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!

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Metal Men #47

Behold!

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Metal Men #47. September 1976

“The ‘X’ Effect”

Cover: Walt Simonson; Editor: Gerry Conway

Writer: Gerry Conway; Penciler/Inker: Walt Simonson

Colorist: Carl Gafford; Letterer: Gaspar Saladino

Assistant Editors: Paul Levitz and Jack C Harris

Robert Kanigher is given a creator credit.

A cadmium robot attacks McMurdo Sound (Antarctica) Army Base but then suddenly disappears! For the next six days the base is attacked by a robot representing a different element:  tungsten, barium and chromium and others.

Searching for the robots, the army finds the Metal Men wandering the polar wilderness, looking for Doc Magnus. The army attacks, thinking the Metal Men to be among the culprits! The army blast the robots’ de-freezing devices on their arms and capture the frozen (or in Mercury’s case, shattered) bodies.

HQ contacts the base and prevents the Metal Men’s destruction. The soldiers thaw out the robots who tell the military why they are in the Antarctic: last issue, Chemo hurled the safe containing Doc’s ten-million-dollar-ransom money into space. Doc’s computer calculated the safe landed somewhere in Antarctica.

As their hovercraft approached McMurdo Sound, the Metal Men and Doc Magnus were shot down and attacked by a giant Liquid Oxygen robot – destroying Tin and kidnapping Magnus! The Metal Men went in pursuit but were captured by the army.

Meanwhile, Doc Magnus confronts his kidnapper – it is Plutonium Man disguised as Doc Magnus! The evil robot explains how he came back to life after his previous battle with the Metal Men – he was able to split himself in two, causing his physical bodies to be below critical mass and reform. One robot retained Plutonium Man’s abilities, the other a drone who could change into any elemental robot. The robot harassed the army base, ensuring the soldiers would blame and attack the Metal Men when they were found!

Because of its rising radiation due to his hatred of Magnus, Plutonium Man unintentionally destroys the cash in the safe!  The Metal Men and the army burst into PM’s hideout and attack! PM turns his drone into Liquid Helium who immediately freezes the soldiers and destroys Platinum. Plutonium Man destroys Lead, as Doc realizes that PM is headed for a chain reaction.

Lead covers the drone and melts it into slag – destroying it in much the same way Platinum destroyed PM back in issue 45. Gold flings Plutonium Man into a glacial fissure that seals itself shut due to PM’s excessive heat. It causes a massive earthquake, crushing the evil robot.

***

The letter column contains the mini-soapbox found in all of Conway’s Corner comics in summer/fall of 1976 asking for ideas and suggestions (how I longed for a team-up between Kobra and Kamandi!).

The letters on the Metal Men revival were very positive!

***

Hmm, was this a fill-in issue? It filled some of the holes left from the story arc from its final first-run issues. The only thing left was Magnus’ money.

I love the work of Gerry Conway. I do. In this storyline of the Metal Men conflict and eventual rapprochement with the army was excellent; but the Plutonium Man portion was … not. The science was silly and baseless. Oh, I know these are comic books and not a JPL thesis, but Gerry is better than this. PM’s return and his ability to control his drone isn’t even Star Trek-ish mumbo jumbo. Gerry doesn’t just make up science and hope we don’t giggle or roll our eyes.

I love the work of Walt Simonson. I do. Both he and Gerry Conway would be on the first inductees in any Comic Book Hall of Fame – on the first ballot (well, maybe behind Kirby and Kubert, but I think even THEY would agree with that…). But the art here was rough – even for Simonson’s gritty style.  Was this a rushed fill-in issue? Should I ever meet either artist, I … well, I wouldn’t waste my time discussing THIS issue, I would be gushing about the exemplary work they have done elsewhere…

Even Babe Ruth struck out a few times…

***

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’s the Human Target (part 2)

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

Continuing the stories starring the Human Target as the back-up feature in Action Comics! Read part one here!

Action 423

Action Comics #423. April 1973.

“The Deadly Dancer Contract!”

Writer: Len Wein, Penciler/Inker: Dick Giordano, Editor: Julius Schwartz

Christopher Chance poses as a man named Hyram Walsh, an accountant informing on the mob, to draw out a hitman named Dancer – that man who killed his father. He knocks out two thugs trying to collect the price on Walsh’s head and leaves them in an alleyway. Tracking the killer down to an abandoned movie theater, Chance confronts Dancer. It is an intensely physical struggle, with a single gun between them. After a number of exchanged blows, Chance grabs the weapon. Chance points the gun at his assassin and reveals his true identity. Before he can kill him, Chance watches decades of mental illness finally catch up with Dancer. The man descends into madness before Chance’s very eyes, and he begs and pleads Chance to spare his life.  The killer by now has completely snapped and begins hallucinating – seeing his father. Christopher takes pity on the villain, and stays to comfort him until an ambulance arrives to take him away.

***

Action Comics 425, July 1973

“The Short-Walk-to-Disaster Contract! Part 1”

Writer: Len Wein; Penciler: Neal Adams

Inker: Dick Giordano, Editor: Julius Schwartz

Let’s let Christopher Chance describe this issue: “It started as a favor for a friend, for Luigi, my landlord, whose cousin, Antonio, had wagered his half-share of a circus that he could walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls … only someone was trying to make sure he didn’t live that long. Easily, Luigi convinced me to impersonate his cousin … . Luigi tucked the real Antonio away as I became a reasonable facsimile … now I was the would-be killer’s intended victim … and it di not take him very long to strike! But surviving that kind of “accident” is what I do for a living. Within seconds, Id regained my feet, then pursued my unknown attacker across the silent circus grounds, around a blind corner, and ran straight into the tunnel-like muzzle of an angry gun … held by … Antonio!” (from the splash of Action Comics #426.

***

Action 426

Action Comics 426, August 1973

“The Short-Walk-to-Disaster Contract! Part 2”

Writer: Len Wein; Penciler/Inker: Dick Giordano, Editor: Julius Schwartz

How Antonio came out of hiding and ended up confronting Chance was never explained, but Chance deduced Antonio was NOT the killer he had been chasing (he was not winded, etc., and must have happened between Chance and the killer he was chasing) and Chance subdued him and convinced him to stay hidden until his killer is flushed out. Antonio agreed.

Chance, as Antonio, was half-way across Niagara Falls as the tightrope snapped! Suspended in mid-air Chance flew down to the crowd and knocked out his assistant – his partner Martin in disguise. Chance revealed he was suspended by wires from the news helicopter -hence his “flying” when the tightwire broke.

Chance was betting his partner wanted it to be an accident as opposed to a sniper shooting at him. If Martin had used a rifle, even Chance admits he might not have lived through it!

***

Action Comics 429, November 1973

“The Rodeo Riddle Contract”

Writer: Len Wein; Penciler/Inker: Dick Giordano, Editor: Julius Schwartz

Someone is trying to kill rodeo star Rick Ryan. Chance ducks attempts on “his” life – by a thrown branding iron and a bucking bronco while keeping tabs on three suspects. Chance corners the three hoping one of them would snap. He did! Chance chases down the would-be killer and hog-ties the varmint. But he wasn’t supposed to kill Ryan – just scare him into marrying his girlfriend – so says his girlfriend in a twist confession!

***

Action_Comics_432

Action Comics 432, February 1974

“The Million Dollar Methuselah Contract”

Writer: Len Wein; Penciler/Inker: Dick Giordano, Editor: Julius Schwartz

From DC Wikia: Christopher Chance is hired by millionaire oilman Henderson Repp, who suspects his nephew is trying to kill him.

While riding a motorcycle through an oil field, disguised as Repp, Chance is attacked by an unknown assailant with a bazooka but only pretends to be dead to trick the assassin into believing he has succeeded. Chance is picked up by Repp’s secretary Deedee and visit an oil well to congratulate the workers as Repp would.

That night, Deedee is kidnapped and held captive at the same oil well seen earlier as Chance heads to the scene disguised as Repp again. The assassin fires on a dummy riding the motorcycle and that allows Chance to shoot the gun out of his hand. As Chance begins to climb the tower, the assassin threatens to explode a grenade and kill them all. Chance appears to lower his gun but fires a shot that dislodges the well cap. The oil shoots up and knocks the gunmen off the tower as the grenade explodes harmlessly.

The next day, Chance tells Repp that he should be safe as the assassin has provided enough information to arrest Repp’s nephew.

***

Thus ended the Human Target’s Action Comics run. We hear nothing else from Christopher Chance until he turns up in Brave & Bold in the midst of the greatest comic event of all time: The DC Explosion!! Why are you laughing? Then he appeared for several issues in the Dollar-Comic era of Detective Comics.

I hope you enjoyed this stroll through the Back Pages of DC’s Bronze Age. Go to my home page and type “Back Pages” for more Bronze Age goodness!

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!

 

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.

***

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.

***

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!

***

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!

 

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.

***

“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.

***

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

***

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.

***

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

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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 …

***

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!

***

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.

***

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!

***

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!