Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 4

worldsfinest4First Published: November 2012

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

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

Key First Appearances: Supernova

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Showcase Presents The House of Mystery Vol. 2

showcase_presents_house_mystery_volume_2First Published: March 2007

Contents: The House of Mystery #195 (October 1971) to #211 (February 1973)

Key Creator Credits: Joe Orlando, Sergio Aragonés, Neal Adams, Nick Cardy, Bernie Wrightson, John Albano, E. Nelson Bridwell, and others

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents The House of Mystery Vol. 1

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents The House of Mystery Vol. 3

Overview: Welcome back to the House of Mystery? Much like the Hotel California – you can check out any time you want but you can never leave.

This anthology once again presents horror stories in black and white, which only adds to the creepiness of the tales. Any type of story is fair game for this format, and many of the stories are introduced by Cain, the caretaker of the House of Mystery. or issue #174, the book went back to

The earlier issues in this collection are larger issues, so you get 40+ pages of stories and features per issue. In the later issues in this collection, the page count drops down to the 20-25 pages per issue. There is no continuity between the stories, so these can be read in any order.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: Read this for the art, as always. The stories vary in quality but that’s OK. I am more fascinated by the artwork page after page. So many talented artists that are given free reign to tell stories however they want to without having to abide by a style guide.

If you like this volume, try: Harrow County from Dark Horse Comics. Written by Cullen Bunn and art by Tyler Crook, this is a modern horror series that feels like it would fit right at home with the House of Mystery fans. The woods that surround Emmy’s home in Harrow County are filled with ghosts and monsters. But it’s not until Emmy’s eighteenth birthday that the ghosts and monsters introduce themselves to her, and she realizes that there is more to her life and her home than she ever realized. While the issues are being collected in trade paperbacks, some of the backup features are not included in the collections so you may want to track down the individual issues now. With a television series in development, you may want to grab up these back issues now.

Showcase Presents The Spectre Vol. 1

spectreFirst Published: April 2012

Contents: Showcase #60 (January/February 1966), #61 (March/April 1966), and #64 (September/October 1966); The Brave and the Bold #72 (June/July 1967), #75 (December 1967/January 1968), #116 (December 1974/January 1975), #180 (November 1981), and #199 (June 1983); The Spectre #1 (November/December 1967) to #10 (May/June 1969); Spectre stories from Adventure Comics #431 (January/February 1974) to #440 (); DC Comics Presents #29 (January 1981); and Spectre stories from Ghosts #97 (February 1981) to #99 (April 1981)

Key Creator Credits: Gardner Fox, Murphy Anderson, Bob Haney, Neal Adams, Michael Fleisher, Jim Aparo, Jerry Grandenetti, Ernie Chan, Ross Andru, Paul Kupperberg, and others

Key First Appearances: Azmodus, Gwendolyn Sterling

Overview: With his debut in More Fun Comics #52 (February 1940), the Spectre remains one of DC’s oldest characters. Developed by Superman c0-creator Jerry Siegel (with an attributed assist by artist Bernard Baily), the Spectre was originally Detective Jim Corrigan. The good detective found himself the target of hoodlums, who placed him in a barrel filled with concrete and then drowned. However, Corrigan’s spirit is denied entry to Heaven, and must return to Earth to eliminate evil. During this era, the Spectre would serve as a member of the Justice Society of America.

This volume picks up the Spectre’s story in the middle of the Silver Age. The Spectre, along with the rest of the Justice Society, have returned to action in the pages of The Flash and Justice League of America. DC editor Julie Schwartz wanted to see if the Spectre could stand on his own, so he gave the character a try-out in the pages of Showcase, followed soon by appearances in The Brave and the Bold. The interest was there to warrant the Spectre getting his own series, but that only ran for 10 issues.

When we see the Spectre again, it is now in the Bronze Age, and the haunted hero is now a feature in Adventure Comics. These stories show the dark potential of the character, as the Spectre exacts brutal punishments to those committing evil acts. This run lasted around a year, before the pages in the book were given over to Aquaman.

The volume concludes with multiple other appearances of the Spectre in team-up books and as a backup feature in Ghosts. However, although not collected in this book, our hero could still be found making appearances in Justice League, All-Star Comics, and All-Star Squadron.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: This is a mixed volume in terms of the types of stories collected. You get the superhero aspect with the various team-ups, the angel of vengeance in other stories, and would-be horror anthology host in others. So there might be some type of story that you can find in here that you will enjoy. But reading these in consecutive order, the character seems under-utilized most of the time. It’s not until much later, specifically the 1990s, where I feel like a writer and artists finally found the full potential of the character.

Earth(-2) Angel, Earth(-1) Angel: So which DC Earth do the Spectre stories take place in? For the stories that involve the Justice Society members such as Wildcat, those take place on Earth-2. For his team-ups with Batman, Superman, and the Flash, those take place on Earth-1. As for the rest, well, I think that is up to the reader to decide. The Spectre seems to not be bound to any one Earth in particular, especially when the story is scripted by Bob Haney.

Footnotes:  The Brave and the Bold #75 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents The Brave and the Bold: Batman Team-Ups Vol. 1.

The Brave and the Bold #116 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents The Brave and the Bold: Batman Team-Ups Vol. 3.

DC Comics Presents #29 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents DC Comics Presents: Superman Team-Ups Vol. 2.

If you like this volume, try: The Spectre series from 1992. The series ran for five plus years, and it was written entirely by John Ostrander. The series focused on the Spectre serving as the embodiment of the Wrath of God, dealing out punishments for murders of any kind. Ostrander is a former theology student, and his knowledge and experience were reflected in the story topics found over the course of the series. The first 22 issues of the title were recently reprinted in trade paperbacks, but you will need to hit the back issue bins to track down the remainder of the series. Well worth the hunt!

Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 5

First Published: October 2011

Contents: Batman #216 (November 1969) to #228 (February 1971); Batman stories from Detective Comics #391 (September 1969) to #407 (January 1971)

Key Creator Credits: Frank Robbins, Irv Novick, Bob Brown, Neal Adams, Denny O’Neil, and others

Key First Appearances: Ten-Eyed Man, Arthur Reeves, Kirk Langstrom/Man-Bat, Francine Langstrom

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 4

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 6

Overview: It’s time to head back to the Batcave for another set of Batman adventures. But wait, what’s this… the Batcave is closed? This is Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 5.

This volume looks at the Batman stories from the early 1970s. Dick Grayson has finally left to go to college at Hudson University, and Bruce Wayne (and Alfred) suddenly realize how large and empty Wayne Manor feels now. So they close up the Manor (and the Batcave) and relocate to the Wayne Foundation tower in downtown Gotham City. Bruce lives in the penthouse suite but has a secret elevator to a hidden garage where the Batmobile is stored. This keeps Batman in Gotham at all times, allowing him to respond quicker to threats to his city.

But just because he is away at college doesn’t mean that we do not see Robin in this collection. He still makes the occasional appearance, such as in Batman #222, when they are tasked to discover the truth behind the rumors surrounding a Beatles-type group and  the possible death of the lead singer, Saul Cartwright. (This was cashing in on the ever-ongoing rumor that Paul McCartney had died years previous and had been replaced in the Beatles.)

A major new addition is added to the Batman Family in Detective Comics #400, with the introduction of the Man-Bat. Kirk Langstrom is a curator at the Gotham City Museum, and he has a keen interest in bats. Developing a serum, Langstrom hopes to modify himself into the next generation Batman. Unfortunately, the serum does not work as planned, and Langstrom is transformed into a living man-sized bat. With the origin of the Man-Bat in place, Batman works to stop as well as cure Langstrom. The curator is returned to normal, but we know that the Man-Bat will return multiple times in the future.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: A lot of the problems that I had with Vol. 4 still carry over into this collection. While there is nothing wrong with focusing on the Batman as a detective, these issues have me wanting more. If you have an artist of the caliber of Neal Adams on the title, should you be using him to draw common street criminals month after month? The redeeming point of the book is that towards the end, we start to see Denny O’Neil introducing the story elements for the future stories to be read in Vol. 6, where we will finally be introduced to Ra’s al Ghul.

Footnotes: Batman #218, #223 and #228 are reprint issues. The covers are included in this collection. 

Batman #217 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Robin the Boy Wonder Vol. 1.

Batman #225 contains two Batman stories, “Wanted for Murder One, The Batman” and “Shutdown on York Street!”. However, the “Shutdown on York Street!” story is not reprinted in this collection.

Detective Comics #404 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Enemy Ace Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: The Joker series from 1975 and 1976. During the period collected in this volume, more emphasis was being put on Batman being a detective. When he did battle “villains”, it was newer creations such as Man-Bat, the League of Assassins, and Ra’s al Ghul. The more colorful villains that we associate with Batman, such as the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, and Catwoman, were only being used in The Brave and the Bold from time to time. In early 1975, DC launched a bi-monthly series focusing on the Joker. With the Comics Code Authority still in place, the creative team had to adhere to a lot of rules in order to feature a villain as the protagonist. The Joker could not kill, he had to be captured at the end of each story, and Batman could not be used in the book. Even without the Caped Crusader, plenty of other characters made appearances in the run, such as Commissioner Gordon, Green Arrow, Black Canary, the Creeper, Catwoman, Two-Face and even Sherlock Holmes. The series ran for just nine issues, and the entire series was reprinted in a trade paperback in 2013.

Showcase Presents Enemy Ace Vol. 1

showcase_presents_enemy_ace_volume_1First Published: February 2008

Contents: Enemy Ace stories from Our Army at War #151 (February 1965), #153 (April 1965), and #155 (); Showcase #57 (July/August 1965) and #58 (September/October 1965); Enemy Ace stories from Star-Spangled War Stories #138 (April/May 1968) to #145 (June/July 1969), #147 (October/November 1969) to #150 (April/May 1970); #152 (August/September 1970), #158 (August/September 1971), #181 (July/August 1974) to #183 (November/December 1974), and #200 (June/July 1976); Enemy Ace stories from Men of War #1 (August 1977) to #3 (November 1977), #8 (August 1978) to #10 (November 1978), #12 (January 1979) to #14 (March 1979), #19 (August 1979) and #20 (September 1979); Enemy Ace stories from Unknown Soldier #251 (May 1981) to #253 (July 1981), #260 (February 1982), #261 (March 1982), and #265 (July 1982) to #267 (September 1982); and the Enemy Ace story from Detective Comics #404 (October 1970)

Key Creator Credits: Joe Kubert, Robert Kanigher, Frank Thorne, Howard Chaykin, John Severin, Ed Davis, Neal Adams, and others

Key First Appearances: Baron Hans Von Hammer, Black Wolf

Overview: Flying across “no man’s land” during the height of the Great War (later renamed as World War I), Baron Hans Von Hammer leads the German forces in the air. Flying his easily-recognized crimson Fokker triplane, the “Angel of Death” fights a noble battle against his opponents in defense of Germany. This is Showcase Presents Enemy Ace.

Created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert, Enemy Ace is a loose adaptation of the Red Baron story, who was an actual German pilot during the Great War. von Hammer comes from a noble family, complete with their own family flag. He has not friends, save for his personal servant that spends most of his time polishing the trophies earned from each of von Hammer’s kills. When he needs a break, von Hammer goes hunting in the Black Forest, where he is joined by his kindred spirit, the Black Wolf. They both hunt alone in life but appreciate each other’s company when reunited in the woods. brothers from a Kansas farm enlist in the Army at the onset of World War

In the air, von Hammer follows a strict guideline when engaging the enemy. He refuses to fire on an opponent that is out of ammo, even turning on the pilots in his own squadron if they break that rule. His ruthless reputation precedes him at all times, with his familiar plane bringing fear to those on the ground and in the air.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: The art from Joe Kubert, followed later by Howard Chaykin and John Severin, definitely make this a volume worth looking at. My problem is the formulaic stories used for the first two-thirds of this collection. These stories were written as a one-and-done, and no thought was ever given to the idea that they would later be collected into a complete collection like this. The stories are repetitive, with the nationality of the opposing pilot being the main difference from issue to issue.

Footnotes: “Ghost of the Killer Skies” from Detective Comics #404 was reprinted in Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 5.

While he is referred to as the “Angel of Death” or the “Hammer from Hell”, von Hammer is never referenced as the “Enemy Ace”. That is just the name of the feature and not his call-sign.

If you like this volume, try: Jacques Tardi’s book, It Was the War of the Trenches. Quite honestly, there are not a lot of comics based in World War I. With many of the great comic artists and writers coming of age during the World War II era, so many of the war comics are focused during the second war. But the first war is just as brutal, as epically captured in this book by Tardi. The book focuses on the struggles of the French and German forces, moving back and forth across “no man’s land” bunkered in trenches filled with sewage and rotting corpses. This is not an easy book to read, certainly not for the faint of heart. Tardi is no fan of war and points out that the only ones who want war are the military leaders and the munitions manufacturers. The soldiers in the trenches, regardless of their uniforms, do not want to be there, and will do anything (literally risking life and limb) to get out of there and return home. Enemy Ace paints a sanitized view of the war, with a certain nobility and rules to be followed when dueling in the sky. It Was the War of the Trenches shows the real view (and costs) of the war.

Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 5

greenlantern5First Published: April 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 5

JLA5

First Published: February 2011

Contents: Justice League of America #84 (November 1970) to #106 (July/August 1973)

Key Creator Credits: Mike Friedrich, Dick Dillin, Len Wein, Neal Adams, and others

Key First Appearances: Assemblers (Blue Jay, Silver Sorceress, Wandjina, Jack B. Quick), Merlyn, Starbreaker, Nebula Man, Kathy Sutton

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

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 6

Overview: With apologies to Hanna-Barbera, “In the great hall of the Justice League, there are assembled the world’s greatest heroes, created from the cosmic legends of the universe — Superman! Batman! Wonder Woman! Aquaman! Flash! Green Arrow! Green Lantern! Hawkman! Black Canary! Atom! To fight injustice, to right that which is wrong, and to serve all mankind!”

This volume can be broken down into two sections, based on the two writers (Mike Friedrich and Len Wein) who script all but one of the stories in this collection. We saw in the last volume that Dick Dillin took over the art duties, which began one of the longest runs of any artist on a Justice League title. Artist Neal Adams does most of the cover work in this collection, helping to set the tone for each issue before the book is even opened.

Mike Friedrich was a fresh face in the industry in the 1970s. He was a long-time letter page writer who leveraged his ongoing correspondence with editor Julie Schwartz to start selling short stories and fill-in stories. Justice League of America was Friedrich’s first ongoing assignment for DC. His stories tended to stay in the formula long-established by Gardner Fox and then Denny O’Neil and utilized the roster put in place by O’Neil. Friedrich did make some addition to the cast of characters in the DC Universe. In his second JLA issue, he introduced the Assemblers, a group of heroes that seemed to resemble Marvel’s Avengers. (Call it an homage, seeing that Marvel had already introduced in the pages of the Avengers the Squadron Sinister/Supreme, which those characters were an homage back to the Justice League.) He also introduced the villain archer Merlyn, who would be a minor character for many years until being brought to the forefront with the Arrow TV show in the last few years.

The addition of Wein takes the title to new heights. Beginning with issue #100, he starts a three-part JLA-JSA team-up that also brings back the legendary Seven Soldiers of Victory, who have been trapped in limbo for years. The heroes are revived, but not before a hero makes a final sacrifice. How do you follow that epic? Easily, you send the Justice League to Rutland, Vermont, for the annual Halloween parade. For good measure, Len Wein writes himself, along with his wife Glynis and future JLA writers Gerry Conway and Steve Englehart, into the story. If Rutland sounds familiar, it became a nexus between comic book companies in the 1970s. (Check out my write-up for Essential Avengers Vol. 4 for more details.)

As with previous volumes, one of the highlights is seeing the new members elected into the JLA. Towards the end of this volume, we see the Elongated Man, a long-time friend of the Flash, and the Red Tornado, re-assembled and now living on Earth-1, join the league. There was one other vote in this collection, as the heroes debated and finally agreed to offer a spot to the Phantom Stranger, who makes his first appearance in this title. Only the Phantom Stranger didn’t stick around to hear the results of the vote. The Phantom Stranger would make numerous appearances in the title in the years to come, helping the League out of a tough situation or by just providing ominous warnings.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: This is a hodge-podge collection of issues, but it really does work. I think it is in this era, particularly when writer Len Wein takes over, that the full potential of this title takes hold, and this truly does feel like a book worthy of the plug, “World’s Greatest Super-Heroes!” Everything that you want to see in a JLA collection is here – new members joining the team, new villains being introduced, and multiple JLA-JSA team-ups. We also get to the point in the series where it stops being a collection of one-and-done stories, and there is more of an ongoing narrative that continues from issue to issue.

Footnotes: Justice League of America #85 and #93 are Giant-size reprint issues. collecting previously published stories. The covers for these two issues are in this volume.

Justice League of America #91 and #92 are also reprinted in Showcase Presents Robin Vol. 1.

Justice League of America #103 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents The Phantom Stranger Vol. 2.

If you like this volume, try: JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice original graphic novel from 2002. Released in late 2002, writers David Goyer and Geoff Johns (who were then writing the monthly JSA book) craft a fresh story bringing the two legendary teams together for the first time in the modern age. (Remember, the JLA-JSA team-up tradition came to an end with Crisis!). Artists Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino make the characters jump out from the page, truly capturing the individual personalities of each of the characters. The two teams have gathered together for a Thanksgiving dinner, but suddenly find many of their teammates possessed by the embodiments of the Seven Deadly Sins. The unaffected members of the two teams must work together to free their friends as well as figure out who is the true foe they are going up against. This was originally released as a hardcover book, and the softcover edition came out the following year. The complete story was recently included in JSA Omnibus Vol. 1, which came out in 2014.