introduce the medium to readers who wouldn’t normally frequent comic book shops. Continue reading Origins of Marvel Comics (1974) and the birth of the trade paperback