- Posted by Johanna on January 13, 2006 at 10:33 pm
- Category: Superhero Reviews
- PUBLISHER: DC Comics; $75 US
The DC Comics Rarities Archive is a departure for the DC hardcover reprint series in several ways.
It’s the first archive to reprint complete issues (New York World’s Fair Comics 1939, New York World’s Fair Comics 1940, and The Big All-American Comic Book, all three giant anthologies of 100 pages or more), instead of focusing on a particular character. It’s not the last, though, with the Comic Cavalcade Archives reprinting the first three issues of that title.
It’s huge, with 348 pages, almost 100 more than most Archives, and a price ($75) to match. (Although you can get it at Amazon currently for under $50; click the link below.)
Most interestingly to me, it’s got the following disclaimer at the end of the four-page Table of Contents: “The comics reprinted in this volume were produced in a time when racism played a larger role in society and popular culture both consciously and unconsciously. They are reprinted without alteration for historical reference.” That, in my opinion, is the kind of warning The Spirit Archives should also have carried. Flipping through, I saw an Ebony-style native caricature and some comic opera-style Italians with heavy accents, as well as yellow peril villains in the Zatara story.
I wonder when we’ll see the same acknowledgement of the sexism found in early comics? For instance, this one contains “Wonders at the Fair”, which notes that “women drivers will be in all their glory when they climb into the speedy little gas autos! The idea is to hit anything in sight!” And the Superman story features Split-Personality Hostage Lois and Throwing-Herself-at-Superman (literally!) Lois. Most of the stories in the first issue simply don’t have any women in them. They’re men’s adventures, with fist-slinging reporters and detectives.
I don’t have the patience for old-style comics, with their stiff figures and missing backgrounds, to read the whole volume, but I know, for a certain segment of the audience, this is a much-desired present from DC, bringing back into print historically interesting comics that they’d never otherwise get to see.