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DC Showcase Comics Price Guide

DC Showcase Comics Price Guide
by Christopher Tanis and Ashley Cotter-Cairns

Jump to: Part 2 (Issues #30-60) | Part 3 (Issues #61-#104)

DC Comics needed a way to get out of the rut they were in. In 1956, comic books in general were stagnant.

The only superhero comics in production, at any publisher, were DC's Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.

Atlas (precursor to Marvel) had no superhero comics at all by '56. All the old Timely-era heroes had fallen by the wayside in favor of more profitable things.

The Comics Code had destroyed EC Comics, and Fawcett had shut down Captain Marvel in 1953, a result of DC's endless lawsuits, and the general trend away from superheroes and towards adventure stories, Westerns, and mysteries.

Something had to give, and when DC editor Julius Schwartz took a chance on reviving an old Golden Age superhero in a new and little-known anthology series called Showcase, give it did.

Everything would be different afterwards. Read more history here.

Have Your Showcase Comics Valued!

If you've got some copies of Showcase, especially #4, #22, or #34, then click here to have them valued FREE by Sell My Comic Books!

Showcase Comics #1 (April 1956): Fireman Farrell?

This is the first issue of Showcase, the first issue of this legendary tryout anthology comic, the first issue of the comic that brought us the Silver Age Flash and Green Lantern.

Woo-hoo!

Wait -- who the heck is Fireman Farrell?

Showcase #1 (April 1956): Fireman Farrell? Click for values

Showcase #1 has value, since it is, well, Showcase Comics #1. But the adventures of Fireman Farrell, a non-super-powered, well, fireman, are not themselves the stuff of legend.

In three stories by Arnold Drake and John Prentice, we get exactly what we would not expect from this groundbreaking Silver Age comic: stories that would have seemed perfectly suited for the adventure comics of the late Golden Age. Unfortunately, the innovation wouldn't happen until #4.

Still, as the first issue of an important title, Showcase #1 is quite valuable. It is made more so by the fact that there are very few copies extant, with only 37 unrestored copies graded by CGC. Collectors seek it, but you just try and find one. Go ahead. You won't.

Then again, you wouldn't probably get much from reading it, either. Pssst! It gets better in three months! Pass it on! Regardless of whether fireman stories are your thing, this is a very valuable comic to find.

Record sale: $4,100

Minimum value (poor but complete): $75

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Showcase Comic #2: Kings of the Wild. Click for values

Showcase #2

Record sale: $2,800
Minimum value: $25
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Showcase Comic #3: The Frogmen. Click for values

Showcase #3

Record sale: $2,100
Minimum value: $15
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Showcase Comics #4 (1956): First Appearance of Silver Age Flash (Barry Allen)

OK, let's just establish this right now: Showcase #4 is the most important Silver Age comic -- the most sought-after key issue of any comic from any company published between 1956 and 1970.

There, I said it. And yes, this is coming from a comic reader who as a child read only Marvel titles, and used to laugh at the silly Flash comics with the unlikely plots, and what I thought of as the old-fashioned-looking Carmine Infantino pencils, that DC was putting out in the early and mid-'70s.

Showcase #4 (1956): First Appearance of Silver Age Flash (Barry Allen). Click for values

Well, a 7-year-old kid with no sense of historical perspective is entitled to that opinion, I suppose. Still, Showcase #4 is light-years away from the blandly improbable Cary Bates-era Flash I scoffed at as a youngster, and light years away from the importance that Barry Allen and the revolution in superhero comics that followed.

Sure, I snickered over the idea that while Barry's Flash costume just sort of squirts out of his ring when he needs it, how the heck does he get it back in there later? They never showed that, did they?

I always imagined a frustrated Barry, in a rumpled business suit, fumbling in a broom closet of the Central City P.D., cursing and sweating as he tries to jam his costume back into a space that is just way too small for it. "Get INNNN!!!"

But that's not what's important, is it?

The important thing is that good old DC editor Julius Schwartz gave Robert Kanigher, John Broome, and Carmine Infantino the job of reviving a moribund Golden Age character, the Flash.

Jay Garrick, with his quaint-seeming winged Mercury helmet, hadn't been seen since 1951, and five years is a loooong time when your average comic book reader is on the youngish side. Time enough for a complete reboot, which is just what they did.

Without belaboring Barry Allen's story here, suffice it to say that the most important element in Showcase #4 was the beginning of DC's rather neat way of explaining the difference between the two Flashes.

Barry Allen, the new Flash, used to read comics that featured Jay Garrick, the old Flash, when he was a child. Later, we'd find out that the two Flashes were from two parallel earths, dubbed Earth One (oddly, the current, Barry Allen earth) and Earth Two.

This Earth One/Earth Two way of looking at the Golden Age heroes was to be the DC Universe bread and butter for 20 years, until the Crisis on Infinite Earths rendered it all moot with a giant, sweeping, retcon.

 Showcase #4's two stories, The Man Who Broke the Time Barrier! and Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt! give the origin for Barry Allen's super-speed powers, and establish him as an exciting new mainstay in the DC universe.

At a time when Superman was always fighting crime gangs in double-breasted suits, and Batman always seemed to be getting trapped by the Joker in a giant blender (in a story titled The Joker Cooks Up Kitchen Crimes or some such), the Flash was a streamlined, exciting, and very modern alternative.

The Flash took off, and was hugely popular, and the rest is history. This comic is insanely valuable, and there aren't that many around, especially in good shape, although there seem to be more than Showcase #1.

If you have one, you know that it's likely to be worth a small fortune. Mid-grade copies can sell for over $10,000, while in top condition, the sky's the limit.

The Barry Allen Flash also appeared in Showcase Comics #8, #13, and #14, and these, too, are quite valuable, although not as astronomically high as #4. They all feature scripts by Kanigher or Broome and art by Infantino, and one story penciled by a young Gil Kane, of whom more later.

Record sale: $180,000

Minimum value (poor but complete): $500

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Showcase Comics #5: Manhunters appearance. Click for values

Showcase #5

Record sale: $4,400
Minimum value: $30
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Showcase Comics #6 (October 1956): First Appearance Challengers of the Unknown

The Challengers of the Unknown were a Jack Kirby creation, one of the last of his contributions to DC before his return to Atlas/Marvel full-time in 1958. Many see them as a precursor to the Fantastic Four, which Kirby would co-create with Stan Lee just three years later. 

Showcase Comics #6 (October 1956): First Appearance Challengers of the Unknown. Click for values

There are indeed similarities. Four men, all of whom are non-super-powered but considered heroes just the same, are traveling together on a plane to appear together on a radio show.

Among the four are Olympic wrestler Rocky Davis, famous skin diver Professor Haley, daredevil Red Ryan, and War hero and  pilot Ace Morgan. 

Their plane crashes, and the four miraculously survive. Convinced that they are living on borrowed time and that they were somehow spared "for a reason," the four decide to work together, challenging the unknown.

Rather unimaginatively, they then decide to call themselves The Challengers of the Unknown.

The Challengers would go on to appear in Showcase #6, and then again in Showcase #11 and #12, before getting their own title, which would run for 75 issues.

Kirby would leave after the twelfth issue, headed for Marvel, but here, in Showcase #6, Kirby plotted and penciled, abetted by scripter Dave Wood. Kirby also provided the cover.

Record sale: $5,200

Minimum value (poor but complete): $40

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Showcase #7: Second appearance of Challengers of the Unknown. Click for values

Showcase #7

Record sale: $5,200
Minimum value: $40
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Showcase Comic #8, second appearance of the Silver Age Flash. Click for values

Showcase #8

Record sale: $26,000
Minimum value: $100
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Showcase Comics #9 (August 1957): Lois Lane's Tryout

Showcase #9 (August 1957): Lois Lane's Tryout. Click for values

Unlike the so-called Supergirl Tryouts of the Golden Age, in which Lois Lane had more than one opportunity to get some superpowers and use them, this is essentially a romance comic that happens to have Superman in it.

Lois creates crazy situations that almost always, ironically, leave her at odds with Superman or with Clark.

She is eternally caught between her attraction to Superman, and her desire to know his true identity, between her disdain for Clark and her working relationship with him that somehow never makes it obvious enough that he is Superman.

In Showcase #9, through three stories written by Jerry Coleman and Otto Binder and art by Ruben Moreira, Lois instigates situations, the Lucy to Clark's Ricky.

In one, she competes with Lana Lang to see who Superman likes better, as if they were high school rivals.

In another, she becomes depressed after Superman declines to accompany her to the Daily Planet Dance, and believes that she must have put on weight. She weighs herself at an old "weight and fortune" machine, and creates difficulty for Superman as a result.

In the last story, she is struck on the head and goes into a coma that is characterized by a semi-lucid dream state in which she is married to Superman and has borne his "Super-Baby," which is the story illustrated on the cover.

For two issues, it went on like this, and then Lois was gone, replaced by another tryout. Lois Lane's tryout here was the first feature designed to appeal to female readers to appear in Showcase, but would not be the last. Showcase #9 (and #10) are relatively scarce, but of course are not as valuable as any of the Barry Allen issues are.

Record sale: $12,000

Minimum value (poor but complete): $75

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Showcase #10: 2nd Lois Lane issue in the series. Click for values

Showcase #10

Record sale: $10,700
Minimum value: $50
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Showcase #12: Challengers of the Unknown appearance. Click for values

Showcase #12

Record sale: $4,400
Minimum value: $25
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Showcase #11: Challengers of the Unknown appearance. Click for values

Showcase #11

Record sale: $9,500
Minimum value: $50
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Showcase #13: 3rd appearance of Silver Age Flash. Click for values

Showcase #13

Record sale: $13,000
Minimum value: $100
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Showcase #14: 4th appearance of Silver Age Flash. Click for values

Showcase #14

Record sale: $9,000
Minimum value: $50
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Showcase Comics #15 (February 1958): First Appearance of Space Ranger (Rick Starr)

For Showcase #15, DC tried out a science-fiction twist on an old standby: the hard boiled story.

50 percent Western lawman, 50 percent 1930's gumshoe, and 100 percent space opera, Rick Starr, Space Ranger was introduced in Showcase #15.

Showcase #15 (February 1958): First Appearance of Space Ranger (Rick Starr). Click for values

Rick Starr, on the surface a bored executive in his father's corporation, Allied Solar Enterprises, takes on the secret identity of Space Ranger with a standard superhero mask under his space suit, because the space pirates, alien invaders, and evil scientists were just getting to be too much to tolerate. He had no super-powers other than his left hook and his deductive reasoning.

Space Ranger fought those sort of villains through Showcase Comics #15 and then again in Showcase #16. Such was the comics audience at the time (1958) that Space Ranger caught on enough for DC to give Rick Starr his own feature (that ran for 40 issues) in Tales of the Unexpected, starting with #40.

After that run, he appeared perhaps ten more times in the pages of Mystery In Space, after which Space Ranger faded from view for a long time. 

Drawn by Bob Brown (who also did the covers) and written by Gardner Fox and Edmond Hamilton, Showcase #15 and #16 change hands for considerable sums.

It is perhaps surprising to see prices like that for comics featuring a hero that you've never heard of, but such is Showcase's importance, such is the importance of first appearances, and such are the values of collectible early Showcase Comics.

Record sale: $4,700

Minimum value (poor but complete): $20

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Showcase #16 (1958): Second Appearance of Space Ranger (Rick Starr). Click for values

Showcase #16

Record sale: $1,800
Minimum value: $10
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Showcase #18: Adventures on Other Worlds. Click for values

Showcase #18

Record sale: $1,500
Minimum value: $10
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Showcase #20: Origin and first appearance of Rip Hunter, Time Master. Click for values

Showcase #20

Record sale: $1,000
Minimum value: $5
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Showcase #17: Adventures on Other Worlds. Origin and first appearance of Adam Strange. Click for values

Showcase #17

Record sale: $9,500
Minimum value: $75
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Showcase #19: Adventures on Other Worlds and Adam Strange. Click for values

Showcase #19

Record sale: $8,900
Minimum value: $25
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Showcase #21: Second appearance of Rip Hunter, Time Master. Click for values

Showcase #21

Record sale: $500
Minimum value: $5
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Showcase Comics #22 (1959): First Appearance of Silver Age Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)

After the very successful reboot of the Flash in 1956, the powers that be decided to try the same thing with the Golden Age Green Lantern, who hadn't been seen since 1951.

In October of 1959, the new Green Lantern made his debut in Showcase #22. In the lead story, test pilot Hal Jordan is psychically summoned to the side of a dying alien named Abin Sur, who convinces Hal to replace him and become the new Green Lantern for the sector of the galaxy that includes earth. A very space-age reboot, indeed.

Showcase #22 (October 1959): First Appearance of Silver Age Green Lantern (Hal Jordan). Click for values

Showcase #22 was written by DC mainstay John Broome and penciled by then-relative-newcomer Gil Kane, who created GL's new costume, a marvel of futuristic design.

And it was no mere coincidence that Hal Jordan was a test pilot in the aerospace industry. The plan seems to always have been for the new GL to be connected intimately to the Space Age. 

The contrast between the new GL and his Golden Age predecessor, Alan Scott, is quite pronounced, and it is primarily due to Gil Kane's pencils, bristling with energy and unusual, "modern" perspectives.

Kane's dynamic pencil work would be associated with the Emerald Gladiator for many years, and he is still considered by many to be the definitive GL artist. The science fiction flavor that characterized Green Lantern throughout the Silver Age starts here, with Gil Kane. 

Arguably, this is the second most important of the Showcase Comics. Since this is the first appearance of the Silver Age Green Lantern, this comic generally sells for a pretty sturdy sum. Finding a copy of this comic, even one in tattered condition, is quite a nice result.

Record sale: $60,000

Minimum value (poor but complete): $150

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Showcase #23 (1959): Second Appearance of Silver Age Green Lantern (Hal Jordan). Click for values

Showcase #23

Record sale: $
Minimum value: $
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Showcase #25, Rip Hunter, Time Master appearance. Click for values

Showcase #25

Record sale: $
Minimum value: $
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Showcase #27, first appearance of the Sea Devils. Click for values

Showcase #27

Record sale: $
Minimum value: $
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Showcase #24 (1959): Third Appearance of Silver Age Green Lantern (Hal Jordan). Click for values

Showcase #24

Record sale: $
Minimum value: $
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Showcase #26, Rip Hunter, Time Master appearance. Click for values

Showcase #26

Record sale: $
Minimum value: $
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Showcase #28, second appearance of the Sea Devils. Click for values

Showcase #28

Record sale: $
Minimum value: $
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Showcase #29, third appearance of the Sea Devils. Click for values

Showcase #29

Record sale: $
Minimum value: $
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Part Two: Showcase Comics #30 to #60 >>>

We break this article here. Click to see values for Showcase Comics #30 and upwards in part two >>>

More history of the Showcase Comics series follows below.


What Showcase Comics Did For the Future of Comic Book Publishing

It's safe to say that the world of comic books as it exists today has followed a straight line since the dawn of what comic book collectors and fans call The Silver Age.

Most would agree that the Silver Age started in the pages of Showcase #4 in October of 1956, when DC brought forth the new Flash unto comic book readers, and the people rejoiced.

If you can't afford an original Showcase #4, don't worry. Click to order the reprint edition from Amazon

Showcase Comics were what could be called a "tryout" series. In other words, it was designed to be an anthology series that would give new and untested characters an issue or two to gauge the public reaction without the risk of giving them their own series right away.

The other method of doing this, the "spin-off," wherein new characters were introduced as guest stars in established books, worked well enough, but a tryout book was simply easier, and it had the allure of a new concept. And the format then developed its own fans as well.

Besides the Silver Age Flash, over time, the pages of Showcase Comics would introduce (or reboot, or reintroduce, or just provide a high-profile momentary home for) such heroes as Green Lantern, Adam Strange, The Atom, Aquaman and Aqualad, The Metal Men, The Spectre, The Creeper, and Hawk & Dove.

From 1956 until 1970, DC's Showcase Comics was exactly what the name implied: it functioned as a literal showcase for new heroes, heroes of a distinctly different type than the Golden Age heroes they replaced, and who didn't have a regular home of their own.

It was a showcase as well as for some of the great artists and writers of the Silver Age, including legends like John Broome, Otto Binder, Gardner Fox, Gil Kane, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Ross Andru, and many others.

You can buy a reprint of the Silver Age Green Lantern comics in one book. Click to order from Amazon

In a way, Showcase Comics ARE the Silver Age. Most people agree that the second great age of comics began with Showcase #4, and while the end of that period is a bit harder to pin down, most place it in the neighborhood of 1970, the year that Showcase gave up the ghost due to lackluster sales amid a glut of DC titles and the utter dominance of Marvel as the Bronze Age began.

There was a brief Showcase revival later, when DC hopefully brought the title back (along with other previously canceled titles and a number of new ones, as part of a desperate mid-'70s marketing ploy called The DC Explosion!) for 11 issues starting in August of 1977.

That run introduced the new Doom Patrol, gave Power Girl her first real solo outing, and even gave the then-terminally-unhip Hawkman a much needed shot in the arm, before Showcase bit the dust once again in what has been called The DC Implosion of 1978, wherein the struggling company laid off a fair chunk of its staff, and canceled 40 percent of its titles.

There is more than enough material and cultural influence to justify a book-length study of Showcase Comics' role in the Silver Age, and the change of direction in comics that has guided the media ever since. Whoever undertakes that task has a great wealth of incredibly fertile characters, writing, and art for inspiration.

But for today, we're going to have to content ourselves with just a bit of a look-see into that world. The sheer scope and quality of Showcase certainly do merit a close examination of some key issues, and that's just what we're going to do.

Click here to read part two of this comic price guide >>>

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Learn how much the Silver Age Lantern comics are worth, including Showcase #22, #23 and #24, and his own series.

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Learn the values of Silver Age Flash appearances including the Showcase issues, Flash #105, and all the later issues too.

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