Comic Book Review: Showcase Presents: Showcase Volume 1
In Ouroboros fashion, DC’s line of black and white reprint comics returns to its roots.
Back in 1956, National Comics (DC) had more ideas for comic books than they had publishing slots to put them in, and readers asking for dozens of different concepts. So they came up with Showcase, a series where a concept would be tried out for an issue or three, and if all went well, would be promoted to its own continuing title. The first issue featured the subject they’d gotten an overwhelming demand for–firefighters!
“Fireman Farrell” was about the son of a famous firefighter who follows in his father’s footsteps. In the first story, he graduates from firefighter school. Then he battles a circus blaze, and appears on a TV program modeled after Edward R, Murrow’s “See It Now.” The foils in each story are foolish men who ignore Farrell’s wise advice about fire safety and must be rescued. Sadly, this was not turned into a continuing series, but Fireman Farrell has made cameo appearances in DC comics ever since.
The second and third issues featured animal stories (one with great Joe Kubert art) and frogmen respectively. But it’s issue #4 that really hit the stride.
For Showcase #4 is the first appearance of Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash. And with him, the semi-official beginning of the Silver Age of comics. In the late 1940s, superheroes had gone out of fashion, but the crime and horror comic books that had ascended for a while were crippled by the Comics Code. The clean, morally clear world of superheroes was more easily adapted to the new rules, and Carmine Infantino’s art suited a super-speedster well.
After the Flash, there’s Manhunters (detectives), the Challengers of the Unknown (non-powered adventures), Lois Lane (Superman’s girlfriend), the Space Ranger (outer space hero with the flimsiest secret identity ever), Adam Strange (planetary romance) and Rip Hunter, Time Master (time travel.) And that brings us up to issue #21.
This book has a lot of history value; many of these characters went on to long careers. However, they got their own Showcase volumes, so if you own all of those, there’s a lot of overlap. This volume would be excellent for the new reader who wants to see where much of DC’s history comes from for a reasonable price. There’s some fantastic art in here.