Sunday, August 26, 2018

Retro Review: Showcase #68 (1967) Review and **SPOILERS**



A Difficult Daytime’s Evening

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell 
Art & Cover: Mike Sekowsky 
Inker: Mike Esposito 
Cover Date: June 1967 
Cover Price: 12 cents 
Publisher: DC Comics

**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**

Say kids! Do you like the Beatles? No? What about the Monkees? Never heard of ‘em?! What are they teaching you kids in school these days? Except for how NOT TO PRAY!! Without that context, the existence of this comic, starring multi-talented rock n’ roll group The Maniaks, is senseless. But even within that context, it doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense anyway. Without further ado, I present to you, my review…of Showcase #68 from 1967, starring the Maniaks! [THUNDEROUS APPLAUSE, SCREAMING]

Explain It!

Nearing the height of the Beatles’ popularity, and one year after the debut of the campy parody show The Monkees, DC Comics saw fit to release this: E. Nelson Bridwell’s answer to an unasked question, that had already been answered anyway by something funnier. And, perhaps more importantly for a property based on original music, it had already been done in a medium that is audible. The issue with having music played in a comic book is that only the schizophrenic can hear it. 
Play "(I'm Not Your) Walking Rock" next!
In case you doubted the origins of this comic book concept, they’re revealed in the first caption on the very next page. And now we get to meet some of the members of The Maniaks, and boy are they a buncha yuksters. 
It was sort of strange when he yelled "GET DA FUGG OUTTA HEAHH!" in the middle of the set.
First, there’s Jangle, who… 
He also owns over two dozen ill-fitting hats.
Uh, thanks for the assist, comic book. Then we move on to the silver-haired lead singer and band manager, whose alternate talent lies in being incredibly cheap. 
Seems like a real missed opportunity for some racist humor here.
Her name is Silver Shannon, and… 
I guarantee you that literally no one has ever called her "the Mod Miser."
Oh. Thanks again, comic book. Next up is the drummer of The Maniaks, Pack Rat, who is seen picking up a bit of aluminum foil and sticking it to a giant ball, because…he’s a, uh, pack rat. 
"I just need to take a bit to fashion my radio-wave killing hat."
His real name is… 
I'm sure his mother cares that his name is Byron Williams.
Damn it, comic book! I want to introduce these people! While we’re on the subject, however, let’s take a closer look at Pack Rat from the opening page: 
This frees up a hand to play "fake walkie talkie"
Looks like he’s playing the entire drum set with one foot? Is that supposed to be easier, somehow? Either his drumming is terrible, or The Maniak’s songs are too simple. Either way, I bet his left leg could kick through the hull of a freighter. The Maniaks endeavor to leave their venue…which was outside, I thought, but whatever. Greeting them at the back door are throngs of shrieking fans! Guitarist Flip deals with them in a special way! 
Flip learned this move from his cousin, Flipper.
Aw, go ahead comic book. Tell ‘em what they wanna know. 
The band's token Aryan.
Though Flip got away, the rest of the band is still in danger from these teenyboppers! Jangle uses his ventriloquism to project a Beatles song behind the crowd…have you no shame, Maniaks? 
If you can impersonate the Beatles so well by yourself, why have the band?
The girls take off running, though they look terrified in both panels. Are they running toward or away from the Beatles? How much do you want to bet Mike Sekowky read this part in the script and thought the fans were fleeing from beetles? Very strange.
IT'S THE BEATLES! RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!
So now it’s time to kick off the story for this thing, and it involves all of these people. 
This is the weirdest game of Concentration I've ever seen.
Don’t worry about remembering any of their names or details, though. They all have food-based monikers solely so the book can deliver this joke: 
"Duhh, does dat mean we should kill youse, boss?"
Sigh. The plan is to lure a hated crime boss named Dutch to the neutral grounds of Palisades Amusement Park and whack him. Because frankly, there will probably be a dozen or more unrelated murders in the Park before the season is over. 
"Duhh boss, why are we keepin' de typewriters inna violin cases?"
When Dutch shows up, everyone else lets loose a volley of bullets—and The Maniaks burst into the room just as the deed is done! 
"Whoops! We were looking for the woodpecker enthusiasts convention."
Now witnesses to a multiple homicide, The Maniaks are on the run from a bloodthirsty mob—consisting of The Mob!
Enjoy the silencers.
The Maniaks tear across the Amusement Park, bullets flying past them all along. I wonder if this impacted Park attendance for the day? To compound their problems, The Maniaks round a corner to see the once Beatles-hungry gang of girls rushing towards them! I guess they figured out that the guy selling Mozzarepas wasn’t George Harrison. Pack Rat tries a new invention: a pop gun that launches a bunch of fish hooks, which somehow carries the whole band into the air. 
I'm pretty positive that isn't how physics work.
This contraption latches onto a tram on some kind of sky ride, and The Maniaks clamber aboard—in full sight of the pursuing mob goons! 
"Duhh, dat's too many peoples fer one car."
A couple of said goons are waiting for the groovy tunesters where the ride concludes, so Flip gets the jump on them by sliding on a wire and then giving the hoodlums concussions. So he’s like the Wolverine of the team, I suppose? 
"I'm the best there is at what I do. And what I do is ditch my teammates."
Still on the run, The Maniaks pile into a roller coaster, probably not knowing that they operate on closed tracks, and conclude exactly where they began within a matter of seconds. A couple of thugs get in the rear of the roller coaster cars and draw their guns! 
Hey! None of them fulfilled the "you must be this funny to ride" requirement!
Pack Rat makes an electromagnet using a bottle cap, some wires and an old battery, and it draws all of the steel-jacketed bullets, because a little bit of science fact is better than no science fact at all. 
There is so much wrong with this contraption, it wraps around to being feasible.
Next, they’re stuck on a Ferris Wheel for no particular reason. Maybe Mike Sekowsky felt like drawing one. Flip figures he doesn’t need to hang around with these lazy chumps, and dives from the apex of the Wheel! 
That's some real nice compass work, Mike.
Right into the net of a criminal waiting below. I mean, it’s not like Flip stole away in the dead of night. They have a lot of coverage there on the ground. And then…everyone is captured, somehow. 
In hindsight, diving towards the waiting threat was a poor plan.
I’m not glossing over points in the story, this is actually the next scene in the comic book after Flip is netted. I guess once he was snatched, the rest of the gang decided the jig was up. Or maybe they were easy pickings after that slippery Flip was ensnared. One thing’s for sure, it would be dumb to put yourself out over a guy who left his friends to certain peril twice in the same issue!
Why are they being held by heavy chains? Is David Blane showing up soon?
The plan is to fit The Maniaks with cement overshoes and dump them in the ocean, but first Silver decides she’s going to serenade the mafia guys.
"Her breath makes me weep!"
It’s sort of a funny song, if you spend the time to read through the lyrics… 
Is she singing about Abe Vigoda?
…the problem, again, is that there’s no way to know what melody was going through the writer’s head when he wrote this... 
"I've got college loans like you wouldn't believe."
…so it comes across as a long-winded, poorly-timed joke.
"...and his penis ain't bad, either!"
Silver's song ends eventually, and then it’s time to get those cement overshoes on. The mob must be cutting back, they need to stand two to a tub of cement!
 
She should be grateful. Last season the mafia fashion was piranhas.
Down at the docks, Jangles decides it’s a fine time to throw his voice and impersonate…like half a dozen cops and guns, all going off simultaneously? This guy is good! 
Michael Winslow, eat your heart out.
The ventriloquist act is enough to get this goon to drop the band members, and Flip and Silver use this opportunity to…land right on the face of this guy? I feel like you would need to practice that a few times before coordinating such a feat while live. 
"Execute maneuver 'lift tonnage amount of cement with our legs and smash on bad guy's head!'"
Pack Rat uses a sledgehammer that he had…well, I’d rather not say where I think he was keeping it. He breaks Silver from her tub first, and she can’t even wait before running off with cement-covered feet to get her revenge! Haw haw! 
"Besides, I don't let anyone see my toenails."
Ha! Oh, Silver! You shouldn’t kick that guy in the tuchus with cement on your tootsies! 
Tee hee! That's what Garfield does to Odie!
Silly girl! It’s not right to…oh. Oh my. For the love of Christ. That man has suffered some serious damage. 
Is there a doctor in the house that knows a coroner?
During this fray, one of the guys tasked with killing The Maniaks tries to pick Pack Rat’s pocket, and gets a hand fulla fish hooks! I guess when you see a grifting opportunity, you have to give it a shot. 
"It's a good thing, because the other pocket is filled with carbolic acid."
Flip juggles some more mob fellas onto some kind of hanging post, and then The Maniaks tell the cops what’s what, somehow never getting tested for marijuana or LSD. Finally, the band muses about whether or not the very comic you’re reading will be well-received enough for them to headline their own series. The answer is no, but they did feature in two more issues of Showcase! 
It's $120,000, Silver. I thought you were good with numbers.
This is definitely one of the stupidest concepts for a comic book that was ever devised, and the jokes are so bad that they’re insulting. So it is essentially perfect. The fact that this was even written, drawn, inked and colored beggars belief. This is the stuff from comic book history that really gives me faith in the medium!
SUGGESTED FOR MATURE READERS

Bits and Pieces:

If you read this comic book, you will lose at least three IQ points. But who needs IQ point anywhale?

9/10
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