2021 Eisner Award Nominee: Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books
Atlas at War! collects fifty hard-hitting stories from Atlas Comics, the company that became Marvel Comics and published more war titles than anyone in the industry between the years 1951 and 1960.
Comics historian Dr. Michael J. Vassallo has chosen the best of the best, many of which are coming back into print for the first time, from sixteen different Atlas war titles and featuring the artwork of twenty different artists—giants of the genre, including Russ Heath, John Severin, Bernie Krigstein, Joe Maneely, Jerry Robinson, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby. Each page has been meticulously restored from its first printing by comic art restorer Allan Harvey. Atlas at War! covers the brutal pre-code period where graphic depictions of war action were rendered by artists who were World War II veterans themselves, as well as the post-code period, where code restrictions forced creators to tell stories without graphic violence but produced some of the most beautiful comic art of the genre. In addition to the artists, stories cover all aspects of war—from famous campaigns, weaponry, and personal soldier stories to political topics, Nazi atrocities, and even one story tinged with pre-code horror!
Often overlooked in favor of its competitors, Atlas at War! will finally show that Atlas’ war titles were second to no one.
Art Restoration Preview
PJ Holden, artist for The Stringbags wrote:
"Michael Vassallo knows more than anybody in the Marvel Universe about the rich history of the company's comics. His grasp and insights are astonishing! Make Mine Michael's!"
—Forces of Geek wrote:
“Atlas at War! is a treasure trove of lost war classics.”
—Masked Library wrote:
“I think we can all agree that war has never been a good thing, but for comics fans, this book of war stories IS a good thing. Volume two, please? Booksteve recommends.”
—The Newest Rant wrote:
“[The] pages are simultaneously crisp and beautiful to look at but still retain the newsprint quality of the times…. Every page looks like it must have when it was brand new on the stands…. [This book] would be a great coffee table Christmas present. [It’s for] that family member that loves to study World War II. The comic reader who has everything. The history buff [and] the veteran.”
—Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News wrote:
“Atlas at War! is a phenomenal look into the past at how the once-booming business of war comics resulted in some amazing talents writing and illustrating tales of combat. It contains stories that still strike a nerve today in their messaging and the restoration by Allan Harvey drives-home every panel of explosions, whizzing bullets, and muddy battlefields. This isn't just an amazing collection of comics, it is a fantastic piece of comic history. 5 out of 5 stars.”
—Never Iron Anything: The Comics Review Show wrote:
“Why read this book? Because of the art, man, because of the art…. This book is visual treat.”
—Association of the United States Army wrote:
“The restoration process itself is excellent. Every page is a triumph of sharp clarity and tone perfect coloring…. The sheer amount of comics mastery in the pages of this volume is breathtaking…. I urge you to just get yourself a copy and open it on any page and drink in each tale. From ‘Gas!’ with art by John Severin, to ‘The Dead Men!’ with art by Joe Sinnott to ‘The Hidden Doom!’ with art by Steve Ditko to ‘A Tank Knows No Mercy!’ with art by Jack Kirby and inks by Steve Ditko every single exclamation marked story is solid fucking gold!”
—Gotham Calling wrote:
“In … Atlas at War!, the stories explode off the pages with a force unseen in the comics world in 50 years…. [The book] serve as a timely reminder that war comics—graphic novels in today’s lexicon—provide an important creative outlet for combat veterans. Telling those stories is both cathartic and lasting—in many cases, will cast a legacy that endures beyond the life of the storyteller.”
—The Strategy Bridge wrote:
“Allan Harvey’s stellar art restoration secures a granular texture akin to that of the original works, warts and all, albeit with a much higher quality of paper. Among the most visually arresting compositions, I would highlight Jack Kirby’s ‘Ring of Steel!’ (about the Hungarian uprising) and Gene Colan’s ‘Death Stand’ (which, curiously, features a soldier called Lee Kirby!). It’s a stunning, thought-provoking artefact. Everything about this book seems carefully considered and put together. The cherry on top is Vassallo’s informative introduction, which contextualizes Atlas’ history, the 1950s’ boom of war comics, and the specificities of the various talented creators involved in the selected tales (most of them WWII veterans themselves).”
“This collection of early war comics [will] provide fascinating historiographical insight into how popular culture contributed to the culturally constructed memory of these wars…. These comics are a useful … window to the past unlike any other.”