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Posted March 15, 2006
AFFORDABLE REPRINT EDITION
DC Comics re-printing of the earliest Superman adventures isn't a new idea. We've seen them numerous times over the years both in regular comic reprints, Famous First Editions Treasuries, as well as the Action Comics Archives. But in Superman Chronicles, DC gives readers a slight variation. Rather than just providing reprints of a particular title, the Chronicles will be re-printing Superman stories in chronological order as they first appeared beginning with Action Comics #1 back in 1938. Thus this volume goes in order of Action Comics numbers 1 through 12, then New York World's Fair #1, Action Comics #13, and finally concluding with Superman #1. Obviously the often re-printed Action Comics stories are at the front of the line in this first volume but that will change in the future editions. If you haven't read these stories before this is a Superman who is very different in both powers and appearance than the one we know today. Early on Superman did not fly, but could merely leap up to an 1/8th of a mile. No real origin is presented other than a brief preface that Superman was found by some motorists and placed into an orphanage. No mention of ma & pa kent whatsoever... And it wasn't the Daily Planet where Clark Kent got his start as a reporter but the Daily Star. While Lois Lane was around from the beginning, to say her and Clark didn't quite get along at first is putting it mildly. Lois is downright nasty to Clark leading to a surprised exclamation by Clark when Lois actually says hello to him one day. The villains early on are not exactly on the par of Lex Luthor, Brainiac, or Doomsday. Mostly Clark battles two-bit villains who are pretty indistinguishable from those that Batman may have fought. One may almost consider these early adventures mundane. In one, Clark goes up against a ruthless mine owner who refuses to improve the safety of his mines even after an accident traps several of his employees. One of the most humorous and most prophetic stories in the book is the one where a man shows up at the Daily Star claiming to be Superman's manager and saying he has the rights to license Superman's name for use in films or on products like bathing suits. One wonders if writer Jerry Siegel knew just how big Superman would become back in the late 30's, and how he would have to fight legal battles with DC over the character. Joe Shuster's art was a bit primitive even for the Golden Age and not on a par with others of the period like Kirby, Schomburg, Molduff, and Kubert. The real star, art-wise of these early issues of Action was cover artist Leo O' Mealia who contributes some dazzling covers. O' Mealia was an old pro who was perhaps best known for illustrating the Fu Manchu newspaper strip in the early 1930's. Reviewed by Tim Janson
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Posted December 3, 2011
A great collection of the earliest Superman stories in an easily accessible and affordable format. Not just stuff from one comic book title, but chronologically combines the early Action Comics Superman stories, the new material that was in Superman No. 1, and even a story of Superman at the New York World's Fair that had been printed in another comic book. (Later volumes have more of a blend of the Superman stories from Action Comics and his own title.)
Definitely nostalgic fun for anyone who has any knowledge of or interest in the old (pre-U.S. involvement in World War II) days. I'm not sure how well it may go over with kids born in the 21st Century, though, unless they show any curiosity in the way things "use to be".
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Posted April 14, 2009
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