John Byrne’s Marvel Classics Artifact Edition

John Byrne is one of the true superstars of Marvel Comics. His legendary runs on The X-Men and Fantastic Four are just two of the highlights of his illustrious and storied career (and have each received the award-winning ARTIST’S EDITION treatment!). Now we continue to present John Byrne at his finest, in an Artifact Edition that features his work on MARVEL TEAM-UP, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE AVENGERS, IRON FIST, and more. As you have come to expect from Artist’s Edition style books, each page is tracked down and scanned from the original art—perusing this book will be like opening a portal in time and visiting John Byrne in his studio as he painstakingly draws some of his most well-remembered stories—all in one beautiful book!

This book also features a special gallery section, featuring SIX UNPUBLISHED pencil pages by John Byrne from the never-completed Captain America #257—WOW!!

  • IDW Publishing, October 09, 2019
  • ISBN: 978-1-68405-662-0
  • 12″ x 17″, 168 pages
  • $125 USD
  • Order Online: eBay
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As with all AE format material (Artist’s Editions, Artifact Editions, Gallery Editions, Art Editions, Studio Editions, etc), 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. Also, see What is an Artist’s Edition and our Artist Index.

A collection of John Byrne’s Marvel work that isn’t Fantastic Four or X-Men, two titles previously covered by IDW and Scott Dunbier. Original art pages from nine titles, with twenty contributors listed under “Special Thanks”.

With such a variety of sources, the art has aged from off white to tan. The scans were for the most part clear; a few spots had some softness. Most blacks showed gradients but with this many inkers, their choice of materials could also be a factor. Correction fluid used throughout to varying degrees. Minimal paste-ups and zip-a-tone, and one colour page. Blue pencil only for word balloons and dialogue. Very few margin notes outside of title, issue and page number. Why does Byrne like to sign in panels so much?

The book is divided into two sections, published pages in the front and the second section called “John Byrne Art Gallery”. While this makes sense in an Artist’s Edition where the front section is complete issues, nothing in an Artifact Edition is a complete story so a separate gallery doesn’t quite fit. Closing out this volume is a one-page biography of Byrne.

Scott Dunbier commented “I understand what you say but I do like to keep covers and “special” stuff, like the unpublished pencil pages and model sheets, in a gallery section. My feeling is that it groups them together as being a bit different, makes them stand out“.

Dahlk is back in the AE world with a subdued design. The red moves from the cover to join with black on the interior pages. A tight use of colour. The perfect image for the front endpaper, with all images enlarged artfully throughout. A table of contents with page numbers, but no numbering on the pages.

Thick matte paper stock in a sewn binding with glued signatures. The book comes shrinkwrapped in a cardboard case with a small colour sticker showing the cover image, UPC and corporate logos. The case opens in the middle and folds out, just like the Graphitti Designs boxes. A change from IDW’s normal cardboard case.

A mistake on the Table Of Contents: under Avengers it says “Inked By” twice, with letterers in the second listing.

This felt like a collection of everything else John Byrne’s original art that hadn’t already been collected. Because of the time frame covered and the variety of inkers Byrne’s style shows its evolution. Some of the earlier pages inked by Marcos are barely recognizable as Byrne, and his anatomy is a little rough. It doesn’t appear to be based on when the art is during his career, as the early Marvel Premiere pages with Austin inking look like classic Marvel Byrne.

Then there are the pencilled pages. Very detailed with a high polish, leaving nothing to chance with the inker. Plus those amazing Alpha Flight character designs! Too bad they didn’t go with Captain Diefenbacher.

There was a variant edition cover offered at NYCC which sold out.