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Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Battlefield - Volume 1 Hardcover – Mar 30 2011

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Atlas Era Masterworks opens up a new front March 29 2011
By Jim Davis - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The war genre is new territory for the Atlas Era Masterworks. Previous volumes mostly reproduced horror comics with forays into the jungle, superhero, historical, and spy genres. I've never read any Atlas war comics prior to this so I didn't know what to expect. I've read some of the EC war comics archives so the bar was set pretty high.

This book pretty much delivered. The story quality varied from outstanding to the occasionally absurd. The art was outstanding throughout. The reproduction is superb. The volume reprints the entire run (11 issues) of Battlefield. All the issues are pre-code issues. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th issues are 52 page issues so this volume is a very generous 300 pages.

Curiously there is a fairly abrupt change of tone after the first 4 issues. The first 4 issues focus on the terror and horror of war and the endings were usually tragic. These stories compare well with EC war comics of the same period. Afterward there is a shift to stories with happy endings which are largely propagandistic in tone. At the same time unrealistic and absurd elements begin to crop up. Some non Korean War stories begin to appear although Korea continues to dominate. Overall the quality remains high. There are a number of indications that a fair amount of research went into the stories.

There is also the usual outstanding introduction by Dr. Michael J. Vassallo. Vassallo counts that Atlas published over 500 war comics so that there is plenty more where this one came from. The folks at Atlas might have had trouble "getting" the horror genre but they were on their game with the war genre. Highly recommended.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Sixty Years Old and Still Interesting April 19 2011
By Richard Morgan - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This collection is a good read, and an out-of-the-ordinary illustration of the realistic war-comic genre, as not all tales have a happy ending. The stories go back to the early 1950s, before the introduction of the comic code. Myself, I enjoyed greatly the early art work by Russ Heath, of which this volume has four stories.

As a pattern, the first stories, from 1952, exclusively chronicle the Korean War, the forgotten war. Moving into 1953, the stories become more varied, touching on both World War II and the Cold War.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
great restored war comcis from the fifties. Feb. 1 2014
By Michael Dobey - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's a lot of solid war comic work here , it's precode and it's good. Like all masterworks they restored the artwork here and it looks stunning. The book features 11 issues of one marvel war title of the era. They had many at least five? at the same time?. I wish they would do a apache kid masterwork. but I digress!, This is the only restored war comics from this era. Which is a shame. At the price it is selling for you can't go wrong. grab this one! The art is good , the stories are mainly Korean war era. But this is great and it's in full color. NOt a yellowed scan here either! Fully restored and it looks better than these ever did before. Syd shores, bill everret, and russ heath are all in this one artwise too.
Excellent Atlas-era War Collection Oct. 24 2014
By Dan Pace - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm surprised how much I liked this one; so much so that I ordered one for my father-in-law. He loved it too! Much of the art is gorgeous. Artists like Paul Reinman and Russ Heath do some of the best work of their careers on this series. The coloring was excellent and, at times, highly stylized, expressionistic.

As with the other Atlas-era introductions he did, Dr. Michael Vassallo's extensive research adds depth and background for the period.

Note that this volume collects Battlefield in its entirety, running for 11 issues and 323 pages. Issues 2-4 were 52 pages. There's quite a mix of different time periods covered, but the bulk of the stories are Korean Conflict era stories.

After reading this series, I'm left wishing that Marvel would do more of their war series (especially Battle, which had Kirby stories to end its run, 64-70).

EC's Frontline Combat had more consistently better writing in it, but spoke with a singular voice ("war is grim"). Battlefield had a more varied voice, though it does tend to be more upbeat.

One of my favorite artists, Bill Everett, has a great piece on Il Duce in this volume.

Russ Heath kicks off the volume with terrific story in "5 Hours till Dawn". Issue 7 has another excellent Heath story, "12 Hours till Death", with more moody art. The splash page was reprinted in "Flesh and Steel" and definitely foreshadows the excellent tank art he would later do for GI Combat. The foot soldiers trudging through mud with sunken shoulders while cast in shadows, coupled with an icy blue wash to the scene really cast the reader into the setting. "Flare" has excellent art from Norman Steinberg, an artist I wasn't previously familiar with. Robert Q. Sale and Gene Colan have great art in "Road to Changdo" and "No Way Out" respectively.

Hopefully more people read and enjoy this war tome and convince Marvel to produce additional volumes from their other war lines. This was probably the most consistent title (and fit into a one-and-done), but it's really only the tip of iceberg on the 500+ issues of war comics (by Doc V's count).
a humble suggestion for future war stories Masterworks May 6 2013
By starfighter - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed the stories in this volume but it does suffer from the lack of Marvel's top artists. All of the Atlas Era books have been very illuminating about what Marvel published while superheroes languished. This Masterworks whets my appetite to see more.

When I see all the other war comics Marvel published in the 50s what I would really like to see are the later issues of something like Battle, where the art credits given on various Marvel history sites read like a "who's who" from future Marvel heroes books. Kirby, Romita, Colan, Shores, Heck, Sinnott,Severin and some of the guys who died much too soon like Maneely and Reinman all did work that I would love to see.

Since Battle ran 70 issues and lasted until 1960, I would like to suggest that you try a volume of the later issues first. If not a Masterworks book, how about a collection of Kirby or Romita to show off their war comics work, something along the line of the current EC reprint collections dedicated to single artists. For me, this also applies to the western comics from the 50s. I've only seen part of them in the reprint titles from the seventies and would love to see more.