While I’m normally a sucker for “comic characters reading comics” covers (see?), I feel kind of bad for the Justice League on the cover of the recent DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology 2013. It doesn’t really seem to me that they’re having fun reading these comics, but studying them to get up to speed on their own increasingly-convoluted continuity…
This recently-released catalog is (per the back cover copy) “an expansive look at our rich backlist collection created by the best writers and illustrators in the industry. This catalog can be use as an important resource for new fans seeking a starting point, as well [as] a look back at our impressive backlist for the most fervent DCE enthusiasts.” I know I’ve been hard on DC about their “New 52” initiative (both in this blog and in face-to-face conversations), but it seems like they’ve thrown out their own history for the short-term sales boost it’s given them. For all the talk of their “rich backlist collection,” that impression is definitely reinforced with this catalog.
Of the 147 titles spotlighted in the essential/DC Comics categories, only five feature material originally published prior to 1986, with just one of those dating from before the Silver Age. They entirely ignored the Jack Kirby & Will Eisner collections, their extensive Archive series and Showcase reprints collecting well-regarded work from the majority of their history. Shazam! went entirely unrepresented. Legion of Super-Heroes were only mentioned in a rundown of all New 52 titles. Wonder Woman merited a grand total of three entries on a “Women of DC Comics” spread, featuring her rich history dating clear back to… 2010. (As a caveat, these characters were given somewhat better representation in the ISBN listings at the back of the catalog).
As a starting point for new fans, it didn’t fare much better: Continue reading “Getting up to speed”