Jiminy Christmas! | DC Archives In Peril

Word on the street is that the DC Archives program is in peril, or at least that’s what the Collected Editions blog is saying and I agree.  The brouhaha started last week on Robot 6 when two DC Omnibus collections were advanced solicited on Amazon: Jack Kirby Omnibus Volume 1 and Steve Ditko Omnibus Volume 1.  Now Teen Titans Omnibus Volume 1 is up for pre-order, and we’ve already seen Green Lantern Omnibus Volume 1 and reviewed it here.  For now let’s ignore the wonder we’re all feeling for those who have the time to mine Amazon.com for advance solicitations…

Two direction changes here for DC with their reprint material.  They’re offering material in an Omnibus format that previously would have been published in the DC Archives line, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko Omnibuses.  They’re offering material previously published in the DC Archives line, Green Lantern and Teen Titans.  Unfortunately the Amazon listings don’t show dimensions so we don’t know if they’ll be slightly oversized but that’s how DC seems to be producing their Omnibus volumes.

The big item I haven’t seen mentioned in these posts is that DC offered all their DC Archives at 70% off through Diamond for the past three weeks.  To me that’s the biggest flag pointing to a direction change for DC reprint material.  If nothing else it looks like DC wants to dump what’s still in print.

Of course we could be looking at this all wrong.  The Kirby and Ditko volumes sound like collections of various titles that didn’t have the page count to be in their own DC Archive.  The Green Lantern and Teen Titans volumes are at this point repackaging material already published in DC Archives volumes.

It’s been slow going for DC Archives fans lately: four volumes published in 2010 and one solicited for 2011.  I’m a fan and have all volumes 1 and 2 plus more for favourites like Green Lantern and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents but they’re expensive, I only pick them up when deeply discounted, and have that odd yellow tinge to the paper that I’ve never understood.

No question there is a lot of work to be done gathering, restoring and printing this older material but they’re too pricey: $50-60 for 200-300 pages of standard sized material, especially for modern work like Teen Titans.  These new Omnibus volumes are $50-75 for 300-500 pages of material, most likely oversized.

For now it’s wait and see.

Scott VanderPloeg
Scott VanderPloeg

Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at AE Index and eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans.

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Kevin Boyd
13 years ago

This is actually old news rediscovered… for almost three years DC has been phasing out the Archives program. Here’s a response from Paul Levitz given in 2008:

January 2, 2008

Thank you very much for your incredible support of the Archives program. We have had a number of devoted collectors of the series, and that enabled us to produce a body of work I am very proud of. Unfortunately, in recent years the sales of new Archives volumes have declined below the point where we can sustain the program in its current form. We are still working out the alternative plans, but I expect we will still have some volumes more or less in the current format; though with different pricing or specs and some new archival projects in a different arrangement. I hope we will be announcing all by spring time, and that you appreciate the result.

Paul Levitz

Since then it’s pretty much followed the lines he stated: that the old Archives series has been limited to new volumes of existing series or a few editions already in production at the time that the decision to severely limit the program was made.

So far this has resulted in a half dozen or less Archives a year. Generally you see new volumes in the following series of Golden Age reprints: Batman (rep. Detective), The Dark Knight (rep. Batman), Wonder Woman (rep. Sensation and Wonder Woman), Superman (rep. Superman), Superman in Action (rep. Action Comics), as well Batman in World’s Finest and Superman in World’s Finest (presumably until WF becomes a team-up title), and Robin (from Star Spangled). There have been new Flash Archives, Seven Soldiers of Victory and The Spirit line came to it’s conclusion.

So instead of The Creeper Archives V1, The Fourth World Archives V1-4, The Losers Archives V1, The Mister Miracle Archives V1-2, The Omac Archives V1, The Newsboy Legion Archives V1, The Superboy Archives V1, The Batman Annuals Archives V1-2, The Swamp Thing Archives V1… we got new hardcover formats: the DC Comics Classics Library (which would reprint selected storylines), the creator-focused Neal Adams, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko Omnibus series (such as Batman by Neal Adams, the Creeper, Fourth World, Mister Miracle, etc.), the Deluxe Edition (an oversized reprinting of the most popular material (such as the Killing Joke, Superman: Red Son and some new material)…. and now these new Omnibus editions (a move similar to Marvel’s success with a similar format).

With the release of the last on the list and the pre-Christmas Archive firesale I suspect they are clearing out the warehouse and will be limiting further printings to just the profitable series, so now is the time to get your missing volumes while you can.

One can only hope that fans will complain like they did when the Marvel Masterworks program went on hiatus. That line is going strong, producing two volumes a month, one can only hope that DC could support a more accelerated production schedule on those more popular and better selling Gold and Silver series that have not been completed to date.