Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Classics - 80-Page Giant #9

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesterday, when comic shops were just a dream, back issues were almost impossible to find, and reprints of old issues were rare indeed.

For those of us who grew up in rural settings, our only real source for reprints were comics like this one: DC's 80 Page Giants. This one is dated April 1965 and includes five tales starring The Flash (Barry Allen), including the story that continued to affect the DC Universe for decades to come.

That story, of course, is "Flash of Two Worlds," wherein the Silver Age Flash accidentally crosses over the dimensional barrier to Earth-2 and meets the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick.

If this had been a Marvel Comics, the two would have fought it out due to a misunderstanding - but since this was a DC Comic, they had a calm discussion, recounted their origins and secret identities, became immediate friends and teamed up to take on a trio of Jay's old foes who had just embarked on a crime wave.

It was an elegant solution to the question: "Whatever happened to the heroes from the Golden Age?" It was a solution DC (and writer Gardener Fox especially) would build on in the years ahead.

I didn't see that comic when it was first released, but thanks to this reprint, I was able to catch up on that adventure and four others, including early appearances by The Pied Piper, Dr. Alchemy, Gorilla Grodd and Captain Boomerang.

Today we're spoiled by an overwhelming number of reprints (this is a great thing, of course). You can pick up that original "Flash" story in a black-and-white Showcase reprint, in the full-color Archives edition, and one day soon it'll probably be available in Omnibus and/or digital form, too.

Heck, if you have a few hundred bucks to spare, you can buy a copy of the original at a comics shop, a convention or on eBay! (All concepts that would have shattered my 9-year-old mind in 1965.)

But in my early days in comics, the only lifeline to the past was the reprint comics, and we had to depend on the good taste of the editor to load them with the classic and historic tales we wanted to read - like this one!

Grade: A



Anonymous said...

When I bought my first comic book
(Superboy #119) as a 10-year old,
I stepped into an unknown universe.
I knew Superman from tv, and I had
read my uncle's comics, including an early Jimmy Olsen, but it was all new and difficult to grasp. Along came DC's 80-page Giants, and
things began to slowly make sense.
These carefully selected reprints
helped fill in gaps in my understanding. There was no Internet. You just had to piece things together for yourself. What
a wonderful age of exploration and

Sam Kujava

Chuck said...

Sam, that was the amazing thing about reading comics back "in the day" - you had no knowledge of the history of the characters, so you had to piece it together as you went. I remember at the end of Avengers #3 it said the next issue would feature the return of Captain America. My first thought was, "Who's that?"