Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 5

Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 5

First Published: December 2014

Contents: Legion of Super-Heroes stories from Superboy #193 (February 1973), #195 (June 1973), and #197 (September 1973) to #220 (October 1976); and Karate Kid #1 (March 1976)

Key Creator Credits: Cary Bates, Jim Shooter, Paul Levitz, Dave Cockrum, Mike Grell, Ric Estrada, and others

Key First Appearances: Drake Burroughs/ERG-1/Wildfire, Tyr, Hunter, Infectious Lass, Porcupine Pete, Roon Dyron, Chameleon Chief, Sun Emperor, Esper Lass, Magno Lad, Micro Lad, Leland McCauley IV, Tyroc, Diamondeth, Laurel Kent, Earth-Man

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 4

Overview: It’s time to go back to the future with the fifth Showcase Presents volume of the Legion of Super-Heroes. If you have been reading along in real time, it’s been more than four years since DC released Volume 4, so this is a long-overdue return to the teenage heroes of the 30th Century!

With this volume, we see the Legion stories slowly starting to take over the Superboy title. For most of these issues, the title on the cover reads Superboy Starring the Legion of Super-Heroes. Beginning with issue #231. the title officially changes to Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. The takeover is finally completed in issue #259, as the title officially becomes Legion of Super-Heroes. 

While we just get two new Legionnaires added to the roster in this collection (ERG-1, quickly renamed to Wildfire, and Tyroc), we see the supporting cast and ancillary characters start to develop. While some of these may seem like throw-away characters, talented writers such as Paul Levitz and Geoff Johns have been able to mine these stories years later and bring these characters back to prominence. For example, in Superboy #218, Cary Bates introduces a character by the code-name of Earth-Man. We don’t see this character for 30 years before Johns brought him back as the main for during his Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes arc in Action Comics (well worth a read!).

In this volume, we see the end of the Dave Cockrum run with the Legion. Cockrum would leave in late 1974 to head over to Marvel to work on a little book called Uncanny X-Men. Have you heard of it? I thought so…. Cockrum definitely had a particular style with his costumes that he developed for characters, and many people have pointed out the similarities between the Legion for DC and the Imperial Guard at Marvel. (See my review of Essential X-Men Vol. 1 for more details.)

Replacing Cockrum was Mike Grell, whose first published comic book work was these Legion issues. Grell brought a new level of detail to the artwork that had not been seen in Legion stories to date. Following his run on Legion, Grell would do memorable work with Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Jon Sable.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I’ll give you two great reasons why this should be Showcased: Dave Cockrum and Mike Grell. The two artists defined the look of the Legion in the 1970s. Whether it was co-creating new characters, or developing new costumes for the characters, Cockrum and Grell are the key components to the Legion’s success in this era. The story structure remains the same as from previous volumes, but we see the signs that the title is moving towards a more traditional comic with stories carrying over across multiple issues. By all means, pick this up for the art if nothing else. But I think you will enjoy the stories, too.

Footnotes: This volume includes the first issue of the Karate Kid solo series. This series ran bi-monthly for 15 issues, and it has not been reprinted in a collected edition.

If you like this volume, try: the 2011 Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes mini-series from IDW. Written by Chris Roberson, with art by the Moy brothers (Jeff and Philip), the series unites the greatest heroes from the 23rd Century with the greatest heroes of the 31st Century. Most of the senior crew of the Enterprise (Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov) find themselves on a planet where they meet a squad of Legionnaires (Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, and Shadow Lass). After the obligatory skirmish between the two groups, they unite to work together to battle a common set of enemies, Q and Vandal Savage. The main covers for the series were done by Phil Jiminez, but the variant covers were done by legendary artists long associated with the Legion, such as Mike Grell, Keith Giffen, and Steve Lightle, among others. This has been collected as both a hardcover and a trade paperback, so it should be relatively easy to track down a copy. And while this isn’t a perfect story – and most media crossovers are not! – the Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes mini-series is a fun read.

Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 4

worldsfinest4First Published: November 2012

Contents: Superman, Batman, and Robin stories from World’s Finest Comics #174 (March 1968) to #178 (September 1968); #180 (November 1968) to #187 (September 1969); #189 (November 1969) to #196 (September 1970); and #198 (November 1970) to #202 (May 1971)

Key Creator Credits: Cary Bates, Neal Adams, Ross Andru, Mike Esposito, Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan, Robert Kanigher, Bob Haney, Denny O’Neil, Dick Dillin, and others

Key First Appearances: Supernova

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 3

Overview: It’s interesting to compare and contrast Superman and Batman. They often get portrayed as total opposites – one shining brightly in the light of the sun, the other hidden in the shadows of the night. One who has been given powers to rival that of a god, the other just a mortal man who pushes himself to the limits of human performance. But these guys are still so similar, they could be twin brothers from different mothers (both named Martha). They’re orphans that would give up everything to have one more moment with their parents. They both strive to make the world better in their own ways. These are two of the world’s finest heroes, and this is Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 4.

As with the previous volumes, these tend to run as one-and-done stories, with little to no continuity running between issues. We do get a shift in the narrative of the stories as we transition into the Silver Age. Writer Denny O’Neil brings a new approach to the storytelling, mirroring his work in Justice League of America and Batman. The art steps up a notch, too, as artists like Dick Dillin and Ross Andru create a more life-like look at Superman and Batman.

We still get plenty of cameos from all corners of the DC Universe. Whether it’s employees of the Daily Planet or residents of stately Wayne Manor, this title welcomes everyone in. We get multiple appearances by the classic villains such as Luthor and Joker, which is really the reason why we keep reading these stories, truth be told! The one new character introduced is Supernova, a new partner for Superman when Batman decides to work with Green Arrow. Supernova as a character name will surface again over the years, most recently with Booster Gold.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: There are certain titles from both DC and Marvel that should be no-brainer must-own collections in your library. Obviously, the various team-up titles come to mind first, and is it a coincidence that the two DC team-up titles feature Batman and Superman? So obviously you want to include in your collection the team-ups between Batman AND Superman.

The stories in this collection mark the turn from the Silver Age to the Bronze Age. Denny O’Neil and friends bring a more sophisticated approach to the story-telling. We even get a few Superman team-ups sans Batman, including one of the earliest races against the Flash. This is a must-own collection, and probably the best of the four World’s Finest collections.

Footnotes: The stories from World’s Finest Comics #195 and #200 were also reprinted in Showcase Presents Robin Vol. 1.

The story from World’s Finest Comics #176 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batgirl Vol. 1.

World’s Finest Comics #179, #188. and #197 were reprint issues and are not included in this volume.

If you like this volume, try: the Worlds’ Finest series that was part of DC’s New 52 line. Overseen by writer Paul Levitz, Worlds’ Finest (and note the placement of the apostrophe!) tells the tale of Power Girl and Huntress traveling from their home, Earth-2, over to Earth-1 and setting up residence. Stranded from their family, friends, and finances, the costumed heroines must find their way in the new world. This is a great spin on the Superman/Batman dynamic, highlighted by the incredible art from the likes of Kevin Nowlan, George Perez, Scott Kollins, and more. This series is readily available in trade paperbacks, and many of the back issues can still be found in the bins.

 

Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 6

jla6First Published: February 2013

Contents: Justice League of America #107 (September/October 1973) to #132 (July 1976)

Key Creator Credits: Len Wein, Dick Dillin, Elliot S! Maggin, Cary Bates, Gerry Conway, Martin Pasko, and others

Key First Appearances: Freedom Fighters, Libra, Golden Eagle

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 5

Overview: The Justice Leauge is back in their sixth (and sadly last) Showcase Presents volume. The run goes out with a bang, as we get multiple JLA-JSA team-ups, new character introductions, and pivotal moments in DC history.

The volume starts out with the JLA and JSA teaming up on Earth-X, with the introduction of the Freedom Fighters. While the members all date back to the Golden Age, the coming together as the Freedom Fighters on Earth-X was a brand new concept. In this world, Germany won World War II and this group of heroes (Uncle Sam, the Ray, Phantom Lady, the Human Bomb, and Doll Man) is working together to free America. Following this introduction, the Freedom Fighters would move onto their own ongoing title.

This volume gives us the second appearance ever of John Stewart as Green Lantern. Hal Jordan was out of action (he slipped on the soap in the shower and knocked himself out) so the ring went to Stewart to serve in his place. It would be three more years before we see Steward in action again. Also making his first appearance in this volume was Golden Eagle, who would go on to become a member of Teen Titans West.

We get introduced to the villain known as Libra, who’s gimmick is to steal half of a hero’s powers. After his initial appearance here, he was not used again until he came one of the main bad guys in Final Crisis in 2008.

 

While we don’t get any new members in this collection, Red Tornado does modify his appearance into his more traditional look with the stripes. Getting away from the more robotic look was the first step on his journey to becoming more human. And the volume’s most memorable moment came not in battle but with a wedding between the long-time friend of the League Adam Strange and his beloved Alanna.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: This may be my favorite volume in the series, but I will also admit I am biased to these stories. These are some of the first comics I ever read, and Dick Dillin has been my definitive JLA artist for years. The writing duties seem to rotate around between Bates, Maggin, and Conway, but it works here. The stories take on a narrative quality, encouraging the reader to pick up the title each month.

Footnotes: Justice League of America #110 to #116 were 100-page books published bi-monthly. Each issue would feature a new story, a reprint of a prior JLA story, and a reprint of a Golden Age story from a Justice Society member. Only the new stories are included in this book.

If you like this volume, try: the Elseworlds story Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. This story presented a future look at DC Universe, where the characters have aged and the children have taken over roles from their parents. A new generation of heroes has developed, but they don’t hold the same moral views as the prior generation of heroes. So the older heroes, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, must don their costumes again to bring the heroes in line as well as stop yet another scheme from Lex Luthor. This is a brilliant story that almost demands multiple readings to pick up on everything. Heck, you need a second or third reading just to catch all of the Easter Eggs that Ross has left hidden in the backgrounds of every panel. If you have the chance, pick this up as an Absolute that includes the notes detailing who’s who in every panel.

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.

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 going 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 Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 4

Legion4First Published: October 2010

Contents: Legion of Super-Heroes stories from Adventure Comics #369 (June 1968) to #380 (May 1969) and #403 (April 1971); Action Comics #378 (July 1969) to #387 (April 1970) and #389 (June 1970) to #392 (September 1970); and Superboy #172 (March 1971), #173 (April 1971), #176 (July 1971), #183 (March 1972), #184 (April 1972), #188 (July 1972), #190 (September 1972), and #191 (October 1972)

Key Creator Credits: Curt Swan, Jim Shooter, E. Nelson Bridwell, Win Mortimer, Cary Bates, Dave Cockrum, George Tuska, and others

Key First Appearances: Mordru,  Chemical King, Marte Allon, Tornado Twins (Dawn and Don Allen), the Wanderers

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 3

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 5

Overview: Welcome back to the 30th Century! In the future, everyone speaks Interlac, which makes things easier when we are meeting new alien races every other issue. The United Planets is led by President Marte Allon, and security is provided by the Science Police. But for those larger than life threats that occur on a regular basis, there is the Legion of Super-Heroes, a group of teenage heroes with unique powers and abilities.

This is an interesting transition era for our teenage heroes. Jim Shooter brings his legendary run to an end during this era, but not before introducing a few more core characters into the vast Legion universe.

  • Mordru becomes one of the Legion’s main villains – a magician intent on conquering the universe.
  • Chemical King finally joins the team in Adventure Comics #372. We were first introduced to him in Adventure Comics #354, where a memorial room to deceased Legionnaires foretold a death of a Legionnaire that did not even exist yet. finallyWho are the Legion’s most fearsome villains? Find out in this book with the debut of the Fatal Five, the Sun-Eaters, Universo, and the Dominators!
  • We meet the above-mentioned President Allon, who also happens to be the mother of Gim Allon, who we know as Colossal Boy. That connection proves to be both helpful and hurtful for the Legion in the years to come.
  • Timber Wolf officially joins the team after graduating the Legion Academy.
  • The twin children of Barry Allen and Iris West make their first appearance not in the pages of The Flash, but in the 30th Century. And they seem to have inherited their father’s abilities.

There is a lot of action going on here, either in full-length stories or eight-page backup features. Put your Flight Ring on and dive into the future.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I wish I was more behind this book. Don’t get me wrong, I love this book. I think Jim Shooter’s take on the characters is one of the most important runs on the Legion in their 50+ year history. My hesitation for this collection is how the Legion got relegated to backup status in the late 1960s. After a long run of being the lead or sole occupant of Adventure Comics, their run came to an end and the book was given over to Supergirl. After that, the Legion became an eight-page backup feature in Action Comics and Superboy. Now having read ahead, I know that the Legion ends up usurping Superboy’s book, as we will see in the next Showcase Presents volume. But the eight-page stories lead to smaller casts of characters per story, as well as limited character development during this time. If you are a Legion fan, get the book. If you are a casual fan, you may get frustrated by the last 200+ pages of the book. Buyer beware!

Footnotes: Adventures Comics #403 is a giant-size reprint issue, collecting four classic Legion stories. In addition, there is a three-page feature of new costume designs for Legionnaires submitted by readers, and a two-page diagram of the Legion headquarters. Those two features and the cover are included in this collection.

Class is in session at the Legion Academy beginning in Adventures Comics #372.

If you like this volume, try: Legion of Super-Heroes animated series, which aired for two seasons on Saturday mornings from 2006 to 2008. Following parts of the storyline that we all know by now, the founding members of the Legion travel to the 21st century to recruit a young Superman* to travel with them to the future and learn how to become the greatest hero ever. The two seasons each contained 13 episodes, and many familiar stories and characters made appearances. Watching this can be a little bit of a challenge. Both seasons are available on DVD. Season 1 is available for Amazon Prime members to watch for free, but season 2 is only available to purchase by the individual episodes. For those wanting to introduce the Legion to a younger generation, this may be the gateway to the future.

* At the time this show was on the air, there was an ongoing legal dispute between DC and the Jerry Siegel estate over who owned the rights to the Superboy concept. To avoid any conflicts, Clark is always referenced as Superman.

Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 3

worldsfinest3First Published: March 2010

Contents: Superman, Batman, and Robin stories from World’s Finest Comics #146 (December 1964) to #160 (September 1966); #162 (November 1966) to #169 (September 1967); and #171 (November 1967) to #173 (February 1968)

Key Creator Credits: Curt Swan, Edmond Hamilton, George Klein, Sheldon Moldoff, Jim Shooter, Cary Bates, Leo Dorfman, and others

Key First Appearances: Batman Jr., Superman Jr., Bizarro Batman

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 2

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 4

Overview: Sure, there’s a movie coming out next month that is going to pit our two heroes, Superman & Batman, against each other. Anyone can tell a fight story. The real challenge is to tell a story that has the two heroes teaming up to counter some threat that requires both Superman’s brawn and Batman’s brains. And that what we get here with Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 3.

Now as with the previous volumes in this series, these are one-and-done type stories with little to no carry-over from issue to issue. Although not officially a Superman book, this title was overseen by the Superman editor Mort Weisinger, and most of the art is done by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan. So you see a lot of characters pop in from the Superman universe, more so than from the Batman universe.

There is one new concept that would stick around in various forms for the next decade or so. That concept would be Superman Jr. and Batman Jr., the offspring of our featured heroes. In these stories that take place sometime in the future (despite Batman not aging), our stars have married their co-stars (Lois Lane and Kathy Kane, respectively) and started families. With fathers who are also famous super-heroes, it’s only natural that the boys wear identical costumes to their parents, whether they are 3-years-old or 13-years-old. And no kid is ever a perfect angel, so expect these boys to get into trouble – the kind of trouble that would require a super-hero or two to bail them out.

One concept was introduced that we need more of in comics – Bizarro Batman! Again, if you are going to have Batman appearing in a Superman book and facing mostly Superman foes, then it is only natural that a Bizarro Batman makes an appearance. Sadly, he only made a few appearances before fading off into character limbo. But he was around long enough to help Bizzaro create a Bizzaro Justice League. Ponder that thought some while you wait for the next collection!

Why should these stories be Showcased?: It’s Superman and Batman. Seriously, I have to imagine that DC turned some kind of profit on each of the Showcase Presents volumes that involved one of the characters. In fact, I would be entirely happy if DC would only publish future Showcase Presents volumes involving one of these guys (but I know that is not going to happen!). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here – the stories presented in World’s Finest Comics are the best Superman and/or Batman stories from this era (late 1964-early 1968). Yes, Batman was getting better in this time, but I still believe his best appearances are in this run. Take a look at the book and let me know what you think.

Footnotes: The story from World’s Finest Comics #147 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Robin Vol. 1.

The story from World’s Finest Comics #169 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batgirl Vol. 1.

World’s Finest Comics #161 and #170 are reprint issues, and are not included in this volume.

If you like this volume, try: the DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories trade paperbacks released in 2005 and 2010. One of the common types of stories from DC’s Silver Age of comics was the imaginary story. At that time, many of the DC writers and editors were former science-fiction story writers and editors who had made a career out of telling imaginary stories. With an anthology title like Strange Adventures or The House of Mystery, you could tell all kinds of imaginary stories from issue to issue, but it was no big deal.

But when you start trying to tell stories involving Superman or Batman, suddenly these become quite important. Some of these stories would completely contradict the overarching story of the character, so it couldn’t be told. Just imagine what would have happened if Bruce Wayne had been raised by Ma and Pa Kent following the death of his parents?

Other stories would take the characters in such radical directions that it would disrupt the natural one-and-done nature of each comic. What would happen if Lois Lane married Superman? Could they have children? Would they have his powers?

Gradually, as the Silver Age gave way to the Bronze Age, and the next wave of writers, artists, and editors took over the guardianship of the characters, the imaginary stories faded away. Yes, they would be brought back from time to time, even into modern times with many of the works by Grant Morrison or Alan Moore. It’s important to recognize these stories, even if they can be somewhat cheesy. This first trade collects primarily Superman stories, although there are some stories featuring Batman, the Flash, and Captain Marvel. The second trade is strictly Batman stories.