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.


Earth 2 Chris said...

Another favorite of mine. "To Kill a Legend" is also one of my favorite Bat-tales. There's a reason it made it into "The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told". Brennert only wrote a handful of Batman tales, but they are all classics, and all spring to my mind when I think of great comic tales.

Gotta agree on the Superman stories. Marv Wolfman and Gil Kane gave it a shot in the arm in the early 80s, but the comics never excited me like the movies did. I think Superman just needed some new blood. Not even a new artist. You can't beat Curt Swan. Just new writers. If only they could have gotten Alan Moore to have scripted a Pre-Crisis Superman monthly...


dailypop said...

Man... I remember getting this for X-Mas back in the day. I treasured it for years and lost it in my 20's at some point.

As for 80's Superman, the Gil Kane/Wolfman issues are really good, but very late in the game. However, the introduction of the new Brainiac and Luthor (covered in the 'Superman, Superman, Superman' entry of my blog, by the way) is stellar.

And for a kids eyes, Starfire and Wonder Girl were very... maturing.