Monday, January 5, 2009

Showcase #100 - May 1978

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The Phantom Stranger returns to Showcase!

The Phantom Stranger, having debuted in Showcase (this version of the Stranger, at least), got to come back to the book for its "Awesome Anniversary Edition", featuring nearly all of the stars who occupied its pages during the previous 99 issues, courtesy editor (and co-writer) Paul Levitz, and co-writer Paul Kupperberg, who would eventually become a very important figure in the history of The Phantom Stranger.

The classic cover is by Joe Staton and Dick Giordano, with the insides by Staton all by himself:

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This story is literally filled to its staples with characters, locations, and events, and we see different heroes break up into smaller teams (Green Lantern, Flash, Atom, Adam Strange; The Challengers of the Unknown, Lois Lane, The Creeper) trying to stop Earth from being dragged from its orbit, due to some disturbance in the Time Stream.

Since the Time Stream is involved, and like we'd see with Crisis on Infinite Earths seven years later, that gives us the chance to see a bunch of Showcase stars bump into one another, characters that we'd normally get the chance to see in the same panel--one page alone features Angel and the Ape, Firehair, The Inferior Five, Bat Lash, Tommy Tomorrow, Anthro, and Binky and His Buddies!

At the same time, Aquaman, teamed with The Sea Devils and Dolphin, helps out, along with The Teen Titans and The Metal Men. Deep in space, some of heroes seemingly have failed to keep Earth from being dragged out of its orbit, and Flash says they need help "from one of the big guns."

Thankfully, two "big guns" arrive:
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As The Spectre flexes his muscles (literally), events conspire that its Lois Lane and Angel who find themselves underground in a mysterious cavern, where they come to face to face to sort-of face: they discover a giant machine run by an alien being!

Angel and Lois try to destroy the machine, while The Spectre, The Phantom Stranger, and the others use their collective powers and mental energy:

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The alien decides to get the hell out of Dodge, after seeing these "human beings" are tougher than it thought.

Angel tries to figure out which of the machine's wires to pull, when a mysterious gloved hand(!) appears to guide her to the right ones. She pulls them, which causes the machine to self-destruct.

Our space heroes see the alien leave Earth, but they have no hope of catching it:
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...The End!


Showcase #100 is one of my all-time favorite single issue stories, because its so much fun. The threat is classic DC, and the splitting-up-into-teams is very Gardner Fox. And like I mentioned above, this story reminds me a lot of Crisis on Infinite Earths, except no one dies a gruesome death here, which of course makes it a more fun read (to me, at least).

On top of that, you get to see characters interact who you never thought ever could have (Binky talking to Tommy Tomorrow!), Paul Kupperberg throws in some great bits of characterization (there's a moment where, even while they watch the Earth being pulled from orbit, Kid Flash has time to hit on Wonder Girl), and the whole thing is drawn by Joe Staton...how can you beat that?


3 comments:

Paul Kupperberg said...

Yep, they don't make funnybooks like them no more...

rob! said...

No, they do not!

matthew jones said...

Showcase #100 is a classic, and does indeed feel like a shorter and more fun Crisis On Infinite Earths. Nice to see the Stranger turn up, and even Sugar and Spike, I think, put in an appearance. Plus. Angel, of and the Ape fame, and Lois Lane save the world. What's there not to like? Hats off to the talented trio of Levitz, Kupperberg and Staton.

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