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DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories
Review by Steve Welch

DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories


DC Comics
Softcover Collection
Publish Date
August 2005
Cover Price

Not a dream! Not a hoax! As a self-proclaimed Marvel fan, I never got into the DC Imaginary Stories when I was a kid. I grew up reading Silver and Bronze Age Marvel stories, and as a kid and young teenager, I found the DC Imaginary Stories to be too goofy and overly melodramatic compared to my perception as Marvel stories as being “realistic.” After all, I related better to geeky Peter Parker than I did to millionaire Bruce Wayne and the like. But as I’ve gotten older, I find the old DC stories that I formerly maligned to be funny and creative. So a collection like this piqued my interest.

This is a great collection of engaging stories, starting with a very morose and chilling story about a nuclear war written by Otto Binder. At the time it must’ve given kids nightmares and reflects the worries in America’s conscience following the second World War. And it gets better with some classic tales featuring Superman and Batman, with a Flash story added for some variety.

For all practical purposes, these are the precursors to the Elseworlds stories, and several of the ones depicted in this tradepaperback feature endings that are less than happy. Could this have been the precursor of “grim and gritty?” Well, that may be a stretch, but they aren’t all the goofy types of stories I had remembered reading as a kid. These are classics, penned by noteworthy writers like Binder, Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel, John Broome, Bob Kane, and Jim Shooter.

Julius Schwartz’s editorial leadership is evident, as many of these stories are clearly intended for an older, science-fiction oriented audience. Julie’s expertise from his years in the science fiction field prior to his career in comics is evident in the direction of many of these stories. I don’t want to give them all away, so suffice to say the selection is ample and diverse and will provide several hours of fun, engaging reading.

DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories reprints:
The Atomic War, Captain Marvel Adventures # 66, 1946
The Second Life of Batman, Batman # 127, 1959
Mr. And Mrs. Clark (Superman) Kent, Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane # 19, 1960
The Death of Superman, Superman # 149, 1961
Jimmy Olsen Marries Supergirl, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen # 57, 1961
The Origin of Flash’s Masked Identity, The Flash # 128, 1962
Batman’s New Secret Identity, Batman # 151, 1962
The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue, Superman # 162, 1963
The Three Wives of Superman, Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane # 51, 1964
The Fantastic Story of Superman’s Sons, Superman # 166, 1964
Superman and Batman – Brothers, World’s Finest Comics # 172, 1967

Like the well known authors above, the stories also features first rate art by CC Beck, Dick Sprang, Kurt Schaffenberger, Curt Swan, Bob Kane, Carmine Infantino, and others. These are the classic late Golden Age and early Silver Age artists who made DC tick. The art is simple, clean, and impressive.
Bonus Features
None. Just the stories, folks. Craig Shutt, who writes the “Mr. Silver Age” columns for Comics Buyers Guide, pens a nice introduction that ‘splains this book much better than I could.
Final Words

This is a fun book full of great stories. DC has been criticized for “ruining” comics by creating the type of campy stories that spawned the Batman television show, and in my mind, this collection shows the other side of that – well crafted, thoughtful stories featuring a “what if” perspective. If you love these types of stories, this book is for you. If you didn’t like those types of stories (like me), then buy the book and it may change your perspective. Color me impressed -- and entertained. After all, isn’t that what comics are all about?

Highly Recommended

Steve Welch is an avid collector of pre-hero and Silver Age Marvel comics as well as original art by Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, and other notable creators. He works in the medical publishing and communications field, but his heart belongs to comic books, his wonderful wife of 12 years, and their three great danes. He sells comics and original art through his company Albino Rhino Comics, is an avid scuba diver, and believes that life is too short to drink bad wine.
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