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Orange is the new Luthor.

§ April 24th, 2024 § Filed under dc comics, superman § No Comments

So last time I talked a bit about the first issue of John Byrne’s Superman revamp, and how it felt to encounter it as it was happening, after having read Superman comics prior to this and witnessing the changes to the franchise in real time. I pointed out a number of those changes that happened just in that one comic, but a few of you beat me to the punch and started bringing up other alterations later in the Man of Steel mini-series.

Right out of the gate in the comments, David slings the following at me

“I always felt like the biggest change in Man of Steel was the change to Lex Luthor. His pre-Crisis persona was genius supervillain. Man of Steel established him as a genius businessman, who hated Superman, which moved him to villainy.”

Luthor went through several changes in the character’s history (a number of which I listed in this long-ago post which may amuse). The “mad scientist who hates Superman” remained fairly consistent from Luthor’s inception up through this point in the 1980s, cosmetic costume/hairstyle overhauls aside. The biggest alteration to the character was the adding the idea of Luthor having grown up in Smallville, concurrently with Clark/Superboy, and establishing the origin of his hatred (i.e. blaming the Boy of Steel for the loss of his hair).

But with the reboot comes A New Take (not to mention the loss of Superboy — more on that in a future post — effectively removing Smallville from Luthor’s backstory) and apparently Marv Wolfman had the idea for Big Businessman Luthor some time before Byrne came along. Here’s a bit from an article in Amazing Heroes #96 (1986), previewing the reboot:


Now the new idea as to why Luthor hated Superman had to do with him being the most powerful man in Metropolis…until the Man of Tomorrow showed up.

Hair still comes into play, as Superman’s first post-reboot encounter with Luthor in Man of Steel #4 ends with Lois hairline-shaming him:


Yes, I borrowed these scans from a two-year-old post where I go into a little more detail about the changes in Luthor’s motivations over the years. I’ll repeat here what I said there, in that there were some comments at the time that New Luthor bore some resemblance to Marvel’s “respected businessman” villain Wilson Fisk, AKA the Kingpin. Interestingly, both characters have had their evil shenanigans become increasingly more public knowledge as time has gone on, though still being able to hold high political offices (Luthor as President, Fisk as Mayor of New York).

Speaking of which, Byrne/Wolfman Luthor had that veneer of legitimacy crack a bit in that very “first” appearance, where Luthor was arrested. And as the years have continued, and DC continued its trend of backpedaling on the sweeping changes from both Byrne and Crisis on Infinite Earths, Luthor slowly became more and more like his pre-Crisis incarnation, to wearing versions of his early 1980s superarmor, to regularly being shown in prison. The “businessman” era still exists in current continuity, but now has more or less merged with previous versions.

Yet more reboot fiddling had initially made Luthor a much older man than previously portrayed. As you saw above, Lex and Clark were contemporaries in Smallville. In the reboot, he was at least a couple of decades older…he had to be old enough to believably have a son in his 20s, per a storyline a few years later. In Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography (1989), he’s shown as a child, and friends with a young Perry White:


However, Luthor has gradually become younger, both with an in-story explanation of his brain being transplanted into a youthful clone body, and with a no-explanation “he’s just younger now” pushing him back to around Clark/Lois’s ages. In fact, he’s now back to having have lived in Smallville and hangin’ with Teen Clark. I think this return-to-form was first evident in the continuity-or-not mini Birthright, discussed here (where the series’ writer himself chimes in).

So this new version of Luthor was indeed a significant modification to the Superman saga. But like many of DC’s changes from the period, the inertial effect of previous portrayals force at least some reversals of those decisions. If DC can make (multiple) attempts at bringing back the multiverse concept done away with in Crisis on Infinite Earths, it shouldn’t be surprising that Luthor has traded his business suit back in for his prison greys (or oranges).

And that he played football in high school, that was somethin’.

§ April 22nd, 2024 § Filed under dc comics, superman § 17 Comments


I know I’ve talked about this before, but bear with me for a moment. I will hear modern day criticisms of Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC’s continuity-changing mini-series from 1985, where it is essentially summed up as being “a bad story.” Beautifully drawn, there’s no argument about that. But the actual plot and script itself are held up as flawed.

And, I mean, fair enough. I once posted on Bluesky “thou shalt not read Crisis for its prose,” as just reading it for the story is only part of the experience. And the part of the experience that is arguably most significant is one that simply can’t be captured decades later, by people who weren’t there for it in 1985 as it debuted. It especially can’t be captured after the onslaught of universe-changing events and crossovers and reboots and rejiggerings that have been churned out since Crisis.

It was the excitement at the time that fed into the Crisis experience. Yes, maybe the storyline was, to be kind, slightly nonsensical. But DC Comics promised BIG CHANGES in their series, at a time when readers weren’t quite so jaded to assurances like these, and right from the get-go we were getting those changes in this series. As you picked up each succeeding issue, you were left wondering “what happens next? What worlds will live, what worlds will die, what will never remain the same?” Things were happening in this series, seemingly irrevocable things, and readers were left in suspense month to month as to what was next.

Well, that was then, this is now, DC has spent nearly 40 years trying to undo Crisis, and after seeing, like I said, reboot after relaunch after reboot, the primary oomph that moved the series along has faded away, leaving a nicely-drawn comic with a story that no longer has the energy it once did. It’s like reading about a roller coaster that had been torn down long ago and you can no longer ride. Meanwhile, old farts like me are all “you just don’t get it, that roller coaster was awesome back in the day.”

Which brings me to Man of Steel #1 from 1986.


Crisis wasn’t the only engine of change over there at mid-1980s DC Comics. Superstar comic book artist/writer John Byrne moved from Marvel to their rivals to take command of a “reboot” of the Superman line of comics.

The previous five decades’ worth of Superman comics would be brought to an end, the two main titles (Action and Superman) would be put on a brief hold, while Byrne’s six-issue mini-series The Man of Steel would be issues on a biweekly basis. That series would essentially restart the Superman line from scratch, with a new canonical origin, redesigns of old establishing elements, and a shaking up of Everyhing We Know about the character.

Right from the first page we’re presented a new vision of Krypton:


Inspired in part its depiction in 1979’s Superman: The Movie, this new version of Krypton does away with the sci-fi pulp style cities we’d previously seen. We now have a cold and sterile environment, where the inhabitants shun contact with each other, where babies (like Kal-El) are created in a “birth matrix” without all the fuss and mush of mixed genetic material the old-fashioned way.

As I recall, Byrne’s intent was to create a Krypton that wasn’t a high-tech fantasyland, a wonderful and magical place, but rather a loveless world that was already dying even withoiut the whole “about to explode” thing. A place that a young Kal-El was lucky to escape from.

There were other changes in this first issue, too, such as establishing that Clark’s powers didn’t really come in full ’til he was older, thus doing away with the Superboy (and Superbaby!) era of the character. That only one piece of Kryptonite made it to Earth. That there was some sort of “aura” around Superman’s body, a thin one just above the surface of his skin, that would prevent damage to, say, a skin-tight superhero uniform made out of ordinary Earth materials. (As opposed to resewing super-strong Kryptonian blankets in which he was swaddled as a baby.) That Superman wouldn’t let on that he even had a secret identity, letting folks think he was just Superman all day, every day.

There were other little changes, plus plenty more in the rest of this mini-series, but the big change, the BIGGEST change:


…is Ma and Pa Kent still being alive.

This was the wild one, the choice that really struck me out of all the other decisions made for this new version of Superman. For years, one of the big emotional elements of the character was ultimately how alone he was…I mean, despite his cousin Supergirl and a whole freakin’ Bottle City of Kandor in his Fortress of Solitude. This was long before Lois new the secret, of course, which was still a reboot away. And I suppose he had his super-pals in the Justice League.

But when it just came to Superman in his own books, he was pretty much just on his own. No confidantes, no family (unless Supergirl was guest-starring), just him and his thoughts. Most notably there’s those scenes when he goes back to Ma and Pa’s now empty Smallville home (which he still owns, of course), and putters around there for whatever reason, sadly recalling his younger days. It’s especially evident when you compare this to, say, DC’s former line-up of superhero TV shows, where every hero has a support team, either back at the home office or out in the field, who all know his secret, who all fight beside him.

The other change this makes to the mythos is that we lose out on the lesson Superman learns, that there are just some things even a Superman can’t do.


That’s from DC Comics Presents #50, where Supes and Clark are split into two beings…long story. But the important element is there…”with all my power, I couldn’t save them.” Now the “save them from what specifically” isn’t important. In some comics it’s just old age, in others it’s a deadly virus picked up during a time travel vacation to piratey days (because Superman comics), but the result is the same. It’s an important lesson, one that even makes it into the ’79 flick.

Despite that, it is kind of fun to have them around, to have a home that Superman can go to and have actual parents around, versus ghosts and memories haunting him pre-Crisis. They add a little emotional depth to the proceedings. In recent years it was a little unclear what their status was…George Pérez had famously stated he couldn’t get an answer as to whether they were alive or dead for the New 52 relaunch. But Pa Kent died during a storyline prior to that, and post-New 52/Rebirth they had both apparently died in a car wreck, but [SPOILER] revived due to universal shenanigans in Doomsday Clock. So I guess they’re still around now, which is nice.

Now the Man of Steel mini itself, even at the time, took a little critical drubbing from reviewers and fans. Part of it was, I think, just out of spite. Folks thought a certain way about Byrne and they were always looking for a way to knock him down a peg. Plus Superman, despite having low-selling comics for quite a while prior to the reboot, was still an object of “well, this is the way it should be” backlash from some quarters, objecting to the alterations. And on top of all that…yeah, the series was a little clunky in parts. Byrne was trying to rush through several years’ worth of continuity and world-building in these six issues, catching Superman up to the “present day” of the DC Universe.

Like Crisis (remember Crisis from way back at the beginning of this?) this is a book that also suffers a bit in retrospect. I think it may be a little easier for readers new to it to understand that this book was a Big Deal at the time, given it was tackling the Biggest Hero in Comics and giving him a fresh start. And that, when all is said and done, this is the Superman that is still around today, despite whatever fiddling was done with continuity, despite the asides we got with the absolutely-distinct-from-the-post-Crisis-version New 52 Supes. Our current Superman is the John Byrne Reboot Superman. You can still draw a line directly from Man of Steel #1 to the latest issues of Action and Superman.

But that said…I feel like any readers not old enough to have read Man of Steel back in the mid-1980s may be in a similar position as those new to Crisis. They weren’t there, in real time, watching the pre-Crisis Superman getting wrapped up and put away, while this new series came along to reintroduce the hero. The excitement of change was there, as we wondered what this Byrne fella had in store for us as Man of Steel wrapped up and the new Superman titles launched and/or relaunched. It’s a particular frisson that’s missed when coming to the stories now, especially after all the retoolings both Superman and the DCU at large have undergone since then.

Special thanks to Sam Hurwitt for reminding me of that DC Comics Presents sequence.

Words not deeds.

§ March 25th, 2024 § Filed under dc comics, movie reviews, pal plugging, sir-links-a-lot § 19 Comments

So last time I was talking about Carmine Infantino’s alleged list of “things what you put onna cover to make a funnybook sell.” It’s just one of those things that’s generally common shared knowledge in the comics world.

But like many things that are common shared knowledge, there’s more to the story, and to the rescue is Comics Worth Reading‘s Johanna, who drops a link to a Bluesky interaction between Mark Waid (editor of that Secret Origins comic I presented last time) and Kurt Busiek, a couple of comics fellas who obviously know more about what’s going on here than I do.

In short, publisher Irwin Donenfeld came up with the list in the 1950s, which Infantino related to Waid in the ’80s. But I think we can all agree comics would be improved if we returned to list.

• • •

Hey, Old Timey Comics Blog Readers? You remember Dave Campbell, don’t you? The man who brought us “Dave’s Long Box,” which ended in 2008 and that seems like so long ago. Good gravy.

Anyway, Dave’s been busy lately, working on a documentary about Hal Needham’s 1982 film Megaforce, starring Barry Bostwick, and remembered by all of you for the “DEEDS NOT WORDS” ads that were all over the back covers of comics at the time. The doc, Making Megaforce, is currently funding on Indiegogo.

Plenty of contributor levels, which can get you Blu-rays and/or digital downloads of the doc, autographs, patches, screen credits, and at the top of the heap…an actual film-used (non-operable) dune buggy from the original movie! Only one of those buggies are being offered, so don’t worry, I didn’t take that option so it’s still available for you to get!

I like Dave, and hope this project reaches its goal. Looks like a lot of fun.

• • •

The latest comics drama to break out is a noted cartoonist allegedly being a creep to a young lady. I’m using the word “allegedly” for my own protection here, but…said alleged creep has shut down his social media, and I’d seen reports of the associated popular YouTube show being closed down as well. A quick look at YouTube shows ’em all still up and running, so who knows.

Now this just happened over the weekend, so we’ll probably get some actual reporting on these events in the next day or two (or likely a reposting of the chat screenshots and some additional commentary, like what everyone’s doing on Xwitter and Bluesky). It’s an ugly situation, and the person who was the object of the reported harassment (she is also a cartoonist) has been driven off social media by people attacking her because of course they are. Waiting to see how all this shakes out…it sure doesn’t seem good.

• • •

And on a much lighter topic…I watched Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom the other night, and I think I may have liked it more than the first one. Not that the initial installment was bad, it was enjoyable, but it just felt very “by the numbers” superhero filmmaking. It could be I’d just seen enough “superhero origin” movies by that point that getting yet another one was trying my patience.

The second one just felt more fun, with an enjoyable dynamic between Aquaman and his half-brother Orm AKA “Ocean Master.” I think the fact that the main antagonist of the film was Black Manta, who appeared briefly in the previous movie. He’s here full-time however, and there’s no logical reason in the world as to why that costume should work in live action, but boy it looks cool.

It’s goofy and outlandish and Randall Park’s character “Dr. Shin” should have died no less than like a half-dozen times during the course of this story, and if I never see a diaper-changing scene ever again where the dad gets a stream of pee directly to the face it’ll be too soon…but it’s a breezy ride and I enjoyed it. Two movies is probably enough, though, so it’s probably just as well it’s ending here 1) because I think the sequel only barely broke even at the box office, and 2) they’re clearing the way for the new DC Media Adaptation regime by James Gunn and that other guy whose name I never remember.

I think there’s been some talk about Aquaman star Jason Momoa turning up as Lobo, maybe possibly, and I can see that.

Yes, I’m saying there’s a good chance my site will outlive Reddit.

§ March 22nd, 2024 § Filed under dc comics, publishing § 7 Comments

Thanks for your patience over the last couple of weeks, as personal stuff and medical stuff (which I suppose is also personal stuff) got in the way of my doing important things, like posting to my comic book weblog. So it’s been sorta thin content around here lately, but I should be fattening it up again next week!

In the meantime, let me cover a couple of things:

Sean asked in my last post:

“Do the modern fans still go ape for gorilla covers or is it all too much monkey business…?

“Also, any chance this will lead to an Angel and the Ape spin-off series?”

First, nice use of primate references in your initial question. But what Sean is referring to is legendary artist and former DC Comics head honcho Carmine Infantino’s instructions for what makes a comic book cover sell. You can see a pic of the list of those elements that’s been going around here, which I’ll transcribe in case, like many other sites I’ve linked to over the decades, that site disappears forever.

Gorillas

Dinosaurs

Motorcycles

A purple background

The city in flames

The hero crying

A direction question to the reader

These items were all semi-famously used on this Bill Wray cover for Secret Origins #40 (1989):


…though “the city on fire” is represented simply as “fire” here:


…and I’ve heard that particular element as both just “fire” and “city on fire” in discussions of Infantino’s list. (Speaking of which, I’m not sure the origins of that piece of paper that I’ve linked to on Reddit, and have seen posted elsewhere. It even looks like that paper’s been around a bit what with the folds and creases.)

Anyway, back to Sean’s question. The monkeys, do they help comic sales? Well, judging by the performance of DC’s Ape-Ril Special this week at my shop, I gotta say, “well, no, not really.” I sold a LOT of new comics this week, more than normal in fact, but only moved a couple of DC’s latest swing at comics starring our furry cousins. Now, I picked it up, primariy because I saw Monsier Mallah, the French mercenary ape (don’t look at me like that) for the Doom Patrol connection, and Detective Chimp (who is great) and I’m hoping Angel and the Ape turn up in there as well. No, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but it’s next on this toppling pile of comics and graphic novels I’m slowly working through.

Do any of those elements still work in general? I haven’t really gathered enough evidence on my own to say if there is an overall positive influence on sales by any of those items just on their own. I feel like the only common denominator to high sales being generated solely by a comic’s cover (excluding things like “speculators”) is striking cover designs. One example I can think of it Calexit #1 from 2017:


…which I just kept selling and selling and reordering and selling. Now granted, I’m in California, so maybe that helped it along too, but that cover grabbed eyes and there’s hardly a monkey or anything on fire in sight. (There is a bear, which would make Gail Simone happy.)

Onto Sean’s second comment…friends, I am an unabashed Angel and the Ape fan:


…having a complete collection of their all-too-few appearances. As such, I would totally buy a new series. Look, we all know the greatest high concept for a comic book is “Native Americans Vs. Dinosaurs,” as embodied by Turok: Son of Stone. But a close second is “Pretty Girl and Gorilla: They’re Detectives” and I’m ready for it. I’ll even write it for them if they’d like, if they won’t mind the occasional Swamp Thing cameo.

The cowl stays on.

§ February 19th, 2024 § Filed under batman, dc comics, publishing § 23 Comments


Last time, jmurphy brought up

“But the good news is that LCE #51 is being reprinted full size.”

And indeed they are! The Limited Collectors’ Edition #51 treasury edition from 1977 is coming to shelves in a facsimile edition next month, collecting together theh original Ra’s al Ghul saga by Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams. Irv Novick, and Dick Giordano.

The only image I can find on the distributor sites for this facsimile is the one I posted above, showing its original cover. I’m hoping the cover is reproduced authentically, and not “retouched” as they did with 2004 reprint of DC 100 Page Super Spectacular #6 (original / reprint). Or (ahem) “recolored” as some other Adams reprints have been.

I realize I’m probably worrying for nothing, as DC’s facsimile editions of late haven’t had that much after-the-fact fiddling and are presented more-or-less as originally printed. (Though to be fair I haven’t really taken that close a lot to see if the Golden Age facsimiles, like the Superman #1, are the redrawn versions that appeared in the early DC Archives).

The big change of course is getting the material on nice, white paper, versus the newsprint of the originals. Of course, yes, I’ve commented before about the dissonance about seeing work that originally lived on newprint suddenly being all bright and shiny, but having it on those nice, big treasury-sized pages will certainly be welcome and much easier on the ol’ eyeballs.

This will be, I think, DC’s first reprint of a treasury duplicating the original format, versus the treasury-sized hardcover edition they did of Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali (which is Peak Neal Adams Superman in my opinion). There was also a smaller “deluxe edition” hardcover published at the same time, with a new Adams cover and extra bonus material not included in the larger facsimile. I don’t know if the smaller book was given the “recoloring” treatment. Anyway, that story needs to be seen at full size, so I’m not sure why you’d want that “deluxe” version anyway.

But back to this Ra’s al Ghul treasury, which is probably about as good as this particular Bat-villain ever got in print form (outside the frankly demented and evil and great usage in the Batman Beyond cartoon). The treasury includes his first appearance and conflict with Batman, including the famed shirtless (but not cowlless) sword fight:


…and c’mon, if anything deserves to be reprinted on bigger than normal pages, it’s this.

With any luck this facsimile will do well enough to open up more reprints of DC’s treasuries (and spur Marvel along to do the same). It’s obvious why they started with this one (Batman drawn by Neal Adams, duh), but it’d be nice if they brought the Superman Vs. Wonder Woman story drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez back into print — it did get a treasury-sized hardcover reprint a few years back, but man, it should always be available.

And personally I’d like some of those Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer treasuries just to get more Sheldon Mayer in my life. Not really holding my breath for this to happen, honestly.

I hope future treasury reprints, if any, will focus on the ones with new stories that have only appeared there, versus reprinting books that contain reprints themselves. Not to say that something like this Adams Batman collection isn’t worthwhile, and nice to have on Big Ol’ Pages, but I’d rather have any new material from these show up in its original dimensions rather than being shrunk down.

That unofficial Aquaman/Sub-Mariner crossover probably is left out too.

§ February 16th, 2024 § Filed under dc comics § 8 Comments

Big news is that Marvel and DC are bringing their intercompany crossovers back into print…well, most of them, anyway, as the one pictured above obviously is out, and JLA/Avengers I suspect will come along eventually. Probably too soon after the last reprinting, maybe, but I suspect the demand for that book goosed Marvel and DC into finally realizing “oh hey we’re leaving money on the table.”

Everything else is being reprinted in two of the Omnibus editions, those large, thick, relatively ungainly hardcovers. One will have all the standalone crossovers, including the O.G. (am I using that right?) Superman/Spider-Man team-ups, Batman/Hulk, and X-Men/Teen Titans, along with all the one-shots that popped up in the 1990s. The second volume will include the Marvel Vs. DC mini-series, the Amalgam one-shots (featuring “merged” versions of Marvel and DC characters, like Wolverine and Batman being combined into “Dark Claw”) and the two Access mini-series (starring the character who can cross between the Marvel and DC universes).

On one hand, from a personal perspective, I wouldn’t mind having these for myself, simply because I gave up nearly all of these to the shop when I opened up lo these many years ago. And having them in this larger format would certainly be easier on the eyes…I do still have my copy of the original trade paperback reprinting the 1970s/1980s crossovers, and having those treasury edition-sized comics squeezed down to regular comic dimensions is not so easy on the peepers any more.

On the other hand, this is a terrible way to rerelease everything. Will the small number of sales at the much higher omnibus price point equal out to selling more copies at a cheaper price point in a more standard comic book format? I could probably sell tons of most of these crossover comics as, say, individual $7.99 facsimile editions. Or even $9.99 ones, versus the tiny handful of omnibus editions that, by the way, generally only sell at discounted prices. Even a series of trade paperbacks gathering all these together would be preferable.

On the third hand, I suppose this is easier on the publishers, not worrying about some trades selling better because they had the choice team-ups, and letting other trades fall out of print right away. Or having to go through the trouble of soliciting for individual reprints. The omnibus lets ’em say “here’s everything in two books, you want that Steve Rude Hulk/Superman, you gotta take that Punisher/Azrael-Batman crossover too.”

I am sort of curious about how they’re going to arrange the comics in the volume with Marvel Vs. DC and Amalgam. The first wave of those Amalgam comics take place, and were released, between a couple of issues of the Marvel Vs. DC mini. I wonder if they’ll keep ’em that way in the book.

Anyway, if you want these, order ’em now. Like the ROM and Micronauts omnibuses, they’ll likely not be in print for very long. Again, they’ll almost certainly be discounted upon release, but once they’re out of print and “collectible” — urgh.

July 14th, 1994.

§ November 22nd, 2023 § Filed under dc comics § 2 Comments

Just a brief almost-Low Content Mode today, so what I have here are some of the oldest digital images I have in my possession, downloaded via my America Online account. I think it was from an official DC Comics section on AOL.

The date in the subject line to this post appears to be when they were acquired, or at least copied to an old floppy disk before getting backed up to a CD-ROM. As such, I’m not sure of the exact date, but regardless it’s still about three decades ago.

Of course among these pics (converted from their original giF format to these here newfangled jay-pegs)would be some Swamp Thing, like this neat color-hold image:


…and a more traditional preview panel from the comics:


Here’s another color-hold pic, this time from the Vertigo Jonah Hex books:


Here’s an interesting illustration of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman:


…and here’s an image from (I believe) Jerry Ordway’s Shazam! graphic novel:


This is the sort of thing where I’d wished I’d kept better notes as to what has going on at the time re: the online comics world in the early World Wide Web days. If only someone would have told me then I’d start doing a comics blog about ten years later, to which I’d say, of course [old joke coming in], “what’s a blog?”

I’m pretty sure the DC area on AOL was what you’d expect, “coming attractions” and blurbs and images promo-ing their product, but at this late date I can’t even picture what it looked like. I do have a better memory of the general comics message boards that AOL hosted around that same time (I can even remember a screen name or two of other users), where there seemed to be a lot of focus on price speculation. (That may have been earlier than 1994, before the market crash began to take hold.)

I’m sure someone out there has a better retrospective of the early comic book presence on AOL. But all I have are these images, backed up decades ago to floppies, then backed up again to CD-ROMs, and probably someday backed up to whatever new file storage format I end up using next. Not sure what I’ll use them for again, since posting them to this site is probably the only real use I’ll get out of them aside from occasionally pulling them up on my computer when browsing old files and feeling nostalgic for a time I barely remember.

Destined to have been put in a Snyder film.

§ September 25th, 2023 § Filed under batman, dc comics § 11 Comments

So I’m always processing back issues at the shop…I have enough old comics just sitting in the boxes in the back room that I can probably spend the remaining few years of my life just bagging and tagging funnybooks for sale. Usually it’s a pretty quick process and I don’t get held up on any single item, puzzling over what I’m going to price it. But once in a great while, I hit bit of a roadblock that’s got me wondering.

In this case, it’s a copy of Superman und Batman (or just Superman according to the indicia inside), a German comic published in 1968:


This issue features a fairly important story in comics history, the introduction of the modern version of Batgirl (Barbara Gordon). The original English edition was released with a cover date of January 1967 (so likely very late in 1966):


Most striking of course is the color change, from the dark background on the U.S. version, versus the bright white background on the German edition.

Pages inside are good ‘n’ bright. with all the text machine-relettered verus hand printing:


And here’s the back cover because what the heck, I scanned it so here you go:


The original sells for several thousand dollars in good shape. But what of the German reissue? I’ve sold lots of non-English translations of older American superhero comics over the years, and in general they’re priced relatively low to move as more novelties than anything else.

Now, comics in Spanish do well since I live in an era with many speakers of it. But the few German comics I’ve had sit around a bit, but this one may be the exception.

Now, the original Detective #359 can sell thousands of dollars, depending on condition of course. But a reprint of a (cough) “key” story released overseas? This is taking some research as to what the potential price would be, but it’s going to take a while. In the meantime, thought I’d show it to you, because it’s pretty neat!

Also, the title should more accurately be Superman und Batman und Flash, because between the stories featuring Supes and Bats was this Flash story:


“Hey Zack, what’s up.”

Just ramblin’ about the past.

§ September 22nd, 2023 § Filed under collecting, dc comics § 17 Comments

I miss being able to flip open a comics ‘zine and seeing a pure and simple news blurb like this:


I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like reading about scandals and shenanigans in the comics industry as much as the next guy, but it’s…just nice where the item is entirely “this dude got a job on this comic.”

And whatta comic it was:


I bought this new off the rack in 1981, where 12-year-old me was still learning about the back continuity of DC’s heroes. And Tales of the Green Lantern Corps went deep into the history of that particular franchise. Between this, reprints of older stories in DC’s digests, and seeing that Golden Age/Silver Age GL team up against Krona on the early Nickelodeon show Video Comics, I knew pretty much everything I needed to know about Green Lantern.

I really ate up that stuff as a young Mikester, trying to find out about the histories of all these characters. It’s probably why I really appreciated Roy Thomas’ work on DC’s Golden Age characters at the time, as that fan feared no footnotes, exposited every exposition. I loved it all. Now, going back as Old Mikester, approaching it as storytelling versus an educational textbook, that early ’80s Golden Age material doesn’t go down quite as smoothly, but I’ll always appreciate the lessons of Roy ‘n’ pals.

Those aforementioned digests helped a lot too, reprinting from DC’s vast back catalog in themed releases…”here’s the Justice League one, here’s one with a bunch of secret origins, here’s one with Batman villains.” I grabbed those whenever I could. Even if they weren’t necessarily “educational” in the sense of explaining pertinent details of the past, it was still fun to see these tales of yesteryear, and even so E. Nelson Bridwell (or someone) usually had a small text piece providing historical context for the contents.

Sometimes the digests were like mini-graphic novels, like this one which included this whole “Batman – Murderer!” storyline. Or this whole “Warlord versus his arch-nemesis Deimos” one.

And then, going back to supplying some background to their currents series, there’s that one pictured to the right…a digest focused on the Justice Society, released shortly after the debut of of Roy Thomas’s Golden Age-centric All-Star Squadron, It not only featured an origin of the Justice Society, but also included the first Per Degaton story, a character that would again rise to some prominence during the ’80s.

Look, I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up when I started writing this post…it’s just that seeing that ancient news blurb made me nostalgic for a simpler time as a comic collector. One where I actually did wonder who was going to write/draw what title, and one where I still eagerly awaited any glimpses into the past either via reprints or flashbacks.
 
 

news blurb from Comics Feature #9 (1981)

There goes my Fables stage musical.

§ September 18th, 2023 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, retailing § 19 Comments

An update to Friday’s post about Bill Willingham declaring his Fables comic to be in the public domain: in a shocking turn of events, the publisher of Fables, DC Comics, has a problem with that. They released an announcement that basically says “Fables is ours, don’t even try it, we’re looking at you Rob Liefeld” and okay I added that last part, but still, they’re not into the whole “public domain” thing as one would expect.

And like I said, this ain’t gonna be settled ’til there’s been a lawsuit or three, so…um, don’t make up stories based on public domain fairy tale characters that even slightly resemble those published under the Fables label, I guess? And certainly don’t call it Fables.

Anyway, there may be a lot of probable…grey area to this story, as has been brought up in the comments to Friday’s post. We’ll see how this plays out.

To answer the question Sean brought up regarding who owns Willingham’s superhero team the Elementals: I actually Googled the phrase “who owns the elementals comic book” and up popped the name “Andrew Rev.”

“Comico’s publisher, Andrew Rev, purchased the Elementals property from Willingham in the 1990s.”

So I presume ol’ Andrew is still just sitting on the rights, and doing nothing with them. Or trying to do something with them and none of us know about it because it hasn’t been going anywhere. Ah well.

• • •

In other news, I’ve got medical stuff going on in the mornings for the first part of the week, so…posting may be light on Wednesday. I’m only getting this much typing done right now because I got an early start Sunday evening. But at least I wanted to show you this picture:


Believe it or not, I thought I was smiling. But I guess comics are Serious Bizness so my stern look of disapproval at all of you is the best I can manage.

So anyway, those comics. That Amazing Fantasy #15 and Amazing Spider-Man #1. About a year and a half ago a gentlemen brought in some Silver Age Marvel for sale and I purchased them from him. He and his family had inherited these and over a few weeks he offered up several comics to me that I of course had to buy. Then one week he showed me those two omics in the picture there. He wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to part with them just yet, but we talked about them and how we’d sell them and so on.

I saw him a few more times over the following months, buying other comics from him but he still wasn’t ready to part with those two books. Until he was, just recently! And before you ask…no, they’re sold, I don’t have them hanging around the store, so keep your Ocean’s 11-style shenanigans out of my shop. But I guess after all our dealings together he decided he liked the cut of my jib and asked me to handle these two beauties.

More and more stuff has shown up from this collection, and one of the unintended consequences of letting people know I had an Amazing Fantasy #15 is that I’m seeing and hearing from a lot of people about what I have to offer in my shop. Now, while I’ve been in this business for three and a half decades, I’m not a Big Name Retailer. I’m probably not even the biggest retailer in the county. So it probably came as a surprise to a lot of folks that this nobody with a tiny shop out in Camarillo, CA is suddenly awash in The Big Books.

This won’t last forever, of course. This collection will eventually run out (though there’s plenty of good stuff I still need to process) and once I no longer had The Big Books folks will move on. Unless more people bring me stuff like this after seeing…um, that I had stuff like this. I don’t know, we’ll see. But it’s been fun looking through these books that I haven’t had in my hands in a while.

…Like that Amazing Fantasy #15. Last time I held one of those in my hands was just before the big price jump in the…1990s, I think? Back when we had it for a few hundred dollars, as opposed to the…quite a bit more it commands now? Quite the item, and it was good to see it in person once again.

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