It’s time for a Showcase that I just finished! This is basically the DC equivalent to the Marvel Essential series. Surprisingly enough, this collection doesn’t have any “real” comic book characters as it is really a collection of short stories that tend to revolve around aliens. It’s an interesting change of pace and naturally I tend to prefer action stories, but these issues hold up pretty well.
The collection brings around 20 comics and each issue brings about 3-5 stories within it. The stories tend to only be a few pages long so the climax ends up occuring near the beginning. It’s pretty fun at times since the main characters are extremely clever. They can solve just about any problem in an instant…I miss those good days. New Yorkers really seem to know their stuff in these comics.
One instant change that you’ll notice in this comic is the Government. By “change” I mean that they look a whole lot different here than they do in the modern comics. A lot of the situations force the main character to run to the government and warn them that the planet was about to be blown up. In a modern comic, they’d either A. Not believe him or B. Kidnap him because they already know about the aliens. In these comics, the government takes it in stride and they usually believe him without reservations.
There are essentially no criminals on the planet in this continuity so everyone on Earth is basically trusted completely. If someone tells the cops that they need to spray a new gas over the planet to save the world…they’ll drop everything and get right too it. The whole collection has a lot of friendship themes scattered around and teamwork is typically essential to success. It makes for pretty good reading.
The one problem with having so many stories (or the main problem anyway) is that a lot of them start looking pretty similar. The Earth is tricked into by evil aliens into lowering their guard at least 2-3 times. Aliens invade Earth and are only driven away by trickery a few more times. A heroic alien arrives on Earth to help the humans avert disaster a number of times as well. A handful of the intros are identical as we start with the main character explaining that he’s a science fiction writer, but he never could have written something as fantastic as the adventure that he experienced.
Now, the stories may be pretty similar sometimes, but maybe it’s for the best. After all, the alien stories are typically the best ones. The one subject that tends to really compete with the Alien comics are the time travel ones. One comic sees a man get to look at the future through a machine and he keeps avoiding death by plotting how he’ll escape while also getting rich. There’s a pretty big twist at the end and it’s basically a tragic ending, but the main character wasn’t a hero so it’s supposed to balance out. That was easily one of my favorite stories. After all, I would certainly dodge my death if I knew that it was coming. (I’d skip on the get rich part or do it in a harmless way…)
There aren’t a lot of fist fights in this collection, but I do remember one of them. A Martian invades the main character’s base and attacks another Martian. The main character gallantly jumps into the fray stating that he’ll hold him off, but he’s defeated in less than a panel. It’s sad for the human race, but I suppose that aliens are supposed to be pretty powerful. They tend to outfight the humans physically.
That being said…it’s a different story when you count the American’s Atomic Weapons. It differs from comic to comic on that angle. Some of the enemies do not fear our weapons because they can easily block our attacks or they have something even better. Others are completely defenseless against these powerful objects and that is why they attempt to win through trickery. The government was definitely pretty trigger happy in this era as we discuss the option of nuking the aliens in just about every comic. We actually use the nukes quite often, but they typically don’t work or we chase the aliens off with them.
It would be interesting if all of these stories took place in the same continuity. The Earth would have been invaded by Aliens every week. We even gave up in one comic and ended up selling the Earth for a little sand. Obviously, it was a trick on our part, but it was definitely a risky gambit. We can’t forget the issue from the cover. Those Snowmen aliens definitely meant business! The way that they were defeated was definitely a bit of a stretch for me, but it would be tough to stop them. They were invulnerable after all so we really can’t underestimate them. Get this….The Snowmen actually survived getting nukes by the government! That was easily one of the best moments in the entire collection because the stakes definitely increased at that moment. No more fun and games….things had just gotten deadly.
They were probably my favorite aliens if I had to pick a best villain. They were the best fighters and they nearly came through on their big threats. We had a few giant villains, but they weren’t typically fighters as they came in peace to help us misguided humans. Most of the aliens had a lot more tech than the humans, but we consistently proved throughout the comics that are intellect is second to none. We don’t have telepathy, but we can typically outsmart the villains by faking our thoughts and using witty puns. The Aliens never stood a chance!
The art for the collection is pretty good. All of the characters look pretty solid, but that’s one of my issues with the art. The main characters from the various stories tend to look similar. At least 10 or more comics had identical main characters. One of them even had a Clark Kent lookalike as the main lead. It’s not really the art’s fault per say since thinking up over 40-60 main characters would be difficult, but the designs are definitely reused a whole lot. It’s one of the few ways that modern comics have improved from the older ones. That being said, the art is still pretty good and all of the comics can clearly be understood even though they are in black and white. It also helps the giant insect stories to feel like retro kaiju films.
Finally, one issue also had a homage to Transformers. (Assuming this came out after Transformers…it may have preceded the immensely popular franchise!) Two of the aliens were able to transform into cars and then back into their humanoid forms. They kidnap the main character, but they didn’t count on his car toll expertise and he was able to get the police to stop them. The aliens weren’t very confrontational so they fled, but it was a pretty humorous comic since they looked just like Transformers.
Overall, This is a pretty fun collection of comics. It definitely has a lot of human empowerment messages as we overcome every obstacle from natural disasters to alien invasions. I don’t mind in this case because it works well. Each comic will leave you feeling pretty good about the human race and it was definitely a simpler time back then. I can’t imagine a world where everyone was a genius and there were no criminals. It definitely sounds like an intriguing place, but there isn’t a lot of individuality. The stories can be a little similar so you may not want to read it all in one shot. It is over 500 pages after all so even I had to take a few days to finish it. Some comics are simply better in batches than in one shot and why rush right? This collection should last you for a while and it’s a lot of content for such a great price. Plus, the tried and true formula of the alien invasion never gets old. It’s no Justice League or Avengers, but the stories are fun and that’s what counts. I would definitely recommend it to any comic reader looking for a little danger mixed with supernatural elements in a very lighthearted atmosphere. You’ll also get to see a lot of interesting designs for the various alien species present throughout the issues.