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)!

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

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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.

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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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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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1225-hom266

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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!

A Bronze Age Christmas: Justice League #110

Behold!

Bronze age Christmas

Special Christmas Edition!

Justice League of America #110, March, 1974

Cover: Nick Cardy

“The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus!”

Writer: Len Wein, Penciler: Dick Dillin

Inker: Dick Giordano, Editor: Julius Schwartz

From DC Wikia:

The Key returns and engineers the murder of the Santa Claus scheduled to appear at an orphans’ Christmas Party with Superman and Batman, thus issuing a challenge to the Justice League. John Stewart, Hal Jordan’s official substitute, stands in for a temporarily incapacitated Green Lantern, as the JLA heroes enter a death-trap, a dilapidated building in a St. Louis ghetto. One by one, the members sacrifice them-selves in a gauntlet of traps, so that the others can go on to defeat their foe, first Superman, then Black Canary, Batman, and Green Arrow. Red Tornado and John Stewart also seem to perish, but actually all the members are saved by the intervention of the Phantom Stranger. The Key, having learned that he has only a short time to live, and having vowed to destroy the JLA before he dies, now escapes, and the heroes must evacuate an entire city block, which the villain’s devices are set to destroy. The substitute Green Lantern immediately recreates the old ghetto buildings, repairing them in the process. Later, Red Tornado is presented with his Christmas gift — a new and more colorful costume.

Any JLA story that takes place in my hometown in a good one!

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This 100-page giant also includes reprints from All-Star Comics #40 and Justice League of America #51.

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The issue also includes a Justice League crossword puzzle and a superb Justice Society portrait by Murphy Anderson.

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The letters page contains mostly praise for JLA #107: Crisis on Earth-X.

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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!

The 300th issue of … everything!

This is my 300th blog. Not a big deal to people who blog everyday – they would hit 300 in their first year, but for me? A big deal.

The 300th issue (or any anniversary issue) is a big deal in comic books, too. It’s a chance to celebrate an anniversary with a special issue (and increased sales) featuring the end of an epic story arc – or the beginning of one. It could be the final issue – or debut – or a new creative team or character.

It only really became a big deal in the Bronze Age. The few Silver Age 300th issues were ignored, at least on the cover. Probably because sales were not yet sluggish enough that there was a NEED to celebrate.

It takes time. Published monthly, a comic book would reach its 300th issue in 25 years.

I honestly believed I found all of them – American comics only of course … let me know if I missed any. Enjoy!

4 Color Nov 50

4 Color from November 1950

The only #300 from the Golden Age I could find! 4 Color printed several comics per month, sometimes weekly and at times even six per month! No wonder it only took a bit over ten years to reach the milestone!

Most Disney comics were published by multiple companies over the years. Fortunately they kept the numbering intact. Scroll over the comics to see issue name and date.

People forget about one of the longest running comics ever!

Big Boy June 1986

Big Boy June 1996

Oddly, I checked Popeye and other popular cartoon figures and the only one whose comic made it to #300 was …

Tom & jerry Nov 77

November 1977

Dave Sim said from the beginning that Cerebus would only go to issue #300. How I loved the comic in the early to mid-1980s. A shame the run ended with little fanfare. It is the only independant I could find…

Cerebus March 2004

March 2004

No Harvey comics made it to #300. Timely, Quality & Fawcett didn’t last long enough for their comics to reach #300.

But the big two had plenty, so did Archie. Primarily because both DC and Archie (MJL) published comics steadily since the 1940s.

Scroll over the comics to see the title and date. Note that Laugh and Pep were published first and got to #300 4 years or so before the character-titled comics.

DC’s #300s holds no real surprises… the Legion of Superheroes was formerly called Superboy and Adventure also once hosted their … er … adventures as well (making Superman-themed comics account for 1/3rd of the DC comics listed) . Our Army at War and House of Mystery were the pinnacle of their genre. Hellblazer may be a surprise to some, but only because of its late date.

Note that the Silver Age comics (Adventure, Action, Detective), made very little tadoo about their 300th issue.

Several Marvel comics made it to #300 due to their sheer popularity! These comics were raised to monthly status much quicker than their DC bretheren.  The dates vary widely, too, helped by the fact that Captain America, Hulk, & Thor had different titles during the Silver and Bronze Age (Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish and Journey into Mystery respectively) but kept their numbering when named for their stars…

Will we ever see #300s again? I don’t know. In this day and age of reboots and “Special Collector’s first issues” we may never see comics reaching #100! Time will tell.

What were my favorites? Frankly, the ones I bought from the stands: Superman 300, Batman 300 and Wonder Woman 300.

What were your favorites?

See you at 400!

Special thanks to Lone Star Comics for searching their data base and using their photos!

Michael Curry

A disjointed review of Justice League …

Only in America can a movie that has made over 200 billion dollars in profit be considered a box-office bomb.

I liked Justice League.

I didn’t love it with giddy glee nor did I hate it so much I demanded of God my 2+ hours back. But I liked it. I might even get the DVD when it comes out.

I saw it over this past weekend (as usual several weeks since it was released) after most of the professional and fanboy reviews were in.

I struggled for some days with this review – I just couldn’t put my finger on what I liked and disliked about it. I think that is because the movie couldn’t decide what it was either.

Justice League suffered from bearing the burden of being both a capstone and a touchstone.

A capstone: the finale of the first phase of the DC Cinematic Universe (DCCU) – giving us a conclusion to all that came before it. On that level, it worked: it reconciled the cliffhangers from Batman vs Superman: Superman’s death, Wonder Woman’s place in the DCCU, etc.

And to compare Justice League with the original Avengers movie is an unfair as it is inevitable: Avengers was the capstone of Marvel’s cinematic universe, but did so in a thrilling way – fans (and even non-fans – therein lies the key) were excited by a fun plot with fun characters.

The DCCU has hardly been fun.

Expectations were low for the movie – most assuming it would be the usual fest of ultra-violence and brooding sociopaths with no redemption or hope. A typical Zach Snyder film. (He left the movie after the suicide of his daughter – something that is unimaginable and my deepest sympathies and condolences go to him and his family. I can’t imagine his sadness and am very sorry for his loss. But his movies are still shit.).

Then Joss Whedon “took over” and word spread the tone was lightened and (gasp) bits of humor were injected. By this time Batman vs Superman made only the darkest basement-dwellers look forward to Justice League; while Wonder Woman gave the rest of us comic book fans cautious optimism.

DC’s capstone was satisfying, but only just. There is no avoiding the feeling that DC is struggling in Marvel’s shadow and is constantly in a state of catching up (which it has with rare exception since the 1960s).

Familiar and “new” heroes get together and fight off an alien menace. Sound familiar?

“Yes, but it’s Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman! People will flock to see it!”

Fans will, to be sure. But the rest of us? Are you willing to risk $300 million on that?

It had its great moments: the only shining point of the big battle amongst our heroes was watching Superman’s eye follow the Flash as he approached and the ensuing superspeed slugfest. You just have to see it to understand what that is going on, I won’t spoil it. We know exactly what is going through Flash’s mind at that moment. “Oh shit” was left unspoken and hardly touches how Flash must have felt.

And kudos to the secondary cast – particular Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, JK Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and Jeremy Irons (stealing ever scene) as Alfred.

***

Justice League is also the touchstone of the future DCCU. From here would spring an Aquaman movie, a Flash movie, and a more-in-tune-DCCU-Batman and Superman franchise reboot.

Herein lies the problem – DC is again copying Marvel with Avengers Age of Ulton. It was also a lynchpin, but it spent too much time being a lynchpin and forgot it was supposed to be an enjoyable movie.

Admirably, Justice League avoided some of the problems with Age of Ultron. Time and background was given to the newbies: Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg. But was it enough to make us anticipate their movies? With the large scope of the movie, it may have gotten lost. As with the comics, the stories of the smaller characters are lost compared to the big three. Still, Justice League showed us as much of Aquaman and Flash as Civil War did of Spider-Man, which lead to Homecoming; a success

Another problem with the Flash is the parallel with the excellent handling of the CW Flash. My very first thought when I saw the trailer introducing the Speedster was, “Why not Grant Gustin?” Leave it to DC: not only are they plagued by their failures, but also their successes.

(and by the way, the DCCU is the Spock-with-a-beard universe compared to DC-CW. Gustin’s Flash – even another actor with a comparable personality – would have been an ill-fit. To his credit, Ezra Miller did a great job – he’d have made a great Peter Parker.)

Justice League had other good moments. Batman giving Flash advice: save one person at a time. I wish the movie would have continued with the theme: Flash’s rescue of the Russian family should have reminded us of that.

There’s more: some of the humor was well-placed and in character (a problem that notably plagued Thor: Ragnarok). The only real awkward/ill-placed bit of funny was in the aforesaid rescue of the Russian family. Anyone who knows the name Dostoyevsky probably knows it is not Russian for “Goodbye”.

But DC is not really known for their comedy.  Over the past few decades, they’re not really known for their comic books either…

A disjointed and mixed review for a disjointed and mixed movie. I’d like to discuss it further, would you?

Copyright 2017 Michael Curry