The Comics 101 Bookshelf: DC Hits the Vaults

A couple of strong releases of archival material from DC Comics this week, one notable mostly for historical interest, the other for simply beautiful art.

First up is WONDER WOMAN – THE AMAZON PRINCESS ARCHIVES, a collection of the 1958 and ’59 work of writer Robert Kanigher, penciller Ross Andru and inker Mike Esposito.


After the initial Golden Age run by Wonder Woman’s creators William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter, the next most notable run of stories for Princess Diana is this one, in which Robert Kanigher took a much more innocent, fairy-tale approach to the series, with lots of simple quests for Wonder Woman to accomplish and mythological monsters to fight, all while constantly (and I mean constantly!) fending off the constant proposals of marriage from her boyfriend Steve Trevor. Continuity was out the window, as Kanigher believed that the constantly rotating readership (based on kids growing older, and new kids discovering comics) meant that it didn’t really matter, so over the course of his run he would often revisit stories as if they’d never been told before. Kanigher went with this approach right from the start of his run, as he retold Diana’s origin in “The Million Dollar Penny!”


Diana’s origin of being made from clay and brought to life by the gods is no longer mentioned, and instead Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyta receives a vision from the gods that the best of the Amazons must be sent Man’s World as a champion.


Diana volunteers, and to prove that she is chosen fairly, all the Amazons wear Diana disguises so that only the most worthy wins:


Of course, Princess Diana is the eventual winner:


Before she can leave for Man’s World, Wonder Woman has to rescue the plummeting-to-Earth Steve Trevor, in the first of countless times, she’ll have to save his worthless ass:


Steve is grateful, sure, but the daily proposals may be overdoing it just a little:

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The stories in WONDER WOMAN: THE AMAZON PRINCESS are simple, sure, but they’re innocent and fun, and the art by Andru and Esposito is clean, lovely and appealing. Fun stuff, and great for kids.

The second release that really caught my eye was ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN: JOSE LUIS GARCIA-LOPEZ, a handsome hardcover collection of Garcia-Lopez’s work on the Man of Steel in the 1970s and early ’80s, in a variety of different series.


Garcia-Lopez is maybe the most-recognized DC artist that most people have never heard of, thanks to his work in creating DC’s official licensing book in the 1980s, which meant that most merchandise coming out from DC for the better part of a decade or two bore his artwork. This collection, featuring stories written by comics mainstays like Gerry Conway, Len Wein, David Michelinie, Martin Pasko and Elliott S! Maggin, showcases Garcia-Lopez’s beautiful style and draftsmanship, which earned him a reputation over the year’s as “the artist’s artist.”

I always loved the dynamic way Garcia-Lopez rendered Superman in flight:


And his Lex Luthor was always a smug, competent son of a bitch:


This shot of Superman racing Flash through time was always a favorite.


And his Lois Lane was probably the best of his day, attractive but professional:


He also could exhibit a wonderful cartoony flair, such as in this moment where Superman met the Metal Men, including a lovestruck Platinum:


And his Deadman was always creepier than most:


If you’re a fan of Garcia-Lopez, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN: JOSE LUIS GARCIA-LOPEZ is a must-have. If you’re not, just take a look through this book, and you soon will be. Highly recommended.


Scott Tipton would have loved a Garcia-Lopez METAL MEN miniseries.

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