The "Superman Archives" advances through the years, albeit slowly. While volume six is a little over two years old, there are other characters in the DC Archives who have been noticeably fast-tracked ("All-Star", "Justice League of America", and "Legion of Super-heroes"). Yet, DC seems to be spreading Superman out a bit over the course of four separate archive series. Consequently, each sub-series advances one volume every couple of years, although there's a new Superman archive out at least once a year.
Volume six comprises issues published in 1943. As expected, there's plenty of war propaganda, as Superman tangles with his fair share of Axis saboteurs and fifth columnists. However, the New Dealer Superman was already being slowly replaced by the more familiar Sci-Fi hero that most people are familiar with. Here Superman tangles with the Prankster, one of Superman's not-so super-villains. In a slightly hair-raising story, the Prankster copyrights the alphabet (I took copyright in law school, so my eyes stayed crossed the whole story). Superman also battles evil gnome creatures working at the behest of Hitler, as well as the incredible inventions of a mute genius. Of course, Superman also tangles with his share of gangsters, helping out a normally lucky do-gooder when his luck goes south, as well as solving the mystery of four criminals who are locked in a death-pact.
This volume features some fairly experimental material compared with previous volumes. The idea that perhaps Clark and Lois are more suited to each other than Lois and Superman is explored in "Surprise for Superman". Further, the concept of what would become the "Imaginary" or "Elseworlds" story is present in a formative stage. After Clark and Lois visit a stage production of a melodrama, Clark imagines a Superman story in the melodrama milieu.
Like all comic book stories from the golden age, you have to take this volume as you find it. The art work is pretty solid, if a little cartoony (featuring some nice work by Jack Burnley among others). Also the stories are mostly clever, entertaining, plot-driven affairs, mostly written by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel.
Lots of fun, especially for it's nostalgia value. Just wish they'd move a little faster in completing this Archives series, as they have with "All-Star" and "Legion".