The Great Disaster” is an epic tale spanning many titles and manu years in the DC Universe. The stories in this volume are presented in chronological order within the DCU’s timeline rather than in the order of the issues’ original release dates. In addition, the stories are organized in five sections:


Happily for me, the collection includes “Costume, Costume, Who’s got the Costume” from Superman #295, a tie-in to Kamandi #29, often mentioned on this board but which I have never read. The collection highlights the Atomic Knights, but I’m not so hip about that because DC released a hardcover “DC Classics” edition of that material in color a couple of years ago, but I am pleased to see DC entire Hercules series under a single cover and presented in this context. Oddly (I thought), Jack Kirby’s Atlas was included in the “God’s Return” section, but I always imagined that to have taken place in an imaginary past (like Conan), rather than an imaginary future.

Obviously I haven’t read this yet since it shipped only yesterday, but I thought a detailed description of the contents might sway someone on the fence. This will be my weekend project, at least the “Pre-Disaster Warnings” section.

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...BTW , my LCS , which as I mentioned I went on a minor book-buying spree on , no longer has the standard display of Showcases they used to have , saying that , though some may be still on the market/around , they're officially OOP now...So maybe they didn't order this one ???

  How many SPs have been actually released in calender year 2014 ?

The ironic thing about Kamandi #29 was that it wasn't  Kamandi competing for the costume, it was BEN BOXER, himself a Man of Steel. But he didn't believe in the reality of Superman.

btw, I always thought that Ben Boxer was one of Kirby's better Bronze Age heroes. Too bad he existed outside the DCU. He should be revived in some fashion.

Also in a early issue (#4?), Kamandi was reading a copy of The Demon which either separates him from Earth-One or shows the King's cross-promoting!

And Jack never linked OMAC to Kamandi, that happened in Kamandi #50 written by Denny O'Neil!

Another of his great Bronze Age characters was Terrible Turpin, who the Superman animated series made look like Jack Kirby.

Post-Crisis, Turpin was revealed to have been BROOKLYN from the Boy Commandos!

Ron M. said:

Another of his great Bronze Age characters was Terrible Turpin, who the Superman animated series made look like Jack Kirby.

Wonder what Jack thought of that?

Philip Portelli said:

Also in a early issue (#4?), Kamandi was reading a copy of The Demon which either separates him from Earth-One or shows the King's cross-promoting!

I'm pretty sure I remember this. That must have been one heck of a pristine copy to have survived to Kamandi's time. It also brings to mind Jack drawing the Human Torch reading Hulk #1.

He also showed the Torch reading Sub-Mariner and Captain America from the 40s. Jack must have really like that joke. Maybe it was his idea that he and Stan got kicked out of Reed and Sue's wedding.

Having found myself with more time on my hands right now, I've actually made a little dent in this book. having read up to the first handful of the Atomic Knights stories.

I am guessing here, but I figure the "Day After Doomsday" material was commissioned at some earlier point and used as filler. As the last 2 stories appear in House of Mystery and The Unexpected I reckon just to use up the stories that were bought and paid for earlier. I was surprised to actually see a continuation at one point in the stories, as almost all of them are just one page. Some last a little bit longer. These were usually just fun little post-apocalyptic vignettes.

As to the Atomic Knight material. I like that there is quite a dramatic passage of time here. Even then it is hard to believe that they walked from wherever Durvale is to New York City in full armor. I know that is my modern sensibility kicking in, but I can't help it. I really dig the Murphy Anderson art though. More thoughts later....maybe.

Of the material in this collection I've only actually read Kamandi, but I really enjoy the phrase "fun little post-apocalyptic vignettes."

I finished Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster, and I'm pretty disappointed.

As I've mentioned before, I had read most of this material in its original form, and knew that it wasn't really connected. Well, with a couple of exceptions I noticed in the description:

* Hercules Unbound, which deliberately connected to Kamandi, but did so by contradicting what Jack Kirby said created Kamandi's Great Disaster, which negates it in my eyes (and wasn't a very good series anyway).

* An issue of DC Comics Presents, which established that the Atomic Knights series was a coma dream by Gardner Grayle, which I found kinda sad at the time, and still do.

* An issue of Superman, which was a sequel/explanation for the appearance of Superman's uniform in an issue of Kamandi, which Kirby had wisely never explained, leaving it to the reader's imagination whether it was the real suit, or if it was just something from a costume store that had been invested with meaning by those that pursued it. But later writers, not being as wise as Kirby, decided to explain it anyway.

Aside from those exceptions, I knew that most of the material in this collection had nothing more in common than being set in various post-apocalyptic scenarios. And yet, Legionnaires whose opinions I respect were excited by the prospect of these stories being published. So, with cynicism held in abeyance as much as possible, I launched into it.

The book opens with some "The Day After Doomsday" stories, which some here have invested with more meaning than I saw. Len Wein got a creator credit on most of these short stories, which tells me that it was its own beast that Wein and/or DC hoped would lead to something bigger.

But I'm glad it didn't, because those stories already had their own titles: Creepy and Eerie. The  tales of an apocalypse created by man, with cynical, O. Henry twist endings where everyone ends up dead, were dime a dozen in the contemporaneous Warren magazines. The '70s were simply rife with the sad idea that man's self-destruction was not only likely, but practically inevitable, because we sucked so much as a species. I know this to be true, because I lived through that depressing decade. Wein shouldn't have been taking a creator credit for "The Day After Doomsday" concept; he should have included footnotes to the Warren stories that advanced all this stuff first.

Somewhere in there the editors tucked in a 1976 issue of Superman, which establishes that Kamandi's world is one of Earth's many futures -- and that the Kamandi story with the "Mighty One" references were, in fact, about the original Superman costume and "in continuity" of a sort. It's not that great a story -- it sufferers from being about establishing continuity more than telling a good yarn -- but seeing the Curt Swan Superman again is always welcome. Still, as I said above, this was a story that not only didn't need telling, it shouldn't have been told. Kirby left his Kamandi story open-ended, and it's more satisfying that way.

After all that came the complete Atomic Knights run, which I think are my favorites of the entire collection. Yes, they are silly, because everyone should be dead after an atomic war. Seriously, everyone should be dead. Even if you somehow survived the war itself, the air and water would be poisoned with radiation -- you'd die anyway, just more slowly.

But Atomic Knights asks us to believe that we don't all die right away from radiation poisoning. OK, I've believed stupider. But am I really to believe that ancient armor would keep radiation out? FINE, I'll believe that, too. But all those people without armor are going to survive, too? OKAY, OKAY, I'll believe that too. And the giant dalmations. And traveling from "Durvale" to the West Coast by glider. And walking to New York. Sure, I'll believe it all, because at least the damn thing isn't set in New York City, like every other story in the universe.

Because, news flash, everyone: After a nuclear war, the major cities are going to be radioactive craters. There aren't going to be any survivors for the Atomic Knights to find in New York (although they do) or Los Angeles (although they do) or New Orleans (although they do). Really, tiny towns like Durvale, if they're far enough away from major cities and not located in the path of prevaling winds, are the likeliest places for survivors to be. Mountains, islands, the north pole -- really, anywhere but the big cities.

Well, until they all die from radiation poisoning. Because they will.

Next came one of Kirby's lesser ideas, "Atlas," from First Issue Special #1, a short-lived, mid-1970s try-out title at DC. I have no idea why this story is here, because it takes place in the ancient past. Well, maybe time is circular.

Next up is the entire run of Hercules Unbound, and I have to think that this is what so many Legionnaires were really looking forward to. If you had never read an issue, you might have read about it, and got really anxious to see it. I mean, creators included Wally Wood, Walt Simonson, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Rich Buckler, Bob Layton, Gerry Conway, David Michelinie ... man, how bad could it be? It must be a lost treasure!

Um. no. Again, I was there and lived through it. And I remember exactly what I thought about Hercules Unbound as I bought each issue off Cloverleaf Pharmacy's spinner rack, and it wasn't "What a great book!" It was "Why does this book exist?"

Yes, I was thrilled by the Wood inking (inking, not pencilling) for the first few issues. But very quickly I realized it was a book with no point. The first issue opens with Hercules being released from what appears to have been a very long confinement by the vibrations from a nuclear war. (Sort of a mixed blessing, eh?) He immediately bumps into an American boy (despite being in the Greek isles) who is blind, but navigates as well as Daredevil. Despite the obvious warning blaring in my mind ("The boy is more than he seems!"), Hercules doesn't do anything about the boy, and, in fact, seems to have no plan at all.

And sure enough, the next 10 or 11 issues is Hercules just wandering around Europe, occasionally bumping into people, some of whom he befriends, but most of whom he leaves (presumable to die of radiation poisoning). Really, our "hero" doesn't seem to have much of a reaction at all to most of the world being destroyed. He just wanders, waxing philosophical with Thor's speech pattern, and does very little unless provoked.

And, naturally, when he runs into survivors, they are where they shouldn't be: in large cities, which should be radioactive craters but are instead in ruins, like there was an earthquake. And the three people he runs into in Paris (yes, PARIS, which should be a smoking hole) are dressed as if their lunch had been interrupted. Because God forbid nuclear war muss anyone's hair, or unravel an Englishman's bow tie.

So, these guys -- all from central casting -- hook up with Herc and the boy, although the English guy just kinda disappears between issues. And another guy almost dies, then doesn't, but then does, as if the writers can't figure out if they want him dead or not. And, oh yeah, the boy turns out to be More Than He Seems, although it almost seems oh-by-the-way. At least the hot chick sticks around for eye candy. Plus there's an implausibly resilient dog.

And Herc wanders, and wanders, and wanders ...

Aargh! When Hercules Unbound was canceled back in the long-ago time, I was on the verge of dropping it. And I didn't drop anything in the mid-1970s. It was that stupid a book.

Anyway, Hercules Unbound was, as I said above, the one series here that was really trying to hook these stories up. It was stated that this was the Kamandi universe, and Herc & Co. did run into anthropomorphic animals. But this only pissed me off, because Kirby had established in Kamandi that the Great Disaster was NOT an atomic war, because he was tired of post-nuclear-apocalypse stories (as was I) and he thought they were too pessimistic anyway. Who are these guys to overrule the King? Then Hercules ran into the Atomic Knights to tie those guys into Kamandi's world, although the two concepts were completely contradictory.

So thanks for that, stupid book.

Next we have some back-up stories from Kamandi that were terrible the first time they were published, but maybe they weren't included in the Kamandi collections, and DC wanted to put them somewhere. Or maybe they were. I dunno. Terrible stuff.

Then after one more "Day After Doomsday" story (why?) there's the Superman story which turned the entire Atomic Knights series into a fever dream. Gee, DC, were you ashamed of the Knights? Did you just want to spoil a lot of people's childhoods? Whatever, it was an unnecessary thing to do, and wasn't a very good story anyway.

Finally, we end with a Paul Levitz essay from his fanzine days, where he postulates some correlation among the various futures DC has presented, like Atomic Knights, Legion of Super-Heroes, OMAC and Kamandi. Everyone else seems to know more about this essay than I did, but now that I've read it, I wonder why it has this outsize reputation. Basically Levitz describes the various series and ends with an "anything can happen" conclusion. I could have written the same thing in 1976 -- I was a senior in high school -- and probably better.

So that's it. As I said, I'm pretty disappointed. And I don't mean to rain on the parade of anyone who did, but if you did enjoy it, I have to ask: Why? What about this collection of stories entertained you?

I don't ask to be a jerk, but out of genuine curiosity. If there's something here I missed, please tell me! I want the hours out of my life I spent reading it to have some meaning!

Captain Comics said:

I don't ask to be a jerk, but out of genuine curiosity. If there's something here I missed, please tell me! I want the hours out of my life I spent reading it to have some meaning!

Ha! I can't argue with any of your points Cap. Nor can I explain my perverse fondness for dystopian 70s sci-fi. It's probably somehow rooted in a childhood spent watching A Boy and His Dog, Soylent Green, Westworld, Planet of the Apes, Logan's Run, Omega Man and the like.

I think I started the buzz, but I didn't mean to: I wrote about the contents because I knew something about some of them, and I like to share that kind of stuff. Also, I'm interested in seeing more of some of the material involved even if it isn't very good, particularly Hercules Unbound.

I've always liked the Atomic Knights. I like the style of the Schwartz SF comics of that era.

My copy of the Superman story is in an Australian comic that removed any reference it had to the Kamandi issue. I read the Kamandi story later, and only connected the two in adulthood. I'm a fan of Elliot S. Maggin's Superman stories. I don't claim this one is one of his best, but it's the kind of Superman story I like to read. For me the "ordinary" Superman and Batman tales are the good stuff, because that's where fun ideas are. In this case the fun idea is Superman fighting his possible descendant in a 70s-style post-disaster future for the purpose of regaining his costume. I also like Curt Swan/Bob Oksner art, and think Swan was at the top of his game at depicting action in the story's period.

I've read three issues of Hercules Unbound, #8-#10. I like #10 more than the other two, because its handling of Hercules is much more interesting, and it's more enjoyable as a story. I've long associated the series mentally with Mighty Samson. Possibly it was modelled after it. I'm interested in seeing #11-#12 some time to find out if they had a better approach to the premise, and because Simonson inked those issues himself. I like Simonson's redesign of Hercules's uniform. I'm also interested in reading comics pencilled by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, and I like some of Gerry Conway's work with him. I didn't realise their issues of the series were inked by Wally Wood. That weakens my interest in seeing them, as I have to doubt the two artists were compatible.

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