Doug: Edo Bosnar is a good sport, and one not to be deterred by my silly word games. Just when we all thought (did anyone still really care?) the 100-Word Review had gone to blog heaven, Edo stepped up to the plate and performed not one, but FOUR 100-Word Reviews on some books of his choice. Thanks, friend! Onward...
Edo Bosnar: For a while, in the early 1980s, DC really put out all the stops for their various anniversary issues. The last three reviewed here in particular are really nicely packaged, with engaging stories and a number of artists, and absolutely no advertisements. They really were special issues in every sense of the word. I also included a personal favorite from 1978:
Showcase #100 (May 1978)
Writers: Paul Kupperberg and Paul Levitz
Art: Joe Staton
Think of this as a dry run for Crisis on Infinite Earths. The intention was to have every character who ever appeared in Showcase to make an appearance in this issue, if only for a single panel. They all get together to deal with a menace that is apparently ripping apart the fabric of time itself (which is why the historical, .e.g. Bat Lash or Anthro, and futuristic heroes, like Space Ranger, appear). It gets a bit silly at places, but it’s still an engaging story with a satisfying conclusion – in which two unlikely, non-powered heroines basically save the day.
Detective Comics #500 (March 1981)
Writers: Alan Brennert, Len Wein, Mike Barr, Walter Gibson, Paul Levitz and Cary Bates
Artists: Dick Giordano, Jim Aparo, Walt Simonson, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Tom Yeates, Joe Kubert Carmine Infantino and Bob Smith
While the focus is obviously on Batman in the seven stories included in this book, there’s one each featuring Elongated Man, Hawkman (who had back-up stories in Detective in the 1970s) and Slam Bradley, who debuted in Detective’s first issue and continued to appear in it until almost 1950. The latter story also has guest appearances by a number of back-up characters like Captain Compass, the unfortunately named Pow Wow Smith (yes, he’s Native American) and Christopher Chance. A special treat is a Batman prose story in the middle written by Walter Gibson, creator of pulp action hero The Shadow.
Justice League of America #200 (March 1982)
Writer: Gerry Conway
Art: George Perez, Brett Breeding, Pat Broderick, Terry Austin, Jim Aparo, Dick Giordano, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Frank Giacoia, Brian Bolland, Joe Kubert
This is just so much awesome between the spectacular wraparound cover by Perez. The would-be alien conquerors from the JLA origin story are back: they take mental control of the founding members, who seek out the meteors in which the aliens originally arrived, now hidden all over the world, so they can resume their diabolical plan. The newer members go out to stop them, with each confrontation drawn by a different artist/artists. The original JLAers always manage to prevail, but they come to their senses eventually, and ultimately the days is saved through superior teamwork between members old and new.
Superman #400 (October 1984)(cover by Howard Chaykin)
Writer: Elliot S! Maggin
Art: Joe Orlando, Al Williamson, Frank Miller, Marshall Rogers, Terry Austin, Wendy Pini, Michael Kaluta, Kelly Adler, Klaus Jansen, and Jim Steranko
Also included: An introductory text piece by Ray Bradbury, and tribute pin-ups by a number of other notable artists, including Wil Eisner, Mad Magazine’s Jack Davis, Leonard Starr (of Little Orphan Annie fame) and Moebius
Under the title “The Living Legends of Superman,” this one consists of a number of brief stories set in the future (sometimes in alternate realities) that examine what Superman has come to mean to human society. This is essentially Maggin’s love letter to his favorite character, but it never gets sappy or overly sentimental. The sections drawn by Kaluta and Pini are particularly interesting, since neither of them normally drew superhero stories. The last section, written and illustrated by Steranko, examines the progress of the illustrious Superman lineage into the far future and, well, up to the end of time.