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A Hero for All Ages

So the reading list has been sparse lately as I’ve been waiting for the first shipment of comics via mail since the last pick-up from Chris.

In the interim, however, I’ve had time to work on some of the trades, etc. that have been waiting my attention.

Maybe as long as a year ago, DC Comics, seemingly with little fanfare, released Volume One of The Batman Chronicles, which I read months ago. This is DC’s reprinting of Batman’s earliest stories, in the original order published. Definitely worth a read for any fan of the dark knight. Another volume is scheduled to come out later this year.

Adding to the nostalgia, DC has also recently released Volume One of The Superman Chronicles. This volume reprints the first Superman stories from the period spanning 1938 and 1939. Featuring over a dozen classic stories, the volume shows readers today why Superman is still leaping tall buildings today.

I was amazed at the social issues that the Golden Age Superman faced in only his first year under Earth’s yellow sun. I’ll save any particular details since as crazy as it sounds, you can spoil 65 year old stories. After most anyone reading them today was not alive when these were first published.

While the Superman of today seems more at home fighting cosmic menaces, the writers occasionally toss out stories reflecting our world’s social ills. However, the originators of the man of steel, pitted him against the likes of abusive husbands, drunk drivers, arms dealers, and unsafe working conditions. I kid you not, the original Superman was practically anti-establishment.

While admired by many in his fictional world, you’ll find that Superman was a wanted criminal. In an incredible treatise of the ends justifying the means, he broke the law to improve the lives of some of Metropolis’ lowliest citizens. And as result became a man with a price on his head.

I was not expecting these stories when I picked up this volume. I wasn’t expecting the stories to be far more dated. For sure, some of the common language has drifted away since these stories were written, but as one begins to get sucked into the storytelling, it doesn’t matter. And suddenly, by surprise, you realize that this time capsule you’ve found is the birth of a legend.

While comics have gotten more spotlight lately with all the move attention, I can’t help feeling often that we’re either at the end of the era of narrative storytelling via art or the dawn of a new means of delivery. Brick and mortar stores are folding and every Con I’ve been to exhibits an aging audience with relatively few newcomers. So, here at the possible twilight of comics, get out and enjoy some stories from the golden age.

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