DC Showcase Presents Justice League of America. Volume 6 by Len Wein (2013, DC Comics)
Comic books have added to pop culture since their inception, but now they are more a part of the mainstream social consciousness than ever before. For those new to the genre, or for those who may have lost touch with it, getting up to speed can present a daunting hurdle. However, one of the best ideas that the two major comic book publishers had in the past 15 years was to publish 500-page retrospective collections of certain titles and/or characters. Marvel Comic collections were titled either Marvel Masterworks or Marvel Essentials. Their DC Comics were called "DC Showcase Presents," hearkening back to the DC Showcase comic series that featured many different characters over the years. These compilations featured the same stories as the original comics, usually reprinted in black and white, rather than the traditional four color comic style, allowing readers a low cost, convenient, one stop shop opportunity to either familiarize themselves with particular characters, or, as they usually do with me, to relive comics read in bygone days.
There are lots of these fantastic collections available both in our library, and our affiliated Alaska Joint Library Consortium, and one I recently read was DC Showcase Presents Justice League of America, Volume 6, which reprinted Justice League of America issues 107 through 132, from 1973 and 1974. That time period was around the time 5 year old me started reading comics, and these storylines featured more than Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and other JLA stalwarts. They also starred the League's Golden Age counterparts, the Justice Society, and introduced the Freedom Fighters, a group of heroes featured on the book's cover, who hailed from a world where the Nazis won World War II. For me, the best part of this particular installment of DC Showcase was the unexpected and delightful inclusion of one of my top five favorite comic stories ever, a holiday tale titled, "The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus." I first read this story when it was originally published in 1973, and always remembered it. However, reading it with both a childhood nostalgic memory and an adult's point of view gave it new meaning. In this story, a Santa friend of the Justice League (as opposed to THE Santa) was killed by dastardly villain The Key, and the body left with a message that a bomb had been hidden in St. Louis. This was significant, in that St. Louis is a real place, unlike the fictional Metropolis and Gotham City. It was up to the superheroes that could be roused on Christmas Eve to find the bomb and protect the citizenry. The story has a wealth of layers, uncommon to most comic stories. Substitute Green Lantern John Stewart (he of later use in the superb Justice League animated series 30 years later) made his first JLA appearance when first-string ring bearer Hal Jordan slipped on a bar of soap in the shower. Real world issues of race relations, poor housing conditions, and poverty were acknowledged. Each hero got a pseudo death scene and a chance to shine. Red Tornado, an android and recently added team member who had been experiencing feelings of alienation and inadequacy, bolstered his confidence, learned how much his teammates appreciated him, and got a snazzy new costume. Forty-seven-year-old me now has even more love for this story.
Find this series in our catalog: DC Showcase Presents Justice League of America