Super Friends #3, February, 1977

“The Cosmic Hit Man?”

Cover: Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Ramona Fradon, Inker: Bob Smith

Editor: Dennis O’Neil, Executive Editor: Joe Orlando

As two separate teams, the Super Friends defeat Spectrum and Anti-Man while Wendy and Marvin safely watch from the sidelines. But after their defeat, the villains disappear.

They were captured by Dr. Ihdrom along with a hundred other intergalactic villains. He atomizes all the villains and coalesces them into one being: the World Beater!

World Beater quickly dispatches the Justice League and then appears in the Hall of Justice to battle the Super-Friends. Wonder Woman whisks Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog and tells them of her mother’s prophecy (from last issue) that they are earth’s only hope!

World Beater defeats the Super-Friends with ease (we the readers learn that Dr. Ihdrom has been captured and jailed for his murderous crimes) leaving only Wendy, Marvin & Wonderdog.

They come up with a cunning plan: they assume if he has all the super-villains powers, perhaps he also has their weaknesses. They trick World Beater into using Spectrum’s x-ray powers (Anti-Man’s weakness – that is how Superman defeated him in the earlier pages of the story). World Beater is weakened and passes out.

Wendy and Marvin revive the Super-Friends and the Justice Leaguers and receive their thanks.

***

The letter column explains why these five heroes were given the job of training their young recruits: through some inventive reimagining of their origins, it is explained that Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman were all trained to be superheroes in their youths. Thus, having been trained as children, they know how to train children.

Ah, yes.

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The story here is still oriented to the younger audience, but still keeps a cosmic scale to it. Plus it guests most of the Justice League, whetting the appetites of the young TV-show fans who picked up the comic to read the adventures of other DC stars!

Ramono Fradon’s art is pitch-perfect for this comic. Her style is easy on the eyes and accessible to young fans who might be overwhelmed by … say … Mike Grell if he did the book. She would have been my pick for the book, too. And Kurt Schaffenberger…

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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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Gotham Renewed for Fifth, Final Season

The future of FOX’s Batman prequel series has officially been revealed. Gotham has been renewed for its fifth and final season on the network. While Fox has yet to make an official statement, the fifth season will reportedly be 13 episodes in length – which is all the series needs to reach the 100-episode milestone for syndication. This new season will focus on the final transformation of young Bruce Wayne into the Dark Knight.

In an earlier interview with Comic Book, executive producer Danny Cannon teased what the series has in store for season five. “The catastrophic event, the cataclysmic event that happens in the last three episodes [of season four] not only will change Gotham. It not only combines so many characters that you don’t think will cooperate with each other, but it changes the face of Gotham forever, so that season five, it’s almost a reboot and a different show,” Cannon said.

Gotham stars David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne, Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth, Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin, Cameron Bicondova as Selina Kyle, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean, and Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock.

Thank you Scoop for allowing me to reprint your article:

http://scoop.previewsworld.com/Home/4/1/73/1012?articleID=212503

A reboot and a diffent show? No wonder. Ratings have been awful. Gotham averaged 2.563 million viewers per episode (https://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/gotham-season-four-ratings/). But still, the renewed Agents of Shield’s averaged half-a-million less viewers. Arrow, as another example was almost one and a half million less viewers (although on a much lesser-viewed network). Still, were it not for the Batman imprint it would have been cancelled some time back.

The first season was excellent – and went downhill from there. Ironically it was concentrating more on Bruce Wayne than on the rise of the Penguin and Jim Gordon’s struggle against corruption that caused the downfall. That being said, any scene with Sean Pertwee is worth watching. Ditto Bicondova’s Selina Kyle. The rare scenes with Alfred and Selina Kyle together made the episodes!

But as with Agents of Shield, they are doing the right thing: 13 episodes is enough to finish the tale: have Mazouz put on the cape and cowl and end it.

It’s not ending on top, but it IS ending. Let’s enjoy these last episodes as much as we enjoyed the old ones. Well, some of the old ones.

I think it is ending just in time.  Or at least one season too late.

 

Original Material 2018 by Michael Curry

Jonn Jonzz Martian Manhunter; Mission: Catch a Killer story arc (part two)

The Back Pages: back-up features of the Bronze Age of comic books:

J’onn J’onzz The Martian Manhunter; Mission: Catch a Killer atory arc (read part one here)

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Adventure Comics #451, June 1977

Adventure 451

“Return to Destiny”

Writer: Denny O’Neil

Penciler: Michael Nasser, Inker: Terry Austin

Colorist: Liz Berube, Editor: Paul Levitz

From DC Wikia:

J’onn J’onzz, having eliminated Superman and Green Lantern from his list of suspects, confronts and attacks Hawkman and Hawkgirl in their Thanagarian spaceship and accuses them of R’es Eda’s murder. Hawkgirl rescues her husband and J’onzz from dying in airless space, and they prove their innocence to J’onzz, who apologizes. But N’or Cott has equipped a Superman robot with a bomb and sent it towards Hawkman’s ship, and it is admitted inside.

***

The reader discovers this story line concludes in the pages of World’s Finest Comic #245.

Frankly, even after all these years, this has to be the strangest dialogue to ever create a cliffhanger in comics…

Adventure 451 final panel

Very strange …

Very …

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World’s Finest #245

July, 1977

Writer: Bob Haney

Penciler: Curt Swan, Inker: Murphy Anderson

Colorist: Jerry Serpe, Letterer: Debra Schulman

Editor: Dennis O’Neil, Executive Editor: Joe Orlando

From DC Wikia:

After a mysterious Superman Robot attempts to murder J’onn J’onnz, Superman and Batman lend a hand on the investigation and return to Mars II with J’onn J’onzz after they learned that some Martians are trying to conquer a city, unaware that its atmosphere will prove deadly to them.

J’onn and Superman are unable to convince the Martians to stop their efforts, as they all believe J’onn is a traitor and they shouldn’t heed his words. Meanwhile, Batman finds a Martian who has been affected by the city’s deadly atmosphere and takes him to the rest of the Martians, who are finally convinced of the truth and decide to follow J’onn’s leadership.

***

Going from Nasser/Austin’s uber-gritty and realistic art to the legendary work of Swanderson is a jolt. A pleasant jolt, true, but still a jolt. The Nasser/Austin team was present in the Green Arrow/Black Canary tales in this same comic!

Also, O’Neil edited the story but handed the writing chore to WF regular Bob Haney.

***

Jonn Jonzz was, unfortunately, a third-tier (if that) character in the Bronze Age, appearing in a few issues of Justice League of America and in this back-up feature. His fortunes would change in the modern age with his stint in Keith Giffen’s Justice League and his own long-lasting series in the 80s and 90s. He is now also a regular character in the CW/TV series Supergirl.

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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 Friends #2. January, 1977.

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“Trapped by the Super-Foes”

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

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

A recap of the previous issue leads into Wonder Dog playing charades to warn Wendy and Marvin about Chick’s radio transmitter in his umbrella. Too late! The Super Foes invade the Hall of Justice and capture Wendy and Marvin. Wonder Dog escapes with Cheetah chasing after him.

He avoids Cheetah by running through a dog show (the entrants quickly start chasing Cheetah) and Wonder Dog re-enters the Hall of Justice secretly and uses the transporter to materialize up to the Justice League Satellite headquarters. The on-duty Flash beams up the Super Friends (and Krypto to translate) and they learn of Wendy and Marvin’s plight!

Penguin uses floating umbrellas to lift Wendy and Marvin in to the sky. Toyman uses toy hummingbirds to attack the balloons. Toyboy and Kitten worry – they do not want to take part in murder!

Fortunately, a batarang, heat vision and a golden lasso smash the mechanical birds just in time: the Super Friends save the day!

But it was all a distraction: during the rescue, the Super Foes stole all the parts to the Super Robot. Emergencies across the globe leave only Batman and Robin to track own the stolen robot parts.

The Junior Super Foes capture Batman and Robin. Penguins orders the Juniors to kill off the dynamic duo. The Juniors refuse. Just as Penguin is about the pull the trigger himself, he is knocked out by Marvin – he and Wendy snuck aboard the Batmobile in the best Spritle and Chim Chim fashion!

Wendy and Marvin convince the Juniors to help them catch the Super Foes, but Penguin activates the Super Robot to stop them all!

Superman swoops in and is nearly crushed by the robot, but finally defeats it with his mightiest blow. The Super Foes are captured, and our heroes promise to put in a good word for the Juniors.

Afterward, Queen Hippolyta the Amazonian mother of Wonder Woman looks into the Magic Sphere – the earth faces destruction unless it can be saved by three heroes: a girl, a boy and a dog (no, not Trixie, Spritle and Chim Chim)!

***

The letter page give brief origins for each of the Super Foes and hypes the next issue.

***

The story was again aimed at younger readers and the fans of the TV show – although with more violence (punches thrown, etc.). The art was not cartoonish – although the Juniors had wide eyes and Wonder Dog was drawn in a typical cross-eyed cartoon animal way.

Estrada and Colletta did a good and serious job.

***

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!

Christmas comics: Justice League of America #152

Behold!

Bronze age Christmas

Special Christmas Edition

Justice League of America #152, March 1978

Cover: Rich Buckler & Jack Abel

“2000 Light-Years to Christmas”

Writer: Gerry Conway

Pencils: Dick Dillin, Inks: Frank McLaughlin, Colors: Cornelia (Cory) Adams, Letterer: Ben Oda

Editor: Julius Schwartz

***

Following an accident in space, three alien travelers lose the contents of their mysterious “carrying pouches,” which land on various areas of Earth and cause a number of disasters. A stag becomes a rampaging creature, ecological protesters are changed into monsters, and an orphaned child in the Middle East gains supernatural powers.

The Red Tornado calms and befriends the troubled young girl, and the other heroes deal with the remaining threats. But at the same time, Major Macabre, a would-be world conqueror, plans to gather the mystery objects and use them for his own benefit.

A final battle is staged between a super-powerful Macabre and the Justice League members, which ends when Red Tornado locates the three aliens, who overcome the villain and retrieve their magical possessions. Red Tornado draws a parallel for his fellow members between the three aliens and the Christmas story of the three wise men, bearing gifts for the Christ-child.

JLA 152

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The orphaned child is Traya, who is adopted by the Red Tornado and Kathy Sutton and becomes one of Reddy’s “regular” cast.

***

The letter column praised #148 with the JLA/JSA/Legion team-up as well as results of the recent popularity poll with Green Lantern coming out on top!

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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!

A Bronze Age Christmas: Brave & Bold 148

Behold!

Bronze age Christmas

Special Christmas Edition

Brave & Bold #148, March 1979

Cover: Jim Aparo and Tajana Wood

Batman & Plastic Man, “The Night the Mob Stole Christmas”,

Writer: Bob Haney, Artists: Jim Aparo and Joe Staton)

Colorist: Jerry Serpe, Editor: Paul Levitz

A Florida mobster smuggles in illegal (untaxed) cigarettes into Gotham City and smuggles out the city’s Main Street Christmas decorations to lure his competitors into a Christmas party trap.  Too bad they also kidnapped Santa – it was Plastic Man in disguise trying to make a buck!

DC Wikia has more details: When Gotham City is plagued by an cigarette smuggling ring, Batman goes investigating, but he is sidetracked when one of the city’s main Christmas decorations is stolen. Doing detective work, Batman finds out that his friend, Plastic Man has also been kidnapped along with the ornaments and he follows the clues that Plas left behind.

Batman manages to save Plastic Man, but the criminals get away with the Christmas decorations. After doing some background research on the crooks, Batman learns that they are the same gang responsible for the smuggling ring and thanks to Plastic Man’s own information, they learn that their base of operations is located in Florida.

Batman and Plastic Man go to Florida, where the criminals have placed the Christmas decoration on the mansion of their leader. The heroes take the criminals by surprise and after a long struggle, they overcome the odds of being outnumbered and capture the crooks including their leader.

Batman and Plas return to Gotham with the Christmas decorations and the city has a very nice and white holiday.

***

            Bob Haney was the regular writer for Brave & Bold, writing all but seven issues between #50 and #157! Issue #147 (w/Supergirl), was one of those rare breaks.  To quote from the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight: With #148, “Haney returns and takes his frustrations out on his favorite whipping boy, Plastic Man , the last of Plas’ four appearances in B&B. Plas is (as was usual in B&B) still shown as a lonely loser.

The combination of Aparo and Staton works here despite their divergent styles – Staton’s heroes are drawn thickly and muscular, Aparo’s are wiry and thin.”

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This issue has some sentimental value to me. It was the last issue of Brave & Bold I purchased that completed my 200-issue run. An odd last issue considering some of the key issues involved in the series!

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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!