6
May 07

Showcase Presents: second tranche

FT1 comment • 961 views

Last July I ranked and annotated the first dozen volumes in DC’s Showcase Presents bargain vintage reprint series (500pp, B&W, about £11). Time for another look. In approximate order of preference since then:

Superman 3

This is wonderful material. A lot of it is deeply silly and childish, but this also features some of the best Superman stories I’ve ever read, and consistently excellent art from Boring, Plastino, Swan and Schaffenberger.

Legion of Super-Heroes

In continuity terms, a total mess, but loads of really clever stories and consistently appealing artwork – later volumes may be even better, I think, when child-prodigy Jim Shooter starts writing.

JLA 2

A total joy. Inventive stories, if mostly fairly absurd, with many of my favourite characters and delightful Sekowsky art.

Challengers of the Unknown

SF adventure stories, ranked highly because about half of it is prime Jack Kirby, shortly before he changed comics with Marvel. If you want to see where he got much of the FF from (most of the personalities and origin in particular), it’s here.

Hawkman

A very dull character (Hawkgirl is very secondary but much more appealing), but some clever stories and the thrilling Joe Kubert art is wonderful – some of the best superhero art ever, for me.

Green Lantern 2

The stories and characters aren’t terribly exciting, but the superb Gil Kane art very much carries you through.

Phantom Stranger

They didn’t know quite who their character was for a long time, but this has quite a lot of invention in the stories, and some very fine art a lot of the time.

House of Mystery 2

Lots of horror tales. Some are rubbish, some are great, and the artists cover the whole range. I think there is enough quality material to be well worth having, if you like this kind of thing.

Unknown Soldier

A surprisingly high level of invention in the stories helps this a great deal, and some of the art is great too.

Aquaman

Another character I don’t greatly care for, and a lot of the stories are totally forgettable. Picks up a lot with the lovely Nick Cardy artwork.

Brave and Bold Batman Team-Ups

A hugely patchy collection, with lots of third-rate material. If you are a Neal Adams fan, which I’m really not, this is well worth it for several of his early Batman jobs.

Shazam

Disappointingly not the original ’40s material (still no indication that any such reprints are planned) but the ’70s revival. Nonetheless, fairly charming and enjoyable, with one or two excellent stories.

Batman

Nowhere near as good as you’d hope, to be honest. Lots of very lame stories, not quite enough sense of direction, and much as I love Infantino on some things, I didn’t think his clean and bright style suited Batman. Some fun stories, nonetheless.

The War That Time Forgot

You might imagine that GIs vs dinosaurs would be stupid, but this is dumber than you’d imagine. You’d surely imagine lots of thrillpower, but frankly there isn’t much at all most of the way. A few very nice art jobs late in the volume.

And a few notes on what is coming up: we finally get the first Flash volume on May 17th, which might well take my overall #1 slot – the peak of the early silver age DC superhero style, for me, with wonderful Infantino art; and there is more of him on Adam Strange in August; in between, the Atom will be worth grabbing if you are a Gil Kane fan – this also has the most hilariously stupid origin and first-issue cover in comics history (I wrote about them here). Still no suggestion of anything from the ’40s, nor any more modern material (I wondered if they might start doing Swamp Thing for instance, and keep going through the Alan Moore issues), and still some odd omissions. No Sgt Rock yet, no Doom Patrol or Metal Men.

Comments

  1. 1
    Magnus on 7 May 2007 #

    Every time you write up one of these lists, I buzz with enthusiasm for having a phone book of fun and head off to buy one.

    And each time you do, I forget to take the list with me and buy title that’s a bit of a dud. I am therefore now the lucky acquirer of The Haunted Tank, House of Mystery 1*, and Tomb of Dracula (actually a decent read, but not top of your list).

    Not this time – my sights are firmly, unwaveringly, set on on the top half there. CotU most likely, and if its an obscurity for the Marvel cogniscenti, then I hope the randomness is all the better for it.

    *Although HoM has a readable, trashy way about it. And at least The Haunted Tank is a great title to have knocking around in your bathroom.

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