DC Comics Rarities Archive

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.)

DC Comics Rarities Archive cover
DC Comics Rarities
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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 They are reprinted without alteration for historical reference.”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.

5 Responses to “DC Comics Rarities Archive”

  1. Mark Fossen Says:

    I wonder when we’ll see the same acknowledgement of the sexism found in early comics?

    Maybe when it’s found only in early comics?

  2. Johanna Says:

    Ouch. You’re right, of course.

  3. Dave Says:

    “I wonder when we’ll see the same acknowledgement of the sexism found in early comics?”

    Sexism was everywhere. It has to be acknowledged in every instance? Let’s talk about early radio, early tv, early commercials, early senators and presidents, early office settings, early familes, blah blah blah.

  4. Johanna Says:

    If they’re going to put in a disclaimer for one kind of bigotry, it’s surprising that they didn’t consider others just as obvious in this material.

  5. Barbara Says:

    To Dave: you are clueless! You see this issue from an old-fashioned traditional male perspective. Yes, it has to be acknowledged in every instance– until it stops happening in the present day. Judging from your reaction, that won’t be for quite a while.




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