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BEST CRIME COMICS

A Review By: Amazon Customer Reviews

The following ‘5 star’ customer reviews appeared on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk during August 2008.

Dave ‘Babytoxie’, August 21, 2008:
Much Better!: Running Press finally hit a home run. The Mammoth Book Of Best Crime Comics is the latest entry in their series of genre collections. I was highly put off by the quality of the previous War and Horror volumes - they certainly didn’t seem deserving of the label “best”, but the Crime volume gets it right. It features work from many top-notch creators, both classic and modern. Much to my surprise, popular recurring characters such as Kane, X-9, Ms. Tree, El Borbah, and Torpedo are included. The quality of the book is very nice, with bright paper and crisp, clear printing. Yes, it’s black and white, but with 450 pages and such an affordable price, it doesn’t matter to me. This is a superb collection, and it gives me hope for future releases. Maybe Running Press could even give us second volumes of War and Horror with this kind of quality in mind.

Richard J Arndt, August 14, 2008:
Great!: This is the third Mammoth comics volumes - the first two focusing on war & horror. Both of those earlier volumes were hampered, although not crippled, by the refusals of EC, DC, Marvel/Atlas & Warren to allow reprints of their stories (although Warren tales did appear in the War volume). However this volume focuses on crime, a genre neither DC or Marvel/Atlas did much with, Warren only produced a few stories in (although they tended to be of quite high quality) and, in fact, an EC story does appear here. 

With almost the entire field to choose from the quality of this volume is very high with an excellent 1934 Dashiell Hammett/Alex Raymond tale from Secret Agent X-9; two stories from Bernie Krigstein (including the very strange Blind Man’s Bluff which was his swansong to comics); obscure Alan Moore & Neil Gaiman tales (including Moore’s epilogue to his graphic novel From Hell); a great Max Collins/Terry Beatty Ms. Tree tale, a fine Johnny Craig story from EC, Jack Cole’s classic Murder, Morphine And Me!, a fine Joe Simon/Jack Kirby bunko tale, some decent Euro crime tales making their North American debuts, Will Eisner’s Spirit (although one might quibble why The Portier Fortune - a good but not great Spirit tale appears, when such genuine noir greats like Black Alley, Ten Minutes & Fox At Bay were passed by), Jordi Bernet with a Torpedo tale, an Alex Toth classic, Charles Burns and much, much more. In fact, the quality of this book is so high while the price is so low that it may well be the best comic anthology of the year for your dollar.

Ian W, August 27, 2008:
This time it really is the best. I’ve reviewed the other ‘Mammoth Book of Best (fill in the blank) Comics’ and had varying degrees of reservations about them all, usually to do with the word ‘Best’ in title, and that usually because the selections weren’t genuinely inclusive, often, I surmise, because the compiler couldn’t afford the reprint rights. I should also acknowledge that no two people would ever compile exactly the same Best list anyway.

This collection, however, combines breadth, depth and quality. The omissions of DC and Marvel stories isn’t important this time because they weren’t as important in this genre (except latterly for some Vertigo titles). A simple list of the contributors alone should have anyone with the slightest interest reaching for the add to basket button. Take a look at this-

An opening elegy for the gangster by Alan Moore; a short by Kirby & Simon, Jack ‘Plastic Man’ Cole including one image that freaked out Frederick Wertham; a surreal piece by modernist Charles Burns; a short sharp and sexy Spirit story (a mandatory inclusion); a 70-page complete daily strip written by Dashiel Hammett prior to leaving for the lucre of Hollywood and illustrated by then-newcomer Alex Raymond; legend Alex Toth; a 50page story featuring a 9-month pregnant private eye Ms Tree by Collins & Beatty; a Kane story by the talented and British writer/artist Paul Grist; Mickey Spillane writing Mike Hammer for a Sunday strip; and much much more.

The time span ranges from the 30’s to the 90’s, the contributors from America, Britain, and Europe.

Not all of it’s perfect. Crime stories often look better in black and white so the removal of colour usually isn’t a problem here. Usually. The two Bernie Krigstein stories look very thin compared to the other contributions. But that is the worst I can say and it’s a minor quibble; Krigstein is historically important so I can understand why compiler Paul Gravett included him.

This is an excellent collection and certainly hands down the best of The Mammoth Book of the Best (fill in the blank) Comics.

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1001 Comics  You Must Read Before You Die edited by Paul Gravett

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