Marvel Essentials, DC Showcase

Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

Knivesout no more
Nov 11, 2003
Bangalore, India
While the Marvel Masterworks and DC Archives series are great collections, and something I'd like to collect when I'm fabulously wealthy, they are priced a little high. What seem a little more affordable are the Marvel Essentials and DC Showcase series, which offer pretty good value for money, at around 500 pages of B&W reprints of classic comics for around 10-15 dollars a pop. They remind me a bit of the B&W paperback-sized collections of DC comics that I used to read in the 80s, only bigger. Despite the lack of colour, these seem like good ways to at least begin to delve into the older stuff from these publishers for someone who was too young to buy most of those comics when they came out, and isn't quite wealthy enough to buy old issues on the collector's market, or to invest in the more high-end Masterworks/Archives books yet.

DC Showcase is still fairly new. Titles so far include Superman, which focusses on the Silver Age fare, Green Lantern (the Hal Jordan GL, that is), Metamorpho and Jonah Hex. An interesting mix of titles, and a definite focus on Silver Age content for the time being.

Marvel's Essentials include collections of the classic Spider-Man, Avengers, Fantastic 4, Thor, Daredevil, Captain America, Doctor Strange (which I'm especially interested in - love those magical Ditko pencils!), Hulk, Howard the Duck (another title I'd love to get!) and more, I think, as the imprint has been around longer.

What d'you think of these? Would you buy them, or wait until they're available in Masterwork/Archive editions and pay more for colour?
knivesout said:
What d'you think of these? Would you buy them, or wait until they're available in Masterwork/Archive editions and pay more for colour?
I prefer them colorized, comics is also about colors.
hmm, original huntress. silver and golden age wonderwoman, all stars, original jla, manhunter, silverage hawk and dove, silverage hawkman would be a must, and wouldn't mind golden age either! and maybe a re-run of crisis on infinite earths. would need to double check i know there are other characters who deserve their own showcases!
oh yes, titans (teen original series without the bug eyed cartoon look they've now obtained) aquaman...
will carry on thinking:D
Oh yes, I'd like a lot of those too, especially Wonder Woman and Hawkman! In addition to the original JLA, the JSA would be cool too - something about the original Green Lantern and Flash, and the other characters like the Hourman, Doctor Mid-Nite, Starman, and Sandman that I find very appealing.

The Wolfman/Perez Crisis on Infinite Earths is fairly easy to obtain in tpb, by the way, and was recently released in one of those premium 'ultimate' editions too.
I was always more of a Marvel fan, although I do appreciate some of the DC classics, also.

I have been eyeing the black-and-white anthologies myself for the last year. They seem like a good idea when someone wants a good slab of a character's library without devoting too much time and money finding the sections spastically covered through trade paperbacks or hunched over a comic book bin at some store that has shoved its collection in a corner to make room for all the collectible toys and card games. The problem with higher priced colored trade paperbacks is that they often do not adequately cover enough of a story unless they are reprinting something like "The Infinitely Gauntlet," which was already a mini-series in nature.

"The Silver Age Classics" publications by DC back in the '90s was a good idea. Instead of taking the route of some form of bulk paperback, DC would literally reprint classics such as some Green Lantern/Green Arrow gems or the first appearance of Swamp Thing each month, and each issue was priced about fifty cents cheaper than other comics on the racks. This way, fans could hand pick the classics they were interested in and still keep it economically sound.
Those reprint comics sound like a good idea. Hey, you liked the GA/GL stories too? These were the first Lantern stories I read, reprinted in inexpensive Indian editions in the 80s. Although they now seem kinda heavy-handed at times (and GA comes across as a bit of sourpuss, to say the least) they were the first superhero comics I read that actually tackled issues from the real world, and made quite an impression on me at the time. And Neal Adams' art is immaculate. He made super heroes look so super...and heroic. :)

Anyway, as a Marvel fan you'll find that the Essentials series is pretty wide-ranging, and covers more than just their top titles - they even put out an Essential Godzilla, last I checked!
i know i've got a few of the re-prints somewhere. although i've seen it argued that it de-values collections of the original works. doesn't bother me though.
Absolutely. It's more important for people to read and enjoy these stories than for a bunch of obsessive collectors who probably have their old issues permanently hermetically sealed away in bulletproof lucite to be able to artificially inflate prices.
i've never understood that sort of mentality. why not enjoy it while it lasts. and if they look after them properly, they'll last anyway!
one thing that did agravate me, just after we arrived in this country, my ex's nephew borrowed some of my books. the older ones! and they never found their way home to me. still makes me sniff>(
knivesout said:
What d'you think of these?
I've been getting tomes from the Essentials line pretty much since it debuted. There is no better, more affordable way to read some of those classic stories, which are otherwise priced WAY out of most people's range. To be able to dive into, say, the Lee / Kirby years of Fantstic Four for such a low price ($11 or so through Amazon) is a real treat. Aside from some production problems with the early volumes, the quality has been very nice on these, with the pencils really showing a lot of detail.

I've picked up all the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Avengers volumes, and have a few here and there of Daredevil, Spider-Man, and maybe one or two others. Certainly one of the best ideas Marvel has had in some time.

Even better, you can treat them like hell without guilt - loan them out, read them while making poo, whatever - because they're really just newsprint reprints. It's very easy to break that silly "I MUST PROTECT THIS!" habit comics drives you into.

A big, big thumbs up for the Essentials.
Leto said:
comics is also about colors.
Dave Sim, Richard and Wendy Pini, Jeff Smith, Art Spiegelman, Will Eisner, Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell, Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis, David Lapham, Craig Thompson, Peter Bagge, and countless, countless others disagree with you. Including me.
It's a matter of taste. As lons as I agree with my own taste, I won't complain people disagree (even famous ones).
To be more precised, I feel american comics must be colorized to be appreciated. I can appreciated manga or European BD in black and white.
Leto said:
I feel american comics must be colorized to be appreciated.
I would be utterly appalled if Whiteout, Bone, Maus, Torso, Cerebus, Blankets, Stray Bullets, Jinx, Sin City and the like were colorized.

Really, I'm not sure how national borders make or break a comic's need for colorization.
It's not national border, it's my own feeling towards the three main style of comics I've been exposed to. Another french comics fan may agree with you, I don't. Nothing more, nothing less.
I've got a few of the essentials (Xmen, Cap America, Iron Man, Avengers) and I think they're pretty good value for money. Also, it's much easier for storage (and chronology)than having piles of comics around the place.

The Wolfman/Perez Crisis on Infinite Earths is fairly easy to obtain in tpb, by the way, and was recently released in one of those premium 'ultimate' editions too.

I've been having trouble trying to trace any 'crisis' stuff but I'll have to have another look.
i have several of the marvel essentials range,daredevil 1-3,dr.strange,ghost rider,thor silver surfer,spider-man 1-4/peter parker-spider-man 1 ,punisher.i think the titles on offer by both houses are of extreme good value i cant think of how much amazing fantasy no.1 would set me back,but to have it collected with the first 25 or so stories for £10 is a bargin by any standard.should we care if the print is b&w-no,we already know what they look like, that's why we've got imaginations,please if youve not bought any of these titles buy them now
Thanks for the views and info, people! I'll have to agree with Leto insofar as I feel that a comic that was orginally colour looses something in black and white - obviously an artist working in black and white from the word go uses techniques and tricks to compensate for the lack of colour in other ways, and the line art in a colour comic depends to colour to a greater extent to lend volume, texture and so on.

Still, I had a look at a volume of Essential The Hulk yesterday, and I must say that Shoegaze99's point that you get to read these classic editions - tons of them in one book - and ina book you do not have to treat like a priceless artifact which would be the case with an archival reprint or an orignal issue - makes a lot of sense to me.

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