Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Story recap pages from Marvel and DC Comics, from 1960s to 2018

Recap pages! Those introductory splash pages that try to summarize the continuing story for a new reader.

In earlier eras, comics were bound to a single story per issue, often there were 2 or 3 short tales per comic. When comic book stories became more serialized, editors were always afraid a new reader would be lost and stop buying that comic. In the modern era where a story arc goes over 6 issues minimum this has gone away. Starting in the Silver Age there have been a number of ways to catch the reader up on a story.

Stan Lee tried to do it in captions or thought balloons in Amazing Spider-Man 33 (1965, concluding chapter of the Master Planner story, see image on top of this post) and here with Amazing Spider-Man 109 (1972, second part of a story involving Flash Thompson). The captions have arrows showing you how to read them.

Jim Starlin used a new character called Sphinxor to retell the lengthy history of Adam Warlock in several pages of Strange Tales 179 (1975) - the first issue of his Warlock opus. Each issue of Strange Tales would have a dense recap page, which probably drove Starlin crazy to have to include.

In the late 1990s almost every Marvel Comic had a "Previously in..." page, sometimes on the inside front cover: Avengers v3 2 (1998). These were done using text and taking captions of artwork from previous issues.

Dark Knight over Metropolis, a DC story arc which crossed over between Action Comics, Superman and Adventures of Superman, each issue had a splash page with a dossier of memos explaining the story thus far. This was taken from Action Comics 654 (1990).

In Brian Bendis Action Comics he started off the first few stories with an image of papers/notes on the desk of a different character. This worked as both a recap and an insight to the particular character. It also has inside jokes and hints of things to come. This was taken from Action Comics 1002 (2018). This image is what prompted me to write this article - as I re-read the 1990s Action run I realized this new recap page had some elements in common with the old one.

Nuff Said!


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