DC's Steve Ditko Omnibuses


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I've posted here in the past about Ditko's various Objectivist comic book work (I plan on doing one in the near future about his several new comics that have come out). There is another thread on DC Comic's hardcover reprint of all his Creeper work. Its in the style of their recent hardcover collections of Jack Kirby's work, rather then their Archive series.

DC is now putting out 2 large Omnibus volumes (again, in the same style as the Creeper collection and their Jack Kirby collections) of Steve Ditko's DC work. Volume 1 is out, and volume 2 is coming out in December.

Again, a little background. Steve Ditko is a fairly well known comic book artist (and a writer some times). He is probably best known as the co-creator of Spiderman (if Stan Lee isn't trying to claim full credit) and the creator of Dr. Strange. He has created/co-created several other characters that are not as well known (Captain Atom, the Ted Kord Blue Beetle, Question, Mr. A, Static, Mocker, Creeper, Hawk & Dove). He got into Objectivism sometime when he started doing Spiderman, and the philosophy had a big impact. It did influence some of his work done at Marvel & DC, and really had an impact on his independent work. Many of his characters could be called 'objectivist superheroes', as they many times embodied (and expressed) Objectivist philosophy.

As noted, the 2 Omnibuses are fairly large. The Creeper collection was 280 pages at $40. Omnibus Volume 1 is 460 pages and Volume 2 is to be about 400 pages, both for $60. (you can get good discounts at Amazon, btw).

Omnibus 1 has the complete run of Ditko's "Shade, the Changing Man" and "Stalker" (a series written by Paul Levitz and inked by the great Wally Wood). The rest of the volume is filled with short stories (2-8 pages) done for various DC "horror", suspense, mystery, science-fiction titles from the 70s and 80s (similar to stories Ditko has done for Marvel and Charlton over the decades).

Omnibus 2 has the Ditko's work on the short-lived "Hawk & Dove", the "Starman" series he did (written by Paul Levitz again), and various superhero stories he did during the 70s and 80s (Man-Bat, The Demon, Legion of Superheroes, etc).

Of interest to readers here will probably be the "Shade" story and the "Hawk & Dove" series.

"Shade: the Changing Man" was an interesting, if short-lived, series that combined elements of science-fiction, super heroics, fantasy, spy/crime, and more. Ditko apparently had the first 17 issues plotted out, but only 8 were published with a 9th finished. Some of the elements of the story were used in the later Mocker series. The star of the comic was Rac Shade, a top security agent for Meta, a world in another dimension from Earth, who was accused of treason and sentence to prison (and eventual execution). He is innocent, but is unable to prove it. He breaks out of prison and works to clear his name. Other agents believe he is also innocent, and work to prove it. Complicating this is his fiance believe him guilty and is after him. He has a death sentence, so any Meta agent is free to kill him. Further complicating things is his fiance blames him for an explosion that injured her parents, so she is really after blood! Unknown to them is that her parents are REALLY the head of the Meta criminal underground, and they had a hand in framing Shade!! During the course of the story, Shade works to gather evidence, as well as fight other escaped criminals. He eventually proves himself to his fiance AND Meta's President, but still must gather evidence for a new trial to prove it. Sadly, the series ended before this was done.

As noted, a similar story-line was used in "The Mocker" book.

There is no exposing of Objectivist philosophy, but its clear that Rac Shade is meant to be an Objectivist hero, fighting to prove his innocence.

"Hawk & Dove" was the other original series by Ditko at DC (the others being Creeper and Shade). This series was sadly cut short when, due to health problems, Ditko had to leave the series early (he only did their first appearance in "Showcase" and their first 2 issues). This was an interesting philosophical series that most, including the writers, didn't fully get. The main characters were 2 brothers, Hank and Don Hall. Hank believe in the use of force to solve problems, Don in being more reasoned (but was usually indecisive). They were granted powers and outfits to use to fight crime. Forgotten by those who followed was that their father was actually the middle ground, representing working things out and justice over vigilantism.

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