Metal Men #48. November 1976

Behold, the Bronze Age!

bronze-age

“Who is Bruce Gordon and Why is He Doing All Those Terrible Things to Himself?”

Cover: Walt Simonson; Editor/Plotter: Gerry Conway

Writer: Martin Pasko; Penciler/Inker/Plotter: Walt Simonson

Colorist: Carl Gafford; Letterer: Gaspar Saladino

Assistant Editors: Paul Levitz and Jack C Harris

Robert Kanigher is given a creator credit.

Doc Magnus and the Metal Men meet Mona Bennett, Bruce Gordon’s fiancé. She needs their help: Bruce Gordon is really the evil Eclipso! He was scratched by a black diamond and anytime he is in the presense of any sclipsed sphere of light he turns into the evil spirit! While trying to destroy his alter-ego, Bruce accidentally releases him instead!

Eclipso finds a letter from Gordon’s father saying the data he seeks can be found in a library in West Germany. Mona tells the Metal Men the “data” is ancient Incan parchment saved from destruction by a Spanish monk. The Metal Men fly to the German library to find Eclipso already there! Eclipse fights off the Metal Men and leaves with the parchment.

A dying librarian points to a Peruvian map. The Metal Men deduce this must be where Eclipso is headed and they go back across the Atlantic.

The apparently beat Eclipso to an ancient abandoned Peruvian city, but not by much… Before they can make a plan Eclipso attacks!

Tin counters with the bright light of a welding torch. Eclipso screams and turns back into Bruce Gordon.

Another clue leads our heroes to Diablo Island – where Gordon first became Eclipso. They find Mophir’s cave (Mophir was the sun-god priest who fought Bruce causing his black diamond scratch …). They find an ancient tablet.

Unfortunately, retrieving the hovercraft causes an “eclipse” as it flies past the sun releasing Eclipso! He snatches the tablet and heads to a cliff overlooking the sea. Before the Metal Men can stop him, Eclipso reads from the tablet and releases the ancient god Umbra from his undersea prison!

***

The letter column explains that Gerry Conway has moved on, leaving Walt Simonson and Martin Pasko to finish the story and printed two positive letters.

***

One writer praised Simonson’s art and said it was an unusual style for the Metal Men. I agree. Although his usual excellent workman-like effort fits Eclipso and this grittier-style of story (it would not work with a lighter style of story). He captures the possibility of a grim apocalypse!

Gerry Conway (with help from Martin Pasko) advance the story of one of DC’s most interesting characters in Eclipso – he makes an unusual villain for the Metal Men which makes the story interesting and exciting. I can’t wait to see what happens next issue! Can you?

***

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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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)

***

 

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 …

***

 

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.

***

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!

 

J’onn J’onzz Martian Manhunter; Mission: Catch a Killer (part one)

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 (part one)

Adventure 449 cover

Adventure Comics #449, February 1977

“Mission: Catch a Killer”

Writer: Denny O’Neil

Penciler: Michael Nasser, Inker: Terry Austin

Colorist: Carl Gafford

Editor: Paul Levitz

From DC Wikia:

Just as J’onn J’onzz is awarded leadership of Mars II for a second term as popular vote, his friend R’es Eda is cut down and apparently killed by a sniper. Eda’s last words were “was from…was…sol…”, which J’onzz interprets as meaning the killer was from Earth, a world circling Sol (Earth’s sun). Since no one there except the members of the Justice League knew where Mars II was located, J’onzz suspects that, like it or not, one of them may be involved in the murder. Though N’or Cott and other Martians try to stop him from leaving Mars, J’onzz steals one of Mars’s two spacecraft and heads for Earth, with N’or Cott in pursuit.

***

This is the first Martian Manhunter solo story since House of Mystery #173 (April 1968) and his first solo story of the Bronze Age.

***

 

Adventure 450 cover

Adventure Comics #450, April 1977

“Return to Destiny”

Writer: Denny O’Neil

Penciler/Colorist: Michael Nasser, Inker: Terry Austin

Editor: Paul Levitz

From DC Wikia:

Just after J’onn J’onzz breaches Earth’s atmosphere, his ship is blasted by N’or Cott, destroying it, dazing him, and drawing the attention of Supergirl. The Girl of Steel is mistakenly drawn into battle against the Martian Manhunter until she brings him back to his senses. When N’or Cott releases two more torpedoes, Supergirl intercepts and destroys them. J’onn stops her from pursuing Cott, saying that their attacker “is merely doing his duty.” But he tells her that somewhere on Earth is R’es Eda’s murderer, and he is bound to bring him to justice.

***

The 450th issue of Adventure comes and goes with no mention – anniversary issues such as this are celebrated and hyped throughout the Bronze (and later) age.

Also with no cover blurb or any hype, this is the first appearance of Supergirl in Adventure since her own series in #424, 4-1/2 years earlier. At the least that could have been hyped as an anniversary “gift” to the readers.

Adventure 450 splash

To be continued!

***

Nowadays, J’onn J’onnz is an integral part of Supergirl’s life in the current television series on the CW…

***

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 Super-Stars Vol 1 #15, August, 1977

Behold, the Bronze Age!

bronze-age

Cover: Tatjana Wood

“Heap the Corpses High!”

Writer: Robert Kanigher, Penciler: Lee Elias,

Inker: Romeo Tanghal, Colorist: Tatjana Wood, Editor: Paul Levitz

The Nazis developed ICBM missiles that can strike at America. The Unknown Soldier is ordered to find the location of the missiles and eliminate the man in charge.

In Paris, Mlle. Marie believes she executes Hitler! It ended up being a decoy. Chased throughout the city, she is rescued by the Unknown Soldier and both barely escape the city with their lives!

Sgt. Rock and Easy Company are trapped and pummeled by a Nazi unit. Rock saves his men but at great physical cost. Recuperating in a battalion aid field hospital, he is visited by the Unknown Soldier who assures him that Rock will lead Easy Company soon.

Sure enough, Rock walks up to his recuperating Company and moves them out to retake the mountain retreat that nearly slaughtered them. They are again pinned down but saved by a mysterious masked skier who attacks the Nazis from the rear. It is Mlle. Marie!

Rock and Mlle. Marie work their way into a crevasse in the mountain to find the ICBMs aimed at America. Rock and Marie are trapped and saved by … Sgt. Rock of Easy Company?

Surprise! The Rock with Mlle. Marie was actually the Unknown Soldier in disguise! Unable to stop the countdown, the Soldier seemingly gives his life by dropping a string of grenades into the crevasse. Is the Soldier dead? No, Rock and Marie spot him skiing down the mountain.

***

This house ad explains it better than I can …

DCSS 15 house ad

***

While not the best war comic ever written, this issue is pretty good, if only because it is so long. Most war comics at the time had two or three stories per issue – here was over 30 pages of non-stop action! Kanigher is at his best here – giving us plenty of action but some characterization, too, although in a short-handed way. “B Company got slaughtered, Rock.” “I got eyes.” Rock is both cold and caring. The Unknown Soldier is too. Mlle. Marie seems to be the only passionate fighter in the pack.

The art is excellent. Lee Elias’ spanned the Golden, Silver and Bronze Ages – known mainly for his work on the Golden/Silver Age Green Arrow. That being said, every time I open up a DC war comic I am slightly disappointed when the artist is NOT Joe Kubert. But Elias’s style is clean and clear and fits the story – James Sherman and Jack Abel reflect this style.

Rock had met the Unknown Soldier before, and they make an odd team-up. Easy with his combat-happy Joes of Easy Company do not mesh with the espionage of the Unknown Soldier’s world. But Kanigher pulls it off.

This is not the first time Mille. Marie gets short shrift in a team-up book (and when I was a kid reading these stories I thought her name was pronounced “Millie Marie”).

The Brave and the Bold #53 touted three Battle Stars: Sgt. Rock, Johnny Cloud, & The Haunted Tank (its crew obviously counted as one star…) also had Mlle. Marie. Four stars …

What do you expect in a man’s world?

***

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!

Hercules Unbound #2

Behold! The Bronze Age!

bronze-age

Hercules Unbound #2, January 1976

“And Unleash the Hounds of Hell”

Cover: José Luis García-López, Editor: Joe Orlando

Writer: Gerry Conway; Penciler: José Luis García-López; Inker: Wally Wood

Hercules and Kevin are once again assaulted by humans-turned-demons in the streets of Paris. The meet a group of normal humans (including a beautiful blonde named Jennifer Morgan) who invite our heroes to their hidden living quarters.

Ares watches the exchange and summons Cerebus, a Nubian in charge of two-headed hounds, to kill Hercules. With the Son of Zeus dead, Ares explains, he can continue his war among the humans and burn the world to a crisp.

The Hounds of Hell attack Hercules and Cerebus runs off with Jennifer. Hercules defeats the Hounds and joins battle with the Nubian. Cerebus buries Herc in rubble and takes Jennifer as his prize.

Kevin revives Hercules and they track Cerebus to his lair in the remains of the Louvre. Inside Hercules and Kevin find a portal to hell. To save Jennifer, they must enter the Pit!

***

The letter page gives a synopsis of the previous issue and tells us of other comics written or drawn by the creative team.

***

Now we get to see some of Hercules’ fabled strength in battle, as well as some of his personality. Rather than the boastful Marvel hero, DC’s version is a little quieter but still boastful, grinning as he enters into battle and just as confident in his abilities.

Excellent sophomore entry. Lopez’s art is starting to seep through the heavy Wood inks to excellent effect. Kevin is still a mystery, but we do not question which side he is on. Good guys fighting the good fight.

***

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!

 

 

“Epstein is Practical Joker” Welcome Back Kotter #2

 

kotter 2 house adWelcome Back Kotter #2. January, 1977.

Cover: Bob Oksner. Editor: Joe Orlando

“Mr. Woodman’s New Parking Spot”

Writer: Elliot S. Maggin, Penciler/Inker: Jack Sparling

Pranks and practical jokes are epidemic at James Buchanan High, and Epstein is to blame – if this keeps up, he could be expelled! But Epstein isn’t through – he drives Woodman’s car through the (removed) bay window and parks it in Woodman’s office.

The jokes continue. Epstein’s mother calls him at the school just as Kotter and the Sweathogs prepare an intervention to stop Epstein from his joking.

Epstein runs out of the school – his brother is dying and in the hospital, and it is all his fault! He played a joke on his brother who asked him for advice on how to pick up girls. The advice only got his brother beat up by the girl’s gang-leader boyfriend.

Kotter and the Sweathogs feel terrible, and go to the hospital to support Epstein. Naturally, because of their antics, they are thrown out!

Epstein vows to be more effective and less creative. Kotter falls for his own practical joke he was going to pull on Epstein during their intervention.

***

The text page gives us brief bios of the actors playing the four main Sweathogs … with headshots drawn much more life-like than this issue of the comic!

***

The artwork is not as good as last time: last issue all the characters looked like the actors that portrayed them. Not so this issue – except in a vague way. It looked rushed and sketchy.

The story is peppered with multi-paneled jokes (Kotter tries to hang up a painting, Kotter’s fingers get caught in a mouse-trap, etc.

I must admit I was expecting a serious “life lesson” ending, but instead it went for the silly, insipid “here-we-go-again” trope.

So there’s 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!

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!