Showcase Presents Showcase Vol. 1

showcaseFirst Published: July 2012

Contents: Showcase #1 (March-April 1956) to #21 (July-August 1959)

Key Creator Credits: Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino, Joe Kubert, Jack Kirby, John Broome, Otto Binder, Ruben Moreira, Al Plastino, Wayne Boring, Jerry Coleman, Dave Wood, Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, Jack Miller

Key First Appearances: Barry Allen/The Flash, Iris West, Challengers of the Unknown (Rocky Davis, Prof Haley, Ace Morgan, Red Ryan, June Robbins), Captain Cold, Mr. Element/Doctor Alchemy, Space Ranger, Cryll, Myra Mason, Adam Strange, Alanna, Sardath, Rip Hunter, Jeff Smith, Bonnie Baxter, Corky Baster

Overview: In 1956, DC introduced a brand new book that helped revolutionize the comic book industry. Following in the footsteps of The Brave and the Bold, the new comic Showcase promised to feature new characters each and every issue, based on the requests from the readers. That last part may have lasted for an issue or two before it quickly became a try-out book for new features and concepts that would become the foundation of the DC Universe.

  • The Flash was the first big character introduced in Showcase, which was a revitalization of the Golden Age Flash concept set in (then) modern times. Barry Allen is a police scientist who was bathed in chemicals during a lightning strike that imbued him with super-speed. The Flash made four appearances in Showcase before moving into his own title, and later becoming a founding member of the Justice League.
  • The Challengers of the Unknown are four adventurers that survive a plane crash and vow to work together now that they are living on borrowed time. The Challengers would have four appearances in Showcase before moving on to their own title.
  • Lois Lane had been a long-time member of the Superman supporting cast, but this was the first time she was featured in her own stories. These two appearances led to her own title, Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane.
  • Adam Strange is a man caught between two worlds, traveling between Earth and the far distant planet Rann. Adam Strange uses his science knowledge to help save Rann from multiple threats. After three appearances in Showcase, Adam Strange would become the lead feature in Mystery in Space.
  • Rip Hunter has built a time bubble which allows him to travel to any era in history. With a team of loyal friends, Rip leveraged four appearances in Showcase to graduate into his own title.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: This is a no-brainer. This is an absolute must read for any comic book historian, just to see the hit after hit coming out every other month in this title. Obviously, most of these issues are reprinted in other volumes, but this is a great collection to sample the early adventures of these heroes without having to buy the five other books.

Who’s Who / Reprinted Elsewhere:
#1 – Fireman Farrell
#2 – Kings of the Wild
#3 – The Frogmen
#4 – The Flash / Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 1
#5 – Manhunters
#6 – Challengers of the Unknown / Showcase Presents Challengers of the Unknown Vol. 1
#7 – Challengers of the Unknown / Showcase Presents Challengers of the Unknown Vol. 1
#8 – The Flash / Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 1
#9 – Lois Lane / Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 1
#10 – Lois Lane / Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 1
#11 – Challengers of the Unknown / Showcase Presents Challengers of the Unknown Vol. 1
#12 – Challengers of the Unknown / Showcase Presents Challengers of the Unknown Vol. 1
#13 – The Flash / Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 1
#14 – The Flash / Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 1
#15 – Space Ranger
#16 – Space Ranger
#17 – Adam Strange / Showcase Presents Adam Strange Vol. 1
#18 – Adam Strange / Showcase Presents Adam Strange Vol. 1
#19 – Adam Strange / Showcase Presents Adam Strange Vol. 1
#20 – Rip Hunter/ Showcase Presents Rip Hunter, Time Master Vol. 1
#21 – Rip Hunter/ Showcase Presents Rip Hunter, Time Master Vol. 1

If you like this volume, try: reading some more stories on Space Ranger, the one main character introduced in this volume that did not earn his own Showcase Presents collection. Track down some old issues of Tales of the Unexpected. From issues #40 (August 1959) to #82 (April-May 1964), the Space Ranger was featured in this book. Following that long run, he became a secondary character that would pop-up in random comics when a DC character needed to encounter a familiar face in deep space.

Showcase Presents Adam Strange Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Adam Strange Vol. 1

First Published: August 2007

Contents: Showcase #17 (November-December 1958) to #19 (March-April 1959), Adam Strange stories from Mystery in Space #53 (August 1959) to #84 (June 1963)

Key Creator Credits: Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, Carmine Infantino

Key First Appearances: Adam Strange, Rann, Alanna, Sardath, Tornado Tyrant, Dust Devil

Overview: Deep in the heart of the Peruvian jungle, archaeologist Adam Strange is struck by a Zeta-Beam, and transported 25 trillion miles across space to the planet Rann. There he meets the lovely Alanna and her father Sardath, and is immediately thrown into a crisis that threatens the planet. Adam Strange steps up to save the day, becoming the hero of the planet. But before he can collect any kind of reward, Adam Strange is teleported back to Earth as the Zeta-Beam wears off, and now must wait three weeks before he can intercept the next Zeta-Beam in order to return to Rann.

Each story follows a basic formula — Adam Strange rushes to a point in the southern hemisphere to intercept the Zeta-Beam, often having to avoid a last second obstacle; once on Rann, he immediately encounters a new danger that threatens his adopted planet, which he valiantly triumphs over; and then finds himself returning to Earth before he has a chance to spend time with Alanna.

As predictable as the story formula may be, these are fun adventures each month. Pure science-fiction from its peak of popularity in the 1950s. Borrowing equal parts of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, Adam Strange becomes a hero using his knowledge of science to overcome a wide variety of alien races.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: There are numerous reasons why I should not like this book. I am not a huge fan of Carmine Infantino’s art style. I find the formulaic stories from this era too predictable. This is more a science-fiction book than a super-hero book. With all of that said, I really loved this Showcase. Adam Strange felt alive and full of energy. Gardner Fox builds a new universe of characters, and creates an ongoing continuity with the storyline, with past stories and characters coming back in later stories.

Footnotes: Adam Strange was the main feature in the Mystery in Space during this era, getting the cover and the lead story position each issue.

The character likeness of Sardath was modeled after DC editor Julie Schwartz, who took great pride in being used as a character in one of his books. Later on in life, Schwartz would issue an autobiography titled “Man of Two Worlds”, which is the tagline used with Adam Strange.

Showcase #17, #18, and #19 are also reprinted in Showcase Presents Showcase Vol. 1.

Mystery in Space #75 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: the first space-travelling hero from Earth, with the John Carter, Warlord of Mars comic series from Marvel Comics published in the late 1970s. For those unfamiliar with John Carter, he was created in 1912 by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Set in the years following the Civil War, Virginian John Carter found himself transported from Earth to Mars, where he attracts the hand of the princess Dejah Thoris while fighting the various warring tribes on Mars. Burroughs’ series of John Carter novels has been adapted in various media, from Big Little Books to motion pictures. My personal favorite adaption is the Marvel series, written primarily by Marv Wolfman and Chris Claremont, and with art by Gil Kane, Dave Cockrum, and Ernie Colon, among others. The entire series takes place between two paragraphs of Burroughs’ first novel A Princess of Mars. This series has been collected twice in recent years — Marvel released an Omnibus volume in 2012, and Dark Horse Comics released their black and white version of an Omnibus in 2011.