Friday, July 23, 2010

BOOKS: Showcase Green Lantern Volume 1 by Various

DC Comics was a little slow on the uptake when Marvel Comics started releasing their Essentials collections in soft-cover black and white editions for under 20 bucks. These so-called 'telephone books' were really good ideas, letting younger readers get a chance to go back and read twenty or so comic books from the very beginnings of today's most popular books, at a price of just under a buck an issue. And at the price of colour. More of that in a moment.

So, seeing the success Marvel had, DC revived the old Showcase name as the blanket title of their own black and white reprints. Great move, fostered, as I understand it, mostly by Bob Greenberger. The Showcase line debuted with Green Lantern Volume 1, which covered the original Showcase's issues 22-24 and then issues 1-17 of the eponymously named title. 529 pages of comic goodness.

Naturally, I grabbed it as soon as it came out. Specifically, I was looking for the early Green Lantern issue that featured the first appearance of The Black Hand. A crook with smarts and nothing in the way of super-powers. Nothing like he's been portrayed over the last year in the latest of DC's idiotic darkening of their comic universe. But I digress. At any rate, I was a little disappointed. In fact, The Black Hand doesn't appear in this volume, because his debut wasn't until issue 29 of the comic. That issue DID make it into Volume 2 of the Green Lantern Showcase's, in case you want to look it up for yourself.

The other disappointment was more a laugh than a disappointment. There's a certain absurdity to kicking off your black and white imprint with a character who creates GREEN things out of nothingness and who has a weakness for things coloured YELLOW. Outside of the cover, there's a paucity of such colouring information, making the books quite puzzling at times. You would have thought DC might have started off with Batman or Superman. Even Wonder Woman. But no, they went for the colourful character first.

And you know, it wasn't really all that bad of a decision. The date range of the original material is roughly October of 1959 to October of 1962. That hit MY sweet spot for discovering comic books (I was born in 1956). Green Lantern was written mostly John Broome, with a couple of stories by Gardner Fox, both of whom were great writers of the 'funnies.' Gil Kane did almost all of the art work, tamed into beautiful submission by inkers like Joe Giella and especially Murphy Anderson. And the subject matter was more about alien baddies than earthbound ones.

It's decent reading, GREAT nostalgia and a good Reading Room reader. And this one cost only ten bucks. It might not have been original, but Greenberger and his team did well by me with this debut to the Showcase collection.

After which, Greenberger was let go by DC. The mind boggles. He's still working in the media field as a freelancer and has an active Internet blog presence. But he never got a chance to see through his weird decision to start the black and white line off with the colourful and colour-prone lead-off character.

1 comment:

Robert said...

Thanks for the kind words. We had many draft lists and mock contents worked up and the publishing execs opted to kick off the line with Superman and Green Lantern.

I personally edited the first dozen or so volumes before leaving staff and remain proud of what we developed. I personally get a kick seeing some of those books on the set of Big Bang Theory.