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 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.
The issues new develop the Sand Superman storyline. At this point it was counterpointing each month's adventure.
Denny O'Neil's writing emphasised Superman's inner response to what was going on. Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson put Superman in the real world.
#234 reminds me of the social side of Elliot S. Maggin's work. O'Neil's Superman work may have been his model.
Other newcomers include the 70s Manbat series (2 issues, complete)
I don't like either of those. The first issue was by Gerry Conway and Steve Ditko, and the second by Martin Pasko and Pablo Marcos.
I remember #1 as an uninteresting magic story. The villain is Baron Tyme, who later turned up in a Demon serial written by Len Wein in Detective Comics #482-#485. (The first part was drawn by Michael Golden, and the others by Ditko.)
#2 is better, but I remember it as charmless. The villain is the Ten-Eyed Man. This is where he gained a costume. I like his first two appearances from Batman #226 and #231, where he's a capable, cunning antagonist. He doesn't come across the same way here.
And Luke, I really enjoyed your thoughts about selling from backlists!
I've heard that thought #9 applied to music, too. A friend once said to me about the band Southern Culture on the Skids -- "I really like what they do...but I'm not sure I need to hear every song they do it in." And yeah, one or two Rip Hunter or Sea Devils comics goes a long way. (That said, from what I can tell there are no Rip Hunter:Time Master comics available on Comixology, despite him starring in 2 (well, one and a half) seasons of a hit TV show. There is the 1980s Time Masters miniseries, but you'd think they'd at least dip their toe in the water of the 60s version.
A point I left out because I couldn't think how to explain it is I think readers need help being guided through this stuff. I just thought of the perfect case in point, which is Morgan Edge. When he was introduced he was evil, an agent of Apokolips. Then it was revealed, in Lois Lane, that that Edge was a clone. Then, in Jimmy Olsen, the real Edge reclaimed his life from the clone. Real Edge was a key cast-member in Superman's titles through the rest of the 70s and continued to appear in the 80s. A casual reader wouldn't have a clue as to where to go looking for those crucial stories, or how long that storyline ran.
What's worse, the resolution in Jimmy Olsen wasn't all that great, and was drawn by 70s Mike Sekowsky, whose work is not likely to be everyone's taste.
Heck, Evil Morgan Edge confused me when I first encountered him in back issues, and I never did learn what happened to make him the not-evil antagonist I started reading about in '77.
Definitely, things like that are a factor. But I think the larger information ecosystem can sort out a lot of them -- the Morgan Edge problem is a thorny one, but anyone curious I'm sure can find out what they want to know on Wikipedia or some other resource.
Reading Order, it seems to me, is a similar issue, though, and one of those bulls publishers would do well to take by the horns. Which is easier to do when it's all out there and available. And it's also something that needs to be handled delicately, as a suggestion. so that people don't feel like they have to start at the beginning to get the correct experience.
I've heard that Marvel will be going back to their original numbering, and part of the reason why is that it makes "starting at the beginning" seem unattainable. It might seem counter-intuitive, but the idea is to provoke a reaction of "There are 700 issues of Spider-Man? Well, I might as well just start with this one." rather than "This is Spider-Man issue 14, but the store is missing issues 2, 7, and 9 -- I'll read something where I can get in on the ground floor."
As for Superman and Man-Bat -- I remember the "Sand Superman" storyline was one that was always high on the to-be-collected wish lists on the DC Comics Archives boards. I'm glad they're finally getting to it here.
And I bought those two Man-Bat issues for a buck each at some recent conventions. They're about as unlike each other as two consecutive comics featuring the same character can be. I never connected the Baron Tyme character to the one in the Demon story, which I think I've read at least part of.
I was surprised when I looked the issue up at the GCD and found its cover wasn't the image from the house ad. That would've been a much better cover!(1) I like the Jim Aparo one for #2, though.
Man-Bat transitioned into being a superhero in Frank Robbins's last Batman story, in Batman #254. Robbins had written all Man-Bat's appearances to that point. The GCD tells me he next appeared in The Brave and the Bold. The two issues of Man-Bat build on Robbins's second-last Man-Bat story, "Man-Bat Over Vegas!" from Detective Comics #416, and give away its twist.
The issues weren't the end of Man-Bat's solo adventures. He next appeared in a back-up two-parter in Detective Comics, then regularly in Batman Family for over a year, then a few times in Detective Comics while it was a giant. The GCD tells me the two-parter was written by Martin Pasko. The other stories were by Bob Rozakis.
(1) But would it have worked with a logo overlapping its top portion? The blogger assumes Ditko and Milgrom were the artists. I can't tell.
That IS some nice-looking art in the house ad -- but I agree it could have logo problems. What a shame!
It just occurred to me -- for anyone interested in those Silver Age Wonder Woman comics, if you wait a couple months, I'm sure there'll be a sale tying in with the movie opening; You should be able to get them for 99 cents apiece then.
Similarly, I have a hunch we'll see Arion turn up somewhere soon. (Comixology released the old Wild Dog miniseries a while back, before he was announced to appear on Arrow.) Maybe Arion will be an antagonist on an episode of Supergirl? That's how Kurt Busiek & Carlos Pacheco positioned him in their Superman run.
I wonder what goes into the decision making on smaller series, when they decide to do the whole thing at once or piece meal. A series like Trigger ran just 8 issue, I'd think putting them out all at once would be the the best thing. Even The Wanderers just ran 13 issues. Just seems weird to me.
I guess it just depends on the consumer. For me, on something that has already been released, I would want them all available at one time.
I've been going under the assumption that the digitization process for older comics was somewhat painstaking and they could only produce a few issues at a time. I have no information to back that up though.
But it seems like it wouldn't be easy to go back through whatever source material was available and then clean it up, retouch, recolor etc via photoshop or something while also trying to preserve the original character and integrity of the original comics.