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 vote for that one. I loved the Bronze Age JLA Omnibus and would snap up any follow up!
 
John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:

Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

I bought the first Justice League Bronze Age Omnibus from In-Stock Trades. It was 50% off. I haven't read it yet, but I do love the Bronze Age of comics.

Ditto for me.  I'm tempted to get this one - heck, all of the Bronze Age stuff being offered so far!  I would love to see a second JLA Bronze Age Omnibus, which would hopefully include Steve Englehart's run (# 139-146, 149, 150), almost all of which is uncollected in any form.

As someone who really hasn't read much by way of the Golden Age or the Silver Age (from lack of interest, frankly), it feels like both of those have been reprinted about a half dozen times already. I really wish they would focus on the Bronze Age for reasons others have stated.

I prefer the “omnibus” format to the “archive” format. In a perfect world, I would have collected all of DC’s Golden, Silver and Bronze Age material in that format. Unfortunately, I have very nearly every DC Archive, and my preference would be not to duplicate in omnibus material I already own in archive. That’s worked out pretty well so far. I have not yet had to buy any Golden Age Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman because, so far, all of the GA omnibuses have been duplications. When they “catch up” to where the archives left off, I will begin buying the omnibuses.

It’s not all that cut and dried though; there is a lot of overlap. For example, the Bronze Age JLA picks up midway through the ninth archive, and the tenth is entirely duplicated. But there’s so much included beyond where the tenth archive left off, I can’t not buy it.

Similarly, the second volume of the Silver Age Flash Omnibus dupes the last two archives, but it also contains enough material for the equivalent of another archive beyond that. I decided to buy the omnibus and offer the two duplicate volumes for sale here (one of which I sold to Rob).

Similar situations have arisen with Supergirl and the Teen Titans. There were two Supergirl archives, both of which I owned, but the Supergirl omnibus goes far beyond where the archive left off. I have already traded the soon-to-be duplicated Supergirl and Teen Titans archives to my LCS for store credit to apply to the omnibuses. Similarly (again), the upcoming Adam Strange omnibus offers much more material beyond where the third archive left off. I offered them for sale here, but no takers. In this case, my LCS didn’t offer me enough in trade to make it worth my while so, for the time being anyway, I’m stuck with them.

The (let’s see, is it four of five?) Doom Patrol archive editions are contained in a single DP omnibus. I would frankly prefer the single-volume omnibus, but I already have the series in its entirety so I’m just going to live with that one. The complete Suicide Squad is available in a single omnibus, and luckily there is no archive duplication there. I’m currently working my way through the Bronze Age Brave & Bold Omnibus, so look for posts to the “What comics did you read today?” discussion in the days to come.

I have the bronze age JLA (and all the archives) and enjoyed most of it. The Mike Freidrich issues weren't the best (IMHO). I am looking forward to the next one. I am waiting for the golden age Batman and Superman books to catch up with the archives, then I'll start buying them. I am thinking about the Flash and Supergirl books (waiting for the "right" price), but have pr-ordered the Batgirl book.

I'm not picky about format, but I would like to be consistent. I'm collector enough that it bothers me that I have some sets of Masterworks with three different cover treatments.

It bothers me that Batman and Detective (and World's Finest) were being Archived separately, Action and Superman (and World's Finest) were being archived separately, but Wonder Woman and Sensation (and Comics Cavalcade) were Archived together and chronologically (as God intended).

And now, evidently, I'm going to have to start collecting an entirely different format. Boo.

Jeff, thanks for the info on what's being duplicated and what's new. I'll be sure to reference your post when visiting Amazon.

Other Jeff (Sensei), I feel your pain. I have virtually all Bronze Age material from the Big Two, but I realize that I'm a minority. Your generation deserves attention just as much as mine. But the problem with reprinting Bronze Age and later is economic, as you probably know. As DC discovered when it published the New Teen Titans Archive Vol. 1, fans quickly figured out that it was cheaper to buy the individual back issues -- and DC (and retailers) were stuck with an expensive book they couldn't sell (although the New Teen Titans back stock moved sharply).

My LCS owner says that they really have no use for collections after 1975 -- the books don't sell very well, and they don't sell for much. They pretty much stick to buying pre-1975 comics, and selling them on the Internet.

That's why DC stopped publishing the Legion Archives when they reached 1980 or so -- even that rabid fan base wasn't going to buy $50 hardbacks when they could buy the individual issues for half that at mycomicshop.com. (Which I recommend.)

I suspect economics is the reason for the shift to Omnibus as well. It's the $1,000 glass of lemonade theory: If you open a lemonade stand and charge $1,000 per glass, you only have to sell one to make all your costs back. I'm guessing that there are fewer people willing to buy Omniboo, but the publisher doesn't need to sell as many to make a profit. They only have to count on, say, 100 rabid fans out there, instead of 1,000.

Anyway, I'm one of the fans who don't buy Bronze Age Archives -- and not because I already own the books. God knows I often own all the books when I buy a Silver Age collection. I just have no compelling need for them. They're not usually "historic" (and therefore something I will refer to often), the originals are still in good enough shape that I can pull them out of sleeves to look something up, and if I'm missing a given book somehow, I can get it cheap.

Finally -- and I'm sorry to say this -- I don't find Bronze Age any better than you find Silver Age. For the most part, Bronze Age books were written by the second generation, who often slavishly followed the patterns and tropes set up by Stan Lee, Gardner Fox and other first-gen writers. Reading a story where the writer was carefully coloring within the lines was like squinting at a xerox of a xerox -- and isn't very interesting. It was during the Bronze Age that I almost stopped reading comics, until the indies (First, Comico, etc.) kick-started experimentation and originality. (I almost stopped again in the '90s, but that's another story.)

Anyway, we all have our interests and preferences. And I hope, for your sake, that the Omniboo make reprinting Bronze Age profitable. We all deserve our ice cream!



Captain Comics said:

 As DC discovered when it published the New Teen Titans Archive Vol. 1, fans quickly figured out that it was cheaper to buy the individual back issues -- and DC (and retailers) were stuck with an expensive book they couldn't sell (although the New Teen Titans back stock moved sharply).

My LCS owner says that they really have no use for collections after 1975 -- the books don't sell very well, and they don't sell for much. They pretty much stick to buying pre-1975 comics, and selling them on the Internet.


I think that's the heart of the problem. There is a big back issue store in San Diego that has tons of Bronze Age comics. The owner doesn't even bother to bag and board them a lot of times. He has a huge warehouse with a section devoted to tons of long boxes full of 70s and 80s comics. He doesn't even bother to grade or price them, just sells them all for a dollar each or 12 for $10. He has a seperate section of the store where he keeps Golden and Silver Age books all carefully graded and bagged in mylar.

I think the move to digital comics is helping with this a little bit though. A digitized version of a Bronze Age comic is an upgrade from a paper copy in many ways. Some publishers were using cheap plastic printing plates in the 70s that made the art look much worse. Thin lines in the artwork became wavy and distorted during the printing process. The digital comics are often sourced from the original art and look a lot better. We may not see a Bronze Age title collected into a digital omnibus but eventually we may see all of the individual issues digitized and made available for purchase.

Snagged this image comparison off the DC Archives message board (click to enlarge the full page image):

I think there's a certain segment of the comics-reading public that's either tired of slugging through their longboxes for issues they own, or not interested in a years-long search for cheap Bronze Age comics, that will probably be happy to buy an Omnibus for their shelf. (Or possibly their tablet.) $100 is a really steep price, though -- but is it so much steeper than the $50 that Archive Editions cost for most of their run? Comics generally cost twice as much as they did in the '90s, so a book that collects more than three times the amount of issues as the Archives, at twice the price, is definitely a bargain -- but even when you do that math, the $100 price tag is a psychological hurdle. 

I suspect that what will happen with me is what happened with the Archives: I'll find one on sale for a really cheap price and buy it. Then when I read it, I'll discover that I like the format...and start to give myself leeway to buying them at higher prices (though never at full price; I think the most I've ever paid for an Archive has been $30 or so, maybe a bit more for those $75 volumes).

The LSH Omnibus, due out in August, collects the contents of the first 3 Archives.

See, now you're just TEMPTIN' me!

A new collection, Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes (solicited for June 21 release), picks up where LSH Archives left off (more or less... I think it skips two or three issues).

One of the things I love about the Archives/Masterworks is something the Omniboo have in spades, and that's putting disparate books in chronological orders so that, for example, you can see exactly when every Legionnaire joined up, and in what order. That's not so easy when you're researching individual issues or even title-driven collections when important events happen across a group of titles, like the Weisinger Super-books. I bought the Elongated Man and Batgirl collections for exactly that reason -- I owned all the books contained in the collections, but if I wanted to see when Elongated Man's costume changed or when Babs gained a particular piece of equipment, it's easier to research when someone else has collected all the titles and put them in order for me. Can't wait to get the GA Superman Omniboo, and find out when Luthor lost his hair -- and gained a first name! (jk, I already know.)

John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:

The LSH Omnibus, due out in August, collects the contents of the first 3 Archives.

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