The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics [2008]


THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST CRIME COMICS is a thick new anthology edited by Paul Gravett, part of a large series of MAMMOTH BOOK OF… collections which seem to be mostly prose but have also included …BEST WAR COMICS, …BEST HORROR COMICS, …BEST NEW MANGA and the upcoming …ZOMBIE COMICS (oddly not the “Best” zombie comics…). The books I’ve seen of the series are far from perfect, and obviously rights issues keeps them from being really comprehensive, but they’re a good value for the money (generally $12-$14 purchased on-line for about 500 pages) and good samplers of the genres, not restricted to just American comics.

THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST CRIME COMICS has been the best of the collections I’ve seen so far, because it includes some Simon&Kirby, namely the 14-page story “The Money-Making Machine Swindlers” from JUSTICE TRAPS THE GUILTY #6 [1948].

The reproduction is in black and white from a printed copy, and looks pretty good for that. There are some remnants of the colouring, but light enough that they provide some shading without distracting from the linework.

The story is a confessional type, told by Prisoner 235079, Stella Brady, about how she came to be a guest of the state, your typical story of a young girl looking to escape from the drudgery of working life, witnessing a scam gone wrong involving selling gullible fools a share in a phony counterfeiting machine. Sensing that she can work the scam better, she gets in on the action and helps to set up a hotel owner with a gambling problem as the next mark. Little does she know, crime does not… oh wait, wrong company. Little does she know, justice traps the guilty.

Great little story, some prime S&K from the period when the romance comics were just taking off, with a lot in common with those stories, from the confessional narration to the attention to detail in the various characters and settings, some great storytelling punctuated by moments of sudden violence that S&K excelled at.

6 thoughts on “The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics [2008]

  1. Mike Cagle

    It looks like every guy in the story has a long, funny-shaped nose! Seems kinda unusual for Kirby — but then, my experience is mostly with silver age and after. Did S&K at this time tend to populate their stories with these kind of craggy, lumpy, misshapen characters? With long noses?

  2. Bob Post author

    Those are pretty typical of the underworld lowlifes in S&K comics. They also had their handsome heroes, but not on this page. Check the first few dozen entries in the chronological list of posts over on the sidebar, or poke around the always excellent S&K Blog for a look at the S&K years.

  3. Anonymous

    I was disappointed by the mammoth horror and war comics books, but crime hit the sweet spot. That was a great S&K story too … I liked that Mr. Dawson reminded me of Spiro Agnew.

    (Even if it was published years before Mr. Agnew came to prominence.)

  4. James Romberger

    This book has a lot of other good pieces including stories by Toth, Cole, Eisner, Bernet, and the entirety of B. Krigstein’s last work in comics, the 30-page Dell beatnik classic “87th Precinct”. Well worth the price.

  5. Rob Anderton

    Yeah, a great book – I can’t image any comics fan not liking it. Here are the full contents:

    ‘Old Gangsters Never Die’ by Alan Moore & Lloyd Thatcher (8 pgs)
    ‘Torpedo 1936: The Switch’ by Sanchez Abuli & Jordi Bernet (8 pgs)
    ‘The Money-Making Machine Swindlers’ by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby (14 pgs)
    ’87th Precinct: Blind Man’s Bluff’ by ? & Bernie Krigstein (32 pgs)
    ‘The Murderer of Hung’ by Dominique Grange & Jacques Tardi (8 pgs)
    ‘Murder, Morphine and Me!’ by Jack Cole (14 pgs)
    ‘El Borbah: Love in Vain’ by Charles Burnes (9 pgs)
    ‘The Spirit: The Portier Fortune’ by Will Eisner (7 pgs)
    ‘Secret Agent X-9’ by Dashiell Hammett & Alex Raymond (80 pgs)
    ‘Commissario Spada:Strada’ by Gianluigi Gonano & Gianni De Luca (10 pgs)
    ‘Lily-White Joe’ by ? & Bernie Krigstein (8 pgs)
    ‘The Crushed Gardenia’ by ? & Alex Toth (8 pgs)
    ‘Ms Tree: Maternity Leave’ by Max Allan Collins & Terry Beatty (48 pgs)
    ‘Roy Carson and the Old Master’ by Colin McLoughlin & Denis McLoughlin (12 pgs)
    ‘Mary Spratchet’ by ? (9 pgs)
    ‘Alack Sinner: Talkin’ With Joe’ by Carlos Sampayo & Jose Munoz (27 pgs)
    ‘The Button’ by ? & Bill Everett (5 pgs)
    ‘Kane: Rat in the House’by Paul Grist (32 pgs)
    ‘Who Dunnit?’ by ? & Fred Guardineer (6 pgs)
    ‘Mike Lancer and the Syndicate of Death’ by Mickey Spillane & Harry Sahle (6 pgs)
    ‘Mike Hammer: Dark City’ by Mickey Spillane & Ed Robbins (32 pgs)
    ‘The Court’ by Neil Gaiman & Warren Pleece (10 pgs)
    ‘The Sewer’ by Johnny Craig (8 pgs)
    ‘I Keep Coming Back’ by Alan Moore & Oscar Zarate (12 pgs)

  6. Robert

    Anybody know of a comic with characters named
    “Biggie”,”Two-Nose”,”Fats”, and “Greasy Joe”?
    Had it in my younger days but can’t remember the


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