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.

Manhunter: 34

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.

Trigger: 5

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)

Week 6 (May 4, 2017)

Week 7 (May 11, 2017)

Week 8 (May 18, 2017)

Week 9 (May 25, 2017)

Week 10 (June 1, 2017) -- All the golden age Wonder Woman goodness!

Week 11 (June 8, 2017)

Week 12 (June 15, 2017)

Week 13 (June 22, 2017)

Week 14 (June 29, 2017)

Week 15 (July 6, 2017)

Week 16 (July 13, 2017) -- Our Worlds at War! Underworld Unleashed!

Week 17 (July 20, 2017) -- The Great Ten! More Wonder Woman!

Week 18 (July 27, 2017) -- Batman Confidential and Deathblow? Young Heroes in Love?? Doom Patrol!

Week 19 (Aug 3, 2017) -- Some Bronze-age Batman!

Week 20 (Aug 10, 2017) -- Loeb/Sale Challengers begins!

Week 21 (Aug 17, 2017) -- Silver Age Challs!

MIDWEEK SALE BLAST (Aug 22, 2017): Wildstorm!

Week 22 (Aug 24, 2017) -- Holding pattern...

Week 23 (Aug 31, 2017) -- chugging along

Week 24 (Sept 7, 2017) -- Same old, but with newer Challengers

Week 25 (Sept 14, 2017) -- Baron/Jones Deadman debuts

Week 26 (Sept 21, 2017) -- Holding steady, with more Deadman

Week 27 (Sept 28, 2017) -- Deadman in Action Comics Weekly?

Week 28 (Oct 5, 2017) -- A slow swerve into Batman

Week 29 (Oct 5, 2017) -- Doom Patrol finishes in the smallest week ever

The Gap List: a list of unexplained or awkward skips.

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That DC Super Stars issue is one of the first comics I ever read. Looking forward to reading it in digital form.  I may grab Underworld Unleashed as well. Don't think I've ever read it.  

Interesting. I just looked on Comixology at the preview pages for DC Super Stars #3.  The digital cleanup looks like crap. Then I looked at the preview for the source comic, Adventure #354, and it looks oustanding.

DC Super Stars #3 also reprints Adventure #355 but I have feeling that it's going to look like crap too. I guess I'll just get Adventure #354 and wait for a remastered version of #355 to come out.  

Wow-- there's quite a difference in reproduction between the two! The Adventure print is probably using the really cleaned-up files used in the Archives. The DCSS issue looks like it's scanned directly from the reprint comic.

Comparing the previews, I also see that the statue of Shadow Woman was recolored blue for the reprint, where I think she was traditional Caucasian-colored in the original story (and appears so in the ADV Comixology page). 

I decided to hold off on Underworld Unleashed. I may change my tune when Halloween rolls around and I'm in the mood for a darker-based comic just for fun, but I'll let that one sit for awhile. It's probably better than I remember, considering it's written by Mark Waid.

I'm sure it is.  With these types of series, a lot of the bad stuff we remember are the Ill-advised changes to certain characters. Some of the sting of that dwindles with time, since we know the changes either went away or weren't as bad as we might have feared.

July 20th, and San Diego Comicon is in full swing! So naturally, I'm going to talk about digital copies of old DC back issues.

DC puts some new stuff in the pipeline this week, with all 9 issues of The Great Ten limited series from 2009. IIRC, this was originally scheduled to be a 12-issue series, but was truncated to 9 (not 10? c'mon, DC!) because of poor sales. By Tony Bedard and Scott McDaniel, it's probably good background reading for New Super-Man.

Also new this week is The Flash: Iron Heights one-show, by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver. I'm astonished this wasn't online already, but one-shots tend to fall through the cracks.

Carrying on from last week's Underworld Unleashed mini is the one-shot Underworld Unleashed: Abyss--Hell's Sentinel, focusing on former GL Alan Scott, repositioning him as a magic-style character. (Which he always was, technically, but he tended to hang out more with standard superheroes than folks like Deadman and Zatanna.)

Also carrying on are various ongoing titles. We get a reshuffling of the Justice League of America roster in the Jurgens run (#71), three more issues of Justice League Europe (35-37, completing the Breakdowns crossover at last, plus the first issue of a more back-to-basics approach with Gerard Jones and Ron Randall), three more issues each of Lobo (22-24), Starman (11-13), and The Legion (31-33, concluding the Abnett/Lanning run, leaving only the five issues of fill-ins that rounded out the series for next week). 

We've only got one issue of Brave & Bold this week (89, with the Phantom Stranger), and five issues of Wonder Woman (175-177, which fill the gap up to the Diana Prince era, and 191 and 197, two partial-reprint issues from that era; Wonder Woman would occasionally take an issue to reprint early Diana Prince-era issues, rather than digging deeper into the catalog). In the Golden Age, we get three(!) more issues of Sensation Comics, 46-48. Who knows where next week's Wonder Woman reprints will take us? My vote is for the 1980s Roy Thomas/Gene Colan issues.

And then there's one more issue of interest: Action Comics #457. This is an issue from 1976 with a Conway/Swan lead story involving  Pete Ross's son, Jon, with a backup Green Arrow/Black Canary story from Elliot S! Maggin and Mike Grell.  And it's all on its lonesome in the Action catalog, with no other issues from the 70s yet released. (The prior book in the run is Action #267, from 1960; the next issue on Comixology is Action #552, from 1984. That's a big gap -- bigger than the gap between Flash Comics #1 and Showcase #4.)

So will there be more 70s Action Comics reprinted? I hope so. It's possible this one just got ahead of the herd. But otherwise: Why this comic? Why now? Will Jon Ross be part of the cast of Supergirl? Is there something in the GA/BC story that will come up in future TV or comics (apparently Luthor takes on the identity of "The Nutty Kid." I'm sure I've read this story, and I can't tell you what that was about.) Or did someone at DC just think the time was right to show Superman undressing behind a child, who wept into his pillow? (Seriously, without the word balloons, this is the world's creepiest Superman cover.) 

I guess we'll find out next week!
 

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

And then there's one more issue of interest: Action Comics #457. This is an issue from 1976 with a Conway/Swan lead story involving  Pete Ross's son, Jon, with a backup Green Arrow/Black Canary story from Elliot S! Maggin and Mike Grell.


The back-up is part 2 of a three-part story. I remember it as a poor story: there's a lot of action, and the plot is weak. The GCD's synopses have spoilers.

The Superman story introduced a villain called Whirlicane. He only appeared twice, in that issue and Superman #303. He had the ability to spin around fast and generate winds, and was a renegade STAR scientist. 

I think Action Comics #457 was Jon's first appearance. He was a briefly a semi-regular cast member. It could be DC means to digitalise more of the later 1970s and wanted to include the issues that introduced him and the other new characters of the era. DCUGuide says Superman #303 was the issue that introduced Albert Michaels, the STAR director who hated Superman. Superman #304 introduced STAR scientist Jenet Klyburn.

Before the second half of the 1970s Schwartz only sometimes pitted Superman against supervillains, and minimised his use of Silver Age elements like the Phantom Zone and Kandor. After the Sand Superman story he avoided multi-issue epics, although he did make use of two-parters. In the second half of the decade he changed approach on all three points. (The number of story-pages had shrunk to 17.) Action Comics #457 is from around the start of the change. Action Comics #456 featured the Shark, #458-#459 introduced a rival hero called Blackrock, and #460-#463, the Karb-Brak/Bicentennial story, initiated a series of multi-parters.

Whirlicane! That could be another reason to reprint it -- it sounds like an easy villain to resurrect, FX-wise. (Name-wise, maybe not so much.)

As a kid, I thought Whirlicane  was a major villain! 

The gimmick about Jon Ross being told Superman's secret identity was that neither of them knew that Pete knew. This would be a plot point of DC Comics Presents #13-14.

Schwartz hadn't overseen the creation of many new villains to that point:

-The main one was Terra-Man, introduced in Superman #249-#250. He was from the Old West and had the mind of an old-West desperado and knowledge of alien super-science. In effect he was a guy with super-science who used it for petty purposes (mainly trying to get the better of Superman).

-Ferlin Nyxly (Superman #235, #253) used alien artefacts against Superman in two stories: first a harp that stole Superman's powers in Superman #235; then a suit of armour in #253. He was a petty person rather than a villain one could imagine returning and returning.

-The Galactic Golem appeared in Superman #248, #258. I've only see the second story. It was supposed to be a menace stronger than Superman, but it didn't have a striking personality. Contrast Solomon Grundy or Mongul.

-Dr Phoenix from Superman #263 was an occult scientist with obscure goals. He could've been an interesting recurring villain; but the sequel story, in Superman #266, wrote him out permanently.

-Michael J. Coram from Action Comics #440 was a head of a criminal organisation with a Dracula-like appearance. He financed people's educations so it could draw on their know-how for crime. Superman broke the organisation up, but he made a return appearance seeking revenge in Superman #290.

-Efron the Sorcerer from World's Finest Comics #210 had returned in Action Comics #437. That may have been mainly because the first story was a Superman/Green Arrow team-up, and he could be used to team them up again. I've only read the second story. He was a magician villain.

-A second Toyman had been introduced in Action Comics #432, in which we learned the original Toyman had reformed and retired. He was a Flash-style villain with a never ending series of theme gimmicks that he used for robbery. He had returned in Action Comics #454 and was to do so again as part of an ensemble of Superman villains in Superman #299. But the original Toyman got into a bad place psychologically and murdered him in #305.

-I'll also mention one of the era's one-off villains, B.B. Farnum from Superman #269. I've only seen the second story. He was taught a secret that used to transfer Superman's powers to seven puppets. I guess he didn't return because he had no supervillain name and only a garish performer's costume, but he could've returned with other puppet schemes.

Superman had also met Captain Strong (introduced Action Comics #421), Valdemar of the Flame (introduced Superman #260) and Vartox (introduced Superman #281). Captain Strong gave up taking sauncha after meeting Superman, so he didn't have an antagonist role on his return appearances. Valdemar had returned in Superman #270, and the hidden village of Valhalla was important in the plot of Action Comics #437, although he wasn't seen. Vartox had yet to return.

Whirlicane was also the creator of Thunder/Lightning, who appeared in the aforementioned Superman #303.

There were a few one-off villains around this point: aside from them, Father Time (Superman #295, not really a villain), Solarman (Superman #298), and Protector and Radion (Superman #307 [Protector], #308 [both]). The Purple Pile-Driver from Action Comics #464 was really one of them, but he managed a return appearance in Superman #371 in the 1980s.

Superman stories were often plotted so the hero's efforts to catch the villain-of-the-week were secondary to the main story. Most of the stories with those characters were like that. The Protector/Radion one was a bit different, as the characters were significant threats, but they also counterpointed a story about revelations about Superman's past. The Lightning and Thunder one is different, as the story really was about them.

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