Showcase Presents Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! Vol. 1

First Hatched: September 2014

Contents: Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew story from The New Teen Titans #16 (February 1982); Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #1 (March 1982) to #20 (November 1983); and The Oz-Wonderland Wars #1 (January 1986) to #3 (March 1986)

Key Cre-gator Credits: Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Scott Shaw, Mike Sekowsky, Stan Goldberg, E, Nelson Bridwell, Rick Hoberg, Joey Cavalieri, and others

Key First Ape-arances: Rodney Rabbit/Captain Carrot, Felina Furr/Alley-Kat-Abra, Timmy Joe Terrapin/Fastback, Peter Porkchops/Pig-Iron, Byrd Rentals/Rubberduck, Rova Barkitt/Yankee Poodle, Just’a Lotta Animals (Aquaduck, Batmouse, Crash, Green Lambkin, Super-Squirrel, Wonder Wabbit), Chester Cheese/Little Cheese

Birds-eye-view: At the start of the Silver Age, as a new generation of heroes was being introduced, DC developed the concept of parallel earths, as these were the worlds where other heroes lived and had their adventures. The heroes of the Justice League were assigned to Earth-One, while the Justice Society was on Earth-Two. The Shazam Family protected Earth-S, while the Quality Heroes could be found on Earth-X.

In the early 1980s, a new parallel Earth was discovered when Superman crashed into a meteor approaching his Earth. The resulting collision transported Superman and the meteor fragments to a new Earth. Let’s call it Earth-C for now. This Earth was populated not with humans, but with anamorphic animals living lives and doing tasks that normal people would do. We meet Rodney Rabbit, a cartoonist on the hit comic Just’a Lotta Animals. One of those meteors lands in Rodney’s garden box, where he grows carrots. Munching on an irradiated carrot leads to a transformation, and Rodney Rabbit becomes Captain Carrot, the first hero of Earth-C.

Captain Carrot quickly finds out that while he may be the first, he is not the only hero showing up thanks to the meteorites. Captain Carrot is joined by the likes of Rubberduck, Yankee Poodle, Alley-Kat-Abra, Fastback, and Pig-Iron. Together, the become the amazing Zoo Crew, setting up headquarters in the Z-Building in Los Antelope. The Zoo Crew face off against the likes of Frogzilla, Armordillo, Bow-Zar the Barkbarian, and even Gorilla Grodd!

Rodney soon discovers that the Just’a Lotta Animals that he has been drawing in comics are real, and living on yet another parallel Earth, which we will dub Earth-C Minus. That leads to a couple of team-ups between the two squads, and a love triangle develops between Captain Carrot, Wonder Wabbit, and Super-Squirrel.

The series concludes with a new member, Little Cheese, joining the Zoo Crew, but their adventures are not over. The team is drawn into a conflict between Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland and L. Frank Baum’s Oz. Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew team up with Dorothy, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, and many others to rescue Oz from the Nome King.

Why should these tails be Showcased?: You can approach this one of two ways. If you view this as only a funny-animal book, it might not be for you. But you could get this for a young reader to enjoy. HOWEVER, if you look at this as a creative exercise, this has the makings of a good read. The book is filled with animal references and puns. Brush it off if you will, but try it yourself. When’s the last time you intentionally tried to write something funny? It’s much harder than it looks. Writing standard super hero stories, dramatic stories or even dark and gritty stories are a piece of cake compared to writing comedy. Credit should really be given to all of the writers on this book for pulling it off each issue.

Pawnotes: When the series started, Captain Carrot’s identity was Roger Rabbit. Over the course of the series, his name was modified from Roger Rabbit to Roger Rodney Rabbit to R. Rodney Rabbit to finally just Rodney Rabbit. While many people are familiar with the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, most people are unaware that it is based on a 1981 novel, Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary Wolf. DC opted to change the title character’s name to avoid any legal issues. 

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew was canceled with issue #20, even though issues #21 to #26 were in various stages of production. At that time of the cancellation, DC indicated that the series would continue as a series of mini-series. The content from those unreleased six issues were collected into three double-sized issues which became The Oz-Wonderland Wars.

If ewe like this volume, try: the Marvel Comics series of adaptions of L. Frank Baum’s original Oz novels by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young. Shanower has been linked to the Oz universe for most of his career, scripting adaptions for First Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW, and others. Beginning in 2009, he partnered with artist Skottie Young to adapt the six novels as mini-series, ranging anywhere from five to eight issues each. These stories have been collected into multiple hardcovers and trade paperbacks. In addition, all of the series were collected into an Oz Omnibus in 2014. These are fun reads that remain true to the books. Young’s art style may take some getting used to early on, but I grew to love the look of these books.

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • The Marvelous Land of Oz
  • Ozma of Oz
  • Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
  • The Road to Oz
  • The Emerald City of Oz

Showcase Presents Rip Hunter, Time Master

riphuntershowcase

First Published: August 2012

Contents: Showcase #20 (May-June 1959), #21 (July-August 1959), #25 (March-April 1959), and #26 (May-June 1960); and Rip Hunter… Time Master #1 (March-April 1961) to #15 (July-August 1963)

Key Creator Credits: Jack Miller, Ruben Moreira, Mike Sekowsky, Ross Andru, Mike Esposito, Alex Toth, Joe Kubert, Nick Cardy, William Ely

Key First Appearances: Rip Hunter, Jeff Smith, Bonnie Baxter, Corky Baxter

Overview: “Have time sphere, will travel” appears to be the motto for one Rip Hunter. Surrounded by his partner Jeff Smith and their friends Bonnie Baxter and her younger brother Corky, Rip takes his time sphere primarily into the past, whether it’s a 1,000 years or a 1,000,000 years, to answer the unknown questions that puzzle modern researchers.

Each story follows a basic formula — Rip Hunter is given a reason to travel into the past to solve a mystery. Grabbing speech conversion discs that they wear to be able to communicate with anyone they encounter, Rip and his team travel in the time sphere to the time in question. Rip and one of the team – sometimes Jeff, sometimes Corky, occasionally Bonnie – set off to investigate while the other team members try to keep the time sphere hidden. In most cases, Rip and his partner gets into trouble, and have to call on their teammates to rescue them. Along the way, the solve the mystery and return back to the 1950s without ever altering the time line.

The best part of this title is the variety of artists that worked on this series. Whether it’s the likes of Mike Sekowsky; Ross Andru and Mike Esposito; Nick Cardy, Alex Toth, or Joe Kubert, there is so much talent in this book that really stands out in the black and white format.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I like the concept of Rip Hunter and his time sphere. I’m hit and miss on the rest of the supporting cast. But I don’t think it works as a regular comic series. These stories quickly fell into a predictable formula, which probably worked well when you were reading the title every other month. I think Rip Hunter is a great character to bring into a story to provide another character with a way to time travel in their story or title. here are numerous reasons why I should not like this book. I am not a huge fan of Carmine Infantino’s art style. I find the formulaic stories from this era too predictable. This is more a science-fiction book than a super-hero book. With all of that said, I really loved this Showcase. Adam Strange felt alive and full of energy. Gardner Fox builds a new universe of characters, and creates an ongoing continuity with the storyline, with past stories and characters coming back in later stories.

Footnotes: Showcase #20 and #21 are also reprinted in Showcase Presents Showcase Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: the CW’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow show. Now airing its second season, Legends of Tomorrow features Time Master Rip Hunter plucking a team of lesser heroes (and villains) to stop the likes of Vandal Savage and Damien Darhk from changing the timeline. The characters were all first introduced on the other CW shows, such as Arrow or The Flash, but probably can’t carry their own show. Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who, Broadchurch) stars as the Time Master captaining the time ship known as the Waverider. This is a fun series that I’ve been able to watch with my family.

Showcase Presents Metal Men Vol. 2

showcase_presents_metal_men_volume_2First Published: September 2008

Contents: Metal Men #16 (October-November 1965) to #35 (December 1968-January 1969); and The Brave and the Bold #66 (June-July 1966)

Key Creator Credits: Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, Mike Esposito, Mike Sekowsky, Otto Binder, Gil Kane, and others

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Metal Men Vol. 1

Overview: Those wacky robots that could only come out of the Silver Age, the Metal Men, return for more action. Behind the creative genius of Dr. Will Magnus, the Metal Men battle evil robots, travel across space, and protect the Earth from any threats. The issues in this collection follow the same formula as the previous volume, where the team fights the threat of the month. There are some stories that carry over into the next issue, but most of these are one-and-done comics.

For a quick recap, the primary team consists of the six robots created by Magnus, each containing a responsometer which helps animate the robots and provides them with a unique personality.

  • Gold, who leads the team in the field.
  • Mercury, who wants to lead the team in the field.
  • Iron, the strong man of the team.
  • Lead, nearly as strong but not as smart.
  • Tin, whose courage is his strength.
  • Tina, who believes a robot can love a human.

In addition, the team is joined by another female robot, Nameless, which we saw Tin put together in the last volume. Nameless appears throughout most of the volume, promising that one of the fans will get to name her in the letters column. While some names are given in issue #21, the Nameless name seems to stick. Unfortunately, Nameless disappeared (without explanation) when the book went in a new direction beginning in issue #33.

But going back to issue #21 for a minute, this is a quirky but important comic. First, we get cameos from Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman, and the Flash, which helps to firmly establish these heroes as part of the DC Universe. Next, the Metal Men take the initiative and seek out a mission, as Dr. Magnus is indisposed throughout the issue. (He spends 22 pages making out with the romantic interest of the month, much to Tina’s chagrin.) The fact that the Metal Men can act independently comes into play at the end of the book.

I’ve made mention twice now about the end of the book. Beginning with issue #33, the title shook things up, whether to increase sales and/or provide a new take on the characters. Mike Sekowsky and George Roussos take over the art duties, while Robert Kanigher continues to script the adventures. The Metal Men find themselves on the run. Dr. Magnus is in a coma and is unable to lead the team. In his place, his brother Col. David Magnus, who works for an unnamed branch of the military, takes over control of the robots. This initial arc ran three issues, which brings us to the end of the collection. Guess I will need to hit the back-issue bins to see how the rest of this story plays out.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I want to like this more. I want to like this as much as I liked Volume 1. But this one just doesn’t match up for me. The stories feel very repetitive after awhile. We have no new characters introduced in this volume. They still just have just the one main arch-enemy in Chemo. The highlights of this volume came with the pair of Gil Kane issues towards the end of the collection. I’m still a fan of the Ross Andru art, and that has always been a good reason for me to pick up a book. But I don’t think you need to go out of your way to include this book in your library.

Footnotes: The Brave and the Bold #66 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Metamorpho Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: the three-issue story arc in Superman/Batman #34-36 from 2007. Lucius Fox has hired the Metal Men to help protect WayneTech, after a string of attacks. The Metal Men are joined by a new female robot, Copper. Of course, in a title like Superman/Batman, you might expect some Superman foes to show up, which they do with Metallo and then Brainiac. The art in this arc is done by Pat Lee, who was most known for his work on the Transformers comics of the early 2000s. He gives the Metal Men a unique look that matches their various personalities. This was collected in 2016 in Superman/Batman Vol. 3 trade paperback, so it should be easy to track down if you can’t find the original back issues.

Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 4

Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 4

First Published: June 2009

Contents: Green Lantern #60 (April 1968) to #75 (March 1970)

Key Creator Credits: John Broome, Gil Kane, Sid Greene, Gardner Fox, Jack Sparling, Mike Sekowsky, Mike Friedrich, and others

Key First Appearances: Olivia Reynolds

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 3

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 5

Overview: Welcome to the end of the Silver Age! It’s been a turbulent age, and times are tough. Former jet test pilots are out of work and forced to take jobs as insurance adjusters or traveling toy salesmen. For a guy with one of the most powerful devices in the universe, Hal Jordan’s life sure seems dark at times. This is Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 4.

Green Lantern is at an interesting crossroads during this time period. The stories in this era fulfill the primary obligation of getting a monthly book out on time. (And I say monthly, but most DC books in this era came out eight times a year, not 12.) But the there wasn’t any kind of ongoing story from issue to issue. In fact, the creative teams seemed to change quite a bit from issue to issue. You might get a Broome/Kane issue one month, and a Fox/Sekowsky issue the next.

We also face a lack of new characters being introduced in this volume. Instead, most of the stories have Hal Jordan arriving in a location, dealing with the problem of the month, and then moving on. As this volume draws to a close, we finally get a return of some familiar faces with Carol Ferris and Tom Kalmaku, while Sinestro drops in to wreck havoc on the reunion.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I don’t know that I can strongly recommend this volume. Hear me out on this one. The art is incredible as always. I’ve said before that any issues by Gil Kane can give you a proper lesson on comic-book storytelling. The stories themselves are decent, but I don’t know that any of them were memorable. The biggest issue I have with this volume is just that — the issues. This collection only has 16 issues, coming in at just under 400 pages. Yet it still carried the standard cover price of $16.99, the going rate for Showcase Presents volumes at that time in 2009. Now, I get why DC truncated this volume as they did. The first issue of Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 5 is #76, which starts the legendary O’Neil/Adams run that ushered in the Bronze Age at DC Comics. DC wanted to get all of those stories in one collection. But if you are going to do that, then either find additional material to put into Vol. 4 or adjust the price down to compensate for the lower page count.

If you like this volume, try: the Sinestro Corps War from 2007. Inspired by an Alan Moore story from 1986, writer Geoff Johns brought together several story threads that had been building for two years in the pages of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. Longtime Green Lantern foe Sinestro has put together his own corps of yellow lantern wielders. Over the course of the series, the Guardians reveal the legend of the Blackest Night, which set the stage for the future story arc, and even referenced the five other color rings that would play a part in that storyline. The Sinestro Corps War has been collected multiple times in multiple formats, so it should be easy to track down.

Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 4

Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 4

First Published: July 2009

Contents: Justice League of America #61 (March 1968) to #83 (September 1970)

Key Creator Credits: Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, Dick Dillin, Denny O’Neil, and others

Key First Appearances: Red Tornado (II), Black Canary (II) (see I Hope I Die Before I Get Old)

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 3

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

Overview: Meet the new Justice League — same as the old Justice League. With this volume, we finally see a change in leadership on the team. Not from heroes assembled but in the creative team. Longtime writer Gardner Fox and artist Mike Sekowsky bring their run on the title (which actually started in The Brave and the Bold #28) to an end, handing off the duties to young writer Denny O’Neil and veteran artist Dick Dillin. As a result, the type of stories that were told in Justice League of America shifted to match the changing world in which it was published in.

Let’s get the givens out of the way. We get three JLA-JSA team-ups in this collection. We do have some changes to the line-up, as Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter take leaves from the team, and Black Canary joins the team. Green Arrow takes on a new costume, and the stories tend to start using a smaller set of characters instead of all ten members per issue.

In a surprise twist, we see the Justice Society admit a new member, in what would be Fox’s final issue of this run. The Red Tornado was created by T.O. Morrow, with the intention of inserting him into the team and then destroying them. Despite stopping the JSA, the combined might of the JLA proves too much for the Red Tornado to overcome. Realizing that their foe has been manipulated, the Justice Society nominates Red Tornado for membership. As we will see in the next collection, Red Tornado’s time as a JSA member is short-lived, as he soon relocates to Earth-1 and is eventually offered membership with the Justice League.

The JLA does have some minor changes to the membership in this volume. Founding member Martian Manhunter takes an official leave from the team to return with his people to the New Mars colony. Truth be told, he hadn’t been used much in the last several years as Superman and Batman became more featured members in the League. The Martian Manhunter would make the occasional appearance during the Bronze Age, but would not return to the League full-time until the JLA-Detroit era. Around that same time, Diana was stripped of her Wonder Woman title, abilities, and costume, leading to her white jumpsuit era. The League put her on leave and eventually allowed her to re-join once she had proven her capabilities. (Seriously, she was a founding member; she served as their secretary and housekeeper; the only female willing to hang out in a cave with these guys; and they want her to “re-apply” for membership?)

One of the most important changes in the history of the Justice League came with issues #77 and #78. Batman’s long-time foe, the Joker, tricks long-time friend Snapper Carr into revealing the secret location of the JLA’s Secret Sanctuary, otherwise known as the cave. Faced with trying to find a new place to meet and store their trophies, the League looks to the skies – specifically 22,300 miles above the Earth. The JLA Satellite is introduced as the new, more secure headquarters for the team. Members can access the satellite via transportation tubes set up in major cities around the world, or via a trip through space to reach the satellite. The satellite would serve as the Bronze Age headquarters for the JLA, until being destroyed during the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: This book marks the first major transition in the JLA’s history. To date, the adventures of the JLA had all been done by Fox and Sekowsky. But early in this volume, we see Dillin take over the art duties, followed by O’Neil taking over the writing duties. While Fox wrote stories following the traditional comic book story-methods that had worked well for 30 years, O’Neil brought a new approach to the story-telling. He was also writing Wonder Woman at this same time. O’Neil took Wonder Woman out of the League (and the book) and quickly replaced her with Black Canary. Following that, he quickly developed a relationship between Black Canary and Green Arrow, one which has lasted for decades (on and off). He took the Justice League from the cave in Happy Harbor to a satellite circling the Earth; they also lost their mascot, Snapper Carr, at the same time. And his stories started dealing with world issues such as food shortages and pollution, and not just the villain-of-the-month. I think more credit needs to be given to O’Neil for forcing the Justice League title to make the jump from the Silver Age into the Bronze Age.

I Hope I Die Before I Get Old: At the end of Justice League of America #74 (September 1969), Black Canary decides to relocate from Earth-2 to Earth-1, following the death of her husband Larry Lance. She was quickly accepted into the JLA as a member. However, flash forward to 1983, in issues #219 and #220 during the 20th team-up of the JLA-JSA, it was revealed that the Black Canary that came from Earth-2 to Earth-1 (Dinah Laurel Lance) is actually the daughter of the original Black Canary (Dinah Drake-Lance). This was done as a retcon to explain how the Black Canary could have been active in both World War II with the Justice Society and in the 1980s with the Justice League. As a result, many sources now cite Justice League of America #75 as the first appearance of the second Black Canary. (Issue #75 is also the first JLA issue where Green Arrow is sporting his new costume and goatee, perhaps another indication that the title has moved into the Bronze Age.)

Footnotes: Justice League of America #67 and #76 are 80-Page Giant reprint issues. collecting three previously published stories. The covers for these two issues are in this volume.

Justice League of America #64 did not feature any members of the Justice League. While this was the first of a two-part JLA-JSA team-up, the story focused on just the Justice Society portion of the story.

Beginning with issue #68 (August 1968), artist Dick Dillin drew part of or all of every non-reprint issue of Justice League of America, with one exception (#153), until his death following issue #183 (October 1980).

If you like this volume, try: JLA by Morrison and Porter from 1997. Following Legends in the mid-1980s, a new Justice League was introduced, affectionately known as the “Bwah-ha-ha-ha” era. In the earlier years, it was a great run on the series. As it developed, it spun out into many other titles such as Justice League Europe, Justice League Task Force, and Extreme Justice. Truth be told, they became a lot of mediocre titles, so DC made the move to re-invigorate the franchise. Superstar writer Grant Morrison and upcoming artist Porter were given the keys to the castle and begun what is an epic run on the title. The threats were greater, more global in nature. The heroes were stronger and smarter, much bigger than their counterparts. The team once again took their headquarters into space, establishing the Watchtower on the moon. This book was highly influential within the comic book community. While others might not agree with me, I can see the threads and concepts and larger-than-life approach of JLA taking us to The Authority, which that led us to The Ultimates, and so on. DC has been collecting these of late in hardcover collections, and numerous trades have been released over the years, keeping these stories easily accessible.

Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 3

Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 3

First Published: December 2007

Contents: Justice League of America #37 (August 1965) to #60 (February 1968)

Key Creator Credits: Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky

Key First Appearances: The Key, Royal Flush Gang (10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of Clubs), Amos Fortune, Shaggy Man

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 2

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 4

Overview: From their secret headquarters in Happy Harbor, we rejoin the Justice League of America in their third Showcase Presents volume. When the volume starts, the league stands strong at 10 members – the original seven plus Green Arrow, Atom, and Hawkman. Surprisingly, when this volume ends, the membership will still remain those 10 members. But more on that later, let’s get into the stories.

At the point, Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky had developed a set pattern for the title. There would be eight new issues each year, plus one reprint issue. And for two issues each year, the Justice League would team up with their friends in the Justice Society, which usually resulted in some crisis that involves the two teams working together. This volume gives us three JLA-JSA team-ups, so it’s well worth reading.

What makes this volume interesting to me is the new villains introduced here. The Key would become a long-time foe of the League in all of its incarnations, and his power and story gets updated over the years. My personal favorite foes, the Royal Flush Gang, show up led by Amos Fortune. Various iterations (or should I say, suits) will return from time to time to challenge the League, with or without Fortune.  Finally, Shaggy Man stumbles into the picture, and would make occasional appearances later on.

Now, going back to the membership. Surely being asked to join the Justice League would be highlight of any hero’s career. However, the League receives their first “No”, when an offer is extended, but rejected, by Metamorpho in issue #42. Metamorpho agrees to be an honorary member. In issue #51, Zatanna makes her first appearance in the pages of Justice League, as she finally tracks down her missing father (see Showcase Presents Hawkman Vol. 1). However, it would take the JLA another 110 issues before Zatanna is made a member.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I really think this is a good starting point if you want to dive into the history of the Justice League. The storytelling and the artwork have leveled out, and you know what you will get from month to month. The lineup remains constant, but it does vary from issue to issue as not all 10 members show up for each case. And we see other characters make cameo appearances, which finally gives the reader a feeling that DC is developing a large shared universe of characters.

Footnotes: Justice League of America #39, #48, and #58 are 80-Page Giant reprint issues. collecting three previously published stories. The covers for these three issues are in this volume.

Justice League of America #42 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Metamorpho Vol. 1.

Justice League of America #60 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batgirl Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke. This is an incredible story set in the days of DC’s Silver Age. One of the biggest issues I have with the comics from this era is that the characters very rarely crossed over with each other. We never saw Aquaman or the Sea Devils when Superman went to Atlantis to visit Lori Lemaris, The Green Lanterns were seemingly unaware of Hawkman and the other Thanagarians. The Blackhawks fought a lot of the same types of foes as the Challengers of the Unknown. Sure, we had some minor crossovers, such as the Batman & Superman pairing in World’s Finest or the creation of the Justice League. With the New Frontier project, Darwyn Cooke brought everything and everyone together into one large story arc set in the 1950s. Following the end of World War II, many of the world’s Golden Age heroes went into seclusion due to the paranoia brought on by the Cold War. But the challenges of the 1950s brought out a new generation of super-heroes ready to face the world. Cooke’s artwork showcases the optimism of the 1950s super-hero, while his writing gives us a modern day take on times past. This story has been collected in multiple formats – I would suggest getting the Absolute edition, just to see the artwork on a larger page. However you read this story, do it! You won’t be disappointed.

Showcase Presents Adam Strange Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Adam Strange Vol. 1

First Published: August 2007

Contents: Showcase #17 (November-December 1958) to #19 (March-April 1959), Adam Strange stories from Mystery in Space #53 (August 1959) to #84 (June 1963)

Key Creator Credits: Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, Carmine Infantino

Key First Appearances: Adam Strange, Rann, Alanna, Sardath, Tornado Tyrant, Dust Devil

Overview: Deep in the heart of the Peruvian jungle, archaeologist Adam Strange is struck by a Zeta-Beam, and transported 25 trillion miles across space to the planet Rann. There he meets the lovely Alanna and her father Sardath, and is immediately thrown into a crisis that threatens the planet. Adam Strange steps up to save the day, becoming the hero of the planet. But before he can collect any kind of reward, Adam Strange is teleported back to Earth as the Zeta-Beam wears off, and now must wait three weeks before he can intercept the next Zeta-Beam in order to return to Rann.

Each story follows a basic formula — Adam Strange rushes to a point in the southern hemisphere to intercept the Zeta-Beam, often having to avoid a last second obstacle; once on Rann, he immediately encounters a new danger that threatens his adopted planet, which he valiantly triumphs over; and then finds himself returning to Earth before he has a chance to spend time with Alanna.

As predictable as the story formula may be, these are fun adventures each month. Pure science-fiction from its peak of popularity in the 1950s. Borrowing equal parts of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, Adam Strange becomes a hero using his knowledge of science to overcome a wide variety of alien races.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: There are numerous reasons why I should not like this book. I am not a huge fan of Carmine Infantino’s art style. I find the formulaic stories from this era too predictable. This is more a science-fiction book than a super-hero book. With all of that said, I really loved this Showcase. Adam Strange felt alive and full of energy. Gardner Fox builds a new universe of characters, and creates an ongoing continuity with the storyline, with past stories and characters coming back in later stories.

Footnotes: Adam Strange was the main feature in the Mystery in Space during this era, getting the cover and the lead story position each issue.

The character likeness of Sardath was modeled after DC editor Julie Schwartz, who took great pride in being used as a character in one of his books. Later on in life, Schwartz would issue an autobiography titled “Man of Two Worlds”, which is the tagline used with Adam Strange.

Showcase #17, #18, and #19 are also reprinted in Showcase Presents Showcase Vol. 1.

Mystery in Space #75 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: the first space-travelling hero from Earth, with the John Carter, Warlord of Mars comic series from Marvel Comics published in the late 1970s. For those unfamiliar with John Carter, he was created in 1912 by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Set in the years following the Civil War, Virginian John Carter found himself transported from Earth to Mars, where he attracts the hand of the princess Dejah Thoris while fighting the various warring tribes on Mars. Burroughs’ series of John Carter novels has been adapted in various media, from Big Little Books to motion pictures. My personal favorite adaption is the Marvel series, written primarily by Marv Wolfman and Chris Claremont, and with art by Gil Kane, Dave Cockrum, and Ernie Colon, among others. The entire series takes place between two paragraphs of Burroughs’ first novel A Princess of Mars. This series has been collected twice in recent years — Marvel released an Omnibus volume in 2012, and Dark Horse Comics released their black and white version of an Omnibus in 2011.