Are you looking for a serious, thoughtful superhero story? Sorry, wrong decade. The Silver Age is about fun, creativity and whimsy. It’s about pure, simple, wholesome entertainment. The 50’s and 60’s may have had their issues under the surface (notice the utter lack of minorities and sexist treatment of women in these stories) but the comic book presentation was a perpetual happy face. This light tone of the Silver Age was likely a result of the restrictive comic code but what it produced was a magical era. I am most definitely not a person who supports censorship but what the comic writers were able to produce within the constraints of the times was amazing and the Silver Age remains my favorite era ever.
I can tell you EXACTLY what makes these stories so special; Otto Binder, Curt Swan, Kurt Schaffenberger, Wayne Boring and Robert Bernstein. There were others involved but these are the most prolific in this collection and Binder, Swan and Boring in particular are comic legends. As the old saying goes, “they don’t make ‘em like THAT anymore” and boy is it true in this case. The pinnacle may be when Binder and Swan team up because they might possibly be the best writing/drawing combo DC had during the Silver Age and one of the greatest of any age. Binder is perhaps the most creative comic writer ever and invented probably half of all the Superman elements that survive to this day. Swan became THE iconic Superman artist of the Silver Age following in the footsteps of Wayne Boring. His clean, consistent visual style is a joy to see which is why he is the cover artist for every single Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane comic in this collection.
These are stories where anything can happen. Jimmy Olsen becomes a bitter enemy of Superman, travels to Krypton’s past and meets a toddler Superman, becomes a late night horror film host and scares people to death, develops an insatiable appetite, becomes a Superman on an alien world, gets a robot assistant, becomes an expert swordsman, becomes a genie in a bottle, becomes the Daily Planet editor and terrorizes Perry White. Meanwhile Lois Lane becomes the most hated girl in Metropolis, is engaged to a caveman, turns into an infant, becomes a jungle woman leading a pack of leopards, wears an irresistible perfume and is operated on and becomes a literal mermaid. Mind you these are not imaginary stories or elsewhere tales. These are intended to be within the actual universe of Superman. These stories aren’t concerned with continuity or logic, they are about fun and in that they deliver.
The Showcase collections are the polar opposite of the collectible Absolute Editions. You get a whole lot of material for very little cost. These are thick paperback books printed with thin cheap paper and black and white images. I even had one book where the pages started falling out (not this one). But what you get is over 500 pages of wonderful comics at a very low price. These books are intended for reading not for hermetically sealing hoping for an appreciation in value. Now here is the fly in the ointment. In my book pages 241 to 288 are repeated twice and pages 289 to 336 are missing. In other words I get 48 pages twice and 48 pages are missing. Also, these missing pages cut right into the middle of stories so actually even more than 48 pages of stories are ruined. I have no idea if this is a common printing error in volume 3.
To those who would resist buying these comic because they are in black and white I believe the lack of color actually helps because it focusses all the attention on some of the greatest pencilers and inkers in comic book history. I was sad that I lost almost 50 pages due to printing errors but I don’t regret buying this book which is evident by the fact that I own all 4 volumes of Superman Family Showcase.