I don’t know if this is interesting to anyone other than me, but I’m having fun so I’m
going to keep going. For those just joining us, I’m looking at the trade paperbacks and original graphic novels sitting on my bookshelf and writing whatever I want to about them. Part 1 was the Dark Horse shelf. This is DC.

All-Star Superman Vol. 1-2

I was planning on skipping this entirely. I didn’t care for Marvel’s second-continuity
Ultimate line which seemed to be the basis for DC’s All-Star out-of-continuity All-Star line. And Grant Morrison tends to be hit or miss for me. But the reviews were glowing. The Frank Quitely art was some of the best I’ve ever seen from him. So I finally broke down and bought the first trade. The reviews were right. Morrison and Quitely crafted some of the finest comics I’ve ever read. Not just Superman comics either. Comics period. The wait for the second trade was interminable (though Ana must not have minded as it’s still sitting on her shelf waiting to be read).

Batman: Prodigal and Thrillkiller

That’s an odd pair of Batman trades. The one thing they have in common is that they star Dick Grayson. Prodigal is the post-Knightfall story in which Bruce gives Dick a turn under the cowl. It’s not actually as riveting as Knightfall but it’s still a nice story- especially for fans of Dick Grayson like me. Thrillkiller is an Elseworlds story by Dan Brereton.

Bizarro Comics

I bought this hardcover featuring independent creators on DC concepts when it was
first released. I can’t say that I enjoyed every story in it. A few of the artists seem to go out of their way to be ugly or obtuse. But, on the whole, it was a great experience. Most of the stories were fun and quirky. I have no idea why I never bought the sequel.

Catwoman: The Dark Side of the Street and Selena’s Big Score

Like a lot of other comic readers, I didn’t think I’d ever buy a Catwoman comic. I associated the character with Jim Balent and big breasts. But Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke brought an entirely different approach to the character. She was sleek and sexy, instead of top-heavy. She was a cat-burglar, with all of the finesse of an Olympic gymnast. She came right out of noir movies. I bought the first of these for Ana as a gift (in return for the Star Wars trades I mentioned in last week’s column, if I remember right). I bought the second one for myself.

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 3-4

Sometimes a title is capable of helping you crystallize your thoughts and opinions. DC’s collection of the annual JLA/JSA team-ups did that for me. I bought the first couple
of volumes but I didn’t enjoy them. The stories were too formulaic, the heroes too
bland, the villains too insipid. It was a struggle to finish each volume with that many
uninteresting stories in a row. But I kept plugging along thanks to a small completist streak. Plus, it was cheaper to buy these trades than the actual back issues so I thought I was coming out ahead.

Then, I got to volume 3. I actually liked it. I really liked it. It featured great stories
by Len Wein and art that was more my style. Len brought in additional teams
like the Seven Soldiers of Victory and the stories got bigger and bigger as he kept
trying to outdo himself. It was great stuff. I loved it. And volume 4 was just as
good, even as other writers like Elliot S. Maggin and E. Nelson Bridwell took over.

I realized that I just didn’t like Silver Age JLA. I didn’t like the few beat-up back issues I had bought. I didn’t like the trades. I didn’t like the series… at least, not until Len Wein took over around issue 100. I sold off my few back issues. I donated the first two trades to my local library. My completist streak is still simmering, but not for anything before issue 100. I stopped collecting this series after volume four, though. By volume 5, I already had the back issues.

DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore

This is a wonderful collection. It features Alan Moore’s classic Superman stories and incredible nuggets like his work on the Green Lantern Corps.

Fables: Legends in Exile and 1001 Nights of Snowfall

This is a pretty typical entry for me. On the Dark Horse shelf (which I wrote about last week), I have a lot of series that I collected entirely in trades. However, it’s a lot more common for me to try the first trade of a series and then switch to the single issues.
That’s what happened with Fables. I missed the first issue. I don’t buy a lot of Vertigo titles as it is and I had no idea how good this series would be. But it didn’t take long for me to hear about and get interested in it. I bought the first trade and absolutely loved it.
I was able to buy a few back issues and caught up with the regular series just like that. I’ve been a faithful reader ever since, falling in love with Snow White, Bigby Wolf, Rose Red, Little Boy Blue, Cinderella and the rest of the cast.

1001 Nights of Snowfall is a Fables original graphic novel. It was an outstanding collection of short stories with an interesting linking narrative. It also came out when DC was testing the market for prestige graphic novels, something that’s sadly fallen by the wayside in recent years.

Golden Age

An excellent Elseworlds story by James Robinson.

Green Lantern: The Power of Ion

This was a gift from a friend. He knew I liked Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern but hadn’t been following the regular series for a while. He was impressed by Judd Winick’s tale of absolute power and bought a copy for me, thinking I would enjoy it. He was right.
Thanks!

Jack Kirby’s Forever People, Fourth World, Mister Miracle, New Gods and Jimmy Olsen Vol. 1

I have an almost-complete collection of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World. I was really impressed with the scope of these stories and the wealth of imagination. I eagerly
anticipated each successive volume (yes, I bought them as they came out). It was a chance to collect another classic from the ‘70s. And I liked them. I’m just missing the second volume of Jimmy Olsen. The Jimmy Olsen stories were just a little two weird. I didn’t consciously decide not to get volume 2. I just never got around to buying it.

Just Imagine… Stan Lee Vol. 1-3

That’s kind of a fun pairing. I’ve got Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s DC work sitting side by side on my bookshelf. It wasn’t something intentional either as Jack Kirby and Just Imagine follow each other alphabetically. I skipped Stan Lee’s Just Imagine when it was first published despite the all-star line-up of artists. I know that a lot of other fans were looking forward to it but I was fearful that it would be reminiscent more of Stan’s substandard work from the last 20 years than it would be of anything he had done back in the Silver Age. However, a couple of years later, I found all three volumes on sale and decided to give them a try. I’m very glad I did. I had a lot of fun reading these stories. They were a great re-imagining of the characters, on par with Tangent Comics or some of DC’s better Elseworlds. And they fit together like a pleasant jigsaw puzzle.

Justice League: A New Beginning, A Midsummer’s Nightmare, A League of One, Earth-2 and Virtue & Vice

I like this little collection of Justice League trades. It was easier to buy the first trade of the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire series than it was to track down (and afford) the individual issues. I have the rest of the series in singles. A Midsummer’s Nightmare is the Mark Waid mini-series that paved the way for Grant Morrison’s JLA which I picked up much later. Then there are three original graphic novels from the short time period when DC was really trying to make a go of that format. The last one, Virtue & Vice, was a crossover with JSA.

Justice Society Vol. 1-2 and Returns

Here’s another fun pair. Those first two volumes collect the run of All-Star comics from the late ‘70s that revived the Justice Society and introduced new characters like Huntress and Power Girl. The last volume is the fifth-week event that prepared the ground for a new JSA series in the late ’90s.

Showcase: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1-3

Earlier, I mentioned that I can’t stand the Silver Age issues of DC’s Justice League of America. And honestly, most of the flaws in the JLA show up in these Legion of Super-Heroes stories as well. Additionally, they’re repetitive. How many times did the Legion allow a new member to join only to have them betray the team in their very first adventure together? But there’s a sense of whimsy in these Legion stories that I didn’t find in the early JLAs. And I do have a little completist in me. I just can’t read too many stories in a row. On the bright side, the stories are starting to get better. Jim Shooter in particular is starting to play with the formula, upending our expectations and actually introducing some characterization.

Manhunter

The Archie Goodwin-Walt Simonson classic back-up strip collected into one volume.

Nightwing: The Ties That Bind

DC had a pretty good system for a while. They would try a character out in a mini-
series. If that was successful, they’d come back with a second story. If that worked, the character would graduate to an ongoing title. The system worked for Birds of Prey, Robin and Nightwing. This trade collects the Nightwing mini-series that convinced DC the character might be able to hold his own in an ongoing title.

That’s only half of the DC shelf but that’s enough for one article. With all of
the random single trades on this shelf, it turns out that there’s a lot to talk about.

Views: 475

Comment by Jeff of Earth-J on September 25, 2010 at 1:05pm
ALL-STAR SUPERMAN: Love All-Star Superman!

DAN BRERETON: Can’t read Dan Brereton.

BIZARRO COMICS: My favorite thing about Bizarro Comics is thinking about the thinking about the guy who paid all that money for an unshredded copy of the “Superman’s Babysitter” story (the same feeling I get when I think of the guy who paid $900.00 for a slabbed copy of Wolverine: Origin #1).

SELINA’S BIG SCORE: I once had a deal with Polar Rocket that I would read Selina’s Big Score if he would read an equivalent amount of Nexus. I don’t know if he ever held up his end of the bargain; I didn’t hold up mine. I did buy a chunk of Catwoman (#25-37) back when everyone of this board was raving about it, but it was the creative team at the time (Brubaker and Gulacy) that tipped me.

CME VOLS. #3-4: Knowing how you feel about Silver Age JLA, I’m kind of surprised you followed them into the ‘70s via these collections. I love the Fox/Sekowsky JLA and all the JLA/JAS crossovers, and I’m glad you found these volumes more to your liking. You probably have the originals, but there are two volumes of Justice League of America by George Perez in the DC Comics Classics Library of Classic comics I know you would enjoy (although it annoys me that DC didn’t collect these stories in a single volume! Grr…).

THE DC STORIES OF ALAN MOORE: I noticed you didn’t spend much time reviewing this one. Well, what more is there to say? I didn’t but this one because of duplication, but I’ll often (well, sometimes (well, once)) recommend it to a non-comics reader who liked the Watchmen movie.

FABLES: Tracy has read the entire series but I haven’t read a single issue. I’m sure I’m wrong, but it just doesn’t sound interesting to me. (I barely even remember any fairy tales.) Given that we own the entire series I’m sure I’ll get around to it someday, but I’ll probably want to refamiliarize myself with the source material first.

GOLDEN AGE: Again, another short review, and again, what more is there to say?

THE POWER OF ION: If this is the series I’m thinking of (12 issue limited series?), I bought the whole thing but so far have read (and enjoyed) only the last four or so issues. IIRC, Ana gave this series a very negative review on the old board.

JACK KIRBY’S FOURTH WORLD: My response to these series would take way too long. Suffice it to say that if I had been the editor of the JKFW Omnibus series, I would have edited it differently. FWIW, Jimmy Olsen has always been my least favorite of the “FW” series.

JUST IMAGINE STAN LEE: I didn’t care for these as much as I had hoped to reading them in release order. I was sorting through the box containing this series just recently, though, and it struck me that, much like watching a TV series on DVD rather than on a week-by-week basis, this series might read better in one “satisfying chunk.” I haven’t done so yet, but I “imagine” I will do so one day.

JL STUFF: The stories (and more) are currently being covered in depth over in the “Reading Club” forum. [EDIT: “In Depth Comics Discussions” forum, “JLA Revisited” thread.]

JSA TBS: I’ve already mentioned how much I like the annual JLA/JSA crossovers. I feel the same about the stories collected in these volumes.

SHOWCASE LSH: I prefer the DC Archives series, but other than that I like these stories as much as you do (and as much as I like the F/S JLA).

MANHUNTER: I remember when these stories were collected (for the second time, I think) in the 1980s. I had read some of them in “100-Page Super-Spectacular” issues in the ‘70s, but 1) I was too young to appreciate them then, and 2) I didn’t have them all. The thing I remember most about Archie Goodwin from the ‘80s is an introduction he wrote to a collection of someone else’s comics in which he (modestly) said something along the lines of, “Hey, no one’s collecting runs of my comics.” In point of fact, this is one of the few at the time, but now we’ve got collections of his work on Blazing Combat and Creepy and numerous others. Again, another short review, and again, what more is there to say?

NIGHTWING: Dick Grayson is one of my favorite DC characters, but I eventually gave up trying to collect his sundry series.
Comment by Chris Fluit on September 25, 2010 at 1:45pm
You probably have the originals, but there are two volumes of Justice League of America by George Perez in the DC Comics Classics Library of Classic comics I know you would enjoy

You're right. I have the individual issues. And I enjoy them.

THE DC STORIES OF ALAN MOORE: I noticed you didn’t spend much time reviewing this one. Well, what more is there to say

Exactly.

THE POWER OF ION: If this is the series I’m thinking of (12 issue limited series?), I bought the whole thing but so far have read (and enjoyed) only the last four or so issues. IIRC, Ana gave this series a very negative review on the old board.

Nope. This collects issues 142-150 of the regular Green Lantern series (2nd volume). There was an Ion mini-series in 2006 but that was different.
Comment by Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) on September 27, 2010 at 1:23am
FABLES: Tracy has read the entire series but I haven’t read a single issue. I’m sure I’m wrong, but it just doesn’t sound interesting to me. (I barely even remember any fairy tales.) Given that we own the entire series I’m sure I’ll get around to it someday, but I’ll probably want to refamiliarize myself with the source material first.

Jeff, I'd recommend getting to the series sooner rather than later. I really don't think there's any need to read fairy tales first as background. Willingham doesn't assume anything more than general familiarity with the originals, which often exist in many variants anyway. Plus he plays fast and loose with them in the process of re-imagining them in the real world.
Comment by Figserello on September 27, 2010 at 1:39am
I agree with Mark, Jeff. The launching off point for the characters here are the very familiar stories and rhymes we all know.

However, if you want to do 'background research' you are welcome to come around to my house and read my daughter Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Boy Blue, Mary Had a Little Lamb and all the rest 5 TIMES A DAY EVERY DAY!

I'M GOING CRAZY READING THESE STORIES AND NURSERY RHYMES OVER AND OVER AGAIN!!

Ahem.

Now that I think of it, Willingham probably has children and these stories are his revenge for being put through the endless rereading and rereading of these familiar tales.

I have some problems with the philosphico-political underpinnings of Fables, but they are great long-form comics stories, and the precept is so simple and original that it can't really go wrong. I'd be interested to see what you make of them...
Comment by Figserello on September 27, 2010 at 2:27am
All-Star Superman is indeed sweet. Look out for it in the Morrison Reading Project, but not anytime soon. Unless someone else decides to give it an in-depth reading.

I haven't read Thrillkiller but have the sequal to it on my shelf. Still haven't got around to reading it yet though.

I've never had anything against a Catwoman comic 'per se' but the ballgown look of the early 80s was obviously problematic, looking back now. I didn't notice that Catwoman was ever portrayed with more comically large cajungas than, oh, 99% of females who have ever appeared in a superhero comic.

Although they do have an elegance and charm, I too am having trouble getting through the early JLA/JSA team-ups, for exactly the reasons you mention. It's interesting to see them listed here with Morrison's JLA: Earth 2. When I first read Earth 2, I thought Morrison was being very cleverly metatextual having the characters (especially clever Batman) realise that things always worked out for good in their universe and vice-versa for the Crime Syndicate's Earth. However, that fun, elegant premise is laid out for all to see in the first JLA/JSA/Crime Syndicate crossover.

I want to read the Len Wein stories as they are obviously cornerstones of Final Crisis and Seven Soldiers of Victory, but the completist fanboy in me insists I have to plough through those early crossovers first... (The other problem with a lot of early Silver Age stuff is that you can do your duty and read them, but when you pick up the collection 6 months later, you realise that you have no idea what happened in them!)

I'm up to book 7 of Fables and I'll have to get stuck in again soon.

I've realised that Alan Moore stories are to me what Legion of Superheroes and Silver Age Superman stories are to other board members. They are just the yardstick by which I measure all other comicbooks. Almost everything published since then has just been a consolation. I have most of the stories in the Alan Moore collection in the singles, or other collections.

I only recently read his Green Lantern Corps stories. They really stretched the horizons of cosmic superhero stories, along with the stuff from the other writers, like, of all people, Todd Klein. They are so good, that they further jaundice my view of Geoff Johns current efforts. Look at all the different kinds of stories they told against Johns mono-tone single story...

I have those very collections of Jack Kirby's Fourth World, except you have one more volume of Jimmy Olsen than I do. I hadn't realised you were such a big fan!! Few comics have their sustained emotional intensity as well as the torrent of crazy, original ideas. Strange to think that these celebrated comics are only Jack's first few steps, really into that world...

Golden Age. I've yet to read this. Worried that when I get around to it, the content will have changed to being about coked up vigilantes getting their limbs whipped off... (There's an awful lot of good comics I've yet to read, alas, and I'm getting no younger!)

Justice League: A New Beginning, A Midsummer’s Nightmare, A League of One, Earth-2 and Virtue & Vice

As Jeff indicated, I'd like to see these covered in my JLA thread when we get to them. For the ones I don't have, I'm kind of hoping other posters will step in and plug the gaps. The profusion of squarebound paperbacks did coincide with Morrison finishing up on JLA. Even though they are meant to be standalones, it might be interesting to see how they'd slot in with the monthly comics.

Was Justice Society Returns, the series that gave us their adventures during WW2?

I've decided that Legion Of Superheroes is part of the Weisinger stable of Superman comics, so I've put off reading from vol 3 upwards until I've 'caught up' with the already published volumes of World's Finest and Supergirl Showcases. It's my anal retentive fanboy complex again...! (Isee the 4th vol is out this week!)

Manhunter - I hear it is indeed a landmark book. One day....

Nightwing had never interested me before Batman and Robin, but on the strength of that, I am now more likely to pick up earlier stories of his.

Whew! That's a lot of books! A reminder that there's quite a few I've yet to read too...
Comment by Chris Fluit on September 27, 2010 at 12:04pm
I have those very collections of Jack Kirby's Fourth World, except you have one more volume of Jimmy Olsen than I do. I hadn't realised you were such a big fan!! Few comics have their sustained emotional intensity as well as the torrent of crazy, original ideas. Strange to think that these celebrated comics are only Jack's first few steps, really into that world...

I'm definitely a fan of Jack Kirby's Fourth World. However, I've rarely enjoyed any Fourth World series that's been published since. It's not the obvious comparison to Jack Kirby either. I'm not a huge Jack Kirby fan in general and I don't have him on the same pedestal that many others seem to place him on. Rather, it's that the newer series usually adhere too closely to the original. It's like they can't introduce any new characters or concepts or they're not "Jack Kirby's Fourth World" anymore. Yet the introduction of new characters and crazy ideas was what made those series so special in the first place.

Nightwing had never interested me before Batman and Robin, but on the strength of that, I am now more likely to pick up earlier stories of his.

If you do, you can skip this preliminary series. It was okay, but it wasn't nearly as good as the Chuck Dixon/Scott McDaniel series that followed it. That's where you should start.
Comment by Chris Fluit on September 27, 2010 at 12:05pm
Whew! That's a lot of books! A reminder that there's quite a few I've yet to read too...

I know. And it's only half of one shelf. A series like this reminds me: I have a lot comics!
Comment by Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) on September 27, 2010 at 12:33pm

My own thoughts.

All-Star Superman: I'm with Chris on Grant Morrison being hit or miss. but this was such a great series. Morrison and Quietly were hitting on all cylinders on this.

Thrillkiller: I really like this when it first came out, and I like..scratch that love Brereton's art. Plus, I maintain I like Chaykin the writer a lot better than Chaykin the artist. I would also recommend the sequel Thrillkiller '62.

Golden Age: Not only my favorite Elseworlds tale, one of  my favorite stories ever. One of the few books that I have given multiple readings to in the past few years.

Jack Kirby stuff: I've tried it, and outside of Mister Miracle I didn't enjoy any of it. Every time they "kill" the New Gods I hope they aren't lying to me.

JL: Giffen, etc: I had all of those early issues of the series, sold them, regretted selling them and then bought them back from a store closing for a buck a piece.

Justice Society:  I have slowly pieced together almost all of those All-Star comic issues from $1 and less boxes. They are fun reads, Interesting in that it has some of Keith Giffen's first pencil work, and Wally Wood doing some inking.

Manhunter: I was pleasantly surprised when I read this trade lo those many years ago. It actually lived up to the hype. Plus, I love that costume.

 

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