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)
The cover of Sandman #6 is swiped from two of Kirby's interior panels so that may explain why it resembles his work. But I don't think he penciled the cover unless he just did breakdowns and an inker did heavy finishes.
Thanks, Detective; that explains it. I wrong to say Grandenetti did a cover for #1; what survives is a cover rough.
Incidentally, DC Indexes indicates there were no DC comics cover-dated for May 1973. At that point DC moved its cover-dates an extra month ahead, presumably to match Marvel.
Wow -- you'd think after 40 years of comics reading, I'd have heard that weird bit of trivia before. That's fantastic -- it's like the solution to an Encyclopedia Brown mystery!
"Sorry, Tyler, but that old Beware the Creeper comic Bugs Meany is trying to sell you is a forgery! There ARE no DC comics cover-dated May 1973!"
Just to flesh out the topic a little more, here's a look at what we've got of pre-Crisis Action and Superman on Comixology to date. (I think I wrote about this before in another thread, but here's a more granular and up-to-date look.)
Action has partial (Superman-only) issues available (for 99 cents) from issue 1-31.
In the Silver Age, we've got #252 (Supergirl's first appearance), #267 (another important Supergirl story, in which she's invited to join the Legion)...and that's it.
We jump completely over the Bronze Age to six pre-crisis issues (553-556, and 583, part 2 of "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?").
Over in Superman, we've got issue 1 (available free!), and that's it for the Golden Age.
Then we've got 76 (first Superman/Batman), 123 (a test run for Supergirl), and 199 (the first Superman/Flash race). That's it for Silver Age.
In Bronze, we've got this week's 233 (Kryptonite Nevermore!), a random-ish run of four issues (305-308, at a discount price of 99 cents!), and a couple more Supergirl appearances (338 -- the enlarging of Kandor -- and 365)
Then we've got Superman Annual 10 ("For the Man Who Has Everything") and a handful of 80s pre-crisis issues: 410-415, and 423 (Part 1 of "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?")
After that the numbering continues as Adventures of Superman, but that's all post-Crisis anyway. We can tackle that later.
Golden Age: 32 comics (31 of them partial)
Silver Age: 5 comics -- most of which seem to have been chosen for their connection to Supergirl.
Bronze Age: 7 comics (again, a few of which were probably added during a Supergirl promotion)
Pre-Crisis: 14 comics, three of which were written by Alan Moore.
That's it for Pre-Crisis Superman: 58 comics, the majority of them Golden Age appearances. DC has a lot of catching up to do with their flagship character. (In contrast, there are around 250 issues of Batman and Detective available from before Crisis. There are nearly as many Golden Age issues of Batman and Detective available (54 of them) than there are Superman titles from the first 50 years of his publication.
Over in Superman... In Bronze, we've got this week's 233 (Kryptonite Nevermore!), a random-ish run of four issues (305-308, at a discount price of 99 cents!), and a couple more Supergirl appearances (338 -- the enlarging of Kandor -- and 365)
These issues are from a period when the feature was starting to use a Marvel-style approach involving continued stories, emphases on action, emotional drama, heavy use of supervillains, and running subplots.
#305 and #306 were written by Martin Pasko and form a two-parter. Toyman and Bizarro are the antagonists, but the issues treat them as dangerous, not jokes. The art was by Curt Swan and Bob Oksner. Oksner was one of Swan's best inkers, and Swan's handing of action was at its best in this period. The covers were by Ernie Chan and Oksner.
#307-#308 were written by Gerry Conway. They're the first two parts of a story that concluded in #309, and badly need that third part. The story is a high concept tale that puts Superman through an emotional wringer. Supergirl plays a key role. The story's supervillains, in #307-#308, were new characters. The art was by the Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Frank Springer. Neal Adams did the covers of the first two issues, and Garcia-Lopez pencilled #309's.
Both stories were more intense than the feature had usually been to that point. Pasko's two-parter was his first "Superman" story - he'd written "The Private Life of Clark Kent" previously - and he became the regular writer of Superman with #310.
A point to remember when buying 70s comics is they shrank in size during the decade. When these issues came out they were down to 17 story pages.
Is there any information available on who does these digital conversions? Or how, exactly, the process works?
I forgot to get to #338 and #365. I see these as coming from a later period, when the feature settled into rut.
Kandor wasn’t used very heavily in the first half of the 70s. Julie Schwartz generally avoided Silver Age elements in that period, but he wasn’t editing everything Superman-related yet(1) and other editors used them, including Kandor.
In 1973 the Legion was moved into Superboy, and at the start of 1974 Jimmy’s, Lois’s and Supergirl’s features were folded into The Superman Family.(2) Initially the comic featured new stories backed by reprints and Jimmy, Lois and Supergirl took turns in the lead slot, so for a couple of years there wasn’t much new Superman spin-off material.
Schwartz’s policy changed around 1975/76, and he ended up drawing on the Silver Age heavily. The Super-features were also mostly concentrated in his hands, so in the 80s he was DC’s Superman supremo up to Crisis. The material he oversaw in the 80s was sometimes envelope-pushing, sometimes like the work from the 70s, sometimes very cosy, sometimes shoddy.
Schwartz began to use Kandor in 1975, either in The Superman Family #173(3) or Action Comics #455. It then appeared fairly regularly in Superman’s titles and The Superman Family up to Superman #338. The Superman Family switched to an all-new giant format with #182 at the end of 1976, so there was more Superman spin-off material from that point.(4) It ran a Nightwing and Flamebird series for a time.
Which brings me at last to #388. The issue is from 1979, and the cover calls it the 40th anniversary issue. It has 23 story pages, although the surrounding issues still had 17. It starts well and ends well, but the middle ten pages are poorly conceived and don’t lead into the climax well. The story was by Len Wein, Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte, and the cover by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano.
The story’s resolution had the effect of writing Kandor out. It only appeared a couple of times afterwards: in the mini The Krypton Chronicles and Superman #414, a death of Supergirl tie-in. A replacement Kandor inhabited by a different alien race was introduced in Superman #370-#371, also by Wein. I’m not aware of a further appearances by the new Kandorians, but the bottle might be the one Superman hides in the cupboard in Superman Annual #11.
#365 is from 1981, and it’s an issue I don’t have. DC’s page-count increased in 1980, and the issue has a 17 page lead story and an 8 page back-up. That was very common for DC titles in the period. I have very fond memories of the Superman back-ups from the 70s, but the ones from the 80s often read like filler.
The lead story led into a three-parter in the next three issues, which I do have, but it probably stands well on its own. Apparently there’s a mystery left at the end, but you can find the solution on the GCD’s page on the issue. The story was by Cary Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte. The cover was again by Andru and Giordano.
The back-up story was an “The In-Between Years” one by Bob Rozakis, Kurt Schaffenberger and Chiaramonte. These were about Superman’s college years, and at the cosier end of Schwartz’s 80s output.
(1) Initially after Mort Weisinger left DC Schwartz edited Superman and Murray Boltinoff edited Action Comics. They used the same art team, Swan and Murphy Anderson, but different writers: Denny O'Neil and Leo Dorfman. But before too long Cary Bates was writing for both.
During that period Schwartz edited World's Finest Comics, and it was Superman's team-up title. (DC Comics Presents didn't start until 1978.) When Schwartz got Action Comics in 1972 Boltinoff got World's Finest Comics, and it went back to being the Superman/Batman title. His first issue is the one where the Super Sons were introduced and Bob Haney's run started. (He'd written the title previously for Weisinger.)
(2) Lois Lane and Supergirl both had belated final issues after The Superman Family commenced. Supergirl's feature started the decade in Adventure Comics.
(3) The GCD currently lists the issue as co-edited by Schwartz and Murray Boltinoff, so I don’t know which of them oversaw the new story.
(4) Also, after the infamous DC Super Stars #12 Superboy's solo feature was revived in Adventure Comics in 1977. It was next moved into The Superman Family, and then given its own title in 1979 (which is when Superboy left the Legion).
These are some miscellaneous thoughts I have about the problems involved in selling comics from backlists:
1.With comics it's the case there's a lot of stuff we like, but know others aren't likely to. For example, I like a lot of Silver Age Marvel comics, and have an interest in seeing the rest. But in fact (a) a lot of the very early stuff isn't very good, and (b) the later stuff looks good but is often plot-starved.
2.Some creators' work was very uneven. A lot of storied runs were very uneven too, including the Lee/Kirby run on Fantastic Four.
3.Liking a creator's work interests us in seeing his weaker stuff. But if your first encounters with a creator's work are with his weak stuff, it might put you off it.
4.Complicating this further, a story can be great read at the right age, and so-so read at the wrong one.
5.Stories can be of great significance in terms of what was built on them without being the best ones. I don't have anything against Amazing Spider-Man #149, but it was fairly ordinary for its era.
6.Part of the interest of comics is whether creators can top what's gone before. Part of the excitement of an exciting serial comes from having to wait for the resolution. Also, some features are more enjoyable taken in small doses.
7.Sometimes EYKIW twists have the effect of undoing the significance of a story, the classic example being the return of Jean Grey, which established that the death of Phoenix wasn't the death Jean Grey!
8.Comics can be great because of their writing or their art. But great art and great writing don't always go together. There must be any number of comics that had great art, but weak writing.
9.If you've never read a feature - "Rip Hunter", or "Mark Merlin", or "Dial H for Hero", say - you might be very interested in reading a few stories, to see what they were like. But having read a few, you mightn't feel you want to read all of them.
The new week of DC’s digital backlist have been released – 33 books total. Let’s see what we’ve got!
90s/2000s Superman continues steadily: We’ve got 8 more issues of Action, Adventures of Superman, Superman, and Superman: Man of Steel. Consecutive from last week.
We’ve also got consecutive issues of Arion (2 more), Guy Gardner: Warrior (1 more), Justice League America (2 more), The Wanderers (2 more), and Silver Age Wonder Woman (4 more, up from 2 last week). There are three more issues of DC Comics Presents (up from 2 last week), starting up right after the Forgotten Heroes/Villains issues that were already online: This time we have 79 (teamup with Clark Kent), 80 (Legion), and 81 (Ambush Bug).
The Bronze Age Superman continues with two more issues, which I think is a really good sign: Issues 234 and 235, consecutive from last week’s 233.
Other newcomers include the 70s Manbat series (2 issues, complete) and Catwoman/Wildcat (a 1998 miniseries; all 4 issues were made available today).
In Vertigo, Trigger continues with issue 6. Missing in action this week is the Dysart Swamp Thing. Taking its places is Fight For Tomorrow #5. (Fight For Tomorrow is a 6-issue miniseries from 2002-3; the first 4 issues were released digitally in February, and then it seems to have been forgotten for a month. Hopefully the conclusion arrives next week.)
Next week: Manbat and Catwoman/Wildcat have concluded, so there should be something new in store. Plus we should see the conclusions of Fight For Tomorrow and maybe The Wanderers. And Manhunter, Guy Gardner, and Trigger will creep toward their final issues as well.