It looks like DC Comics are using the Omnibus format as their current way to collect classic material in chronological order.  In the past, there have been the Archives series (hardcover, full color), the Showcase Presents series (softcover, black and white, usually twice the page count of an Archive), and the Chronicles series (softcover, full color, smaller page count than an Archive).  In the past few years, all of these lines have been quietly shuttered, and now DC is releasing Omnibus collections in both hardcover and softcover formats.

As you would expect, the Omnibus hardcovers are huge.  Two Silver Age volumes collected the first 76 issues of JLA (along with Brave and Bold 28-30 and Mystery in Space 75), for example.  Earlier this year, DC released JLA: The Bronze Age Omnibus Volume 1, collecting JLA # 77-113.  That's almost half of the original series collected in this way, which for a fan like me is great news.  The JLA Archives had 10 volumes, collected the first 93 issues, and the first volume and last volume were released twenty-two years apart.  The first JLA Omnibus came out in 2014.

DC is also releasing these collections in trade paperbacks with a smaller page count than the hardcovers.  The great thing is that these TPBs collect more issues than the Archives did!  The material collected in the first JLA Silver Age Omnibus has all been released in 3 TPBs.

I have the first JLA Silver Age TPB, and I loved it!  I also have the first JLA Showcase Presents, but I find that without color, I just don't enjoy the stories as much as I could.  Actually, I find I enjoy most Silver Age comics more in color versus reading them in Showcase Presents and Essential Marvel.

I wonder how many of the rest of you are buying and reading these Omnibus collections, and what you think of the format.

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I'm willing to replace black and white TPBs with color. That's about it. Though if getting a Green Lantern omnibus requires replacing the Showcase color TPBs along with some B&W, that's fine.

Captain Comics said:

So, I'm a bit slow on the trend that I'm seeing here.

I started buying Archives and Masterworks back when they first came out, and didn't stop buying them until they hit middle Bronze Age. And once I'd done that, I was really reluctant to replace them. I mean, I already had the original comic books for the most part, and often had Marvel Tales or 100-Page Super-Spectacular reprints as well, so the only way I could justify the HCs was as, uh, easy research. (Yes, nobody buys that, including me. My wife just smiles.) Also, I've wanted my favorite Silver Age books in HC form since I was 8, so there.

(I remember drawing all the members of the Legion of Super-Heroes from memory at my Nana's house when I was in second or third grade, wishing fervently I had a full run of the series in hardback because I loved them so, and also so I could take an LSH book to my Nana's house and not try to draw them from &%@#! memory. Keep in mind this was when John Forte was drawing the series, and I was tracing/drawing the Curt Swan figures from the covers alone, and there was only about 20-25 of them, tops, and "entire series" was about five or six years of back-up stories in Superboy. It really seemed do-able.)

Anyway, back to the present. I didn't feel like I should really replace research copies, though. I mean, I wanted to when the omnibus format came out, but how could I justify spending that money?

But then I did get a few Omnibuses -- mainly those that had letters page from comics I didn't actually own (early Marvel). And then I got a few from series that came out after I stopped buying Marvel/DC comprehensively ... although I'd actually already those books for the most part on Marvel Unlimited and DC Universe.

And I did need some new research books as Marvel and DC kept making movies and TV shows, right? And then when entire runs would be reprinted in omnibus -- like Master of Kung Fu -- I'd be a fool not to buy them, right?

Oh, dear. I feel so ashamed.

Because I now have a lot of omnibuses that duplicate not only comic books, but MMWs and Archives and I have no excuse whatsoever to buy them and deny my wife that retirement money. And now I'm thinking of buying stuff like the Fantastic Four omnibuses, even though I have the FF MMW through around No. 15. Just because the trade dress on the early stuff is so awful. Ditto Thor. And Daredevil. And maybe even Justice League. (I've replaced the Bronze Age JLA Archives with omnibuses. And Flash. And Green Lantern. Holding off on Silver Age JLA ... for now.)

But evidently you guys have been replacing/upgrading for a while now. I'm the slow kid in class!

How do you justify it? And what is your philosophy on replacing stuff you have with better stuff?

I have a hard line with DC: a cutover from archives to omnibuses with as little overlap as possible.

For Marvel, it varies...

FANTASTIC FOUR: I have replaced early archives with omnibuses up through volume 5. One reason is the inconsistent trade dress. I had the original up through the first 50 issues or so. then they stopped publishing for a while. When they resumed, the next volume was in that "garish" style. (I needed few of those: one FF,  and DD, one Thor, one X-Men.) Then they stopped and came back with a third style of trade dress, the black and silver one. I started buying those only because I was unaware that Marvel would continue to make new volumes available in the original dress as well. With the Byrne era, I stopped buying MMW altogether in favor of the omnies.

SPIDER-MAN: I prefer the original trade dress, and I have a complete run of MMW Spider-Man in marble dustjackets. Then Marvel went and released the complete Steve Ditko run in a single omnibus edition, and of course I had to have that! the Spidey omnies included the letters pages, too, so I have duplicated them in that dress as far as they go. More by luck than by design, I suspect, both Amazing Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man abut the beginning of the Roger Stern Spider-Man omnibus exactly, so I have stopped buying two sets of MMW Spider-Man as well. 

AVENGERS: All MMW, no omnies (although we're approaching the point at which I have a lot of tpb duplication). 

CAPTAIN AMERICA: MMW up to Kirby's return, then omnibus, then back to MMW for a couple of volumes, then back to omnibus for the Byrne run. (I also switched trade dress from black & silver back to marble after the Kirby run so the missing volume numbers would not be as obvious.) 

X-MEN: Original, all MMW; All-New, All-Different, I have replaced MMWs with omnies. 

IRON MAN: MMW up through Michelinie/Layton, then omnibus (but I had to buy the last MMW for only two issues!).

HULK: All MMW, one omni duplicated (and I will stick to one).

DAREDEVIL: Switched to omni format at Miller run.

I prefer omnibuses to MMWs, but the problem is Marvel released most of the Masterworks first, with no clue when, or if, an omnibus would ever be released. I can offer no "justification," but I can tell you this: Whereas I will sometimes duplicate MMW material in an omnibus, I will never duplicate omnibus material in a MMW. Perhaps this will help. whenever you're about to duplicate a run of issues, ask yourself, "Will I ever read it again in this format?"

Hope that helps.

"I prefer omnibuses to MMWs, but the problem is Marvel released most of the Masterworks first, with no clue when, or if, an omnibus would ever be released."

That's really the frustrating crux with all reprint series, isn't it? I'd love to believe that Marvel will continue Spider-Man omnibuses after the Roger Stern one, combining all extant Spider-books of the era into a "smart" collection, like the Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman Golden Age omnibuses. But will they? Magic 8-Ball says: "Don't count on it."

And I'm not. I'm pretty much continuing the title-specific MMW through the occasional Omni that shows up (Roger Stern Spidey, John Byrne FF, etc.), and not buying the Omni, because I don't trust Marvel to continue with omnibuses, or to publish omnibuses that fit neatly between MMW volumes without skips or overlaps.

I also know already that they're not concerned about omnibuses being comprehensive. What I mean by that is that a "Roger Stern Spider-Man" omnibus or a "Peter David Hulk" omnibus is only going to contain stories by those writers in a certain time frame, skipping over whatever doesn't fit the format. I don't like that.

(They're about to do that with Gorgo. Yoe Books published a volume collecting all the Gorgo drawn by Steve Ditko. A new book, Gorgo Attacks!, is about to come out with all the Gorgo stories drawn by Joe Sinnott. That's all well and good, but there are some issues of Gorgo that weren't drawn by either of those gentlemen. Those stories don't fit the format, so they're not collected. And may never be.)

I'm throwing the dice on MMW, because I do think they'll continue with MMWs. Or they're more likely to, at any rate. If the MMW have continued this far into the Bronze Age, I have to believe they're selling. That's the thin reed I'm hanging onto. And if in the future they stop making MMW and switch to content-specific omnibuses ... well, I'll cross that bridge after I burn it.

I am getting the Peter David Hulk omnibuses beginning with volume 2, because he was writing every issue by the time that book begins, so it's comprehensive. (Volume 1 is not, so I'll continue MMW through that volume.) That continues with Vols 3-4, and after that you're getting pretty close to the end of the first run of Incredible Hulk, lacking only the (very good) Bruce Jones run, which I hope will be collected. When we reach the end of the first Hulk run (or the end of any major Silver Age title), that seems like a fine time to me to stop worrying about comprehensive and begin buying only omnibuses that collect major storylines, crossovers or events.

I'm already doing that, more or less, with X-Men. I've got original and All-New in MMW, with the occasional duplicated omnibus, up to whatever point they're at now. (Paul Smith run?) But I'm picking up the X-Men "event" omnibuses as they arrive (Age of Apocalypse, Morlock Massacre, etc.) and I suppose when the MMW catches up with the first of those, I'll quit buying comprehensive and just go with "events."

As to my philosophy, I really don't have one, aside from whatever can be inferred from the above. Whatever I'd like to have is completely contingent on whatever Marvel or DC decide to print. And when I see what's available, I buy what seems to fit my bookshelf the best.

But my "collection" is a dog's breakfast of trade dress right now, and so pock-marked with holes that I can't really make the research excuse any more. If I need to know something that I've forgotten, I read the pertinent issues in Marvel Unlimited or DC Universe.

So all of it is an utter waste of money. I feel more ashamed than usual.

I just have some random thoughts on this. I started out buying the (Silver Age) Flash and Green Lantern Archives and the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man MMWs. I bought the two Ant-Man/Giant-Man MMWs, the second of which is soft cover. I bought the Hawkman Archives,  the Enemy Ace Archives, the THUNDER Agents Archives and the two Charlton Action Heroes Archives. I bought the first and only Atom Archive (arrgghh). The FF and Spidey MMWs covering the first hundred issues of each worked out well for me. The Green Lantern Archives did, too, as they stopped where I would have stopped anyway.

After the Flash Archives stopped I reluctantly picked up two black-and-white Showcases. I hate seeing comics intended for color in black-and-white, and eventually bit the bullet and bought Flash Omni #3. There is a small gap between the Archives and Omni #3 which is covered by a Showcase volume. I am willing to buy the Flash Omni #4 but it's beginning to look like they aren't likely to publish it. Having fond memories of Amazing Adult Fantasy I bought the Amazing Fantasy Omnibus (my first Omni). Recently I bought the Adam Strange Omni. These two really appeal to me because the entire runs are between those covers.

After passing up the MMWs for Iron Man, Thor and The Avengers I bought the softcover Epic editions of their beginnings (Stan Lee/Roy Thomas issues) and am continuing these early runs. The Epic editions are very nice and a lot of bang for the buck.

I'm not concerned with trade dress inconsistencies as long as the contents are there and in color. The beginning of the Marvel Masterworks are mildly annoying in that the company decided to number the volumes 1,2 3 etc without regard to which comic books they were. Without looking, I think the FF was vol 1, Spidey was vol 2, etc. Later editions numbered the books within the comic series. This confuses the hell out of sellers.

I have been buying every single one of the Carl Barks Library because these were the books that initially caused me to love comics.

Getting the third Flash omnibus means there are exactly seven Barry Allen issues I don't have. Even if they come out with an omnibus I can't justify the cost to myself.

Total agreement about the frustration of figuring out which Marvel Masterwork I want, particularly when I'm hunting on Amazon.

Richard Willis said:

I just have some random thoughts on this. I started out buying the (Silver Age) Flash and Green Lantern Archives and the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man MMWs. I bought the two Ant-Man/Giant-Man MMWs, the second of which is soft cover. I bought the Hawkman Archives,  the Enemy Ace Archives, the THUNDER Agents Archives and the two Charlton Action Heroes Archives. I bought the first and only Atom Archive (arrgghh). The FF and Spidey MMWs covering the first hundred issues of each worked out well for me. The Green Lantern Archives did, too, as they stopped where I would have stopped anyway.

After the Flash Archives stopped I reluctantly picked up two black-and-white Showcases. I hate seeing comics intended for color in black-and-white, and eventually bit the bullet and bought Flash Omni #3. There is a small gap between the Archives and Omni #3 which is covered by a Showcase volume. I am willing to buy the Flash Omni #4 but it's beginning to look like they aren't likely to publish it. Having fond memories of Amazing Adult Fantasy I bought the Amazing Fantasy Omnibus (my first Omni). Recently I bought the Adam Strange Omni. These two really appeal to me because the entire runs are between those covers.

After passing up the MMWs for Iron Man, Thor and The Avengers I bought the softcover Epic editions of their beginnings (Stan Lee/Roy Thomas issues) and am continuing these early runs. The Epic editions are very nice and a lot of bang for the buck.

I'm not concerned with trade dress inconsistencies as long as the contents are there and in color. The beginning of the Marvel Masterworks are mildly annoying in that the company decided to number the volumes 1,2 3 etc without regard to which comic books they were. Without looking, I think the FF was vol 1, Spidey was vol 2, etc. Later editions numbered the books within the comic series. This confuses the hell out of sellers.

I have been buying every single one of the Carl Barks Library because these were the books that initially caused me to love comics.

'That's really the frustrating crux with all reprint series, isn't it?"

Whenever I complain to my local retailer about these inconsistencies, his usual response is along the lines of, "Marvel/DC doesn't let me in on what their plan is." He tells me that at retailer conventions, retailers complain loudly about the shifting trade dress. When retailers complained about the change in trade dress for DC's omnibus series, they were told, "The designers thought the new trade dress looked better." I would ask the "designers" what they thought of several volumes of a consistent trade dress on a bookshelf sitting against a volume with a different dress. My thought is, one the first volume of a series is published, the decision has been made. Beyond that, a new trade dress is "changing horses midstream." 

I'd really like to give those designers a figurative (or perhaps literal?) kick in the nuts. 

Here's the latest example of what we have been discussing...

SHE-HULK: She-Hulk's first solo series has already been collected in two volumes of Marvel Masterworks. Now it has been solicited in a single omnibus. There have already been omnibus editions of John Byrne's She-Hulk and Dan Slott's, and Peter David's is on the way. Honestly, the original series is not that good, but the completist in me would like to have those four volumes on the shelf together, but I've already got the two Masterworks and I just can't justify it. 

Funny, the look of them on the shelf never fazed me. So many of my older series paperbacks are divided between different publishers depending on when I bought them I just roll with it.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

'That's really the frustrating crux with all reprint series, isn't it?"

Whenever I complain to my local retailer about these inconsistencies, his usual response is along the lines of, "Marvel/DC doesn't let me in on what their plan is." He tells me that at retailer conventions, retailers complain loudly about the shifting trade dress. When retailers complained about the change in trade dress for DC's omnibus series, they were told, "The designers thought the new trade dress looked better." I would ask the "designers" what they thought of several volumes of a consistent trade dress on a bookshelf sitting against a volume with a different dress. My thought is, one the first volume of a series is published, the decision has been made. Beyond that, a new trade dress is "changing horses midstream." 

I'd really like to give those designers a figurative (or perhaps literal?) kick in the nuts. 

Here's another question, regarding the Doctor Strange omnibuses.

Marvel was going all MMWs until they put out two "Sorcerer Supreme" omnibuses, collecting Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme. (Which was probably Doc's longest-running title.) But then they put out a Doctor Strange Omnibus Vol. 1, which I promptly bought more or less in error. But in for a penny, I thought, and was ready to buy the second one when it came out.

Then I noticed the issue numbers.

The first one doesn't line up with the MMWS at all, ending with Strange Tales #146, Ditko's last issue. That falls in the middle of Marvel Masterworks: Doctor Strange Vol. 2. Worse, Omnibus Vol. 2 doesn't pick up until Doctor Strange (ne Strange Tales)  #169!

I get that Marvel wanted a Strange collection that was all-Ditko, but they could have published that in some other format, and published a legit Omnibus that lines up with three MMWs. Unless there's some sort of non-Omnibus, hardcover collection of Strange Tales #144-168 out there. (The Masterworks, as noted above, do not line up neatly with this arrangement.)

As it stands, Doctor Strange Omnibus Vol. 1 overlaps only one and a half MMWs, and doesn't get rid of all the lame trade dress. And only the first MMW is entirely removable. 'Tis a frustration.

Anybody else run into this, and have a solution?

The info you provide about the Doctor Strange Omnibus series is news to me, Cap. My collection lives in MMW volumes... or at least it did until that "Monster Size" HC (Ditko is... Strange!)reprinting the entire Lee/Ditko Strange Tales run in a single volume (which I didn't mind duplicating). I doubt you're going to find ST #144-168 in a single volume other than MMW v2 (#142-168). that's only two (half) issues of duplication, but I think that's going to be your best bet. 

I have a Kindle download of Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD by Jim Steranko which includes the entire Steranko run from Strange Tales through the SHIELD standalone series. Much to my surprise the Strange Tales issues include the Doctor Strange stories as well.

I really enjoy that I have the Doctor Strange Strange Tales run and can match it up with the Human Torch and Nick Fury front features.

doc photo said:

I have a Kindle download of Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD by Jim Steranko which includes the entire Steranko run from Strange Tales through the SHIELD standalone series. Much to my surprise the Strange Tales issues include the Doctor Strange stories as well.

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