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New Death of Superman Editions

death_of_superman_new_editions_03Back in late 1992, possibly early 1993–VERY shortly after Superman #75 was published–a collected volume was rushed out, collecting the six Superman issues and the Justice League issue that made up the Doomsday! (now simply The Death of Superman) arc.

I have always considered it something that was rushed because on the back where they gave a cover gallery, several of the issues were obviously-marked (Roman Numerals) later printings…whoever had been tasked with designing the back cover did not even themselves have access (or care) to all first-print editions (and I say this assuming there were no digital images floating around back then to simply access and use).

And over 1993 we then got the Funeral for a Friend story collected as World Without a Superman, and then eventually a massive (even by contemporary standards!) The Return of Superman (my copy, bought at the time, was a whopping $14.95 or so..!).

Over the years, those volumes have remained in-print…with the only major difference that I have noticed being that the Death of Superman volume eventually was switched to the iconic Superman #75 cover image of the tattered cape amidst the wreckage of Doomsday’s rampage.

The volumes originated in a time where any such collected volume was a real rarity/novelty, and it was only the particularly “special” or truly “sold-out” major storylines that would get collected into a single-volume edition…and each was largely its own thing, existing as an isolated item. “Simple” as the spines were back then, my original editions, at least, look ok together, but do not match many “surrounding” volumes on the bookshelves…and other than “knowing” the three volumes belong together, there’s no real indicator of them, nor the order to read them in. I take such knowledge totally for granted, but especially in this day and age of constant deaths and resurrections and timey-wimey stuff and multiverses and pre-Flashpoints and New 52s…’nuff said.

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We now get five volumes–each more manageable than the Death and Return of Superman Omnibus, and admittedly higher prices…but also more content in the volumes–for example, the Death of Superman volume now contains the Newstime magazine that was published during all this; the Funeral for a Friend volume has the Legacy of Superman and the Supergirl/Team Luthor special; while what was formerly the single-volume The Return of Superman has been split in two–with the addition of the four ongoing titles’ Bloodlines annuals (each issue starring one of the Four Supermen) as well as the entirety of issues that had only had several pages reprinted.

And while it does not fit the “set” or “series” quite the same way, we have the inclusion of the Doomsday volume, giving us the Doomsday: Year One annual as well as the complete Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey along with Superman: The Doomsday Wars.

I believe podcaster and fellow blogger Michael Bailey said it on Facebook (and I wholeheartedly agree!) that probably a better fit for this volume would have been the early-2000s mini-series Superman: Day of Doom in place of The Doomsday Wars.

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Still, all in all, I love the new trade dress–the black bar with red logo/title text contrasts nicely with the images, and really make them look like part of the same series of books.

While I kinda question the wisdom of numbering the volumes (wondering if a 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 on the spine would put someone off from buying an isolated volume), I absolutely love that with the full set, part of the spines makes up a black box with the iconic (extremely so to me!) “bleeding S” that denotes the death of the Man of Steel.

This set gives me at least my 5th edition of the Death of Superman volume, and I have many of the issues in this set multiple times over. Yet, given what the saga means to me, on learning of these new editions’ existence and the inclusion of the specials and particularly the annuals…I was immediately interested. That the spines do what they do put me over the fence.

However, I did wait until these were available from InStockTrades, as I certainly was not going to buy all 5 at once at anything remotely approaching cover price, and even this was a hefty one-time amount to lay out. For saving 45%, though, I’m extremely pleased with the purchase, and having these volumes!

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The Death and Return of Superman Omnibus

The ultimate comics story of my childhood is now the ultimate single volume in my entire collection.

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I “passed” on the original “omnibus” released back in 2007 or so. It seemed expensive, and as I hadn’t pre-ordered it, I had time to learn that it wasn’t a “true” omnibus–the heart of the story (Funeral for a Friend) was gutted, and a number of other stuff was left out.

When I found out about this edition (I believe from Michael Bailey), it had my interest. Yet, the solicitation text seemed similar to the previous edition, listing material from the various issues, but not specifying if the issues were collected in their entirety, or just a handful of pages.

When this arrived in the mail this week and I opened it yesterday…I was quite impressed on a number of things. Firstly, in Amazon‘s “bargain” shipping. I’ve at least twice in the past half-year had to return stuff I deemed too damaged to keep, due to the way they packaged/shipped ’em. But this arrived in good shape, no random dings or dents in the covers or spine. The dustjacket has a little piece bent on the back, but that was UNDER the shrink wrap of the book itself–factory issue, and straightened right out enough that I’m not concerned.

Secondly, the weight and physical size of this thing. This is absolutely THE largest single comic volume of any sort that I have ever bought. I’ve posted in the past about how close some of Marvel‘s omnibus editions are to otherwise “regular”-ish hardbacks…but this one easily dwarfs the largest Captain America omnibus I own.

Thirdly, I paged through the volume last night, and it indeed seems to have the entirety of what I’d expect; each issue’s cover is also included at the start of each chapter, making this essentially a bound-without-the-ads sort of thing…you know exactly where the issue breaks are, and which issue you’re reading.

Fourthly, the Justice League tie-in issue to Doomsday is included in full, as is the Green Lantern tie-in issue to Reign of the Supermen; this also includes the entirety of the Legacy of Superman special. And rather than “short” us with a few pages of “immediately relevant” stuff from Adventures of Superman #505 and Action Comics #692, the entirety of both of those issues is reproduced here.

Finally, the extras–though not entirely impressive in and of themselves–proved a real treat to read through. I don’t tend to care for random sketch pages, but this volume is a certain exception given the subject matter. And while not quite annotations, the text comments from the various creators were enjoyable to read–confirming stuff I (mostly) already knew, and I also enjoyed seeing some of the promo artwork and such that I’d forgotten about or in the case of art for a couple t-shirts don’t think I ever knew existed.

I don’t think I’d consider this “worth” its full cover price at the moment–I have the original issues several times over; I have the original editions of the individual paperbacks, I have several of the issues digitally in my ComiXology account–but I snagged this for 45% off and free shipping from Amazon, and for that price, I am presently very happy with what I got.

I don’t know how well the binding will or won’t hold up–I flipped through carefully, but didn’t try to lay this out flat or actually READ any of the issues in this edition yet, and it was sorta awkward holding it to read the “extras” material without putting this out flat.

But overall, in the present moment…I’m loving this thing.

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