Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Whatever Happened to “Whatever Happened To…?”

Posted by Don MacPherson on August 2nd, 2013

When I scanned this week’s list of new releases in comics shops, an item I hadn’t expected caught my eye. Among DC’s offerings this week was Showcase Presents: DC Comics Presents Superman Team-Ups Volume 2, a softcover, black-and-white reprint of a lengthy run of stories from DC Comics Presents from the Bronze Age of comics. As regular readers of Eye on Comics know, I’m a huge fan of the classic DC and Marvel team-up titles from that era, and while I own quite a few of those comics, I planned on adding Superman Team-Ups Vol. 2 to my library.

I was pleased to find a copy of the book for sale at my local comic-book shop, as I hadn’t pre-ordered it. But when I picked it up off the shelf and thumbed through the pages, there was something I didn’t find: the entirety of the contents of each issue included in the book.

Beginning in #25, DC Comics Presents featured regular backup stories entitled “Whatever Happened To…?”, explaining what became of Golden Age and Silver Age characters that hadn’t been seen for years. Now, this development started with the first volume of this particular edition of Showcase Presents, as it included #s 25 and 26, but I didn’t clue into the omission until this second volume hit stands this week.

Now, I get why these stories and other material (such as the New Teen Titans preview from #26 or the Wonder Woman preview from #41) weren’t included in these Showcase Presents books. They don’t fit with the team-up theme established in the book’s title, and DC appears to be trying to offer archives of the thematic material rather than the pure contents of the issues themselves. I can only presume Nemesis backup stories from The Brave and the Bold won’t be included in future Showcase editions of that team-up series.

And that’s a shame. I, for one, would have welcomed a purer, more faithful representation of that classic material, and I don’t just refer to the inclusion of the backup stories. Honestly, I think it would be cool to see the old letters pages and in-house promotional material (such as The Daily Planet ads promoting various DC titles). I’d even like to see the paid advertising included, but that would likely make for a copyright and trademark nightmare.

Maybe some people wouldn’t want such superfluous material unrelated to the main theme or motif of each volume. Maybe some readers wouldn’t appreciate being charged for lettercol reprints or the like, and would prefer instead to get more Superman or Batman or whatever material instead. I can absolutely see the point. But these books are about fun and nostalgia, and including the extra material would certainly more closely replicate the experience of discovering and enjoying the content was it was originally presented.

To be honest, I’ll probably break down and pickup Superman Team-Ups Vol. 2 eventually (especially if I spy it on sale). I will tell DC this, though: if a book entitled Showcase Presents: Whatever Happened To…? happened to show up in my local comic shop, the publisher and the retailer would make a quick sale.

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9 Responses to “Whatever Happened to “Whatever Happened To…?””

  1. Captain Jim Says:

    As you say, this is pretty much consistent with how these books have been structured in the past. Unfortunately, any new volume of the Showcase series of reprints seems to be all too rare anymore. I hope we won’t soon be asking,”Whatever happened to Showcase?”

  2. Panos Bouganis Says:

    Don, I’m with you 1,000 per cent. I just cannot understand why they don’t put old letter pages and ads in the collected editions. It would be a (very small) dream come true because one of the reasons I buy comic books is the letters pages, and I hate to say it (because like you, I like DC Universe better), from the big two only Marvel respects us a little (and only in some issues not in the collected editions). But that’s why I love Dark Horse publications.

  3. Don MacPherson Says:

    Panos wrote:
    I just cannot understand why they don’t put old letter pages and ads in the collected editions.

    It occurs to me there may be a copyright issue with those old letters. While letters writers would have been providing consent for their messages to be published in comics back in the 1970s/early ’80s, no one conceived of collected editions then. So maybe there’s a legal glitch with that aspect. Just a theory.

  4. Panos Bouganis Says:

    If you’re right one word dear Don: “Legaland”, the title of the comic you should make. You’re a good journalist and you can make a masterpiece of the legal paranoia you’re writing every day.

  5. Don MacPherson Says:

    ???

  6. Panos Bouganis Says:

    Sorry Don a silly joke but i just remembered and that in the Amazing Spider-Man omnibus edition v.1 has the original letter pages so for Marvel it doesnt seem to be a legal problem.

  7. Panos Bouganis Says:

    first printing 2007.

  8. Panos Bouganis Says:

    same thing for Uncanny X-Men omnibus v.1 first printing 2006. I will punish myshelf for not remembering these printings sooner.

  9. Panos Bouganis Says:

    But you know i’m very happy for discovering them again in my bookself. Thanks for the great article. Eyeoncomics its one of the best sites i’m visiting, period.