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.