Like Marvel Comics Presents (see “anew #32″), DC had its own, shorter-lived anthology series for four years during the mid-1990s. I bought the series for the first two years and a handful of issues from the ‘95 and ‘96 years, but generally gave up on it because, well, it wasn’t very good. My thoughts on anthologies developed earlier this decade so I was still buying plenty of type in the 1990’s, but even then I had an inclination that most creative talent see producing material for anthologies as a place where they don’t really have to try. Showcase, like MCP, is certainly exemplary of that. The point of Showcase, however, was to spotlight new talent and characters to see how fans react. Of course, fans have to be reading the book and responding strongly enough to make an impact, and for sure there was little here to get excited about. I’ve trolled through my collection and pulled out about half of the books that had something interesting (few of the Batman-centric stories by Doug Moench - Catwoman, Robin, Two-Face, Huntress - in the ‘93 year, and the Bloodlines character focussed upon in ‘94 made the cut).
The first was a 6-part storyline running through Showcase ‘93 issues 6 - 11 called “The Kobra Kronicles”. Looking at it now I was ready to pass, then I remembered that I really did enjoy it back in the day. Each subsequent 12-page chapter brought a new b-list DC character into the mix and the 17-year old me thought that was really cool. Starting with Peacemaker, the Kronicles piles on Deathstroke, Deadshot, Katana, and Dr. Light into the mix of a sinister Kobra plot to take over the United States. What the 17-year-old me didn’t have a great grasp on (judging by the bulk of my ’90’s comic purchases frankly) was good storytelling, and “the Kobra Kronicles” is utter trash. The dialogue is uneasy and unnatural (which I’ve learned in recent years is patented Mike Baron), with characters stating things in ways nobody would say them, and the thought balloons are used in a decidedly detrimental manner. On top of it, the Kobra konspiracy is just pathetic, and the way in which each player comes into the ordeal is so forced. None of the characters are written with any distinct personalities (fans of Deathstroke, Deadshot, Dr. Light, or Katana -and yes there are some- will not even recognize them). The art by Gary Barker for the first four chapters was decent, clean stuff, but a young Cary Nord finishes the project with some utterly atrocious work, bad framing, stiff action, and a decided lack of panel flow (he’s really flourished as an artist in the past 15 years). The end of the story is laughable, wrapping up so abruptly I think Baron thought he had another 12 pages to go.
There are some cute one-time back-up stories in these issues featuring a trippy MC Escher villain squaring off against Jade and Obsidian, the life of superhero models with Fire and Ice, and a sweet Martian Manhunter story with illustrations by Stuart Immonen.
Nothing, however, save a Creeper story by Keith Giffen and Ted McKeever in issue 12, is truly worthwhile in the ‘93 series. These can happily go in the sale bin.