March 7, 2013

Random Comic: Showcase '95 #7

Showcase was a DC Comics anthology title that ran for about five years or so. Each issue would generally contain three stories or serials, usually featuring characters who didn't necessarily have their own book at the time. The title changed volume every year, so Showcase '93 would run for 12 issues in 1993, Showcase '94 for 12 issues in 1994, and so on.

This is Showcase '95 issue #7, dated August 1995. It features "Exit to Eden, part 1" as the lead story. This is a follow-up to the Superman "Reign of the Supermen" story arc, starring the alien villain Mongul. It is written by Peter Tomasi with pencils by Scott Eaton and inks by Pam Eklund. The two back-up strips are "Hiding Place on Rye, Hold the Mayo" - an Arion the Immortal story by Peter Kupperberg, Mike Huddleston and Mark Propst - and "A Shadow Over Eden" - a New Gods story by Scott Ciencin, Ramon Bernado and Joe Rubenstein.

In principle I love the idea of anthology titles. In practice they shit me to tears.
Here's the thing: this book has three separate stories in it. I really enjoyed the Mongul story. I kind of enjoyed the New Gods story. I got nothing worthwhile out of the Arion story. As a result I feel short-changed. It's the same problem that makes me wary of DC's current use of backup strips. More often than not they simply aren't interesting enough. As a result titles like Sword of Sorcery wind up costing a dollar more when for all intents and purposes they've got as much interesting content as a $2.99 book.

"Exit to Eden, part 1" (sadly I don't have a copy of Showcase '95 #8 so who can say how it ends) is a great follow-up to "Reign of the Supermen", tracking the incarceration and subsequent escape of Mongul following his destruction of an entire city during the Superman crossover. It's a nice change to read a comic about the villain, and to get a look into what happens after the average superhero comic ends with the bad guy in custody and the good guy flying into the sunset. While it does end on a cliffhanger, it by-and-large works as a self-contained gaol breakout story.

"Hiding Place on Rye, Hold to Mayo" is just self-indulgent and dull. It relies very heavily on the reader having prior knowledge of a then-recent Arion miniseries. I haven't read that, and as a result this story felt near-impenetrable. It also suffers from trying to be wacky and funny, and failing to succeed at it. I'm not sure there's a more tedious thing to read than comedy you don't find funny.

"A Shadow Over Eden" is better, but still fairly disposable. There's a killer on the loose, and Orion and Metron of the New Gods are hot on the trail. It's a slight, fairly old-fashioned sort of superhero story, but it's pleasing enough and self-contained.

I bought this comic second-hand for something like one dollar, so obviously I more than got my money's worth from it. Had I purchased it new at the time, I'm not quite sure I would have felt the same way.

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