- Posted by Johanna on September 7, 2012 at 7:40 am
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
Chris Sims pointed out last month that the 1999 Elseworlds 80-Page Giant was now available through ComiXology. I’m making note of this because to me, it symbolizes just how different DC now is from DC a decade ago.
This comic was a true collector’s item, a good read that was kept from the market, reportedly because Paul Levitz thought some of the content was inappropriate. However, some few copies made it out before the pulping order, making it legitimately rare and desirable.
The story doesn’t end there, as Sims reports. He accurately calls the comic an “entire massive book full of nothing but weird, often hilarious stories goofing on DC’s characters”. Kyle Baker’s story about the pain of trying to keep tabs on a super-toddler, “Letetia Lerner, Superman’s Babysitter”, is the best-known, because it won that year’s Eisner Award for Best Short Story. (I’m not sure how all the voters read it to accurately judge it, so I suspect that that was a referendum against and a backlash to Levitz’s decision.)
I prefer Mark Waid and Ty Templeton’s single-page parodies, poking fun at Batman and other Silver Age characters. They’re great because they have so much knowledge of the era and its approach behind them. (I can’t help thinking that naked snake Batman also had something to do with Levitz’s decision.) I also fondly remember the Birds of Prey story done in the style of the Apartment 3-G strip.
Note that the 80-Page Giant became a 100-Page Spectacular. That’s because this is the digital edition of the print reprint, which came out at the end of December 2011 as DC Comics Presents: Elseworlds 100-Page Spectacular #1. It added a Paul Pope Batman story reprinted from Batman Chronicles #11. The print copy was $7.99, so the digital price of $4.99 is a comparative bargain.
Sims has more details and art samples, while the comic’s Wikipedia page lists the entire contents.
Oh, so why is this so symbolic of the company’s direction? Because the current DC seems bent on putting out anything and everything they can so long as it’s expected to make a buck. Questions of taste or whether something’s appropriate don’t matter. While that’s great for those of us who’ve wanted reprints of such comics as this rare item or Flex Mentallo, it also suggests a much more commercial approach to the library, where all that matters is the dollar value that can be placed on the content. It’s a good thing that the new DC operates (by outside observation) less driven by fear of getting noticed, but I worry about the pursuit of the almighty coin over all. Comics can still be about art, but I doubt that’s coming out of the new DC these days.