When Emily and I got back from our Thanksgiving trip, we found that Copper (our cat) had thrown up a few times. It is to be expected, she’s 16 1/2 years old and has some medical problems. Unfortunately, one of the times she threw up was on some of my comics. Only 2 were ruined and both were easily replaced, but one of them reminded me that I wanted to post about its series.
Superman Chronicles is a great collection. As you can see from the header, they’re reprinting every Superman story in order, regardless of the title the story originally appeared in. Action, Superman and the first World’s Finest have all been featured so far. The only real complaint I have with the series is that it comes out far too slowly. They’re up to volume 8, but they started way back in 2006! They’re only putting out 2 a year and volume 8 only takes it to April 1942. I’d love for this series to collect the stories up to the Silver Age, but it’ll take them 16 more years to get there at this rate.
That aside, I really like the idea of reprinting these stories in chronological order apart from the individual series. If there are any stories that might have been otherwise missed going title by title, this ensures they’ll still be reprinted. Plus, you get a feel for how the stories played out for the people reading them at the time. I also like the price. $14.99 is a much better deal than most of the hardcovers being issued that collect the same stories. The DC Archives, which are the hardcovers, are currently selling for $59.99, far out of the price range of most readers. The paperback Chronicles are currently only dealing with the characters Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman while the Archive Editions cover a much larger variety of titles, but this is the only place many readers will ever see the old stories. I really doubt that I’ll ever manage to get very many of the hardcovers, so I’m happy to be able to read these.
The old Superman stories are shocking to read. The character has evolved so much from what he started as and I’m not just referring to the level of power or the quality of storytelling. Superman was a thug when he started out. Sure, he was a good guy and stood up for the weak and oppressed, but he had no qualms using fear to gather information or of badly injuring the bad guys. The stronger he got, the more noble he became and holding on to his developing principles in the face of evil and brutality became his limiting factor. It is also what makes the character so inspiring and relatable despite his incredible powers. If you have any interest in how these characters came to be the ones we recognize today, you should pick up these volumes. You also get to watch the art evolve, the stories improve and see how all the villains were introduced. You get to watch all the supporting characters change and grow as well. The characters we read today reflect the world we live in, but also are the product of 70 years of storytelling evolution. In addition to their own history, they help tell the cultural history of America.