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.

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 World’s Finest Vol. 2

Showcase Presents World's Finest Vol. 2

First Published: October 2008

Contents: Superman, Batman, and Robin stories from World’s Finest Comics #112 (September 1960) to #145 (November 1964)

Key Creator Credits: Curt Swan, Dick Sprang, Edmond Hamilton, Bill Finger, Jerry Coleman, Jim Mooney, Dave Wood, and others

Key First Appearances: Composite Superman

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 1

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

Overview: Sometimes the smartest creations in life is simply combining two great things together. For example, milk chocolate is awesome all on its own. So is peanut butter. Those two by themselves are some of the tastiest sweets in the world. But in 1928, Harry Reese had the brilliant idea to combine the two together. Now, some 80 years later, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is the most popular candy bar in United States. <Excuse me for a moment, I think I need to run to the store to pick up a Reese’s!>

So peanut butter and chocolate, two great tastes that go great together. We all get that. But you are here to read about comics, right? So let’s take two great heroes (Batman and Superman), merge them together into one title, and we get the Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 2.

The stories here follow the same pattern as the previous volume. Something happens that brings the two heroes together. Between Superman’s strength and Batman’s smarts, the heroes find themselves on the winning end of things at the end of each 15-page story. There is no continuity with these stories, so you can read them in any order. The supporting casts for both characters make numerous appearances along the way, as well as their rogues galleries.

It’s funny that I used the word ‘merge’ in the first paragraph. (Truthfully, not funny, but rather deliberate on my part!) The highlight of this volume involves the introduction in World’s Finest #142 of the Composite Superman, who might be just the greatest DC Silver Age character of all time. Joe Meach was a down-in-his-luck diver (don’t most divers head down eventually?), and Superman helps him out by getting him a custodian job at the Superman Museum. One night while Meach was cleaning up in front of a Legion of Super-Heroes exhibit, lightning hits the Legion figurines, and the electrical energy passes on to Meach. Suddenly, Meach finds that he has all of the powers of the Legionaires. Using Chameleon Boy’s shape-changing ability, Meach creates a hybrid costume that is half Superman, half Batman. Dubbing himself the Composite Superman, he appears to befriend Superman and Batman, but his long term goal is to destroy Superman’s life. Fortunately, our heroes see though his scheme, and stop Meach until he exhausts his powers. The Composite Superman, be it Meach or other characters, will return time and time again to face off against Superman and Batman.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I can think of two good reasons why these stories should be showcased. The first is Batman, and the second is Superman. Seriously, this is a no-brainer. Of course these should be collected. Sure, they are Silver Age stories, but I would contend that the best Batman or Superman Silver Age stories from this time period are in this collection, and not in the Showcase Presents Batman or Showcase Presents Superman volumes. This is a perfect volume to skip around and read the stories that most interest you. I was always fond of the Joker-Lex Luthor team-ups. (DC tried to duplicate that team-up magic with a Clayface-Brainiac collaboration. Yeah, not quite as interesting as Joker-Luthor!)

Footnotes: The story from World’s Finest Comics #141 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Robin Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: the Batman & Superman: World’s Finest maxi-series from 1999. Written by Karl Kessel, with art by Dave Taylor, Peter Doherty, and Robert Campanella, the series looks that the Batman/Superman team-ups over a 10-year period. Issue #1 takes place ten years before present day, issue #2 takes place nine years before present day, and so on. This is set in the Post-Crisis universe and reflects events that happened in their comics between 1986 and 1998. In the first issue, the two heroes team-up for the first time, but fail to save a doctor. With each issue, the two heroes re-unite on the anniversary of the doctor’s death. This collection is a solid story, with glimpses into the expanded families of both characters. We get a funny Bat-Mite/Mr. Mxyzptlk team-up in issue #6 that brings along Robin and Lois Lane. The standout issue in this story is #7. Taking place sometime after the death of Jason Todd and after Superman’s return from his space exile, Superman takes Batman to his hometown of Smallville, Kansas. The two actually spend time talking through their issues and emotions. No super villains interrupt the discussion. In fact, the heroic actions by the two stars are actions that anyone could do in their daily life; Superman assists a woman delivering a baby, while Batman performs CPR on a doctor. A trade paperback collecting all ten issues was released in 2003. I can’t recommend this title, and in particular issue #7, strongly enough – PICK THIS UP!

Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 4

Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 4

First Published: September 2008

Contents: Superman stories from Action Comics #293 (October 1962) to #309 (February 1964); and Superman #157 (November 1962) to #166 (January 1964)

Key Creator Credits: Edmond Hamilton, Al Pastino, Curt Swan, George Klein, Jerry Siegel, Leo Dorfman, and others

Key First Appearances: Nightwing, Flamebird

Story Continues from: Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 3

Overview: Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman! Welcome back to the fourth Showcase Presents volume of Superman tales from Superman and Action Comics. The story formulas remain basically the same from previous volumes, but the quality of the stories continues to improve with each collection. 

What stands out in this volume is the innocent story points that are introduced in these issues, but then have ripple effects over the next 50 years of Superman story-telling. For example, in Superman #158, our hero and Jimmy Olsen travel to the bottled city of Kandor. The two adopt new costumed identities inside the city, Nightwing and Flamebird. They would adopt those identities, before handing the roles off to two of Superman’s cousins in the pages of Superman Family in the 1970s. (And in the 1980s, as Dick Grayson was growing out of the Robin identity, he would adopt the new costumed identity of Nightwing as a tribute to the role that Superman had in his life growing up. Grayson would use Nightwing as his code name for nearly 30 years.) Likewise, the adventures of Superman Red and Superman Blue, from Superman #162, was revised in the 1990s by Karl Kessel and friends when Superman was split into two separate electrical beings.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: One of my biggest gripes about the Silver Age Superman stories is that there is no order or continuity to the stories. Most of these stories can be read in any order. Sure, you may have characters introduced from time to time, such as Supergirl, but it’s not a distraction if a story does not include the ENTIRE supporting cast. But we finally get a moment in this volume, Superman #161, where things change forever. We experience the death of Ma and Pa Kent, as Clark Kent is once again orphaned. (Yes, although not reprinted here, but the Kents remained quite alive and active in the pages of Superboy, which recounted his teenage adventures.) The death of his adoptive parents forced the creative teams to start changing the stories. Suddenly, Clark no longer had the excuse of going back to Smallville to see his parents. The orphan angle gets played up on two different levels. Removing these two characters (which lasted until the John Byrne reboot of the Superman franchise following Crisis on Multiple Earths) changed the dynamics for the creators, forcing them to tell NEW stories rather than just rehashing previous stories.

Footnotes: The “Monster From Krypton!” story from Action Comics #303 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Supergirl Vol. 2.

If you like this volume, try: Superman: Secret Identity, which has been collected in multiple formats. Written by Kurt Busiek with art by Stuart Immonen, this four-issue series follows the life of a young man from Kansas, Clark Kent, growing up in a world where the only super-heroes exist in comic books. And yes, he happens to share the name of everyone’s favorite comic book character; his parents thought it would be funny. So all of his life, Clark has to endure every Superman joke ever told. Each year on his birthday, he receives numerous gifts all emblazoned with the Superman logo. Clark just wants to lead a normal, quiet life. Until one day when Clark actually starts developing powers. He finds that he can fly and that he is now super-strong. Realizing that this may be destiny calling, Clark dons a Superman uniform and becomes the hero that everyone always expected he would be. This is hands-down one of my all-time favorite Superman stories, and it should be part of every collection. Kurt Busiek has proven multiple times that he is a master storyteller, whether it be his own characters in Astro City, or managing the corporate characters from Marvels to Avengers to Superman: Secret Identity. Please pick up this book – you’ll thank me later!

Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 2

Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 2

First Published: April 2008

Contents: Legion of Super-Heroes stories from Adventure Comics #322 (July 1964) to #348 (September 1966); Superboy #117 (December 1964), #124 (October 1965), and #125 (December 1965); and “The Origin and Powers of the Legion of Super-Heroes” pages from Superman Annual #4 (1962), Adventure Comics #316 (January 1964) and Adventure Comics #365 (February 1968)

Key Creator Credits: Otto Binder, Curt Swan, Jerry Siegel, Sheldon Moldoff, George Klein, Jim Mooney, John Forte, Edmond Hamilton, Jim Shooter, and others

Key First Appearances: Spider-Girl, Heroes of Lallor (Beast Boy, Duplicate Boy, Evolvo Lad, Gas Girl, Life Lass), Timber Wolf, Magnetic Kid, Glorith, Computo, Duo Damsel, Color Kid, Ferro Lad, Karate Kid, Nemesis Kid, Princess Projectra, Doctor Regulus, Kid Psycho

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1

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

Overview: From across the vast reaches of the known galaxy, the most powerful teenagers gather together to protect the universe. With unique abilities across the members, these teenagers are united to peace and prosperity to all beings. This is the Legion of Super-Heroes. Sit back and enjoy the ride, as we have a fun set of stories in this second Showcase Presents volume.

Part of the charm of the Legion is the ever growing line-up, as new heroes are introduced to join the clubhouse – from Timber Wolf to Ferro Lad to Karate Kid to Princess Projectra. Not everyone is truly Legion material, but not to worry as the Legion of Substitute Heroes always has a spot open for them. And sometimes you let the wrong person in, as the Legion found out with the introduction of Nemesis Kid.

One of the Legion’s greatest threats to come is introduced in a rather humble beginning. The murderous living computer Computo (accidentally created by Brainiac 5) shows up, intent on killing off all life. During the course of the battle, Triplicate Girl makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect her teammates.

In terms of creators, a (then) true teenager took over the writing duties of the Legion in this volume. Legendary comic creator Jim Shooter begins his long run with the kids of the future in Adventures Comics #346. Shooter’s Legion run is often cited as one of the more influential runs with the characters. We will get more of the Shooter stories in the next Showcase volume.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: For the most part, the Silver Age stories from DC Comics do not hold up. However, with the Legion of Super-Heroes, this volume surprisingly does stand the test of time. The stories are fun adventures that can go anywhere and everywhere in the course of 15 pages. We’ve gotten past the need to re-introduce characters and their powers each month, and just get into the telling of the story. There are several key Legionnaires introduced in this volume, which makes for interesting reading to see how they began compared against how they came to be used later.

Footnotes: The Legion Flight Ring makes its debut in Adventures Comics #329 (February 1965).

If you like this volume, try: the 2005 reboot of The Legion of Super-Heroes by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson. Over the years, the Legion has had their story rebooted numerous times. Sometimes it’s a soft continuation of where things left off, and other times it takes the Legion in a completely different direction. With this relaunch, if felt like a modern refresh of the original LSH, in terms of number of Legionnaires as well as a general positive approach to the story. From issues #16 to #36, the title was renamed as Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes. With issue #37, it went back to just Legion of Super-Heroes, as Jim Shooter returned to the teenage heroes where he got his start. Personally, I would stick to the first 36 issues, which have all been collected across six trade paperbacks. That said, I see these issues in back issue bins, so it may be a fun hunt to track them down at conventions.

Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 1

Showcase Presents World's Finest Vol. 1

First Published: October 2007

Contents: Superman/Batman story from Superman #76 (May-June 1952); Superman, Batman, and Robin stories from World’s Finest Comics #71 (July-August 1954) to #111 (August 1960)

Key Creator Credits: Curt Swan, Dick Sprang, Edmond Hamilton, Bill Finger, Jerry Coleman, and others

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

Overview: They are arguably the two most recognizable heroes in comic books. Superman – more powerful than a locomotive; able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Batman – defender of Gotham City, avenging the death of parents by striking back at crime. Each are stars in their own right, having moved from the comics to newspaper strips, radio dramas, and movie serials. At some point, it seemed natural that these two forces for good must cross paths, and that finally occurred in 1952 in Superman #76,  Clark Kent schedules a cruise (because everyone knows that the Daily Planet has a very generous vacation policy), but due to overbooking, he is asked to share a room with millionaire Bruce Wayne. Before the ship can leave port, an explosion on the docks prompts both men to change into their costumed identities. accidentally revealing their secrets to each other. Promising to keep each other’s secret, Superman and Batman work together, making for one of the most important comic book team-ups of all time.

Two years later, the Superman and Batman features in World’s Finest are combined, teaming up the two heroes (plus Robin, the Boy Wonder!) issue after issue after issue. The reasons for the team-ups vary from the reasonable to the absurd – whether fighting aliens or giant robots; traveling through time to the future, or into the past; stopping Lex Luthor on his next scheme to rule the world, or having Batman pose as Superman to keep Lois Lane from discovering Superman’s secret identity.

The supporting casts for both characters make numerous appearances. From Metropolis, Lois, Jimmy, and Perry cross paths with Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, and Batwoman from Gotham City. In later Showcase Presents World’s Finest volumes, we will see a friendship develop between Jimmy Olsen and Robin, leading to a junior World’s Finest team-up.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: If you can think of this volume as a collection of imaginary stories, than this is a fun and interesting volume. If you are a continuity nerd, this book will make your head explode. These are all one-and-done stories, and should never be referenced again in any other story. The plots are absurd, and would never be published into today’s publishing environment. But it’s stories like this that inspired writers like Grant Morrison to create wonderful tribute stories, such as All-Star Superman and Batman: Incorporated.

Footnotes: Superman and Batman (with Robin) had been the stars of World’s Finest Comics since the first issue, which was initially published as World’s Best Comics #1. (The title changed to World’s Finest Comics with issue #2.)  However, these characters were each featured in their own stories within the magazine. In 1954, due to declining interest in comic books, World’s Finest Comics was reduced from a 64-page book to a 32-page book. In order to keep both of the stars of the book featured in the title, Superman and Batman started teaming up together in one story beginning with issue #71, which is where this Showcase Presents volume begins. 

If you like this volume, try: the first story arc Superman/Batman from 2003. Created by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, the Public Enemies story brought back together the World’s Finest team in a monthly comic book. In this volume, President Lex Luthor accuses Superman of treasonous crimes, and calls upon the super-hero community to bring him in dead or alive. Batman and Superman work together to uncover Luthor’s scheme, and to prove Superman’s innocence. Loeb takes an interesting approach to the story, showing us Superman through the eyes of Batman, and vice versa. The art by McGuinness is perfect for this title: Superman is big and bold and his muscles have muscles, while Batman is sleek and dark and mysterious. in 1987. This title ran for eight years, and some story arcs are better than others. For my money, Public Enemies is among the best and is the perfect way to return to the World’s Finest team.

Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1

First Published: April 2007

Contents: Legion of Super-Heroes stories from Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), #267 (December 1959), #282 (March 1961), #290 (November 1961), #293 (February 1962), and #300 (September 1962) to #321 (June 1964); Action Comics #267 (August 1960), #276 (May 1961), #287 (April 1962), and #289 (June 1962); Superboy #86 (January 1961), #89 (June 1961), and #98 (July 1962); Superman #147 (August 1961); Superman Annual #4 (1962); and Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #72 (October 1963) and #76 (June 1964)

Key Creator Credits: Otto Binder, Al Pastino, Curt Swan, Jerry Siegel, George Papp, Jim Mooney, John Forte, Edmond Hamilton

Key First Appearances: Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, Brainiac-5, Star Boy, Bouncing Boy, Phantom Girl, Shrinking Violet, Triplicate Girl, Mon-El, Legion of Super-Villains (Cosmic King, Lightning Lord, Saturn Queen), Sun Boy, Legion of Super-Pets, Ultra Boy, Science Police, Matter-Eater Lad, Legion of Substitute-Heroes (Chlorophyll Kid, Fire Lad, Night Girl, Polar Boy, Stone Boy), Element Lad, Lightning Lass/Light Lass, Proty, Dream Girl, Time Trapper

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 2

Overview: On an average day in Smallville, USA, Clark Kent is accosted by three strange teenagers who claim to know his secret identity. The teenagers reveal themselves to be Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl. They are from 1,000 years in the future, and have been inspired by Superboy/Superman to use their unique super-powers to help Earth and other planets. Thus, the Legion of Super-Heroes is born. Long live the Legion!

Meeting in a converted rocket ship-turned-clubhouse, the Legion of Super-Heroes is made up of teenagers, each with a unique set of powers and abilities. No duplication of powers is allowed, although they tend to wiggle the rules on that from time to time. Over the six-year time frame of the stories collected in this volume, we meet 20 Legionnaires, plus all of the would-be Legion members and their spinoffs, such as the Legion of Super-Pets and the Legion of Substitute-Heroes.

Some prominent foes are introduced, including the Legion of Super-Villains. Their initial line-up was older family members of the Legion founders, all with the same power set. The mysterious Time Trapper comes into play at the end of this volume, and will revisit many times over, only to be thwarted by the Legion.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I’ve been pretty honest on my opinions of the DC Silver Age stories. Most stories are hard to read against today’s standards. But even so, these Legion stories are a real treat. The stories can be absurd, yes, very much so. But they still retain a youthful innocence that compels the reader to want to keep reading. Who wouldn’t want to hang out in a super-hero clubhouse with other teenagers with wonderful powers and abilities. Sign me up!

Footnotes: The Legion stories in Action Comics #267 and #276 are also reprinted in Showcase Presents Supergirl Vol. 1.

The Legion stories in Action Comics #287 and #289 are also reprinted in Showcase Presents Supergirl Vol. 2.

The Legion story in Superman #147 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 3.

If you like this volume, try: Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank from 2008. This story originally ran in Action Comics. Geoff Johns combines story elements from the 50 year history of the Legion to tell a great story of Superman traveling into the future to visit his friends from his teenage years. But in the year 3008, Earth’s sun has become red, and Superman’s name is synonymous with treachery. The Legion has moved underground, considered to be outlaws by the local authorities. Superman gathers together all of the Legionnaires that he can find to lead an attack against the Justice League of Earth and restore the proper order on the planet. The art is by Gary Frank, creating a realistic look to his figures and in particular his faces. This is worth tracking down, as it gives you a good overview of the entire Legion lore.