On the old Ask Mr. Silver Age forum at CBGXtra.com I reviewed more than 40 volumes of the DC Showcase Presents series and kept track of upcoming volumes, based on listings at Amazon and on the DC Comics website. Craig has asked that I continue that here at the good Captain's board, so here we go. There's some good reading ahead for Silver Age fans, and also a couple of head-scratcher selections.
February 23, 2011
Showcase Presents: Justice League of America, Vol. 5
In this value-priced volume collecting stories from issues #84-106, The JLA battles BLACKEST NIGHT villain Solomon Grundy, meets Deadman, faces a cosmic vampire, and teams up with both The Justice Society of America and The Seven Soldiers of Victory.
March 23, 2011
Showcase Presents: The Witching Hour Vol 1
DC's mystery/horror series THE WITCHING HOUR is collected for the first time in a value-priced package featuring issues #1-21!
This volume features artwork by comics luminaries including Neal Adams, Alex Toth, Bernie Wrightson, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Wallace Wood, Gil Kane and more.
April 20, 2011
Showcase Presents: Green Lantern, Vol. 5
Green Lantern's SHOWCASE PRESENTS series continues with issues #76-100, including the famed stories that teamed Green Lantern with Green Arrow, in which the two heroes face issues of the day including women's rights, political corruption, religious intolerance and more — all while battling evil. This volume also includes adventures from GL's 1976 relaunch, collected here for the first time!
Showcase Presents: Doc Savage
Pulp fiction hero Doc Savage is back in this value-priced title collecting his
1970s black-and-white magazine adventures for the first time. Originally published in 1975.
August 3, 2011
Showcase Presents: Trial of the Flash
Following the murder of The Flash’s wife, Iris, by his greatest foe, The Reverse-Flash, the two costumed characters are locked in a round-the-world race and battle – one that ended in the death of the evildoer. This is only the beginning of a startling chain of events for The Fastest Man Alive, as he is arrested on a charge of murder. A police scientist himself in his civilian identity of Barry Allen, The Flash begins to build his defense. But when his famous Rogues Gallery of villains decides to get revenge for the death of one of their own, The Flash must battle their patsy: The massively powerful villain called Big Sir. And that’s all before the trial even begins. Collected from THE FLASH #323-327, 329-336 and 340-350. . .
Also possibly of interest to Silver Age fans:
May 11, 2011
Deadman Vol. 1 [Paperback]
Master comics artist Neal Adams illustrates the original adventures of deceased, revenge-driven hero Deadman, one of the heroes of BRIGHTEST DAY, from STRANGE ADVENTURES #205-213.
These are the stories that introduced costumed high-wire performer Boston Brand, who is assassinated by an unknown marksman in his first adventure, only to return when mysterious deity called Rama Kushna gives him a mission: find his murderer!
Witness the continuing adventures of The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Wildcat and the rest as they are joined by younger heroes Robin, Power Girl and Star-Spangled Kid! The Justice Society's battles with the Psycho-Pirate, the immortal Vandal Savage, the Injustice Society and more.
Ghosts "True Tales of the Weird and Supernatural" was a hit DC comics which ran from 1971-1982 featuring the work of several comic greats.
November 30, 2011
Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 5
Written by FRANK ROBBINS, DENNIS O'NEIL and MIKE FRIEDRICH; Art by IRV NOVICK, NEAL ADAMS and others; Cover by NEAL ADAMS
Showcase Presents: Wonder Woman Vol. 4
In this fourth collection of Wonder Woman stories from the Silver Age of Comics, the Amazon Princess faces Giganta - The Gorilla Girl, Cleopatra, Mister Blizzard and many more!
Carmine Infantino said in his autobiography that Kirby had asked to write and draw the entire Superman line. Infantino gave him SPJO over Weisinger's objections (due to a long-standing grudge against Kirby).
Infantino said that Kirby's SPJO may have drawn new fans, but it probably also turned off regular readers, so it may have been a wash. None of them sold well, so they moved onto Kamandi and The Demon.
Kirby on GL would've been the best fit I can think of, but not at the expensive of Denny O'Neal Adams. Likewise, Kirby on all of the Superman books might've been wacked out enough to work, but not on the flagship books and instead of Swanderson.
His Aquaman likewise might not have been an improvement on the Aparo one, but it sure would've been different. I might've given him Hawkman if he wanted to see if he could make a reasonably mainstream super-hero work.
"That one really is a head-scratcher, given the Kirby work through it"
Considering that the Howlers appear in the Capt. America movie, coming out this summer, you'd think Marvel would try to cash in with a Sgt. Fury volume (in the way they put out a new Essential Iron Man to coincide with each new Iron Man movie). But I don't see one on Amazon.
I could see Kirby on Hawkman, probably emphasizing space adventures and alien races. He possibly could have given him more powers and/or weapons. But he would have de-emphasized Hawkgirl much as he did the Invisible Girl and even Barda, eventually.
I loved Aparo on Aquaman but think Kirby would have played with the mythology of the different DC Atlantises to create a more dynamic version. He would have tried to make Aquaman a Star, with a capital "S"!
Green Lantern would be a complete 180 degrees from O'Neil/Adams under the King. But they couldn't save GL from cancellation, either!
According to Carmine Infantino's Comic Book Artist interview, at the end Green Lantern was a marginal seller, and the printer's late fees resulting from the artist's lateness finished it off.
Jack Kirby said a number of things that we don't necessarily have to take as gospel (his creation of Spider-Man, for instance), and I think the "give me DC's worst-selling title" claim falls into the same category of "nice story, but the facts don't seem to support it."
A quick scan of DC's output in late 1970 would suggest many other titles that undoubtedly sold fewer copies per issue than SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN (note the first word in the title, and who appeared on every issue's front cover, and you'll quickly realize this comic book probably outsold half of DC's output even in its worst days). If we discount all of the romance, war, mystery anthology and humor titles (and that's a lot of discounting since DC had a lot of different genres going back then), and just stuck with the hero-focused adventure titles, there would be titles like AQUAMAN, TOMAHAWK, PHANTOM STRANGER, TEEN TITANS, and even Kirby's own creation, CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN. In fact, the old canard about not wanting to kick somebody else off a title wouldn't have applied to CHALLS since that title was running mostly reprints in its last gasp for spinner rack life, so had Kirby actually insisted on DC's lowest-selling title that was in the adventure line and didn't have anybody currently assigned to it, the best choice would've been CHALLS.
Challengers of the Unknown seems like a no-brainer but you don't sign Jack Kirby from Marvel to do a low-tier book, especially when it would be a case of "been-there-done-that". Kirby wanted to create and control his own work but he had to take over an established title to justify the move. The fact that it was Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen is telling. He had access to DC's #1 hero yet the freedom to move in a very different direction, one that would have been difficult if not impossible to go in either Superman or Action.
But can anyone really imagine Kirby writing, dialogueing and drawing Teen Titans? You're flipping a wavelength that's way out, man!
I don't think there were any existing DC books that would have fit Kirby. As others have said, Kirby wanted to create his own books, and coming from Marvel he had a lot of power. At a stretch I think he may have taken on, say, Hawkman as a favour. But it would have been his version and would likely to have started it again from scratch - and again Hawkman would be a second (or third) tier hero.
The reason Kirby's books didn't sell - in my opinion - was that they were awkwardly written and the characters lacked any of the likability of his Marvel characters. He really needed Stan Lee to reign him in. The Fourth Word concept was too cosmic, in the same way that I thought that Jim Starlin's Captain Marvel and Warlock were too cosmic. His most likable DC character was Kamandi and that's why he lasted the longest.
Dandy, you make a good point. There have been quite a number of creative teams who had quite a bit of friction - but that friction made heat, and the best swords are created in the hottest forges.
Lee and Kirby... Claremont and Byrne... Lennon and McCartney, even. Sometimes a little conflict makes a great creation... but the sadness is that it cannot last without burning out the two sources of friction.
I think that Kirby might have done pretty well with either a Robin series, or with the Teen Titans. Those were features that lacked direction and that required some action and imaginative artwork. But a Julie Schwartz might have had to ride herd on the King to keep them palatable to the reading audience.
>> But can anyone really imagine Kirby writing, dialogueing and drawing Teen Titans?
It's pretty easy to imagine, actually. Just pick up any issue of THE FOREVER PEOPLE.
I think Carmine Infantino oversold Kirby to the suits and bean-counters at National. In point of fact, it was not the circulation of Kirby's "Fourth World" titles which brought about their cancellation, but their sell-through ratio. Kirby's new titles were selling in the range of such DC titles as Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, but DC began their print runs at Superman levels right out of the gate. To use completely made up numbers, both New Gods and Green Lantern sold, let's say, 250,000 copies a month. But when the print run of New Gods is 500,000, that's only a 50% sell-through and DC was losing money on the returned copies.