§ January 31st, 2005 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

You know what I miss? DC Digests…I had occassion to dig them out of the vast Mikester Comic Archives recently, and seeing them again reminded me of what a huge loss it is to not have inexpensive, widely-available reprints of this sort anymore. (Please excuse the condition of some of the digests presented here…I took absolutely no care of them whatsoever…heck, I was 10 or so years old at the time, and I was more concerned with reading them than preserving them for future resale value…which is only right, of course. As someone who now sells funnybooks for living, though, I can’t help but wince a bit when I see them!)

Before we had trade paperbacks collecting every six issues of a comic’s run, whether they needed compiling or not, we had the digests. Best of DC Digest #9 (February 1981) reprints the “Batman – Murderer” storyline by Len Wein and Jim Aparo, predating the interminable “Bruce Wayne – Fugitive” (or whatever) storyline by about three decades. This was a story that ran through several issues, sort of a rarity at the time, so it was nice to get the whole series under one cover. Also, new to this digest: a floorplan and legend to the Wayne Foundation Building (featuring all the secret passageways and hidden Bat-rooms).

The only frustrating thing about the digest format is something that’s come up now that I have a website…it’s a lot harder to scan choice panels out of them! For example, the Best of DC Digest #16 (September 1981) reprints “The Trial of Superman,” in which the Man of Steel is on trial for the murder of Clark Kent. Attention is paid to the trouble in finding an impartial jury…but once the trial starts, a scene takes place in the jury room in which one of the jurors reveals why her decision is so difficult: apparently Superman once saved her baby from certain death. This is the impartial jury?

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #13 (September 1981) reprints, among the various sci-fi/fantasy oriented Strange Sports Stories (some ’60s classics and some newer ’70s adventures) the “classic” superheroes versus supervillains baseball game story “The Great Super-Star Game!” If there’s a stranger splash page than Superman pitching a baseball, with the Joker up to bat, I’m not sure I’ve seen it. A welcome addition to the digest is an essay by Bob Rozakis on how he wrote the story (by creating the twists and turns of the game in the story by playing a baseball-themed playing card game).

Best of DC Digest #14 (July 1981) showcases five of Batman’s most famous villains, in a series of stories reprinted from the 1970s. New to the digest were one page origins of each villain…and, if memory serves, the origin page for the Penquin featured information heretofore unknown. (I think I remember reading that this was the case…correct me if I’m wrong!) There’s also a new two-page spread featuring 24 Batman villains drawn by Denys Cowan and Dick Giordano…”Can you identify them,” asks the caption, and, sadly, I can.

This is exactly the kind of thing I wish I had at the store to sell to kids…an inexpensive book featuring Batman’s bad guys. I could sell tons of these now.

Best of DC Digest #8 (Dec 1980) was the very first DC Digest I ever bought, featuring Superman in alternate identities (such as a genie, or a butler, or a hobo). The lead story is “The Day Superman Became the Flash,” retitled for reprinting as “The Five Other Identities of Superman” (probably because there’s another story in the digest where Superman also becomes the Flash, and this first story is more about Superman taking on identities duplicating some of his fellow Justice League members).

For some reason, the back cover has, among pictures of Supes’ various guises, this image:

…an identity that appears nowhere in the digest, unfortunately.

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #10 (June 1981) just makes me wish DC would get around to releasing manga-formatted reprints of Mike Grell’s Warlord series. You’d think with Conan doing so well at the moment in the comics market, DC would want to try to exploit it. Plus, these early Warlords still hold up after all these years. Lots of fun!

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #14 (October 1981) has a great Joe Kubert cover, on top of collection of DC’s ’60s sci-fi comics that, alas, are rarely seen nowadays. It’s not completely superhero-free, as an Adam Strange story is thrown into the mix, but who’s going to complain about Adam Strange, you know?

Ah, the Year’s Best Comics Stories digest (this one being Best of DC #52 (Sept 1984)) – in which the editors of DC got together and voted for what they believed were the top comics the company released over the previous year. This was a good way to expose readers to comics they may have overlooked…along with the New Teen Titans and Batman stories were “The Death of Blackhawk Island” by Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle, and the first Amethyst story “Birthright” by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, and Ernie Colon. Also included was “Stopover in A Place of Secret Truths,” Marty Pasko’s Swamp Thing story that introduced Steve Bissette and John Totleben as Swampy’s regular art team.

Favorite part of the digest…this detail from the back cover drawn by Paris Cullins and Dick Giordano:

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