Mister Miracle #20

Behold, the Bronze Age!

bronze-age

Mister Miracle #20. October 1977

Cover: Marshall Rogers, Managing Editor:  Joe Orlando

“Eclipse”

Writer: Steve Englehart, Penciler: Marshall Rogers, Inker: Terry Austin

Colorist: Liz Berube, Letterer: John Workman, Editor: Dennis O’Neil

From DC Wikia:

Mr. Miracle’s Mother Box grants him his last “miracles” — such as flight — and leaves. Meanwhile, Granny Goodness has kidnapped Big Barda and taken her to Earth’s Moon. Mr. Miracle and Oberon rescue her, but find that she has been conditioned, through torture, to believe that her husband is the enemy.

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The text page explains who Ilya Hunch was (the inker from the previous issue that was the secret name for Crusty Bunkers – Neal Adams’ stable of superb artists from his Continuity Studios.

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The story moves briskly with plenty of time for cosmic oddities from the Mother Box. An interesting theory is finally revealed – something that has bugged readers (well, me at least) for some time: why doesn’t Scott Free have powers like the other New Gods or Forever People?

After last issues tour-de-force, the artwork here is lacking a bit. Perhaps Rogers and Austin – who are otherwise infallible – are still feeling their way. Although some pages (such as the sequence where Mother Box speaks to Scott) are excellent – enough zip-tone shading to make Steranko jealous, some scenes are plain and flat. Maybe they were having an off month.

Still, good story, good art!

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

 

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Isis #2. January 1977.

Cover Artists: Mike Vosburg & Jack Abel

Isis 2 banner

Isis 2 ad

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“The Creature from Dimension X”

Writer: Steve Skeates; Penciler: Mike Vosburg

Inker: Vince Colletta; Letterer: Ben Oda

Editor: Dennis O’Neil; Managing Editor: Joe Orlando

From DC Wikia:

Two of Rick Mason’s students, Roger and Gini, are working on a project for the school science fair. When they activate the experiment, it produces a black hole hanging in midair. While Roger takes notes on how it happened, Gini goes to tell Rick and Andrea. A creature from another dimension steps out of the black hole. Behind Roger’s back it sneaks out of the room, then blasts an opening in the wall so it can escape.

Hearing the noise, Andrea, Roger and Gini, rush back only to find the hole in the wall and a puzzled Roger wondering what the noise was all about. Andrea sees smoking footprints on the outside and suspects some monster created the hole. She slips outside the building, changes into The Mighty Isis, and takes to the air in search of the creature. When Isis finds it, the creature blasts her out of the sky. Quickly recovering, she commands the water in a nearby fountain to spray the creature. Because it is made of pure electricity, the creature is in pain and it runs back to the high school. The creature returns and leaps back into the black hole as Roger continues with his experiments. Its foot catches part of the machinery and it explodes. Hearing the blast, Isis flies back to the school and takes Roger to the hospital.

Next day, when Gini visits Roger, he tells her about the monster, but Gini refuses to believe him. Later on, Gini recreates the experiment for Rick and more of the creatures appear. Andrea hears the commotion, changes into Isis, and magically activated the school sprinkler system to drive the creatures back to where they came.

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“Lost and Found”

Same creative team as above but with art also by Frank Giacoia.

From DC Wikia:

Flying over a lake during a thunderstorm, The Mighty Isis rescues two children from their capsized canoe. She brings them back to their worried parents and flies away to change back into Andrea. She goes on to a faculty/student party at the High School.

At the party, Rick and Dr. Barnes tell Andrea about a scavenger hunt that got called off because of the bad weather. Cindy was the only person they couldn’t reach. Looking over the hunt checklist, Andrea finds that Cindy was sent to find a sea shell on the shores of the same lake Isis rescued the children from. Sensing danger, Andrea transforms herself into The Mighty Isis while running down the high school corridor. Isis soars like a falcon towards the lake and saves Cindy from being swept over a waterfall.

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The text page by Denny O’Neil introduces the creative team and discusses the history of Isis from TV show to comic book.

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This comic was on the shelves in the second week of September, 1976. That same weekend the TV show Isis was debuting its second season (comprising only seven new episodes – such a small number was typical of Saturday morning kid’s shows). Fans of the comic would be watching the show for the first time and fans of the show are enjoying this sophomore entry.

Steve Skeates is a legendary writer. He would be in any Comic Book Hall of Fame for his run on Aquaman alone. I’m always pleased to see his name in the credits!

Mike Vosburg was everywhere in the Bronze Age. From Wonder Woman in Adventure Comics to the later issues of Secret Society of Super-Villains. He was stylized – dark, sketchy and moody. A great artist, but an odd fit for a Saturday morning cartoon strip. He gives Isis a grittiness missing in her prior two appearances. Oddly, his art looks completely different in these two stories if only because of the inking – in the first story his style is hidden in the first few pages – although it comes out in the last two-thirds of the story. Vince Coletta was given the first credit in the second story; which it why it looks more like his work than Vosburg’s. But that is expected for an inker who stood up to Kirby’s Bronze Age style.

“Lost and Found” was much more like the television show with its lack of singular menace and moral at the ending. “The Creature from Dimension X” … well, even the title smacks of a Young Adult science fiction tale. It could have been a 1950s sci-fi radio drama.

Not an outstanding second effort, but a good one. Hopefully with the third issue the creators will find more solid footing with the characters; so far characterization has been a bit … thin.

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

 

 

Super Team Family: the great comic with the lousy name…

Behold! The Bronze Age

bronze-age

Super Team Family #1 debuted in November 1975 (cover date). To this day the fanbase (and creators) dump on its unusual name.

It was part of four comics with (what we would now call) an imprint of “Family” from DC Comics.

DC family of comics

In May 1974 Superman Family debuted, combining three Superman related books into one – Supergirl, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen. The numbering picked up where Jimmy Olsen left off. One of the stars would feature in a “full-length” new story and the other two would be a reprint. Three low-selling comics combined into one fair-selling comic.

DC decided to create three more “Family” comics containing some new material but chocked full of reprints to save costs. The comics could be larger-than-normal size with an increased cost.

Korak morphed into Tarzan Family (with the same numbering) and Batman Family also debuted.

Super Team Family was to be a comic of new team-ups not featuring Batman. He was holding court in Brave & Bold.

Unfortunately, the first issue contained only reprints. A scheduling problem; so said the debut letter column. This would be the case through issue #8 – with only two new stories published until the magazine was given to new Challengers of the Unknown stories.

Fortunately, those reprints were pretty good – covering DC’s Golden and Silver Age!

That first issue featured reprints from World’s Finest (Superman and Batman with a cameo of the Flash) Teen Titans and Flash (in which Heat Wave and Captain Cold team up to duke it out with the Fastest Man Alive – hey, they didn’t say only heroes teamed up!). Later issues in this reprint era featured the Doom Patrol, Captain Marvel and his “family” (one assumes the idea of publishing a “Shazam Family” comic was nixed) the JSA and two Brave & Bold team-ups starring Batman & Deadman and Batman & Eclipso.

Issue #3 reprinted the cross-over of Green Arrow and Aquaman in each other’s stories from Adventure Comics #267.

#5 had a reprint from Superboy #47 in which the Boy of Steel dreamt he met his adult self. That’s pushing the team-up thing in my book, but … eh … it was a good story.

I will recap the new stories in Behold: The Bronze Age from Super-Team Family in future blogs, but not the reprints. It makes little sense to review Silver and Golden Age stories in a Bronze Age blog, yes?

Not that they weren’t good issues – they were! The comic (along with Wanted, Four-Star Superhero Spectacular and other reprint comics) were a great way to read these older stories without draining the wallet. Maybe I will get back to them someday. But for now, let’s concentrate on the new material.  Well, new for 1974 …

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

DC-TV: Shazam #26!

Shazam #26.  November, 1976

Cover Artist: Ernie Chua (Chan)

“The Case of the Kidnapped Congress”

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler/Inker: Kurt Schaffenberger

Managing Editor: Joe Orlando

Captain Marvel discovers that Sivana has stolen the Brooklyn Bridge! He is summoned to meet the old wizard Shazam and meets Mary Batson, Freddy Freeman and “Uncle” Dudley in the ancient cave.

Shazam warns Billy that Sivana threatens to destroy America city by city – Captain Marvel must stop him! Fortunately, Billy’s boss at TV station WHIZ arranged for Billy to travel the country to do specials reports on young people. He is given a TV van and a driver – Uncle Dudley! Rather than needing to return to Shazam’s cave, the six gods who give him his powers will be available to Billy in his TV van via the Eterni-stone! (Thus, the comic is now morphed more closely to the TV show)

Off to Washington to assess Sivana’s threat! While discussing where to turn next, Bllly, Mentor and new friend Rod Porter watch as the Capital Building disappears. Captain Marvel is baffled to discover most of the population don’t care. Much the same thing would happen today, in fact.

Sivana televises his threat – make him Supreme Ruler of the Universe or we will never see our senators and representatives again!

With a clue from the Elder Hercules, Cap deduces the Brooklyn Bridge and the Capital were whisked back in time 100 million years. Cap restores the Bridge and fights off a dinosaur intent on having politicians for dinner! He guesses Sivana is hiding in the Capital and (as Billy) is captured by Sivana’s caveman guard. Billy turns in to Captain Marvel and forces Sivana to restore the Capital Building to its rightful time. Sivana escapes into the time stream and warns Cap his next caper will be in Philadelphia.

More thrills in the City of Brotherly Love on sale in the third week of October!

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Missives in the letter column discuss issue #24, the last reprint issue before its brief hiatus and its reinvention into the first DC-TV comic.

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Kurt Shaffenberger is called the “World’s Greatest Artist” in the letter column. I agree! No one short of CC Beck fits better with the style and mood of Shazam! The story is aimed at younger readers, so some of the internal logic may cause us older and more cynical readers to squint and look askew. But I take these comics for what they are – fun adventures!

There’s nothing wrong with that!

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

Kobra #2: Super-heroing a pulpy idea …

Behold! The Bronze Age

bronze-age

Kobra #2, May 1976

“Code Name: Gemini!” written by Martin Pasko, art by Chic Stone. Editor: Gerry Conway, Inker: Pablo Marcos, Colorist: Liz Berube, Letterer: Ben Oda

Cover by: Ernie Chua (Chan)

Synopsis: Jason Burr is attacked by his brother Kobra in a hall of mirrors; but it ended up being a dream. He is consoled by his girlfriend Melissa and Jason tells her (and thus we, the readers) the main plot thread of the book:  he and Kobra, the leader of the international Cobra Cult, are Siamese twins separated at birth but still linked empathically – a symbio-link in which one feels what the other feels whether pain or pleasure. Kobra awakes after having the same dream. He feels Jason kissing Melissa. We learn of Kobra’s deceased lover Natalie and how he now loves Melissa who, somehow, ended up in Jason’s arms. We are told by the editor that we will learn more about this triangle soon…

Kobra then attacks the headquarters of Solaris, a former NASA engineer who created the Heliotron after losing his job “and, apparently, his sanity”!  The Heliotron accelerates the decay of the skin and kills instantly, but without pain (well, let’s be thankful for that). Solaris and his weapon escapes the coils of Kobra.

Meanwhile, Lt. Perez goes to Jason and orders him to assist in their own assault on Solaris; as Solaris threatens to use his Heliotron on a Long Island town. Perez gives Jason a uniform and a code name: Gemini.

Perez and the military await Solaris’ attack on the town. Solaris and Kobra appear at the same time and all three forces enter into battle.  Jason Burr uses his jet pack to fly to Solaris – and right into the beams of the Heliotron. Kobra, knowing his fate is tied with Jason, leaps through the air to rescue his brother. The Heliotron hits Gemini’s jet pack and destroys it (it was made of skin?) and Kobra and our hero plummet earthward!

To be continued!

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Turning Jason in to a named hero called Gemini was an eye-rolling moment. The reader groans as loudly as Jason Burr laughs at the idea. Please, don’t turn this into just another superhero comic, please! Ironically the letter page says they are NOT “…creating a super-hero mystique around either of our characters…” but that the “… occasional use of a costume by Jason Burr will add to that larger-than-life quality (that is the business of comic books). Or so we hope.”

I certainly don’t … After the first issues homages into pulpy goodness we switch gears into a typical super-hero pastiche.

The premier issue was not a dazzling debut, and this issue is, well, somewhat pedestrian.

Strike Two?

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!