Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 2

Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 2

Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 2

First Published: June 2006

Contents: Superman stories from Action Comics #258 (November 1959) to #275 (April 1961), Superman #134 (January 1960) to #145 (May 1961)

Key Creator Credits: Otto Binder, Jerry Coleman, Al Pastino, Wayne Boring, Curt Swan, Jerry Siegel

Key First Appearances: Bizarro-Lois Lane, Ronal

Story Continues from: Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 1

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 3

Overview: As Superman entered the 1960s, the stories found in Action Comics and Superman grew larger than life to match the spirit of the new decade. Superman’s Rogues Gallery – including Lex Luthor, Bizarro, and Mr. Mxyptlk – made more frequent appearances between the two titles. Thankfully, Superman’s friends and family stand by his side to help protect truth, justice, and the American way.

Other traditional stories are revisited in this volume, such as Lois Lane trying to discover Superman’s identity; or Superman finding some way to revisit Krypton, either by traveling back through time or from video archives. And on those occasions when Superman and Clark Kent must be seen together, Batman or the Superman Robots step up to assume one of the identities.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: If you are a Superman fan, by all means pick up this volume. The problem I have with these stories is that they are one-and-done stories. The Superman that appears in Action Comics #258 from late 1959 is no different than the Superman that appears in #275 from mid 1961. Nothing is done to advance the title character’s storyline. You could pick this up and read them in any order, so a reader could skip around and focus on the stories or villains that most interest you.

Pocketful of Kryptonite: In Superman #140, a new shade of Kryptonite was introduced. Thankfully for Superman, Blue Kryptonite is perfectly harmless to Kryptonians, but Bizarro and the other citizens of Bizarro World find its rays painful. Throughout the Silver Age of comics, many other variations of Kryptonite were introduced, each with it’s own unique impacts:

  • Green Kryptonite is lethal to Superman, which weakens and drains his powers until it kills him.
  • Red Kryptonite will cause some kind of short-term change in Superman, like giving him a third eye on his head, and it fades away within 24 hours.
  • Gold Kryptonite will permanently remove Superman’s powers.
  • White Kryptonite will kill all plant life, regardless if the plants are from Krypton or Earth.
  • Other shades of Kryptonite have been introduced in other media, such as the Smallville TV show or other comics. That would include Black, Silver, Pink, Orange, Gemstone, and Periwinkle, to name a few.

Footnotes: The “Mighty Maid” story from Action Comics #260; the “Old Man of Metropolis” story from Action Comics #270; the “Untold Story of Red Kryptonite” story fromSuperman #139; Superman #140; and the “Orphans of Space!” story from Superman#144 are also reprinted in Showcase Presents Supergirl Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: Superman: Tales of the Bizarro World trade paperback. This volume collected Bizzarro World stories that originally appeared in Adventure Comics in the early 1960s. As of this writing, these stories have not been collected in any Showcase Presents volume. The Bizarro World stories are a different take, where everything is backwards compared to our world.

Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 1

First Published: March 2006

Contents: Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #1 (September-October 1954) to #22 (August 1957), Showcase #9 (July-August 1957), and the Lois Lane story from Superman #28 (May-June 1944)

Key Creator Credits: Curt Swan, Otto Binder

Key First Appearances: Professor Phineas Potter

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 2

Overview: Despite this being titled a Superman Family volume, this is essentially a Jimmy Olsen volume, as it collects the first 22 issues of Jimmy Olsen’s solo series.

The Jimmy Olsen stories are simple one-and-done tales that do not give a second thought to continuity. The stories start with a few basic idea reused over and over (Jimmy trying to get a big news story to impress Perry White; Jimmy adds a new souvenir to his Superman collection; Jimmy offers up himself as a test subject to a scientist trying a new device) and proceed from there for six to eight pages.

Also in this volume is Showcase #9, featuring Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane. As previously noted, Showcase was a try-out book for characters to see if they could support their own title. The Lois Lane issues of Showcase (collected in this volume and in Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 2) apparently did well enough to give Lois her own book. As a bonus, the first solo Lois Lane story from Superman #28 is collected in this book.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: You have to be a die-hard fan of the Silver Age of comics to appreciate the stories told in here. Most Silver Age stories do not hold up in comparison to current stories. These stories were truly written for and generally sold to kids. The stories are fun to read, provided you keep them in the context of the era in which they were first published.

Footnotes: Showcase #9 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Showcase Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: the Amazing Transformations of Jimmy Olsen TPB. This volume collects the various stories from Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, when the title character is morphed into another character, either due to radiation, ingestion, stupidity, or plain luck. The Super-Brain, the Human Skyscraper, Elastic Lad, the Human Flamethrower, the Human Octopus, Jimmy the Genie, the Wolfman, the Giant Turtle Man, the Human Porcupine, Bizarro Boy, Chameleon-Head Olsen, and so on.

Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 1

First Published: October 2005

Contents: Superman stories from Action Comics #241 (June 1958) to #257 (October 1959), Superman #122 (July 1958) to #133 (November 1959)

Key Creator Credits: Otto Binder, Jerry Coleman, Al Pastino, Wayne Boring, Curt Swan, Kurt Schaffenberger

Key First Appearances: Brainiac, Bottle City of Kandor, Metallo, Kara/Linda Lee Danvers/Supergirl, Bizarro, Titano, Lori Lemaris, Mr. Mxyzptlk

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 2

Overview: Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. By 1958, Superman was the star of comic book spinner racks, as well as featured in a syndicated television show, a daily newspaper comic strip, radio dramas, movie serials, and merchandise.

These stories are generally one-and-done stories; very rarely would a story carry on into the next issue. The writers use a very predictable formula from issue to issue. Kryptonite tended to pop up at least once per issue. Clark Kent would deploy his Superman Robots in order to fool Lois Lane from discovering his secret identity. Jimmy Olsen was constantly stumbling into trouble and using his wrist-watch to contact Superman for help.

This book does introduce many new characters to the Superman mythos that have remained active in some fashion ever since. New villains were added to the rogue’s gallery, such as Brainiac, Metallo, Bizarro, Titano, and Mr. Mxyzptlk. The mermaid Lori Lemaris showed up as one of Superman’s former girlfriends. Most importantly, Superman’s cousin arrives on Earth and quickly dons a matching costume to become Supergirl.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: Silver Age comics may be hard to read. The story contains a lot of plot holes. No concern is given to what happened in the previous issue. With all of that said, this should be a volume to pick up. Given the number of key characters that make their first appearance in these collected issues, it should be part of any Superman fan’s collection.

Footnotes: Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 1 was one of the first Showcase volume published by DC Comics in 2005. This edition was priced at $9.99. All other Showcases have been priced at $14.99 or higher.

During this era, Action Comics was an anthology book, featuring eight-page Superman, Congo Bill, and Tommy Tomorrow stories. Following Supergirl’s debut in Action Comics #252, her stories became a regular feature, replacing the Tommy Tomorrow feature.

Superman #123 and the Supergirl story from Action Comics #252 are also reprinted in Showcase Presents Supergirl Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Steel? This story ran in the final issues of Action Comics and Superman prior to the relaunch of the DC Universe following the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Written by Alan Moore, this ode to the Silver Age Superman stories brought all of Superman’s friends, family, and villains together for a final showdown. This story includes art from Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger, artists that had been associated with the Superman comics for over 30 years.