Friday, January 12, 2007

Unwrapping DC Showcase Presents

(See the clever thing I did in the title, there, using the other meaning of the word "Presents"? That's what we writers call, um...clever, I think. There's probably a technical term for it, too.)

Originally, I didn't think I was going to do a DC equivalent of in this blog, mainly because I didn't think I knew DC history well enough to make any good suggestions. But on thinking about it, DC's reprint program is so new, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Even a relative DC novice like me (I started reading DC comics in 1991) can come up with a bunch of good choices for reprinting, because they haven't even gotten around to Wonder Woman yet.

So without further ado...

Honorable Mentions: DC's got a lot, actually, because (again) their list of what's actually out is so small. They could do more war comics (Blackhawk, The Losers, Enemy Ace), more of their classic heroes (Superboy, Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Firestorm, Plastic Man, Martian Manhunter), or some of Jack Kirby's contributions (The Demon, New Gods, Kamandi.) There's still horror out there (like The Witching Hour)...heck, I think they even have the rights to Mad Magazine. But for the top fifteen...

15, Sugar and Spike. Yes, there are people looking at me funny, saying, "Why would you want to reprint a kid's humor comic instead of 'Firestorm'? But S&S is well-regarded, it'd probably sell well as a black-and-white reprint, and it's the sort of thing that might not get reprinted anywhere else, because it doesn't have the hardcore nerd appeal.

14. The Outsiders. Or, as it was known for much of its early run, 'Batman and the Outsiders'. It's a concept that's had legs for a while now, it's still being published today (albeit with no Batman, and a completely different team line-up), and there's a lot of 70s nostalgia in there to be tapped.

13. World's Finest. One of those concepts that was always a no-brainer; "Hey, you got your Superman in my Batman!" "No, you got your Batman in my Superman!" Since they've got a Superman line and a Batman line, this one seems to be the natural extension.

12. Sgt. Rock. Easily DC's most famous and recognizable "war comic" character, and yet 'The Unknown Soldier' beat him to the punch. This is the sort of thing you don't want to get worse; better reprint him before things get out of control and 'Girls in Love' has a volume while the Sarge is still stewing in limbo.

11. House of Secrets. If you've got 'House of Mystery', you've got to have 'House of Secrets'. What's Cain without Abel?

10. Warlord. Mike Grell's 70s sword-and-sorcery epic has tons of devoted fans out there, all of whom would no doubt snatch up collections of the comic. Not to mention, I have a strong suspicion that Grell's art would look great in black and white.

9. Supergirl. I have to suspect that plans for this one are already afoot, given that they published the volume of Superman that introduced her, but didn't give us any of her back-up stories. In any event, Supergirl's probably more popular than ever, so this one's a no-brainer.

8. The Question. If they're going to make this one relevant, they'd better hurry--it doesn't look like he's got long left. (That's a '52' reference for those of you not stopping at comics stores; the character has terminal cancer.) The reprints could probably cover the entire Ditko era before the first volume finished, then go on to the Denny O'Neil stuff that's probably got a bigger following.

7. Suicide Squad. Technically, there's not enough material of the "classic" Silver Age Suicide Squad to fill a volume, but that's alright, because what everyone's really jonesing for is the 80s John Ostrander Suicide Squad, the one with all sorts of B-list DC villains and death around every corner. It made Captain Cold seem bad-ass, so it has to be impressive.

6. Hawk and Dove. Again, there's not enough actual Silver Age Hawk and Dove material to fill a volume, but spice it up with some of their key Titans appearances, and then the uber-classic early 90s series by Karl and Barbara Kesel, and you've got a slice of good comics. (I don't know how to make an umlaut in this format, by the way, so just draw two little dots on your screen with Magic Marker over the "u" in "uber".)

5. Doom Patrol. In the Marvel list, things got closer to the present as they got higher up, because I wanted the comics I remembered as a kid; here, they get older, because I want to see the roots of DC's Silver Age. The Doom Patrol is best remembered now for Grant Morrison's weird 80s run, but I think that the 60s version has a lot of potential for reprints.

4. The Metal Men. Another one that's actually pretty topical at the moment, since their creator, Will Magnus, is popping up now and again in '52' (he doesn't have terminal cancer. He's manic-depressive. Gosh, isn't DC fun for kids nowadays?) Fun book, cool robots, it's a snap.

3. Adam Strange. Another '52' alum (both eyes gouged out--no, I'm not kidding), Adam Strange is practically synonymous with the Silver Age. He's a space hero with a jetpack, a laser gun, and he's even got a fin on his head! How he hasn't been reprinted yet is beyond me.

2. The Atom. Another Silver Age icon whose absence is surprising, this would be another topical pick, since there's a new 'Atom' series out there (he's not in '52', though, and is probably breathing a heartfelt sigh of relief.) It'd be good synergy to reprint this one, since the current 'Atom' series deals with Ray Palmer's successor, and kind of assumes you know something about the Silver Age Atom (like, for example, the fact that his real name is Ray Palmer.)

1. The Flash. The absence of a 'Showcase Presents The Flash' is absolutely bizarre to me. Comics historians actually date the beginning of the Silver Age from the first appearance of the Flash, in 'DC Showcase'. He's the definitive Silver Age hero. To have a 'Showcase Presents' line without the Flash is like Marvel's Essentials line not having gotten around to putting out a Spider-Man book yet.

So, there's the list for DC to match Marvel...again, licenced titles were excluded, which is a real shame. Because who wouldn't, if they had the option, want to pick up 'DC Showcase Presents: Jerry Lewis'?


MarkAndrew said...

Why those AREN'T showcases:

I've heard that there will be NO Showcases of material from the eighties an' up. Something with reprint rights... DC's contracts from that period mean that they'd have to pay the creative team enough that it wouldn't be profitable.

And they seem to be avoiding re-reprinting material that's already been "Archived," especially the non-super books.

Hence "Unknown Soldier" before "Sgt. Rock."

No excuse for the lack of a Sugar and Spike volume, though.

Jacob T. Levy said...

It made Captain Cold seem bad-ass, so it has to be impressive.

It really did, didn't it? About two years ago the dialogue snippet that goes something like "hell is cold. Hate is cold. And brother, I am Captain Cold got lodged in my brain. I dug out all my Waid-era Flash comics, couldn't find it; looked for it in my handful of Bronze Age Flash comics, no luck, etc. etc. Gave up. Six months later, I "d'oh!" my forehead: of course. Dorky villain made bad-ass? It was Ostrander in SS. Hadn't thought of it before because Cold was only in one (2-issue, I think) arc-- but those two issues provided my most-memorable-eve Captain Cold moment.

Graeme said...

And lo and behold The Flash is going to be given the Showcase treatment in a couple of months!

The Showcase I most want is the one I'll never get: I want a Showcase of the Shazam!/Marvel Family stories from the 40s and 50s. But apparently for technical reasons they won't do Showcases from that era. (Which is why the one volume we did get of the Marvel Family are all reprints from the 70s book, which aside from the gorgeous Bob Oskner artwork on Mary Marvel isn't much to write home about.) I wish they'd reconsider: the stories are great and, like Sugar and Spike deserve a wider audience (and greater frequency/volume of reprinting) than the astronomically unaffordable Archive editions.

I totally agree about the Doom Patrol, too. I'd also love a volume that had the complete runs (easy since they're short) of Inferior Five and Secret Six combined in the same book-- even the names work together!.