What if? Potent question, huh? It gets a lot of use in speculative fiction, including comic books. It's even the title of a rather venerable comic book series from Marvel. However, the book The Secret History of AA Comics explores a "what if" for DC Comics. Not "What if Krypton had never exploded?" or "What if Bruce Wayne had never lost his parents?" Those are small potatoes.
The Secret History of AA Comics is an alternate history of what we today call DC Comics. Here, I'll let author Bob Rozakis' blurb explain it for me:
In the 1940s, M.C. Gaines sold his All-American Comics line to his partners at DC Comics. But what if, instead, he had bought out DC? And suppose Green Lantern and The Flash had become the surviving heroes of the Golden Age, with new versions of Superman and Batman launching the Silver Age of Comics?
Comic book industry veteran Bob Rozakis delivers a fascinating tale of what might have been, complete with art from the "Earth-AA" archives!
Since he's been gone from the company for a number of years, I hope Bob Rozakis will forgive me for this characterization, but he's one of the people I think of when I think of DC Comics. He had his hand in a lot of aspects of DC, but the one that stuck with me as a kid was his role as "The Answer Man" in DC's house ad page "The Daily Planet." I probably knew who Bob Rozakis was before I knew the majority of comics pros. Kinda funny that I am linked on his Wikipedia entry for this entry (or at least, have been - you know how these things go).
If you read that entry, and it's one of the more viewed posts on this blog, you know that I talked about this project when it was a series of articles in ALTER EGO and BACK ISSUE magazines. Well, this book collects that material, but expands upon it. This suits me just fine, since I've never been able to keep up with BACK ISSUE like I have ALTER EGO in the first place. So a lot of it is new to me, and that's even before you get to the stuff that's exclusive to the book!
It's fun reading. As a longtime JSA fan, it's humorous to imagine all the role-reversals postulated in its pages for famous DC characters. Among the heroes on the cover are Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, and Aquaman. Can you recognize them?
Beyond the comic universe stuff, there's also an alternate history of the behind-the-scenes business. To me, this might be the most fascinating part. If you read carefully, you can glean Bob's thoughts on any number of folks mentioned (or more tellingly, not mentioned) in his chronicle. There's even a stealthy New Business Model tucked into this book. It's the sort of thing that might appeal to all the disillusioned comic fans out there. "What if?" indeed.
I can definitely recommend this book, and am only sorry my review of it got pushed back a month due to circumstances. You can order it via Lulu or Amazon. Bob Rozakis' blog is called Anything Goes.