Showcase Presents DC Comics Presents: The Superman Team-Ups Vol. 2

supermanteamup2First Published: July 2013

Contents: DC Comics Presents #27 (November 1980) to #50 (October 1982); and DC Comics Presents Annual #1 (1982)

Key Creator Credits: Martin Pasko, Len Wein, Jim Starlin, Gerry Conway, Paul Levitz, Rich Buckler, Roy Thomas, Curt Swan, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Irv Novick, Paul Kupperberg, and others

Key First Appearances: Mongul, Waldo Flynn, Alexander Luthor, Lois Lane-Luthor

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents DC Comics Presents: The Superman Team-Ups Vol. 1

Overview: Superman can be a tricky character to write. As silly as that may sound, give it some thought. In the Bronze Age, Superman was an all-powerful character. Outside of magic or kryptonite, what threats are there to stop or slow down a guy like Superman? Quite honestly, given his powers and abilities, why would Superman ever need to team up with any other hero? That’s a good question, one which was answered each and every month in the pages of DC Comics Presents.

The stories in this volume are a mix of different stories, with one-and-done issues with offbeat co-stars (the Joker, the Masters of the Universe, Dial H for Hero) to multi-part stories (Shazam Family).

The highlight in this volume is the multi-issue arc that starts this collection. Superman is introduced to a new villain in the universe, Mongul, and it takes the combined help of the Martian Manhunter, Supergirl, and the Spectre to stop him. Mongul would become a mainstay in the DC Universe in the years to come and plays a key role in one of the greatest Superman stories ever, “For the Man Who Has Everything…” (Superman Annual #11).


One of the final issues in this collection is the first DC Comics Presents Annual, which involved the Superman of Earth-1 teaming up with the Superman of Earth-2. The two heroes must travel to Earth-3, where roles are reversed and the heroes are actually villains. So the two Supermen find themselves teaming up with the one hero of Earth-3, Alexander Luthor. This Luthor would play a key role many years later during Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: Rather than have me write up some kind of reason why you should own this book, I want to throw the challenge your way, dear reader. Tell me why these stories should not be showcased? Send me a note at I will be the first to admit when I’m wrong, and maybe I am overlooking something here. Maybe I am blinded by my love for the team-up concept. I could read this title, along with The Brave and the Bold, Marvel Two-in-One, and Marvel Team-Up, all day long. As a cheap black & white reprint collection, this seems like a no-brainer to have on your shelf. Loan it to your friends or your kids or your friends’ kids. These books are awesome, and I stand by my opinion!

Footnotes: DC Comics Presents #46 features Superman teaming up with the Global Guardians, which were made up of heroes from other countries around the world. These heroes all made their appearance in the Super Friends comic book, which was released to support the Saturday morning cartoon. There was some debate as to whether or not that comic was part of the DC Universe proper. While it made reference to ongoing storylines in other DC books, it really wasn’t until this issue of DCCP that it was firmly considered to be part of the DC Universe. The members would go on to varying degrees of success – Green Fury would be renamed Fire and Ice Maiden would become Ice before joining Justice League International.

Who’s Who:
#27 – Superman & Martian Manhunter
#28 – Superman & Supergirl
#29 – Superman & Spectre / Showcase Presents The Spectre Vol. 1
#30 – Superman & Black Canary
#31 – Superman & Robin
#32 – Superman & Wonder Woman
#33 – Superman & Shazam
#34 – Superman & the Shazam Family
#35 – Superman & Man-Bat
#36 – Superman & Starman
#37 – Superman & Hawkgirl
#38 – Superman & the Flash
#39 – Superman & Plastic Man
#40 – Superman & Metamorpho
#41 – Superman & the Joker
#42 – Superman & the Unknown Soldier
#43 – Superman & the Legion of Super-Heroes
#44 – Superman & Dial H for Hero
#45 – Superman & Firestorm
#46 – Superman & the Global Guardians
#47 – Superman & the Masters of the Universe
#48 – Superman & Aquaman
#49 – Superman & Shazam
Annual #1 – Superman & Superman
#50 – Superman & Clark Kent

If you like this volume, try: the Superman animated series from the late 1990s. Running for 54 episodes over three seasons, Superman tied in perfectly with Batman: The Animated Series, as the two shows were set in the same universe. Many characters crossed over between the two series, and the success of both would lead to the Justice League animated series. In Superman, we were given a Man of Steel that closely resembled the John Byrne Superman post-Crisis. But the designs of the backgrounds were firmly set in the world of the Max Fleisher cartoons. There is not a better representation of Superman anywhere. DVDs of this series are readily available, so even if you missed it the first time, you can still track it down.

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 Ambush Bug Vol. 1

Showcase Presents Ambush Bug Vol. 1

First Published: March 2009

Contents: DC Comics Presents #52 (December 1982), #59 (July 1983), and #81 (May 1985); Supergirl #16 (February 1984); Ambush Bug stories from Action Comics #560 (October 1984), #563 (January 1985), and #565 (March 1985); Ambush Bug #1 (June 1985) to #4 (September 1985); Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer #1 (1986); Son of Ambush Bug #1 (July 1986) to #6 (December 1986); Ambush Bug story from Secret Origins #48 (April 1990); and Ambush Bug Nothing Special #1 (September 1992)

Key Creator Credits: Keith Giffen, Paul Kupperberg, Robert Loren Fleming, Bob Oksner, and others

Key First Appearances: Irwin Schwab/Ambush Bug, Cheeks, Argh!Yle!

Overview: Sometimes a character is introduced in the background of a story, used to help advance the plot. But sometimes, those background characters become the most interesting part of the book. Case in point, we start by looking at DC Comics Presents #52, which is listed as a team-up of Superman and the Doom Patrol. Those are the stars of the book, but the story is stolen by an odd villain character – a guy in a green bug suit that has the ability to teleport and cause some mayhem. That is how we are introduced to Ambush Bug.

Ambush Bug caught on with readers and started become a foil for the various Kryptonians located on Earth. By the time DC Comics Presents #81 came out, he had garnered enough recognition to warrant the co-star status along with Superman. From there, it’s time to move on into your own mini-series and specials.

However, with those mini-series and specials, the approach takes a 90-degree turn, towards the fourth wall. Within the stories, Ambush Bug is now considered a hero of sorts, trying to find his place in the DC Universe. But at the same time, Ambush Bug starts interacting with the reader, as well as the comic book creators themselves. Conversations are had with Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming, and Bob Oksner via word balloons. Even longtime DC editor Julie Schwartz gets into the action and the stories as a disembodied head inserted into tales.

Along the way, we find out parts of his origin – we think! We meet Ambush Bug’s sidekick/best friend, Cheeks. We meet the personification of Johnny DC in the stories. and we come across the most nefarious of villains ever conceived, Argh!Yle!, who happens to be a sentient sock. Yes, a sock. Trust me, this book is just one pun after another. You should expect nothing less when dealing with one of the most offbeat characters in the DC Universe.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: Giffen has been a mainstay at DC for years and has contributed greatly to the history of the DC Universe with his work on Legion of Super-Heroes, Justice League, and, yes, even Ambush Bug. (And yes, he’s had his share of issues over that time as well.) Depending how long the Showcase Presents line runs, we may eventually see his work in LSH. I could also see DC skipping ahead and starting a Showcase Presents Justice League line, to go along with their other collections from the 1980s. Until either of those happen, this will serve as Giffen’s contribution to the Showcase Presents line. At his peak, Ambush Bug was a very popular character in the 1980s, so yes it should be showcased like this.

Footnotes: Several times in this book, scripter Robert Loren Fleming makes reference to a previous DC Comics series of his, Thriller, which ran for 12 issues in 1983 and 1984. Thriller was a direct-market only book, meaning that it could only be found in comic book stores. This series has never been collected, so you will need to dive into some back issue bins to track this one down.  

If you like this volume, try: the issues of The Tick from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Created by Ben Edlund to serve as a mascot for his local comic book store, the Tick soon moved into his own comic strip and then his own book. The Tick served as a spoof of the superhero comic industry, mocking the latest trends with exaggerated caricatures. Like Ambush Bug, the Tick would often break the fourth wall to interact with the reader. His popularity earned him a Saturday morning cartoon series from 1994 to 1997, and later a live-action TV series from 2001. These issues have been collected multiple times in trade paperbacks and omnibus editions, so they should be easy to track down.