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!
Infantino may have been the only one in management at DC that even wanted Kirby there. Much of what I have read over the years indicates many on the DC staff did not care for Kirby as an artist or a person. His run was doomed almost from the start....That is an interesting assertation , since I recall , from 1990s CBGs , a letter from Carmine Infantino published in CBG in which he , seemingly rather angrily , rebutted criticism of his faults as head of DC in his behavior towards the Kirby titles , criticisms made by then-CBG columnist Mark Evanier , both ones Evanier made in the hallowed pages of towCBG and apparently stronger still criticisms that Evanier made in a privately circulated letter that Infantino's letter referred to...........In the 2000s , I made reference , in the once-hallowed CBGXtra message boards , to seeing a Bigger & Better-era DC title which bore a house ad for the then-current issue of SPJO which bore the blurb " KIRBY MAGIC ! " . How many other comics creators were receiving house ad promotion , by name , then ?Maybe Carmine wasn't that bad ?Maybe even , aside from's already been proposed , the old " pre-Seuling-era comics shops arranged to buy quantities of the Kirby titles directly from their local magazine distributors ( often connected w/some Fairly Dodgy Characters...Kefauer didn't hold his hearings just about funnybooks , and if you look into the business associations of oooh , the Leibowitz family in the pre-SA...but I digress . ) , which , alas , though not intended by the comics shops , led to even larger quantities of the Kirby titles being listed as ' Unsold ' in said distributors' return statement to DC that might've happened anyway " Fan Legends have some truth to them as well ! ~ ??
Kirby's work for DC in the 70s was one of the subjects discussed by Carmine Infantino in his Comic Book Artist interview. He'd worked for Simon and Kirby early in his career. Simon also worked for DC while he was in charge there.
In the interview, Infantino speculates that Kirby's dialogue didn't wrap his titles together the right way. My theory is, the Fourth World books weren't accessible enough. The concept of gods for our age was a bit obscure; the characters had more oblique names than traditional superheroes, and sometimes unclear abilities. It might be fair to observe that the Inhumans series in Amazing Adventures failed too, and they're somewhat comparable: they have oblique names, some of them have unclear powers, they're based around a high concept concept, and they come from an alien society and might be hard to relate to for some.
Perhaps the Fourth World titles were too inaccessible for younger readers, not obviously intended for adult readers, and so fell between two stools. I haven't seen the Amazing Adventures "Inhumans" instalments, or even most of the Thor ones, but perhaps what the feature needed was a sympathetic POV character discovering the Inhumans' society. I wonder if the series would've succeeded if the Torch had been given this role.
From my vantage point, the main reason the Fourth World didn't catch on was because most of DC's titles completely ignored what was going on. The Morgan Edge subplots all played out in JIMMY OLSEN and LOIS LANE, but never got any play in the A-list SUPERMAN and ACTION titles. And none of the other superhero titles even hinted at what was going on with Darkseid, the Anti-Life Equation, the New Gods, etc. Nothing in BATMAN, FLASH, GREEN LANTERN, JUSTICE LEAGUE, WORLD'S FINEST, etc. There was no compelling reason for a DC fan to pick up an issue of FOREVER PEOPLE other than out of sheer curiousity (for my part, I bought a copy of FOREVER PEOPLE # 2 from a comic book vending machine because I wanted the SUPERMAN issue behind it).
The Fourth World titles looked as weird to the uninitiated eye as, say, all those Mike Sekowsky SHOWCASE comics that came out in 1970. If you liked Sekowsky, or Kirby, or the concepts displayed on the covers, then you'd pick up an issue, but it was far easier to just stick with what you already knew. Since I already knew JIMMY OLSEN, and was curious to know more about this Morgan Edge guy who had become Clark Kent's boss, I didn't ask -- I just bought it. But I only bought SPJO, not the other Fourth World titles (and let's be honest here -- SPJO wasn't really a Fourth World title).
I think you're right about why the Fourth World titles didn't work. I think the best approach would've been to give Kirby some B-list superheroes, like Hawkman, Atom and Martian Manhunter, and tie them into the concept rather than create all these cosmic concepts with brand new guys altogether. That would have provided some familiarity and revived those names (which weren't very viable at the time) without requiring other titles to acknowledge what was going on.
I was into weird, since everything else was too bland, and I was a big Kirby fan. But man, you really had to be a fan to keep following those titles with their quasi-Superman connection and loopy dialogue that was either way too pompous or way too hip in a Haneyish way.
So I had all the issues of all the 4th World stories, which started to make some sense once he revealed more of what was going on and we got used to the characters. But I never got into Kamandi or The Demon, as I'd had enough by then and there wasn't much reason to think they'd last, either.
Kamandi lasted 59 issues! Moreover it was a monthly for most of Kirby's run and lasted over two years after he left. Granted, OMAC didn't do as well, but then neither did Hercules Unbound.
At least Mister Miracle, the Demon and even Kamandi teamed with Batman in Brave & Bold. The New Gods themselves were ciphers and caricatures instead of real characters and the Forever People never appealled to me. The first major use of Kirby's 70s work in a mainstream DC title was Justice League #140 and that involved Manhunter!
As for sales figures, the story I heard was about Green Lantern/Green Arrow and how, shall we say, less-than-fair-minded dealers were *acquiring* them from the distributors to sell at conventions before they had a chance to reach the newstands. So there were very low sales figures for a high demand comic which got cancelled as a result. At least that's the story I heard.
"I also heard that the GL/GA comic had trouble with distribution in the South because of its progressive politics and treatment of racial issues."
I can vouch that they were on newsstands in West Tennessee. Elsewhere, I don't know.
The economics of the industry were changing, and it was becoming harder for titles to survive. So titles that folded in the early 70s may have been viable a few years earlier. Since the audience in those days primarily consisted of children, it's logical that quality adult content didn't necessarily mean high sales.
Following Dandy's line of thought, although the format didn't come into being until after the Fourth World titles folded, maybe what Kirby needed was a line of tabloid size specials. Then he would not only have had a chance to stretch on the art, but each specific tabloid could have been one, self contained story arc.
But I do agree with the point that has already been raised in this thread: that DC should have supported/tied in the Fourth World material beyond its own titles and the "minor" Superman books of the day.