It looks like DC Comics are using the Omnibus format as their current way to collect classic material in chronological order.  In the past, there have been the Archives series (hardcover, full color), the Showcase Presents series (softcover, black and white, usually twice the page count of an Archive), and the Chronicles series (softcover, full color, smaller page count than an Archive).  In the past few years, all of these lines have been quietly shuttered, and now DC is releasing Omnibus collections in both hardcover and softcover formats.

As you would expect, the Omnibus hardcovers are huge.  Two Silver Age volumes collected the first 76 issues of JLA (along with Brave and Bold 28-30 and Mystery in Space 75), for example.  Earlier this year, DC released JLA: The Bronze Age Omnibus Volume 1, collecting JLA # 77-113.  That's almost half of the original series collected in this way, which for a fan like me is great news.  The JLA Archives had 10 volumes, collected the first 93 issues, and the first volume and last volume were released twenty-two years apart.  The first JLA Omnibus came out in 2014.

DC is also releasing these collections in trade paperbacks with a smaller page count than the hardcovers.  The great thing is that these TPBs collect more issues than the Archives did!  The material collected in the first JLA Silver Age Omnibus has all been released in 3 TPBs.

I have the first JLA Silver Age TPB, and I loved it!  I also have the first JLA Showcase Presents, but I find that without color, I just don't enjoy the stories as much as I could.  Actually, I find I enjoy most Silver Age comics more in color versus reading them in Showcase Presents and Essential Marvel.

I wonder how many of the rest of you are buying and reading these Omnibus collections, and what you think of the format.

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You're quite right about the Atom's wedding not forming a real arc. I don't think Ray/Jean played any role in Englehart's last issues.

I disagree about Hawkman/Hawkgirl though. They were introduced married which I think is different from marrying off an established character. And Flash got married, I don't think he was a C-lister.

I have mixed views of Dillin. No, not great art, but as he was "my" artist after Sekowsky I'm still fond of his work.

While I don't have any urge to get omnibuses or TPBs where I have the complete run in floppies, I can understand why this is so fricking frustrating. And from the sound of it, way overpriced.

Captain Comics said:

I read an article somewhere with Dan DiDio saying that they wanted to concentrate their reprint strategy on discrete storylines (without volume numbers) instead of chronologically reprinting complete series (with volume numbers). I can't find that article at the moment, but I found this quote from March 2019:

"Good morning. To those fans of our Silver and Bronze comics worried about changes to our collected editions program, I want to take this moment to set aside any of your concerns. While we are delaying (not cancelling) a couple of planned omnibuses, this decision was made to make way for even more books highlighting stories and series from these moments in time. Comics, never collected in color or ever before, will first see print in smaller volumes (like the titles in the photo and our old archives program) before being collected (if demand dictates) in omnibus form. This is to open a wider array of books and themes for collections from the past. We have so much great material and we are committed to collecting it in the best forms possible to reach as many fans as possible. This is the stuff that made me a DC fan for life, and will make sure it gets the attention it deserves."

Well, that's close to what I remember. But maybe it's enough to explain this, which came out this week: 

JLA: THE WEDDING OF THE ATOM & JEAN LORING HC
DC COMICS
(W) Gerry Conway, Steve Englehart (A) George Tuska, Arvell M. Jones (A/CA) Dick Dillin
In these 1970s tales, Dr. Light makes his dramatic return-and so does Snapper Carr, who's now turned traitor to the League! Ultraa, hero of Earth-Prime, joins the League in their battle with the Injustice Gang, while the Phantom Stranger assists the team against a family of ancient gods! Plus, the Atom and Jean Loring get married-but will the power of her mind destroy the Earth? Collects JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #147-157 and SUPER-TEAM FAMILY #11-14.
In Shops: Feb 05, 2020
SRP: $69.99

I assume this is material originally intended for the now-canceled Justice League of America Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 3, which I assume everyone reading this would rather have. Some quick observations:

  • Good news: This book picks up right after Justice League of America Bronze Age Vol. 2, which ended with JLA #146.
  • Bad news: An Omnibus usually has 40-45 issues for around $100 (a price which almost no one pays, with all the discount houses around). Which is a bargain. This book is 13 issues for $70. You could buy the originals for less.
  • The cover reminds me of something I forgot, which is how mannered, dull and repetitive Dick Dillin's art is. I read somewhere that he was selected for Justice League of America when Sekowsky left not because he was the best choice, but because he was willing to draw a team book with a lot of characters. (I've heard that's why Sekowsky was picked back in the day as well, but I don't know that for a fact.) Since he was coming off Blackhawk, DC knew he could do it. And he didn't leave until he died. I admire that, although his artwork left me unmoved.
  • I haven't read these issues in years, but I don't think The Atom's marriage was an A-story for 13 issues. More like a B- or C-plot that ran in the background for some of those issues (I doubt it was in all) until it rose to the cover for a single issue, and then everybody forgot about The Atom again. He was a seriously C-list character at the time, as evidenced by the fact that DC let him get married. (In those days, only second and third bananas got married, like Aquaman, Hawkman and Elongated Man.) My point is that this "moment in time" was not written as such, and isn't a discrete story. Not only is it false advertising, but trying to turn long-running serials without beginning or ends into "moments in time" is a disservice to the stories and to the readers.
  • I could get this book, to continue trying to get the entire original JLA in shelf-worthy HC (a goal I have for all Silver Age titles), but the packaging is different (and has no volume number). And I'd have to trust that DC would continue in this vein long enough to complete the series. And, when it comes to reprints, I simply don't trust them.
  • The last 40 issues of the Silver Age title have already been collected, in the JLA: The Detroit Era Omnibus, which begins with JLA #233. So they only need to fill in the gap from JLA #147 through #232. I really don't trust that they will do that in cohesive 13-issue increments, and even if they did, it would be pretty expensive.

As you can tell, I don't care for this development. And I won't be buying "The Marriage of The Atom," which I already have in floppies. More and more I'm beginning to think the future is in just subscribing to digital services and not buying any more analog books.

In his beginning-of-the-year address to retailers on Facebook, Didio talked about the changing of books to "stand-alone" names rather than volumes of an omnibus series. He said the stand-alone titles sold better, so DC was moving in that direction. (Which has been in the works for a while. The two Superboy and the Legion hardcovers released a few years ago are essentially volumes 13 and 14 of the Legion Archives.)

Ultimately, the choice doesn't seem to be whether we want Justice League of America Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 3 or JLA: The Wedding of the Atom or Jean Loring. The question is, do we want that material (and subsequent material) at all? Because without strong sales, the reprint program will just stop, or slow to a trickle of only the surefire hits. And let's face it, the surefire hits have all been reprinted already.  

It's a strange way of breaking up the volumes as this would have Steve Englehart's last two issues (#149-150) and Gerry Conway's first of his long run (#151).

But even collecting Englehart's run in one volume is problematic as his first was #139, more specifically the second story of #139. The first was the second part of the Adam Strange one from #138. Plus the JLA/JSA/Legion of Super-Heroes team up of #147-148 was written by Paul Levitz.

So I think a volume containing #138 to #150 makes more sense, despite the overlap, with the "second" volume starting with #151.

Also, to me, Dick Dillin will always be my JLA artist. He just needed a strong inker.

Given my current situation, buying any collected volumes is difficult though certainly any Justice League of America ones have an edge!

"...the surefire hits have all been reprinted already."

Very little of Action Comics/Superman of the 60s/70s has been reprinted in a comprehensive format.

I'd buy that.

And they reversed the cover image as Supergirl, Hawkman and Wonder Woman's emblems are either facing the wrong way or on the wrong side!

"And they reversed the cover image as Supergirl, Hawkman and Wonder Woman's emblems are either facing the wrong way or on the wrong side!"

That image isn't from a cover, so they might very well have taken in internal splash and flopped it for ... reasons. To fit the logo? To fit trade dress? Dunno. 

"Very little of Action Comics/Superman of the 60s/70s has been reprinted in a comprehensive format. I'd buy that."

Agreed!

"Without strong sales, the reprint program will just stop, or slow to a trickle."

I'm guessing that DiDio's decision was based on sales to some degree, in that maybe the numbered Omnibuses weren't selling as strongly as they'd like? Well, I did my part. And if our dollars are votes, I'm voting against Marriage of The Atom and such.

And I'm reallllly worried that they'll quit publishing the Golden Age Omnibuses for the Big Three. Batman's far out ahead, but still hasn't gotten to the late '50s, where the material becomes available in existing publications. Superman and Wonder Woman may never come close.

I'd love it if they made Batman run all the way through the 1950s. Reading the Omnibuses has greatly elevated the Golden Age Bat-books. Not that I disliked them or anything, but there's something about reading them in sequence.

The Showcase Supermans ended in the very early 1960s. Even though I prefer Bronze Age Superman, I'd still like to see more of the 1960s era. But then again, I don't know if I want enough to buy an Omnibus.

Captain Comics said:

"And they reversed the cover image as Supergirl, Hawkman and Wonder Woman's emblems are either facing the wrong way or on the wrong side!"

That image isn't from a cover, so they might very well have taken in internal splash and flopped it for ... reasons. To fit the logo? To fit trade dress? Dunno. 

"Very little of Action Comics/Superman of the 60s/70s has been reprinted in a comprehensive format. I'd buy that."

Agreed!

"Without strong sales, the reprint program will just stop, or slow to a trickle."

I'm guessing that DiDio's decision was based on sales to some degree, in that maybe the numbered Omnibuses weren't selling as strongly as they'd like? Well, I did my part. And if our dollars are votes, I'm voting against Marriage of The Atom and such.

And I'm reallllly worried that they'll quit publishing the Golden Age Omnibuses for the Big Three. Batman's far out ahead, but still hasn't gotten to the late '50s, where the material becomes available in existing publications. Superman and Wonder Woman may never come close.

It was definitely from the two page spread from Justice League of America #157. I meant that they flipped the image for the trade's cover!

Funny that Hawkman & Hawkgirl would be on the cover when they were barely in the story!

Of course, this picture does raise some questions like

  • why would Jean Loring have Diana Prince, Linda Danvers and Dinah Lance as her bride-maids?
  • how would Ray know Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne?
  • Not to mention the former King and Queen of Atlantis? And the world-famous Elongated Man? 
  • Though not in the picture, the Red Tornado was there and in full costume, so that would be THREE known JLAers at their wedding! 

I've seen a couple of other stories that have the same problem of ignoring the happy couple must have some other people in their life (Rex and Sapphire's wedding in BATO for instance).

Philip Portelli said:

It was definitely from the two page spread from Justice League of America #157. I meant that they flipped the image for the trade's cover!

Funny that Hawkman & Hawkgirl would be on the cover when they were barely in the story!

Of course, this picture does raise some questions like

  • why would Jean Loring have Diana Prince, Linda Danvers and Dinah Lance as her bride-maids?
  • how would Ray know Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne?
  • Not to mention the former King and Queen of Atlantis? And the world-famous Elongated Man? 
  • Though not in the picture, the Red Tornado was there and in full costume, so that would be THREE known JLAers at their wedding! 

I'd definitely consider a 70s Superman omnibus as well. But they're high-ticket items, and as much as I'd like to own one, it'd probably be one more book -- like the Atom/Jean Loring one -- that I'd pass on in hopes of stumbling across it cheap one day. 

As for the Golden Age Omnibuses... I think if DC continues with any of the Omnibus lines as a line, it'll be those. They might get secondary line -- Changing their name to Batman In the Fifties Volume 1 or something like that, rather than Golden Age Batman Volume 6 -- but those are the really hard to find stuff the collectors will pay for, and I think they've only got another 10-20 years before that stuff becomes not viable. I feel like I'm part of the last generation of collectors who romanticized those early eras, and I'm guessing that in 15-20 years there just won't be high enough numbers of us around to make publishing them viable. But by doing the refurbishing needed now, they'll have the entire library available for future generations who want to read these stories, but will do it digitally. 

I think Golden and Pre-Silver Age is definitely a "strike while the iron is hot" situation right now. Silver and Bronze have a while yet left to go.  

TL; DR: I'm a ray of sunshine.

In Super-Team Family #11 (Atom/Flash/Supergirl: art by Alan Weiss and Joe Rubinstein) Jean, Linda Danvers and Iris are were taken by T. O. Morrow to a parallel universe where he controls a local entity. Jean suffers a mental breakdown, and the entity responds - spoiler warning - by sending her away.

In #12 (Atom/Hawkman/Green Lantern: art by Arvell Jones and Bill Draut) the Atom and co. track her to a couple of parallel universes where the energy transporting her from world to world has caused disasters. By the time they've sorted things out she's travelled away again.

In Super-Team Family #13 (Atom/Captain Comet/Aquaman: art by Arvell Jones and Romeo Tanghal) she arrives back on Earth and her power causes disasters here.

In Secret Society of Super-Villains #10 the Grodd-led SSoSV seize her. In Super-Team Family #14 (Atom/Wonder Woman: art by Jones and Tanghal) Grodd attempts to use her power to blackmail the world. The heroes sort things out and she recovers her sanity. Ray proposes and she accepts. Grodd also captured Solovar, so they invite him to the wedding, and he attends it with in Justice League of America #157.

In Justice League of America #156 the Atom can't bring himself to reveal to Jean his secret identity because of her history of mental problems. (The first time was the story in The Atom and Hawkman #45-Justice League of America #80 where she was kidnapped by aliens who drove her insane.) The JLA, including the Phantom Stranger, fight gods from ancient Oceania. It looks like they've taken care of the problem, but in #157 it turns out one of them - the goddess of love - is still loose, and she causes much trouble. Supergirl guests.

#157 opens with Ray's revelation of his identity to Jean, and closes with the wedding. Dick Dillin pencilled those parts, but the rest of the issue was pencilled by Juan Ortiz. Frank McLaughlin inked.

So there is was an arc in Super-Team Family #11-#14 and Justice League of America #156-#157. The Super-Team Family issues are so-so-ish at best, but they have good things in them, such as a nice escape by the Atom in #14. I have a theory the Fiend with Five Faces in Justice League of America #156 was modelled after the Anti-God entity from Hercules Unbound #11-#12. This is not likely to interest anyone else much. T. O. Morrow's appearance in Super-Team Family #11 was the basis of his depiction in Justice League of America #192-#193, although the reason for it was absent in the later story.

Justice League of America was a giant through the period represented by the collection. #147-#148 were the JLA/JSA/LSH story, written by Martin Pasko. #149-#150 were the Star-Tsar story with the Privateer and Snapper Carr that concluded Steve Englehart's run. Gerry Conway's long run started the next issue. #152 introduced Traya, later the Red Tornado's adopted daughter. #153 was Utraa's introduction, pencilled by George Tuska.

The Phantom Stranger is present in the wedding spread beside Elongated Man. The pillbox hat of the woman beside Green Lantern might mean she's supposed to be Lois Lane, but in the 1970s she no longer wore one and had long hair. The man behind Aquaman and the Flash might be Snapper Carr.

"And they reversed the cover image as Supergirl, Hawkman and Wonder Woman's emblems are either facing the wrong way or on the wrong side!"

“That image isn't from a cover, so they might very well have taken in internal splash and flopped it for ... reasons. To fit the logo? To fit trade dress? Dunno.”

They flipped it so the bride and groom would be on the front cover. Incidentally, none of the logos backwards (they have been corrected), although Supergirl’s is on the wrong side because there wasn’t enough room to move it as drawn.

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