DC's Omnibus line - Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age collections

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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UPCOMING RELEASES

Green Lantern: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol 2 comes out Mar 28, collecting Green Lantern #36-75.

Hawk and Dove: The Silver Age TPB comes out Mar 28collecting Showcase #75, Hawk and Dove #1-6, and Teen Titans #21.

Batman: The Dark Knight Detective TPB comes out Apr 4, collecting 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 comes out Apr 4, collecting The Flash #133-147.

Green Lantern: The Silver Age TPB Vol 3 comes out Apr 18, collecting Green Lantern #23-35.

Supergirl: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol 2 comes out May 16, collecting stories from Action Comics #308-333, #335-340, #342, #344-346, #348-350, #353-354, #356-359, #361-372 and #374-376.

Superman: The Golden Age TPB Vol 4 comes out May 23, collecting Action Comics #41-47, Superman #12-15, and stories from World's Finest Comics #3-5.

Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol 5 comes out May 30, collecting Detective Comics #113-132, Batman #35-45, and stories from World's Finest #23-32.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow: Hard Travelling Heroes Deluxe HC comes out June 6, collecting Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76-87 and 89, and stories from The Flash #217-219 and 226.

Legion of Super-Heroes: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol 2 comes out June 20, collecting Adventure Comics #329-360 and Superboy #124-125.

Justice League of America: The Silver Age Vol 4 comes out July 11, collecting JLA 31-41.

Doom Patrol: The Silver Age TPB Vol 1 comes out July 25, collecting My Greatest Adventure #80-85 and Doom Patrol #86-95.

Flash: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol 3 comes out in July, collecting The Flash #164-199.

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 comes out in July, collecting Superboy and the LSH #241-258 and DC Comics Presents #13-14.

Legion of Super-Heroes TPB Vol 1 comes out in August, collecting Adventure #247, 267, 282, 290, 293 and 300-310, Action #267, 276, 287 and 289, Superboy #86, 89, and 98, and Superman #147.

Supergirl: The Silver Age TPB Vol 2 comes out in August, collecting Supergirl stories from Action #285-307.

Batman:The Brave and the Bold Bronze Age Omnibus Vol 2 comes out in Sept., collecting The Brave and the Bold #110-156.

Any guesses why no Aquaman, Atom or Hawkman volumes?

No unexpected guesses. The characters are less popular, and I'm not sure if they have enough pre-existing already-reprinted material for any of them to do an omnibus volume without further restoration on Silver Age issues, making the volumes more costly to produce.

I agree with Rob that these three are less popular than most of the others who have gotten the Omnibus treatment thus far.  It's a shame really, as there's great artists associated with these characters in the Silver Age:  Ramona Fradon, Nick Cardy, and Jim Aparo on Aquaman, Gil Kane on Atom, and Joe Kubert and Murphy Anderson on Hawkman.  Plus Gardner Fox wrote a lot of those Atom and Hawkman stories.

However, I wouldn't be that surprised if they do produce an Aquaman Omnibus at some point.  Aquaman only got one Archive, in 2003, and three black and white Showcase Presents collections.  But since then, Aquaman has had some things going for him.  He's had an ongoing series since the New 52 launched in 2011, and he also made the cut under DC Rebirth.  Geoff Johns wrote the first 25 issues of his New 52 series, which raised his profile considerably.  Plus the character has been featured in DCU movies Batman vs Superman and Justice League, and gets his own movie later this year.

The Aquaman Archive reprinted stories from Adventure Comics #260-280 and 282, plus Showcase #30 and 31.  The stories from Adventure were mainly 6 or 7 pages, and Fradon did the art on all of them.  The three Showcases collect what was in the Archive plus Showcase #32 and 33, the first 39 issues of the 1962 Aquaman series, Aquaman backup stories from Adventure #284, Detective #293-300 and World's Finest #125-133, 135, 137, and 139; Brave and Bold #51 (Aquaman/Hawkman team-up) and #73 (Aquaman/Atom team-up), a story from Lois Lane #12 ("The Mermaid from Metropolis"), a Green Arrow story from Adventure #267 ("The Underwater Archers"), stories from Jimmy Olsen #55 ("The Monster that loved Aqua-Jimmy") and #115 ("Survival of the Fittest").

Does anyone know if it's a costly process to take the black and white reprints from Showcase Presents and colorize them for an Omnibus?

The heavy-lifting part of reprinting an issue seems to be getting a usable B&W version of the art. As far as I know the expensive part of reprinting an issue in colour is the money the printer charges for printing in colour.

 

Before computers the colourist did a colour guide and indicated the percentages of each colour to be used, and the printer prepared colour plates for each primary colour. Today the colourist colours an e-version of the issue on a computer. I would guess the printer is provided with e-copies of the issue rather than physical art.

I think that today the digital coloring process would be a lot less labor-intensive. They just have to stick with the simpler color palette that was in use in the Silver Age for authenticity.

The two volumes each that DC published of the Atom and Hawkman Archives only cover their Showcase issues through Atom #13 and Hawkman #8. That's a lot of unpublished (and probably undigitized) material. They may be guided by how well these four Archives sold at the time. I bought them years later at a discount, another indication they were less than popular.  

Titles like these two weren't all that popular when they originally came out, and I suspect that 50 years later there is even less interest. There's likely a hard core group, like, I suspect many of us here, but probably not enough to justify printing costs. I read them when they first came out as comics, and like Richard above, I only bought the reprints because I got them at such a low price. Hawkman surprised me a bit on rereading as it showed a "mature" marriage, and had a tad more continuity than most comics from that period. The Kubert art was stunning as always, but I've never been a big fan of Anderson (perhaps this is sacrilege).

The two volumes of Showcase Presents: The Atom collects his tryout in Showcase #34-36, The Atom #1-38 and The Atom and Hawkman #45.  Hawkman also has 2 SP volumes collecting his stories from Brave and the Bold #34-36 and 42-44, his guest appearances in The Atom #7 and 31, his stories in Mystery in Space #87-91 (#90 is a full-length team-up with his MIS co-feature star Adam Strange; the others are solo Hawkman stories), his team-up with Aquaman and Batman respectively in Brave and the Bold #51 and 70, Hawkman #1-27 and The Atom and Hawkman #39-45.  As far as I know those are the only reprints of Hawkman #9-27, The Atom #14-38 and The Atom and Hawkman #39-45.

DC may be gun shy to do collections based on the sale of the Archives as you said.  However, Supergirl only got two Archives, as did the Silver Age Teen Titans, and they are both getting Omnibus treatment with subsequent TPB collections.  Perhaps they might do collections like Adam Strange, who got a Silver Age TPB in 2016 and an Omnibus in 2017. 

Also, I'll note Hawk and Dove get their own Silver Age TPB this month, and I am skeptical they are more popular than Aquaman, Atom, or Hawkman.  They had a six issue series in the late 1960's and I don't think issues 4, 5, and 6 have ever been reprinted.  They joined the Teen Titans shortly after their series was cancelled and stuck around for a year (TT 25-31); they didn't appear anywhere for almost seven years when they reappeared again in Teen Titans and were part of the short lived Titans West group (TT 50-52).  They appeared in Showcase #100 along with a cast of dozens (along with everyone who had ever headlined Showcase); Brave and the Bold #181 (a story that aged them in real time from their debut in the late 1960's to 1981, meant to be the finale of their story), and then they had a cameo in New Teen Titans #50 (Donna and Terry's wedding) which retconned the B & B story as a joke (because DC realized the real-time aging of Hank and Don Hall would affect the other Titans.  Don Hall, the Dove, died in COIE, and stayed dead, although there have been a number of other Doves since. 

Richard Willis said:

I think that today the digital coloring process would be a lot less labor-intensive. They just have to stick with the simpler color palette that was in use in the Silver Age for authenticity.

The two volumes each that DC published of the Atom and Hawkman Archives only cover their Showcase issues through Atom #13 and Hawkman #8. That's a lot of unpublished (and probably undigitized) material. They may be guided by how well these four Archives sold at the time. I bought them years later at a discount, another indication they were less than popular.  

For anyone who has read the Aquaman, Atom, or Hawkman Archives, Showcase Presents, or the original series, what did you think of these stories?  I haven't read any of them but I like all of the artists involved that I mentioned a few posts above, and I've looked at the covers of the original series online and I think they're brilliant and gorgeous in most cases.

John, based on what you said, it sounds like they have all the Atom and Hawkman stuff digitized at least in B&W. I forgot that the Mystery in Space stories were also included in the Hawkman archives. The Adam Strange Silver Age TPB was ordered by me on Amazon and supposedly is still coming at some point.

In Hawkman the Hawks were a happily-married couple, like Nick and Nora Charles. Hawkgirl was capable and knowledgeable like Hawkman, and they fought as partners. 

Fox wrote the series much like Justice League of America. The stories were plot-driven, often involved SF, and had elaborate action sequences. Anderson's art was clear and precise.

Hawkman was serious and professional. (Hawkgirl was a bit more playful.) Thanagar was a standard techno-utopia rather than an alien society, and not all that much was seen of it. (The idea that Thanagar has a militarist society stems from the 1980s.)

Schwartz, Fox and Anderson left the feature after #21. #22 is a weak Bob Haney story. I've not read the subsequent issues. The feature was overseen by Schwartz again when it appeared in The Atom and Hawkman, but I've not read those stories either.

The upshot is the feature concept wasn't put together adequately, so Hawkman was not all that compelling a hero. But the Fox/Anderson stories are classy.

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