DC Archive Editions

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DC Archive Editions are a series of hardcover editions reprinting runs of early, often rare comic book series, titles and stories from properties currently owned by DC Comics of Golden Age and Silver Age comics, regardless of whether DC was the original publisher of those works. With more than 160 titles, this series began in 1989 with Superman Archives Vol. 1. Most of the restoration work to make the pages suitable for quality printing has been done by Rick Keene who has restored more than 2500 pages.[1]


Cover to The Action Heroes Archives Vol. 2 (2007), focusing on the Charlton Comics characters. Cover art by Steve Ditko.

The DC Archive Editions series spans DC's Golden Age - which is actually the output of three interrelated companies in the late 1930s/early '40s: Max Gaines' All-American Publications (Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Wonder Woman, All Star Comics starring the Justice Society of America, et al.) and Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson's National Allied Publications, which became Harry Donenfeld's Detective Comics (Batman, Superman, et al.) - as well as Silver and Bronze Age comic book series such as Legion of Super-Heroes, Challengers of the Unknown, Doom Patrol, Metal Men, Aquaman, Justice League of America, et al.

The series' format was designed by Alex Jay and art directed by Richard Bruning. Its various volumes also include series/titles content not originally published by DC, though bought up in the intervening years, such as the Golden Age characters Plastic Man and Blackhawk originally published by Quality Comics and the 'Shazam' Marvel Family of characters Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr, and Mary Marvel originally published by Fawcett, and Charlton Silver Age line of super heroes (Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, The Question, et al.) in the DCAE Action Heroes volumes.

The DC Archives provide a dual service in that they not only preserve DC's history but provide readers with stories that normally would not be available to them at an affordable cost. When the series first started, the cover price for an Archive was $39.95 US. However, from the early 1990s the standard cover price for a DC Archive became $49.99 US (although some books in the line have cost much more, depending on how much content is collected, thus a larger page count & higher cover price). From 2009, new volumes were being released with a cover price of $59.99 US.

In the early-mid-2000s, newer printings of previously published DC Archives volumes have been released at the special introductory cover price of $19.95 U.S. In 2001, the remaining excess stock of Batman Archives Vol. 1 (originally released back in 1990) first printing edition were put up for this reduced price, with a new price tag label placed on the book's shrinkwrap. Sales proved successful as the remaining inventory would sell away. DC would try this promotional price again with a second printing of Batman Archives Vol. 1 in 2003 (only pre-ordered copies for this second printing for the direct market were for this lower price, while the remaining overstock for the bookstore market was at the regular $49.99 US price), Superman Archives Vol. 1 (fifth printing) in 2004, and Batman: The Dark Knight Archives Vol. 1 (third printing) in 2005.

It was widely believed that the DC Archive Editions would cease publication in 2008.[2] However, in an issue of the publication Comic Shop News (issue #1080, February 27, 2008), an update was given regarding the DC Archive Editions during an announcement regarding DC's collected editions schedule: "In spite of earlier reports of their demise, DC Archives will continue in 2008 and 2009, although in reduced numbers, focusing on continuing already-established Archives series."[citation needed] The numbers have since decreased from 14 volumes released in 2007, to 7 released in 2008, 5 in 2009, 4 in 2010, 3 in 2011 before rebounding in 2012 with 10 volumes. In 2013 the books were increased to 400 pages but only 3 volumes were released. The most recent volume was Superman: The Man of Tomorrow Archives Vol. 3 released in 2014. A Captain Comet Archive Vol. 1 and Batman: World's Finest Vol. 3 were both solicited by DC for release in 2013, but both were canceled prior to release and have yet to be rescheduled.

Will Eisner's The Spirit Archives, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Archives, Mad Archives, and Elfquest Archives are not technically part of the formal 'DC Archive Editions' series (DCAEs are typified by a cover format consisting of a black pinstriped background into which a color v-shaped area is overlaid from the top, reaching almost to the bottom for all the books) as DC does not own those properties/characters, but are licensing them from the copyright holders. In the case of Mad, the property is owned by DC's parent company, but not DC themselves; and the licensing for the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents works is now held by IDW as of 2012. However, these non-DC Archive Edition series published by DC are included in the list here, as the physical format (paper stock, size dimension, etc.) are similar enough that the average fan tends to think of them as part of the overall 'DC Archive Editions' series.

Awards & recognition[edit]

The first volume of the Plastic Man Archives won the Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award for Favorite Reprint Graphic Album in 2001.[citation needed]


Most of the volumes are priced at $49.99 or higher.[citation needed]

Alphabetical list of DC Archive Editions[edit]

Golden Age "DC Archive Editions" Books (88)

Silver and Bronze Age "DC Archive Editions" Books (80)

Non "DC Archive Editions" series* also published by DC (41)

See also[edit]



External links[edit]