Welcome to Back Issue Bin, the extremely new series that acts like it is an American staple. In this review, we will be reviewing Showcase #35 from 1961, which was the second appearance of the Silver Age Atom. Showcase #34, 35, and 36 were a series of three issues published in Showcase to test the sales potential of The Atom, which turned out successful, leading to an ongoing series of his own.
A reading copy of Showcase #35 can be found second-hand around for $20-50. Showcase #35 was also reprinted in its entirety in DC’s The Atom Archives Vol. 1, which can be found second-hand for $30-50. This also includes Showcase #35-36, and The Atom #1-5 (reviews for each can be found here). The addition of these issues to the collection averages out to $3.75-6.25.
Showcase #35 consists of a four-part story: “The Dooms From Beyond!” which, like the last issue, was written by Gardner Fox, drawn by Gil Kane, and inked by Murphy Anderson. It, as well as the last issue, was edited by Julius Schwartz, who came up with the idea for both the revival, as well as the science-fiction aspect of the character. Schwartz was an influential science fiction fan in his youth and was one of the first literary agents for science fiction authors, including Ray Bradbury.
“The Dooms From Beyond!”, like the ones before it, has solutions to problems based in science, although those are less common this issue, with him punching his way out being more prevalent. Instead, the science aspects come from the traps the villain of the story sets, as well as from the editorial pages, which give science facts based around size. These are actually surprisingly enjoyable to read due to the suburb art by Gil Kane.
Also in this issue is a fascinating read about the history of the writer and artist of the book, and it is a great introduction to the creators of DC’s Golden and Silver Ages.
What this writer forgot to include in the review of the last issue is the fact that Jean Loring is one of the first significant others in DC Comics who is independent of the protagonist, and is not just portrayed as an incompetent love interest, which is a problem DC’s rival, Marvel, faced during this same period. Jean Loring is a compelling character whose strive for independence actually makes her more relatable than the reasoning behind the protagonist. (Pity an unnamed writer ruined her character in 2004.)
“The Dooms From Beyond!” is a story well worth your time due to the intelligence and cleverness behind figuring out the ludicrous ways the villain sets traps, and it is a truly interesting read that has you wondering what comes next. It is noteworthy for being the first multi-part Atom story, as opposed to the two shorter stories that came before.
I would highly recommend this issue due to a combination of Gardner Fox’s superb science fiction ideas, combined with Gil Kane’s artwork, all behind a fascinating and compelling character. I would, however, only recommend this for people who are wanting to pick up the Archive Edition of The Atom, as the story alone is not worth the money you would be spending for the single issue. It is definitely worth a read if you have access to it though, and if you want to pick up more than one of these Atom stories, I would recommend picking this one up in the first Archive Edition.