who disparages romance comics probably A. hasn't read any and is
instead thinking of Roy Lichtenstein paintings and, more importantly, B.
hasn't read any created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the enterprising
gents who created the genre in comics.
The stories compiled in
Young Romance 2, originally printed from 1947-1949, are dense,
compelling little dramas; they could be short films churned out by
Warner Bros. in the '30s. They deal with class systems, espionage,
culture clashes, small town bigotry, post WWII societal problems,
gossip, poverty and prejudice. They're hard-hitting, sometimes
spectacularly violent. These aren't your laughable '70s DC romances
drawn by Vince Colletta. Kirby crams detail into each panel as if
he's directing a 1918 silent film; the art has much more in common with
his late '70s Marvel comics like Machine Man than any of the '60s comics
he's most known for.
The hardbound book is beautiful. Unlike
what's promised on the front and back cover, the restorations published
within aren't scanned from the original comics with printing dots
intact. Instead, they were exposed to a solution process which
eradicated the colors, leaving the black art behind. Once digitally
enhanced, the result is black and white art amazingly faithful to the
original. Although I prefer editor Michael Gagne's restorations from the
first volume, the new process makes for immanently readable stories,
using a color palate faithful to the original comics and set against a
nice light beige background.