Greatest Stories No Longer for Us?

I was reading Kelson’s detailed comparison of The Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told then and now, when it struck me: those books are no longer aimed at comic fans (if they ever were).

When these kinds of books first came out in the early 90s, they were hardcovers with lots of content. Now, they’re paperbacks, shorter, and aimed at the bookstore market. They’re for casual readers, those interested in the heroes but not sure where to start, or not wanting to sign onto a continuing series. They’re brand extensions, to go along with the movies or the DVDs of the TV shows or the action figures.

They don’t contain stories that aren’t already available elsewhere, usually, and they can seem something of a hodge-podge to the knowledgeable reader more familiar with the history (and in cases like the Flash or Green Lantern, the various characters who’ve taken the name over the decades).

But that’s ok. They can make great samplers or great gifts for those curious about the characters.

5 Responses to “Greatest Stories No Longer for Us?”

  1. John Says:

    Indeed, a good thing. Several years back, I bought that book for my kids. They had never encountered the Flash before and it, admittedly, took a couple years before either of them really started looking at the book. Once they did, they were pretty enraptured and that got them going. The Flash is one of their top favorites – as they like to point out, the Barry Allen Flash. So, yeah, these books do serve that purpose – they are especially great for kids, since the stories in these things are far more appropriate for them than a lot of current stuff, frankly.

    Also, a few posts down, you were talking about how to read the Showcase editions, and the Greatest Stories are certainly the same case. Unlike the way many superhero comics have been written for the past 20 years, where they mostly amount to serialized graphic novels, any given story in a, say, Metamorpho collection aren’t meant to be read in successive order like a real book, they were written to be read now and again. So, yeah, excellent bathroom books, none better!

  2. James Schee Says:

    I guess they are sort of for that casual audience, though if so the GL one was strange since it didn’t have any John Stewart stories in it. (given his big role in the JL toon)

    I’m sort of wondering which to get in terms of the Flash one. The new one just coming up, or the old one I’ve seen at a local comic shop.

  3. Rob S. Says:

    I just wish there were more than one Wally story in the book. Particularly, the wonderful done-in-one by William Messner-Loebs and Greg LaRocque, “Nobody Dies” from issue #54. It’s a highlight of the Wally West era.

    As a big Flash fan, I’ve been torn about buying this book full of copies of stories I already own in one form or another. But this post has given me another option — I can buy it for my nephew. Thanks!

  4. Craig Says:

    To some extent the Greatest Stories Ever Told have been supplanted in their market by the Archive Editions. After all, when the Greatest Flash volume came out in harcover, it was the same page count as and only ten dollars cheaper than the first Superman Archives that came out about the same time.

    This collection actually does work pretty well for serious comic fans, though. Four of the stories have never been reprinted in trade, and two more are only available in the out-of-print previous version of the book. Only two of the stories are currently available on DC’s backlist.

    That being said, I highly recommend the old version if you can find it. It was one of my favorite books for a long time. And it is a shame they still haven’t gotten around to reprinting “Nobody Dies.”

  5. Flash Greatest Stories Redux | K-Squared Ramblings Says:

    […] (Comics Worth Reading) was right when she suggested that the new Greatest Stories books are aimed at another audience: not the fan who wants a collection of classic stories, but a casual reader who might be interested […]




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