Showcase Presents All-Star Squadron Vol. 1

Showcase Presents All-Star Squadron Vol. 1

First Published: April 2012

Contents: All-Star Squadron preview from Justice League of America #193 (August 1981); All-Star Squadron #1 (September 1981) to #18 (February 1983); and All-Star Squadron Annual #1 (1982)

Key Creator Credits: Roy Thomas, Rich Buckler, Jerry Ordway, Adrian Gonzales, Rick Hoberg, Don Heck, and others

Key First Appearances: Danette Reilly/Firebrand, Dragon King

Overview: Early December 1941. While America has not entered the World War in Europe, the signs are pointing to the United States getting involved soon. President Roosevelt reaches out to members of the Justice Society to form a protection force for the American people. Call them an All-Star Squadron if you will! And so, a new team of heroes representing the greatest generation of heroes is formed.

While the Justice Society disbanded for the duration of the war to serve in the military, the members of the All-Star Squadron took over. Liberty Belle, who drew her power from reverberations from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia; Johnny Quick, who uses the mathematical formula 3X2(9YZ)4A to run at super speeds; Firebrand, who takes her codename from her brother injured at Pearl Harbor and her powers from the Pacific volcanos; Robotman, who proved once again that anyone can be human with either skin or metal; and Commander Steel, a Captain-America wannabe with Wolverine’s skeletal structure.  Other heroes, such as Plastic Man, the Shining Knight, the Atom, and Hawkgirl would drop in and drop out as needed to protect FDR, Winston Churchill, and freedom everywhere.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This should be a must-read for historical comics, wherein the story takes place in a definitive time (in this case, December 1941 and January 1942). Writer Roy Thomas has done his research, resurrecting characters who appeared in comics in the early days of the Golden Age.There wasn’t a need to create an entire line-up of new characters, as plenty of characters were already available to use. Thomas was able to create a core team for these stories of Liberty Belle, Johnny Quick, Firebrand, Robotman, and Commander Steel, and then bring in various members of the Justice Society as needed. This was one of the first comics I read on a regular basis, providing me monthly history lessons on both DC characters as well as the events of the early days of World War II. Please give this a look.

Footnotes: Sit back, people, I am not happy with DC with this collection. Specifically, the 1982 team-up between the Justice League, the Justice Society, and the All-Star Squadron. This story ran across five issues: All-Star Squadron #14 & #15, and Justice League of America #207, #208, & #209. Reviewing the Contents list above (if you haven’t read this collection), you’ll notice that the JLA issues are not included in this volume. What?!?!? Please, DC, tell me why you would not include them! Adding the three more issues to this collection would have pushed the book close to 600 pages. No big deal, DC has had (and will have) larger Showcase Presents. Or omit the final three All-Star Squadron issues in this collection, and keep the page count roughly the same.

What is worse is that DC nearly repeated this same lack of common sense! DC has a line of books, Crisis on Multiple Earths, collecting the numerous JLA-JSA team-ups. When Volume 6 of this line was first solicited in the summer of 2012 (just months after this Showcase Presents release), it included the three JLA issues from the JLA-JSA-All-Star Squadron team-up, but it did not include the All-Star Squadron issues. The fanbase exploded online, and eventually DC re-solicited the Crisis on Multiple Earths book with the All-Star Squadron issues included. So, if you would like to read the complete story, please track down Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 6. Because you can’t read the complete story in this volume.

If you like this volume, try: reading Roy Thomas’ take on World War II superheroes at Marvel Comics, with The Invaders. Thomas did his take on the Golden Age heroes from Marvel leading the charge against the Axis powers. Roy Thomas first introduced the Invaders in Avengers #71 (December 1969), but it would not be until 1975 before the team got their own title. Captain America, Bucky, Human Torch, Toro, and Namor the Sub-Mariner formed the core of the team, but other heroes would soon join the team, such as Miss America and Union Jack. The series ran for nearly four years, before coming to an end with issue #41. Marvel released two volumes of a Complete Collection in 2014, collecting the entire series plus some other appearances outside the title. 

Essential Monster of Frankenstein Vol. 1

monsteroffrankenstein1First Published: October 2004

Contents: The Monster of Frankenstein #1 (January 1973) to #5 (September 1973); The Frankenstein Monster #6 (October 1973) to #18 (September 1975); Giant-Size Werewolf #2 (October 1974); Monsters Unleashed #2 (October 1973) and #4 (February 1974) to #10 (February 1975); and Legion of Monsters #1 (September 1975)

Key Creator Credits: Gary Friedrich, Mike Ploog, Doug Moench, John Buscema, Val Mayerik, and others

Key First Appearances: Frankenstein’s Monster, Victor Frankenstein

Overview: Ripped from the pages of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Frankenstein’s Monster comes to life in the Marvel Universe. This is Essential Monster of Frankenstein Vol. 1.

The book starts out by retelling Shelley’s story – how Dr. Frankenstein created new life from the remains of old bodies, but the new creature turned against his “father”. The Frankenstein Monster seeks out Victor Frankenstein, chasing him to the Arctic Circle. Following the death of Victor, and perhaps borrowing a page from Captain America’s story, the Frankenstein Monster falls into the freezing waters, and is encased in ice preserving his so-called life until he could be revived in the late twentieth century.

Joining the modern world, the Frankenstein Monster shuffles from story-to-story. Some deal with him seeking out other descendants of Victor Frankenstein. Other stories have him crossing paths with the other popular Marvel monsters, such as Dracula or Werewolf. Add in a handful of stories that involve the Frankenstein monster being used by others to further their desires.

What makes this Essential?: Marvel found a lot of success in the 1970s with the launch of the various Monster or Horror titles, such as Tomb of Dracula, Ghost Rider, or Werewolf By Night. I think Frankenstein must have been a moderate success, at least enough to warrant this Essential. But reading so many of these stories, particularly the ones from the Monsters Unleashed magazine, there is not much difference between reading these stories and many of the Rampaging Hulk stories from this era. Both were large guys with communication issues, looking to be left alone, and often finds himself in the middle of a situation he wants nothing to do with. I personally found the team-up issues, like the Legion of Monsters story, more interesting. Those stories do not rely on the Frankenstein monster to carry the story forward.

Footnotes: Frankenstein’s Monster #7  to #9 were also reprinted in Essential Tomb of Dracula Vol. 4.

Giant-Size Werewolf #2 was also reprinted in Essential Werewolf By Night Vol. 2.

Although not collected in this collection, Marvel Team-Up #36 and #37 featured Spider-Man meeting the Frankenstein Monster. Those issues were reprinted in Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 2.

If you like this volume, try: the Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. series from DC as part of the New 52 Universe. The series was written by Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt, with art by Alberto Ponticelli. In this take on the classic character, we see the version of Frankenstein’s monster that Grant Morrison developed in his Seven Soldiers series. Frankenstein and the other Creature Commandos work for a secret government agency known as S.H.A.D.E. (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive). S.H.A.D.E. is the first line for investigating and fighting supernatural threats. The series ran for seventeen issues, and it was reprinted in two trade paperbacks.

 

Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 4

Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 4

First Published: December 2011

Contents: Wonder Woman #157 (October 1965) to #177 (August 1968)

Key Creator Credits: Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, Mike Esposito, and Irv Novick

Key First Appearances: Egg Fu, Doctor Psycho

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 3

Overview: Merciful Minerva! Wonder Woman finally faces off against the one foe she cannot stop. The mightiest foe of all time – the dreaded, all powerful DC Comics Editor. Because the pen is truly mightier than the sword. Welcome to Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 4.

The volume starts off with an Egg Fu story that covers all of issue #157 and part of the #158. But what drives this collection is the second story in issue #158. The crew of the Wonder Woman title (Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, and Mike Esposito) makes cameos as DC decides to streamline Diana’s supporting cast. Many of the supporting characters, such as Wonder Tot, Mer-Boy, Birdman, the Glop, and others, are cast off into limbo. Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, and Hippolyta survive, and the editors promise that beginning with the next issue, Wonder Woman would return to her Golden Age beginnings.   

True to their word, beginning with Wonder Woman #159, we see a retelling of the origins of the Amazons, and how Diana came to be created. We see the challenge of the Amazons, which would determine who would leave the island to go live in Man’s World. We see Col. Steve Trevor crash near Paradise Island, and how Diana nursed him to health before returning him to the United States, where she took over the identity and life of Lt. Diana Prince, a nurse in the army.

Firmly establishing herself as a hero, Wonder Woman battles the familiar foes such as the Cheetah, Doctor Psycho, and Angle Man – why wasn’t Angle Man sent to limbo?!?!? Towards the end of this volume, less emphasis is made that these are Golden Age stories, but rather they are set in the Silver Age proper. For example, the final issue in this volume, #177, features a team-up between Wonder Woman and Supergirl. That issue teases us with a promise of Wonder Woman going in a new direction in the next issue, but that is a story best saved for a future volume, we hope!

Why should these stories be Showcased?: So, of the four Showcase Presents Wonder Woman volumes to date, this is probably the most readable of the bunch. That said, it’s still not a very good collection of stories. Once the DC Editorial hits the giant cosmic reset button in issue #158, the stories become simpler without the convoluted character histories. The stories focus on Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, with the occasional visit to Paradise Island to see her mother. The caption boxes tell us that these are Golden Age stories being told in the current (Silver) age. We get to see more familiar villains, such as Cheetah, Giganta, and yes, Egg Fu.  Diana Prince’s military rank fluctuates from issue to issue between lieutenant and captain, with the occasional issue where she is still a military nurse. Towards the end of this volume, once Ross Andru leaves the book, the stories start to feel more like Silver Age stories, current with other books of that era. I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this book. But if you feel the need to possess one of these Wonder Woman collections, this is the one you should own.

Footnotes: Among the characters wiped away in the reset in issue #158 is Wonder Girl, the teenage version of our title character. However, Wonder Girl still continued to be an active and key member of the Teen Titans. For more on that complicated character, please see my review of Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 1,

If you like this volume, try: the Wonder Woman TV series from the 1970s. For so many people, this version of Wonder Woman was their first encounter and remains the best representation (to date) of everyone’s favorite Amazon. Starring Linda Carter and Lyle Waggoner, the series ran for three seasons. The first season was set in the World War II era of the 1940s, following the earliest adventures of Wonder Woman. For the second and third season, the series was reset to place the characters into the 1970s. (Trying to set a TV show thirty years in the past was getting expensive for this type of show!) Carter’s take on Wonder Woman remains legendary but don’t expect riveting television here. The shows remain campy and are full of plot holes. You don’t have to own these – check out the series on Netflix or some other platform, or check the ME-TV programming guide. It’s worth seeing at least once.

Essential Defenders Vol. 6

defenders6Contents: The Defenders #107 (May 1982) to #125 (November 1983); Avengers Annual #11 (1982); and Marvel Team-Up #119 (July 1982)

Key Creator Credits: J.M. Dematteis, Don Perlin, Mark Gruenwald, and others

Key First Appearances: Mistress Love, Arcanna, Nuke, Power Princess, Sassafras, Cloud, Mad-Dog

Story Continues From: Essential Defenders Vol. 5

Story Continues In: Essential Defenders Vol. 7

Overview: Welcome back to yet another volume of Essential Defenders. For a book with no official line-up, headquarters, and/or uniforms, it still amazes me that this title ran for 152 issues. It was a title that for 15 years could do almost any type of story, as everything was fair game with magicians, mutants, Asgardians, and more hanging out each and every month.

This volume kicks off with the death of Valkyrie, or so it seems. See back in Defenders #66 to #68, Valkyrie’s spirit was put into the body of Barbara Norris, and Norris’ spirit was placed into Valkyrie’s body, who was left in the Asgardian realm of Niffleheim. While Norris’ body is killed, the Defenders are able to save Valkyrie’s spirit, and reunite it with her body. So, long live Valkyrie, and so long Barbara Norris.

Next up is Avengers Annual #11, which won’t be found in the Essential Avengers run. Long-time Defenders adversary Nebulon finds himself sentenced to Earth. He encounters Thor, who brings Nebulon to the Avengers to aid the alien in returning to his home. At this same time, another member of Nebulon’s race, Nalia, arrives and seeks out the Defenders. She claims that Nebulon has plans to take over the Earth, and asks the Defenders to stop him. In typical comic book fashion, the two teams square off in the Himalayas, only to eventually realize that both teams were being manipulated by the aliens.

The Squadron Supreme, Marvel’s version of the Justice League, shows up for a multi-issue story, and the rest of the team is finally introduced in this story, with Arcanna (Zatanna), Nuke (Firestorm), and Power Princess (Wonder Woman). It’s a battle royale between the Defenders, the Squadron Supreme, and the Overmind

As this volume winds down, we see the transition start with the line-up that leads to the creation of the New Defenders. The Beast becomes more of the de facto leader of the non-team. Two of the Beast’s former teammates, Iceman and the Angel, show up and stick around. Valkyrie brings along a guest in Moondragon, who is under the warrior’s supervision following her latest power grab move with the Avengers. And of course, there is the Gargoyle, who really has no place else to go, so of course, he will stick around. Patsy Walker and Daimon Hellstorm finally take their leave of the team following their wedding. And the four heroes most closely associated with the concept of the Defenders – Doctor Strange, Hulk, Sub-Mariner, and Silver Surfer – turn over the reigns to the new team, knowing that there is a new set of Defenders to help protect the world.

What makes this Essential?: There are parts of this book that are good to read, such as the Avengers Annual, the Squadron Supreme crossover, and the formation of the “New Defenders”. However, I don’t know that the sum of these parts justifies the full Essential volume. These are decent stories, but so much of this run just feels like a monthly placeholder, just to ensure that the book met its monthly deadline.

If you like this volume, try: The Vision and Scarlet Witch mini-series from 1982. Following yet another roster shuffle in Avengers #211, the Vision and the Scarlet Witch opted to become reserve members and move out to a home in New Jersey. Despite some occasional appearances in The Defenders and the team-up books, the Vision and Scarlet Witch were out of the spotlight for awhile before earning their first mini-series, created by Bill Mantlo and Rick Leonardi. These two characters have such a complex family history, which all comes into play in this series. The Vision is visited by the Grim Reaper, who is the step-brother to Wonder Man, who shares his brain patterns with the aforementioned Vision. We get a visit by the Golden-Age hero, the Whizzer, who was once thought to be the father to the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, but that was finally proven not to be true in this series. But the significant news that came out of this mini-series was the true heritage of Wanda and Pietro – as the children of Magneto. (It had long been assumed, finally confirmed, and recently overturned in order to support the Marvel Cinematic Universe.) This series was reprinted in a 2005 trade paperback, but I believe the actual issues can still be tracked down in the back issue bins.

Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 5

First Published: October 2011

Contents: Batman #216 (November 1969) to #228 (February 1971); Batman stories from Detective Comics #391 (September 1969) to #407 (January 1971)

Key Creator Credits: Frank Robbins, Irv Novick, Bob Brown, Neal Adams, Denny O’Neil, and others

Key First Appearances: Ten-Eyed Man, Arthur Reeves, Kirk Langstrom/Man-Bat, Francine Langstrom

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 4

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 6

Overview: It’s time to head back to the Batcave for another set of Batman adventures. But wait, what’s this… the Batcave is closed? This is Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 5.

This volume looks at the Batman stories from the early 1970s. Dick Grayson has finally left to go to college at Hudson University, and Bruce Wayne (and Alfred) suddenly realize how large and empty Wayne Manor feels now. So they close up the Manor (and the Batcave) and relocate to the Wayne Foundation tower in downtown Gotham City. Bruce lives in the penthouse suite but has a secret elevator to a hidden garage where the Batmobile is stored. This keeps Batman in Gotham at all times, allowing him to respond quicker to threats to his city.

But just because he is away at college doesn’t mean that we do not see Robin in this collection. He still makes the occasional appearance, such as in Batman #222, when they are tasked to discover the truth behind the rumors surrounding a Beatles-type group and  the possible death of the lead singer, Saul Cartwright. (This was cashing in on the ever-ongoing rumor that Paul McCartney had died years previous and had been replaced in the Beatles.)

A major new addition is added to the Batman Family in Detective Comics #400, with the introduction of the Man-Bat. Kirk Langstrom is a curator at the Gotham City Museum, and he has a keen interest in bats. Developing a serum, Langstrom hopes to modify himself into the next generation Batman. Unfortunately, the serum does not work as planned, and Langstrom is transformed into a living man-sized bat. With the origin of the Man-Bat in place, Batman works to stop as well as cure Langstrom. The curator is returned to normal, but we know that the Man-Bat will return multiple times in the future.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: A lot of the problems that I had with Vol. 4 still carry over into this collection. While there is nothing wrong with focusing on the Batman as a detective, these issues have me wanting more. If you have an artist of the caliber of Neal Adams on the title, should you be using him to draw common street criminals month after month? The redeeming point of the book is that towards the end, we start to see Denny O’Neil introducing the story elements for the future stories to be read in Vol. 6, where we will finally be introduced to Ra’s al Ghul.

Footnotes: Batman #218, #223 and #228 are reprint issues. The covers are included in this collection. 

Batman #217 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Robin the Boy Wonder Vol. 1.

Batman #225 contains two Batman stories, “Wanted for Murder One, The Batman” and “Shutdown on York Street!”. However, the “Shutdown on York Street!” story is not reprinted in this collection.

Detective Comics #404 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Enemy Ace Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: The Joker series from 1975 and 1976. During the period collected in this volume, more emphasis was being put on Batman being a detective. When he did battle “villains”, it was newer creations such as Man-Bat, the League of Assassins, and Ra’s al Ghul. The more colorful villains that we associate with Batman, such as the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, and Catwoman, were only being used in The Brave and the Bold from time to time. In early 1975, DC launched a bi-monthly series focusing on the Joker. With the Comics Code Authority still in place, the creative team had to adhere to a lot of rules in order to feature a villain as the protagonist. The Joker could not kill, he had to be captured at the end of each story, and Batman could not be used in the book. Even without the Caped Crusader, plenty of other characters made appearances in the run, such as Commissioner Gordon, Green Arrow, Black Canary, the Creeper, Catwoman, Two-Face and even Sherlock Holmes. The series ran for just nine issues, and the entire series was reprinted in a trade paperback in 2013.

Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 8

ff8First Published: May 2010

Contents: Fantastic Four #160 (July 1975) to #179 (February 1977) and #181 (April 1977) to #183 (June 1977); Fantastic Four Annual #11 (June 1976); Marvel Two-in-One #20 (October 1976); and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #1 (October 1976)

Key Creator Credits: Roy Thomas, John Buscema, George Pérez, Rich Buckler, Sal Buscema, Bill Mantlo, and others

Key First Appearances: Crusader, Frankie Raye, Captain Ultra, Texas Twister

Story Continues From: Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 7

Story Continues In: Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 9

Overview: Pay attention people! There are a lot of moving parts in this book, and if you skip a page, you might be totally lost. We’ve got multiple Reed Richards and Johnny Storms and Things, but only one Sue Richards. And if you look closely, you will see some familiar faces in the Marvel Bullpen, with Stan, Jack, George, Roy and more. All of this and more in Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 8.

The book starts out with a three-way war between different universes. One of those universes features a Fantastic Four where Reed Richards gained the powers (and rocky outlook) of the Thing when they were exposed to the cosmic rays. There’s another Johnny flying around too in this battle, so keep an eye out for him.

An eventful moment in the history of the team followed a unique team-up between the Thing and the Hulk. As the two were skipping around the midwest, the Hulk’s gamma-radiated body counter-acted the Thing’s cosmic-radiated body and turned him back into Ben Grimm. Faced with the requirement to maintain four powered members on the active roster, Reed recruits Luke Cage, the hero for hire, to serve as a member of the team. Luke’s stay with the team is short, thanks to the shenanigans of the Puppet Master, but it gave Reed enough time to finish an exoskeleton Thing suit for Ben to wear and regain his place in the team. However, we realize about this time that Ben is not the only one without a power loss, as Reed’s stretching ability is starting to weaken, causing him great pain when he uses his abilities.

Next, a time-travel story that teams the Fantastic Four with the Invaders and the Liberty Legion during the days of World War II. The team no sooner returns to 1976 before they find themselves caught up in a showdown between the High Evolutionary and Galactus. The world devourer is seeking to consume the High Evolutionary’s Counter-Earth, and the FF is sent out to seek out a suitable replacement world to sustain Galactus. One is found, but it comes with a cost – the return of the Impossible Man.

Upon their return to Earth and a wild romp through the Marvel Comics offices, the Fantastic Four must stop the latest recruitment drive for the Frightful Four being held at their own headquarters in the Baxter Building. Despite the aid of Tigra, Thundra, and the Impossible Man, the Frightful Four are able to best the team with their new recruit, the Brute, who is actually the Reed Richards from Counter-Earth. The Frightful Four are defeated, but the Counter-Earth Richards replaces his counterpart as leader of the Fantastic Four, banishing our Reed Richards to the Negative Zone. The team soon realizes that the Reed leading their team is not the Reed they know and love, and they go out in search of their missing friend, but not before they encounter Annihilus.

What makes this Essential?: Once again, I wrestled with how I wanted to review this book. The end of this book is the exact era when I started reading Fantastic Four issues off of the newsstands. So I am trying to not allow my childhood nostalgia of the title cloud my objective review of this collection. I like this better than the previous Essential volume, so that is a plus. I think Roy Thomas finally started to understand the possibilities of what he could do with the characters and began working on the characters and concepts that most interested him. The art is superb, whether it comes from either of the Buscemas, Perez, or the underrated Rich Buckler. But….. I still don’t think these stories live up to the moniker of “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.” I would rather be reading the Lee-Kirby issues or skip ahead to the John Byrne run.

Footnotes: Fantastic Four Annual #11, Marvel Two-in-One Annual #1 and Marvel Two-in-One #20 are also reprinted in Essential Marvel Two-in-One Vol. 1.

Fantastic Four #180 is a reprint issue of Fantastic Four #101, which was reprinted in Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 5. The new cover to Fantastic Four #180 is included in this Essential.

If you like this volume, try: the 2011 Impossible Man trade paperback, collecting many of the green hero’s more memorable appearances. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in Fantastic Four #11, the character was quickly forgotten about when the bad feedback came in from the readers. He sat dormant for nearly 15 years before writer Roy Thomas brought him back in Fantastic Four #176, making him a supporting character for the next few years in the FF title. In the 1980s, the Impossible Man started expanding into other parts of the Marvel Universe, crossing paths with the likes of Spider-Woman, the New Mutants, and the Silver Surfer. In many ways, you could consider the Impossible Man to be the Marvel equivalent to Bat-Mite or Mr. Mxyzptlk, as the annoying character that can do most anything to vex the star of the title. This trade paperback collects many of those fun appearances.

Showcase Presents All-Star Comics Vol. 1

Showcase Presents All-Star Comics Vol. 1

First Published: September 2011

Contents: All-Star Comics #58 (January-February 1976) to #74 (September-October 1978), Justice Society stories from Adventure Comics #461 (January-February 1979) to #466 (November-December 1979)

Key Creator Credits: Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, Gerry Conway, Keith Giffen, and Wally Wood

Key First Appearances: Karen Starr/Kara Zor-L/Power Girl, Vulcan, Helena Wayne/Huntress

Overview: In 1976, Jenette Kahn led an effort at DC Comics to reclaim the market share from Marvel Comics by increasing the number of titles published each month. Known as the DC Explosion, one of the titles launched was a relaunch of the All-Star Comics title, which had been home to the Justice Society of America in the 1940s and 1950s.

With the new launch of the JSA, three new members were brought into the team: The Earth-2 Robin, grown up and living on his own away from the Batcave; the Star-Spangled Kid, recently rescued from the past in the pages of Justice League of America; and in her first appearance anywhere, we meet Power Girl, the Earth-2 equivalent to Supergirl.

Over the next two years, many familiar faces would return to the JSA Brownstone Headquarters in Gotham City. Another new hero joins the team in Huntress, the daughter of the Earth-2 Batman and Catwoman. As always, familiar foes challenge the heroes, such as Brainwave, Vandal Savage, and the Injustice Society.

Sadly, in 1978, DC Comics’ parent company, Warner, forced the publisher to scale back costs and operations, which led to the cancellation of many titles and letting go of many staffers. Unofficially known as the DC Implosion, All-Star Comics fell victim to the cancellation ax. However, Levitz and Staton were able to continue their run on the JSA over in Adventure Comics, which became a large ‘Dollar Comic’ anthology for other titles that had been canceled. Here we see the final battle for the Earth-2 Batman, and a revisit to All-Star Comics #57 to explain why the Justice Society disappeared in the 1950s.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: This is a fun, easy read that should be on many bookshelves. Power Girl and Huntress, which have both been mainstays in the DC Universe for 35+ years now, both get their starts here. For years, fans had been given teases of the JSA with their crossovers with the JLA. This was the first time readers got an extended ongoing storyline featuring just these characters. The JSA would generally remain as supporting characters for the next 20 years until Geoff Johns and friends brought back the JSA as a powerful super-hero team in the early 2000s. Fans of that series should definitely give this title a look.

Footnotes:  The original run of All-Star Comics ended with issue #57 (February-March 1951). The next issue featured a new title, All-Star Western Comics, and it continued the numbering, beginning with #58.

With All-Star Comics #57, that was the last Golden Age Justice Society story. The team was unseen for 12 years until they were brought back in The Flash #137 (June 1963).

If you like this volume, try: tracking down the Infinity Inc. series of the 1980s. Other than the annual crossovers with the Justice League, this is the continuation of the Justice Society storyline from this Showcase. The sons and daughters of the Justice Society members unite, along with the younger members of the JSA (Star-Spangled Kid, Power Girl, and Huntress), to form a new team for the new generation. Infinity, Inc., premiered in the pages of All-Star Squadron in 1983 and moved into their own title in 1984. This was a prestige-format book and was only available in comic book stores. It started out very strong, but then was damaged by the Crisis on Infinite Earths. With the multiple Earths being merged into one Earth, it altered the origin stories of many characters such as Fury (daughter of the Earth-2 Wonder Woman), Power Girl (cousin of the Earth-2 Superman), and Huntress (daughter of the Earth-2 Batman). The final year of the title limped to the finish, leading to the murder of the Star-Spangled Kid. There is a hardcover edition reprinting part of the All-Star Squadron crossover and part of the first Generations storyline. Sadly, DC has not issued a second edition to finish collecting Generations, so you are better off looking for these issues in a back issue bin.