Showcase #4 (DC)

Showcase4

Rating: 4.5/5- A timeless classic jump-starting the Silver Age of Comics.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Gilad Levin.

How do you approach such a classic? Do you look at it from today’s eyes or do you judge it according to the norm of when it was published? Do you consider its success? Its impact?  After all, if it weren’t for Showcase #4, the comic book industry would not have been the same, it set off a chain of events that led us to where we are today.

By today’s standards this book might be considered silly. Not because of the plot but because of the way it is written. You know, the good ol’ “Gosh golly! Would you look at that!” or captions on every frame to explain the plot and the use of thought balloons… ahh… good times…   But also consider the sheer amount of story packed into a single issues when compared to comics published today.

The plot and story – now there’s some serious stuff going on! This is the Silver Age of comics, the science age. Everything has a scientific explanation, even the condensed costume in a ring. The stories, both of them (yes, Showcase #4 has two separate stories, are really good. The first story, written by Bob Kanigher with art by Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert, introduces Barry Allen/The Flash and does it perfectly.  It gives him some character (not all of it, because that needs to be explored) and pits him against quite a foe. I especially enjoyed how he was getting used to his powers, he just couldn’t believe it was happening to him!  Him of all people!  One of the biggest strengths of the Flash is that he is that ordinary person.

The second story, written by John Broome with the same art team of Infantino/Kubert,  goes straight to business and delivers a swift and interesting story with a criminal from the future pulling mysterious heists that the Flash must solve. Flash really utilizes (almost) the full extent of his powers in this very early stage of his existence.

Showcase #4 ushered in a new era of comic books, the Silver Age; and it was the perfect book to do so.   It represents everything the Silver Age stands for, certainly scientific discovery and advancement, but also the age of innocence.  I recently found this comic in the collection given to me by my Grandfather and I’m proud to have it framed on my wall.  If you’ve never read this, you can find it in a number of collected editions, including Showcase presents: The Flash, Vol. 1 and it’s also available for digital download on Comixology.

Reviewed by: Gilad Levin – gilad@comicspectrum.com
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