Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Celebration of Superman, Batman, Lois Lane and the Joker

As the end of the years approaches, a time to look back.

What better way to look back than a quick look at collections of your favorite heroes?

This time....

...the first four to go, as we take a look at Superman: A Celebration of 75 Years, Lois Lane: A Celebration of 75 Years, Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years and The Joker: A Celebration of 75 Years!


First up, a collection from November, 2013, of one of the heroes that started DC Comics, Superman, who premiered in Action Comics #1 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Issues reprinted:
Action Comics #1 (June, 1938) his origin and [Superman, Champion Of The Oppressed]
Action Comics #2 (July, 1938) [War In San Monte]
Look Magazine #5 (February 27, 1940) [How Superman Would End The War]
Superman #17 (July-August, 1942) "Man Or Superman?"
Superman #53 (July-August, 1948) "The Origin Of Superman"
Superman #76 (May-June, 1952) "The Mightiest Team In The World!"
Action Comics #242 (July, 1958) "The Super-Duel In Space"
Superman #129 (May, 1959) "The Girl In Superman's Past"
Superman #141 (November, 1960) "Superman's Return To Krypton"
Superman #149 (November, 1961) "The Death Of Superman"
Superman #247 (January, 1972) "Must There Be A Superman?"
Action Comics #544 (June, 1983) "Rebirth!"
Superman #400 (October, 1984) "The Living Legends Of Superman"
Superman Annual #11 (1985) "For The Man Who Has Everything"
Superman #11 (November, 1987) "The Name Game"
Superman #75 (January, 1993) "Doomsday!"
Action Comics #775 (March, 2001) "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & The American Way?"
Mythology: The DC Comic Art Of Alex Ross (October, 2003) "The Trust"
Action Comics #900 (June, 2011) "The Incident"
Action Comics #0 (November, 2012) "The Boy Who Stole Superman's Cape"

A sadly misnamed collection, as Superman isn't really celebrated here.  True, his first appearance is here, but after that, readers see Superman repeatedly fail, question his abilities, mope around alone, be shown up or even die.  Still, there are plenty of great stories here including a first meeting of Superman and Batman and the first appearance (and best rebirth) of Brainiac, but as a group, a bit of a painful read for fans of the Man of Steel.

Lois Lane

Next, a collection of one of first lady of DC Comics, Lois Lane, who premiered in Action Comics #1 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and these reprints came out in November, 2013.

Issues reprinted:
Action Comics #1 (June, 1938) his origin and [Superman, Champion Of The Oppressed]
Action Comics #2 (July, 1938) [War In San Monte]
Action Comics #6 (November, 1938) [The Man Who Sold Superman]
Superman #29 (July-August, 1944) [Lois Lane, Girl Reporter: The Bakery Counterfeiters]
Superman #33 (March-April, 1945) [Lois Lane, Girl Reporter: The Purloined Piggy Bank]
Superman #34 (May-June, 1945) [Lois Lane, Girl Reporter: The Foiled Frame Up]
Superman #58 (May-June, 1949) "Lois Lane Loves Clark Kent"
Showcase #9 (July-August, 1957) "The Girl In Superman's Past"
Showcase #9 (July-August, 1957) "The New Lois Lane"
Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #5 (November-December, 1958)  "The Fattest Girl In Metropolis"
Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #16 (April, 1960) "The Kryptonite Girl"
Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #42 (July, 1963) "The Romance Of Superbaby And Lois Lane"
Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #106 (November, 1970) "I Am Curious (Black)"
Man Of Steel #2 (October, 1986) "The Story Of The Century"
Action Comics #600 (May, 1988) [Lois Lane]
Action Comics #662 (February, 1991) "Secrets In The Night"  
Superman: Lois Lane #1 (June, 1998) "Lois Lane"
Superman #168 (May, 2001) "With This Ring..."
Wonder Woman #170 (July, 2001) "She's A Wonder"
Adventures Of Superman #631 (October, 2001) "Battery: Part Five" 
Superman 80-Page Giant #1 (May, 2010) "Patience-Centered Care"
Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #23 (February, 1961) "The Wife Of Superman"
Action Comics #484 (June, 1978) "Superman Takes A Wife"
All-Star Superman #2 (February, 2006) "Superman's Forbidden Room"
All-Star Superman #3 (May, 2006) "Sweet Dreams, Superwoman"

This collection is a little happier, with some Golden Age independence for Lois Lane, some Silver and Bronze Age oddness, and more modern independence for the girl does lack a major focus of Lois' life, that of trying to prove Clark Kent is Superman, but instead does give you the payoff of that lengthy storyline, with a happy ending for both Lois and Clark, and a few of their weddings.


Now, to the dark side of the DC Universe, the city of Gotham's protector, the Batman, who debuted in Detective Comics #27 (May, 1939), written by Bill Finger, with art by Bob Kane, one of many stories in this July, 2014 collection.

Issues reprinted:
Detective Comics #27 (May, 1939) "The Case Of The Chemical Syndicate"
Detective Comics #83 (January, 1944) "Accidentally On Purpose!"
Batman #49 (October-November, 1948) "The Scoop Of The Century!"
Detective Comics #211 (September, 1954) "The Jungle Cat Queen"
Detective Comics #216 (February, 1955) "The Batman Of Tomorrow!"
World's Finest Comics #94 (May-June, 1958) "Origin Of The Superman-Batman Team"
Detective Comics #327 (May, 1964) "The Mystery Of The Menacing Mask!"
Batman #181 (June, 1966) "Beware Of -- Poison Ivy!"
Detective Comics #359 (January, 1967) "The Million Dollar Debut Of Batgirl!"
Detective Comics #395 (January, 1970) "The Secret Of The Waiting Graves"
Detective Comics #442 (August-September, 1974) "Death Flies The Haunted Sky"
Detective Comics #474 (December, 1977) "The Deadshot Ricochet"
DC Special Series #21 (Spring, 1980) "Wanted: Santa Claus -- Dead Or Alive!"
Batman Special #1 (April, 1984) "...The Player On The Other Side!"
Detective Comics #574 (May, 1987) "..My Beginning...and My Probable End" 
Detective Comics #633 (Early August, 1991) "Identity Crisis"
Batman #497 (Late July, 1993) "The Broken Bat" [Knightfall 11]
Detective Comics #711 (July, 1997) "Knight Out"
Detective Comics #757 (June, 2001) "Air Time"
Detective Comics #821 (September, 2006) "The Beautiful People"
Batman #2 (December, 2011) "Trust Fall"
[The Case Of The Chemical Syndicate [Reimagined], special for this collection

With so many collections of his stories, it is hard for this one to stand out.  True, it does have the beginnings of his team-ups with Superman, the first Poison Ivy tale, the second Deadshot, the first Batgirl story, Batman's opposite number the Wraith, and Batman's toughest confrontation with Bane, it lacks his incredible collection of foes.  Still, there are many highlights, including a more modern tale focusing on Bruce Wayne that was a delight, this volume does stand nicely as a celebration.


Last, this time around, an even darker part of the DC Universe, the clown prince of crime, and main adversary of the Batman, the Joker, who first appeared in Batman #1 (Spring, 1940)  by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, to start this collection from July, 2014

Issues reprinted: 
Batman #1 (Spring, 1940) [Batman vs. The Joker]
Batman #5 (Spring, 1941) "The Riddle Of The Missing Card!"
Detective Comics #64 (June, 1942) "The Joker Walks The Last Mile!"
Batman #25 (October-November, 1944) "Knights Of Knavery"
Batman #32 (December-January, 1945/1946) "Rackety-Rax Racket!"
Detective Comics #168 (February, 1951) "The Man Behind The Red Hood!"
Detective Comics #180 (February, 1952) "The Joker's Millions"
World's Finest Comics #61 (November-December, 1952) "The Crimes Of Batman"

Batman #85 (August, 1954) "Batman -- Clown Of Crime!"
Batman #163 (May, 1964) "The Joker Jury!"
Batman #251 (September, 1973) "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!"
Detective Comics #475 (February, 1978) "The Laughing Fish!"
Detective Comics #476 (March-April, 1978) "Sign Of The Joker!"
Superman #9 (September, 1987) "To Laugh And Die In Metropolis"
Batman #427 (Winter, 1988) "A Death In The Family (Chapter 4)"
Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight #66 (December, 1994) "Gone Sane 2 Swimming Lessons"
Detective Comics #726 (October, 1998) "Fools Errand" [Aftershock]
Detective Comics #741 (February, 2000) "Endgame: Part Three: Sleep In Heavenly Peace"
Detective Comics #826 (February, 2007) "Slayride"
Detective Comics #1 (November, 2011) [One hundred Fourteen Murders Over The Past Six Years]
Batman #15 (February, 2013) "Death In The Family: But Here's The Kicker"

Of these four, the collection that stands out as a true celebration.  True, many of these stories have appeared, even together in other Joker compilations, there is a joy to these tales that still make all of them wonderful reading.  About the only flaw is they only mention his 9 issue solo series and do not provide any of its tales (though, there is a collection of them, which is mentioned in the book, which doesn't do the series justice, as if you read one of those tales, you have pretty much read them all....perhaps why none of them were included).   

These are the earliest of DC's Celebration series, and while they contain many stories reprinted elsewhere, they are interesting collections to say the least.

More have followed (and will follow), with breakdowns of future volumes on Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, the Teen Titans, the JSA, Aquaman and more, some addressing the very problems mentioned here!

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