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.

Essential Daredevil Vol. 6

First Published: November 2013

Contents: Daredevil #126 (October 1975) to #146 (June 1977); Daredevil Annual #4 (1976); Iron Man #88 (July 1976) and #89 (August 1976); and Ghost Rider #19 (August 1976) and #20 (October 1976)

Key Creator Credits: Marv Wolfman, Bill Mantlo, Jim Shooter, Chris Claremont, Archie Goodwin, Bob Brown, John Buscema, John Byrne, Sal Buscema, Gil Kane, George Tuska, and others

Key First Appearances: Heather Glenn, Brock Jones/Torpedo, Blake Tower, Bullseye

Story Continues From: Essential Daredevil Vol. 5

Overview: By now, I think we all know the Daredevil story. Blinded as a youth, Matt Murdock’s other senses have been heightened, allowing him to do spectacular feats beyond that of a normal man. Whether fighting crime on the streets at night or defending clients in court during the day, he is the Man Without Fear – Daredevil! This is Essential Daredevil Vol. 6.

Now at this point with the collection, Daredevil has been in business for over 10 years. Maybe it’s time for a change, to shake things up for the characters. For starters, let’s get the law firm of Nelson & Murdock out of their fancy offices. Instead, we are going to have them open up a storefront legal clinic in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen, where anyone can walk in off the street to discuss their legal problems. Let’s also introduce a new girlfriend, Heather Glenn, for Matt. A free spirit that makes you question what color the sky is in her world. (Given that this is a black & white collection, the answer should be white, but you never quite know how she might answer that question.) But just when things are getting comfortable between Heather and Matt, who should return but former romantic interest and secretary Karen Page.

Maybe we can add some new faces to the rogues’ gallery? In shoots Torpedo – but is he a hero or a villain. Or both?Then there is the new assassin known as Bullseye. He never misses regardless what the weapon is in his hands. But fans like the old foes too, so let’s bring in the likes of the Owl, Cobra, and Mr. Hyde. And being the in the Marvel Universe, you know you will have to cross paths with some other heroes, such as Iron Man, Black Panther, Namor, and Ghost Rider.

But Daredevil still shines brightest when he is a hero for the common man. Stopping a runaway bus, finding a lost boy in the big city, dealing with crooked cops, and the other challenges that come up from time to time. Going toe-to-toe with the villain of the month may sell comics, but protecting his city defines the man.

What makes this Essential?: I’ve got mixed opinions for this collection. Part of me says this is essential simply for the character introductions. Heather Glenn would be a long-time romantic interest for Matt. The Torpedo was a C-List hero but became a key part of the ROM book. District Attorney Blake Tower would become a fixture in many Marvel books, such as Amazing Spider-Man. Bullseye would become one of the most important Daredevil villains of all time, especially given the events during the Frank Miller run.

But…. these stories just seem very average. Marv Wolfman writes the majority of the stories in this collection, but I don’t feel like this is his best work. This was doing the era when Wolfman was also serving as Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, so it makes sense that this title may not have had his full attention. I want this to be a stronger title, given the list of creators attached to these issues.

Footnotes: Ghost Rider #19 & #20, and Daredevil #138 are also reprinted in Essential Ghost Rider Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: Brian Michael Bendis’ legendary run on Daredevil in the early 2000s. I’ve previously recommended the Miller run, the Kevin Smith run, and the Mark Waid run with the Man Without Fear. It makes sense to cover the Bendis run, as he takes Matt Murdock and friends in a whole new direction. Bendis really makes this a psychological examination of what makes the hero, dragging him down to his lowest point ever. The Kingpin returns as the main protagonist for Daredevil, as well as the Owl and Bullseye. The highlight of the run is Matt Murdock being outed as Daredevil and forced to defend his name in court in a desperate attempt to maintain the dual identities. This series has been collected multiple times in trade paperbacks, hardcovers, and omnibus editions, so it should be easy to track down.

Essential Avengers Vol. 9

First Published: September 2013

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

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

Key First Appearances: Magda Lehnsherr, Taskmaster

Story Continues From: Essential Avengers Vol. 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essential Avengers Vol. 8

avengers8First Published: April 2012

Contents: Avengers #164 (October 1977) to #184 (June 1979); Avengers Annual #7 (1977) and #8 (1978); and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 (1977)

Key Creator Credits: Jim Shooter, John Byrne, Jim Starlin, Joe Rubinstein, George Pérez, Sal Buscema, David Michelinie, Tom DeFalco, Jim Mooney, and others

Key First Appearances: Henry Peter Gyrich, Django Maximoff, Lord Chaos, Master Order

Story Continues From: Essential Avengers Vol. 7

Story Continues In: Essential Avengers Vol. 9

Overview: Get comfortable, loyal readers! It doesn’t get much more essential than Essential Avengers Vol. 8!

The book starts out with a bang with the return of Count Nefaria, last seen taking on the “All-New All-Different” X-Men, which led to the death of Warpath. Nefaria has hired a team of scientists to increase his powers to a level where he can go toe-to-toe with Thor. However, he finds out that the increase in his powers comes at a price, as he starts to age at an aggressive rate. The team is stretched to the limits to defeat Nefaria but the battle ends with the Avengers facing a new threat – government agent Henry Peter Gyrich. We’ll get back to him soon enough.

Next up is an epic battle that crosses over between two annuals, where the combined forces of the Avengers, Captain Mar-Vel, Warlock, the Thing, and Spider-Man must take on Thanos. This famous story by Jim Starline and Joe Rubinstein has been reprinted many times, including multiple Essential volumes as noted below.

We then find ourselves slowly building up to the next great Avengers epic. The Guardians of the Galaxy have traveled to Earth in search of Korvac, their foe with god-like powers. While this is going on, members of the Avengers start disappearing. Are the two stories linked? This is a great story that builds up over 10 issues to an explosive conclusion.

Now I mentioned Gyrich earlier. Seems he has a problem with the Avengers. Lack of security to get into the mansion. Too many people coming in and out of the line-up. Gyrich lays down the law with the team, placing new guidelines on the team in order to keep their government clearance. Gyrich not only imposes a limit of seven active members on the team, he also takes it upon himself to name the new line-up: Iron Man, Vision, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Beast, Wasp, and the Falcon. Wait, the Falcon? We remember Captain America’s former partner, but he’s never been an Avenger before. But the government demands equal opportunities for minorities. The Falcon begrudgingly joins the team, and when the Scarlet Witch is forced to take a medical leave, she is replaced by Ms. Marvel. This gives us the new line-up for the team heading into Essential Avengers Vol. 9 and the epic Avengers #200 in the near-future.

What makes this Essential?: I just love this era of the Avengers! This has to be a must-own book for numerous reasons – the stories, the artwork, the character development, and more. The introduction of Henry Peter Gyrich opens the door for the concept that the government has some control over the Avengers. The Korvac Saga storyline may be one of the best multi-issue arcs since the Kree-Skrull War. The artwork of George Pérez and John Byrne looks spectacular in black & white. Please do yourself a favor and track down this collection!

Footnotes: Avengers Annual #7 was also reprinted in Essential Warlock Vol. 1.

Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 were also reprinted in Essential Marvel Two-in-One Vol. 2 and Essential Warlock Vol. 1.

Even though he is announced as a new member of the team in issue #181, the Falcon does not actually join the team until Avengers #183.

If you like this volume, try: the 1990s Guardians of the Galaxy series, with the first half of the series done by Jim Valentino. For many years, the Guardians had been those interesting backup group of characters, who never got the chance to really shine in their own feature. The Korvac storyline in this Essential is one of the longest appearances of the team until the launch of their own series in 1990. Along with The New Warriors, the new GotG title kicked off a new wave of youthful superheroes at Marvel. Valentino left after issue #29 to become one of the founders of Image Comics, but the Guardians title ran until issue #62. The Valentino issues were recently reprinted in three trade paperbacks, so they should be readily available 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.

Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 3

Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 3

First Published: April 2009

Contents: Legion of Super-Heroes stories from Adventure Comics #349 (October 1966) to #368 (May 1968); and Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #106 (October 1967)

Key Creator Credits: Curt Swan, Jim Shooter, E. Nelson Bridwell, George Klein; Pete Costanza, and others

Key First Appearances: Rond Vidar, Universo, R.J. Brande, Fatal Five (Emerald Empress, Mano, Persuader, Tharok, and Validus), Sun-Eaters, the Dominators, Shadow Lass

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

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

Overview: Here we go, loyal readers! Everything you needed to know about the Legion of Super-Heroes, you could learn about it in this volume!

  • Who 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!
  • Can a Legionnaire die? Not to spoil the read, but I wouldn’t get too attached to Ferro Lad. Or Chemical King, who is dead before he can ever join the Legion.
  • Do you have to live in the 30th Century to be in the Legion? That would be no, as reported to us by Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, and those Kryptonian cousins.
  • Will these Legionnaires ever grow up? Sure, we get to meet the Adult Legion. Time to change the code-names for anyone using the following words: boy, girl, lad, or lass. Brainiac 5 may have been the smartest one on the team, for going with a name that wouldn’t have to change much as he went through puberty.
  • How can the Legion afford that nifty clubhouse and the incredible flight rings? Legion, I’d like to introduce your new benefactor, R.J. Brande.
  • Who should you never make angry? Easy, the Legion of Super-Pets!
  • Will anyone else join the Legion this time? Check to see if there is anyone hiding in the shadows.
  • Who is the most qualified writer to write the Legion? Naturally, a teenage writer.

Seems pretty basic, right? Everything you need to know about the Legion is right here!

Why should these stories be Showcased?: It’s interesting to chart the progress in the Legion with each new Showcase Presents volume. The first volume gave us the core concept, and the core characters. The second volume dropped a lot of new characters on us. But this volume, this feels like the best of both books, as the Legion adds new members (and foes!) while expanding their role in the universe. It’s either ironic or appropriate that Jim Shooter has taken over as writer on this book, as it starts to read and feel more like a Marvel book, despite the DC logo on the cover. The previous two volumes, I could make the argument that they were important enough to the overall DC Universe to include in your comic library. This volume is solid enough in terms of story, art, and character development to warrant inclusion on any library shelf.

Footnotes: Adventures Comics #354 gave us a peak at some Legionnaires who would die in the future. However, some of them, such as the Chemical King, had not even joined the Legion at that time. We will see Chemical King get his flight ring in Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 4.

The Legion Espionage Squad goes undercover for the first time in Adventures Comics #360.

If you like this volume, try: the 2000 mini-series Titans/Legion of Super-Heroes: Universe Ablaze by Dan Jurgens and Phil Jimenez. It was surprising to note that at the time of this release, the two groups of teenage heroes had yet to cross paths, so this title felt long over due. Brother Blood has finally managed to defeat the Titans, and places a small group of the “teen” heroes into suspended animation. Those heroes are re-animated 1,000 years later by the Legion of Super-Heroes. Just in time, too, as Universo is back at it again. This is just my opinion, but I really feel like Dan Jurgens has been under-utilized and overlooked by DC for most of his career. He is a solid writer and artist, and doesn’t get mentioned nearly enough. For this story, Jurgens wrote and provided the pencils for the four-issue deluxe size series. Artist Phil Jimenez, who for my money is one of the best artists EVER, provides the finishing touches to the art to complete the package. Sadly, this story has never been reprinted, so you will need to dive into some back issue bins to find these four comics.