Showcase ’95 #6: Lobo and Bibbo Play Cards With Dogs

Poker Night in Metropolis

Showcase ’95 #6 features two of my favorite characters from the DC Universe of the 1990s. By now you know how much I like Lobo. But this story puts him alongside longshoreman turned bar-owner Bibbo Bibbowski!

Bibbo showed up in Superman comics as an all around nice guy, kind of like a calm version of Popeye. He was always willing to lend a hand in the community and was Superman’s self-professed number one fan.

In the Bibbo/Lobo story, the bar is visited by Bibbo’s alien friend Raof. When you hang out with Superman you get to meet all kinds of interesting people.

The reunion is kind of short-lived, as a gang of alien dogs lead by Skruffy have come to Earth to enslave mankind as pets for their children puppies. Just when you thought the story couldn’t get any sillier, it does. Bibbo and Raof challenge the dogs to a high-stakes poker game where the winner gets earth. And there is an amazing two-page spread of Bibbo and the dogs playing poker that I would love a print of for my wall. The dogs realize Bibbo is cheating and thankfully Lobo saves the day. It involves a giant fire hydrant, and that’s all I’ll say. This story was written by longtime Superman editor Mike Carlin, and is worth checking out.

The other two features really didn’t do anything for me, as they were about the Legionnaires and the Science Police. I’ve never been into any of the Legion of Super Heroes. The characters and the concept just never did anything for me. The one cool thing was that the inker on one of these stories was Jim Mahfood, who has gone on to do a lot of really cool projects.

So basically Showcase ’95 #6 is good if you enjoy Lobo or the Legion, and really good if you happen to like both. However, if you don’t have any interest in either, you can skip it.

Spidey’s Poker Night: Spectacular Spider-Man #21

As I’ve said before, I love single-issue comic book stories. It’s great being able to pick up something and read it in one quick sitting. Writer Paul Jenkins and artist Talent Caldwell put together a forgotten gem of a single-issue story in 2004’s Spectacular Spider-Man #21. Best of all, this features a slice-of-life story that we usually don’t get to see in super hero comics.

Jenkins has put together a story about what should have been a fun evening for a bunch of Marvel’s super heroes—poker night. Little did everyone know that their game would be crashed by the Kingpin, who wants in on this game. Kingpin’s motivation isn’t that he wants a night out with the boys heroes. Instead, he spots everyone money and turns it into a high stakes tournament. If any of the heroes win, they can keep the money and do whatever they wish with it. If Kingpin wins,  he plans on using the money to buy a new yacht named Heroes’ Folly as a way to embarrass them for not being able to beat him in a card game.

Since this is a Spidey book, the game ends the way you think it will.  That’s to be expected. But what makes this such a good read is that the witty dialogue between the characters and how expressive Caldwell makes everyone. There’s a lot of little things going on the side in this book that are briefly mentioned but are expanded through the rest of the story through clever use of facial expressions and posture, like Dr. Strange and his sidekick Wong being completely bewildered by the rules of poker, or Angel and Black Cat being super flirty. After the game,  you are left with the impression that a certain winged mutant  is going to be making out with a certain burglar turned hero. Way to go Warren!

Even the wisecracking between Spidey, the Human Torch and Thing is laugh-out-loud funny. Jenkins and Caldwell deserve a lot of credit; they were able to turn a filler issue into a classic. Go read this.