The Folio Society, purveyors of high-end collectible books, has released its 2023 holiday collection, which has some choice releases for fans of Marvel Comics, DC, and fantasy fiction. The Folio Society sent some review copies for to check out. Knowing The Folio Society’s reputation for elaborate reprints of popular stories both classic and modern (I have a copy of The Folio Society’s Pride and Prejudice in my home as I write, purchased years ago), I expected these volumes to be stunning, and they did not disappoint. The marquee release is one of The Folio Society’s newest releases, DC Comics: The Golden Age. Encased in a clamshell box, DC Comics: The Golden Age houses a volume with a metallic gold cover that collects the first appearances of some of DC’s most iconic characters to debut during the Golden Age of comics, including Superman (Action Comics #1), Batman (Detective Comics #27), Wonder Woman (All Star Comics #8), Green Lantern (All-American Comics #16), and the Flash (Flash Comics #1).

Additionally, The Folio Society’s DC Comics: The Golden Age comes with a replica of Action Comics #1. This facsimile issue recreates the original comic book to contain Superman’s first appearance right down to the advertisements.

(Photo: The Folio Society’s DC Comics: The Golden Age (above) and The Avengers (below))

For Marvel fans, The Folio Society’s latest Marvel Heroes release is The Avengers, a volume that collects milestone issues from throughout the 60-year history of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The volume plays a survey of Avengers history, ranging from Captain America joining the team and shaking up its roster to Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman each separately reimagining the team for the 21st century, Bendis in New Avengers and Hickman in the relaunched Avengers. Like the DC Comics: The Golden Age set, The Avengers also includes a first-appearance replica issue. For The Avengers, it’s the first time the Avengers ever assembled in a replica of The Avengers #1 from 1963.

As a comics fan, what strikes me about The Folio Society’s DC Comics: The Golden Age and The Avengers collections is how the publisher treats the coloring in the reprints of its older comics. These colors were intended for use on newsprint paper and their one-to-one reproduction on glossy paper in many modern archival collections from Marvel and DC often ends up with garish results. I don’t have any original issues to compare The Folio Society’s efforts to for accuracy, but it’s clear an effort was made to tone down the intensity of the colors on the older issues to better emulate the experience of reading the original issues as they came out in their respective era. The result is rather than simply looking striking on a bookshelf, these volumes offer a reading experience that’s difficult to find elsewhere.

(Photo: Examples of the interior coloring featured in The Folio Society’s DC Comics: The Golden Age (left) and The Avengers (right))

The Folio Society also sent over two similarly strike volumes of fantasy fiction. First published in 2001, Tales from Earthsea is an anthology representing the last time Ursula K. Le Guin returned to the beloved fantasy world she created in the pages of A Wizard of Earthsea. Partly comprised of short stories and partly essays, its contents contain revelations about the world of Earthsea that had fans returning to the Le Guin’s previous works in that universe to reexamine their understanding of the tales. The Folio Society edition includes illustrations by David Lupton that bring Le Guin’s Earthsea archipelago to life with a sense of grounded mystery.

The other volume is one that, coincidentally enough, Le Guin was openly critical of, Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2015 novel The Buried Giant. While Le Guin criticized the novel for after sensing that Ishiguro was ashamed to be working on a piece of fantasy fiction (a notion he was quick to dispel), the novel received acclaim for its thoughtful approach to Arthurian legend, earned it a reputation as a work of elevated fantasy. Jana Heidersdorf provides new illustrations for The Folio Society edition of The Buried Giant that evoke the folkloric mystery of Ishiguro’s story. Fans of the film The Green Knight should especially check this story out.

(Photo: Cover of The Folio Society’s Tales from Earthsea (left) and The Buried Giant (right) and their respective spines (below))(Photo: Illustrations from The Folio Society editions of Tales from Earthsea (left) and The Buried Giant (right), taken from The Folio Society’s website)

The Folio Society also included a notebook and planner in our review shipment, which are the same elegant design as the publisher’s novels and comics volumes. Book lovers and comic book readers would do well to check out what they have to offer. The Folio Society website has the publisher’s complete catalog. Here’s a list of all the items in The Folio Society’s 2023 Holiday Collection:

Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Ella Beech ($60)
Diana Wynne Jones’s Charmed Life, introduced by Katherine Rundell and illustrated by Alison Bryant ($65)
Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen’s The Planets, featuring newly selected photography ($135)
Frank Herbert’s Dune Messiah, illustrated by Hilary Clarcq ($110)
Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, illustrated by Gerard DuBois ($70)
Antonia Fraser’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII, with a new introduction by the author ($125)
Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, introduced by Daniel Kehlmann and illustrated by Jana Heidersdorf ($110)
Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, introduced by Jeanette Winterson and illustrated by Dave McKean ($90)
Dante Allighieri’s The Divine Comedy, introduced by Jhumpa Lahiri and illustrated by Neil Packer ($150)
Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood, introduced by Michael Morpurgo and illustrated by Jonathan Burton ($65)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, introduced by Richard Holmes and illustrated by Angela Barrett ($90)
Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies, illustrated by Igor Kozlovsky and Marina Sarapova ($150)

The Avengers, next in Folio’s Marvel Heroes series, selected and introduced by Roy Thomas ($135)
Agatha Christie’s Ordeal By Innocence, illustrated by Laura Hope ($75)
Ursula K. Le Guin’s Tales from Earthsea, illustrated by David Luption ($70)
Toni Morrison’s Beloved, introduced by Russell Banks and illustrated by Joe Morse ($75)
0comments The Folio Society’s DC Comics: The Golden and The Avengers collections are stunning.  Read More