Review: Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies Vol. 1: 1958-1961

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Yesterday saw the release of IDW, the Library of American Comics, and DC’s Superman: The Silver Age Dailies Volume One 1959-1961. It’s a massive collection that presents the first ever reprints of the Silver Age Superman newspaper strips. The first volume includes art by the likes of Curt Swan, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye. Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel scripts stories adapted from the monthly comics by Otto Binder, Robert Bender and Jerry Coelman. Siegel also throws in a few new versions of stories as well. With this being the first volume in a three sub-set series, should you be checking these Superman collections out?

superman coverThe first volume presents 16 full Superman stories. The adventures see everything from movie directing space invaders, Lois becoming a baby, Superman owing the IRS a billion dollars, and a return trip to Krypton. The stories do an amazing job of advancing the narrative in three panels while also using the first panel to recap the previous day’s developments. It takes a true master to tell a good chunk of story with a new but recap-y panel, the middle meatier panel, and the final panel that also has to add some suspense.

The stories present a different experience from the regularly printed Action Comics of the time. The newspaper strip were slightly different takes on the story or completely different stories that start out with the same premise. You get the classic Superman who saves everyone and everything while simultaneously multitasking his Clark Kent duties. In the first strip he stops a volcano in Hawaii, stops a giant tidal wave in Metropolis, repairs The Daily Planet’s cracked roof, and saves cars from an earthquake over the course of a few minutes. It’s the dashing, barrel-chested, Boy Scout Superman you loved from things like the Fleischer cartoons. I mean you get the use of powers like long range super-ventriloquism. You have to love the powers they had Superman use in the good old days.

The foreword and introduction offer up historical context about the scripts and the time period in which they were produced. It offers up great insight into how the comic books of the time were similar, yet very different from the daily newspaper strips. It was a great time for Superman and the newspaper strips served as hidden treasures almost. If you picked up the comic from your newsstand, the dailies would be an entirely new experience. The two written pieces are astounding, but the rest of the book is full on dailies from beginning to end. It’s an incredibly impressive collection that thankfully fills in the gap left for collectors and Superman fans, but I’m a sucker for the historical context that is presented in the written sections of the book. Even if it was extended by a few pages or had an afterword it would be fantastic. That’s not really a complaint for this collection, it’s just me being a greedy fan and history buff.

Bottom Line: This is an absolute must have for Superman fans, comic book historians, or just people who enjoy pop culture and Americana. This is the time where Superman didn’t crack necks, he cracked smiles. It’s the iconic Superman who fights for truth, justice, and the America way. It’s great stories that can only be told in the Silver Age of comics. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it’s a well presented collection. 5/5

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