Tuesday 6 December 2022

DC Heroes & Villains Collection Festive 50!

It's almost two years since we launched the DC Heroes & Villains Collection, the fortnightly graphic novel collection of which I'm editor and chief feature writer (and over three years since I started putting the whole thing together); which means that, this week, we've reached the 50th volume! And just in time for Christmas too, hence the 'Festive 50' in the title of this post – also an allusion, for those of a certain age and indie disposition, to John Peel's annual rundown of his listeners' favourite tracks of the year (the apogee of which, surely – and I invite no argument here – was when House of Love's blistering 'Destroy the Heart' topped the 1988 chart).

But anyway, as ever the continuing demands of the collection (I'm currently working on the 59th and 60th volumes, with an eye on the 61st and 62nd) plus other work (I'm also writing a book) mean that I don't have much time to blog, but I wanted to mark the occasion at least, and hail the hard work that's gone into the thing thus far – by myself, obviously, but also everyone at Hachette (plus Steve White, late of that parish, since gone on to more artistic endeavours) and designer Martin at Amazing15. As I've mentioned before, for me the DC Heroes & Villains Collection is a labour of love – a love letter, in a way, to the DC comics of the past 40 years or so... albeit a meandering and prolix one. 

The 50th release (volume 90 in the correct numbering), Justice Society of America: The Next Age, may well be in some subscribers' hands already, but is officially published tomorrow, and as is now traditional with the DC Heroes & Villains Collection, it goes above and beyond the previously published DC edition of the same title, collecting not just the first four issues of the 2007 Justice Society of America series, but issues #7 and 8 as well (issues #5 and 6 will be in the Justice League of America crossover The Lightning Saga), plus the usual bonus material.

Merry Christmas, and here's to the next 50 volumes!

Thursday 24 November 2022

Guardians of the Galaxy The Ultimate Guide New Edition Coming April 2023

I posted this on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but it deserves a post here as well, if only to raise the consciousness of Existential Ennui from the freezing reefersleep it's slipped into. What can I say: these days I'm back to spending most of my time writing professionally – as opposed to editing, though I also do a fair amount of that – so I don't really have the time to blog here too. But anyway, up for pre-order now – on Amazon, obviously, but it's also available through the likes of WHSmith – is the new edition of my 2017 book Guardians of the Galaxy The Ultimate Guide!

Pleased as I was with the first edition, this new edition is even better, fully updated with new info, images, and even more pages, bringing the story of the Guardians in comics bang up to date – and not a moment too soon either: published on 6 April 2023, it'll be out just ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, so if you want to know who Adam Warlock is ahead of the film, Guardians of the Galaxy The Ultimate Guide will explain all. You can read more about the book here, and no doubt I'll be banging on about it at greater length ahead of publication – and about the other book I'll have out later next year, and the other other book I've contributed an essay to.

Friday 18 March 2022

Meanwhile... in the DC Heroes & Villains Collection: Joker's Dozen and The Untold Legend of the Batman

The next release going out to DC Heroes & Villains Collection subscribers is significant, because not only does it boast one of the volumes I was keenest to include in the collection when I put the whole shebang together, but it comes accompanied by a subscriber-exclusive special edition. 

That special edition is Joker's Dozen, a 432-page bumper collection of some of the best Joker stories of the 1980s – 13 Clown Prince of Crime Classics, as I put it in the subtitle. There was a bit of back-and-forth with DC on the contents, but I think we've arrived at something unique: 13 Joker stories – 20 comics in total – which delineate a decade of change at DC, as the Bronze Age of Comics gave way to the Modern Age. The murderers' row of creative talent on the front cover – Len Wein, Walt Simonson, Gerry Conway, Don Newton, Jim Aparo, José Luis García-López, Doug Moench, Gene Colan and Marv Wolfman – isn't even the half of it, because there are also stories from Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, Martin Pasko, Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn, Paul Kupperberg, Alex Saviuk, Max Allan Collins, Chris Warner, Ross Andru, Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, many of which have rarely been reprinted since original publication.

On top of that, the book includes October 1986's Batman #400, a 60-page multi-villain extravaganza written by Doug Moench and with art by – among others – John Byrne, Steve Lightle, George Pérez, Bill Sienkiewicz, Arthur Adams, Joe Kubert and Brian Bolland which has only been collected by DC once since its original publication 36 years ago. Plus, it's preceded by September 1986's Detective Comics #566, a Doug Moench and Gene Colan lead-in story to Batman #400 that's never been reprinted – though its cover may be familiar from posters, prints, T-shirts and the like:

As for the volume I was keen to include in the DC Heroes & Villains Collection, that would be our 32nd release, The Untold Legend of the Batman, which features the eponymous 1980 three-issue Len Wein, John Byrne and Jim Aparo miniseries. Only ever collected under its own title as a book once before – by Tor Books in 1982 as a pocket-size black-and-white paperback, long out of print – it's a terrific mystery thriller that expertly weaves together decades of piecemeal Batman continuity, an approach reflected by the four other stories in the volume, each of which I selected for the brilliant way they too embellish the legend of the Batman. (Incidentally, the Untold Legend miniseries was reissued in 1989 as a three-part 'audio theater' edition, each issue comprising a mini-version of the original comic and an audio cassette; you can hear the audio, and its accompanying funky theme tune, on YouTube.)

Speaking of those other stories, one of them is mentioned in a 'Meanwhile...' column I was reading just this morning. For those who don't know, back in the 1980s, DC's Executive Editor, Dick Giordano, wrote an editorial column, 'Meanwhile...', which appeared in most DC titles on a monthly, then later weekly, basis. The 'Meanwhile...' that appeared in comics which went on sale on 3 July, 1986 was an especially notable one, because it announced some epochal changes to come in the Batman corner of the DC Universe over the remainder of that momentous year. It's also pertinent not just to the aforementioned bonus story that appears in the The Untold Legend of the Batman, but to a pair of stories that appear in the DC Heroes & Villains Collection's edition of 1986–87 crossover event Legends, and a sequence of stories that will appear in the DC Heroes & Villains Collection down the line. Click on the column below and see if you can work out which comics I'm referring to.