Armagideon Time

For past reference

May 17th, 2021

I’m still in the process of sorting out the first “real” installment of the Crisis feature, so let’s take a gander at an ancillary project which showed up on my doorstep this past weekend.

Who’s Who in the DC Universe has been on my short list of projects since I got onto the whole custom binding kick. DC’s looser and more artsy answer to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe was a crucial companion piece to Crisis of Infinite Earths, showcasing DC’s rich historic tapestry while getting readers up to speed on, well, who was who in the mega-ensemble proceedings.

Who’s Who and its pair of miniseries updates encompassed the peak era of my DC fandom, which was spurred on by Crisis and lingered through the Millennium event’s diminishing returns and my shaky finances forced a pullback into dwindling number of favorite series. Like the original OHOTMU’s pre-Secret Wars status quo, it provides a snapshot of a specific, dear-to-me moment which I’ll never tire of revisiting.

I had just started getting serious about the binding project when DC announced it was going to release the entire run of Who’s Who and the update minis in a massive omnibus edition. The prospect of better printing (more on this in a bit) and less work on my end was mighty tempting, but I ultimately decided to continue with my custom edition.

Who’s Who makes for exceptional idle reading material — something to browse on a lazy afternoon from the comfort of the couch. That’s not really possible with the 1300 page, ten pound grimoire the omnibus was solicited as being. My plan was to split the material into two volumes to make it a bit more manageable and reduce the likelihood of it collapsing a lung if I nodded off while reading it.

The omnibus also scrubbed the Atari Force characters and team listing from the book because of licensing issues, which might not sound like a big deal but remember who is writing this post. The custom binding route also let me play around a little with the contents, such as appending the Who’s Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes spinoff miniseries and the Who’s Who parody issue of the first Ambush Bug miniseries.

Because this was a prestige project as far as these things go, I did spring for fancy die-stamped logos on the front covers since the bindery already had them on file. The trimming process did cut a little close to the center, but that’s to be expected custom bind jobs and doesn’t really bother me.

Overall, I’m really happy with how two volumes turned out, and they still managed to set me back less than the MSRP of the official collection.

A few other notes about the project:

– Most of the source issues were pretty inexpensive and purchased via eBay lots. The only real hassles were finding acceptably legible copies of the first two issues, which were printed using the shitshow “Flexographic” process the Big Two toyed around with in the mid-1980s. The person who sold me the first eight issues courteously included extra copies of #1 so I pick the least cruddy of the lot.

– The toughest issues to find were Update ’87 #4 and Update ’88 #4 — the former because it had a Todd McFarlane cover (and speculators are knuckle-dragging dipshits) and the latter because…honestly, I don’t know why, apart from being the final installment of a format that had lost its novelty.

– The Who’s Who in the Legion issues were also surprisingly pricey and hard to find, considering the current state of LSH fandom. The paper stock also had greater degree of discoloration than I would’ve expected. If it was just one person who stored the lot a little carelessly, that would be one thing, but the issues were sourced from multiple vendors around the country. Oddly enough, I had the same problem with Update ’88 #4, which makes me wonder if there was something going on with DC’s printer and/or paper supplier at the time.

– I have never encountered a more perfect dichotomy between the 1980s and 1970s as can be found in the opposing pages below:

3 Responses to “For past reference”

  1. Chris

    Love that ambush bug issue, I own the original art for the ‘Green Team, page.

  2. SJB

    Tablets of the 10 commandments I tell you

  3. DensityDuck

    …was “The Force Of July” actually meant to be taken seriously?

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