Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Pulp Culture
DC Comics
'Archive Editions'
are great gifts


November 28, 2002
By Franklin Harris

Today is a day for giving thanks, visiting with family and watching football, not necessarily in that order. So, relax and let the turkey and trimmings you consumed digest. Enjoy it while you can, because tomorrow the Christmas shopping season begins in earnest.

Did that upset your tummy? Sorry. But don't worry. I have gift ideas for the geek who has everything.

For the comic-book enthusiast on your list, I recommend one of DC Comics' splendid "Archive Editions," and not just because a few are always on my own want list.

For more than a decade, DC Comics has reprinted its classic stories in handsome archival volumes, each well worth the nearly $50 price tag, which pays for the high restoration costs associated with reprinting comics first published as long ago as the late '30s and early '40s.

In some cases, you would have to pay $1,000 or more for an original of just one comic reprinted in an "Archive Edition."

There is a reason DC calls its collection the "Archive Editions." Each volume preserves a few pages of comics history, which otherwise would turn yellow and brittle and eventually fade away.

So far, DC has published five volumes each of "Superman Archives" and "Batman Archives" and three volumes each of "Superman: The Action Comics Archives" and "Batman: The Dark Knight Archives." These books feature the first adventures of DC's flagship heroes, taken from early issues of "Superman," "Detective Comics," "Action Comics" and "Batman."

Other Golden Age "Archive Editions" include "Wonder Woman Archives" (three volumes), "Plastic Man Archives" (four volumes) and "All-Star Comics Archives" (eight volumes), the last of these collecting the adventures of the Justice Society of America.

Superheroes of the Silver Age are well represented, too.

The Justice League of America, The Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern and The Atom all have at least one "Archive Edition," and Aquaman finally gets his long-awaited first volume early next year, unfortunately too late for the holidays.

If you're looking for something other than superheroes, DC has reprinted several of its war titles. "The Enemy Ace Archives," "The Sgt. Rock Archives" and "The Blackhawk Archives" have one volume each in print.

My own favorite "Archive Editions," apart from the "Plastic Man Archives," are the two volumes (so far) of "World's Finest Comics Archives," which reprint the earliest team-ups of Batman and Superman.

A complete list of "Archive Editions" is available online at The DC Archive Edition Home Page, and you can order copies from any comic-book shop.

For science-fiction fans, I suggest "Ray Bradbury: An Illustrated Life" by Jerry West (William Morrow, $34.95).

This coffee-table book follows the career of one of America's greatest writers, Ray Bradbury, recalling his remarkable stories through the art they inspired.

See the ruined cities of Mars from "The Martian Chronicles" and the prehistoric jungles of "A Sound of Thunder" as imagined by artists and filmmakers over more than half a century.

Also, fans of classic sci-fi television will appreciate "The Outer Limits: The Original Series" Vol. 1. This four-disc DVD set includes all 32 first-season episodes of the great SF television series. Episodes include "The Man Who Was Never Born" with Martin Landau, "The Galaxy Being" with Cliff Robertson and "The Sixth Finger" with David McCallum.

The set retails for about $80.

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