It’s a little-known fact that, before uniting ALL their heroes for the ‘Crisis On Infinite Earths’, DC editorial did a metaphorical dry-run by uniting all the heroes who had ever starred in their Showcase anthology series.  Given the time-frames involved (the dawn of man through the far-flung future), things might have gotten just a bit complicated…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Showcase #100 awaits!

Showcase100CoverSHOWCASE #100
Writer: Paul Kupperberg/Paul Levitz
Penciler: Joe Staton
Inker: Joe Statons
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: Ben Oda
Editor: Joe Orlando
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 60 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $20.00

Previously in Showcase: Way back in 1956, at the very dawn of the Silver Age of Comics, DC editorial began publishing the legendary anthology that launched a thousand wonderful characters (and also Binky.)  Indeed, Showcase could actually BE the beginning of the Silver Age, giving us Barry Allen, the modern Flash, with revamped Aquaman, the new Green Lantern, the Teen Titans and many more waiting in the wings.  Ending circa 1970 (itself the year that many comics historians credit as the beginning of the Bronze Age of Comics), the book relaunched in 1977 with a new series of career-launching adventures, giving us early adventures of Power Girl and a new Doom Patrol, leading up to the big hundredth issue extravaganza.  But what sort of threat or menace could be worthy of the immense amounts of star-and-super-power promised by this issue’s cover?

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Why, only the collapse of space/time itself, Faithful Spoilerites!  That panel, by the way, features one-time Showcase headliners Sergeant Rock (Showcase #45), Enemy Ace (#57 & 58), Anthro (#74), cowboy hero Johnny Thunder (#72), as well as Fireman Farrell, who starred in the very first issue of the book.  A mighty roster of heroes has assembled in the Justice League’s orbiting satellite headquarters, where The Flash (#4) has assembled all the available heroes to save the world.  Adam Strange (#17) is the first to realize the terrible truth: Earth is being stolen from its orbit!  The Atom (#34) has the science knowledge to figure out the hows…

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The heroes break up, with Rip Hunter (#20) taking off into the space-time continuum, the Teen Titans (#59), The Hawk and The Dove (#75) and the Metal Men (#37) handling crowd-control, Aquaman (#30) handling the crisis from the ocean, while Flash, Adam Strange, Green Lantern and The Atom make their way into space.  Their efforts quickly identify the source of the planet-napping, but are unable to combat it, even with their mighty powers…

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Down on the planet in question, everything is chaos, as various time-periods start to merge, and humanity starts to lose its collective mind.  Fortunately, the heroes are on the scene!

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Look closely at the crowd-scene in panel #3, and you’ll see Jason (whose story “Jason’s Quest” started in #88) and Jim Rook, The Nightmaster (#82), proving the lengths to which the creators would go to get in every one of the book’s many headliners.  Future TV star Rip Hunter, who is not yet English, finds that his ability to travel in time is useless in the temporal quagmire created, pulling his team of Time-Masters out of the conflict due to their inability to land the TARDIS time-sphere.

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As the panic spreads, the news media tries to keep everyone informed, including news anchor Lois Lane (whose solo series got a kickoff in #9) and beat reporter Jack Ryder (secretly The Creeper, #73).  Lois is barely holding it together, worried that she might die, but more worried about the whereabouts of her paramour, Superman (who does not appear in this issue, having never appeared in Showcase.)  Fortunately, the lack of a Kryptonian is balanced by the presence of The Challengers Of The Unknown (#6)…

…which is probably the only time you’ll ever hear THAT sentence uttered.

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Thanks to Challs leader Prof. Haley, a massive power-source is located in the Midwest, leading the team (along with Lois and The Creeper) to take off for its location.  Out in space, Lantern, Flash, Atom and Adam (Attorneys At Law) are getting a royal tanning from the security robots around the alien device they’ve discovered, only for a last-minute save by an incredibly advanced and powerful starship.  It’s pilot?

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His friends call him Space Ranger (#15), mostly through their weird pink beak-trumpets.  Now six-strong, Team Space breaks into the strange alien ship, discovering another alien creature within.  They make short work of the monster, but are shocked to find that their home-world is still on a rocket-bus to parts unknown…

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In a small office building somewhere in New York, we discover that Anthro is still lost in the present day, but is saved by Sam Simeon (The Ape of ‘Angel & The Ape’, #77), where we find another stunning crowd shot featuring Windy & Willy (a dimwitted teen duo who were redrawn & recolored from an old issue of Dobie Gillis to hit the deadline for #81), cowboy hero Bat Lash (#76), young Native American Firehair (#85), Tommy Tomorrow (#41), The Inferior Five (#62), and teen hero Binky (who totally isn’t Archie Andrews, #70.)

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Bat Lash and Tommy Tomorrow quickly realize that the situation is grave enough that heroic action is necessary (which makes sense, as they’re the heroes in the room, no offense to the F5), but are stunned when their plan to take Tommy’s spaceship into action finds them joined by the ever-mod Angel O’Day…

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Meanwhile, in the ocean, Aquaman has hooked up with the Sea Devils (#27) and the mysterious Dolphin (#79), in only her second appearance ever.  (She would later marry Aqualad/Tempest and get murdered brutally at some point.  All the recent DC murders kind of blur for me, though, so I’m not sure when that happened right off the top of my head.)

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King Faraday (#50), Jonny Double (#76) and Manhunter 2070 (#91, and the last original feature character in the book’s original run) make one-panel cameos before another hero arrives to join Team Space: The Phantom Stranger (#80)!  Even with his mystical might added to the combo of super-speed, power-ring, size-manipulation and jet-packery, they need a little more power to stop a speeding planet…

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It’s The Spectre (#60), with another plot-point that prefaces the later Crisis story, using his night-limitless divine strength to manhandle the entire planet!  Meanwhile, Team Creepy Challengers arrive at a strange monolith in the Midwest, the source of the power emanations, leading Rocky Davis to try to break in using his two-strong fists.  Unfortunately, he forgot that Lois Lane is the most adventurous character in the entire DC Universe…

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Cue the arrival of Team Space-Cowboy, as Tommy Tomorrow’s craft arrives at the selfsame monolith, where they, too, figure that someone has to climb inside the structure.  Bat Lash, being a bit crafty, has a plan to pick who goes on the certain suicide mission…

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With so many heroes in play, it’s quite refreshing when things hinge on Lois and Angel, and the reporter and the private investigator are able to slip by the same robots that took down Team LanFlaAdamAtom using stealth and blind luck, respectively.  Unfortunately, our heroes are unprotected from the searing radiation, but they refuse to yield, finally stumbling and crawling their way along to save their very world…

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As two perfectly mortal women slowly wilt in the face of radiation, a couple of immortals and several strong-willed heroes have combined their own power into a desperate gambit, channelling their combined will into Hal Jordan’s ring, and transmitting that power to augment The Spectre’s own…

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The hurtling planet is brought safely to a stop, thanks to five guys in tights, a Gummi-Bear and the actual wrath of the Old Testament, but the danger is not yet finished, not while the alien device still stands.  Fortunately, Lois and Angel have made their way to the center of the monolith, discovering that the alien presence within is using Earth as a projectile, a bullet sent to destroy their ancient enemies.  Lois Lane begins ripping away at the control panel in grim determination, but a confused Angel O’Day worried that she’ll somehow make things even worse.  That’s when a mysterious hand appears (clad in the dark suitcoat and white gloves of The Phantom Stranger, natch), guiding her hands to a particular panel…

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Fittingly, though the most powerful heroes of her world (who aren’t Kryptonians or Amazons) have been a major part of slowing the alien’s plan, it is Angel’s entirely human hand that ends it all, launching the creature out into space and reversing the temporal chicanery, sending the time-lost heroes home.  Lois manages to drag Angel beneath a console as the ship collapses around them, while Team Space bears witness to the end of the affair…

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It’s easy to see the parallels in this story to the original Crisis, thanks to the need to bend time and space to get everybody on panel, which makes this an ur-example of the massive multi-player crossovers of today.  Some would take that as a condemnation, but there’s a lot of charm to be had, mostly thanks to the fluid art of Joe Staton (later of E-Man fame), whose work in this issue shows interesting overtones of Walt Simonson.  The fact that the final blow in the conflict was not had by strength or super-speed or power rings, but by the human hands of Lois and Angel is a wonderful bit of business to me (and the kind of thing that has slowly disappeared from crossovers as the focus on ever-escalating spectacle has overridden storyline concerns.  All in all, I find the cute cameos and legacy bits to be more charming than distracting (mileage may understandably vary for those who are not completist nerds), leaving Showcase #100 with a more than impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s an exemplary story from a not-very-exemplary period of comics history, and one that plays well on both reader expectations and their overarching conceit to build fun out of the building blocks of DC history…

I’m still on the fence as to whether I can forgive it for starting the wave that led to ‘Countdown,’ but it’s still got a lot of charm.

It's a little-known fact that, before uniting ALL their heroes for the 'Crisis On Infinite Earths', DC editorial did a metaphorical dry-run by uniting all the heroes who had ever starred in their Showcase anthology series.  Given the time-frames involved (the dawn of man through the far-flung future), things might have gotten just a bit complicated...  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Showcase #100 awaits! SHOWCASE #100 Writer: Paul Kupperberg/Paul Levitz Penciler: Joe Staton Inker: Joe Statons Colorist: Adrienne Roy Letterer: Ben Oda Editor: Joe Orlando Publisher: DC Comics Cover Price: 60 Cents Current Near-Mint Pricing: $20.00 Previously in Showcase:…
The plot is simple, but clever, serving mostly as a lever that puts dozens of characters into play, with a really killer climax and fun art... Recommended!

SHOWCASE #100

Writing
Art
Coloring

The plot is simple, but clever, serving mostly as a lever that puts dozens of characters into play, with a really killer climax and fun art... Recommended!

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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4 Comments

  1. DamienR
    December 28, 2015 at 6:14 am — Reply

    WOW!

    Just wow!

    On a side note – merging [the power of] Hal Jordan with the Spectre… where have I almost heard that before?

  2. Tom
    December 29, 2015 at 3:48 am — Reply

    Great review!

    Did you notice that the kids being rescued by Dolphin are Sugar and Spike? I guess they must have appeared in an issue of Showcase as well.

    • December 29, 2015 at 7:26 pm — Reply

      I did not notice that! However, they didn’t appear in Showcase. It’s a nice tribute to Sheldon Mayer, thought…

  3. February 25, 2016 at 7:34 pm — Reply

    This is a hard one (heh, heh) to find in print, but I am still looking and hoping. Great review.

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