Showcase 1 (March-April 1956)

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The first issue of Showcase might feature “real life” heroes like firefighters, but there’s still limited danger. In the three stories, no one gets seriously injured and the protagonist–fireman Fred Farrell–successfully saves not just a frightened child but also a baby elephant.

While the first story (Farrell passing his final firefighting test) does have some character drama, the rest of the stories are just Farrell against the elements. The third story doesn’t even showcase Farrell’s heroics, it’s more about informing voters to give more money to firefighter’s salaries. Amusingly, the bad guys in that story are the small businessmen out to make a buck and young mothers wanting better education for their children.

Arnold Drake’s scripts aren’t bad–the comic is probably edifying as a look at fifties firefighting tools and techniques. Ditto for John Prentice’s artwork. It’s never exciting (and his faces are boring), but it’s competent.

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Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes 4 (February 2012)

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Well, I guess Betrayal does change some things to make the ending more in line with the first movie. All apes can be scientists–doctors–but I don’t think there were any chimp doctors in the first movie. I think they were still stooges to the orangutans. Humans are banned from the city. Those two changes about cover it.

Bechko and Hardman establish Zaius as a bad guy at the end, not out of some willful evil but through his embracing of ignorance. Maybe if the comic had been Zaius’s story, how he became corrupt, the ending might have some resonance. But it does not.

There’s a set-up for a sequel, with a gorilla and a human hanging out. Sadly, there’s nowhere for the story to go. The secret ape prison is closed too. Bechko and Hardman are inexplicably reductive.

Great artwork though. Hardman’s art just gets better throughout.

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes 3 (January 2012)

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I wonder if Betrayal got four issues because Hardman agreed to do four issues. There’s not enough story for four issues; there’s probably only enough for two. Bechko and Hardman are introducing all these characters–or, if they’ve introduced them before, they’re now giving them more page time. But there’s still the pointlessness.

So what if the good guys are in danger? I don’t even know the female chimp’s name. And the sympathetic Doctor Zaius stuff continues, but without any ties to other stories in the franchise, the character’s presence is far from imperative. For a second, I thought Betrayal might tie a little into the first Apes movie… but it doesn’t seem to do so.

Even worse than boring is the pacing. Bechko and Hardman don’t pace the story to take advantage of Hardman’s art. And there’s no other reason to read the comic, so the art should rock….

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