The Bronze Age: Metal Men 46

Behold!

Bronze age

Metal Men #46. July 1976

“The Chemo Conspiracy”

Cover: Dick Giordano; Editor: Gerry Conway

Writer: Gerry Conway; Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Walt Simonson; Colorist: Carl Gafford

The rebuilt Metal Men try to find Doc Magnus’ cash store received when Magnus blackmailed the world in his evil phase, but the hiding place was empty. Magnus eventually joins the search and finds a chemical trail leading away from the hiding place. The trail leads to the home of the two keepers of the vault who once worked for Magnus and the vault’s guard – Chemo!

Meanwhile, in Washington DC, someone claiming to be Doc Magnus destroys a mugger …

The Metal Men attach Chemo! They drill through his ankle to drain the monster of his chemical innerds and then smash his glass exterior. Gold, Lead and Mercury give their artificial lives to achieve their victory.

***

There are still a few loose ends to clean up in the Metal Men’s strange late-silver-age continuity. Gerry mops it up while re-introducing one of the MM’s popular villains. Add that it is defeated simply by draining it and smashing its glass container. Except for the environmental disaster that would result, it seems a pretty simple way to get rid of it!

Metal Men was probably not the best-selling comic in DC’s stable. Would it not have benefitted a little by being one of the “DC Salutes the Bicentennial” comics – in which one stripped off the special cigar-band logo to win a precious Superman belt buckle?  Well, it couldn’t have hurt anyway …

Once again the art and story fit perfectly with the mood of the book. The Metal Men are still finding their way in this revived continuity – they are no longer hunted and Doc is on their side, a complete reversal from prior issues. And their personalities are coming back: Lead is slow, Mercury is argumentative, Gold is the leader and Iron his (near) invincible back-up. Tin is meek and Platinum is hot.  The fun of the comic continues!

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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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Adventure Comics #426: Introducing The Adventurer’s Club!

Behold!

Bronze age

Adventure Comics #426. March 1973.

Joe Orlando: editor. Dick Giordano: cover artist.

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“The Adventurer’s Club”

Nathan Stong

Writer: John Albano; Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Jim Aparo

We meet Nathan Strong, chairman of the board of the Adventurer’s Club. He “hosts” Adventurer Club stories akin to Cain, Abel, Destiny and others in DC’s horror magazines.

In this application to the Adventurer’s Club: Scorch Jordan accidentally shoots a girl during a hit on a small-time competitor hood. While in police custody, the girl’s father wishes to meet the killer.

Released due to lack of evidence, he sees travels across town and sees the girl seemingly alive and well in the streets! Scorch shoots at the girl again and a ricocheting bullet kills him.

Seems the girl’s father is a hypnotist and tricked Scorch (and his driver who narrates the story) into seeing the girl’s haunting image.

***

The letter column rants (by professional fan Richard Morrisey) or raves about the Supergirl tale in #423 and makes suggestions about who should star in the new format. The editor states Captain Fear will be the main feature for now.

***

Vigilante: “Snow-White Death!”

Writer: Cary Bates;  Penciler: Mike Sekowsky, Inker: Dick Giordano, Letterer: Ben Oda

Amy Bryant tries to steal the Vigilante’s motorcycle to escape her boyfriend, who was trying to get her hooked on heroin. Hired guns chase Vig and Amy to a snow-covered ski lodge. After fighting off the thugs and her boyfriend, Amy reveals who Mr. Big is – the man in charge of heroin distribution.

Vigilante beats the tar out of Mr. Big in his office. Mr. Big chases Vig into the street and is killed by a car sliding on the … snow!

***

Captain Fear: “God of Vengeance”

Writer: Robert Kanigher; Penciler/Inker: Alex Nino; Letterer: Marcus Pelayo

Captain Fear rescues a blonde woman from being sacrificed to Thu by Indo-Chinese natives. He fights off the natives on land and on sea, finally defeating them.

The woman is the daughter of a rich plantation owner and is rescuing her for the reward, but she turns a gun on Fear and orders him to take her home. To be continued …

***

The Vigilante appeared as a back-up feature back in #423. Strange that a semi-super-hero strip appears in an “Adventure”-themed anthology. Was this intended as a Supergirl back-up? Regardless, Sekowsky’s art is 100% improved over his last few Supergirl stories in this magazine. Maybe it was Giordano playing clean-up that improved it!

Captain Fear continues to improve. The chase through the jungle is echoed in the opening scenes of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and the artwork and layout of the story is exciting and unique – applying DC’s horror comics-style to an adventure storyline!

Nathan Strong was the “host” of the Adventure-themed magazine, akin to Cain or Abel of the House of Mystery or House of Secrets. Oddly, he was not the “host” of every story as his mystery/horror comics bretheren did, but only one. It would have been odd to book-end him in the Vigilante tale …

Nathan Strong 2

Did they think this adventure-themed anthology all the way through?

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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!

Mr Miracle #19; September 1977

Behold!

Bronze age

Jack Kirby leaving Marvel for DC is held by some (myself included) as the beginning of the Bronze Age. It is arguable, and some of the other dates and events have merit, but everyone agrees Kirby’s work at DC left an impact felt to this day (as was obviously his work at Marvel).

His creations in the early Bronze Age will battle the Justice League in their upcoming movie.

Kirby started the Fourth World mythos with the New Gods, Forever People, (taking over) Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen and Mister Miracle. Mister Miracle was the last surviving Fourth World book by the time of its cancellation in 1974 after 18 issues (Kirby left Jimmy Olsen some time before). By 1977 it was time to revive the super-escape artist with one of the best writers and one of the best artists of this or any age!

I won’t review the Fourth World books in this blog – it’s been done by others (and far better than I) and those reviews are easy to find online. Besides, I tend more toward the second (or third or lower) tier of comic books of the 1970s. By third tier I mean in terms of popularity and sales, certainly NOT quality!

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MrM house ad

Mister Miracle #19.  September 1977

Cover: Marshal Rogers, Managing Editor: Joe Orlando, Editor: Denny O’Neil

“It’s All in the Mine”

Writer: Steve Englehart, Penciler: Marshall Rogers

Inkers: Marshall Rogers & Ilya Hunch (alias Crusty Bunkers: Dick Giordano, Mike Nasser, Al Milgrom, Jack Abel, Alan Weiss, Joe Brozowski, Terry Austin, Neal Adams).

Per DC Wikia:  When Marshall Rogers realized that he was running out of time on the issue, he enlisted the aid of his friends, and assigned each of them a character in the story: Mister Miracle by Rogers, Barda by Giordano, Granny Goodness by Mike Nasser, Kanto by Milgrom, Highfather by Abel, Oberon by Al Weiss, Bedlam by Brozowski, Vermin Vundabar by Austin, and Mister Miracle’s eyes on page 1 by Neal Adams.

Colorist: Liz Berube, Letterer: Morris Waldinger

Per DC Wikia:

Granny Goodness and three of Mister Miracle’s other foes (Dr. Bedlam, Kanto and Vermin Vundabar) kidnap Big Barda from New Genesis, forcing Scott Free to become Mr. Miracle again. To rescue his new wife, he returns to Earth and reunites with Oberon, and the two go after Granny. She forces Scott to enter a deathtrap without his Mother Box, but when he escapes, he finds that his foes have left, and still have Barda with them. He deduces that they are now on the moon and he plans to follow them… continued next issue.

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The letter column gives a brief history of the magazine and waxes philosophically on … escaping. It asks for letters and hypes upcoming DC comics.

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This series is superb and never got the sales it deserved. Englehart and Rogers make a wonderful team – at this time they were also doing their six-issue legendary run on Detective Comics (the run that included the Joker Fish). The story is intriguing for this first issue – picking up where the last issue left off years before with Free’s and Big Barda’s honeymoon on New Genesis.

Marshall’s art is as wonderful as always – the characters look so real you think you are looking at a photograph. Barda never looked so beautiful. Not even the pencils and inks of Crusty Bunkers could hide his style!

An excellent start. This series will last for years!

Won’t it?

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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!

 

 

 

RIP Len Wein, co-creator of Wolverine and Swamp Thing

Swamp_thing

Len Wein, the award-winning writer and editor, perhaps best known for co-creating Swamp Thing for DC Comics and Wolverine for Marvel Comics, along with editing Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, passed away Sunday, according to multiple industry reports including word of the news from fellow comics veteran Paul Kupperberg. He was 69 years old.

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Wein got his start in comics in 1968 working on DC’s Teen Titans #18. His first Marvel work came in Daredevil #71 in 1970. From there, he continued writing anthology stories for both publishers, along with guest-spots on such titles as Superman and The Flash.

Together with Bernie Wrightson, they created the supernatural superhero Swamp Thing in 1971’s The House of Secrets #92. Swamp Thing would go on to star in various ongoing and miniseries that continue to this day. Wein also contributed to the Man-Thing mythos over at Marvel by introducing the concept of “Whoever Knows Fear Burns at the Man-Thing’s Touch.”

During Wein’s tenure at Marvel, he teamed with artists John Romita Sr. and Herb Trimpe to create Wolverine in The Incredible Hulk #180. In 1975, Wolverine would appear as a member of a revamped X-Men team in Giant-Size X-Men #1, penned by Wein and illustrated by Dave Cockrum. The new lineup that included classic characters like Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus would become mainstays across multiple X-Men lineups and volumes.

Wein returned to DC in the late 1970s as a writer and editor, where as the former he created Batman supporting cast member Lucius Fox, and contributed to a rare DC/Marvel crossover in DC Special Series #27. His work as an editor included runs on New Teen Titans, Batman and the Outsiders, and All-Star Squadron, and the aforementioned Watchmen.

Word of Wein’s passing began to spread across social media, with writer Brian Michael Bendis thanking the creator for his work on the X-Men and Swamp Thing. “Len Wein, co-creator of WOLVERINE and SWAMP THING & more responsible for the x-men you love than he gets credit for. Thank you.”

***

Taken from various news sources. Condolences to his family and friends. We have lost a giant.

With Super Friends Like These …

Super Friends #1.  November 1976.

Cover by Ernie Chan & Vince Colletta; Editor: Joe Orlando

“The Fury of the Super Foes”

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Ric Estrada, Inkers: Joe Orlando & Vince Colletta

Colorist: Jerry Serpe

Robin finishes Marvin’s training for the day just as the other Super Friends enter the Hall of Justice. The Troublalert tells them villains are attacking the three locations of Project SR – a robot designed to end war! The Super Friends divide into teams of three – Holy Gardner Fox! – to fight off the villains!

Superman goes to Hudson University (joining Robin, who is a student there) to fight the Toyman and Poison Ivy who are trying to steal the robot’s artificial brain.

Aquaman goes to the underwater lab where scientists are working on the robot’s indestructible steel for its body. His “old foe” the Human Flying Fish attacks the lab.

Batman and Wonder Woman (with Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog in tow) go to Gotham City to prevent the Penguin and the Cheetah from stealing the robot’s solar-powered battery.

In each case, the heroes almost get the better of the bad guys, until the villains youthful sidekicks appear!

Honeysuckle ensnares Robin; Toyboy distracts Superman; Sardine squirts squid ink to blind Aquaman; and Chick and Kitten sidetrack Batman and Wonder Woman to allow the villains to escape!

Superfoes

Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog do manage to catch Chick and Kitten and take them to the Hall of Justice. The Super Foes’ sidekicks are impressed and think they might be on the wrong side. As the tour continues, Chick sends a secret message to the Penguin – they are in the Hall of Justice, just as planned!

Wonder Dog overheard Chick’s betrayal, but how can he tell Marvin & Wendy of Chick’s betrayal?

To Be Continued…

house ad Kotter and Superfriends

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The letter page explains briefly why there has been no Super Friends comic up until now and a brief, and convoluted, origin of Wendy and Marvin and their connection to Batman and Wonder Woman: Wendy is the daughter of the man who taught Bruce Wayne detective skills and Marvin is the son of the original Diana Prince – the nurse who allowed Princess Diana to assume her identity [cough Lamont Cranston/Kent Allard cough}.

***

There was (and still is) a lot of debate about whether the events of this comic were “out-of-continuity” with the rest of DC or not. I doubt the intended readers of this comic cared.

It was aimed at younger readers; fans of the TV show. Taken that way, it was a fun first effort. The story was direct without being simple and the art clean and clear without being juvenile. Older and more cynical readers will roll their eyes at this issue, but let their eyes roll. They aren’t the target audience. They never were.

And they still aren’t!

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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!

Richard Anderson, RIP

Richard Norman Anderson died yesterday, August 31, 2017 at age 91. A long and full life that brought TV fans much joy.

He was born August 8, 1926 in New Jersey. He was an Army veteran of World War II.

His most popular role was that of Oscar Goldman, head of the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI), who authorized the operation to turn Steve Austin into The Six Million Dollar Man.

Although the character was not in the pilot movie, his character (and Anderson) appeared in the second TV-movie, the television show and the sequel The Bionic Woman.

Note that when the Bionic Woman moved from ABC to NBC, Anderson became a rare trivia answer to a fun parlor game: name an actor/actress to play an identical character on two separate networks (along side Candace Bergen as Murphy Brown, Grant Gustin as the Flash and Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin – if you count the SatAm cartoon of the 70s, they have been on all three networks)!

And of course Lindsay Wagner as the Bionic Woman…

Anderson played his character with kind authority. Were the show made now the Oscar Goldman character would have been more like his predecessor from the pilot movie: Oliver Spencer – a hard beaurocrat with dark secrets and only superficial feelings for the main character. Think “Cigarette Smoking Man” from X-Files.  He played his character fairly. You don’t see that on TV nowadays.

Anderson also had a recurring role as a police lieutenant on Perry Mason and was the narrator of Kung Fu. He appeared in Mission Impossible and many of the countless cop shows in the 1970s.

Personally, I still have my Oscar Madison action figure with all the accessories and the box. I wonder if he received any compensation for the use of his image as is common today?

Oscar Goldman figure

His image was also used in the comics.

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Rest in Peace, Mr. Anderson. Congratulations on a wonderful and respectful career.

 

 

Oooo! Ooo-ooo! Oooo! Welcome Back Kotter #1

 

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Welcome Back Kotter #1. November 1976.

Cover: Bob Oksner. Editor: Joe Orlando

“So Long, Kotter!”

Writer: Elliot S. Maggin, Penciler: Jack Sparling, Inker: Bob Oksner

Kotter’s kitchen ceiling starts to collapse when the building next door gets demolished. Putting up with the drunken superintendent/janitor almost makes him late for school. Kotter literally runs into the mailman downstairs. Among the letters flying through the air into Kotter’s hands is one from the City Board of Education approving his transfer to a better school.

The Sweathogs notice Kottter is in a strange mood and see him poring over the letter. When they find out he has scheduled a physical (required for the transfer), they assume he is sick. The TV show would have milked this for the bulk of the show, but Kotter and Vice-Principal Woodman tell the Sweathogs that Kotter is leaving them – to allow his wife to live someplace safer.

The Sweathogs help Mrs. Kotter clean the apartment and shop for groceries to convince her to be happy where she is. She realizes what the students are trying to do and comes up with a better plan. She calls Mr. Pevey, the Social Studies teacher when Kotter was one of the original Sweathogs.

They meet and reminisce. That and Epstein’s practical joke convinces Kotter to stay. He tears up the letter.

***

The text page asks for letters from the readers giving their “ratings” of the comic and contains a biography of Gabe Kaplan.

***

Humor very much reflects the show – you can hear Gabe Kaplan’s voice delivering his Groucho-like Kotter lines.

The art was spot on – all the characters looked like the actors that portrayed them.

Much like the show it began and ended in Kotter’s kitchen. The last panel even had the lyrics to the song played over the closing credits. Truly a DC-TV comic.

house ad Kotter and Superfriends

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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!