by KC Carlson
THIS MONTH IN CLASSIC COMIC BOOK COLLECTIONS
SPOTLIGHT: Day of Judgment (DC Comics). This may not be the best collection this month, but it certainly has the most interesting backstory. This five-issue “event” series from 1999 has never been collected, even though it’s one of Geoff Johns’ earliest DC works (which is probably why it’s being collected now). It features the debut of (then recently deceased) Green Lantern Hal Jordan as the new Spectre, after Jim Corrigan (the previous Spectre “host”) earned his final reward.
This was very controversial at the time, as many fans were not thrilled that Jordan was killed off in the pages of his own book to make way for what DC thought was a “younger, cooler” GL in Kyle Rayner. Many hardcore GL fans dropped Green Lantern in protest — although the stunt brought in many new readers as well. (In retrospect, the whole thing kinda seems like an early tryout for “New 52”-style concepts and reboots.)
What was less publicized at the time was the fact that the concept of Hal as the Spectre was not created by Geoff Johns, nor by anybody else working at DC. It was first posited as a idea by a fan — Joe Farley — in an email to the company. DC editor Dan Raspler saw the email, thought it was a great solution for the “Hal Jordan Problem” (from DC’s point of view), and set wheels in motion around the DC office to make it happen.
Raspler was not the editor credited with Day of Judgment. GL editor Kevin Dooley was. But Raspler would edit the “Jordan as Spectre” revival in The Spectre volume 4, as well as mention Joe Farley’s idea in the first issue text page (which was probably actually written by Tony Bedard or Steve Wacker). And yes, Farley was monetarily compensated by DC for the idea.
A secondary highlight of Day of Judgment was the teaming up of many of DC’s mystical characters as the Sentinels of Justice, including the Phantom Stranger, Doctor Fate, Madame Xanadu, Raven, Zatanna, Deadman, Doctor Occult, Faust, Sentinel (GL Alan Scott), Ragman, Enchantress, Blue Devil, Bloodwynd, and Tempest (formerly Aqualad). Believe it or not, these kind of mystic team-ups used to be a rarity in the DCU, and now there are actual series devoted to them.
Although the Sentinels of Justice never had their own title, they did appear occasionally around the DCU. Many of the characters were prominent in the Infinite Crisis/Day of Vengeance/Shadowpact era of DC, where the Spectre would receive another new host — the recently deceased Gotham Central detective Crispus Allen.
Eventually, the whole Hal Jordan/Spectre connection (or at least the motivation behind it) would be undone in the much-lauded 2004 Green Lantern: Rebirth, written by … Geoff Johns.
But it all began in Day of Judgment, an editorial-driven crossover (as opposed to creator-driven) that wasn’t considered a major DC event (mostly due to burn-out by both DC’s editors and creators and DC’s fans). There were about a dozen tie-in books to the main title (which aren’t included in this new collection), but most of them appeared in DC’s secondary titles. (Who, frankly, could have used the “bump” from an event tie-in. But it probably didn’t help their sales much. You won’t miss them here.) What is included in the collection is the very enjoyable Day of Judgment Secret Files and Origins, featuring several short stories and profile pages of the characters.
Day of Judgment wasn’t one of DC’s best events, but it’s a key missing piece in several ongoing character histories, and therefore a must for fans of DC’s previous continuity.
(Thanks to Bob Greenberger for jogging my memory. Or rattling my brains. Take your pick.)
MORE BIG COMIC BOOKS
Essential Captain Marvel Volume 2 (Marvel): Collecting Captain Marvel #22-35 and 39-46, plus Iron Man #55 and Marvel Feature #12, all mostly by Jim Starlin and cohorts (including Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom, Chris Claremont, Marv Wolfman, and other surprises, such as Wayne Boring!) This is when Marvel went Cosmic! And began experimenting with long-form storytelling. Some of the most mind-expanding Marvel stories ever (as approved by the Cosmic Code Authority!) — now in stunning black and white for the first time! 528-page B&W softcover. More Captain Marvel below…
Jack Davis’ EC Stories: Artist’s Edition (IDW): We don’t have much information on which classic Jack Davis EC stories (all written by either Al Feldstein or Harvey Kurtzman) will be included in this 176-page oversized hardcover — although the classic “Foul Play” will be one of them. Plus, there’s an extensive Davis cover gallery — all printed at the original art size, and on paper as close as possible to the original art board. Mostly B&W, but scanned in color so you can see corrections, editor’s marks, and blue pencil. Highly recommended!
Marvel Masterworks: Captain Marvel Volume 1 (Marvel): Now in a popular-priced trade paperback format! Collects Marvel Super-Heroes #12-13 (The origin!) and Captain Marvel #1-9 by Roy Thomas and Arnold Drake, Gene Colan, and Don Heck. 256-page color softcover.
Marvel Masterworks: The Invincible Iron Man Volume 8 (Marvel): Collecting Invincible Iron Man #39-53, a transitional time for the long-running series, featuring story and art by a number of different creators including Gerry Conway, Mike and Gary Friedrich, Robert Kanigher, George Tuska, and Herb Trimpe. The highlights here are Iron Man #47, an origin retelling by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith, and some very early Marvel work by Jim Starlin. 320-page remastered color hardcover.
New Warriors Omnibus Volume 1 (Marvel): Ah, it isn’t a complete month at Marvel without a 1000+ page Omnibus. This time the mega-book is about Marvel’s then-idealistic young heroes, the New Warriors. This was one of the early super-group books about young characters who weren’t kid sidekicks. The members of this early team consisted of Marvel Boy, Firestar, Nova (he’s hot now — or so Marvel hopes!), Namorita, Speedball, and Night Thrasher. Because little at Marvel ever debuts in its own series, the first appearances of the New Warriors were in Thor #411-412 (included here). Also reprinted are the first 26 issues of their own book, as well as numerous early appearances in other titles, mostly Annuals. The team was first assembled by Tom DeFalco, but Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley developed the regular series. This 1064-page color hardcover has two covers, one by Mark Bagley and the other by Scottie Young.
Avengers Vs. X-Men Companion (Marvel): Marvel’s other 1,000+ page hardcover this month. That’s a lot of pages for something that Marvel initially said was only going to tie into a few titles. That was true, but we had no idea how many issues would be involved. The majority of stories actually were good and actually tied into — and enhanced — the main story. It’s probably no surprise that the better ones (including Wolverine and the X-Men and the two core Avengers books) were written by the same guys that were part of the team writing AvX itself: Jason Aaron and Brian Michael Bendis. I especially enjoyed the sidebars to K’un Lun which showed off some of Marvel’s lesser used characters, such as Iron Fist and Hope.
The AvX Companion compiles everything AvX that wasn’t already in the AvX Hardcover listed a couple months back. Here’s the list: Avengers Academy #29-33, Secret Avengers #26-28, Avengers #25-30, New Avengers #24-30, X-Men Legacy #266-270, Wolverine & the X-Men #9-16 and #18, AvX: Consequences #1-5, Uncanny X-Men #11-20, and (my favorite) A-Babies vs. X-Babies #1. Creators include Christos Gage, Rick Remender, Kieron Gillen, Skottie Young, Walter Simonson, Tom Grummett, Mike Deodato Jr., Chris Bachalo, Nick Bradshaw, Greg Land, Daniel Acuna, Ron Garney, and Bendis and Aaron.
A lot of folks wrote off AvX as a big fight book. Which it is, but on a massive scale rarely seen to this extent. Considering that the rock solid foundation of the entire Marvel Universe is heroes fighting heroes (Hi Stan! Hi Jack!), AvX is the ultimate culmination of those two gentlemen’s literally ground-breaking and earth-shattering work. The secret of AvX was that these creators actually used this forum to fundamentally change the course of the Marvel Universe — although some might say that it merely righted previous wrongs done to it. (Let’s also hope that future creators don’t go crazy and create thousands of new mutants. That trick already failed once.) That they did this without denying previous storylines and without blowing the whole thing up and starting over is a significant feat. I, for one, really appreciated that it wasn’t all “Sturm und Drang” — that we also got to see the human side of the Marvel Universe. Plus, I liked how they included stories that deliberately lightened the tone (AvX: Vs., A-Babies vs. X-Babies, and Wolverine and the X-Men).
The Avengers Vs. X-Men Companion is a 1,088-page color hardcover with a cover by Jim Cheung.
Showcase Presents: Superman Family Volume 4 (DC Comics): Love old-school goofy DC Comics? Then don’t miss this 520-page collection of classic Imaginary stories (including the very first one!) and “real” stories featuring Giant Turtle Man Jimmy, Fat Jimmy, Jimmy being beaten up by tiny Supermen, Wolf-Boy Jimmy, Rock ‘n Roll Jimmy (as Chip O-Doole!), Super Lois and Lana (Silver Age Catfight!), Blind Lois, Elastic Lass, the Mad Woman of Metropolis, Lois with X-Ray Specs, and Lois Lane: Supergirl’s Mom! Collects Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #45-53 and Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #17-26 in glorious black & white! You can’t buy stories like this any more!!! (Except right here!)
Superman: The Man of Tomorrow Archives Volume 3 (DC Comics): Collecting Superman adventures from the 1960s in chronological order! Reprints Superman #132-139, plus the Superman stories from Action Comics #255-266, including battles with Titano the Super-Ape, criminals from Krypton, and of course, Lex Luthor! 408-page remastered color hardcover.
COMING SOON TO THE BLOG: Looks at Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (New Edition) and the new Hawkeye Volume 1 collection from Bob Greenberger and the oddball John K. Presents Spumco Comic Book from Roger Ash.
ALSO THIS MONTH IN CLASSIC COMIC BOOK COLLECTIONS
ACG Collected Works: Forbidden Worlds Volume 3 (PS Artbooks): Collects Forbidden Worlds #12-18 from 1952-53. 288-page color hardcover.
Harvey Horrors: Witches Tales Volume 1 (PS Artbooks): Collects issues #1-7 from 1951-52. 180-page color softcover.
Judge Dredd: The Complete Carlos Ezquerra Volume 1 (IDW): Collecting some of the earliest Dredd stories by co-creator and artist Carlos Ezquerra. Written by John Wagner. A beautifully bound 248-page B&W hardcover.
Roy Thomas Presents: Phantom Lady Volume 2 (PS Artworks): Collects Phantom Lady stories from Fox’s Phantom Lady #18-23 , All Top Comics #8-17, plus Farrell’s Phantom Lady #1-4 and Wonder Boy #17-18, all from 1948-1955. 288-page color hardcover.
Roy Thomas Presents: Planet Comics Volume 3 (PS Artworks): Collects Fiction House’s Planet Comics #9-12 from 1940-41. 288-page color hardcover.
The Simon & Kirby Library: Science Fiction (Titan): Collecting S&K classic science fiction stories from the 1940s and 50s, including for the first time in 70 years, the first Blue Bolt story by Simon. Plus an introduction by Dave Gibbons. 352-page color hardcover. Resolicitation: If you want it, please reorder now. Previous orders have been canceled.
Torpedo Volume 2 (IDW): 144 pages more of Enrique Sanchel Abuli and Jordi Bernet’s cinematic masterpiece about 1930s New York City’s criminal underbelly. B&W softcover.
THIS MONTH IN CLASSIC COMIC STRIP COLLECTIONS
The Complete Flash Gordon Library Volume 3: The Fall of Ming (Titan): By Alex Raymond with Don Moore. Completely restored. Resolicitation: If you want it, please reorder now. Previous orders have been canceled.
Complete Little Orphan Annie Volume 9: Saints and Cynics (IDW/LoAC): The lives of gangster Nick Gatt and crusading District Attorney John Tecum become inextricably linked. Plus Axel is back! Collecting both dailies and Sundays from February 29, 1940, to November 23, 1941. Little Orphan Annie was one of the most popular comic strips in the world. 296-page B&W hardcover.
The Complete Peanuts Volume 19 1987-1988 (Fantagraphics): This volume begins a surprise format change, as creator Charles M. Schulz’s daily strips changed from the rigid use of four square panels to a more flexible one-to-three panel format. Sharp-eyed readers will also note Schulz’s increased use of gray tones in the strip. This volume’s introduction is by Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury). 344-page B&W hardcover.
The Complete Steve Canyon Volume 3 (IDW/LoAC): Reprints every strip from 1951 and 1952, with plenty of new and old characters. One of the cool things about this series is that it shares formats with IDW/LoAC’s Eisner Award-winning Terry and the Pirates. So all your Milton Caniff collections will look nice together on bookshelves. 336-page B&W hardcover.
Modesty Blaise Volume 23: The Girl In The Iron Mask (Titan): Features the classic stories “Fiona,” Walkabout,” and “The Girl in the Iron Mask” by Peter O’Donnell and Enric Badia Romero. 104-page B&W softcover.
KC CARLSON: Reprint Wrangler to the Stars!