Thursday, January 23, 2014

Two TPBs of Note Coming From DC in May

This May will finally see the release of the far, far, far overdue collection of the first twelve issues of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake's brilliant take on DC's original Ghostly Guardian as Spectre Volume 1: Crimes and Judgments (although it is listed among DC's solicitations for April).  If you're at all interested, here's a link to a post I wrote about this book when it was first announced back in August. If you missed this excellent series when it was being published some twenty years ago and have failed to snap it up from the  back issue bins in the ensuing two decades, now is the moment to make up for lost time and discover one of the best comics DC has ever produced, especially since I'm guessing that if this volume sells well enough, the company will have no choice but to do what they should have done way back in the 1990s and release the entire series in trade paperback.
Also due in May is Showcase Presents Super Friends Vol. 1, a 448 page trade paperback reprinting in black and white the first 34 issues (out of a run of 47 issues) of the somewhat belated (the comic debuted in 1976 while the TV show began airing in 1973) comic based on Hanna-Barbera's Super Friends Saturday morning cartoon series, which was, in turn, very loosely based on Justice League of America
While the stories in this volume are generally deemed to exist outside of mainstream DC continuity, that seems to have been something that was decided retroactively.  Unlike later TV tie-in comics, the late E. Nelson Bridwell approached the tales in this book as if they were, in fact, taking place in the DC Universe.  The stories contain numerous references to events and developments in other DC titles of the day.  This series did have a lasting effect on the DC Universe.  It is in these pages that many of the international super-heroes who would go on to comprise the membership of the Global Guardians are first introduced, many in the same issues that introduced the Wonder Twins into the comic a few months ahead of their TV debut.  The Guardians would go on to play a major role in Keith Giffen's Justice League tales, particularly in Justice League Europe.  Continuity concerns to the side, the main selling point of this volume is over 400 pages of fun, all-ages super-hero adventures written by Bridwell with art, for the most part, provided by the legendary Ramona Fradon.
By the way, note the cover of the Showcase Presents volume, which was originally commissioned for a tabloid sized Super Friends one-shot that preceded the ongoing series.  For the most part, its by Alex Toth.  However, you'll notice that the Superman head is by someone else (it looks like Curt Swan, if I'm not mistaken, which would make sense as he was the primary Superman artist at the time.)  DC  once again, as they had on Jack Kirby's Fourth World comics a few years earlier, felt the need to "fix" Superman's face to bring it in line with their other Superman titles.  That's somewhat odd, in this case especially.  After all, Toth had done the character designs for the cartoon so it was his version of Superman, and the other Justice Leaguers, that people were presumably buying the comic for.  Also, if I'm remembering correctly, they left the Superman faces inside the comic alone, so I'm not sure what the thinking was behind meddling with the Man of Steel's visage on the cover.

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