Tragically ignored and excluded from Multiversity--unless it exists as one of those seven "mystery Earths"--is the world in which DC's greatest superheroes all worked as shills for the U.S. Postal Service.
This oddity has a strange provenance. A recent application for a passport renewal was softened by the incredibly helpful postal workers who (among their other kindnesses) gave our son a goodie bag filled with various U.S. Postal Service-related coloring books. It also contained one issue of the Celebrate the Century Super Heroes Stamp Album from 1998. This is a comic book that has spaces for collecting stamps in a series commemorating events from 1900 to 1910. It is also, in its own way, a time capsule commemorating DC comics from 1998.
The cast of characters is basically the Morrison-era JLA in all their late '90s finery. The Green Lantern is Kyle Rayner, the Green Arrow is Connor Hawke, and Wonder Woman is saddled with her ungainly Byrne-designed costume. (In the only departure from DC orthodoxy, Superman gets his classic outfit, not the cobalt blue bug-zapper look.) It's basically The Just, but instead of parties and gallery openings the heroes care about history and philately.
The art is generally from middle-of-the-road DC house artists like Dan Jurgens, Paul Ryan, and M.D. Bright, who put in about as much effort as you'd expect for a comic that was distributed exclusively through the Postal Service and was pretty much invisible to the direct market. Josef Rubinstein does a lot of the inking, insuring that any traces of individual style or verve are stamped out. Somehow a few good pages sneak through anyway: Norm Breyfogle contributes a couple, as does Joe Orlando(!), and there are three amazing pages of Jim Aparo inked by Bill Sienkiewicz(!!).
The script offers the triumphant liberal view of American history--if you ever wanted to see John Henry Irons smash a giant logo that says "RACISM," this is the comic for you--although it's willing to acknowledge at least some forms of past oppression. (I'm curious to know how far it was willing to extend that acknowledgement into the present. Considering the stamps for the last five decades of the 20th century were voted on by public ballot, I'm guessing racism and all other forms of injustice were beaten soundly after 1964.) Still, if any government publication today admitted the existence of racism, even in our past, half the country would immediately denounce it as an act of treason and move to ban it from the high school curriculum. This stamp album is probably about as forthright as we should expect any stamp album to be. Advantage: nineties.
Writer Doug Moench assigns the superheroes to introduce different events in a manner so on-the-nose that it drives right through embarrassing and becomes kind of charming. Superman gets all the big historical events and the Americana; Wonder Woman gets Ellis Island and women's issues (of course); Steel gets civil rights (of course); Green Arrow gets nature and national parks (this was the '90s half-Asian Green Arrow, so yeah, of course); Green Lantern gets cinematic breakthroughs and Flash gets automotive ones. Robin gets children's culture and complains about it (of course). Moench clearly put more thought into the script than it probably deserved, and for that I salute him.
Oh, and Batman gets law and order--specifically, the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act (BIFF! POW! UPTON SINCLAIR!)--and, um, painting. But it's Ash Can school painting, which he goes out of his way to describe as "gritty realism," so that's okay.
I kind of love this comic. For a minute there I thought I'd discovered that holiest of grails--a collectible comic published after the 1960s--but no, the stamp collectors are just as anal about saving all their purchases. That's okay too, stamp collectors. We understand each other.