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 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 essentialshowcase@gmail.com. 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 Superman Family Vol. 4

Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 4

First Published: April 2013

Contents: Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #45 (June 1960) to #53 (June 1961); and Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #17 (May 1960) to #26 (July 1961)

Key Creator Credits: Curt Swan, Otto Binder, Jerry Siegel, Kurt Schaffenberger, and others

Key First Appearances: Miss Gzptlsnz

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 3

Overview: On the off-hand chance that you are a first-time reader of this blog, or that this is your first encounter with Showcase Presents Superman Family, then welcome to the ongoing adventures of Superman’s pal, Jimmy Olsen, and Superman’s girlfriend, Lois Lane.

Each comic contains three 8- to 10-page stories that followed predictable formulas from one story to the next. As with any of theses stories from DC’s Silver Age, there is no continuity between titles and stories. The Daily Planet remains the greatest place in the world to work, as they have a very generous vacation policy; they allow you to use the paper’s helicopter for personal travel; and they will throw a party to celebrate any and all events in a person’s career, be it birthday, anniversary, or 100th story scoop.

There is an ongoing series of stories in the Lois Lane issues that starts in this collection. We get to see a series of “imaginary adventures” that give us a look into the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Superman, as Lois and Clark Kent/Superman finally marry. (For the record, ALL COMICS ARE IMAGINARY ADVENTURES!) Most of these Mr. and Mrs. Superman stories involved Lois staying home to tending to their house or their children, while Clark Kent continues his successful journalism career, not to mention his extraordinary moments as Superman. Lois finds herself unhappy with her life because she always imagined that being married to Superman would be the greatest accomplishment ever. Thankfully, we are reminded that these stories are imaginary, and everything reverts back to normal with the next story.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: With this series, I find that the most current volume is the best one of the series. So Volume 4 is better than Volumes 1, 2, and 3, and Volume 3 is much better than Volumes 1 and 2; and of course Volume 2 is better than Volume 1. But these are still not great stories. So many of the stories repeat themselves, like Jimmy getting into trouble with one of the items from his Superman trophy collection, or Lois trying to figure out if Clark is secretly Superman. Your best bet is to jump around and read the stories that most interest you. (Actually, your best bet would probably be to find a different set of Superman comics to read.)  

Footnotes: The “Jimmy Olsen, Orphan” story from Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #46 and the “Girl with Green Hair!” story from Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #51 are also reprinted in Showcase Presents Supergirl Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: watching the 1990s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman television series starring Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain. Running on ABC for four seasons, the series took a fresh look at the Superman mythos but using the story elements introduced by John Byrne in the post-Crisis DC Comics. While the show generally featured Superman fighting the generic villain of the week, we were treated to the slowly developing relationship between the two title characters, matching what was going on in the Superman comic book titles of that same era. In season three, Lois discovers Clark’s secret identity, opening up the door for the two characters to marry. This series is available on DVD.

Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 3

worldsfinest3First Published: March 2010

Contents: Superman, Batman, and Robin stories from World’s Finest Comics #146 (December 1964) to #160 (September 1966); #162 (November 1966) to #169 (September 1967); and #171 (November 1967) to #173 (February 1968)

Key Creator Credits: Curt Swan, Edmond Hamilton, George Klein, Sheldon Moldoff, Jim Shooter, Cary Bates, Leo Dorfman, and others

Key First Appearances: Batman Jr., Superman Jr., Bizarro Batman

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 2

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 4

Overview: Sure, there’s a movie coming out next month that is going to pit our two heroes, Superman & Batman, against each other. Anyone can tell a fight story. The real challenge is to tell a story that has the two heroes teaming up to counter some threat that requires both Superman’s brawn and Batman’s brains. And that what we get here with Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 3.

Now as with the previous volumes in this series, these are one-and-done type stories with little to no carry-over from issue to issue. Although not officially a Superman book, this title was overseen by the Superman editor Mort Weisinger, and most of the art is done by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan. So you see a lot of characters pop in from the Superman universe, more so than from the Batman universe.

There is one new concept that would stick around in various forms for the next decade or so. That concept would be Superman Jr. and Batman Jr., the offspring of our featured heroes. In these stories that take place sometime in the future (despite Batman not aging), our stars have married their co-stars (Lois Lane and Kathy Kane, respectively) and started families. With fathers who are also famous super-heroes, it’s only natural that the boys wear identical costumes to their parents, whether they are 3-years-old or 13-years-old. And no kid is ever a perfect angel, so expect these boys to get into trouble – the kind of trouble that would require a super-hero or two to bail them out.

One concept was introduced that we need more of in comics – Bizarro Batman! Again, if you are going to have Batman appearing in a Superman book and facing mostly Superman foes, then it is only natural that a Bizarro Batman makes an appearance. Sadly, he only made a few appearances before fading off into character limbo. But he was around long enough to help Bizzaro create a Bizzaro Justice League. Ponder that thought some while you wait for the next collection!

Why should these stories be Showcased?: It’s Superman and Batman. Seriously, I have to imagine that DC turned some kind of profit on each of the Showcase Presents volumes that involved one of the characters. In fact, I would be entirely happy if DC would only publish future Showcase Presents volumes involving one of these guys (but I know that is not going to happen!). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here – the stories presented in World’s Finest Comics are the best Superman and/or Batman stories from this era (late 1964-early 1968). Yes, Batman was getting better in this time, but I still believe his best appearances are in this run. Take a look at the book and let me know what you think.

Footnotes: The story from World’s Finest Comics #147 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Robin Vol. 1.

The story from World’s Finest Comics #169 was also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batgirl Vol. 1.

World’s Finest Comics #161 and #170 are reprint issues, and are not included in this volume.

If you like this volume, try: the DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories trade paperbacks released in 2005 and 2010. One of the common types of stories from DC’s Silver Age of comics was the imaginary story. At that time, many of the DC writers and editors were former science-fiction story writers and editors who had made a career out of telling imaginary stories. With an anthology title like Strange Adventures or The House of Mystery, you could tell all kinds of imaginary stories from issue to issue, but it was no big deal.

But when you start trying to tell stories involving Superman or Batman, suddenly these become quite important. Some of these stories would completely contradict the overarching story of the character, so it couldn’t be told. Just imagine what would have happened if Bruce Wayne had been raised by Ma and Pa Kent following the death of his parents?

Other stories would take the characters in such radical directions that it would disrupt the natural one-and-done nature of each comic. What would happen if Lois Lane married Superman? Could they have children? Would they have his powers?

Gradually, as the Silver Age gave way to the Bronze Age, and the next wave of writers, artists, and editors took over the guardianship of the characters, the imaginary stories faded away. Yes, they would be brought back from time to time, even into modern times with many of the works by Grant Morrison or Alan Moore. It’s important to recognize these stories, even if they can be somewhat cheesy. This first trade collects primarily Superman stories, although there are some stories featuring Batman, the Flash, and Captain Marvel. The second trade is strictly Batman stories.

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

ddcp_superman_1First Published: November 2009

Contents: DC Comics Presents #1 (July-August 1978) to  #26 (October 1980)

Key Creator Credits: Martin Pasko, Len Wein, Gerry Conway, Paul Levitz, Steve Englehart, Denny O’Neil, Cary Bates, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Murphy Anderson, Dick Dillin, Joe Staton, and others

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

Overview: Comics, like any other medium, loves to duplicate a success. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so I’ve been told. If Company A has a character selling well, then Company B will create a similar character. (Or in more modern times, if Company A has a best-selling character in one book, then that character will soon be featured in two or more books.)

So it should come as no surprise in the late 1970s that DC Comics introduced DC Comics Presents, a team-up book that would be anchored by Superman. DC had found success by focusing on Batman in the pages of The Brave and the Bold. Heck, World’s Finest Comics was a Batman-Superman team-up book. Over at the distinguished competition, Marvel doubled it up with two team-up books featuring Spider-Man (primarily) and the Thing. I guess the only question to ask here would be why it took DC so long to get this book started? While I haven’t found a definitive answer to that, I’m sure that the then upcoming release of Superman: The Movie might have prompted DC to get another Superman title on the newsstands.

DC Comics Presents brought in a lot of the creative talent that helped shape DC Comics in the 1970s. The title found a cast of regular co-hosts (mostly fellow members of the Justice League) that would cycle in and out frequently over the course of the run of the book. Perhaps in a nod to the quirky stories Bob Haney would deliver over in The Brave and the Bold, we do get the one issue in this collection where Superman is blasted back in time to World War II, where he teams up with Sgt. Rock and Easy Company. As with any team-up book, the premise that would bring the characters together was sketchy a lot of times. In this era, the norm was 17-page stories, so many of these are quick reads.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I’ve said for years that team-up books should be required reading for all comic book fans. But I would recommend starting with the other books of this era first, such as The Brave and the Bold, Marvel Two-in-One, and Marvel Team-Up. This title always seemed to me unnecessary – given how powerful Superman was in this era, why does he need the help of <guest star of the month> to solve the particular problem for that issue? I have this same issue with Superman in the Justice League of America title in this age, too. The team-ups can be a lot of fun, but the premise of the stories are generally weak.

Footnotes: DC Comics Presents #26 is one of the issues from this series most in-demand in the back issue market, but with nothing to do with the Superman story. In this era, DC started placing 16-page previews of upcoming titles in various books. In this issue, a preview of The New Teen Titans #1 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. This serves as the first appearances for Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire, so it has stayed in demand for many years with collectors.

Who’s Who:
#1 – Superman & Flash
#2 – Superman & Flash
#3 – Superman & Adam Strange
#4 – Superman & Metal Men
#5 – Superman & Aquaman
#6 – Superman & Green Lantern
#7 – Superman & Red Tornado
#8 – Superman & Swamp Thing
#9 – Superman & Wonder Woman
#10 – Superman & Sgt. Rock
#11 – Superman & Hawkman
#12 – Superman & Mister Miracle
#13 – Superman & Legion of Super-Heroes
#14 – Superman & Superboy
#15 – Superman & Atom
#16 – Superman & Black Lightning
#17 – Superman & Firestorm
#18 – Superman & Zatanna
#19 – Superman & Batgirl
#20 – Superman & Green Arrow
#21 – Superman & Elongated Man
#22 – Superman & Captain Comet
#23 – Superman & Doctor Fate
#24 – Superman & Deadman
#25 – Superman & Phantom Stranger
#26 – Superman & Green Lantern

If you like this volume, try: Action Comics #584 to #600 from 1987 and 1988. Following Crisis on Multiple Earths, DC brought in fan favorite John Byrne to reinvent Superman for the new DC Universe. Following the initial Man of Steel mini-series that gave us the back history of Clark Kent and Superman, the books returned to a normal monthly publishing schedule. In Action Comics, this became a team-up book, with various heroes meeting up with Superman. Done by Byrne, there are a lot of fun match-ups that stand out from this run. While there is not just one collected edition for these issues, there is a series of eight trades, Superman: The Man of Steel, that collect all of the Superman stories from this time in publishing order. Alternatively, the individual issues can be generally found in discount bins at shows or local comic shops, so that might be a fun run to hunt down on your own.

Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 3

Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 3

First Published: February 2009

Contents: Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #35 (March 1959) to #44 (April 1960); and Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #8 (April 1959) to #16 (April 1960)

Key Creator Credits: Curt Swan, Otto Binder, Wayne Boring, Kurt Schaffenberger, and others

Key First Appearances: Lucy Lane, Sam Lane, Ella Lane, Van-Zee, Sylvia Van-Zee, Alice White

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 2

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 4

Overview: Welcome back to the world of Superman, more specifically the friends and family of Superman, as the adventures of his pal, Jimmy Olsen, and his girlfriend, Lois Lane, continues in this third Showcase Presents.

As always, these issues contain three 8- to 10-page stories that followed predictable formulas from one story to the next. The sole exception would be Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #15, which featured a book-length story featuring the wedding of Superman and Lois.

Several new characters make their first appearance in this volume. Lois Lane’s younger sister is introduced. Lucy Lane is a stewardess that captures the eye of Jimmy Olsen. Lucy will stay with Lois when she has layovers in Metropolis. Lois and Lucy’s parents, Sam and Ella Lane, make their appearance when Lois returns home to Pittsdale. And Perry White’s wife, Alice, shows up for the first time at a birthday party for the newspaper editor, chiding him about eating cake given the weight he has put on lately.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: OK, the quality of these stories is slightly better than the previous volumes. Just slightly! These are one and done stories with no concern about continuity to the franchise. The best stories are the ones that include other characters beyond Lois, Jimmy, Superman, and Perry. Supergirl makes two appearances, and Aquaman swims in for a story. Jimmy faces off against Mr. Mxyzptlk in another story. With any of these Superman Family volumes, you do not necessarily need to read the issues in order. You may be better off skipping around and picking the stories that most interest you.  

Footnotes: “The Mermaid From Metropolis” story from Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #12 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 1.

“Lois Lane’s Secret Romance” story from Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #14 and “Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl’s Pal” from Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #40 are also reprinted in Showcase Presents Supergirl Vol. 1.

In Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #9 (May 1959), the popular singer Pat Boone makes an appearance and co-writes a song about Superman with Lois. Later that same year, Pat Boone would get his own DC Comics title, but it would only run five issues.

If you like this volume, try: taking a visit to the Super Museum in Metropolis, IL. Located on the southern tip of Illinois (across the river from Paducah, KY), the Super Museum is a private collection of Superman mementos, as well as a gift shop. On the town square is a large statue of Superman, which makes for a popular picture spot for visitors. Each June, the town hosts a Superman celebration, with a costume contest, parade, and celebrity guests related to the Superman comics, movies, or television shows. For more information, visit supermuseum.com.

My kids at the Superman statue, June 2011

My kids at the Superman statue, June 2011

Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 2

Showcase Presents World's Finest Vol. 2

First Published: October 2008

Contents: Superman, Batman, and Robin stories from World’s Finest Comics #112 (September 1960) to #145 (November 1964)

Key Creator Credits: Curt Swan, Dick Sprang, Edmond Hamilton, Bill Finger, Jerry Coleman, Jim Mooney, Dave Wood, and others

Key First Appearances: Composite Superman

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 1

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

Overview: Sometimes the smartest creations in life is simply combining two great things together. For example, milk chocolate is awesome all on its own. So is peanut butter. Those two by themselves are some of the tastiest sweets in the world. But in 1928, Harry Reese had the brilliant idea to combine the two together. Now, some 80 years later, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is the most popular candy bar in United States. <Excuse me for a moment, I think I need to run to the store to pick up a Reese’s!>

So peanut butter and chocolate, two great tastes that go great together. We all get that. But you are here to read about comics, right? So let’s take two great heroes (Batman and Superman), merge them together into one title, and we get the Showcase Presents World’s Finest Vol. 2.

The stories here follow the same pattern as the previous volume. Something happens that brings the two heroes together. Between Superman’s strength and Batman’s smarts, the heroes find themselves on the winning end of things at the end of each 15-page story. There is no continuity with these stories, so you can read them in any order. The supporting casts for both characters make numerous appearances along the way, as well as their rogues galleries.

It’s funny that I used the word ‘merge’ in the first paragraph. (Truthfully, not funny, but rather deliberate on my part!) The highlight of this volume involves the introduction in World’s Finest #142 of the Composite Superman, who might be just the greatest DC Silver Age character of all time. Joe Meach was a down-in-his-luck diver (don’t most divers head down eventually?), and Superman helps him out by getting him a custodian job at the Superman Museum. One night while Meach was cleaning up in front of a Legion of Super-Heroes exhibit, lightning hits the Legion figurines, and the electrical energy passes on to Meach. Suddenly, Meach finds that he has all of the powers of the Legionaires. Using Chameleon Boy’s shape-changing ability, Meach creates a hybrid costume that is half Superman, half Batman. Dubbing himself the Composite Superman, he appears to befriend Superman and Batman, but his long term goal is to destroy Superman’s life. Fortunately, our heroes see though his scheme, and stop Meach until he exhausts his powers. The Composite Superman, be it Meach or other characters, will return time and time again to face off against Superman and Batman.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I can think of two good reasons why these stories should be showcased. The first is Batman, and the second is Superman. Seriously, this is a no-brainer. Of course these should be collected. Sure, they are Silver Age stories, but I would contend that the best Batman or Superman Silver Age stories from this time period are in this collection, and not in the Showcase Presents Batman or Showcase Presents Superman volumes. This is a perfect volume to skip around and read the stories that most interest you. I was always fond of the Joker-Lex Luthor team-ups. (DC tried to duplicate that team-up magic with a Clayface-Brainiac collaboration. Yeah, not quite as interesting as Joker-Luthor!)

Footnotes: The story from World’s Finest Comics #141 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Robin Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: the Batman & Superman: World’s Finest maxi-series from 1999. Written by Karl Kessel, with art by Dave Taylor, Peter Doherty, and Robert Campanella, the series looks that the Batman/Superman team-ups over a 10-year period. Issue #1 takes place ten years before present day, issue #2 takes place nine years before present day, and so on. This is set in the Post-Crisis universe and reflects events that happened in their comics between 1986 and 1998. In the first issue, the two heroes team-up for the first time, but fail to save a doctor. With each issue, the two heroes re-unite on the anniversary of the doctor’s death. This collection is a solid story, with glimpses into the expanded families of both characters. We get a funny Bat-Mite/Mr. Mxyzptlk team-up in issue #6 that brings along Robin and Lois Lane. The standout issue in this story is #7. Taking place sometime after the death of Jason Todd and after Superman’s return from his space exile, Superman takes Batman to his hometown of Smallville, Kansas. The two actually spend time talking through their issues and emotions. No super villains interrupt the discussion. In fact, the heroic actions by the two stars are actions that anyone could do in their daily life; Superman assists a woman delivering a baby, while Batman performs CPR on a doctor. A trade paperback collecting all ten issues was released in 2003. I can’t recommend this title, and in particular issue #7, strongly enough – PICK THIS UP!