Saturday, August 2

Library-Bound Comics: 1960s and New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes; 1970-1971 Aquaman; New 52 Wonder Woman; and New 52 Action Comics correction

A couple of weeks ago I got the much-anticipated email from Herring and Robinson Bookbinders out in California that my most recent batch of library-bound comics were ready, and about a week after that I received the books. The turnaround from shipping the books out to getting them back this time was about seven weeks, I think, which pleased me mightily. It also pleased a colleague of mine who dipped his toe into the wild world of comic-book binding by sending along three volumes of his own comics, to whom I had high-balled the estimated turnaround so he had a nice surprise. This post is, of course, only about my own books, but it sounds like he will do at least some more volumes, when he can piggy-back onto one of my orders.

Anyway, jumping right on into sharing a few pictures and descriptions of what I got back, first up I finally did it … I had long hesitated binding the very oldest comics in my collection, some I've had since I was just a tyke, with some later purchases made when I was only about a ten-years-older tyke filling in the run of Adventure Comics finishing out tenure of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes in its first “permanent” home, during the glory days of the latter two-thirds or so of another almost-a-tyke comic-book writer Jim Shooter (he was just fifteen-seventeen years old when he was writing these books! [LINK]) – Adventure Comics #360-380, from September 1967 through May 1969. My long hesitation was because these are sentimentally the most valuable comics in my collection, and were (until binding, of course) pretty much the same (cumulatively worth a “replacement value” of somewhere around $1700 at NM 9.6 condition [which these were not, but they were hardly low-grade comics either]). The Legion has been, from my early childhood and enduring right up until today when, sadly, they are not even being published, my favorite group of characters. And it was these very comics that hooked me. For whatever reason – the Superman connection?; the bright Star Trek-type vision of the future? (but I wasn't watching Star Trek that early); the fact that although I knew it not these comics were being written by a kid only about ten years older than me when most others (which I liked almost as well, don't get me wrong) were written by men my father's age or older?; the fact that they are just damn good stories? – the Legion stories during this period resonated with me. The fact is, although the stories are available in reprint – I have some of them in reprint form – I do not envision a time when I would ever consider parting with these comics even were I to sell off the rest of my collection. So why not put them into a form I can enjoy as simply as pulling off the shelf and opening like a “real” book? This is the fourth volume from the left above – maintaining my longstanding conceit of “dating” the volume a thousand years in the future just like the Legion stories inside. Here are three shots of the interior, including the title page:

Bringing my library-bound Legion comics up to present – or rather up to when DC pulled the plug last year on the 2011-2013 New 52 series, first the tales of a small, time-lost group in the 21st century at #16 and then the main team in the 31st century at #23 – I present Legion of Super-Heroes, New 52: Legion Lost and New 52: Shattered Dreams (how could I name it otherwise?) at third and second from left above, with several shots of the title pages and interiors here:

... into the sunset ... Long Live the Legion!
When I was doing my issue-by-issue or monthly-round-up DC Comics blog posts, I discussed pretty much all of these stories in depth, and don't feel like making any extensive commentary beyond what I wrote when the final issues of the respective series came out [LINK and LINK – actually, I wrote hardly anything for Legion Lost, which is about what that series was worth – its presence here is pretty much due to my obsessive-compulsive nature). Both New-52 series were disappointing to this forty-plus-year Legion fan – really, Legion Lost hardly felt like a Legion of Super-Heroes comic at all, especially with the big crossover with Superboy and Teen Titans (both included here) right in the middle of the run, and even in the main title the double-whammy of a loss in page count followed by the Flashpoint/New-52 reboot crippled Mister Legion Paul Levitz's story-telling to the point that although it limped on for a couple of years hemorrhaging sales spelled its doom. I do miss my Legion, but the last few issues were pretty painful.

Next up, at extreme right, the New-52 series I've had the most love-hate relationship with, Wonder Woman. You may remember my growing irritation at some really ridiculous and improbable punning that pervades Brian Azarello's story-telling had me dropping the series in disgust about a year in – at which time I put together a fairly long post taking him to task both for the feeble “humor” and a meandering, seemingly going-nowhere story [LINK], only to find myself in the rereading to do so appreciating the overall series quite a bit more, enough not to pick up the issues any more but to pick up the hard-cover collections continuing the story as they came out. Partly because of my aforementioned obsessive-compulsive nature, partly because I have ultimately enjoyed the story far more in those larger, periodic multi-issue chunks, I decided to have the first dozen issues, the equivalent of DC's volumes one and two, library-bound to as closely as possible match DC's presentation of subsequent volumes three and four. I think it came out nicely:

And here are a couple of interiors, including the title page:

Finally, at extreme left, my favorite single comic-book character from childhood, Aquaman [see my commentary here: LINK], in a volume to match one I did about five years ago with my original binder, Library Binding Company of Waco, Texas. That greatly missed company bound a dozen comics almost as old and as dear to me as my Adventure Comics described above, Aquaman #37-48: The Search for Mera, containing the first really extended story-line that I remember, from 1968 and 1969. But it had bugged me ever since then that I had not taken the time to acquire the eight further issues that ran out that series until it was canceled in 1971. So in the last couple of years I set about doing so, mainly through and their wonderful “Want List” function that let me know whenever one of the issues I needed came available. In the meantime I also discovered that I had, in a 1980s reprint, an issue of The Brave and the Bold with a Batman-Aquaman team-up and art by Neal Adams (my first favorite comic-book artist when I was a kid, although now that status of favorite goes to Nick Cardy, who still provided the covers for Aquaman through the end of his run), as well as that the unfinished story interrupted by the cancellation of Aquaman with #56 was amazingly “finished” a few years later as a Sub-Mariner story for Marvel Comics! (You can read about that strange and incredible story here: LINK.) Especially with those latter additions, a second volume of Aquaman #49-56: The World in the Ring makes a fine companion to The Search for Mera. I think Herring and Robinson did a fine job matching Library Binding Company's work:

A note regarding that last picture.  Several of these issues when Aquaman was mysteriously lost in a submicronic universe inside Mera's ring had a back-up story starring Deadman by Neal Adams (see my comment above) that ended up tying directly into the main story ... and here we have a page of Deadman drawn by Neal Adams witnessing the climax of the Aquaman story drawn by Jim Aparo!  Cool!

Finally, you may notice second from the right, even though a year had passed since H&R typo'd the spine [LINK], they came through for me fixing my volume of Grant Morrison's New-52 run on Action Comics to correctly read Superman.

I am once again very pleased. I hope I don't let another year pass before sending them some more business. I have plenty of projects in mind, mainly comics from the 1970s and 1980s (mostly Marvel, as it happens – X-Men, John Byrne's Fantastic Four, Walt Simonson's Thor). And binding the end of the Legion in Adventure Comics as I did means I now have a gap between the first two volumes of my bound Legion of Super-Heroes run, mainly comprising the “Wilderness Years” (oohh … I think I have my title!) when they were relegated to back-up feature status first in Action Comics then intermittently in Superboy before finally taking that latter title over completely shortly after the advent of Cary Bates writing and Dave Cockrum drawing, which is where my bound collection previously began. I have a few issues that I must acquire to complete that volume, however., here I come!

Cheers!, and Thanks for reading!

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