While Marvel was going for huge, powerful stories plus soap elements, DC kept on their own way for a while. They aimed at a younger market, and even issue-length stories were an exception, let alone any continuity between issues. They were also a much bigger company, and really existed as separate units with very weak links between them. There are two of these units that I think produced terrifically entertaining comics.

Superman titles

These were aimed at children. Stories are short and childish and silly. Girls are pests to be tricked. You’re far more likely to find stories about helping his pal Jimmy Olsen or fooling Lois when she is trying to get him to marry her or discover his secret identity, than see Superman in titanic battles against mighty foes. Jimmy and Lois had their own comics, as did Superboy. Lots of fine artists on these – Swan, Boring, Schaffenberger, Plastino and so on – and some clever, if ridiculous, writing. I think they are hugely entertaining. Me on the first Showcase collection – you must at least see the reproduced panel, which is a great example of the fun on offer.

Julius Schwarz’s titles

Schwarz edited most of the other mainline superhero titles: Flash, Green Lantern, Justice League and others. These are closer to Marvel, more exciting and lively, but the stories are still more based around clever solutions to tricky problems rather than mighty fight scenes, and there is no substantial continuity. I’m especially fond of The Flash, thanks to Carmine Infantino’s wonderfully sharp art and some colourful foes. Jack Kirby did some fine issues of Green Arrow and The Challengers of the Unknown (though these are less good than his Marvel work – the latter is of interest as an obvious precursor of the FF). Green Lantern and The Atom have dynamic Gil Kane art, though his inkers almost never did him justice, and there is some absolutely magnificent Joe Kubert art on the early Hawkmans, including the sexiest superheroine ever, his portrayal of Hawkgirl. The JLA is very enjoyable, with excellent Mike Sekowsky art. The Teen Titans is hugely entertaining both for the lame attempts at swinging teens and the really lovely Nick Cardy artwork – you can also find him on Aquaman, who I never had much interest in.

Jack Kirby again

When Kirby left Marvel, he created a line of comics – and a whole new mythology of superbeings – for DC, known collectively as The Fourth World. This ambitious saga may be his best work, although he sadly left it incomplete. I particularly recommend his New Gods.

DC have started doing big, cheap, B&W reprints of their old comics, and while the line is far less comprehensives than Marvel’s, so far, much from the first two sections above are all available (no Fourth World as yet). By the way, the Batman material so far reprinted is not terribly good, though some of the Brave & Bold stories are much better. Reviews of the first batch of Showcase Presents volumes. Reviews of the second batch.