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 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 Bat Lash Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Bat Lash Vol. 1

First Published: July 2009

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

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

Key First Appearances: Bat Lash

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

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

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

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

Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 3

Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 3

First Published: January 2008

Contents: Aquaman #24 (November-December 1965) to #39 (May-June 1968); The Brave and the Bold #73 (August-September 1967); and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #115 (October 1968)

Key Creator Credits: Nick Cardy, Bob Haney, and others

Key First Appearances: Ocean Master, Tula/Aquagirl, Black Manta, Vulko, Scavenger

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 2

Overview: Here we are with Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 3, or as I like to think of it, Showcase Presents Aquaman Family Vol. 1. In the same ways that characters like Superman and Batman developed a supporting cast, many of whom had identities starting with the words “super” or “bat”, Aquaman finds himself in a similar situation with his supporting cast. We’ve had Aqualad for years, and the last volume gave us Aquababy. Now with this collection, we get Aquagirl to give Aqualad someone to hang out with. And much like some of the Superman Family- or Batman Family-type issues of the era, we are treated to some ho-hum issues of the Aquaman Family working together to solve some undersea calamity.

In addition to Aquagirl, we are finally introduced to Vulko, an Atlantean who would become Aquaman’s trusted advisor. Vulko has become a mainstay in Aquaman comics for many years – whether bringing Arthur up to speed after a long absence from Atlantis or sitting on the throne as king when Aquaman finds himself ousted from his home.

But the highlight of this collection is the completion of Aquaman’s Rogues Gallery. The two villains most associated with Aquaman make their first appearance in these issues. We find out that Ocean Master is Arthur’s half-brother, which creates a new set of struggles for Aquaman, who has very little blood relatives in his life. It’s hard to love your family when they are trying to kill you every other issue! We also meet Black Manta, an angry man that wants nothing more than to take down Aquaman. Both of these foes have become mainstays not only in Aquaman’s universe but in the DC Universe proper. Another minor villain is introduced in the Scavenger. Truthfully, you probably have read stories featuring Scavenger. He’s just not that memorable of a character.

This majority of this collection is written by Bob Haney and art by Nick Cardy, two names that are very synonymous with 1960s DC Comics. We do get a rare non-Batman issue of The Brave and the Bold, as Aquaman teams up with his fellow Justice League member, the Atom.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: This is a hit-and-miss collection for me. When the stories are good, they are great! Some of these issues make me believe that Aquaman could be a top-tier character. But then you get a not-so-good story, and those sink to the bottom faster than the Titanic. It’s almost like they found an unused script from a few years prior and decided to run with it. I’m not trying to bash those issues. I’m sure someone out there really enjoyed them.

If you like this volume, try: the Aquaman: Death of the Prince trade paperback from 2011. OK, as of the writing of this post, DC has not released a Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 4, which is a huge shame! Beginning with issue #40, Jim Aparo took over as the series artist, providing a new definitive look to Aquaman and his family. The series ran until #56 in the early 1970s. In the mid-1970s, the series resumed with issue #57, and kicked things up a notch, as evidenced by this trade paperback title. The Aquaman title ran until #63 (thanks DC Implosion!), but Aquaman’s story continued in the pages of Adventure Comics. As I noted in my review for Volume 2, Aquaman was one of the first characters that DC actively developed and pushed forward story lines featuring major life events (marriage, birth of a son, and now death in the family). This is a great volume to track down to read Aquaman’s tumultuous adventures from the 1970s.

Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 2

Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 2

First Published: January 2008

Contents: Aquaman #7 (January-February 1963) to #23 (September-October 1965); Aquaman stories from World’s Finest Comics #130 (December 1962) to #133 (May 1963), #135 (August 1963), #137 (November 1963), and #139 (February 1964); and The Brave and the Bold #51 (December 1963 – January 1964)

Key Creator Credits: Ramona Fradon, Jack Miller, Nick Cardy, and others

Key First Appearances: Mera, Fisherman, Aquababy

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 1

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 3

Overview: Welcome back to the underwater adventures of Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas. With his sidekick, Aqualad, they do their best to protect the oceans (and the Earth) from alien invasions, mad Greek gods, and magical imps. The early stories continue to be one-and-done tales.

The book takes a big turn with issue #11, as we are introduced to Mera, an exiled queen from another dimension. She has the ability to manipulate hard water in both defensive and offensive attacks. Aquaman is instantly smitten by this red-haired beauty, and the two are inseparable, often to the detriment of Aqualad.

This volume introduces the first of Aquaman’s Rogues Gallery. (And yes, it is hard to even type that without snickering just a little bit.) While his list of familiar foes pales in comparison to that of Batman, Superman, or Flash, Aquaman finally gets into the bad-guy business with the introduction of the Fisherman. (Please stay tuned for Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 3, as we finally get to see the likes of Ocean Master and Black Manta appear.)

This volume concludes with the birth of Arthur Curry, Jr., otherwise known as Aquababy. With a wife and son at home, that leaves very little time for Aquaman to be hanging out with Aqualad. Hopefully we can resolve that issue in the next volume, too.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: Let’s start with a positive – this is a much easier collection to read compared to Volume 1. It’s still not a great read, especially early on in this volume. What makes this volume interesting is that this is the first character where DC actively started moving a character forward into an ongoing storyline. Mera is introduced in issue #11. Aquaman and Mera are married in issue #18, with his JLA teammates in attendance. Aquababy is born in issue #23. (Remember, Aquaman was a bi-monthly book, so everything is on the up-and-up.) We also see a similar progression with Barry Allen in the pages of The Flash, but Aquaman was the first.

Footnotes: The Brave and the Bold #51 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Hawkman Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: the Aquaman series by Peter David from the 1990s. David wrote the 4-issue Aquaman: Time and Tide mini-series in 1993, which explored Aquaman’s origins in relation to David’s previous work, The Atlantis Chronicles. Based on the success of the mini-series, DC launched a new ongoing Aquaman series in 1994. David would write this title for nearly 4 years. This is the notable storyline where Aquaman lost his hand to a piranha attack, and replaced it with a harpoon. The Aquaman presented here is the angry ruler of Atlantis that should be respected and feared, which helped distance the character from the Super Friends version that could only talk to fish. As good as this series is, DC has failed us (to date) with no trades collecting this run. The Time and Tide story can be found in trade, but you will need to dive into the back issue bins to find the ongoing series issues.

Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2

Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2

First Published: January 2007

Contents: The Brave and The Bold #88 (February-March 1970) to #108 (August-September 1973)

Key Creator Credits: Bob Haney, Neal Adams, Ross Andru, Nick Cardy, Jim Aparo, Bob Brown, and others

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 1

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 3

Overview: Welcome back to the Batman team-ups from The Brave and the Bold. Once again, Bob Haney weaves a unique take on Batman, finding unusual ways to bring Batman together with the likes of Green Arrow, Deadman, and the Metal Men.

A couple of books highlight this volume in particular:

  • The Brave and the Bold #98 featured Batman meeting up with the Phantom Stranger. While that match-up, in particular, is not huge, it does mark Jim Aparo’s first take on Batman. Aparo was a rising star at DC at this time, having gained notice for his work on Aquaman and The Phantom Stranger. Aparo would then go on to handle the art on nearly 80 of the next 100 issues of The Brave and the Bold.
  • The Brave and the Bold #100 (February-March 1972) featured Batman “teaming up” with Robin, Black Canary, Green Arrow, and Green Lantern. In all actuality, Batman had been shot and needed the other heroes to solve a crime for him while he recovered. This was published around the same time as the “Hard Traveling Heroes” storyline was coming to an end in the pages of Green Lantern (see Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 5 for that full story).

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I’ve said it before and I will say it again – any of the team-up books from DC (or Marvel) should be must-own for any fan. This is Batman with some of the greatest art talents of the time (Adams, Aparo, Cardy) providing covers and enticing stories to match the crazy stories being delivered to us by Bob Haney. These stories do not worry about continuity, so try not to take these too seriously. Just enjoy the absurdity of Batman teaming up with Sgt. Rock or the House of Mystery.

Who’s Who / Reprinted Elsewhere:
#88 – Batman & Wildcat
#89 – Batman & The Phantom Stranger / Showcase Presents The Phantom Stranger Vol. 2
#90 – Batman & Adam Strange
#91 – Batman & Black Canary
#92 – Batman & The Bat-Squad
#93 – Batman & House of Mystery
#94 – Batman & Teen Titans / Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 2
#95 – Batman & Plastic Man
#96 – Batman & Sgt. Rock
#97 – Batman & Wildcat
#98 – Batman & The Phantom Stranger / Showcase Presents The Phantom Stranger Vol. 2
#99 – Batman & Flash
#100 – Batman & Black Canary, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Robin
#101 – Batman & Metamorpho
#102 – Batman & Teen Titans
#103 – Batman & Metal Men
#104 – Batman & Deadman
#105 – Batman & Wonder Woman
#106 – Batman & Green Arrow
#107 – Batman & Black Canary
#108 – Batman & Sgt. Rock

If you like this volume, try: the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series. Running on the Cartoon Network from 2008 to 2011, this was a beautiful and fun homage to the Batman team-ups of the 1960s and 1970s. While some team-ups occurred more frequently (Aquaman and Green Arrow), the creators of the series pulled team-ups from all corners of the DC Universe. You would think that the spirit of Bob Haney was supervising the writer’s room for this series. Truth be told, I think I even teared up some with Batman teaming up with the Doom Patrol at the end of that group’s career. The finale of the series tied everything together and made promises that the adventures of Batman will never end. If you have not watched them, or not watched them recently, you owe it to yourself to give this series a look. (There was a Johnny DC book released to support this cartoon as well. While it captured the look and humor of the series, part of the joy with the series is seeing the team-ups animated on the screen. Track this series down for the young Batman fan in your life.)

Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 2

Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 2

First Published: October 2007

Contents: Teen Titans #19 (January-February 1969) to #36 (November-December 1971); The Brave and the Bold #83 (April-May 1969) and #94 (February-March 1971); and World’s Finest Comics #205 (September 1971)

Key Creator Credits: Bob Haney, Nick Cardy, Neal Adams, George Tuska, Gil Kane, Robert Kanigher, Steve Skeates, and others

Key First Appearances: Lilith, Loren Jupiter, Mal Duncan, Gnarrk

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 1

Overview: The Teen Titans return in their second Showcase Presents volume to continue their adventures as the heroes-in-training for the next generation.

This volume kicks off with issue #19, which featured a line-up change. Speedy officially joins the team as a regular member, after making some cameo appearances in the past. At the same time, Aqualad leaves the team to return to Atlantis. (Maybe it was too hard to write tales that provided Aqualad a chance to swim?) Aqualad still makes the occasional appearance, and short return stints from time to time.

In addition to Speedy, some new faces start hanging out with Teen Titans. The pre-cog Lilith joins the team, but never develops a formal costume to wear. That would later inspire the Titans to handle some future cases in their street clothes. Lilith had been working for Loren Jupiter, who would come onboard to help fund the Teen Titans. Mal Duncan proves his worth to the team, although he does not have any super powers. (Much later, Mal will go through a couple of costumed identities in the mid 1970s when the Teen Titans returns to the publishing schedule.) Finally, Hawk and Dove make a visit to the Teen Titans, but do not join up until the short-lived launch of Titans West.

These stories still remain for the most part as one-and-done, so you do have the option of skipping ahead to stories that may interest you more than others. Naturally, I’m going to encourage you to read it cover to cover, but you do what you want!

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I believe that this is a better volume than Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 1. The stories are not as corny, as they start dealing with real issues of the time, such as the Vietnam War. Adding Lilith and Mal Duncan provided a much-needed diversification to the white male dominated books of the time. There are issues that Robin does not appear and the stories do not suffer without the most visible Titan included. The art in this book is just spectacular, with highlights from Adams and Cardy. This is a very good book, so pick it up and give it a look.

Footnotes: The Brave and the Bold #83 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents The Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 1.

The Brave and the Bold #94 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents The Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2.

This Showcase Presents volume ends with Teen Titans #36. The Teen Titans series came to an end in early 1973 with issue #43. The Titans were brought back in 1976 as part of the DC Explosion, continuing the numbering with issue #44. That run came to an end with issue #53, as part of the DC “Implosion” of the late 1970s.

If you like this volume, try: the 1980 New Teen Titans series from Marv Wolfman and George Perez. This is THE Teen Titans series to read! The new line-up was a mixtures of original Titans (Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and Beast Boy/Changeling) and new characters (Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire). Wolfman took a more serious approach to the stories, introducing real threats well beyond the goofiness of “Mad Mod” from the 1960s. For example, Deathstroke the Terminator (the primary villain on CW’s Arrow show) was introduced in New Teen Titans #2 and became the primary threat for the Titans over the entire 15-year run by Wolfman with the team. The characters grew up, changed identities, married, had children, and experienced all of the trials and tribulations of normal people. This has been collected multiple times, from Archives to Omnibus. A new trade paperback of the initial issues is coming out later this fall if you have not read these yet. Personally, my favorite storyline from this run is The Judas Contract, which should be required reading for any Teen Titans fan.