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Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Black Night/Yellow Claw - Volume 1 Hardcover – Sep 2 2009

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Hardcover, Sep 2 2009
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Marvel (Sept. 2 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785135154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785135159
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 18.4 x 25.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 885 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,151,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Black Knight Review by Michael T. Gilbert Dec 28 2009
By Michael T. Gilbert - Published on
Verified Purchase
If you're a fan of either cartoonist Joe Maneely or Jack Kirby, you definitely don't want to miss this volume! Joe drew the first three issues of the 1955 series in his extremely detailed style, and it's lovely indeed. The entire five-issue series is reprinted here, with the ads removed. Reproduction is quite nice (I believe they were shot from rare decades-old stats). Atlas era experts Michael Vassallo and Roy Thomas provide invaluable background on the two series.
But the real reason I picked up the book was for the four-issue Yellow Claw series, also included in the volume. The first issue was drawn by Maneely and scripted by EC writer/editor Al Feldstein, his only work for Atlas. But the final three were written and drawn by Jack Kirby, and features some of his most imaginative art. The stories, only four or five pages each, are quite silly as only Gold or Silver Age comics can be. But the art is stunning, and the final issue features some incredible inks by EC veteran John Severin. For my money, this is one of the best Atlas Era Masterworks yet, up there with the equally great Bill Everett Sub-Mariner volume.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Joe Maneely artistic showcase Oct. 1 2009
By Jim Davis - Published on
When the Atlas Era Marvel Masterworks were announced the Black Knight comics were high on most everyone's list of desired volumes. The reason was that it showcased the artistic talents of the prolific Joe Maneely. The Black Knight stories were reprinted in the late '60s so these were almost the only examples of Maneely's art that was familiar to most comic fans. Maneely died in the late '50s. The Yellow Claw book was another short run book begun by Maneely so combining these two books into one Masterwork seemed logical from an artistic viewpoint even though from very different genres.

The reproduction is superb. Maneely's art really shines in this volume. The Black Knight stories themselves are really too short for modern tastes, no more than 5 pages apiece. It's difficult to work up much plot sophistication in that amount of space. Still, it all seems to work as Merlin's agent, the Black Knight, the secret identity of the foppish Sir Percy, foils plots against Camelot. A strange twist to Arthurian legend is Morgana as Modred's wife, instead of his mother. There is also an undistinguished back up feature, the Crusader. The follow on artists in Black Knight #4 and #5 are also excellent.

Yellow Claw is a less satisfactory book. Maneely did only the first issue and the covers before turning the book over to Jack Kirby. Kirby did the scripting also and the stories are just all over the place with elements of cold war intrigue, horror, science fiction, fantasy, etc. The contrast between Maneely and Kirby art is interesting. Maneely always did his own inking whereas Kirby never did his.

The book is topped off with a 12 page Maneely biography by Dr. Michael J. Vassallo. This is a superb text piece and adds tremendously to what is in effect a Joe Maneely tribute book.

The stories don't age well like most Atlas stories from this period but the art is timeless.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Celebrating the work of Joe Maneely Oct. 11 2009
A Kid's Review - Published on
The Black Knight/Yellow Claw Masterworks showcases the work of two comics masters: Joe Maneely; the Timely-Atlas workhorse and right hand man to Stan Lee, whose versatility and attractive style was cut short when he died in an accident at an early age; and Jack Kirby, the legendary creator who returned to Marvel shortly after Maneely's death. Maneely's work is seen in both the Black Knight and the first issue of the Yellow Claw. Kirby took over the writing and art with the second issue, turning a spy/mystery thriller to a sci-fi extravaganza.

Comics historian Michael J. Vassallo tops it off with a detailed essay on the life and work of Joe Maneeely. The book is sharply reproduced and well worth seeking out for the comics afficianado.

Nick C.
Maneely and Kirby headline all-star creative teams July 25 2015
By Dan Pace (feral atom) - Published on
Collects Black Knight 1-5 and The Yellow Claw 1-4. Extras include a lavish 12-page tribute to Joe Maneely by Dr Michael J. Vassallo and a great 4-page introduction by Roy Thomas. The tribute piece has 14 pieces of artwork at thumbnail size and pictures of Joe Maneely and Stan Lee in 1958.

In addition to 14 Joe Maneely stories and 6 covers, we also get pre-Marvel Kirby inking assists by Roz Kirby on 12 amazingly illustrated stories, two John Severin covers, a Bill Everett cover, three stories with Fred Kida art, four stories with Syd Shores art, and artwork from John Romita, Werner Roth, George Roussos, and Manny Stalman.

The Black Knight scripts in #1 are written by Stan Lee. The art is by Joe Maneely and is outstanding. Modred and Merlin join a cast from Camelot. I wouldn't be surprised if He-man and the Masters of the Universe drew inspriration from the Black Knight. The foppish Percy is the cunning disguise for the fearsome Black Knight, protector of Camelot and King Arthur. Each issue has three Black Knight tales and one adventure with the Crusader.

The Crusader follows a somewhat similar formula with a noble warrior and his famed sword fighting to protect his liege against an internal traitor and external forces. I was surprised at how even-handed these stories were. I'm sure some might view these stories as a bit naive, I choose to view them as optimistic and hopeful. Though war is the backdrop for both characters, there is an overall optimism in the valor and nobility of humanity that is seldom exemplified in modern stories.

The true jem here is the Yellow Claw. Al Feldstein writes the Claw stories in the first issue. Kirby writes the stories he penciled. It's amazing to me what a focus The Yellow Claw was to the storyline. In the first story, we don't meet the hero, Jimmy Woo until the last half of the last page. The Claw's a ruthless adversary, much in line with Darkseid or Dr Doom. His daughter, Suwan, catches Jimmy's eye. I loved these first stories and definitely would've enjoyed several more adventures in line with these first few. These stories were sophisticated and entertaining.

I also enjoyed the Cold War era spy stories, one in each volume. These make me want to get other Atlas Era spy comics.

When Kirby takes over on the Yellow Claw, anything goes. From the first story in #2, the Claw harnesses a group of Mutants to warp reality with their minds. This is seven years before Marvel's Merry Mutants take the stage! Interspersed, we get mysteries, "Temujai the Golden Goliath", "The Microscopic Army", "UFO, the Lightning Man", the Daily Globe announcing "The Yellow Claw Captured!", "The Living Shadows", "The Thought Master" and the supremely weird "The Screemies". In "Five Million Sleep-Walkers" the inking is attributed to John Severin. The inks here look an awful lot like Steve Ditko's style of a few years later.

Kirby demonstrates amazing creativity and imagination, completely up-ending the construction of a serious spy adventure into a cocktail of sci-fi, horror, and mystery as a prelude to his later run on Captain America. Here is the Marvel Age in microcosm. I found these stories even more enjoyable than Kirby's original take on Nick Fury and SHIELD. In my opinion, these scant four issues are a hallmark of the Atomic Age of comics, perhaps even the pinnacle, from the material I've observed. The fact that three Claw stories were in each issue along with the spy mystery, made it feel like we get a good glimpse of Feldstein, Maneely and Kirby's visions for these characters.

I was left wanting more at the end of The Yellow Claw. He had the makings of being an all-time best villain. It's a shame that the At;as implosion caught this title in a numbers game and, with its departure, so too did Kirby, however briefly, as he focused his freelance work with DC to create the Challengers of the Unknown wth Dick and Dave Wood. This 256-page masterwork is packed full of great stories, writing and, above all, artwork.
A Great Atlas Era Collection March 4 2012
By newmand - Published on
Verified Purchase
Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Black Night/Yellow Claw - Volume 1 collects all the issues from two short-lived series Martin Goodman published under his Atlas banner, which was the precursor to Marvel Comics: Black Knight #1 - 5 (May 1955 - April 1956) and Yellow Claw #1 - 4 (Oct. 1956 - April 1957). Both are highly entertaining and have an impact on later series published by Marvel Comics. The hero in the five-issue Black Knight series, Sir Percy of Scandia, is a 6th century knight who serves at the court of King Arthur Pendragon. Sir Percy plays a foppish coward in Arthur's court in order to foil the evil plans of Arthur's nephew Mordred and his wife Morgan le Fay. (Morgan le Fay's spirit would later become a major thorn in the side of the Avengers as well as Jessica Drew's Spider-Woman identity.) Wearing the armor of the Black Knight created by Arthur's trusted sorcerer Merlin, the Black Knight wields the Ebony Blade which Merlin forged from a meteorite. Centuries later, Dane Whitman, a direct descendent of Sir Percy, was introduced in "The Black Knight Reborn!" story from Marvel Super-Heroes (1966 - 1982 1st Series) #17 (Nov. 1968). Sir Percy's spirit also appeared to Dane in Black Knight #1 - 4 (June - Sept. 1990) to offer him guidance in handling the Ebony Blade. Dane Whitman was also a major player in the Marvel/Malibu crossovers of 1996, and was later seen in the Captain Britain and MI: 13 series that ran for fifteen issues from July 2008 to September 2009.

The Yellow Claw, his niece Suwan and F.B.I. agent Jimmy Woo introduced in the four-issue Yellow Claw series would later appear in the Nick Fury stories in Marvel's Strange Tales (1951 - 1976 1st Series) #161 - 162 (October - November 1967). Agent Woo would later join the counterespionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. in Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 (July 1968), and also reappear in Agents of Atlas (2006) #1 - 6 (Oct. 2006 - March 2007) and Agents of Atlas (2009) #1 - 5 (April - November 2009).

These issues from the '50's were jam-packed with good stories and art, and each of the nine issues in this collection also had a two-page text story. The color-reproduction is top-notch as are all the Marvel Masterworks collections, and I highly enjoyed this book.