Freedom Fighters #3 (1976) – battle at the World Trade Center!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#8

Freedom Fighters #3

FF3

Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, August

Cover artist: unsigned (Dick Giordano per Grand Comic Book Database)

Editor: Gerry Conway

            Quality Comics was a successful comic book company during the medium’s golden age. It introduced Kid Eternity, the Blackhawks, the much-lauded Spirit and Plastic Man to comics. The company closed shop in the mid-1950s and the catalogue of characters was bought by DC/National. They continued only four of Quality’s titles: GI Combat, Plastic Man (although DC would not publish a Plastic Man comic until the 1960s), Blackhawk, and Heart Throbs – all but the latter were still being published by the time of the Bicentennial (Plastic Man especially would get much more popular in the coming decades).

            But what of the other characters of the defunct company? They languished until 1973 when they were introduced to DC readers in Justice League of America #107 in that group’s annual meeting with the Justice Society of America.

 107-1

            The Quality characters, that issue told us, were from an alternate earth – Earth X (most DC characters lived in Earth 1), where the Nazi’s won WWII. The sole superhero survivors of that conflict were Uncle Sam, the Ray, Doll Man, the Human Bomb, Phantom Girl and the Black Condor. With the combined might of the JLA and JSA, the World War (of Earth X) was finally won by the Allies; so the Quality heroes decided to form a permanent group and move to Earth 1. A version of this story was re-imagined in Batman: The Brave & The Bold…

FF

            A letter writer in this issue questioned that – why not have adventures on “their own” earth showing the group rebuilding their world? The editor said that would not make a very good comic book. Perhaps, but would the sales of the comic have been any worse than they were for their adventures on Earth 1? The editor guaranteed there would be an issue #4, an odd thing to say for a successful comic. The comic lasted for 13 issues – personally I loved every one of them! In my opinion the first issues were, indeed, stinkers; but the series picked up steam after a while.

            I particularly enjoy the “secret” Marvel crossover in issues #8 & 9 with the Invaders. Thinly disguised versions of Namor, Captain America, Bucky, the Human Torch and Toro fought our heroes. Mirror dopplegangers of the Freedom Fighters appeared in the Invaders comic.

            Freedom Fighters was cancelled just before the “DC Explosion” of 1978 and merged with Secret Society of Supervillains. SSOSV was cancelled too – no “Explosion” issues were released, although it is available in the Cancelled Comic Cavalcade and as a SSOSV trade paperback. But the cliffhanger – the Silver Ghost hires a company of villains to defeat the FF once and for all – was never resolved.

            Referring to them as the FF in the letter columns and the comic itself seemed awkward. Who didn’t first think of the Fantastic Four, instead?

            Although this issue contains a done-in-one story, a back story continues through the series – the FF are on the run from the police after being tricked by the Silver Ghost (in issue #1) into helping him commit crimes.

freedomf

 

***

            Untitled (Grand Comic Book Database gives the title as “Scragg the Super Sniper”), Martin Pasko ( w ), Ramona Fradon & Juan Canale (a), Liz Beruba (i)

            The FF escape from a police showdown (last issues cliffhanger, I presume), and hide out in a dumpy loft apartment. Doll Man creates an invisible shield for them. 

            Meanwhile, Arthur T. Sommar finally snaps and kills his wife. He goes to work and ends up in the midst of a battle between the FF and a gang of sport-supply store robbers! Unbeknownst to all, two youthful Qwardian teenagers are exploring earth and also chance upon the battle. They bombard Sommar with a Staser ray to even the odds – mutating him into Scragg the Super Sniper!

            The FF defeat Scragg and take him in for questioning. He reverts back to Sommar and calls his lawyer. The operator has a similar screechy voice as his wife, which snaps him back into his Scragg persona!

            The FF defeat him again at the twin towers of the World Trade Center (Human Bomb: “What’s this clown’s next act — fragging those towers?” 20/20 hindsight makes this reader want to say, “Ouch…”) with the Human Bomb taking the brunt of Scragg’s damage. The Ray tries to grab Scragg’s arm before he plummets to the pavement, but his hand goes ethereal like Phantom Girl’s and Scragg slips away! The incorporeality is likely due to the invisibility ray, Doll Man assumes.

            Back at their loft, the FF realize they signed a lease under their civilian identities – which are known by the police! They must leave. Where can they go to be safe and not hunted like criminals? Where?

            Wonder Woman appears next issue per the last-panel blurb! That issue (#4) was the first issue of Freedom Fighters I owned and read.

 

 

Freedom Fanmail: Mike White of Mackinaw, IL (positive, although the Ray’s contempt of Uncle Sam was criticized – Conway explains that although the FF joined together for common purpose, they aren’t buddies!) and Harvey Sobol of New York, NY (negative – criticizing the art and their move to Earth 1 instead of helping rebuild their own home world).

            Next: Superman #301!

 

***

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

Joker #8 – DC’s Bicentennial blog continues!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#7

Joker #8

Joker 8

Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, August

Cover artist: Ernie Chua (he dates his covers 1975 throughout)

Editor: Julius Schwartz

            The Clown Prince of Crime first appeared in Batman #1 in 1940 (below)

 Joker first

 … and has since become the most successful and recognizable bad guy in comics; and only the most obstinant Marvel Zombie would disagree. Even my daughter at three years of age knew the Joker.

            Why then did it take until May of 1975 for the Joker to get his own book?  Villains were given their own titles even in the pulp era – the Mysterious Wu Fang and Dr. Yen Sin to name two; both of them spawned from the Fu Manchu novels of a century ago.

            Villains headlining comics were not unknown in the Golden Age – Yellow Claw for example. But not by the Silver Age … nothing. What happened in the interrim?

             The dearth of superhero titles is what happened. There weren’t that many mask-and-cape-dogooders headlining comics out there (although there were lots of other genres published in the 1950s) and therefore not much room to give a bad guy his own magazine. 

            The Comics Code Authority is what also happened. Although Marvel’s Doctor Doom had his own series in Astonishing Tales, giving a villain his own book was dicey stuff back then – especially if that villain was a homicidal maniac! To appease the code, Joker’s insanity was toned down and he was always captured or surrendered by book’s end.

             The Joker reflected his nemesis over the decades – from a dark criminal in the 1940s to a more gimmicky criminal in the 1950s. 

             By the time of the 1966 Batman TV show, well … 

joker

 

            I think the Joker is the one on the far right. It’s hard to tell; they are all wearing masks. 

            And just so you know, as of today? What is the arch nemesis to Batman’s violent-porn-brooding-sociopath-like? He’s carved his face off and stitched it back on. 

joker face'

 

             Maybe toning back his insanity wasn’t such a bad idea…

***

 

            If the Joker is/was so popular, why wasn’t the title a smash hit? Throughout the comic’s run (to issue #9 in October 1976) the art was wonderful – this Bicetnennial issue especially features the marvelous work of Irv Novick.

 scarecrow

            But the stories were uneven. That’s being kind.

            The first issue was a battle royale with Two Face. Excellent start. The silly issues afterwards likely didn’t even please the youngsters. The fight with Luthor is embarrassingly bad. Great issues, however, were peppered throughout – the fight with “Sherlock Holmes” and this Bicetennial issue are examples of how good the book could have been.

sherlock

 

            Joker #10 was plugged in the letter column of issue #9 and in the “Daily Planet” house ad featuring upcoming releases. The cover and some interiors are found on the internet if you do some searching. When this comic was cancelled, why didn’t they run it in Batman Family? Why not then continue the series in its sister title? Were sales that bad? Were the stories not taken seriously?

Joker10

The proposed cover for Joker #10 

            Would the comic have been more successful with a full-time hero opposing him? Robin or Batgirl?  Perhaps a non-caped hero like Jason Bard or someone else from the back issues of Detective? The comic could have been better and should have lasted a hundred issues!

            Wisely, Batman did not appear in the series, not even in a cameo. His image was peppered throughout – a face on a dartboard, for example.  In this issue Batman’s mug was on a safety net and a “bullet” that popped out of a toy gun.  Thus it is hard to count this as a “Batman” title.

            This was only one of four Bicentennial comics I owned at the time of their publication. It took me 38 years to finish the collection!

***

“The Scarecrow’s Fearsome Face-off”,

Elliot S! Maggin (w ), Irv Novick and Ted Blaisdell (a)

            Disguised as the Scarecrow, Joker steals a canister of fear formula from Star Labs in Metropolis. An angry Scarecrow frightens the location of Joker’s Ha-Hacienda from a former lackey. Joker discovers the Scarecrow’s impending visit and leaves a message to meet him at the local zoo. There, Joker uses the fear formula via a swarm of moths to scare away guards and patrons while he steals a hyena mural for his hide-out!

            The Scarecrow flies in and battle ensues! Scarecrow’s pet crow Nightmare pinches out Joker’s nose plugs while Scarecrow uses acid to release the gas from Joker’s canister. Gas billows out and Joker is on his knees, terrified. The Scarecrow giggles. Giggles? Yes, Joker switched the fear formula for his own laughing gas! His fear was feigned!

            Scarecrow is caught by the police and Joker makes it back safe and sound to his own padded cell at Arkham Asylum.

            Death toll (despite the attempts to assuage the Comics Code Authorities): two guards and one former henchman.

 

 

The Joker’s Ha-Hacienda: letters answered by the Joker himself, mostly for Joker #6! Likely Bob Rozakis answered the letters; these were mostly one-sentence questions and/or comments (“Who is Moriarty?”) answered in a snarky style (“I came home to find all my Batman comics burned, did you do it?” “No, if I did it, I would have burned them while you read them!”). Snarky, but not mean – answers were funny and the insults gentle. This is the Joker, not Murray Boltinoff!

            Mark Wannop of Camden, NJ (positive), Clifford Gerstman of New York, NY (positive), Michael D Dargay of Royal Oak, MI (negative), Fred Schneider, New York, NY (positive), Doil Ward of Ardmore TX (spotted a gaff), Adam Castro of New Rochelle, NY (a general question), Kirk Anderson of DeForest, WI (general questions), Mike White of Mackinaw, IL (negative) and “The Catwoman” challenging Joker to a battle in the next (and last) issue!

            Lots of mail for a failing comic? True, but the nature of the letter column – and answer by the Joker himself – likely had readers send in missives they otherwise would not have done!

 

 tpb

            This issue is reprinted (as is the entire series) in The Joker: Clown Prince of Crime trade paperback.

 ***

 Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

 

 

 

Justice League of America #132

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#6

Justice League of America #132

JLA_v.1_132

Published monthly, thirty cents, July

Cover artist: Ernie Chua (the date under his signature is 1975)

Editor: Julie Schwartz

            The Justice League of America debuted in late 1960 in The Brave and the Bold #28. After a three-issue try-out, they were awarded their own magazine a few months later. There has never been a month without at least some kind of version of the JLA published by National or DC – gaps as publicity stunts aside…

            Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman joined together to fight evil. 

            Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky wrote and drew the first several years of the series and the editorial reigns were held by Julie Schwartz.  This was Schwartz’s third try at reviving Golden Age characters – updating them for a modern audience.  The Flash and Green Lantern were rousing successes, so he tried again in the pages of Brave and Bold!  This time he brought back the old Justice Society of America: changed the name to something “more exciting” (someone once said a Society makes them sound like they got together to have tea) and updated the roster with the few heroes available at the time.  There was really no one else around: Adam Strange?  He’s good, but harder to work into a plot than Aquaman, so instead he was a frequent guest.  Roy Raymond TV Detective and Rex the Wonder Dog wouldn’t work, Challengers of the Unknown and the Blackhawks would make things too crowded.  Superboy would be impossible!  Batwoman? Robin?  Nah!  Green Arrow?  Oops, forgot about him – he’d join in Justice League of America #4.

            Eventually Fox and Sekowsky left the writing and art chores to others. Some issues were drawn by Neal Adams! But eventually the art was given to Dick Dillin.  Some fans dislike his art even to this day. I loved it! His are the images I have when I think of the Justice League – not Sekowski’s, not Lopez, not Heck’s, not Lee’s nor anyone who drew the later and latter versions of the group. Dillon is my  … Dylan.

            Plus in this particular issue he draws Supergirl! Oh, yummy …

supergirl

            This image is from the next issue, but still …

            Justice League of America was always a sales powerhouse for DC, with only a handful of magazines selling better (Superman for example). Its dip in sales during the 1970s was proportional with the industry as a whole.

            But even in the dip. Marvel was outdoing DC, in buzz if not in sales. Trying to catch up – something DC started in the mid-1960s and continues to this day – DC kept story threads going from issue to issue in some of their comics; Justice League of America included. This bicentennial issue is a fine example: it is part two of a two-part story, but the thread (Supergirl searching for her cousin) continues into the next issue; her search then becomes its own two-parter.

            As is the case with this magazine, the thread is interrupted by the annual JLA/JSA summer multi-parter. One of Justice League of America’s most unforgivable crime in this vein came in the next year with issues #139: Steve Englehart took over the writing chores for an incredible run of issues, but the annual JLA/JSA summer team-up stopped the story in its tracks. When it returned to the storyline (the Construct attacks during dissension amongst the JLAers), it had lost steam and Englehart was gone by issue #150 with his events and changes to the group’s dynamic forgotten.

***

            The inner front cover features a different Hostess ad from the Bicentennial comics so far. Instead of “Superman Saves the Earth”, we have “The Cornered Clown” starring the Joker!

            The annual sales statement “required” of every comic book published showed this magazine was selling 193,000 copies*. A fair amount for the time – and today as well!

            “The Beasts Who Fought Like Men”, Gerry Conway   ( w ), Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin (a).

             This story is continued from the previous issue. Returning from a mission in space, the Justice Leaguers not involved in the events of the previous issue are attacked over New York City by Queen Bee and her intelligent swarm! They dispatch the swarm, but Queen Bee escapes. Perhaps they can track her whereabouts in their satellite headquarters…

            … whence they are attacked by Green Lantern foe Sonar! Last issue, Sonar developed a “credit card” that would help him control humans as soon as they touch said card! Instead, the cards made humans as dumb as beasts and as a side effect made animals as intelligent as humans! Sonar defeats the JLA but runs away when nearly bested by Supergirl, who at that moment entered the satellite searching for Superman.

            The team splits up; half go to Washington DC to fight Sonar, who are then also attacked by animals from the Washington Zoo.  Sonar is caught after being nearly trampled by an elephant.

            The other half goes to Chicago to fight Queen Bee. During the fight they discover that although Sonar created the human/animal link, Queen Bee controls it! The two villains were unknowingly in cahoots! Queen Bee is also defeated.

            JLA members missing since the last issue are found – except for the Man of Steel!  Supergirl asks the JLA’s help in finding the missing Superman.

 

 

JLA Mailroom: featuring comments on issue #128; Bob Rozakis answered and commented on the letters. Paul Emrath of Milwaukee, WI (positive), Glenn Rowsam of Oakland, CA (positive – and praises Wonder Woman’s return to the group); DK Thomas of Brunswick, ME, Michael D Dargay of Royal Oak, MI, and Fred Schneider of New York, NY are given brief comments discussing an age-old question argued to this day: is Green Lantern’s oath necessary to recharge his ring?

  logo

            This issue is reprinted in the trade paperback Showcase Presents: Justice League of America Vol. 6.

 

 

* Here is a sample of sales figures published in DC’s annual “required by law” financial statement for 1976:

Brave and Bold: 151,000

Justice League of America: 193,000

World’s Finest: 132,185

Adventure Comics: 104,309

Superman: 216,122

Superman Family: 156,636

 

 

            Shameless plugs department: Some of the information in this blog is gleaned from my new ebook: The Brave and the Bold – from Silent Knight to Dark Knight, an index of the DC comic book. Available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords websites. It’s free, so get it now!

 brave-and-bold-cover

           The Barnes and Noble link is here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-brave-and-the-bold-michael-curry/1120872264?ean=2940046443011

 

***

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

 

 

Batman Family #6: the debut of the Joker’s Daughter!

Continuing my reviews of the 33 comic books in which …

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#5

Batman Family #6

batfam5

Published bi-monthly, fifty cents, August

Cover artist: Ernie Chua

Editor: Julius Schwartz

            In 1975 DC launched three comics as companions to Superman Family (which had debuted the year before – an amalgam of the Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Supergirl titles) – all with a “… Family” title. Tarzan Family, Superteam Family and Batman Family. They were “Giant” comics containing mostly reprints for fifty cents, with the lead story (and sometimes a second feature) as a new piece.

            The debut of Batman Family in October 1975 gave Batman (and it was rare the caped crusader did NOT appear inside the comic – especially in the reprints) five titles; tying with Superman (if you count the Legion comic) six if you count The Joker (and to be fair, if you count Superboy/Legion, you should count Joker).

            Superman had seven titles (counting Supergirl AND Superboy – I think they do, as they also had the Big Red “S” on the cover…) before the coalescing of three titles into Superman Family. Not counting their appearances in Justice League of America…  Superman appeared in Superman, Action Comics, World’s Finest Comics and Superman Family and I would also count Superboy starring the Legion of Superheroes, although that is a stretch. Batman appeared in Batman, Detective Comics, World’s Finest, Brave & Bold and now Batman Family. Not so unusual now, but in the early 1970s out-appearing Superman was quite a feat.  Even Spider-Man was only featured in two comics by this time (his third, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, debuted in December of 1976).

            Also, incredibly to today’s mind, the comic didn’t do well. Batman Family lasted only twenty bi-monthly issues until November 1978. It was by that time a Dollar Comic (and one of my favorites) when it “merged” with Detective Comics – another comic that at the time was such a poor seller it also faced cancellation (the mind reels). The Batman Family/Detective Comics dollar-comic merger lasted fifteen issues before reverting back to a single Batman tale plus an occasional back-up feature.

***

Jokers Daughter

            This is the most collectible of the 33 Bicentennial issues and the most expensive in the secondary markets. This issue was the debut of The Joker’s Daughter, or Duela Dent, who later changed her identity to Harlequin.

harlequin

Although not the same character, the idea morphed into the current Harley Quinn.

harley quinn

Thus this somewhat average entry from a warm August of 1976 turns out to be quite a sought-out collector’s item. It’s no Incredible Hulk #181, but for DC it’s highly prized…

***

 

“Valley of the Copper Moon”, Elliot S! Maggin ( w ), José Delbo (a), Vince Colletta (i).

            Batgirl is guest of honor at this year’s Matituk Indian Reservation’s 2nd Annual Prairie Festival and Indian Rodeo. Congress(wo)man – don’t call her a Congress”man”! – Barbara Gordon (Batgirl’s secret identity) arranges a junket with other Washington officials. They will soon be voting on whether to allow the Abraxas Syndicate to mine the Matituk’s land. Their guide, Jack Lightfoot, is in cahoots with Abraxas (we don’t find this out until the end) and secretly tries to kill Gordon, the single “nay” vote on the junket!

 

“The Joker’s Daughter”, Bob Rozakis ( w ), Irv Novick (a), Frank McLaughlin (i).

            Mystery novelist Christine Arindae dies. Upon her death a room sealed for 30 years is to be opened per her Last Will and Testament. The room is rumored to contain a manuscript of a novel: a mystery concluding with the death of her greatest character – Ulysses Pylate. The room is unsealed and is found to be empty! The Joker’s Daughter enters, takes credit for the theft and escapes! She and Robin fight again atop a pedestrian bridge, where Joker’s Daughter admits she did NOT steal the manuscript, although she wanted to! It was Arindae’s last mystery! Joker’s Daughter escapes – vowing to discover Robin’s secret identity!

 

“Robin’s Cast of Characters” – we are introduced to the supporting cast of the more recent Robin solo stories with brief biographies: Robin/Dick Grayson, Lori Elton, Chief Frank McDonald, Lieutenant Rick Tatem

 

“The Adventures of Alfred: In the Soup”, Don Cameron & Joe Samachson ( w ), Jerry Robinson (a), Jack Schiff (e), reprinted from Batman #32, December-January 1946

            Thieves steal cans of turtle soup from a factory! Alfred, on loan to Bruce Wayne’s friend, walks the dog of his new temporary “master”, suspects the soup company’s competitor and he and the dog lead the police to the competitor’s factory. Alfred claims the dog is part bloodhound and drags a sausage to the factory so it will sniff its way to the factory and affirm Alfred’s hunch. The unbelieving cops follow and Alfred is proved right! But still, everyone believes it was the dog’s nose, not Alfred’s intuition, that solved the crime!

 

“Curious Crime Capers”, Henry Boltinoff ( w )(a). One-page humorous cartoons based on true crimes!

  1. Dayton, KY: a prisoner escaped explaining he was claustrophobic and couldn’t stand being locked up!
  2. A Chicago man’s car was stolen! Description? A ’49 body on a ’30 chassis with a ’49 front bumper…
  3. Oklahoma City, OK: a man stole a wrecker – he needed to get a sedan he stole out of a ditch!
  4. Dallas, TX: a safecracker is caught red-handed – he’s going on trial the next day and needed some cash!

 

“The New Crimes of the Mad Hatter”, Dave Wood ( w ), Sheldon Moldoff (a), Jack Schiff (e), reprinted from Batman #161, February 1964

            The Mad Hatter escapes from prison and starts a crime spree!

            Disguised as a fireman, he robs a bank (“gas leak! Keep your money in my fire truck for safe keeping!” Bankers were idiots back then … ); as Robin Hood he steals $10,000.00 in golden arrows, as a chef at a dinner honoring royalty he steals the queen’s diamond tiara; wearing a bowler had, he robs the prize money from a bowling alley (that’s a stretch…). You see, the jurists who convicted him were a fireman, an amateur bowman, a bowling-alley owner, etc.

            But jurist #5 was a florist, a silk importer and a rabbit breeder … hmm … ah! All those are used by a magician! Sure enough … Mad Hatter disguises himself as a magician to steal diamonds from an exhibit. He tries to get away in a balloon, but Robin pops it with a … hat pin!

 

 

Letters of comment from Mike White of Mackinaw, IL (positive), Fred Schneider of New York, New York (positive – he enjoyed Robin finally complaining about how cold his skimp costume is…), Scott R. Taylor of Portland, TX (positive), and “reader roundups” – short clips of letters from Jeff Sporn of Bethesda, MD, Mark McIntyre of Atlanta, GA, The Mighty Hackman of Santa Maria, CA and Tom Weyandt of Broadtop City, PA; all mostly asking for Batgirl/Robin solo stories alternating with team-ups.

Up next: Justice League of America #132

***

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

Kamandi #43: DC Bicentennial issues continued!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#4

kamandi

Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth #43

Published monthly, thirty cents, July

Cover artist: Ernie Chua (Chan)

Editor: Gerry Conway

            In 1970 Jack Kirby left Marvel to work at DC. To Marvel fans, it was akin to Eisenhower defecting to the Soviet Union. To DC fans, it was as if Chairman Mao sought US asylum at Disneyland.

            Jack Kirby is to comics what Babe Ruth is to baseball – he affected everything that came after him and even non-fans have an idea who he is (Stan Lee fits that analogy better, most likely, but it fits Kirby, too!). He created or co-created Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, Darkseid, the Forever People, Mister Miracle, the New Gods, the Challengers of the Unknown, the Eternals, Devil Dinosaur, the Demon, Machine Man (to name a few) … and Kamandi.

            Kamandi ran for 59 issues from November 1972 through October 1978 and was cancelled during the DC Implosion – a line-wide cancellation of dozens of titles during a major sales slump. Unfortunately it happened only a few months after DC’s advertising blitz hyping new comics, format and price they called the “DC Explosion”.

            Jack Kirby was the writer/artist/creator of the series through #37 and continued as artist until issue #40 (these were issues already penciled when he left).

***

            DC comics tried to obtain the rights to a Planet of the Apes comic. Marvel won that battle and turned it into a successful magazine for a few years and an unsuccessful color reprint comic for a few months. But Kirby had another idea – in fact he had a similar Apes story in an Archie Comics science fiction anthology magazine even before the original POTA novel! A Great Disaster decimated humanity. It was not a nuclear war per se, but did involve lethal radiation inundating the earth.  The humans remaining became bestial –with intelligence and reason at animal levels.

            Just before the Great Disaster, a drug was developed that gave animals human-level intelligence. The experimental animals were released and the drug dumped into the water supply. The resultant radiation and “poisoning” of the water supply gave rise to animal civilizations. They use the remaining humans as slave-labor and beasts of burden.

            A young boy did survive, though, locked in a bunker labeled Command D. He was raised by his grandfather (who was later retconned into the original OMAC) and learned of pre-Great Disaster civilization of humans. When his grandfather was killed by a wolf, Kamandi (his real name, if he had one, was never disclosed) left the bunker to discover the fate of humanity.

***

            By the time of issue #43, Kamandi befriended mutant Ben Boxer – the closest thing the series had to a superhero. With his “atomic power”, Boxer can transform his skin into solid metal. With his formidable natural strength, he is a powerful ally. Dr. Canus is a bipedal intelligent dog with extra-ordinary intelligence. Arna becomes Kamandi’s love interest as of this issue. She (and presumably all humans of her “tribe”) age quickly and her character dies of old age in issue #51.

***

            “A Connecticut Mutant in Great Caesar’s Court”, Gerry Conway & Marty Pasko ( w ), Chic Stone and Mike Royer (a).

            A hot-air balloon takes Kamandi, Dr. Canus and Arna from California to the remains of Nashville, TN – home of a clan of tigers! Upon landing, Dr. Canus (apparently) betrays the two humans who are nearly captured. They escape and hide in a jewelry store.  A romance between Kamandi and Arna begins…

            Mutant Ben Boxer is condemned to death by Great Caesar, so he transforms into his all metal form and battles his way out of the compound. He runs past the jewelry store and escapes with Kamandi and Arna out of the city. They are then attacked by leopards! To be continued…

 

            “Tales of the Great Disaster: Homecoming”, Gerry Conway ( w ), Pablo Marcos (p), Bob Smith (i).

            20 years after the Final War, Urgall the gorilla returns to New York City and is attacked and bitten by rats before finding his home tribe.

            He has been in Washington, where apes call themselves “Representatives” and enslave the humans still clinging to life in the “Capital Dome”. Urgall helps a human and is himself enslaved as punishment. They dig up old relics, including the Lincoln Memorial.

            Urgall is inspired by the newly-discovered remains and he escapes and becomes convinced that “all men are created equal” – including rats and humans. Urgall tries to free one of his tribe’s human slaves and is banished from his tribe and home.

 

 

The Time Capsule (letter page): comments for Kamandi #38 – shortly after Jack Kirby went back to Marvel leaving only penciled pages behind: Tim Corrigan, Rochester, NY (positive), Mike White, Mackinaw, IL (positive) and John Elliot, New York, NY (positive)

 

***

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

            Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

 Next: Batman Family and the debut of the Joker’s Daughter!

Abby’s Road gets a wonderful review at Reader Views!

Abby’s Road: The Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped received a wonderful review from Reader Views online.

The cover of Abby's Road

The cover of Abby’s Road

Here is the review:

Abby’s Road: The Long and Winding Road to Adoption

Michael Curry
Curry Books (2014)
ISBN 9780692221532
Reviewed by Daryn Watson for Reader Views (2/15)

Michael Curry’s book “Abby’s Road: The Long and Winding Road to Adoption” shares the trials and tribulations of the author and his wife Esther as they embark on their quest to adopt a baby. After trying naturally and using in vitro fertilization methods, the couple realizes that in order to fulfill their dreams of becoming parents, they must chose adoption.

After waiting four more years, Michael and Esther become proactive with their decision to adopt. They discuss their fears of birth mothers appearing to reclaim their child, similar to what is portrayed in Lifetime movies. They also discussed foreign adoptions and the challenges of obtaining a child from overseas. Eventually they decide on the route of domestic adoption and their adoption adventure begins.

After compiling a very detailed profile about themselves, along with a few dozen photos, Michael and Esther are chosen as suitable adoptive parents from a couple in Long Island, New York.  The expecting mother, Valerie, had previously relinquished two children to adoption and at the age of thirty-eight, her third child would be going to the Curry’s.

Michael Curry has a great way of describing in detail the steps of their journey. He is very witty and entertaining with his delivery of their adoption journey. He describes very well in detail the surroundings of the places he and Esther visit while awaiting the arrival of their bundle of joy from Valerie.  Eventually the baby arrives and the joyous couple make their way back home to Central Illinois to begin their life as new parents.

“Abby’s Road: The Long and Winding Road to Adoption” by Michael Curry is fun, informative and entertaining. As a reader, I gained a great deal of knowledge of what the adoption process is like for adoptive couples. However, the book does very little to educate the public on the experience of other sides of the adoption triad. The trauma and loss that both the birth parents and the infant adoptee experience.  As an adoptee myself, I feel these topics need to be discussed in order to educate the public on adoption trauma. During the update at the end of the book, I would like to have known of any contact (if any) the family had with the birth mother.

 

Reader Views website with the review is here.

 

And I agree with the reviewer – it would have been nice to show the adopting parents’ side of the triangle. But unfortunately, in our story, that door was closed by the parents. The birth mother specifically did not want to see the baby or to meet with us. We set up an online photo sharing account with Smugmug and had no visits from her over the past three years. The birthmother called the adoption agency to contact us for the password and information on how to access the picks, and in the next week there was a spike of visits to the site, but nothing since.

I can only imagine what the birth mother thought and felt during the process and afterward. But anything I wrote about it would be a fiction I created,  as I do not know how Valerie felt or feels. That’s very sad.  We kept a letter she sent to us, some of the voice mails she left (so Abby will be able to hear her voice) and the onsie she brought with her when she was in labor. It is the only thing we have to give Abby that was from her birth mother – other than her pretty eyes and pouty profile. The  sweetness she gets from my wife and her temper from me!

We miss Valerie. We never met her, but we’re both very sorry we never got to. Both? I mean all three of us.

“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

 

Winner, Honorable Mention, 2014, Great Midwest Book Festival


Abby’s Road is available at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Abbys-Road-Long-Winding-Adoption/product-reviews/0692221530/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending


at Barnes and Noble here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abbys-road-the-long-and-winding-road-to-adoption-and-how-facebook-aquaman-and-theodore-roosevelt-helped-michael-curry/1119971924?ean=9780692221532


and at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/457270

 

Original Material Copyright 2015 Michael Curry; the Reader View review copyright its holder or holders.

 

 

 

 

Weird Western Tales #35

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#3

Weird Western Tales #35

wwt35

Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, August

Cover Artist: Ernie Chua (Chan)

Editor: Joe Orlando

            The modern era has forgotten how huge the western genre was. In the 1950s television was as thick with western programs as it was with sitcoms in the 1980s, with cop shows in the 1970s and with utter crap now.

            Comic books reflected this craze. Westerns sold well in the 1950s into the 1960s. Marvel and DC each had several titles still running into the 1970s.

            The comic Weird Western Tales was a direct descendant to the golden age’s All Star Comics starring the Justice Society of America! All Star changed its name to All Star Western in May 1951 and continued the original numbering with #58 going to #119 in July 1961. 

            All-Star Western (with a hyphen) was revived with issue #1 in September 1970. It ran for 11 issued until it changed its title (and format) to Weird Western Tales with #12 (July 1972). Jonah Hex debuted in #10 and continued as the star of the series until #38 (February 1977) when he was spun off into his own series. The comic then featured Scalphunter until the series was cancelled with #70 (August 1980).

            The change in title and format was due to the success of Weird War Tales, another DC comic that combined two (obvious) genres.

            Jonah Hex was introduced in the still-called All-Star Western #10. As a child he was sold into slavery to an Apache tribe, but was made a full tribe member when he saved the chief. He was left for dead while fighting the chief’s son over a woman.

            As an adult, he joined the US Army during the Civil War, eventually shifting loyalties and joining the Confederate Army. He turned himself in after Lee’s surrender.

            (From Wikipedia): Jonah then locates his old tribe and tells the chief how the chief’s son, Noh-Tante betrayed Jonah years before. The chief decrees that this must be settled by a tomahawk battle. Noh-Tante secretly sabotages Jonah’s tomahawk so that the handle will break. In an act of desperation during the fight, Jonah pulls a knife and kills Noh-Tante. As punishment for breaking the rules, Jonah is bound and the chief presses a heated tomahawk to the right side of Jonah’s face giving him “The Mark of the Demon.” The tribe banishes Jonah.

            Jonah then became a bounty hunter, with a reputation as the most fierce and deadly gunslinger in the west.

            The character was thrust into a post-apocalyptic future in the 1980s. He was revived in the 2000s as a successful western comic. A Jonah Hex series (in a thrice-revived All-Star Western) was introduced in 2011 as part of DC’s “New 52” line for 34 issues.

***

            “The Hangman!”, Michael Fleisher (w), George Molintorni (a)

            Hex is ambushed by the Yellow Mask Gang and left for dead in the Arizona desert to die. He is rescued by “Red Eye” Charlie. Hex accompanies Red Eye to the town of Hall Valley.

            When they arrive, Hall Valley is having a town fair – highlighted by the hanging! The woman to be hung took $10.00 from a drunken cowboy. The Marshall of the town certainly keeps stern law and order, it seems.

            Red Eye is later arrested for public drunkenness.

            The Yellow Mask Gang robs the Hall Valley bank. Hex captures one member (Bill) and goes into the countryside after the rest. We find out the Marshall is in cahoots with the Yellow Mask Gang, but shoots the captured gang member before he reveals all. Red Eye overhears Marshall’s conversation with Bill and witnesses the shooting from his cell. To shut him up, the Marshall plants evidence that Red Eye is a member of the Yellow Mask Gang and sentences him to hang (the Marshall is also the justice of the peace in these parts, ya see…).

            Hex dispatches the Gang and returns with some live prisoners and asks for the reward. He returns just in time to save Red Eye from the gallows and Red Eye reveals the Marshall’s shooting of Bill.

            Bill’s brother, Jed, is shocked and angry at his brother’s death and tells everyone the truth about the Marshall!

            The Marshall is hanged as the festivities continue. Popcorn! Hot fudge! Cold Beer!

            Hex is offered the job of marshal for good, steady pay as long as he keeps up the hangings every few weeks like the old marshal did. Good for morale, good for business, ya know.

            Hex rides away in disgust.

 

            Thet lingo the karkters tawk in thet the rahters spell out foh-neticly shore gits noyin’ after whahl…

 

Trail Talk (letter page): comments for WWT #32 – Mark Schmeider, Concord, Mass (positive), Matthew Elyosin, Madison, CT (negative) and John Elliot, New York, NY (positive).

 

***

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

            Images used are copyright their respective holders and and reproduced here under the “fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.