Review | Joe Kubert’s Tor Artist’s Edition

Last updated on February 9th, 2017 at 08:35 am

A decades spanning collection of underappreciated work, Joe Kubert’s Tor Artist’s Edition deserves your attention.

Joe Kubert's Tor Artist's Edition coverLegendary creator Joe Kubert was responsible for an amazing stream of great works, for more than a sixty year period. Now, in his second IDW Artist’s Edition, we present Joe Kubert’s Tor: Artist’s Edition, collecting four oversized issues and covers, along with the rarely seen unpublished Newspaper strip of Tor by Kubert plus two unfinished Tor stories in pencil form by Kubert, all in the award-winning Artist’s Edition format.

As with all original artist’s gallery editions this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index.

I let this book come and go when it was solicited and published, but something in the back of my collecting mind wouldn’t just let it go. Show after show I saw it for sale at dealer’s booths, neglected. I finally succombed and ordered it from my local comic shop, and am very glad I did.

Joe Kubert's Tor Artist's Edition interior 1

The material included presents Kubert material from two extremes of his career: very early and very late. Reading through and comparing the two is a real treat and gives a great retrospective of style. The bulk of the book is a Tor mini series from Epic (Marvel) in 1993 and the extras section contains the Tor newspaper strip pitch from 1959 and the 1975 first DC issue of that reworked material. As well there’s a short story from 1991, an unfinished story, plots, roughs and wraparound covers to the Epic issues. We don’t see the first or last of Tor’s appearances but this is an excellent selection.

Joe Kubert's Tor Artist's Edition interior 2

The quality of the source material is excellent. All the pages look like they were stored well, and the Epic pages are snowy white. Since the main story is a complete mini-series it reads well, as do the extras. There is no need for colour in any of the material; it all looks and reads wonderfully in this format. Reading through the newspaper strips and then seeing how Kubert manipulated them into a regular comic is quite enlightening. Overall the book presents Tor in one of its best packages.

Joe Kubert's Tor Artist's Edition interior 4

Design by Randall Dahlk is excellent as usual, providing the only colour in the book through his pages. Oddly there is only one chapter divider, between issues two and three. The first two issues and the last two issues flow into each other. Because the covers are wraparound they are too big to use for that role and are featured in the extras.

Heavy paper stock and sewn binding are the framework for another quality book production. Most pages lay flat, but the binding may be a tad tight. The material is from a wide range of eras and is different sizes, but it all works well in the overall package.

Joe Kubert's Tor Artist's Edition interior 3

Not only does the reader experience a full series, early newspaper strip and early DC issue, but we’re also treated to a roughed out but incomplete book with typed story pages. A peek behind the curtain of how Kubert worked. This completes the package for those who buy the Artist’s Editions to see how the creators worked and how the craft was applied: Joe Kubert’s Tor Artist’s Edition is a masterclass in sequential storytelling.

Joe Kubert Tor Artist Ed HC – $151.99

Retail Price: $189.99
You Save: $38.00

Scott VanderPloeg Written by:

Editor-In-Chief. Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans. Joe Shuster Awards Harry Kremer coordinator.

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  1. January 28, 2015

    Nice to read this. Having seen all the original Tor comics over the years–I’ve collected even the originals from the fifties–I nonetheless also gave this collection inadequate attention. One problem may be that I think Joe wrote Tor, and I for one never found the stories very engaging. I think Joe was best as an artist, and not so as writer.

    One of the earliest comics I bought off the racks, when I was just ten or eleven years old, just happened to be the stunningly great revival of Hawkman in Brave and the Bold in 1961. Such amazing work by Joe.

    But…in my experience selling comic art books and Archives collections–Joe has almost never been appreciated as much as guys like Eisner, Wood, Frazetta, Williamson. Even with a career longer than most, and an exceptionally consistent one insofar as quality of work, he has not risen up the ranks into what you might call a fan favorite. I love his early work the best, from the Golden Age Hawkman, to 1950s horror, to Sgt. Rock and othe DC war work in the 1959s-60s.

    But later on, when many fans today were first seeing him, he was eclipsed by younger, more dynamic and certainly more flashy talent…like Steranko, Windsor-Smith, Jeff Jones, Neal Adams. He had became somewhat a part of the “old guard” at DC, even though he continued pushing the envelope at times and at least, producing consistently solid, above average comic art.

    And establishing his art school, along with special projects like Fax From Sarejevo, still mean he had a tremendously important and influential career, one to be proud of from beginning to end.

  2. Nicholas Post
    January 28, 2015


    I wonder if this IDW Artist’s edition included Kubert’s short unfinished serialized Tor stories which were published in large half-folded newspaper like format (The Spirit newspapers, with full color semi-card stock covers) called Sojourn, published by White Cliffs Publishing Co., Inc dated September 1977.

    Only two issues, Vol. No. 1 and 2 has been published and I have no other resource if there were any further issues afterward.

    Another interesting history about it. Joe’s son, Adam was my classmate for commercial art majored in Rochester Institute of Technology College, upstate New York. I showed Adam these Sojourn and he said he saw some artists still working on stories for Sojourn in his father’s Kubert school in New Jersey.

    I asked him if there will be more issues on the way, he believed so but, like I said, I have no further resource beyond it.

    What about you, Bud Plant, do you know anything about it?

  3. January 29, 2015

    John Buscema once described Joe Kubert as “never a line too many , never a line too few”! I love this AE. It does show some magnificent line work and another thing that Kubert and Big John had in common, and incredible ability to show weight and mass in the illustrations.
    Highly recommend this as well as Kuberts Tarzen , and I am eagerly awaiting the Enemy Ace Edition.

  4. Nicholas Post
    January 29, 2015

    Dennis, Even though I collected Kubert’s (as well as Russ Heath’s) Sgt. Rock titles for years, it was his famed Enemy Ace series that I finally proclaimed Joe to be a really genius artist, in a class of Will Eisner.

  5. January 29, 2015

    I remember the first time I saw Kuberts work was with Tarzan, as I really stuck close to Marvel comics at that time, but loving Tarzan ,and seeing those first Kubert issues ,I wondered if perhaps John Buscema had snuck over to DC and was using a pseudonym, as there was a similarity in many ways to their anatomy and composition.I figured it out pretty quickly that this was a great artist that I was not familiar with .The ability for the masters like the ones mentioned above , as well as Eisner to transcend the 2 dimensions and make us believe we were wherever they wanted us to be goes so far beyond just the ability to draw well but to actually tell a story in pictures..

  6. Nicholas Post
    January 29, 2015

    John Buscema was born as Conan artist as Joe Kubert was for Tarzan.

  7. August 2, 2016

    Hey, Scott! Like I vacillated over this edition of Tor until just recently when I couldn’t stand it any more and picked up a copy at a fair price. What I really appreciate about the art in this book is the heavier use of inks Joe used. My experience with his art has always been one of an economy of both line and brush. In the main story here, though, he seems to be inking like Jack Davis not holding out on the blacks, creating marvelous depth and composition in the panels. It’s a real contrast to his later DC TOR series where he went in the opposite direction. His incredible Jew Gangster falls somewhere in the middle, sometimes looking like Toth. Anyway, this is a wonderful AE and I’m so glad it kept nagging at me. When Dave Gibbons lauded it, that pushed me over the edge. I’m primarily a story board artist and I draw great inspiration from these editions and I certainly appreciate your reviews and listings!

  8. August 2, 2016

    So much for proof reading off a screen! The first line there should properly read: “Like you I vacillated…”

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