Monday, January 12, 2009

Read: Showcase #101

Issue: Showcase #101
Title: "Mystery In Space!"
Published Date: Jun 1978
Generation: Silver Age Katar (Although I wonder if I should add "Bronze Age Katar" for this era?)
Retcon Status: In Continuity (I'm pretty sure)

Summary: Hawkman, in his spaceship in Earth orbit with Hawkgirl, recieves a distress call from his old ally Adam Strange, who is coming in for a hot landing!  Adam is being persued by one of the many alien races which have begun a war against Rann.  The Hawks get Adam aboard and manage to warp away from the hostiles, despite the damage the ship suffers in the attack.  Adam recaps the recent events: Rann was attacked out of nowhere by a consortium of foes, driving himself (along with his wife Alanna) underground as part of a resistance force.  He was trying to reach the Justice League but was followed and attacked.  Adam fears that his family has been captured, but Hawkgirl assures them that the Justice League will help.  Unfortunately, Hawkman reports that the controls have been damaged, and they are locked on course for Rann.

Secretly, Hawkman suspects sabotage, but is unsure why Adam Strange would do something like that.  He goes EVA to try to change course manually, but the ship is attacked once more by a different hostile race.  The Winged Wonder is just able to get back inside before they warp out again.  Hawkman confronts Adam about the sabotage, but as they argue, he figures it out -- and discovers none other than the Shadow-Thief stowing away on the ship!  The Thief was a volunteer for a government space shot, and once in orbit a mysterious voice instructed him on how to build a new Dimensiometer and how to sneak aboard the Hawks' ship.  The trio attack Shadow-Thief, but are unsuccessful until Hawkman uses the ship's computer to transport himself into the Shadow dimension and knock the Thief out.

The saboteur defeated for now, the ship comes out of warp into orbit around Rann, and the occupants are shocked to discover that the planet which has begun this space war against Rann is... Thanagar!

Review: Wow!  Since his eponymous series was cancelled (that is, The Atom & Hawkman) some nine years prior, the Hawks had been limited to appearing in Justice League of America, with the occassional guest spot or backup.  So this high-flying space opera style adventure was definitely a shot in the arm for the character, a new status quo and a new attempt at a revival.  Of course, the "revival" was pretty slow going, with the result of this story being another string of backups (in World's Finest), but it eventually did lead to the Shadow War and all that.  it was clear that DC wanted to refamiliarize readers with the Hawks and Adam Strange, as they each get a page to catch new readers up on their history.  Taken on it's own merit, this is a solid late 70's DC comic, with lots of action, some great alien and technology designs, a Shadow-Thief apperance and a heck of a cliffhanger.  Milgrom's art is strong, and he seems to enjoy handling the trippier elements such as the space warps and the bizarre aliens.  Scribe Jack Harris has a good grasp on the characters and his pacing is really nice.  The EVA sequence, which counts down how long Hawkman can last in the vacuum, is a standout.  Joe Kubert handles the cover, and it's a great character piece.  I can really imagine this image standing out amongst the crowd on the newsstand.  Even the title is a nice touch.  I only have this issue so far, but now #102 and 103 are on my "must find" list.

Image: Showcase #101, 1978, Joe Kubert.

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