DC and Marvel Vaults

So, you’re struggling with what to get your Golden Age fan for the holidays and can’t come up with the cash for that elusive Action Comics #1?  Why not raid the vaults over at Marvel and DC for some really cool Golden Age memorabilia!  No, I’m not kidding, and there are a bunch of one-of-a-kind Golden Age artifacts available for under $50.

In late 2007, Running Press published the Marvel Vault by Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson.  This Museum-In-A-Book™ covers the history of Marvel Comics from its earliest days until the present.  The first 65 pages are devoted to the Golden Age and Atlas Eras of Marvel, and the narrative by Thomas give a great glimpse into the creation of such Marvel icons as the Sub-Mariner, The Human Torch and Captain American.  The book then follows Marvel through the birth of its superheroes in the 1960’s to the present.  The best thing about this oversized book if the inclusion of exact recreations of many rare Marvel artifacts from the Golden Age such as:

  • Photographs of many of the early Marvel creators
  • Original pencils of the Sub-Mariner from 1941-42
  • Original Bill Everett postcards


Of course, the main focus of the book’s artifacts is with the Silver Age of Marvel and the creation of its most popular superheroes (Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, etc.), but if you are a Golden Age fan, there’s a lot of history here worth looking at.  The Marvel Vault has a cover price of $49.95 but can be found at online retailers for much less.


In 2008, the DC Vault Museum-In-A-Book™ was published by Running Press.  The narrative was authored by Martin Pasko with a nice introduction by Paul Levitz.  To me, this book is filled with much more information about the Golden Age of comics than its Marvel counterpart.  Similar to the Marvel Vault, this book is oversized and contains some wonderful history of the birth of the various titles published by DC.  The artifacts are great (particularly for the Golden Age fan) and have such items as:

  • Photos of many DC executives and creators
  • Ads for Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #1
  • Lots of original art and sketches from the Golden Age
  • Color reproduction of Double Action Comics ashcan
  • Batman mask from 1943
  • Working recreation of the Junior Justice Society decoder (this is very cool!)
  • Letters and memos between DC and creators
  • Reproduction of Superman-Tim store booklet from 1944
  • Color Reproduction of “Superman and the Great Cleveland Fire” from 1948


Where the Marvel Vault spends about 65 pages on the Golden Age and Atlas Era, the DC Vault spends almost 100 pages covering the same time period.  For the Golden Age fan with a hankering to learn more about the origins of DC, this book should be at the top of your list.  It has a cover price of $49.99 but can also be found at online retailers for much less.

As a Golden Age fan, I enjoyed the DC Vault more than the Marvel Vault, but both offer a well written look to the past, with some very cool artifacts to read and use while on the journey.  Both of these books are welcomed editions to my library.


About Bill Jourdain

Bill is the host of the Golden Age of Comic Books Podcast. Learn more about Bill in the "About Bill" page to this site.
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