Publisher: DC Comics (June 24, 2014)
Softcover, 576 pages
The Great Disaster is an era in DC comics’ lore where in October, 1986 a nuclear war erupts devastating most of the planet. Various reasons are given for this (none of them actual governmental decisions) ranging from a race of mole people setting off WW III in order to conquer the surface, to a nuclear missile being shunted from the future to blow up in Greece in 1986, to the presence of Ares, God of War, coming to the Earth setting off conflict, to maybe it's all a huge computer simulation.
Keep in mind all of the events and issues here are Pre-Crisis D.C. and thus have probably been retconned out of existence, but they are still worth a look. The stories are presented in the chronological order in which they take place in the D.C. universe, rather than from the earliest date they were originally published. Thus there are dramatic shifts in story telling style, pacing, and art from tale to tale.
The Great Disaster also encompassed the stories in OMAC and Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth, but neither of these series are included in this book. Instead we have a short story series called The Day After Doomsday which appeared sporadically in Weird War Tales, a four part short story from the back of Kamandi called Tales of the Great Disaster, a Kirby drawn origin issue of Atlas (which doesn't seem to fit in this collection), The Atomic Knights from Strange Tales (published in 1960 where the beginnings of The Great Disaster was conceived), the complete run of Hercules Unchained where the demigod emerges into a war torn world. Two issues of Superman bookend the series. One explaining that the Great Disaster is part of an alternate universe. The other stating the entire Great Disaster was part of a computer simulation gone wrong.
As this volume takes from all over the spectrum in the silver and bronze age material, the quality of art and writing is a crapshoot. Probably the best stories are the apocalyptic The Day After Doomsday, most of the art is moody and ink heavy adding to the dramatic effect of a nuclear disaster. In addition to that, the latter issues of Hercules Unbound were drawn by a young Walt Simonson, honing his talent and demonstrating his style in ink and prose that would soon be so iconic in Thor. Well worth a look.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.