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.
For this week, it is $62.50 (50% off)
Captain Comics said:
I noticed Green Lantern the Silver Age Vol. 2 was in their "coming soon" list, without price or anything. It's due in comic shops March 26, and to bookstores a week or so after. It will be interesting to see when it becomes available, and for how much. Amazon has it for $125 even for Prime customers, so I will NOT be buying it there.
Is that the cheapest it will ever be, or is it worthwhile to wait a bit?
I believe it is the cheapest it will ever be. After this week, it will be 72.50 (42% off).
Released on Wed March 28:
Green Lantern: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol 2. Collects Green Lantern 36-75.
Hawk and Dove: The Silver Age TPB. Collects Showcase 75, Hawk and Dove 1-6, and Teen Titans 21.
Releasing next week Wed Apr 4:
Batman: The Dark Knight Detective TPB. Collects Detective Comics #568-574 and 579-582 (Mike W. Barr run with Alan Davis, plus work from Norm Breyfogle and others; excludes Batman: Year Two).
Flash: The Silver Age TPB Vol 3. Collects The Flash #133-147.
I think it's a reasonably safe assumption that the one and only Aquaman Archive, released in 2003, did not set the sales charts on fire, or there would have been subsequent volumes. Hawkman and the Atom, for instance (to tie this back to Philip's question about those three a few pages back) each got two volumes. As I've said before, Aquaman has a considerably higher profile in 2018 than he did in 2003. DC's Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns has put his influence behind Aquaman as a property in the last number of years. He has had his own series continually since the New 52 DC relaunch in 2011 (first 25 issues written by Johns), right through the winding down of that continuity and into the Rebirth relaunch in 2016. He's been a part of the Justice League since 2011. And he gets his own movie at the end of 2018, after being featured in the Batman vs Superman and Justice League movies. With all that going on for the character, I'm baffled why there isn't an Omnibus collection on the horizon, even if these Silver Age (and earlier) stories are "Aquaman talks to fish" tales.
One idea that I go back and forth on, considering the Archive (presumably) didn't sell well - would it be better for an Aquaman Omnibus to start with the tryout in Showcase 30-33 then collect the 1962 Aquaman series and skip the backup stories? The Archive was mostly a collection of 6 or 7 page stories from Adventure 260-280 and 282, plus it also featured Showcase 30 and 31. I know those Aquaman backups featured some pretty cool art by Ramona Fradon, but (with the caveat that I haven't read them) I feel they might be slighter and less substantial than full length stories, and possibly repetitive to boot.
To Jeff's point, I think DC could two nice Silver Age Omnibus volumes: Volume One, collecting Showcase 30-33 and Aquaman (1962) 1-26, and Volume Two, collecting Aquaman 27-56.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
I’m on a bit of an “Aquaman” jag today, but I would really love to see a couple of thick, juicy Aquaman omnibuses. I have one volume of archives (which starts with the Silver Age Aquaman), but I’d like to see more. I have the wedding issue, the first appearance of Ocean-Master and “The Search for Mera” and that is it. I’d love to read some more.
You're right about the backups being weaker, but a lot of Aquaman's early solo issues weren't much better. The book improved over time.
The selection of subjects for archives/showcases/essentials sometimes leaves me scratching my head. Even with Agents of Shield on the air, Marvel didn't have the early Lee/Kirby stuff in print (maybe still not). And it took the Black Panther movie to get them to put T'Challa's early adventures in print, rather than his popularity after Civil War (I picked up the hardback of both Shield and the Jungle Action run used. Not cheap, but worth it).
John Dunbar said:
I think it's a reasonably safe assumption that the one and only Aquaman Archive, release in 2003, did not set the sales charts on fire, or there would have been subsequent volumes. Hawkman and the Atom, for instance (to tie this back to Philip's question about those three a few pages back) each got two volumes. As I've said before, Aquaman has a considerably higher profile in 2018 than he did in 2003. DC's Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns has put his influence behind Aquaman as a property in the last number of years. He has had his own series continually since the New 52 DC relaunch in 2011 (first 25 issues written by Johns), right through the winding down of that continuity and into the Rebirth relaunch in 2016. He's been a part of the Justice League since 2011. And he gets his own movie at the end of 2018, after being featured in the Batman vs Superman and Justice League movies. With all that going on for the character, I'm baffled why there isn't an Omnibus collection on the horizon, even if these Silver Age (and earlier) stories are "Aquaman talks to fish" tales.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
I hate to say it, but I think the Omnibuses you suggest would sell best, John. The art would be almost entirely by Nick Cardy and Jim Aparo, and would feature such events as Aquaman's marriage and birth of his son.
The reason I hate to say it is because I own all of those issues already. My preference would be Omnibuses that start in 1941 and end with the last of the back-ups. I think I have read maybe five Golden Age Aquaman stories in total, a record I'd like to change. And they're so short, an Omnibus would cover a lot of ground very quickly (like the Golden Age Green Arrow Omnibus did).
Fraser and I had a different experience with the early issues of Aquaman; I thought the early ones were pretty good. The Cardy art covered a myriad of sins for the Li'l Capn, especially his Mera *swoon*. Also, I was like eight years old. So I have fond memories.
Also, things happened fast in this early issues: Aquaman and Mere got married in issue #18. Since I started reading "live" with issue 8 or so, that seemed like really fast work! Of course, at that age I was unaware that Aquaman's history extended decades past the the first seven issues I hadn't read. But you can see that I thought Aquaman proceeded at a faster pace than most books. How long did it take Reed and Sue to get married?
Also, I thought it was cool to see the Justice League on the cover of #18, drawn (beautifully) by Cardy instead of by Mike Sekowsky, which was the only way I'd seen them to that point. I try to enjoy Sekowsky's idiosyncratic work, but I couldn't then and don't now.
I also wasn't much of an Aparo fan as a youngster, so the later issues held little appeal for me. In my defense, it was very early Aparo work, and he got better, especially his many years on Batman. But it was such a change from Cardy's style that it irked the Li'l Capn, who always wanted everything to stay the same.
Needless to say, my opinion of Aparo's work has improved with adulthood, and I wouldn't mind going back over his Aquaman issues with a fresh eye.
Clarification Captain: when I say early I mean "pre-Mera." Things really pick up when she comes along, and then when Bob Haney starts writing the book soon after.
I didn't actually read Aquaman much as a kid, but I picked up a number of back issues over the years, and then collected the Showcase editions.
I wouldn't have read most of those pre-Mera issues "live," Fraser. I would have read them piecemeal as back issues that I picked up here and there over decades, out of order and discrete from the bigger picture. As a result, I have no opinion on them whatsoever!
I didn't realize Mera was such a late addition (issue #11). As a kid, I probably thought she'd appeared before and haven't thought about it since. But it's amazing to realize that there were decades of Aquaman stories without her, because she's what brought the strip to life. At least to me!
I was never that much of an aquaman fan, but you folks have got my curiosity up, so now I want to see some sort of omnibus too.
For what it's worth, I know that Sekowsky isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I've always loved his work. Does anyone know if his Supergirl stint has been reprinted in color in any format yet? (BTW I'm a proud owner of 2 pages of his original art, one Supergirl, one Wonder Woman).
You aren't missing much Captain. Like you, I think Mera is where the good stuff starts. She's one of the Silver Age's most capable female heroes, and the marriage/parenthood gave the Aquaman/Mera relationship a different feel than anyone else's.