Friday, December 2, 2011

Review: DC Archives- The Golden Age Spectre Archives Vol. 1


THE GOLDEN AGE SPECTRE ARCHIVES VOL. 1(DC, 2003; Hardcover)
Collects selections from More Fun Comics Nos. 52-70 (cover dates February, 1940- August, 1941).
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Artist: Bernard Baily
DC has been blowing out their DC Archives line of hardcovers out at half price through Diamond Distributors for over a year now. I picked this up at the beginning of the sale and finally got around to reading it. The Spectre effin' rules! I have read more than enough Golden Age comic books to know what is good and what is simply the novelty of reading old, obscure comics. I would rank this run right up there with any of the Golden Age greats, like Batman by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Captain America by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, and the Sub-Mariner by Bill Everett. It is that good. 
I love how Siegel inserts locales from his native Cleveland, referred to here as Cliffland, such as the Marquee Theatre, referred to here as the Markey Theatre. I also love the old-fashioned might makes right mentality of the Golden Age. Villains meet with unfortunate, and often gruesome, ends. The Spectre is judge, jury and executioner all rolled into one. I love the clothes, slang, cars, and street lights of the time. 
The rampant sexism and unfavorable portrayal of minorities as elevator operators are bizarre snapshots of this bygone era. It's hard to believe how far we have come as a society in the last 70 years.
I love the rawness and innovation of the Golden Age of comics. These guys literally made up the rules as they went along. The Spectre is even referred to as “The Dark Knight” in one issue. I am not sure if it pre-dates Batman being referred to as the Dark Knight or not. If I had to guess, I'd have to say that it does not.
I am sad that this is the only Golden Age Spectre Archive available. Of course I now want All Star Archives Vols. 0-5 because The Spectre is in them. Does anyone know if he has solo stories or if he is part of the team? Are they worth getting? 
The OCD zone- DC Archives are a thing of beauty. High quality restoration, paper and sewn binding...what more could you ask for? It's a damn shame that DC has done such an about face with their hardcovers in recent years.

2 comments:

  1. Hi, great review of this book, i firmly agree with you, having got it cheap myself.

    I have the whole run of All Star Archives 0-11 as well, and i heartily recommend all of them, not just 1-5 (and the Spectre is in volume 0 as well, by the way).

    Regarding whether the Spectre features in single stories, yes is the main answer, and no is the real answer. Here's why: All the "team" stories in All-Star featured a brief set-up chapter, then individual stories featuring each character, usually drawn by their regular artist, and then an even briefer (often one page) denouement featuring the whole team.

    so if you're a fan of any of the solo JSA members, it's worth picking the books up, in my view. Volumes 6-8 are excellent as well, they don't feature the Spectre, but they do contain some of the best issues of All-Star Comics of the entire run, really hitting their stride by volume 8.

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    1. I have All-Star Archives vols. 0-5 and hope to read them someday. I shudder at how bad my pictures are in this review! I have learned some techniques since then.

      One gripe that I have now which I unaware of when I wrote this review is that the original color palette is completely disregarded. Check out some scans of the original comic books online, you will be aghast at the carnage done to these classics.

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