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  1. #1
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    Default What're DC's best pre-crisis runs and stories?

    A little context: I was born in 89, and even then, I didn't really get into comics until 2006. My access to older comics has always been stuff like Chronicles and Showcase Presents, which left me with an impression that DC's "middle years" were largely a goofy mess. (I remember being especially amused by the original Barry Allen stuff, where he could be stopped in his tracks with gold wires and sodium capsules >_>)

    For that reason, I rarely pay much attention to anything of DC's before COIE. Not out of malice, I just never thought there'd be anything that would interest me.

    But it's recently come to my attention that some of Batman's best stuff was going on a decade before COIE, so it made me curious as to what else I've been missing out on.

    So anyone familiar with pre-crisis, what are some of the best runs and stories from back then? Are they collected anywhere?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    BANNED colonyofcells's Avatar
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    My favorite pre crisis jla stories are jla 139 to 146, 149 to 150, written by Steve Englehart.
    http://www.comics.org/series/1449/covers/?page=3

  3. #3
    Incredible Member kingaliencracker's Avatar
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    Denny O'Neil's Batman run
    Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans
    Levitz/Giffen Legion of Super Heroes

  4. #4

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    The first thing that comes to mind for me is Kirby's Fourth World.
    Did you know that every atom in our bodies was once part of a star? Think about that… EVERYTHING changes. Caterpillars turn into butterflies and stars turn into @$$holes.

  5. #5
    Mighty Member Air Wave's Avatar
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    I'd say there's a pretty significant difference between the Silver and Bronze Age stuff. While still Code-approved the BA stuff was way more "grown-up" in my opinion.

  6. #6
    Mighty Member Air Wave's Avatar
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    And one of my favorites as a kid was the run in Detective Comics collected here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Strange.../dp/1563895005

    It's out of print now and therefore pretty expensive but I understand it's collected elsewhere--I just don't remember where that is.

  7. #7
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    I will try to do a really quick lesson on early comic book history.

    Comic books began as collections of comic strips. In the newspapers, comic strip Sundays and dailies were often continued from day to day, week to week. So a collected "story arc" in a comic book could collect a whole story. DC (National Allied) offered NEW comics, but copied the style of the strips. And their early comic books might only have one page features (in the style of a Sunday) in an issue, sometimes two pages--and eventually four pages. And many of these would continue from issue to issue (especially the adventure strips). So you coud have a long story arc over several issues---but the number of pages wouldn't be much more than a 22 page story.

    Eventually, National Allied/Detective Comics, Inc. settled into doing contained stories of between 6 to 13 pages for the various features in their anthologies. However, some features did have extended storylines over many issues. The Black Pirate, with excellent art by Sheldon Moldoff, for example. And once DC/All-American introduced the quarterlies that featured a specific character or group, there could be a long story that ran through the whole issue. The early Justice Society adventures, in ALL-STAR COMICS, were more like collections of individual adventures with a framing sequence, but over in WONDER WOMAN or ALL-FLASH QUARTERLY, there could be one long story that dominated the issue.

    Meanwhile, in Fawcett publications there could be extended story arcs that threaded through their comics or one long story that might dominate a singe issue. And in Will Eisner's Spirit Section--published every week in newspapers, and being a hybrid of the Sundays and the comic books--there was a stronger sense of character development and continuity, so a story could develop over a number of weeks in eight page chapters.

    That sums up comic history for DC's extended story arcs from 1935 to 1950. I'll try to say something about DC from 1950 to 1975 later on.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air Wave View Post
    And one of my favorites as a kid was the run in Detective Comics collected here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Strange.../dp/1563895005

    It's out of print now and therefore pretty expensive but I understand it's collected elsewhere--I just don't remember where that is.
    Strongly agree. These issues are available digitally from the DC or comixology websites or apps.

  9. #9
    The Fastest Post Alive! Buried Alien's Avatar
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    Pre-COIE DC Comics stories tended, for the most part, to be single-issue affairs, or no longer than three-issue story arcs.

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  10. #10
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    In the 1950s, most DCs had more than one story. Why would you pay ten cents of your hard earned allowance for a comic that only promised one story? Once the comics got cut down to only 32 pages (plus cover), there was only room for three stories, of eight or nine pages each. Although, sometimes, the lead feature would get a double part story--two parts of eight or nine pages.

    In 1960, I think JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA was the first DC title since the 1940s where you had a comic that always featured one epic “novel length” story every month (not counting the Henry Boltinoff cartoons, PSAs and various ads in comic form).

    In the 1960s, Mort Weisinger must have figured out that he could pressure readers into buying the next issue if he broke those two part stories over two issues. So the first part ended on a cliffhanger and you had to get the next issue to find out how everything got resolved.

    So by the mid-‘60s, there were many DCs that had two-parters--where one of the stories in that comic would continue over into the next. ACTION COMICS 351 - 353 even had a three-parter with the ZHA-VAM story, while the back-up Supergirl story (a reprint of a Jimmy Olsen story that had been printed all in one issue) was broken over two issues, 351 and 352. I never found No. 353 at the drugstore, so it wasn’t until years later that I could find a back issue to learn how the ZHA-VAM epic ended.

    The Justice League’s meetings with the Justice Society, as an annual event, stretched the concept of two-parters even further--given there were no back-up features. You literally had to pay 10 or 12 cents to get half a story! What a gyp.

    But the Virus X story in ACTION COMICS is probably the longest multi-parter up to that point--not counting sub-plots that ran through various comics like BLACKHAWK, DOOM PATROL and WONDER WOMAN. That was a five issue epic in the front of the comic, from issue 362 to 366.

    Then there was Deadman in STRANGE ADVENTURES. His whole story was one continuing plot you had to keep reading to see if he ever solved the mystery of his own death--and his feature got cancelled before that story reached a conclusion. As well, as the Search for Mera that went on and on for many issues of AQUAMAN before that title was cancelled.

    Sub-plots dominated a lot of DCs by the late ’60s and going into the ‘70s. In JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, WONDER WOMAN, DETECTIVE COMICS, GREEN LANTERN (co-starring Green Arrow), THE FLASH--there were story lines that ran under the main story.

    The Sand Superman Saga was an example of the sub-plot being so strong that it held together the stories in each issue which might not have been otherwise connected--and that ran for nine months in SUPERMAN No. 233 to 242 (339 was a Giant reprint issue).

    While that was going on in SUPERMAN, over in SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND, LOIS LANE, there was an ongoing sub-plot shared between Lois and her back-up feature, Rose and the Thorn, involving a criminal gang called the 100. And in SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN the cub reporter was dealing with Intergang and the Project among other Kirby Koncepts. In fact, Jimmy’s book connected with the other Fourth World comics (um, four books, four worlds--I dunno), NEW GODS, FOREVER PEOPLE, MISTER MIRACLE.

    In the first half of the ‘70s, it was hard to find a comic that didn’t have a continuing sub-plot or multi-part story. Such as the Ra's al Ghul sub-plot in BATMAN AND DETECTIVE or Diana's twelve trials in WONDER WOMAN. Well, at least there were the DC horror and war anthologies, where continuing stories were still rare and you could count on getting more than one story in a single regular-sized comic.

    In DETECTIVE COMICS, when Archie Goodwin took over as editor, he launched the Manhunter as a back-up feature which continued from issue to issue, until the epic conclusion co-starring Batman. And when Julie Schwartz returned as ’TEC editor, another multi-part story dominated the front of the book with the Bat-Muderer story.

    Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s new comic, SWAMP THING--like the Deadman feature--was just one long story as the shambling man monster drifted from one muck-encrusted plot to the next, thinking his deep mockery of a man musings in nifty thought balloons.

    This strained the wallet and by the mid-‘70s a lot of these comics had been cancelled and I’m not sure the multi-part stories really paid off for DC.

    There were still comics that survived this great falling off like KAMANDI--where the last boy on Earth kept exploring the Earth After Disaster--or Jonah Hex in WEIRD WESTERN TALES explored the Wild West after Civil War. In those picaresque picture books, the form allowed each issue to tell an isolated episode while still enjoying the virtue of every chapter figuring into the greater story being told--that never reached a satisfying conclusion, so you always had to keep buying the comics in a fruitless search to see how it would all end. Which it never did.

    So you see how a comic book fan got poor for love of the medium.
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  11. #11
    Incredible Member Adset's Avatar
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    here's a short thread from the batman board talking about some of the best 70s batman stories. i happen to agree with the thread, 70s batman is the best batman.

    http://community.comicbookresources....he-best-Batman

  12. #12
    Mighty Member Air Wave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adset View Post
    here's a short thread from the batman board talking about some of the best 70s batman stories. i happen to agree with the thread, 70s batman is the best batman.

    http://community.comicbookresources....he-best-Batman
    I love 70s Batman. Dark but not psychotic. And more street level. Not so much reliance on the gadgetry. Plus so much Man-Bat!

  13. #13
    Ultimate Member Lee Stone's Avatar
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    Stuff I liked...

    The JLA/JSA cross-overs
    Wolfman/Perez Titans
    Levitz Legion
    Moore Swamp Thing
    JLA from the point Perez took over on art until JLDetroit
    The three-part Wonder Woman story that featured DC's female heroes
    The Huntress back-ups in Wonder Woman
    The double-size Anniversary issues that had multiple artists, like JLA #200 and Batman #400
    All-Star Squadron
    "There's magic in the sound of analog audio." - CNET.

  14. #14
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    If you don't mind black and white DC Showcase Presents reprints thousands of classic DC stories.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...s_publications

  15. #15
    Astonishing Member AlexanderLuthor's Avatar
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    Pretty much anything written or edited by Denny O'Neil in the 70s is fantastic (Batman, Green Arrow, The Question)

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