Saturday, June 30, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #29 - Oct. 1982

sgFive brand-new Sugar & Spike stories? Huzzah!

Since its safe to assume that DC did not commission Sheldon Mayer to do new material just for this digest, these stories must have been done earlier and never used, so DC figured this was a great place to run them. Throw in some Binky and some Stanley & His Monster, and you've got one fun collection of stories!

There's a one-page story, "Pint-Sized Nature Study" that runs on the inside front cover, then we open with "The New Pull-Toy", which is one of the all-new stories. After that are:
"The Mystery of the Bouncing Stick"
"Spike Discovers the Ocean"
"The Flashlight"
"The Present"
"Spike's Adventure with the Air-Waves"
"Lion in the House"
the all-new "The Big Hippo Mystery"

...then we have a detour into a Binky story, "The T.V. Man" by John Albano, Win Mortimer, and Bill Draut, and then it's back to S&S with the all-new "Adventure in the Animal Place", and then an all-new Stanley and His Monster story, "Stanley's Birthday Party" which is uncredited. But since it was originally produced for the never-published Stanley and His Monster #113, we can safely assume it was at least drawn by Bob Oksner and Tex Blaisdell, who did all the previous Stanley stories.

Sugar and Spike then round out the issue with "How Sugar & Spike Became A Pair of Christmas Dollies", and one final one-page story, "Romance--Half-Pint Style", which features a Batman cameo!

I don't think I'm saying anything new stating that Mayer's Suagr & Spike stories were--are--a delight. Wonderfully fun for kids, but with charm and wit. It was great that DC dusted off these stories and brought them back again, with Binky and Stanley, to boot!

If you wanted to get a real little kid a good First Comic, you could do a lot worse than this. And you can find copies on ebay for just a few bucks!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Adventure Comics #491 - Sept. 1982

The very next month after the cancellation of DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest, DC started up another digest title, sort of--Adventure Comics. DC had cancelled its long-lasting title in February 1982 then restarted it in September in the digest format. And odd choice, to be sure, but as we'll see they used it for some really excellent material.

It opens with an all-new Shazam! story, "The Confederation of Hell" by E.Nelson Bridwell, the late, great Don Newton, and Frank Chiaramonte. Shazam! was running in World's Finest for a while, so I assume this new material was originally commissioned for that book. But then when Shazam! was dropped from WF, it left the material without a home, so when DC started up Adventure Comics Digest it seemed like the perfect place for some all-new material amid the reprints.

The othe features include:
Superboy in "The Legion of Super-Heroes" by Otto Binder and Al Plastino
Aquaman in "Sorcerers of the Sea" by the unbeatable team of Steve Skeates, Jim Aparo, and editor Dick Giordano--SAG!
part one of a Black Canary solo tale (aka "The Canary and the Cat!") by Denny O'Neil and Alex Toth
The Sandman in "The Man Who Couldn't Sleep" by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Superboy again in "Prisoner of the Super-Heroes" by Jerry Siegel and George Papp
The Spectre in "The War That Shook The Universe!" by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson

This book also came with a text piece by Paul Levitz about the stories, and DC's plan to start reprinting every Legion tale, in a row(shades of the Archives series!), as well as a set of new front and back covers by Keith Giffen and Romeo Tanghal, with the back highlighting every star in the book, a fun touch.

One of the most special parts of this series to me was it was the first, and as far as I know only, time the classic SAG run on Aquaman has been reprinted, ever. I remember discovering this issue at the aforementioned Voorhees News and Tobacco Shop, and when I saw it contained "new" Aquaman stories I snapped it up. It was that much better when I realized that these were some of the best Aquaman stories ever done! To say nothing of the Alex Toth Black Canary story, as well as work by Kirby, Newton, and Anderson--this was a great way to kick-off this new version of Adventure Comics!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #28 - Sept. 1982

sgNow that our diversion with the digest ads is over(for now), we resume with Best of DC #28, starring everyone's favorite Archie clone, Binky, in Binky's Summer Fun!

I've said this before, but you have to give DC credit for trying to (re-)capture their younger and/or female audience by bringing this material back out, when superheroes' death-grip on comics was almost complete. Sure, this material is woefully out of date for 1982(heck, it was out of date when it was originally published), but it took some thought at DC editorial to put this together instead of yet another Superman collection.

I'm not going to bother giving story titles since...what would be the point? They're all five-to-six-page features starring Binky and his pals Sonny, Debbi, Scooter, and more. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm denigrating the work...the art by Dan Golderg and Henry Scarpelli is all very nice and firmly in the Archie mode. These are good, solid, kids' comics.

The special stuff is, of course, Sheldon Mayer's Sugar and Spike, starring in "Who's Sorry Now?" as well as a Doodles Duck story, which is actually pretty inventive. At point when Doodles is reading Hansel & Gretel to his nephew Lemuel(after taking away his comic book, saying H&G is more educational) he tells Lemuel that H&G stole some breadcrumbs from them father in the story. The Lemuel yells out "That's stealing! The comics code would never let that by!"

Topped off with a nice cover by Bob Oksner and Tex Blaisdell, this makes for a nice collection. It must have done ok, sales-wise, since is just the beginning of Binky's appearance in the digests!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

DC Comics June 1980 Ad

sgOne of DC's most memorable, fun ads, courtesy Ross Andru and(I assume) Dick Giordano.

I still wish DC had shown these digest covers at a little bigger size, but what the hey--this ad has lots of enthusiasm, which is always important in trying to sell the books.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

DC Comics April 1980 Ad

sgA handsome ad promoting of DC's most fun concepts, the Year's Best collections. The hand holding a book that has a hand on it, though, makes my head hurt.

I didn't mention this at the time of posting this book, but...1)man, would I hate to have to sit behind Deadman, and 2)on the upper left corner you can see Zan and Janya, pretty much the only time they got to mingle with the rest of the DCU!

Monday, June 25, 2007

DC Comics February 1980 Ad

sgAnother fine ad, this one containing some surprises--recognize that issue of Jonah Hex and Other Western Tales? Nope, me either!

Since the last ad promoted the third issue of Hex, it's safe to assume that this is a never published fourth issue! It seems strange that DC would prepare this issue--complete with cover painting--and have it ready enough to be advertised and then never release it.

I mean, it was just a digest title. This was before reprint fees kicked in for writers and artists, so this issue must have been very cheap to produce. Even if you thought it would bomb, would it have been that big a loss?

We may never know. But I what we do know is that Santa was promising something he would never deliver...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

DC Comics December 1979 Ad

sgOk, we're making progress here--this ad has a lot more visual punch, and I like how they have the books actual size. The Super Friends collection is one of their best, so DC had every reason to be proud!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

DC Comics October 1979 Ad

sgAnother dull-ish ad--I think we waste a little too much space on the tagline and show the covers too small--but still fun, promoting the second issues of Best of DC and Jonah Hex and Other Western Tales.

Unlike the first ad posted a few days ago, DC actually tried to reproduce the cover paintings for both issues, which was a nice touch--those covers really helped the books stand-out, so it made sense for DC to highlight that.

Friday, June 22, 2007

"Daily Planet" September 1979 Ad


I caught this ad for DC Special Series #19 in DC's "Daily Planet" feature for their September 1979 comics.

I always liked DC's "Daily Planet" thing, I thought it was a fun way of promoting their books, like Marvel was so good at with "Bullpen Bulletins". "Ask the Answer Man", "Hembeck", "Direct Currents"...what's not to love?

Interesting tidbit...all the art used to promote the Secret Origins digest is clipped from Nick Cardy's Secret Origins covers from 1973!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

DC Comics September 1979 Ad

sgThis ad ran in DC's September 1979 comics, highlighting two volumes of omnibus title DC Speical Series--DC Special Series #18 and #19.

Clearly, DC didn't put a lot of work into this one--it's about a visually drab as an ad can get. Luckily, not all of their ads looked like this...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

DC Comics August 1979 Ad

sgBefore we head off to profiling Adventure Comics Digest I thought we'd show some contemporary ads DC was running to promote the new digest line.

This ran in their August 1979 comics, highlighting their first two releases--Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #1 and Jonah Hex and Other Western Tales #1.

While these are a far cry from the inventively-designed house ads DC ran in the sixties and early seventies, its still fun to see them! More to come!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #24 - Aug. 1982

DC certainly decided to something extra cool for this, the final, if unheralded, issue of DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest.

Was two digest titles one too many? That'd be a logical guess, but since they would revamp Adventure Comics as a digest title the very next month, that's probably not it. Maybe if I'm ever lucky enough to interview Karen Berger on the subject(who is listed as editor here), I can find out directly. But until then, all we're left with is this disturbing Joe Kubert cover of kids walking directly under Cain's giant crotch.

Anyway, this book does reprint a whole bunch of stories, by some of DC's best people:

• "No Strings Attached" by Len Wein and "Wild" Bill Draut 
"The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" by Marv Wolfman and Alex Toth 
"All in the Family" by Virgil North and Berni Wrightson 
The bona-fide classic "The Demon Within" by Joe Orlando, John Albano, and Jim Aparo(say that three times fast!) 
• "Hyde--and Go Seek!" by Wein and Tony DeZuniga 
"Double Take" by Steve Skeates and George Tuska 
"The Whole Ball of Tin" by Gerry Conway, Wein, and Bob Oksner 
"Tomorrow I Hang!" by E.Nelson Bridwell and Aparo 
"The House of Endless Years" by Conway and Draut 
Countdown" by ? and Ralph Reese 
"A Girl and Her Dog" by Conway and Gray Morrow 
"Born Loser" by Jack Oleck and Toth 
"Sno'Fun" by ? and Wally Wood--one of the rare HOM tales that stars Cain a Cain pin-up by Wrightson!

I know that I love Everything Aparo, but he really did do horror tales well. He drew them realistically, without a lot of gothic atmosphere, which always made them more frightening to me, since they seemed so much more real. I wish Aparo had done more of them, but at least we get two of them here.

A great collection of story and art, and if DC felt the need to cancel DCSBRD, at least they went out on a winner!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #27 - Aug. 1982

sgIf you're going to do a Superman collection, a Supes vs. Luthor theme seems like a natural, doesn't it? Luthor is probably second only to the Joker in terms of famous comic book villains, though I think calling him "the most dangerous man on earth" is laying it on a bit thick.

Stories include:
"The Luthor Nobody Knows" by Elliott S! Maggin, Curt Swan, and Bob Oksner
"Superman's Super Hold-Up" by Bill Finger and Wayne Boring
"The Most Dangerous Door in the World" by Cary Bates, Swan, and Jack Abel
"The Luthor Story" is a text-piece by ENB about the Luthors of Earths One and Two
"The Death of Luthor!" by Edmond Hamilton, Swan, and George Klein(I bet that doesn't last)
"The Condemned Superman" by Hamilton, Swan, and Klein
"Luthor's Hammer of Hate" by Bates, Swan, and Murphy Anderson
"Lex Luthor--Super Scalp-Hunter!" by Maggin, Swan, and Kurt Schaffenberger

Weird how the cover proclaims "6 Deadly Duels!", when in fact there are seven stories in this book! Since the first story is an origin story, I guess DC was being extremely honest and not counting it as a genuine Superman vs. Luthor duel. Ah, comics were different then...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #23 - July 1982

sgNow, this is an odd choice of digest star--Green Arrow? Nothing against the Emerald Archer, but GA was hardly a headliner in the DCU at that point, so its an unusual choice. Maybe that's why they called in Jim Aparo to do the smashing, poster-like cover.

The book opens with an all-new framing story by the underrated Mike W. Barr and Dan Spiegle, as Ollie discovers Dinah going through his old scrapbooks, and she demands he regale her with some of his past adventures:
"The Unmasked Archers" by France Herron and Jack Kirby
"The Case of the Camoflage King" by Herron and Lee Elias
"The Amazing Miss Arrowette" by Dave Wood and Elias
"Green Arrows of the World" by Herron and Kirby

...we then stop for a moment, and rejoin Ollie as he brags to Dinah that he's fought crime all over the universe! Case in point:
"The Mystery of the Giant Arrows" by Herron and Kirby
"Prisoners of Dimension Zero" by Herron and Kirby

...Dinah brakes out laughing at the absurdity of these stories(a subtle dig?) and then asked Ollie where he got his new costume. Well, Dinah, it's a very well-drawn tale:
"The Senator's Been Shot!" by Bob Haney and Neal Adams
"The Origin of Green Arrow" by Denny O'Neil, Mike Grell, and Bruce Patterson
"What Can One Man Do?" by Elliott S! Maggin, Adams, and Dick Giordano
"The Plot to Kill Black Canary" by Maggin and Giordano(you'd think Canary would know this story already)

The book ends with Ollie and Dinah, having stayed up all night talking, reaffirming their love for one another, which is a sweet ending, nicely rendered by Spiegle.

I'm assuming this was was originally put together for one of the reprint books DC was putting out before the Implosion and then it was padded out a bit to fit the one-hundred-page digest format. The framing story is a nice, fun touch and I wish DC had done more of it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #26 - July 1982

sgAh, The Brave and the Bold--I don't know any comic fans of a certain age who doesn't have a fond rememberance of B&B. It seemed to be one of those books that every comic fan bought at least once at some point in their youth. You had Batman--who was always cool--plus with each issue there was a 50/50 shot it would co-star somebody you liked.

Oddly, though, DC chose to fill this digest with B&B's early solo features, not the classic team-ups it would later become famous for, except for the opening tale:
the classic "You Can't Hide from a Deadman" by Bob Haney and Neal Adams
Robin Hood in "Three Arrows Against Doom!" by Haney and Russ Heath
The Suicide Squad in "Menace of the Mirage People" by Bob Kanigher, Ross Andru, and Mike Esposito
Viking Prince in "Threat of the Ice King" by Kanigher and Joe Kubert
The Silent Knight in "The Sword in the Lake" by Kanigher and Irv Novick
Cave Carson in "The Secret Beneath The Earth" by France Herron and Bruno Premiami

...not that these aren't great tales(Kubert's Viking Prince is especially cool), but I think if you're going to slap the Brave and the Bold logo(albeit the original, pre-Batman-team-ups one) on the book, I wanna see Batman team-up with Sgt.Rock! At least it has a really nice cover by Jim Aparo...

Friday, June 15, 2007

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #22 - June 1982

sgOk, how would you feel if you were Hal Jordan, the greatest Green Lantern ever, and you had to share cover space with friggin' Inferior Five? It'd probably make you mad enough to go rogue and blow up a whole city or something.

Hal deserves more respect, that's all I'm saying.

Anyway, DC's "Secret Origins" theme was running a tad, oh, thin on the ground as they say if they felt that The Inferior Five and Animal Man needed to be included:
"SOS Green Lantern" by John Broome, Gil Kane, and Joe Giella
"Secret of the Flaming Spear" by Broome, Kane, and Giella(also a Green Lantern story--his "public debut" story...uh-huh)
"The Coming of the Costumed Incompetents" by E.Nelson Bridwell, Joe Orlando, and Mike Esposito
"I Was The Man with Animal Powers" by France Herron, Carmine Infantino, and George Roussos
"Black Lightning" by our pal Tony Isabella, Trevor Von Eeden, and Frank Springer
"Target--21 Legionnaires!" by Jim Shooter and George Papp

...wait a minute, wait a minute. Black Lightning is in this, and doesn't even get to be on the cover? No justice, no peace!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #25 - June 1982

sgAfter a couple of months of digests featuring Sgt.Rock, The Doom Patrol, and Dark Mansions of Forbidden Love, DC must have felt the need to get back to their bread and butter--Superman.

Behind another fun, Norman-Rockwell-esque cover by Ross Andru and Frank Giacoia is a smattering of Super-stories:
"The TV Show That Menaced Metropolis" by Cary Bates, Curt Swan(of course), and Murphy Anderson
"The Baby Who Walked Through Walls" by Len Wein and Neal Adams(a fun Private Life of Clark Kent tale)
"The Girl Who Didn't Believe in Superman" by Bill Finger and Wayne Boring
"World Beneath the North Pole!" by Elliott S! Maggin and Swanderson
"Superman--You're Not Clark Kent, and I Can Prove It!" by Gerry Conway, Swan, and Tex Blaisdell(one of my old instructors at Kubert--great guy)
"The Story of Superman, Jr.!"(ohh, so that's where Bryan Singer got it from!) by Jerry Coleman, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye
"The Kid With the Million Dollar Smile" by Martin Pasko, Swan, and Bob Oksner(another Clark Kent tale)
"Superman's Command Performance" by Bates, Swan, and Frank Chiaramonte

...for my money, it was the "Private Life" stories that are the most fun and unusual. It's interesting to watch the writers craft a story starring only Clark and not Superman. I wonder, could Bruce Wayne support his "own" series?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #21 - May 1982

sgBehind one of the greatest covers Joe Kubert ever did(and that's saying something) is a huge collection of tales starring most of DC's war-comics stars. This is Rock's fourth digest, putting him ahead of Batman as a headliner of digests. Not bad for a non-com.

Stories include:
"Stop The War--I Want To Get Off!" by Bob Kanigher and Kubert
"The Face of War" by Kanigher, Ross Andru, and Mike Esposito
The Haunted Tank in "Let Me Live...Let Me Die!" by Kanigher and Russ Heath
"Horseless" by Kanigher and Ric Estrada
"White Devil, Yellow Devil" by Kanigher and Alex Toth
"The Fighting Guns of Easy" by Kanigher and Kubert
Enemy Ace in "Reach for the Heavens" by Kanigher and Kubert
"My Buddy the Dinosaur" by Kanigher and Kubert
...all this plus a few Rock pin-ups and "Battle Albums", which were featurettes about the equipment of war

The editor for this issue is listed as Dave Manak, a DC staffer and cartoonist. There's a one page text piece all about Kanigher that is uncredited, but presumably written by Manak, and features a tag for the next digest--"Nelson Bridwell brings you the Secret Origins of Superheroes. See you there?"


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #24 - May 1982

sgMy Dad must have tired of taking me to the Voorhees News and Tobacco Shop to shop for comics, since I don't remember seeing any more digests starting with this one. Although there is a chance I did see this one and simply ignored it--I never was a big Legion fan(except maybe for Levitz and Giffen's run).

Anyway, behind the cover by Ernie Colon is a collection of Legion tales from various eras of the team:
"Murder in Glass" by Paul Levitz, Carmine Infantino, and Rodin Rodriguez(this serves as a wraparound story containing the following two older tales)
"The Colossal Failure" by Jim Shooter, Curt Swan, and Jack Abel
a fun sixteen-page feature on the Legion's new costumes drawn by George Perez
"Invisible Invader!" by E.Nelson Bridwell and George Tuska
"The Ghost of Ferro Lad" by Shooter, Swan, and George Klein

...there's also an ad for the new Swamp Thing book. Was there any crossover audience between these two books? I'm betting not.

Monday, June 11, 2007

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #20 - April 1982

sgRemember what I said about that Doom Patrol digest being off-beat? Well, take that x100 and you get this--a collection of tales from DC's ill-fated Gothic Romance line of comics from the early to mid-70s.

I don't know how DC thought of this, but thank Rao they did! Not only is it a welcome respite from endless Superman reprints, but it gives fans--the kind who wouldn't have been caught dead reading romance comics--a chance to see some of the excellent work in these books.

The book is comprised of, as the cover says, three novel-length stories:
"To Wed the Devil" by Joe Orlando(who also drew the cover), Len Wein, and Tony DeZuniga (this story features an unusual text-with-spot-illustrations epilogue)
"Bride of the Falcon" by Frank Robbins, Alex Toth(!), and Frank Giacoia
the little more traditional "Doorway to Nightmare" by David Micheline and Val Mayerik, starring Madame Xanadu, plus a two-page pin-up of MX by Michael Kaluta!

I can bet that this was one of DC's lowest-selling digests ever, which is too bad since they deserve credit for trying something different, if only for a month. And now--of course--this digest is one of the toughest to find and most sought out by collectors.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #23 - April 1982

This was another digest I picked up at Voorhees News and Tobacco--my Dad must have just loved having to take me there every month(at least!), once I discovered their wider selection of comics. Most kids want to learn to drive to go party; I could finally shop for comics on my own(yes, I was a nerd; thanks for asking).

As you can see, this is another Year's Best collection, representing the best of DC's output for 1981. And indeed, there are some classic stories here, behind the fun cover by Perez and Giordano:


"To Kill a Legend" by the always-inventive Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano--for my money, one of the best Batman stories, ever 
"Sivana's Nobel" by E.Nelson Bridwell, the late, great Don Newton, and Dan Adkins 
Sgt.Rock in "The Dummy" by Robert Kanigher and Frank Redondo 
The New Teen Titans in the ground-breaking "A Day in the Lives..." by Marv Wolfman, George Perez, and Romeo Tanghal 
"The Piper at the Gates of Hell" by J.M. Dematteis and Dan Speigle 
Jonah Hex in "The Haunting" by Michael Fleisher, Dick Ayers, and Tony DeZuniga 
The Green Lantern Corps in "Triumph!" by Len Wein, Mike W.Barr, our pal Joe Staton, and Frank McLaughlin 
The mini-classic "Whatever Happened to the Crimson Avenger?" by Wein, Alex Saviuk, and Dennis Jensen (I still get a bit misty when I read this story) 
"The Pursuit of Joy" (a Tale of Gotham City) by Barr and Spiegle 
"The Dying Day of Lois and Lana" by Cary Bates, Curt Swan, and Frank Chiaramonte

...there's a couple of interesting tidbits to consider with this issue. First, this was the first Year's Best collection since the debut of Wolfman and Perez's New Teen Titans, and that book's overwhelming creative and popular success would insure it a spot in every Year's Best collection from here on.

Second, I know people's opinions differ, but I think you can see that DC wasn't quite ready to accept the idea that a Year's Best collection could not include at least one Superman story. As the years go on, you can see the stories DC was publishing get more complex, with more depth in both story and art, and these Superman stories tend to look woefully out of place, like they could've been in a Year's Best 1967 collection. Superman taking on Luthor and not being able to choose between Lois and Lana for the five-thousandth time is as good as "The Day in the Lives...", really?

And lastly, as we all know, comics prices started going through the roof in the eighties. What were 10-12 cents for almost three decades went from 40 cents to more than triple that by decades' end. Previous Year's Best collections, even though they contained more pages, didn't cost any more to buy; this is the first time DC had to charge more--$1.25 to be exact. Sure, this book is completely worth it (I thought that even as a kid, when $1.25 was a lot), but it would presage one of the big problems comics would face in the 80s and 90s and into today.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #19 - Mar. 1982

sgThis has got to be the oddest choice of digest star(s), ever. The Doom Patrol? I'm not saying those comics weren't good, but the DP had been killed off long ago, and even the "new" Doom Patrol that debuted in Showcase was a few years ago at this point.

Clearly, someone or someones at DC editorial pushed this through--what the hell, it's only one digest, right?

Not to say that DC didn't try--this book features front and back covers by George Perez, always a help when you're trying to move a book.

The book features four DP tales, all by the team of Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani:
"The Doom Patrol" (My Greatest Adventure #80)
"The Brotherhood of Evil" (Doom Patrol #86)
"Mento--The Man Who Split the Doom Patrol"
(Doom Patrol #91)
"The Enemy Within the Doom Patrol" (Doom Patrol #90) a cover gallery, and a fun pin-up schematic of Robotman's innards by Perez! While the Doom Patrol may have been a pretty uncommercial, off-beat choice for a digest, DC did try their best to make it as entertaining as possible!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #22 - Mar. 1982

Quite possibly my favorite digest ever, this was another one I bought the forgotten-but-not-gone Voorhees News and Tobacco Shop. My Dad took me to get some comics, and when I saw all these heroes in one book I snapped it up. I mean, just look at this happy cover by Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano--the season is so merry, even Batman is participating in the festivities!

The stories inside of course are all Christmas themed, most of them bona-fide classics:
"The Teen Titan's Swingin' Christmas Carol!" by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy 
The Batman in "Merry Christmas" by Denny O'Neil, Irv Novick, and Giordano 
"Freddy Freeman's Christmas" by ? (no credits on the story or on GCD!) 
"A Christmas Peril" by Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson 
• The ultra-weird "The Seal-Men's War on Santa Claus!" starring that mid-70s 
Sandman by Michael Fleisher, Jack Kirby, and Mike Royer 
"Robin's Very White Christmas!"(must take place in Vermont or something) by Bob Rozakis, Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta 
• Finally, my favorite story of the book, the JLA in "The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus!" by Len Wein, Dick Dillin, and Giordano

I distinctly remember opening up this book and seeing this story--not only was it a JLA tale I had never read(it first ran in JLA #110, published when I was just a wee lad), but it looked like some of JLAers actually(gulp!) died during the story! That was enough for me.

This is one of those classically-constructed tales where the excitement builds as it goes along, features some great characterization, and even a dollop of Significance, where the Jon Stewart Green Lantern finds a loophole in the rules concerning use of the GL power ring to build people some new homes for Christmas. All that, and Red Tornado gets a new costume as a Christmas present. A wonderfully fun, exciting story.

This digest has remained one of my all-time favorites, all these years later. If you like Christmas-themed comics, pick this one up!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #18 - Feb. 1982

sgTen-hut, ya goldbricks! Time for another Sgt.Rock digest!

Man, Rock and Easy Co. must have been pretty popular, this is his third digest so far, one ahead of Green Lantern and Flash, and on par with Batman. Pretty impressive for a guy without superpowers.

Stories include:
"Battle Tags For Easy Co." by Bob Kanigher and Joe Kubert
"I Kid You Not" by Kubert
"A Penny For Jackie Johnson!" by Kanigher and Kubert
"Head-Count" by Kanigher and Kubert
"Calling Easy Company" by Kanigher and Kubert
"Sergeants Aren't Born--!" by Kanigher and Kubert

...and as a nice bonus, also included are Joe's covers for the short-lived Rock reprint mag, Battle Classics, sadly cut down in the prime of life by the DC Implosion.

A solid collection of hand-bitten war tales by the Scorsese and DeNiro of War Comics, Kanigher and Kubert.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #21 - Feb. 1982

Ok, now we're up to the really special time with me and the digests. I remember buying this one at the Voorhees News and Tobacco Shop(which is still there!) when I was just a wee lad.

I usually bought my comics at 7-11, but my Dad would occasionally take me to this store, which had a huge selection of magazines, paperbacks, and comics. I don't think I had ever seen a digest comic before, since my local 7-11s did't carry them. So seeing a book one hundred pages long, full of stories I'd never seen before, just got me so excited, and I bought every one I could get my hands on.

As a kid, I always loved the Justice Society, and the whole Earth-2 concept--a whole other world of superheroes, published long before I was born, seemed so cool. So when I saw this book, with its fun, celebratory, and beautifully-executed cover by George Perez, I snapped it up.

This book features three classic tales:
"The Untold Origin of the Justice Society" by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, and Bob Layton--I love how this story so wonderfully intertwines real-life history in with the creation of the JSA. There's so many cool moments--The Spectre defeats a Nazi simply by staring at him, Superman catches a giant Nazi bomb in his two hands, the non-powered Atom, posssibly out of place on a team that features Superman, Green Lantern, Dr.Fate, and The Spectre--is the one to saveFDR's life, and then the President himself forms the team! How cool is that?
"The Day That Dropped Out of Time", a Golden Age JSA tale, by John Broome, Irwin Hasen, Lee Elias, Paul Reinman, Joe Kubert, and Frank Harry
...and finally "The Big Superhero Hunt", a Starman/Black Canary solo tale from The Brave and The Bold, by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson

This is one of my all-time favorite digests; I love how it spans across four decades of stories to give you a nice sense of the team's history. Just superb!


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #17 - Jan. 1982

sgOk, DC decided to do another Ghosts collection, but this time they decided to go for less stories and more big-name creators. Less quantity, more quality.

The stories behind the funny-yet-nightmarish cover by Joe Kubert are:
"A Carnival of Dwarfs" by Michael Fleisher, the mysterious Russell Carley, and Arthur Suydam
"Above and Beyond the Call of Duty" by Sergio Aragones and Neal Adams!
"He Who Laughs Last..." by Len Wein, Berni Wrightson, and Mike Kaluta
"The Widow's Walk" by Howard Post, Adams, and Joe Orlando
"Message From Beyond" by Jack Oleck and Ralph Reese
"The Monster" by Oleck and Wally Wood
the oft-reprinted classic "Nightmare" by Bob Kanigher, Adams, and Dick Giordano
"A Bottle of Incense...A Whiff of the Past!" by Francis Bushmaster(?), Alan Weiss, and Wrightson
"The Game" by Bushmaster and Adams
"Death on Cue!" by David Michelinie and Rubeny
"Symbionts" by Marv Wolfman, Rich Buckler, and Adams
"Born Losers" by John Albano, and Kaluta
"The Dead Can Kill" by Wolfman and Adams, looking back at this book to write about it made me realize what an awesome collection of material this is. I think I bought it on ebay for just a couple of bucks, which is a steal. I mean, you've got Adams, Kaluta, Wrightson, Wood, Giordano, Aragones, Buckler, Weiss, Suydam, and Reese, with a Kubert cover!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #20 - Jan. 1982

sgFirst off--the cover. I love this cover. I think its meant to be an homage to a Norman Rockwell-type painting, with the white circle and the whole construction of the piece, which I find charming. I like that the would-be victim is smiling, because he knows that the World's Finest Team are here to save him from the hoodlums. Even the signatures of Ross Andru and Dick Giordano are done in a more painterly style. Nice job, fellas.

Stories include:
"Vengeance of the Tomb-Thing!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Joe Giella
"A Matter of Light and Death" by Len Wein, Dillin, and Giella
"Fugitive From the Stars" by O'Neil, Dillin, and Giella, and features the extreme rarity of using a Bob Dylan quote on the splash page(wow! Dylan and comics--my two favorite things together!)
and finally, a non-Batman team-up(remember that brief experiment?), "Peril of the Planet-Smashers!" by Wein, Dillin, and Giella, starring Supes and Dr.Fate.

DC helpfully puts an ad for the Dr.Fate back-up that was just starting in The Flash right after the last story. The ad, drawn by Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt, is so nice-looking it almost feels like content, rather than just an ad. Nice!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #16 - Dec. 1981

sgOoh, this is a nice collection--as the cover says, it features six GL stories by O'Neil and Adams--what more could you ask for 95 cents?

Behind the ever-so-slightly-odd cover by Adams(far be it from me to question the anatomy in a Neal Adams drawing, but what part of the body is that, exactly, right below Hal's chest emblem?)

Anyway, the classic stories--all by O'Neil and Adams, and inks mostly by Giordano--are:
"Death Be My Destiny" (Green Lantern #81)
"How Do Fight a Nightmare?" (Green Lantern #82)
"Peril in Plastic" (Green Lantern #84--with inks by Berni Wrightson!)
"The Killing of An Archer" (Flash #217)
"Green Arrow is Dead" (Flash #218)
"The Fate of An Archer" (Flash #219--hmm, shouldn't "fate" come before "dead"? ...ah, its comics)

These are of course a great bunch of stories, full of passion and excitement. Yeah, they're definitely of their time, but they still remain vital, alive comics, all these years later. O'Neil and Adams were always more than the sum of their parts when they worked on a comic together.

Just as a side note, this is Green Lantern's second digest collection, while neither Wonder Woman or Aquaman have gotten one. Now, of course Arthur is used to being treated like crap, so I'm sure he wasn't terribly upset. But how did Diana feel? Probably made for some awkward meetings at the satellite.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #19 - Dec. 1981

sgAh, yes, more Superman.

Behind the uninspiring cover(a rarity for Andru & Giordano) are these stories:
"The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue" by Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan, and George Klein
"The New Superman-Batman Team!" by Cary Bates, Swan, and Klein
"Mr. and Mrs. Clark(Superman) Kent!" by Jerry Siegel and the ever-great Kurt Schaffenberger (an "imaginary story"...aren't they all?)
"Lois Lane...Dead...Yet Alive" (zombie Lois!) by Otto Binder, Swan, and Jack Abel
"Superman, 2001" (gee, I wonder what that will be like?) by Bates, Elliott S! Maggin, Swan, and Bob Oksner may reveal something that, by this, the ninth Superman or Superman-related digest collection, there wasn't any text feature by ENB. I think even he ran out of Superman comments to make.

Friday, June 1, 2007

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #15 - Nov. 1981

sgYou can never get enough secret origins! That was DC's thinking, at least.

The startled JLA (plus Robin) are about to be told the stories:
"The Case of the Real Gone Flash" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino, and Joe Giella
"The Amazing Bizarro" by Otto Binder and George Papp
"The Day 100,000 People Vanished" by Broome, Gil Kane, and Giella
"The Mad Hatter of Gotham City" by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff, and Charles Paris
and the classic "Slave Ship of Space" by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky

...when I was a kid and bought comics on newsstands, the budding collector in me couldn't stand when the sale date of the book was stamped on the cover, as this one is. Now I look at it as a charming reminder of days gone by.