When I was in the seventh grade I had a friend, Billy, who was in the eighth grade. Billy didn’t know too much about comics but was eager to learn. When I showed him my stack of Marvel and DC treasury editions he was a little disappointed that the art didn’t live up to the promise of the size of the pages; with all that extra space, the comics themselves were nothing more than reprints of regular sized comics. There were a few exceptions (Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles, Howard the Duck, Jack Kirby’s adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey), but for the most part he was right. In a classic case of bad timing, I stopped buying treasury editions right around that time.
A year or so later, DC released Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. Superman vs. Spiderman had been unique and exciting, but subsequent “versus” treasuries were increasingly disappointing, and Muhammad Ali (I reasoned) wasn’t even super-powered! I gave it a pass.
I was given a second chance, however, when DC recently re-released Superman vs. Muhammad Ali in a facsimile edition (“facsimile” except for the hardcover and the glossy paper stock, that is). Actually, they released two editions, but the smaller, less expensive edition contained “extras” such as pencil sketches. Decisions, decisions…
I asked the owner of my LCS if I could break the shrink wrap of the smaller edition so I could examine the extras before deciding. As soon as I saw the art of the main story, though, I knew which edition I was going to buy. The complaint I had about most of the other treasury editions, that they were the same as regular comic books only bigger, didn’t apply. Each panel of every page was packed with added detail! There was no way I was going to sacrifice the sheer size of the facsimile edition for a few pencil sketches!
In another classic case of bad timing, after three decades of avoiding “spoilers” for this story, I read a recap of it in DC Comics Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle the very week before the reprint shipped! Luckily there was a little more to the story than the recap indicated, so it wasn’t completely spoiled for me.
We’ve often spoken of the “sense of wonder” comics can bring to the very young, but it’s been so long since I’ve actually experienced it for myself I can’t remember the last time it happened. I honestly experienced the same sense of wonder I used to as a kid while reading this comic book. That’ll probably never happen to me again no matter how long I live.