Trade Perspectives: On DC Finest collections, beginning November 2024


Hot on the heels DC’s recent announcement of new DC Versus Marvel and DC/Marvel: The Amalgam Age omnibuses, they’ve also released information on DC Finest, a new collections series. From the publisher (emphasis mine):

DC also announced DC Finest, a new line of comprehensive collections of the most in-demand periods, genres, and characters from across DC history. Scheduled to launch in November, these affordably priced, large-size paperback collections start at $34.99, and will take full advantage of DC’s extensive backlist and appeal to casual and completist fans alike. Focusing on characters and storytelling genres instead of creators or prior series will give casual fans the chance to discover full continuities for their favorite characters, while offering completist readers an affordable option to build out their ultimate collection of stories based on their favorite DC Super Hero or genre.

Character-focused collections will spotlight multiple iterations of fan-favorite DC Super Heroes throughout the decades; for example, a “Robin” collection may include volumes featuring Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Damian Wayne, or Jason Todd, depending on chronology, while a “Green Lantern” collection may include classic stories featuring Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Alan Scott, or other fan-favorite ring slingers. Genre fans can curate collections of their favorite tales from specific genres, which may include of science fiction, romance, war, westerns, horror, and other genres; many of these volumes will feature material reprinted for the first time, by some of comics’ greatest storytellers.

Before looking at the actual listings, let’s parse this a bit, starting with “focusing on characters … instead of creators or prior series … give casual fans the chance to discover full continuities for their favorite characters.” That sounds to me something like the Batman: The Caped Crusader and Batman: The Dark Knight Detective collections series — issue by issue collections of series runs (particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, when series weren’t renumbered every other year) irrespective of the changing creating teams.

That may or may not be contradicted by the second part, which suggests “a ‘Robin’ collection may include volumes featuring” the various Robins, or “a ‘Green Lantern’ collection may include classic stories featuring” the various Green Lanterns. The alternate uses of “volumes” or “stories” poses some confusion; a Robin collection featuring volumes for the various Robins could still be individual books (“volumes”) per Robin character under the Robin “collection” heading, which would be good. But a Green Lantern “collection” (one single book) including “classic stories” sounds more like the Green Lantern: A Celebration of 75 Years anthology, which might have value but isn’t specifically interesting to me.

Looking at the actual listings, we see a Flash book collecting nonspecific Silver Age stories; Batman: Year One & Two, collecting the respective Frank Miller and Mike Barr stories, plus other “mid-to-late-'80s Batman stories from Barr, Max Allan Collins, Norm Breyfogle”; what seems to be some/all of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman run; a Catwoman book with Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper, Catwoman: Defiant, and “the first year” of the Catwoman series by Jo Duffy and Jim Balent; and a collection of Superman’s early Golden Age adventures.

To me those lean more toward the Robin interpretation than the Green Lantern interpretation; particularly the Batman, Catwoman, and Wonder Woman books seem like sequential runs of issues, with the Batman and Catwoman books being somewhat irrespective of creators. It’s a little harder for me to clock the Superman and Flash books, but those too seem like sequential era-specific runs not beholden to specific creative teams.

So I’m cautiously optimistic about these? There’s not a lot in this set for me, as there’s little here previously uncollected that I don’t already own. But going to my old standbys, if my interpretation of DC Finest is correct, this would be the right genre for finally collecting all of New Titans, for instance, or Armageddon 2001, or Eclipso: The Darkness Within, and on and on. The first of these should be out in November.

I’m also glad to see a new line of Elseworlds titles, and Elseworlds being “cool” (a la DC vs. Vampires), whereas before Elseworlds were always a good time but often esoteric. Since there’ve been rumblings of “an Elseworld” among the new DC multiverse, I’m surprised DC’s rolling this out without a resultant event comic, but frankly happy with the restraint.

Comments ( 8 )

  1. I'm cautiously optimistic about this. I hope they start announcing MANY more lines besides their biggest characters (kinda surprised Harley wasn't in the first batch) - I especially hope they follow Marvel's lead and just use this line to continue pre-existing fat collections. That is, use the DC Finest line to give us GL by Ron Marz v2, etc

    1. Harley is an interesting case, and I wouldn't be me if I didn't ask how such a collection might handle the animated series comics. Would we get a collection that starts with The Batman Adventures #12, hits all the Harley issues, and ends with her No Man's Land debut in continuity proper? (That NML one-shot -- written by Paul Dini -- wasn't collected in the NML trades, but it was included in the omnibus and in a few Harley trades.)

      Or would we instead jump forward to the Kesel/Dodson run? I suspect they'd be tempted to leap headlong into the Conner/Palmiotti era, but there's some good stuff if you dig a little deeper. Of course, I would much prefer comprehensive collections of TBA and "beyond," but I see the appeal of character-centric animated trades, especially as gifts for readers who aren't as obsessive as I am.

  2. I agree the description provided by DC leaves one guessing about the exact approach. I'd be happy if these were simply DC's version of Marvel's Epic Collection - sequential collections. But it sounds like DC's releases may bounce around a little more, collecting mini-series such as the Batman and Catwoman collections, and creator runs such as the Wonder Woman title. We'll know more when we see the contents!

  3. Initially, I've welcomed the news with great enthusiasm and will definitely buy Catwoman and Wonder Woman ones (I'll have to wait for the listing for Batman book but I'll probably pass on it, got most of those stories in Caped Crusader/Dark Knight Detective trades), then tempered it a bit beacuse of the possibility of what you called the 'Green Lantern interpretation'.
    However, I remain cautiously optimistic - even if it won't become DC's answer to Epic line, maybe it'll live long enough to finally give us proper Superman collections from the Triangle Era. Maybe we can even see some stuff that wasn't reprinted since the Showcase collections like the original Amethyst series (but I'm not getting my hopes up here).

  4. According to the Comics Conspiracy Podcast, these ARE Epic Collections. These are every single issue of the character from a certain time period. So, it appears the the Year 1 / Year 2 collection is every issue of Batman and Detective Comics from at least 1987 and maybe 1988. The Superman one is basically the same as the Superman: The Golden Age Vol. 1 from a few years ago. (aka the first half of the Golden Age Superman omnibus.)

    1. Suddenly my obsessive color-coded spreadsheet doesn't sound so unhealthy... it helps me track what I have in single issues vs in trades (and helps me catch duplicates between mediums).

      Based on the Anonymous comment above, we could expect the Year 1/2 collection to include the same content as the first volumes of Caped Crusader and Dark Knight Detective, albeit with "Year 1" and "Year 2" included this time. The stuff between Year 1 and CC1 was included in "Second Chances," so I wonder if they'll go through "Death in the Family."

    2. And will it include the oft-uncollected Batman #401?!

  5. I hope they collect some classic Jonah Hex stories.


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