Three Classic DC Trades

So between the Baltimore Comic-Con and a sale at my LCS, I’ve gotten my fair share of trades and hardcovers lately. Some of them are books that looked interesting or cheap ways to read stories I’ve always been meaning to; others have been bona fide classics that I’ve read before or wanted to read and at the price that they were offered to me, I couldn’t pass them up. Recently, I was overwhelmed with work and exhausted, so I decided to sit down and roll through three of them. I’m keeping all of them but it the interest of this “review everything I read” project, here they are.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow Volume 1

You know, I could have read this all digitally on DC Infinite; I have a membership. But this trade was marked down 20% off of $5.99 (off an original cover price of $12.95) at an LCS sale, so I couldn’t pass it up. It’s one of the many times that the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams GL/GA run has been collected, and as much as I have enjoyed Green Lantern over the years, I have never once actually read this particular run.

I’ve certainly heard of it. After all, you can’t find a DC retrospective without the “what about the Black folks?” scene or Speedy getting caught shooting up heroin. But for all of its historic importance when it comes to the Bronze Age, it’s been mostly skipped (unlike quite a bit of the pair’s Batman, which I have read and loved). So … why not take a dive into the trade?

The result is … well, these books are definitely of their time. I’d expect a more modern reader to look at the “issues-centric” and “socially conscious” stories that the pair are putting forth are find them to be ham-handed or corny. That is, if they don’t understand that when you read something from as long ago as the early 1970s, you have to understand the climate of the time (both in society and comics). They’re definitely not subtle as they attempt to tackle then-contemporary issues. But they don’t fall flat like Saved By the Bell’s Johnny Dakota anti-drug episode, either. O’Neil’s stories are page-turners and pair wonderfully with Adams’ art. I understand how this might not have sold when it was on the stands (the book did get canceled, after all), but I also totally understand why it’s been reprinted so many times. I’m going to see if I can find volume 2.

Kingdom Come

You know, I own this in individual issues (and they’re signed by Mark Waid and Todd Klein). But again, there was a 20% markdown from $9.99 on what retailed for $19.99. I’d always wanted this trade because it had extra pages that were not in the original four issues as well as a ton of special features. I couldn’t justify spending $20 on something I already had (yes, yes, I know I’ve done that with the New Teen Titans trades …), but what eventually came to $8.32? Sold.

Everything you’ve read about this book lives up to its hype. It did so in 1996 when I eagerly bought it at my LCS and pored over each page, reading the issues over and over again. It did when I reread it a few years ago digitally so that I could see the extra pages that are in this trade. It does now. The cover on this edition is the image from a Kingdom Come poster that was released when the book was coming out (and that I had on my dorm room wall freshman year) and there are wonderful essay pieces by Elliott S! Maggin, Mark Waid, and Alex Ross. If you come across this is any format, make sure you pick it up. It is essential reading.

The Golden Age

ANOTHER book that I can read digitally, but this one was in a $5.00 trade bin at the Baltimore Comic-Con and it was an early printing (before the story was re-labeled “JSA: The Golden Age”). I can’t remember the first time I read this seris; it’s likely that my friend Paul loaned it to me in the early 2000s. I know that I remember it coming out but its prestige format and $4.95 cover price was not something I could afford at the time (because it was coming out at the tail end of the Return of Superman and the middle of the Knightfall/Knightquest/Knightsend saga). Thankfully, I’ve made up for that.

It’s also another book that’s essential reading. James Robinson and Paul Smith bring us a darker take on the era in its waning days without going into the dark territory that … well, James Robinson would get with a certain Justice League/Titans story that I will not mention. Seriously, though, The Golden Age is phenomenal, and much like Kingdom Come, it’s much better on the printed page than in a digital format.

And finally, my apologies for reviewing such easy stuff. I just happened to buy the trades recently and really just wanted some comics comfort food.

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