Showcase 4: October 1956
I picked this because: If you are going to do a blog about 1st issues, then how can you not start with the beginning of the Silver Age and super-hero comics’ comeback.
With the end of WWII, the popularity of the superhero waned, by the late 40’s and early 50’s only Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were ongoing concerns at DC Comics. Editor Julius ‘Julie’ Schwartz made the choice to bring some of the other Golden Age characters back, people like the Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom and Hawkman. He took the names and some of the basic ideas and created a new sci-fi take on these heroes, but none of this would have been done without the first of these, replacing Jay Garrick as the Flash with Barry Allen. If that hadn’t worked, the entire Silver Age wouldn’t have happened, Timely wouldn’t have become Marvel and so many of these characters would have ended up never have existing. True, the superhero wouldn’t have existed without Action Comics 1, but without Showcase 4, no one would care.
The Comic Itself:
Story 1- Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt by Robert Kanigher with art by Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert.
Police Scientist Barry Allen is in an accident, struck by lightning in his lab and covered in electrified chemicals. He soon develops super-speed. After a thief called the Turtle Man nearly kills his reporter girlfriend Iris, Barry takes on the costumed identity of the Flash, just like his favourite comic character. He uses his speed and his brains to apprehend the criminal and hand him over to the Central City Police.
Story 2- The Man who broke the Time Barrier by John Broome with art by Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert.
Instead of being sent to the desolate 50th Century, future thief Mazdan is exiled to the distant past of 1956 instead. He is trying to repair the time device he was sent in by stealing things, which catches the attention of the Flash. He is able to get past the heat ring gun used by Mazdan and the uses his speed to get Mazdan back to his own time, then he’s sent to the the 50th Century. The robberies go ‘unsolved’ and life returns to normal.
My reaction to this isn’t really relevant, Showcase 4 is a piece of comic book history, but take that historical context away, is it a good comic?
Lets ask the MIGHTY Rosie.
I have so many questions about this comic.
Question 1: Have you heard of this property before? Yes, I have seen it on TV twice and from more recent comics.
Question 2: What were you expecting? I was expecting a detailed origin story.
Question 3: What did you think of the cover? I was underwhelmed.
Question 4: What did you think of the story? I didn’t relaise that he was reading a comic about the original Flash inside the comic. There were so many problems with pacing.
Question 5: What did you think of the art? Considering when it was made it was …..expected? It was technically great or breath-taking, it just was.
Question 6: What did you think of the dialogue? Very clipped, like it was editing by someone who didn’t know how people actually talked. It felt like it was on fast-forward.
Question 7: Does it make sense? It’s an abridged version, like it was a story being pitched, but wasn’t filled in or expanded upon later into a full story. There were SO MANY QUESTIONS THAT WERE NOT ANSWERED AT ALL! I’d have been happier if some of them were even acknowledged as being a thing. Eg: The ring, how the fudge did he have a suit that fit inside a ring? Or how did the Turtle Man know how to counter the Flash on HIS VERY FIRST CASE? And for that matter, WHO WAS IRIS EXACTLY?
Question 8: Was it accessible as a new reader? I may have had too much information goiin into this, and yet somehow less when I had finished.
Question 9: Did you enjoy it? I enjoyed it for the fact that we are in a very confusing time, but not as confusing as this comic.
Question 10: Would you read the next issue? If that was my introduction to the Flash, I would have gone no further.
Question 11: What would you do differently? S**t, I would get my 9 year old son to write this, it would probably have made more sense.
Other notes and comments: There was no actual sense of time passing, it could have taken place over ten minutes. There was no idea of him learning to be the Flash, going from being struck by lightning to being the Flash in almost a single page. There was no sense of the wonder of being super fast.
I don’t think anything has left me with more questions about a comics property since Chris Evans was cast as Captain America. The man does not have the chin, but he did win me over, but this comic didn’t do that.
Next time: More Silver Age as MyMarvelLife presents a Marvel Comic