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Superman Unchained

superman_unchained_02In early 2013 or so, I recall a bit of personal excitement that had me ready to jump back into the Superman books…the prospect of a quasi “return” to there being several familiar titles each month. Superman and Action Comics were (and are, and remain) two “staples” of the New 52, and aren’t likely to disappear regardless of creative team turnover. There was the digital-first Adventures of Superman, and the pending Scott Snyder-takes-on-Superman fourth title, rumored at the time to be “Man of Steel” or such with the new movie on the immediate horizon.

The Snyder book wound up being Superman Unchained, and quickly soured me. I remember a fair bit of hubbub over the price point on the title–the first issue was $4.99, apparently super-priced due to the inclusion of a pull-out “poster” that would actually tie to the story. I got the issue, and was VERY disappointed with the so-called poster, as it was just some stupid, giant-sized “panel” of Superman crashing through a satellite. Nothing that couldn’t have simply been done as a “regular” double-page spread or such. It by no means needed a poster or pull-out or whatever, and was nothing “worth” putting on a wall or framing for the wall.

That the title was a $3.99 book–to my knowledge–combined with the frustration over the vastly over-hyped pull-out soured me. Add to it the slew of expensive variant covers and I didn’t even bother to pick up #2, accepting my loss on the first issue and moving on.

Flash ahead to present, and this “new series” had turned into a “limited series,” ran late, lost steam, etc. and generally fell off my radar.

But there’s a collected volume, a deluxe oversized hardcover…collecting the ENTIRE SERIES, the entire story into a single, nice-looking volume.

superman_unchained_01And while this would EASILY be a $50-$60 book (if not $75 just for the sheer heckuvit) from Marvel…from DC, Superman Unchained is a WHOPPING $29.99 cover price as an oversized hardcover. 9 issues, content from a Director’s Cut of #1, PLUS a cover gallery of all those too-many-to-count variants of the first six or so issues (presumably before the title ran late and lost steam and all that). 9 issues at $3.99 apiece would be $36ish. $37 for that first issue being an extra $1. Add another $4 for the Director’s Cut (I think it was actually $4.99 if not MORE, though) and we certainly hit the $40 mark. Heck, even at a mere $2.99/issue…9 issues and the director’s cut puts us squarely at $30 MINIMUM.

This book–oversized, hardcover, no ads, no wait between issues, no screwy over-hyped poster gimmick, everything in one volume–is $30.

I have yet to read the story itself…but it’s Snyder. It’s SUPERMAN. It’s A STORY, it’s significantly longer than the Earth One OGNs that I’m willing to buy despite the $20+ cover price. So it’s safe to say that yes…I’m happy with my purchase. The volume is seems a good value. I can’t imagine I’ll dislike the story enough to “ruin” having bought the book. Having followed Doomed earlier this year, I didn’t notice anything in that that was truly impacted by this story; nor have I seen anything else I’m consciously aware of that ties back to this.

So I get an epic-length self-contained Superman story and even if it sucks, it’s done in one at this point and I’m not going to be led into buying other titles or having to track anything down. Money well spent, and an impressive volume for the shelf. 

That I enjoyed paging through the cover gallery as much as I did almost warrants the purchase by itself.

This is truly an example of why I–by FAR–prefer the collected edition format to the single issues.

I don’t have to track down all the variants to get to ENJOY them, their very existence, seeing them with the logo/trade dress. Below, see (on the right-hand side) the “Superman Reborn” series of variants, reuniting classic ’90s Superman creators with the post-Death of Superman-era characters.


Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #1…


Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #2…


Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #3…


Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #4…


Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #5…


Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #6.

The Rest of the Stack: Rise of the simultaneous dual format release

November 3, 2009

Based on this week’s shipping list, the Rise of the Olympian arc from Wonder Woman is being released tomorrow in collected-volume format. While this in and of itself is NOT odd…what’s odd is the fact that it is being released SIMULTANEOUSLY in both Hardcover AND Softcover.


Now, I’m curious as to why such a difference in price. Seems that lately, the price difference between a hardcover and softcover is only $5-6. A $20 hardcover becomes a $15 paperback. The $25 or $30 hardcover becomes $20 or $25, respectively. Here it’s a whopping $10.

If I recall correctly, the original arc was 8 issues, at $2.99/issue…which puts the hardcover at a mere $1 above cover price of those single issues. And the softcover is priced such that you’re getting the contents of each single issue for about $1.88, $1.11 cheaper per-issue than the singles which had ads breaking up the story and with a month’s wait between chapters.

While this is frustrating–particularly for having given the title a chance with that arc, and then not being engaged ENOUGH to stick around for the single issues (in part for seeing both collected volumes solicited several months back). Had I simply waited, I’d get a nice, huge story at an EXTREMELY reasonable price! (I suspect some of my feelings might have more merit if one places Spider-Man: Noir vol. 1 TPB on the shelf next to Rise of the Olympian TPB, both at the same retail price).

Despite the frustration mentioned, and having zero real clue about the reasoning of the price points and both versions being put out together (and not having noticed ANYthing like this in books thus far solicited down the road)…the prices are how I’d like to see more collected volumes.

1. I’d rather have stuff in paperback, so it all goes together on the shelf; the old and new material. Not waiting during an extra long gap to buy a paperback because of the hardback having to have its turn on the shelf first.

2. Either way, the paperback should be significantly cheaper. Especially on the bigger books (I’m thinking of Planet Hulk and the Marvel: Noir books in particular), if I’m going to actually buy the book, I’d gladly pay the “mere” $5 to “upgrade” to the hardcover. If I’m already going to spend $30, $35 isn’t all that bad for a book so much larger physically. Same goes for the digest-size Noir paperbacks compared to the full-size hardcover counterparts.

But this Wonder Woman book…for the $10 difference, and the paperback being like getting almost 3 issues’ content “free” compared to the single issues’ cover price…I’d absolutely be all over buying the paperback just to get the story!

If books were REGULARLY released this way, it would allow for more choice in “collecting format.” Buy the singles as that’s the traditional format. Buy the collected (hardcover) for about the same price, perhaps slightly more, to have a nice hardcover for the bookshelf. Or go the cheapest route, and get a likely lower-quality of paper, but get to read the story without constant ads interrupting the flow, and getting the contents of comics for effectively the price of comics a decade ago. (Yeah, this doesn’t consider the stuff from the publisher side or the actual production costs and all that stuff.)

Despite all this…I’m a sucker. That $15 for the expected size of this book is rather appealing, especially for the ability to read everything in one volume. And add Wonder Woman to the shelf, s I’ve somehow never wound up with a Wonder Woman collected volume despite my 20+ years as a comics reader.

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