Hello and welcome back, you amazingly awesome art aficionados! Today we set the way back machine to 1978: a time when comic book titles actually made it to 100 issues (and more). It’s crazy to think that used to happen all the time, and they did it -gasp- without renumbering! Isn’t that insane!? Back then, when a title reached such a momentous milestone, it was a celebrated event that promised double-sized excitement, a self-contained story, and a butt load of guest stars! I realize I sound like a grumpy old fart, but those days seem to be long gone. Enough of my geriatric griping! Let’s take a look at the landmark anniversary issue of Showcase #100!
Complete Arc: (#100) – “There Shall Come a Gathering”
Year Released: 1978
Creative Team: Paul Levitz, Paul Kupperberg (writers), Joe Staton (artist)
Heroes: Adam Strange, Angel O’Day and Sam Simeon, Anthro, Aquaman, Atom (Ray Palmer), Bat Lash, Binky, Creeper, Dolphin, Enemy Ace, Fred Farrell, Firehair, Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Johnny Thunder(not the JSA one), Nightmaster, Phantom Stranger, Sgt. Rock, Space Ranger, Spectre (Jim Corrigan), Tommy Tomorrow, Challengers of the Unknown (Ace Morgan, June Robbins, Prof Haley, Red Ryan, Rocky Davis). Inferior Five (Awkwardman, Blimp, Dumb Bunny, Merry Man, White Feather), Metal Men (Gold, Iron, Lead, Mercury, Platinum, Tin), Sea Devils (Biff Bailey, Dane Dorrance, Judy Walton, Nicky Walton), Teen Titans (Aqualad (Garth), Dove (Don Hall), Hawk (Hank Hall), Kid Flash (Wally West), Robin (Dick Grayson), Wonder Girl (Donna Troy)), Time Masters (Rip Hunter, Bonnie Baxter, Corky Baxter, Jeffrey Smith), Ne-ahn of the Bear Tribe, Cryll, Lois Lane, Will Magnus, Windy and Willy, Sugar and Spike.
Villains: Unnamed alien race
Notable Quotable: Rocky Davis (when Lois Lane dives bravely into the breach of the alien HQ and is trapped inside): “Why, that dumb broad! She shouldn’t have done that – this is men’s work! She could get hurt!” – A remarkably sexist remark and quite humorous and ironic as we see when the story concludes.
Our epic opens (as most DC epics did back then) on a group of heroes aboard the JLA satellite. They’ve gathered to investigate a disruption in the time stream. It seems that people displaced from different time periods are popping up all over the world. To make matter’s worse, Earth shattering natural disasters are springing up planet-wide. The heroes soon discover that all the unusual happenings are somehow being caused by an unknown force towing the Earth out of orbit. Can the good guys find out the who and the why before everything on the planet is destroyed?
Writers: Paul Levitz (Legion of Superheroes, All-Star Comics) and Paul Kupperberg (Green Lantern, Doom Patrol) are renowned silver-age comic writers. This particular story, however, is a bit silly at best. The ideas (some of which Wolfman seemed to have borrowed for his Crisis on Infinite Earths) are sound, and it could have led to an interesting yarn. Instead, we are treated to a half-baked conclusion with the defeat of an unnamed alien villain and some of the worst character dialog I’ve ever read. Considering the sheer amount protagonists involved (see the heroes list above), it isn’t hard to see why the plot was only so-so. There is only so much a couple of writers can do when the editor insists that they use every character, no matter how odd, who’d appeared in Showcase up to that point that had gone on to graduate to their own series (Pus 8 more that were thrown in for S&G – that’s shits and giggles for the uninitiated). All that being said, the story was fine and fun if a little lackluster for a book that was supposed to be -ahem- showcasing Showcase’s greatness.
Artists: Joe Staton (All-Star Comics, Adventure Comics) is a legend. Hired on by Charlton Comics at the start of his career, he moved to Marvel under Roy Thomas. Soon, he found himself doing art on All-Star Comics at DC, beautifully reviving the JSA with Paul Levitz. While his work is widely praised (and I do like it) it has always seemed a little rushed to me. The same can be said for his work in this book, even more so. Many of the figures are flat against the page with zero attempt at making them look 3-D. It almost seemed like Staton was in a super hurry to finish his chores so he could get back to what he really liked doing. His panel layouts are excellent and easy to follow, but other than the cover, this book is by far one of the worst examples I’ve seen of his work.
If you’re looking for a great story with fantastic art, give this one a pass. If you’re looking for some mindless fun (and who isn’t sometimes?), then pick this one up. While it’s not the best comic ever, it does deliver some interesting characters that you may not have seen in a long time.
That’s it for this month, you crazy Katz and Kittenz! I will see you next time where I think we will take a look at another anniversary issue…or not! Peace be with you! CAN YOU DIG IT!!!???
Chris Swartzlander is the author of the Tripping Over Reality Sci-Fi series.