Essential Avengers Vol. 9

First Published: September 2013

Contents: Avengers #185 (July 1979) to #206 (April 1981); Avengers Annual #9 (1979); and the Vision story from Tales to Astonish #12 (November 1980)

Key Creator Credits: Steven Grant, Mark Gruenwald, David Michelinie, Jim Shooter, Bill Mantlo, John Byrne, George Pérez, Roger Stern, Carmine Infantino, and others

Key First Appearances: Magda Lehnsherr, Taskmaster

Story Continues From: Essential Avengers Vol. 8

Overview: Did you think that Vol. 8 was incredible? Well, you are in for a special treat because Essential Avengers Vol. 9 reaches all new level of awesomeness. 

The book begins with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch returning to Wundagore Mountain. Being used as pawns for Modred the Mystic, who was controlled himself by the demon Chthon, the rest of the Avengers come running to the rescue. Before it’s over, Wanda learns some more information about her birth mother, Magda, who apparently was married to a magnetic white-haired man who is always causing problems in the X-Men books. That’s going to make for an interesting family reunion in the future.

Once the Avengers finally make it back to the United States, after a quick stop in Russia to fight some deadly elements, the team finds itself finally free of Henry Peter Gyrich and the government restrictions. The first change has the Avengers increasing their numbers, bringing back Hawkeye and Wonder Man among others. Falcon leaves, because he never really fit in with this group and not particularly wanting to be the quota member of the team. Wasp, Yellowjacket, and guest star Ant-Man investigate the Solomon Institute, where they encounter a new villain by the name of Taskmaster. He has photographic reflexes, which allows him to replicate moves or actions from anyone he sees. Armed with a sword, shield, and bow & arrow, he becomes a worthy foe for the mighty Avengers.

We are quickly moving forward to Avengers #200. But before we can get there, the Avengers must stop Red Ronin from destroying New York City. For those not familiar with the giant robot, Red Ronin was designed by S.H.I.E.L.D. to stop Godzilla, so it’s going to take every available Avenger to stop the construct. Well, almost everyone is involved. Everyone except Ms. Marvel, who finds herself on an unplanned maternity leave. But more on that later…

Post issue #200, we finally get the one Avengers story that fans have been clamoring for – a solo Jarvis story. Jarvis takes on a neighborhood bully while visiting his mom, reminding us that he has done a lot more with his life than just serve as a butler to the Stark family. While this is going on, Ultron has returned with plans for world domination and killing his dad, Henry Pym. Some things never change!

What makes this Essential?: I wrote this for my review of Volume 8, and I will write it again: The artwork of George Pérez and John Byrne looks spectacular in black & white. It’s worth the cover price of this book just to see their artwork like this. There are interesting stories which will impact the Marvel Universe for years to come. But the reason to get this book is the art!

I got 200 problems but the cover ain’t one: So about Avengers #200…. There are positives to this book, primarily found with the outstanding art from George Pérez. But the story is a train wreck, perhaps with too many writers trying to tell a story. In issue #197, Carol Danvers a.k.a. Ms. Marvel suddenly finds herself pregnant. Over the next two issues, her pregnancy takes just days, not months, as she quickly comes to full term for issue #200. Carol gives birth to a boy, who is named Marcus. Much like the pregnancy, Marcus rapidly grows to adulthood in just hours, revealing himself to be the son of the long-time (pun intended) foe of the Avengers, Immortus. Marcus was trapped in Limbo following the death of Immortus, and his only way to escape was to be “born” in the world. So he had brought Ms. Marvel to limbo to impregnate her. As if this wasn’t bad enough, once the Avengers stop all of the time issues occurring brought on by Marcus’ equipment, Ms. Marvel volunteers to go back to Limbo with Marcus. The issue ends, and everyone seems OK with everything that has happened, right?

So, this issue gets resolved in Avengers Annual #10, which can be found in Essential Ms. Marvel Vol. 1. The Avengers find out that Ms. Marvel has returned from Limbo, and she has lost her powers to Rogue. When Rogue and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants have been stopped, Carol Danvers gets the chance to unload on the Avengers, who turned a blind eye to the fact that Marcus mind-controlled Carol and raped her with his actions. No one came to her defense. No one thought twice about her returning to Limbo with Marcus. Annual writer Chris Claremont was not happy with issue #200 and used this issue as a way to address, if not repair, the damage previously done.

If you like this volume, try: the Avengers/JLA mini-series from 2003, a joint collaboration between DC Comics and Marvel Comics. The crossover was originally conceived in the late 1970s, to be written by Gerry Conway and art by George Pérez. However, editorial disputes between the two companies shelved the project for nearly 20 years. When the new project was introduced, it was then Avengers writer Kurt Busiek attached the project, and Pérez was brought back for the pencils, as he had a clause in his Crossgen-exclusive contract which allowed him to do this project if it ever came to fruition. In this new series, Krona and the Grandmaster challenge each other to a wager, using the Avengers and the Justice League as their pawns. As with any crossover of this magnitude, the teams travel to the other characters’ universes, and the typical match-ups between similar characters (Flash/Quicksilver, Green Arrow/Hawkeye) live up to every fanboy’s dream. For me, as a life-long reader of each title, this is a must read if you are a fan of the Silver Age and/or Bronze Age runs of both the Avengers and the Justice League of America.

Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 4

flash4First Published: October 2012

Contents: The Flash #162 (June 1966) to #184 (December 1968)

Key Creator Credits: John Broome, Carmine Infantino, Gardner Fox, Ross Andru, Frank Robbins, Cary Bates, and others

Key First Appearances: Julie Schwartz

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 3

Overview: DC Comics published 124 Showcase Presents volumes over the last 10+ years. These volumes covered much of the Silver Age and Bronze Age covering all aspects of the DC Universe. If I had to narrow down my reading adventures to just one volume that best represents the potential of DC Comics, it would be this volume, which has a little bit of everything in the collection. This is Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 4.

On the surface, this is a fast-paced (pun intended) superhero comic book. You have a true hero, in and out of the red tights, who fights a never-ending battle against a colorful assortment of costumed villains. But The Flash goes beyond the superhero concept. This is a great science fiction title, as the title hero can travel between dimensions. As always, the stories are filled with science facts, making it a learning tool for the reader. Finally, this may be a stretch, but the romance between Barry and Iris is true and would match up to the stories found in Young Love.

This volume contains so many memorable moments that helped shape the DC Universe. We get the wedding of Barry and Iris, which is nearly interrupted by Professor Zoom. We get one of the earliest races between the Flash and Superman, trying to determine who the fastest man alive is. Another Earth is visited, and we finally see a face to go with a familiar name from the credits page. As always, there are some Kid Flash short stories, we get a crossover appearance by Green Lantern, and so much more.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I really like how this title was always moving forward when other titles were happy maintaining the status quo. This volume sees Barry and Iris finally tie the not, and Barry reveals his secret identity to his wife. Over in the Superman books, a Superman-Lois marriage would only be considered as an imaginary story. I do like these stories, even following the shake-up in the mid-1960s when Broome, Fox and Infantino left the title. Newcomer Cary Bates would have a long run with the Flash’s friends and foes.

Welcome to Earth-Prime!: The Flash comic helped re-introduce the Justice Society characters as still alive and well, but living in an alternate world designated as Earth-2. In issue #179, we are introduced to a new world that would become known as Earth-Prime. On this world, there are no superheroes. In fact, superheroes are only found in the comic books. The Flash travels to New York City to meet DC Comics Editor Julie Schwartz, who is the one person on this Earth most likely to believe the Flash’s story and help him return to Earth-1.

Footnotes: The Flash #169 and #178 are reprint issues. The covers are included in this collection.

If you like this volume, try: the Superman vs. The Flash trade paperback collection from 2005. DC fans for years had debated over which hero is the fastest man alive, Superman or the Flash. Beginning in 1967, we saw a pair of races in each of the characters’ main titles (Superman #199 and The Flash #175). Neither race was conclusive, so it led to future races across multiple books. This trade collects many of those race stories from the Silver and Bronze Ages. The book sports a spectacular Alex Ross cover. So want to know who is faster? Read this trade and find out for yourself.

Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 4

Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 4

First Published: February 2013

Contents: Marvel Team-Up #76 (December 1978) to #78 (February 1979), and #80 (April 1979) to #98 (October 1980), and Marvel Team-Up Annual #2 (1979) and #3 (1980).

Key Creator Credits: Chris Claremont, Steven Grant, Mike Vosburg, Sal Buscema, Carmine Infantino

Key First Appearances: Cutthroat, Mister Fear, Dansen Macabre, Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird, Alexi Vazhin

Story Continues From: Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 3

Overview: Living in New York City, Spider-Man has the opportunity to cross paths with many different heroes from all corners of the Marvel Universe. A casual stroll through Greenwich Village usually prompts an encounter with the mystical Dr. Strange. Being sent on a photo shoot for the Daily Globe allows Peter to meet up with the Invisible Girl. And you just never know when Howard the Duck might drive his cab from Cleveland to Manhattan.

While references are made to ongoing events in Spider-Man’s other monthly books, these stories usually follow the one-and-done format, giving the reader a complete story within the 20-plus pages per issue. These stories also tend to be more lighthearted, giving into the absurdity that brings some of these team-ups together.

What makes this Essential?: The team-up books, such as this or Marvel Two-in-One, are a good way to read a particular character, be exposed to a variety of other characters, and not get bogged down in continuity from the main character’s books (usually). While mostly one-and-done stories, there are a couple of mini-story arcs (#76, #77, #80, #81; and #82-#85) that make for more interesting stories. While this is not a must-read volume to understand Peter Parker, this is a friendly  way to introduce a new reader to the world of Spider-Man.

Footnotes: Marvel Team-Up #79 is not included in this Essential volume. That issue teamed Spider-Man up with Red Sonja. Marvel no longer holds the rights to publish Red Sonja, so it could not be included in this Essential.

Who’s Who / Reprinted Elsewhere:
#76 – Spider-Man & Dr. Strange
#77 – Spider-Man & Ms. Marvel
#78 – Spider-Man & Wonder Man
#80 – Spider-Man & Dr. Strange and Clea / Essential Marvel Horror Vol. 1
#81 – Spider-Man & Satana / Essential Marvel Horror Vol. 1
#82 – Spider-Man & Black Widow
#83 – Spider-Man & Nick Fury
#84 – Spider-Man & Master of Kung Fu
#85 – Spider-Man & Shang-Chi, Black Widow, and Nick Fury
#86 – Spider-Man & Guardians of the Galaxy
#87 – Spider-Man & Black Panther
#88 – Spider-Man & Invisible Girl
#89 – Spider-Man & Nightcrawler
#90 – Spider-Man & Beast
#91 – Spider-Man & Ghost Rider
#92 – Spider-Man & Hawkeye
#93 – Spider-Man & Werewolf
#94 – Spider-Man & Shroud
#95 – Spider-Man & Mockingbird
#96 – Spider-Man & Howard the Duck
#97 – Hulk & Spider-Woman / Essential Spider-Woman Vol. 2
#98 – Spider-Man & Black Widow
Annual #2 – Spider-Man & Hulk
Annual #3 – Hulk & Power Man, Iron Fist, and Machine Man

If you like this volume, try: the first Hawkeye mini-series from 1983. We see Hawkeye in Marvel Team-Up #92 working as the security chief for Cross Technological Enterprises (CTE). Hawkeye would work for CTE during his many leaves of absence from the Avengers. The mini-series brings the CTE storyline to a conclusion, as Hawkeye discovers that the cousin of CTE’s CEO is the villain Crossfire, who is hatching a plan to destroy all superheroes. Working with former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Mockingbird (first introduced in Marvel Team-Up #95), Hawkeye stops Crossfire’s plan. The series ends with Hawkeye and Mockingbird getting married. This series has been collected in a trade paperback and as a Marvel Premiere edition.

Showcase Presents The Trial of the Flash

Showcase Presents The Trial of the Flash

First Published: August 2011

Contents: The Flash #323 (July 1983) to #327 (November 1983), #329 (January 1984) to #336 (August 1984), and #340 (December 1984) to #350 (October 1985)

Key Creator Credits: Cary Bates and Carmine Infantino

Key First Appearances: Anton Harvey, Peter Farley, Nicholis Redik, Cecile Horton, Big Sur*, Nathan Newbury

Overview: Things never seem to go right for Barry Allen, a.k.a. the Flash. Years ago, Barry’s wife Iris West Allen was murdered by Professor Zoom, a longtime Flash foe. It took several years, but Barry finally overcame the loss of Iris, and found a new woman, Fiona Webb, that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. On the day Barry and Fiona were to be married, Professor Zoom returned. Caught up in a worldwide chase, the Flash had to stop Professor Zoom from attempting to kill Fiona in the same way that he had killed Iris. In the fight, Flash ended up snapping Professor Zoom’s neck, killing him instantly.

In comes Anton Harvey, the Central City District Attorney looking to make a name for himself. He files murder charges against the Flash and has the hero arrested. The Flash is forced to abandon his Barry Allen identity, leading to a subplot of the police looking for their missing lab scientist.

As the case progresses, the Flash must still stop his infamous Rogue’s Gallery, who are trying to take advantage of a defenseless Central City while the Flash sits in court each day. In one battle with Big Sur, the Flash’s face is badly injured. He uses the last of his stamina to run to the hidden Gorilla City, where the advanced medical techniques not only heal Flash but give him a new face so he can start over someday with a new identity. This, of course, backfires on the Flash, as his defense attorney Cecile Horton had deduced that her client and Barry Allen are the same person, and unmasks the Flash in court trying to show that the Flash had reason to act as he did when saving Fiona Webb from Professor Zoom.

Eventually, the trial goes to the jury, which is tampered with by Abra Kadabra posing as a still living Professor Zoom. Eventually, the Flash is acquitted of all charges and disappears to live peacefully in the future with the first love of his life, Iris. At least until the next crisis occurs!

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I was honestly surprised by this volume. I have said numerous times that I am not a fan of Carmine Infantino’s art style. As he matured, his figures were less rounded and more angular in design. But with his return to the Flash title in this collection, it’s like he found a fountain of youth, perhaps inspired by working on the title he was most identified with from his career. The page layouts are truly intriguing, as he tries to avoid the traditional 4-, 6-, or 9-panel format for his pages. Panel order went left to right, or up to down, or diagonally across the page, making the story seem in constant motion on each page. I was very impressed with the art, and this Showcase should be given a look just for these layouts. The story was interesting but seemed to drag along until the final 11 issues. This was a nice wrap-up to the Barry Allen storyline in the DC Universe.

Footnotes: OK, I am getting on my soapbox here, so bear with me. This volume leaves out four issues during this run from #323 to #350. Flash #328 reprints Flash #165, which was the wedding issue of Barry Allen and Iris West. (This issue is reprinted in Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 4 if you want to give it a read.) While I can forgive leaving this issue out, DC should have at least included the cover to #328, as that was all new. Now, the bigger crime comes with the exclusion of Flash #337 to #339, with no explanation given to why they were omitted. These are key issues in this storyline, as Big Sur is introduced and we are shown why attorney Cecile Horton hates the Flash so much. In reading online forums, the general conclusion is these issues were omitted for page considerations, to keep the volume under the 600-page mark. Mind you, DC released Showcase Presents Booster Gold in 2008 at 624 pages; released Showcase Presents The Spectre in 2012 at 616 pages; and released Showcase Presents Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld in 2012 at 648 pages. This Flash volume came in at 592 pages, so there was at least some wiggle room to include at least one more story based on the Booster Gold precedent, and there were no concerns the following year with the Spectre and Amethyst volumes.

If you like this volume, try: the trade paperback collection of Flash: The Return of Barry Allen, by Mark Waid and Greg LaRocque. This collects issues #74 to #79 of the second Flash series, this one focused on Wally West as the Flash. Following the events of Crisis, Barry Allen had died and Wally had taken over the Flash identity. But in this story from 1993, a certain blonde-haired speedster shows up on Christmas Eve and throws everyone for a loop. Mark Waid had been on the Flash title for a year at this time, but this story line helped gain a lot of new eyes on the title. This is an excellent story worth your time to track down.

Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 3

showcase_presents_flash_volume_3First Published: August 2009

Contents: The Flash #141 (December 1963) to #161 (May 1966)

Key Creator Credits: John Broome, Carmine Infantino, Gardner Fox, Joe Giella, Murphy Anderson, and others

Key First Appearances: Paul Gambi, T.O. Morrow

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 2

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 4

Overview: The fastest man alive is back with another collection of his Silver Age adventures. Most of the title-building has been done in the first two volumes, so this volume continues on with what has been previously established, with incremental additions to the ongoing story. Welcome to Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 3.

As was common in this era at DC Comics, most issues feature two stories, although there is the occasional full-length story to be found. The Flash’s various Rogues rotate in and out from issue to issue, finding new ways to challenge him each time. We still get plenty of situations with fiancé Iris West complaining about how slow Barry is always, a still-ironic plot point in a book about a man who runs really fast. Barry’s circle of friends is still in place, with frequent appearances from Kid Flash, the Jay Garrick Flash, and Green Lantern. The Flash even has a team-up with Doctor Mid-Nite from Earth-2.

There are two notable additions to the DC Universe in this volume. The first is the introduction of the villain T.O. Morrow, an inventor and scientist. He has often gone up against the Justice League and Justice Society and is most known for creating the android Red Tornado. The other introduction found in this volume is Paul Gambi, a tailor in Central City. While mostly forgettable, he becomes to the tailor for all of the villains working in the city, repairing or replacing their costumes following a defeat at the hands of the Flash. Having all of the villains getting their costumes in one place brought the group together in The Flash #155, and led to the formation of the Rogues Gallery.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: The Flash ranks near the top of my list of favorite Silver Age titles from DC Comics. The stories generally hold up; the situations that set-up the stories maybe aren’t as believable, but they aren’t as absurd as those in other titles in this era. We have a rotating team of Broome, Infantino, and Fox that build a near seamless universe for Barry Allen and company. Kid Flash graduates into his own re-occurring feature, in a time when Robin was not. This is a solid collection of the era and should be part of your library with the increased popularity of the Flash in current media.

Footnotes: The Flash #160 is a reprint issue. The cover is included in this collection.

If you like this volume, watch: The Flash tv show on the CW, which began in the fall of 2014. Sure, this seems like a no-brainer pick, but I think there may still be a few hold-outs among you. Anyway, building on the success of the Arrow tv show, executives worked out a way to bring the Scarlet Speedster back to primetime. Grant Gustin plays Barry Allen, handling the role like he was born to play it. The best part of this show is that it borrows elements from so many different eras in the Flash’s history. The show uses parts of the original Silver Age origin from Showcase #4, as well as the revised origin from Geoff Johns in the 2000s. We have many of the supporting characters, such as Iris West, Jay Garrick, and the Rogues Gallery. There are even nods to the 1990s Flash show, with the inclusion of John Wesley Shipp and Mark Hamill. This is a family-friendly show that I enjoy watching with my kids each week.

Showcase Presents Strange Adventures Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Strange Adventures Vol. 1

First Published: December 2008

Contents: Strange Adventures #54 (March 1955) to #73 (October 1956)

Key Creator Credits: John Broome, Otto Binder, Edmond Hamilton, Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Bill Finger, Sid Greene, Joe Samachson, Gardner Fox, and others

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Strange Adventures Vol. 2

Overview: Who wants to go on an adventure today? Specifically, a Strange Adventure? Tighten your belt, grab a hat, and let’s see where the Showcase Presents Strange Adventures Vol. 1 takes us!

Let’s start with a quick explanation about Strange Adventures. This was an anthology title started in 1950, and would feature four 6-page stories. The themes of the stories were all sci-fi in nature, whether it aliens looking to take over or destroy the Earth, or mind transference between man and gorilla. A story might feature a character gaining temporary powers, which he would then use to solve whatever problem society was dealing with at the moment. There is no continuity between the stories, so these can be read in any order.

What’s great about this collection is the legendary comic talent doing some of their earliest work for DC Comics. Whether it writers like John Broome, Edmond Hamilton, or Gardner Fox, or artists like Carmine Infantino, Bill Finger, and Gil Kane, these are all names that could be on a Mount Rushmore of DC creators.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: Strange Adventures as a title ran for 24 years, going from 1950 to 1973. So historically, this is an important part of DC’s history. During it’s run, characters such as Captain Comet, Immortal Man, Animal Man and Deadman would make their debut in this title — but not in any issues collected here. These are interesting tales if you are fans of the 1950s sci-fi stories. And yes, there are enough stories featuring gorillas to make me take a look. But for the casual fan, this may not be the best book. I struggled to finish this volume. Not because the stories were bad. They were just not that interesting to me.

Turning Gold Into Silver: Comic fans love a great debate. Whether it’s simple topics like Betty or Veronica, or more complex query like which character is the strongest. Even away from the comic characters, we tend to argue a lot about the eras of the comics. I’m talking the Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, and so on. Does the Golden Age start with Action Comics #1, or does it begin with the very first comics? When did we move from the Silver Age to the Bronze Age? Those are debates for other forums. I have discussed that the generally accepted starting point for the Silver Age is Showcase #4, which featured the debut of the Barry Allen Flash. That issue had a cover date of October 1956. Now scroll back up to the top of the post, and you’ll see the final issue in this collection, Strange Adventures #73, also had a cover date of October 1956. So, in my opinion, you could make the case that this Showcase Presents Strange Adventures Vol. 1 could be a collection of Golden Age comics. Admittedly, there is not much difference between issues #73 and #74, so it was more of a rolling transition into a new era of comics.

If you like this volume, try: the JSA: Strange Adventures mini-issue series from DC Comics from 2005. This has been collected as a trade paperback. Written by science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson and art by Barry Kitson, the story is set firmly in the Golden Age era of World War II. Johnny Thunder decides to try writing stories for the popular science-fiction magazines of the time, by scripting stories about the Justice Society members fighting against monsters and aliens. At the same time, a new villain appears on the scene in Lord Dynamo, and it takes the entire line-up of the JSA to defeat this new threat. This really is a great homage to so many elements – whether it’s the type of stories from the Golden Age, or the fact that so many of DC Comics Silver Age writers came from the sci-fi magazines of the 1940s (Julie Schwartz, Gardner Fox, etc.).

Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 2

Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 2

First Published: June 2008

Contents: The Flash #120 (May 1961) to #140 (November 1963)

Key Creator Credits: John Broome, Carmine Infantino, Joe Giella, Murphy Anderson, and others

Key First Appearances: the Top, Henry Allen, Nora Allen, Abra Kadabra, Professor Ira West, Dexter Myles, Professor Zoom/Reverse Flash, Heat Wave

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 1

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 3

Overview: Moving like a bolt of lightning, Barry Allen protects Central City as the fastest man alive, the Flash! With one of the most intriguing rogues gallery of any hero, the Flash fights colorful foes on his Earth as well as other Earths! What, other Earths you ask? Yes, sit back and enjoy this read, as we will be crossing dimensions to other earths. Welcome to Showcase Presents The Flash Vol. 2.

Picking up where we left things off with the last collection, the Flash still has to face off each month against the likes of Captain Boomerang, Gorilla Grodd, and the Mirror Master. But lets add some more names to his growing list of foes. The Top gives the Flash someone that can fight him with similar speeds; Heat Wave serves as a counterpart (and partner) to Captain Cold; and Abra Kadabra uses future science to become a modern day magician and thief. But the Flash’s greatest threat zooms into the picture as the Reverse Flash (a.k.a. Professor Zoom), an evil doppelganger to Barry Allen. Thankfully, Barry still gets some help from the Elongated Man and Kid Flash, who is sporting a new yellow costume which is totally lost on those of us reading these in the black & white Showcase Presents editions.

But the most important comic in this volume (and perhaps the most important comic published by DC Comics since Showcase #4) is The Flash #123. Barry Allen finds out that if he vibrates his body at a certain frequency, he can cross over to a parallel earth. Instead of being in Central City, the Flash finds himself in Keystone City, home to his favorite comic book hero, the Jay Garrick Flash. Locating his idol up in a phone book, Barry arrives on the Garrick doorstep and comes face to face with the Golden Age Flash. Barry appearance encourages Jay to dust off his helmet and get back into his fighting togs, and we now have Flashs on two Earths. Jay Garrick would appear in multiple issues, including a team-up with Barry where they rescue Jay’s teammates from the Justice Society of America. Though it is not named until Justice League of America #21, this is Earth-Two, and a new continuity is born in DC Comics.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: This is a must own volume, in my humble opinion. As entertaining as the Flash stories are during this period, the historical importance of Gardner Fox re-introducing Jay Garrick and subsequently the Justice Society had a huge impact on DC Comics. Fox started developing a continuity to the stories that had been superficial at best with the publisher in years past. The work started here became the framework for uniting the various DC comics into one shared universe.

Footnotes: The Elongated Man stories from The Flash #124, #130, #134, and #138 are also reprinted in Showcase Presents Elongated Man Vol. 1.

While Joan Williams had been the steady girlfriend of Jay Garrick in the 1940s and 1950s, it was their appearance in The Flash #123 where we learned that the two had finally gotten married and settled down into a nice house in the suburbs.

If you like this volume, try: tracking down the Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups trade paperbacks from 2005 and 2007. With the success of the Jay Garrick Flash appearing with Barry Allen, the DC Universe books from Gardner Fox started teaming up the Silver Age characters with their Golden Age counterparts. Alan Scott appeared with Hal Jordan in the pages of Green Lantern, and Al Pratt teamed with Ray Palmer in The Atom. Other books featured Justice Society characters, such as Doctor Fate & Hourman or Starman & Black Canary teaming up in the pages of The Brave and the Bold before it became a Batman team-up title. While some of these issues can be found in other Showcase Presents Volumes, these two trades are a handy resource to put all of the these issues in two collections.