DC have at last started their own equivalent of Marvel’s wonderful Essentials – fat and cheap B&W reprints of classic material. The first two (the other is Green Lantern) are at an extra-bargain price (£6.50 where I get my comics), and for over 500 pages of great material, it’s as great value as comics have ever offered.

These are Superman stories from the end of the ’50s. There was none of the character-based agonising that Marvel were about to popularise, and none of the pulse-pounding action thrills of a Kirby fight scene either – there are hardly any fight scenes in this, and those few tend to be a bit cursory, sometimes with a suggestion of embarassment at the vulgarity of violence. What you get instead are stories – not decompressed six-issue story arcs where bugger all happens, but short stories (often 8 pages) with a setup, some complications and an ending. They aren’t all good, but they are almost all entertaining (the ones by Jerry Coleman tend to be the exception), and the art by Plastino (who’s only okay) and the superb Swan, Schaffenberger and Boring is an absolute delight – clear and likeable and just about faultless.

There are various kinds of stories, but you don’t have to read very far to spot some patterns, and Lois is at the heart of my favourites – the attempts to expose Clark as Superman, and the attempts to trick him into marriage. These do tend to be ludicrous, and when, about halfway through, I hit the panel shown (that’s Lois in a blonde wig), I had to include it, as it illustrates how ridiculous things had become that this counts as a predictable old trick. I suspect it’s a panel that will divide readers – either ‘this is why I have no interest in reading such gibberish’ or ‘haha fantastic, gimme’. I’m in the second camp.