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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Welcome, Dennis! We're glad you're here!

Part of the difference in page count -- in the initial offerings, at least -- is the DC already has modern files of all their already-Archived comics. So it doesn't cost a lot to print them again -- or at least, not nearly as much as it did to clean them up and reprint them the first time. 

One solution to the overlap will almost certainly be digital copies of the various comics that are missing from the format change (if you don't want to pay for duplicates). DC may reprint the individual issues on Comixology (and in some cases, they already have), but there's also the Golden Age TPBs that John mentions -- while the Ombibuses are not available digitally, the trade paperbacks are. And when a big sale rolls around, they're often available for $4.99. Sure, they're not on paper...but they're a very economical way to fill a hole in your collection until you stumble upon an Omnibus at a price cheap enough to buy it just for the stories you're missing. 

While I think hardcovers are a superior format, when it comes to spending dollars and cents in the moment, I tend to be a bit frugal.  That means I have tons of Marvel Essentials and DC Showcase Presents black and white collections, for instance, and I love Marvel's Epic Collections and the TPB versions of the Omnibus editions.

I think there's a few reasons why DC is so hodge podge.  There's so much more history; they have about 25 years on the modern Marvel Universe.  Marvel tends to collect storylines much more than themed collections like "Greatest _____ Ever Told" while DC does a lot of "Best Of" and similar collections.  There are Superman TPBs, for example, that are focused on the Daily Planet, the Fortress of Solitude, Lex Luthor, and Brainiac.  Spider-Man, on the other hand, doesn't have any collections (to the best of my knowledge) centered on the Daily Bugle or even any of his foes like the Green Goblin.

(Aside: I think Marvel should collect all of the original Green Goblin's appearances from his debut in ASM #14 to his death in ASM #122, I think it would do very well.)

In my view, DC tends to be more cautious and not get behind the various formats as fully as Marvel does, or at least as fully as I might like them to do.  The DC Archives series wound down about five years ago, and had been really slow in output for the last few years of the program; meanwhile Marvel Masterworks is still going strong.  The Essential Marvel black and white format was almost 10 years old when DC introduced their version (Showcase Presents) and not only did Marvel far outdo DC in quantity, the major Marvel series were fully collected from the beginning through to the early 1980's.  Meanwhile, most of the collections of the major DC series stalled in the 1960's, although a few made it to the early 1970's.  For one example, Superman got four volumes, covering 1958-1964, with the last one coming out in 2008.  Showcase Presents went on until 2016, and as a Superman fan, it was frustrating no more volumes were released.  There's a lot of Superman stories that have never been reprinted from 1964-1986, heck, there's a ton of DC from the mid to late '60s up to Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986 that remains uncollected.  And the Archive series didn't even go as far as Showcase did in most cases, the LSH being a notable exception.

But the Omnibus line gives me hope.  For instance, take Justice League of America.  There were 10 Archive volumes - spanning 22 years (!) - collecting up to #93.  There were 6 Showcase Presents volumes -released between 2005 and 2013 - that stopped at #132.  By contrast, the JLA Omnibus editions started in 2014, there were 2 Silver Age editions that collected up to JLA #76 and the first Bronze Age edition collected JLA #77-113.  There will be a 2nd Bronze Age in March that will collect JLA #114-146, so in a few months there will be more issues of JLA collected consecutively than ever before, and it happened in four years.  Also, as i said previously, 3 TPBs that together collect the contents of the first Silver Age Omnibus.

That Green Goblin collection sounds like a great idea, John!

I've always wanted to see an "Injustice Society" collection, featuring the non-All-Star Comics adventures of villains like Vandal Savage, Harlequin, Huntress, Icicle, Sportsmaster, Solomon Grundy, and let's throw in the Shade & the Golden Age Dr. Light, just for the heck of it.  Most of DC's "name" Golden Age villains (except for Batman & Wonder Woman's rogues) didn't appear until after the War, and most have never been reprinted outside of their encounters with the JSA.

That's a great idea. They could fit a lot of them in as quite a number of them only appeared a few times, although there are exceptions. (The same is true of Batman villains.)

villains in the first IS story, from All-Star Comics #37

the Wizard - 1 vs the JSA solo; 2 as a member of the IS

Per Degaton - 1 vs the JSA solo; 1 as a member of the IS

the Gambler - 5 vs GL; 1 as a member of the IS

the Thinker - 6 vs the Flash (incl. 2 multi-chapter stories from All-Flash); 1 as a member of the IS

the Brain Wave - 3 vs the JSA solo; 1 as a member of the IS

Vandal Savage - 1 vs GL (26 pages); 1 as a member of the IS

villains in the second IS story, from All-Star Comics #41

the Wizard - see above

the Icicle - 2 vs GL; 1 as a member of the IS

the Fiddler - 3 vs the Flash; 1 as a member of the IS

the Sportsmaster - 3 vs GL (1st time as Crusher Crock); 1 as a member of the IS

the Huntress - 6 vs Wildcat; 1 more vs Wildcat in inventory story printed in 1971; 1 as member of the IS

the Harlequin - 12 (!) vs GL; 1 as a member of the ISmore in GL stories as Molly Mayne

others

Solomon Grundy - 3 vs GL; 1 vs the JSA solo

the Shade - 1 vs the Flash

the Rag Doll - 1 vs the Flash

the Mist - 2 vs Starman

the Monocle - 1 vs Hawkman (there were two Monocles; this is the one from the SSoSV story in Justice League of America #195-#198; the other 1 vs the Flash)

Golden Age Dr Light - 3 vs Dr Mid-Nite

Golden Age Star Sapphire - 2 vs the Flash

the Golden Age Thorn - 2 vs the Flash; also a partly- or wholly-surviving inventory story

the Golden Age Psycho-Pirate - 2 vs the JSA solo; also the partly-surviving unused "The Will of William Wilson"

the Golden Age Key - 1 vs the JSA solo

the Golden Age Turtle - 3 vs the Flash

the Golden Age Cheetah - 5 vs WW (counting the stories from Wonder Woman #6 separately); 2 more vs WW in inventory stories printed in 1969 and 1971; 1 more vs WW as member of Villainy, Inc.; the Wonder Woman newspaper strip also had a Cheetah story

there was also a Golden Age Queen Bee, who had at least 5 bouts against Mr America

also three Golden Age Pied Pipers; the first fought Mr America once; the second Hawkman once; the third Batman once (the last story was titled "The Pied Piper of Peril!", like the first appearance of the Silver Age Flash villain; the Mr America story was "The Pied Piper of Doom".)

the Prankster had an apprentice/rival called the Trickster in a story in Superman #69

sources: DCUGuide.com ; The Comics Archives (which deserves a particular hat-tip for the Turtle and the Cheetah); DC Indexes; the GCD

Great research Luke -- and indicative of why those kinds of collections are as needful as fun. If you wanted to research, say, the Golden Age Thinker to compare him to the version on The Flash, it would be so much easier with an omnibus!

I had no idea that the Harlequin had appeared in so many stories, or even that Molly had appeared in stories in which she never appeared in costume--it makes sense that Alan's secretary would be a consistent figure at least in the background of the stories, but it still seems unusual for her to get panel time in a story where her alter ego plays no role.

Am I the only one that would like to see reprints of complete GA books like More Fun or Adventure with all of the second rate characters?

DC has done them a bit (e.g. The DC Comics Rarities Archives), and it's now doing e-versions of Golden Age titles. It recently did a number of issues of Comic Cavalcade.

I've not started buying the e-versions, and recommend caution. The page counts show some of DC's Golden Age issues are lead story only, but as far as I can tell other issues are complete. The page count seems to be a more reliable indicator of what's included in the e-version than the creators list.

Captain Comics said:

Great research Luke -- and indicative of why those kinds of collections are as needful as fun.

Thanks for the kind words. Another one I might've mentioned is the Ghost, who had 5 bouts against Hawkman. Mr America's Queen Bee was a non-costumed lady crime boss.

Dave Elyea said:

I had no idea that the Harlequin had appeared in so many stories

Even DCUGuide's list is missing one ("Partners in Peril" from All-American Comics #94).This page on the Golden Age strip's final years describes several of the stories. Three appeared together in Green Lantern #29.

It's hard to believe that DC hasn't collected all the Solomon Grundy stories from the 40s to the 80s. Granted there's a full-length issue of All Star Comics, two JLA/JSA team-ups and the first four-part All Star Squadron involved but maybe two volumes!

The Ghost would be an interesting volume as well. For better sales, add his two Batman issues.

Superman had some weird one-off villains in the Golden Age to go with Luthor and the "Pest Brigade" of the Toyman, Prankster and the Puzzler.

Besides the "Big Four" Bat-Foes (Joker, Penguin, Catwoman and Two-Face), there were two Scarecrow stories, two Clayface, two Riddler and four Cavalier!

 - Suicide Squad: The Silver Age Vol 1 TPB came out this past Wednesday, Jan. 3.  It collects Brave and Bold #25-27 and 37-39, plus Star Spangled War Stories #110-111, 116-121, 125, 127 and 128.

The Brave and the Bold stories featured Task Force X. The Star Spangled War Stories tales are "War That Time Forgot" ones with recurring characters. (The name was first used by a pulp series that appeared in Ace G-Man Stories.)

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