As a comic dealer, I spend more time on the go than I do in the shop. You have to; looking for new collections, checking out the various competition. There’s word on the street, just like with anything else. However, yesterday my weekend journies of flea markets and swap meets took me to a new destination…Walmart.
It’s been no secret that Walmart has launched a new line of exclusive DC 100 Page Giants, thus reviving the old Bronze Age line of DC Comics. I was able to find an entire set of all the first issues which came out this past June. (As I write this, it’s July 1st and then second issues should be hitting Walmart shelves soon enough!) As a avid collector, I snagged the entire set along with an additional Superman issue for a Superman customer I have.
At a glance the covers are insanely reminiscent of the old 100 Page Giant series, with flashy main art by Jim Lee on most of them along with small details about what you would find in each issue. What this new line is composed of is 100 pages of reprints with a small amount of space reserved for one brand-new story each issue. Within the line are four titles: Batman, Superman, Justice League & Teen Titans.
I was instantly drawn to the Batman issue. The new story is the first story you find in each issue. It was sort of a let down. To start, they are only roughly 13 pages, not even a full comic size worth of new comic material. As for the reprints, the first story is Batman #608: ‘Hush’ Part 1. This is a reprint of the complete issue with a promise of issue 609 following in issue 2. This shows that the line hopes to be in it for the long game, as Hush was a 12-part story. We see a reprint from Nightwing‘s New 52 first issue, along with Harley Quinn‘s first issue within Rebirth. Both promised to continue the following issue.
The Superman issue is a bit strange. The brand new story is by Jimmy Palmiotti, which is nice seeing a seasoned scribe. We’re also treated to a reprint of Superman/Batman #1, which is a pre-New 52 title and a fun series which continues next issue, but we also get a reprint of Green Lantern (Vol. 4) #1; the series which saw Hal Jordan return to being Green Lantern after his resurrection. Also we are given a reprint of new series The Terrifics #1 which just saw print a few months ago. This Superman issue was sort of a disappointment. Not as impressive as the Batman issue.
The Justice League 100 Page Giant has one saving grace…a brand new Wonder Woman story! It’s also full of reprints of Justice League #1, Flash #1 and Aquaman #1, all of which are New 52-era series. What I don’t understand is how this book isn’t utilizing better Justice League stories instead of just giving us random members. All of these, save for the Wonder Woman story, promise to be followed up by their second issues in issue 2.
Teen Titans 100 Page Giant was a bit more promising. The brand new opening story is set in the Rebirth Universe. Where as the first three’s brand-new stories can sort of be almost timeless, this one actually sets itself somewhere specific. The reprints are of Geoff Johns‘ Teen Titans #1 from 2003 along with a Super Sons #1, and then followed by a reprint of Sideways #1, again a new series which just saw launch seven months ago.
Along the way, there were a few ads in the books, but the ads are all for other DC trades and comics which is nice to see. However, I have to question the methodology behind a lot of the content. Take Batman and Justice League; most of, if not all of, their content focuses on New 52 versions of the characters. “Hush” as well, since most of that story still occurs in New 52 canon. However, Superman using a non-New 52 Green Lantern first issue as well as Teen Titans using the Teen Titans book from right before the New 52 shift, these choices don’t make sense as they don’t fit with the content in the rest of the book. And I’m left to wonder, where is the Wonder Woman series? Why is there no Wonder Woman 100 Page Giant?
The Batman 100 Page Giant is straight forward Batman, while they also have series from Nightwing and Harley Quinn, the entire content is from the Batman universe.
The Superman 100 Page Giant fails simply because it doesn’t rely on Superman content for merit. It uses Batman to try and help it along the way with the Superman/Batman #1 reprint, as well as just using some of the page count to drop Green Lantern into a home. Also the inclusion of The Terrifics just makes me wonder, like with the Teen Titans use of Sideways, if DC is trying to push their post-Batman Metal titles in these books?
The Justice League 100 Page Giant is a mess. First, it answers the question above of where is Wonder Woman, as issue 1 uses her to fill that missing void from this obvious Justice League-themed launch, however it appears every month there will be an original story focusing on a different member or hopefully the team itself. Aside from the reprint of Justice League #1, this whole issue is missing The Justice League. You can’t just toss various stories of Justice League members and call it Justice League.
The Teen Titans 100 Page Giant obviously serves as a primer to the upcoming DC Universe streaming series. It gives you a little something of everything from across the board to really know these characters. I also really dig the inclusion of Super Sons, the Damian Wayne and Jonathan Kent-based series. However again, the inclusion of a brand new series reprint with Sideways #1 baffles me, at least Super Sons is almost two years old.
Pros & Cons:
The entire set cost me $21.31 after tax. The $4.99 cover price even held true with Walmart’s need to make everything end in “98 cents” as they scanned for $4.98! I’m not sure if I’ll bust my ass trying to stay up with each series. I had to look around at different Walmarts for one which carried them. They can be found down along the card aisle in the checkouts with their own display shipper. This guarantees that they won’t be damaged in the magazine racks or books & magazines areas. The price tag is cheap for a 100-page issue, since today they can run about $9.99 cover price. I would have hoped for reprints from much older stories and issues. If they continue on using material from 2003 and on, it may become a bit biased in my eyes. DC 100 Page Giants use to be about celebrating DC History from across the ages, not just focusing on a single era or time. Also the new content could be a bit longer, perhaps extended to be about 20 pages which counting ads would be about the page count of a single comic issue.
Is it worth your coin?
Hard question to answer. For someone such as myself who owns everything in these books, aside from the 13-page original story, I really have no need to seek these out. However, I’m obviously not the intended audience. These are excellent for someone who doesn’t have access to a local comic shop or has just gotten into the game of collecting & reading and doesn’t want to pay back issue prices. These are awesome for children whose only experience is through animated series and movies or television or (sadly) the DCEU films. These are not for the seasoned, knowledgable, and well-read collector. No, these are for the new or curious reader. In that case, they do their job well! So if you have no real idea who these characters are, this series of books is for you!
Now, what does this action between Walmart and DC Comics mean for the future of the industry and business? Is it a blessing or something more sinister? That’s another article for another time (quite soon if my editor lets me have my say).
[Editor’s note: Let’s see what you’ve got, Christian!]