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 Super Friends! Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Super Friends! Vol. 1

First Published: May 2014

Contents: Super Friends #1 (November 1976) to #24 (September 1979)

Key Creator Credits: E. Nelson Bridwell, Ric Estrada, Ramona Fradon, Kurt Schaffenberger, Denny O’Neil (as Sergius O’Shaughnessy), and others

Key First Appearances: Wendy Harris, Wonderdog, Jayna, Zan, Gleek, Bushmaster, Jack O’Lantern, Rising Sun, Thunderlord, Icemaiden, Little Mermaid, Olympian, Tasmanian Devil, Doctor Mist

Overview: In the Great Hall of the Justice League, there are assembled the world’s four greatest heroes created from the cosmic legends of the universe! Superman! Wonder Woman! Batman! Aquaman! And the three Junior Super Friends, Wendy, Marvin, and Wonderdog! Their mission: To fight injustice, to right that which is wrong, and to serve all mankind!

Super Friends! was launched to capitalize on the growing popularity of the Saturday morning cartoon on ABC. We get the core members of the Justice League training the next generation of heroes. The first group, featuring Wendy, Marvin, and Wonderdog, quickly graduated in order to make room for the next class, featuring the Wonder Twins and their space monkey Gleek.

White there are a few multi-part stories, most of these are self-contained stories that provide a fun adventure in 17 pages. Plenty of cameos abounds in these stories, where it was a guest appearance by other characters or even references to other companies. In issue #5, the Super Friends host a telethon to raise funds for United Charities. At one point, Anthony Stark calls in from New York City to pledge $75,000. Not to be outdone by a marvelous contribution, Batman slips away so that Bruce Wayne can call in and pledge $100,000.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: Absolutely, this series should be featured in a Showcase Presents. I hope that DC gets a Volume 2 onto their schedule soon to wrap up the second half of the series. This is a fun all-ages book that serves as a good introduction to the DC Universe, without having to know all of the backstories of the various characters. With Ramona Fradon doing most of the art, we are reminded of how diverse her skills were, to adapt the animated style of the show two decades before the “animated style” became trendy with the Batman: The Animated Series books. This is one Showcase volume that I am already looking forward to re-reading sometime soon.

Footnotes: So the big question remains: are these stories in continuity on Earth-1. If you asked E. Nelson Bridwell, he most definitely said yes. Throughout the series, references were made to other events going on in the DC Universe, such as Batman’s break-up with Silver St. Cloud. While the Hall of Justice was used as a training center for the Junior Super Friends, they often had to go to the Justice League satellite orbiting 22,300 miles above Earth. Many other JLA members (Flash, Hawkgirl, Green Arrow, Elongated Man, etc.) make appearances in the book, wearing their costumes of that era. Many of the world-wide characters introduced were later be united in the Global Guardians. Bridwell wrote the series to be a part of the DC Universe but aimed at a younger audience than most DC books of the time. 

If you like this volume, try: tracking down issues of the Justice League Adventures (2002-2004) and Justice League Unlimited (2004-2008). Following the success of the animated Batman and Superman series of the 1990s, Cartoon Network launched an animated Justice League series in 2001. To support that project, DC launched a “Johnny DC” book, using the animated style used in the cartoon. Admittedly, many people do not give the Johnny DC books the time of day, viewing them only as the “kids” books. But there are some very good issues in these runs, featuring stories by Dan Slott, Adam Beechen, Mike W. Barr, and many other veteran creators. As innovative as the CN show was, consider these an extension of the show, telling the stories that they didn’t have time to tell.

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 Spider-Man Vol. 10

spiderman10First Published: June 2011

Contents: Amazing Spider-Man #211 (December 1980) to #230 (July 1982); and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15 (1981)

Key Creator Credits: Denny O’Neil, Roger Stern, John Romita Jr., Frank Miller, and others

Key First Appearances: Hydro-Man

Story Continues From: Essential Spider-Man Vol. 9

Story Continues In: Essential Spider-Man Vol. 11

Overview: It’s AMAZING to think that by the time this volume finishes, Peter Parker will be entering his twentieth year slinging webs around New York City. He’s come a long way since his humble beginnings as a novelty character in the final issue of a monster comic, Spider-Man has become one of the most recognizable characters in all of the comics. This is Essential Spider-Man Vol. 10.

The adventures in this collection are overseen by three key players. Veteran writers Denny O’Neil and Roger Stern oversee the majority of the tales in this book, while (then) young artist John Romita Jr. becomes the regular artist on Amazing Spider-Man, following in his dad’s footsteps. These issues are fairly typical of the time, usually one-and-done stories. We do get the occasional appearance from some up-and-coming stars such as Moon Knight and the Punisher.

One new character is introduced in this volume with the creation of Hydro-Man. Given that one of Spider-Man’s long-time foes is Sandman, it’s surprising that it took nearly 20 years to get a Hydro-Man. Thankfully for Peter, he gets some help early on from the Sub-Mariner with taking down the new villain. It won’t be the last that we see of Hydro-Man, and he will often be partnered with the aforementioned Sandman.

The volume wraps up with one of the most memorable Spider-Man stories from the 1980s. Spider-Man goes one-on-one with the Juggernaut, who is on the hunt for Madame Web. She reaches out to Peter for protection, guiding him along the Juggernaut’s path in an attempt to stop him, if not just slow him down until other help can arrive. But there is no one else – the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and even Doctor Strange are all unavailable. Spider-Man finally brings the Juggernaut to a halt at a construction project. Peter launches a tanker truck full of gasoline into the Juggernaut, causing a horrific explosion and making him angrier. So angry, in fact, that the Juggernaut does not notice that he is being led directly into a freshly poured foundation of wet cement. The Juggernaut’s weight sinks him to the bottom of the foundation, where he remains trapped — for now!

What makes this Essential?: This is a very good book. I don’t know if it is Essential, other than the final two issues collected in it, but these issues are worth reading. You don’t have to be reading Peter Parker or Marvel Team-Up in order to keep up with what is going on in Peter Parker’s life. John Romita Jr. does most of the art in the collection, cementing his place on the list of definitive Spider-Man artists. Roger Stern scripts some brilliant stories. I really feel like it is this period when Spider-Man is finally viewed, and treated, as an adult.

Footnotes: Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15 was also reprinted in Essential Punisher Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends TV cartoon series from 1981-1983. You’ll see this show advertised on the front of Amazing Spider-Man #223, as well as all of the other Marvel books that month. This show teamed up Spider-Man with college friends Iceman and Firestar. (Firestar was an original character created for the TV series to serve as an opposite to Iceman. She was later brought into the Marvel universe properly with her own mini-series and appearances in New Mutants.) This show debuted right as I was really getting into comics, so it holds a special memory in my heart. What I loved about this series was that they used so many Marvel characters, even those outside the Spider-Man universe of that era. This was the first time we saw X-Men in an animated series – yes, this is the infamous cartoon that gave Wolverine an Aussie accent. We also got Captain America, Doctor Strange, Doctor Doom, Shanna the She-Devil, the Black Knight and more. The second and third seasons only added three episodes each, so the first season was repeated a lot during this time period. It may pale in comparison in today’s world to so much of the animation that has come out since then, but it was still better than many of the other Saturday morning offerings during this time.

Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 5

greenlantern5First Published: April 2011

Contents: Green Lantern #76 (April 1970) to #87 (December 1971-January 1972) and #89 (April-May 1972); and Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories from The Flash #217 (August-September 1972) to #221 (April-May 1973), #223 (September-October 1973), #224 (November-December 1973), #226 (March-April 1974) to #228 (July-August 1974), #230 (November-December 1974), #231 (January-February 1975), #233 (May 1975), #234 (June 1975), #237 (November 1975), #238 (December 1975), #240 (March 1976) to #243 (August 1976), #245 (November 1976), and #246 (January 1977)

Key Creator Credits: Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, Dick Dillin, Dick Giordano, Mike Grell, and others

Key First Appearances: Appa Ali Apsa, John Stewart, Itty, Jason Woodrue/Floronic Man

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 4 and Showcase Presents Green Arrow Vol. 1

Overview: In early 1970, the Green Lantern title was given over to the next generation of comic book creators: Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. O’Neal had been writing comics for a few years and was already the writer for Justice League of America and Detective Comics. Adams had been doing a lot of work in the Superman titles and had just recently finished a memorable run with Roy Thomas on the Uncanny X-Men. Together, the two joined together on what has become one of the most important story arcs in the history of comics. This is Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 5.

The first move made was to bring in Green Arrow as a partner, providing a voice for social commentary within the title. Green Lantern finds himself in the doghouse with the Guardians for not heeding orders. Green Arrow challenges the Guardians, as they are losing sight of who or what they need to be doing in their role. The Guardians send one of their own, Appa Ali Apsa, to join Hal and Ollie on Earth. The three load up into a beat-up pickup truck, and head out on the road to discover America, starting off the “Hard-Travelin’ Heroes’ storyline. Along the way, Black Canary joins the guys on their adventures.

Along their journey, the heroes find a lot about America that they don’t like. The stories in this run deal with race relations, pollution, overpopulation, drugs, big government and more. While O’Neil was doing some similar type stories in the Justice League book, he was able to get into the details of the issues, using Green Lantern and Green Arrow to take opposing sides of the various arguments.

The most memorable story in this era is a two-part arc in issues #85 and #86. The heroes are discovering that drugs are becoming an epidemic across the country. They take a rather noble stand, viewing themselves as above the problem, only to discover that Green Arrow’s former sidekick, Speedy, has become a junkie. The heroes are able to get Speedy the help he needs, and they realize that the problem with drugs is not limited to one’s race, gender, or income.

The next issue features the introduction of John Stewart into the Green Lantern mythos. Hal Jordan’s backup on Earth, Guy Gardner, is severely injured, and Appa uses his powers to find a new backup. The ring takes them to Stewart, a young black architect who has a different view on the world. He agrees to serve as a backup but is rarely used again until the mid-1980s, when Hal Jordan stepped away from the Corps prior to Crisis.

Sadly, the sales for Green Lantern were struggling, and the book came to an end. The final parts of the Green Lantern/Green Arrow story were finished up as a backup in The Flash. Beginning with the story in The Flash #220, Green Lantern goes back to being a solo act and officially rejoins the Green Lantern Corps with the full use of his ring.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: Do I really need to tell you why these stories should be showcased? If there is any question in your mind, you should just go lay down for awhile and let that feeling pass. The O’Neil-Adams run collected here are some of the most powerful stories ever told, and they highlight the potential for comics to be tools for social change. I honestly believe that Neal Adams work shines brighter in black and white, giving you the opportunity to really study his art. This is a must-own arc that should be in every collection. I would not fault you in the least if you prefer to have this in color, or in a hardcover or absolute collection. Just make sure you have this in some form in your library.

Footnotes: Green Lantern #88 is a reprint issue, although it does contain a previously unpublished Alan Scott story.

Due to declining sales, the Green Lantern title came to an end with issue #89, and the Green Lantern/Green Arrow storyline became a backup feature in The Flash. However, DC brought back the Green Lantern title during the DC Explosion of the mid-1970s, picking up the numbering with #90. There was a brief four-month window where Green Lantern was featured in both the Green Lantern title and as a backup in The Flash.

If you like this volume, try: the Blackest Night story from 2009. This could very well be Geoff Johns’ best Green Lantern story, and definitely the most impactful story that he oversaw at DC to date. Johns takes the concept of the colored rings wielded by the likes of the Green Lanterns, Sinestro, and Star Sapphire, and develops entire new lines of Lanterns with red, orange, blue, indigo and even black lantern rings. Only those black lantern rings are going out to long-dead heroes and villains, raising them from the grave to seek out and kill the Green Lanterns. This story took over DC Comics throughout that year, with mini-series and crossovers to go along with the main series being told in Green Lantern and the Blackest Night mini-series. This has been collected multiple times, as a trade paperback, hardcover, and absolute. You should have no troubles tracking down this story.

Showcase Presents DC Comics Presents: The Superman Team-Ups Vol. 1

ddcp_superman_1First Published: November 2009

Contents: DC Comics Presents #1 (July-August 1978) to  #26 (October 1980)

Key Creator Credits: Martin Pasko, Len Wein, Gerry Conway, Paul Levitz, Steve Englehart, Denny O’Neil, Cary Bates, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Murphy Anderson, Dick Dillin, Joe Staton, and others

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents DC Comics Presents: The Superman Team-Ups Vol. 2

Overview: Comics, like any other medium, loves to duplicate a success. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so I’ve been told. If Company A has a character selling well, then Company B will create a similar character. (Or in more modern times, if Company A has a best-selling character in one book, then that character will soon be featured in two or more books.)

So it should come as no surprise in the late 1970s that DC Comics introduced DC Comics Presents, a team-up book that would be anchored by Superman. DC had found success by focusing on Batman in the pages of The Brave and the Bold. Heck, World’s Finest Comics was a Batman-Superman team-up book. Over at the distinguished competition, Marvel doubled it up with two team-up books featuring Spider-Man (primarily) and the Thing. I guess the only question to ask here would be why it took DC so long to get this book started? While I haven’t found a definitive answer to that, I’m sure that the then upcoming release of Superman: The Movie might have prompted DC to get another Superman title on the newsstands.

DC Comics Presents brought in a lot of the creative talent that helped shape DC Comics in the 1970s. The title found a cast of regular co-hosts (mostly fellow members of the Justice League) that would cycle in and out frequently over the course of the run of the book. Perhaps in a nod to the quirky stories Bob Haney would deliver over in The Brave and the Bold, we do get the one issue in this collection where Superman is blasted back in time to World War II, where he teams up with Sgt. Rock and Easy Company. As with any team-up book, the premise that would bring the characters together was sketchy a lot of times. In this era, the norm was 17-page stories, so many of these are quick reads.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I’ve said for years that team-up books should be required reading for all comic book fans. But I would recommend starting with the other books of this era first, such as The Brave and the Bold, Marvel Two-in-One, and Marvel Team-Up. This title always seemed to me unnecessary – given how powerful Superman was in this era, why does he need the help of <guest star of the month> to solve the particular problem for that issue? I have this same issue with Superman in the Justice League of America title in this age, too. The team-ups can be a lot of fun, but the premise of the stories are generally weak.

Footnotes: DC Comics Presents #26 is one of the issues from this series most in-demand in the back issue market, but with nothing to do with the Superman story. In this era, DC started placing 16-page previews of upcoming titles in various books. In this issue, a preview of The New Teen Titans #1 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. This serves as the first appearances for Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire, so it has stayed in demand for many years with collectors.

Who’s Who:
#1 – Superman & Flash
#2 – Superman & Flash
#3 – Superman & Adam Strange
#4 – Superman & Metal Men
#5 – Superman & Aquaman
#6 – Superman & Green Lantern
#7 – Superman & Red Tornado
#8 – Superman & Swamp Thing
#9 – Superman & Wonder Woman
#10 – Superman & Sgt. Rock
#11 – Superman & Hawkman
#12 – Superman & Mister Miracle
#13 – Superman & Legion of Super-Heroes
#14 – Superman & Superboy
#15 – Superman & Atom
#16 – Superman & Black Lightning
#17 – Superman & Firestorm
#18 – Superman & Zatanna
#19 – Superman & Batgirl
#20 – Superman & Green Arrow
#21 – Superman & Elongated Man
#22 – Superman & Captain Comet
#23 – Superman & Doctor Fate
#24 – Superman & Deadman
#25 – Superman & Phantom Stranger
#26 – Superman & Green Lantern

If you like this volume, try: Action Comics #584 to #600 from 1987 and 1988. Following Crisis on Multiple Earths, DC brought in fan favorite John Byrne to reinvent Superman for the new DC Universe. Following the initial Man of Steel mini-series that gave us the back history of Clark Kent and Superman, the books returned to a normal monthly publishing schedule. In Action Comics, this became a team-up book, with various heroes meeting up with Superman. Done by Byrne, there are a lot of fun match-ups that stand out from this run. While there is not just one collected edition for these issues, there is a series of eight trades, Superman: The Man of Steel, that collect all of the Superman stories from this time in publishing order. Alternatively, the individual issues can be generally found in discount bins at shows or local comic shops, so that might be a fun run to hunt down on your own.

Showcase Presents Bat Lash Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Bat Lash Vol. 1

First Published: July 2009

Contents: Showcase #76 (August 1968); Bat Lash #1 (October-November 1968) to #7 (October-November 1969); Bat Lash story from DC Special Series #16 (Fall 1978); and Bat Lash stories from Jonah Hex #49 (June 1981), #51 (August 1981), and #52 (September 1981)

Key Creator Credits: Sergio Aragonés, Denny O’Neill, Nick Cardy, Len Wein, Dan Spiegle, and others

Key First Appearances: Bat Lash

Overview: Meet Bat Lash, a well-mannered cowboy in an unmannered West. Bat Lash enjoys the finer parts of life – a succulent meal, a good card game, a fragrant flower, and a pretty woman. Really, he is a pacifist at heart, but he is not afraid to use his guns to protect himself from bandits or the law or sometimes both! Traveling the west on his horse Daisy, Bat Lash can show up in any town and instantly be in a mess of trouble.

Sergio Aragonês and Denny O’Neill worked together plotting out the main stories of the Bat Lash book, with superb art by Nick Cardy. As much as I love Cardy’s run on Teen Titans, I am now of the mindset that Bat Lash may be his best work.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I really enjoyed this volume, and quickly breezed through this read. While the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns are attributed as the inspiration to for DC to do a new western comic, I was reminded more of the Bret Maverick and James West characters from Maverick and The Wild, Wild West, respectively. In particular, the opening title sequence for The Wild, Wild West (see below) feels like an animated short for Bat Lash. Nick Cardy’s art shines in the Black & White format, well worth the price of this volume. My only complaint is how small this volume is – just 240 pages. Given the fact that DC included stories from 1978 and 1981, I would have liked to have seen the Bat Lash appearances in Weird Western Tales from that same period included here.

If you like this volume, try: tracking down Showcase #100 (May 1978). This has never been reprinted, so you will have to do some searching. For the anniversary issue, writers Paul Kupperberg and Paul Levitz contrived a story of an odd group of heroes teaming up to save Earth from an alien invasion. Those heroes were all characters that had appeared at some point in the first 99 issues of Showcase. So they were able to use the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Atom, Lois Lane, the Challengers of the Unknown, Adam Strange, Hawk & Dove, the Creeper, and even Bat Lash, as well as many others. This story was drawn by Joe Staton, who in my opinion does not get enough recognition for his work at DC. Not to spoil this awesome read, but yes, the Earth is saved. This is a story that you just sit back and enjoy, and forget about continuity, in particular how characters from the past (Bat Lash) are interacting with current characters and even future characters (Tommy Tomorrow, Space Ranger). This is a true gem from DC’s Bronze Age.