A while back, I logged some week-to-week posts on DC’s digital reprint program through Comixology. It’s been a while, and their digital offerings have matured, so I thought I’d take another look at what they’re adding each week. Currently, they seem to be doing about 30 books a week. I might not list all the issue numbers going forward – if the 90s Superman titles continue moving forward at two of each a week, there’s not much value in listing each issue. But let’s take a look at this week’s, and let’s see where the patterns take us, shall we?
90s Superman: DC is following the 90s Superman titles (soon to be the 2000s Superman, as this week’s titles are from December 1999) pretty quickly, giving us 8 issues of the books every week. There’s a lot of material to get through, but that’s still an admirable clip. We may only have a few more weeks of this, judging by Action Comics (the one title of the bunch that doesn’t change its numbering and continues for a long while) – 761 is the most recent issue, and Action already seems to be in the digital library from 769 on. Superman, Adventures of Superman and Superman: Man of Steel have bigger gaps, though.
Action Comics 760, 761
Adventures of Superman 574, 575
Superman 152, 153
Man of Steel 95, 96
Arion: 11, 12
DC has been adding two issues of Arion: Lord of Atlantis a week for the last 6 weeks. There are 35 issues and a special, so there's a way to go before the series is completed.
DC Comics Presents: 75, 76
DCCP started out at a faster pace, but has been going two a week for a little while now. There are about 20 issues to go. Bonus: More Arion this week, in issue 75!
Guy Gardner: Warrior: 33
11 issues to go.
Huntress: 19, 4-issue 1994 series
We wrap up the Cavalieri/Staton ongoing that introduced Helena Bertinelli, and then power through a Chuck Dixon mini from 1994. Will Huntress return next week, or will we move on?
Justice League America (Bwa-ha-ha) 51, 52
This one has a ways to go before having everything available.
Four more issues till it’s all there!
Mister Miracle: 23-25
This wraps up the 70s run – Kirby and then Marshall Rogers, it’s all there! (I think DC also recently wrapped the 70s Return of the New Gods run, too.)
Superman (Bronze Age): 233
This is an interesting one. The Kryptonite Nevermore cover – I’m surprised it wasn’t available before this. Will DC continue from here? Their 70s Superman offerings on Comixology are paltry.
Wanderers: 7, 8
This 80s Legion spinoff ran 13 issues, so we’re almost there.
Wonder Woman (Silver Age): 130, 131
DC has been making silver age Wonder Woman stories available, probably wishing to expand their catalog in anticipation of the movie. At this point the silver age issues go from 112-131, with a couple of gaps.
Swamp Thing (Diggle/Dysart run): 25
4 more issues to go.
This Vertigo sci-fi series lasted 8 issues. I don’t remember it at all.
That’s a pretty exhaustive look at this week’s offerings. Next week, I’ll probably just note new additions (what will replace Mister Miracle? The '89 and '96 series have already been collected, so we might be in for something new. And there might be more Huntress comics that haven't been reprinted yet, but Comixology has a bunch of them listed already, and the Bat-universe is so sprawling it's tough to search), unexpected omissions, breaks from the patterns, and go forward from there.
And to make things easy to follow:
Week 2. (April 6, 2017)
Week 3 (April 13, 2017)
Week 4 (April 20, 2017)
Week 5 (April 27, 2017)
I should also note that it looks like there are only 3 issues of Action Comics before this run connects with what's previously available on Comixology...which takes us all the way up to the modern day. Why odern Action Comics has been so exhaustively archived while Superman/Adventures of Superman/Man of Steel from the same era have a couple years of holes is anybody's guess. Maybe after Emperor Joker the books branched off from each other, continuity wise, so DC could pick and choose what to republish? I know the Action run in question includes the Chuck Austin run and the Gail Simone run, neither of which really crossed over with the other books.
Regardless, the days of getting 8 Superman books in continuity lockstep every week are coming to an end.
Speaking of, whatever happened to Gail Simone?
She's been working on lower-profile books lately -- Clean Room, for one. I wouldn't be surprised if she takes over for Rucka on Wonder Woman, to be honest (after the interim arc by Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo). I've heard that she's got a big two book in the works.
The Schwartz Superman issues of the 70s often had back-up stories. I just found out from DC Wikia I should've checked for these when writing about the O'Neil issues. #233's back up was the first in the "Fabulous World of Krypton" series. It featured Jor-El and Lara, and was by E. Nelson Bridwell and Murphy Anderson. #234 had another instalment by Bridwell and Curt Swan, with inks by Swan (so the GCD tells me). #235's lead story was book length.
Comixology lists Henry Boltinoff in its credits for #233. He did DC's humour fillers.
Superman #236's lead story is by Denny O'Neil, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. It's unconnected to the Sand Superman storyline, and a lot like a Cary Bates story.
The back-up is another "Fabulous World of Krypton" one, by O'Neil and Dick Giordano. The GCD tells me Superman tells the story to Green Arrow and Black Canary.
Superman #237's story is a book-length one by O'Neil, Swan and Anderson. It has a strong dilemma plot and solution, and advances the Sand Superman storyline. The cover is misleading.
In the mid-70s Jim Shooter returned to DC and wrote Superman and Legion stories. Superboy [Starring the Legion of Super-Heroes] #223 and #224 were his last DC stories of the period. Their art is by Mike Grell and Bob Wiacek.
Superboy #223 is a Time Trapper story. It's like a mid-70s JLA tale. It's really a complete story, but it has a sequence introducing Pulsar Stargrave and his cronies.
In Superboy #224 Stargrave attacks the Legion. The issue explains who he is and ends with a shock reveal, but later creators took the character in a different direction.
Oh, wow -- I wonder if those Boltinoff fillers are included? I never even considered that they might be!
That's great info you're sharing about the 70s books, Luke -- thanks a lot! Back-up stories are one of my favorite things about old comics. I'm sorry they fell out of favor; they seem a really efficient way to keep the broader DCU in focus with characters who aren't necessarily up to carrying solo series for a long while (folks like Green Arrow and Hawkman back in the day, and people like Manhunter and Chronos and Young Heroes in Love now). Heck, even the Legion was kept alive with backups for years!
My pleasure. I tried to check whether the Henry Boltinoff page was included in the e-version of Superman #233 from it page count, but I can't tell as I don't know if the page count includes the cover. The listing says 23 pages. The lead and back-up story add up to 22 pages. The GCD says Henry Boltinoff's contribution was a Super-Turtle page that had been used before. (Is it just me, or is the #233 preview slightly blurry in places?)
DC Comics Presents #83 is listed as 24 pages. I can explain that as the story plus the cover but not the letters page or "Meanwhile" page. Arion, Lord of Atlantis #1 is listed as 23. That's the length of the story. Its cover is in the preview so it's presumably in the e-version. So apparently the counts sometimes count the covers and sometimes don't, unless there's some other explanation.
Justice League of America #113 is listed as 82. That could be the cover plus the contents page (!) plus the new story plus the Freedom Train item plus the JSA reprint plus the JLA reprint plus the three 0.33 page fillers (counting as one page).
The GCD says two of the 0.33 pagers were by Martin Naydel, and the remaining one by Boltinoff, but they're not listed as having contributed.
Julie Schwartz is listed as one of the writers! On the assumption he wrote the contents page, or the Freedom Train item? Or just by mistake? (Actually, he reportedly was a very hands-on editor. When editors co-plot and rewrite the dialogue they're really co-writers.)
Complicating things further, DC issues in the 60s often had stories or chapters end part-way down the page. The rest of the page might be taken up by a science item or a house ad. The GCD says the three chapters of the JLA reprint each ended in a two-thirds page. So what did #113 put in those spaces?
The original cover has images for the new story, the JSA reprint and the JLA reprint, and a banner at the bottom that says "Extra! The Story of the Freedom Train! Plus other fabulous features!" There were no other features, unless one counts the contents page, the 0.33 page fillers, whatever was in those chapter-end slots, and the two letters pages. To my surprise, the 60c price tag has been left on the e-cover, but the "Plus other fabulous features!" bit is missing.
Anyway, the three new issues of DC Comics Presents are #82-#85. I've not read #82, with Adam Strange. The GCD tells me it was written by Cary Bates, who had written two JLA two-parters using Adam in the 70s.
#83 with Batman and the Outsiders was written by their title's writer, Mike W. Barr. Jim Aparo did the cover, but the interior art was by Irv Novick and Dave Hunt. I used to have it, and I hardly remember it. I know I thought it very ordinary. DC Comics Presents stories ranged from terrific to mediocre. (Some issues had "Whatever Happened to...?" back-ups, but these issues are from a later period.)
I’ve not read #84, with the Challengers. Kirby drew the cover and part of the story. His late work had a cartoony look. The script was by Bob Rozakis. The story incorporates pages Alex Toth drew for an unused Challengers story which the GCD tells me was intended for Adventure Comics #498.
Arion's feature first appeared in the back-up slots of Warlord #55-#62. The stories were done by the same creative team as the opening issues of his series, Paul Kupperberg and Jan Duursema. Currently Comixology only has two issues of Warlord from much later, from a period when Mike Grell wasn't involved. Apparently they're there because they were Legends crossovers.
(1) The Legion began to be co-billed on the covers of Superboy with #197. At that point Legion back-up stories had been appearing in the title off and on for awhile. However, the indicia title remained Superboy to #230.
From #231-#258 it was Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes. Note the ampersand. The covers had “and”, from #222.
In #259 Superboy left and the title became The Legion of Super-Heroes.
The GCD galleries the issues separately, by indicia title. Its search engine doesn’t currently equate “&” and “and”, so a Series Name search for "Superboy and the Legion" doesn't bring Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes up.
(2) From #231-237, #239-#242 Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes was a 60c giant with 34 story pages. Justice League of America was also published at this price and size in the period. #238 was an even larger reprint issue with a wraparound cover by Jim Starlin.
From #243-#245 the title went to the short-lived DC Explosion size, 25 pages for 50c. From #246 it went to 40c, but the GCD tells me at first it still carried more story pages than the standard 17 except in #248. Beginning with #252 it regularly went to the 17 size. It stayed that way through the title change until #267, when it and the rest of DC’s line went to 50c with extra pages.
(3) The first title named for the Legion was a reprint title called Legion of Super-Heroes from 1972-73.
There were two Legion tabloids. Limited Collectors' Edition #C-49 contained reprints. All-New Collectors' Edition #C-55 had an original story by Paul Levitz, Mike Grell and Vince Colletta, and featured the wedding of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl.
A history-of-the-Legion mini called Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes appeared in 1980. This is where Chameleon Boy was revealed to be R. J. Brande's son.
(4) I got mixed up above and reviewed Superboy #224, which isn’t at Comixology yet; so here’s a few notes on the other issues that are:
Lead Superboy story by Cary Bates, Bob Brown and Murphy Anderson. A blind teen assists Superboy.
Backup LSH story by Bates, Dave Cockrum and Murphy Anderson. Wildfire’s introduction under the name ERG-1.
Story by Bates and Cockrum. The wedding of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel. This was the first Legion wedding. It was a fulfilment of one of the “prophecies” from Adventure Comics #354. The couple began dating later, in Action Comics #380. Comixology’s preview of this issue is B&W, so the e-version might be too. I've not read this one.
Lead story by Bates, Mike Grell and Bob Wiacek. Bates’s last LSH story. The third appearance of Tyroc. He debuted in #216 and joined the Legion in #218. Those stories were by Bates and Grell too. After this one he was hardly used for a couple of years. Then he was written out.
Back-up story by Jim Shooter, Michael Netzer (Mike Nasser) and Bob Layton. A group of Legionnaires meets a superhero called Questar who’s famous all over the galaxy. Interesting for Superboy’s attitude at the end.
Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #237
Story by Paul Levitz, Walt Simonson (!) and Jack Abel. A criminal seizes R. J. Brande and blackmails the Legion into going on missions for him. I remember reading this one as a kid. The preview indicates Abel’s inks overwhelmed Simonson’s style.
Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #239
Plot and pencils by Jim Starlin. Dialogue and co-plot by Paul Levitz. Inks by Joe Rubinstein. Ultra-Boy is framed for murder, and forced to fight the Legion. The Ultra-Boy vs the Legion plot recalls Adventure Comics #316. Starlin handles his version well. A mystery is left hanging at the end. Starlin’s sequel resolving it appeared in #250-#251.
Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #241-#245
These issues featured Paul Levitz’s Earthwar saga. The story interweaves a mystery plot involving a galactic peace conference at Weber’s World with an invasion of Earth by the Khunds. My impression is the story made a big impression at the time. I’ve never thought it so hot, but I read the parts out of order. The instalments from #241 and #242 were drawn by James Sherman and Bob McLeod, and look terrific. The remaining parts were pencilled by Joe Staton and inked by Jack Abel (#243), Joe Giella (#244) and Murphy Anderson (#245), and don’t. This was where Shvaughn Erin first appeared, but she didn't become the Legion's Science Police liaison until the Levitz/Giffen era.
#241 and #242 also had back-up stories. The GCD tells me these were by Levitz (plot), Paul Kupperberg, Arvell Jones, and Danny Bulanadi. I think I’ve read #242’s but too long ago to comment.
Let’s start with the Modern Superman books: For some reason (probably an oversight), we’re missing two issues of Adventures of Superman this week, so we only get 6 issues of Modern Superman: 2 of Action, 2 of Superman, 2 of Man of Steel. And for some reason (again, probably an oversight), Superman 157 is skipped this week after being left off last week’s list – we just go right into 158 and 159, taking us to Emperor Joker, which already exists on Comixology.
The 70s Superman clocks in with 4 issues this time: 238, and 240-242. (239 was an all-reprint issue, and is probably intentionally omitted.) I’m not sure if the reprint backups are included in these issues. Strangely enough, the listing for issue 242 (which had 3 stories) only includes the original backup and the reprint, leaving out mention of the title of the lead story. I’m sure that’s a mistake.
Among the regulars, we’ve got two more issues of Arion, 3 more of DC Comics Presents (jumping over issues that already are in the system; this week reprints Alan Moore's classic Superman/Swamp Thing team-up, "The Jungle Line"), another issue of Manhunter (just 1 more left), Guy Gardner: Warrior (8 issues left), 2 more issues of Justice League America (which I just realized is in the midst of the Breakdowns crossover with Justice League Europe – but I doubt DC has a lot of appetite for reprinting those JLE issues, since they’re co-written by Gerard Jones, who's currently facing serious criminal charges), and 4 more issues of the Silver Age Wonder Woman. Plus, on the Vertigo side, there are the final issues of Trigger and Fight For Tomorrow.
New to the listings are 3 Batman singles – Batman Villains Secret Files and Origins 2005, The Batman Gallery 1, and Legends of the Dark Knight Annual 5. (I don't think any other LODK annuals have been put on Comixology yet; there were 7 published) Also, Legion-wise, there’s the 5-issue Timber Wolf miniseries in its entirety.
And that’s it! Next week: Manhunter should wrap up. Will Swamp Thing return? What Vertigo title will replace Trigger? Will there be another Legends of the Dark Knight Annual? Another piece of Legion esoterica, or more from the main series? And will DC correct its recent Modern Superman blunders, and how will it move forward with that line?
Luke, I read Earthwar at the time it was published -- it was one of my earliest introductions to the Legion. I remember being really wowed by it -- it was the first story I read that really had the Legion on the ropes, with all of its resources -- Subs and all! -- on the ropes. The idea that it was up to the retired members to save the day, when all else had failed, really had me on the edge of my seat.
It never quite stuck the landing -- Mordru was cool, but his being behind it all also seemed something of a cop-out -- but the suspense between issues 3 and 4, particularly, really blew me away.
I think Earthwar primed me for the big, sweeping Legion epics I've always loved -- The Great Darkness, The big Legion of Super-Villains story, and The Universo Project, and even the 5 Years Later stories.
One other thing about Justice League America: The Breakdowns storyline marks the end of the Bwa-Ha-Ha era. Next comes a run by Dan Jurgens (which crosses over with the Death of Superman, and also includes the nifty Destiny's Hand 4-parter). With issue 77, the run is taken over by Dan Vado on scripts. Some of the Vado issues are already online. Then, with the Zero Hour issue (published after 92), Gerard Jones took over...and he saw the team through to the end of this series, at issue 113.
There might also be some Bwa-Ha-Ha era annuals left to republish. All 17 issues of Justice League Quarterly are already available.
I'd guess that we're about to venture into the Jurgens run. I'm not sure if we'll go much further for a while, but they might decide to burn off the remaining Vado issues, at least -- there are less than 10 of them unpublished by Comixology at the moment.
#238, #240-#242 conclude the Sand Superman story. In #238 Superman's loss of power starts severely interfering with his missions. The final issues are closely connected.
#240's cover is another misleading one. The issue has rare Superman inks by Dick Giordano. His approach was more like Bob Oksner's, and it's a nice combination.
I Ching from Wonder Woman appears from #240. Diana appears in #241-#242, but this was while she had no powers and I Ching plays the bigger role in the story.
The back-up stories in #238, #240 are more "Fabulous World of Krypton" ones. #238's is silly. I don't know the other one.
Rob Staeger said:
Luke, I read Earthwar at the time it was published -- it was one of my earliest introductions to the Legion. I remember being really wowed by it... It never quite stuck the landing... but the suspense between issues 3 and 4, particularly, really blew me away.
I think I read the final part first. I very much like the copy on the cover of #243: "In a far-flung galaxy, the Legion battles to save the universe! ...But only the Substitute Heroes can save...Earth!"
Creators sometimes recreate moments that had a big impact on them. It's my guess the reveal at the climax of #244 was modelled after the end of Adventure Comics #369.