Seven Soldiers of Victory, part 6: the conclusion of the Lost Story!

Adventure Comics #443, February 1976

The back-up feature is an unpublished saga of the Seven Soldiers of Victory – written in the Golden Age but never rendered and completed until 1975.Adventure 443 splash

Part Seven: The Seven Soldiers of Victory

“Confrontation”

Writer: Joseph Samachson

Penciler/Inker: Dick Dillin, Inker: Tex Blaisdell

Editor: Joe Orlando

Returning from their separate adventures in the Land of Magic, the Seven Soldiers of Victory confront Willie Wisher and fight off all his attempts to stop them: a steel wall, vicious gorillas and a gang of human thugs!

Instead of fighting, the SSOV convince Wisher that, although his intentions are good, he can cause evil. Wisher feels so guilty he wishes he had never been born …

Poof!

Jon Shoman concludes his film (remember?) of the battle to boos and accusations of fraud. It seems only he remembers Wisher. Vigilante remembers Wisher’s words in the movie – “Willie said he’d make sure we’d never forget him…” Perhaps this film was his way of ensuring that, they reason.

Crimson Avenger asks what if Wisher only disappeared and this was all another trick – how will Law’s Legionnaires stop him next time?

***

Pure pure fun! I loved it! Were there other stories tucked away in DC’s files, unpublished? Were they as bad as this? 😉

Thanks for joining me! To read the other Chapters, you can search for “Seven Soldiers”  in the browser on my webpage. Join me again for more Back Pages.

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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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Seven Soldiers of Victory, part 5: The Vigilante!

Adventure Comics #442, December 1975

The back-up feature is an unpublished saga of the Seven Soldiers of Victory – written in the Golden Age but never rendered and completed until 1975.

Adventure 442 splashPart Six: Vigilante

“Gnome Man’s Land”

Writer: Joseph Samachson

Penciler: José Luis García-López, Inker: Mike Royer

Editor: Joe Orlando

Vigilante finds himself literally in the center of a battlefield of … very tiny people. They stop when they see Vigilante in their midst. They explain: one group believes a straight line is the shortest distance between two points; the other that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line! Vigilante says that sounds “plum loco” and the battle resumes!

Vigilante tries to rope and shoot the warriors, but they shrink and stretch out of the way! The attackers boo and hiss each other, then turn on Vigilante – who has the nerve to use actual weapons!

While imprisoned, Vigilante discovers HE can stretch, too!  He quickly escapes. Returning to the battlefield, Vigilante turns himself into a giant housefly and scares the combatants into surrendering.Adventure 442 weirdness

Through singing a rondo, Vigilante helps the combatants realize they actually agree and stops the war. He stretches through a crack in the ground to return to earth.Adventure 442 singing

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Just when this series can’t get any weirder, Vigilante turns into Mitch Miller and choir-directs the gnome armies to a lasting peace. Plus, he can stretch like Plastic Man…

I love every panel…

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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 Seven Soldiers of Victory: the lost story!

A Bronze Age/Golden-Age hidden gem!

The Seven Soldiers of Victory (or Law’s Legionnaires) is DC Comics’ second super-hero team, following the Justice Society of America. Like the Justice Society, the membership of the Seven Soldiers is drawn from DC’s anthology comics: The Vigilante (Action Comics); the Crimson Avenger (Detective Comics); the Green Arrow and Speedy (More Fun Comics); the Shining Knight (Adventure Comics); and the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy (Star-Spangled Comics).

The Seven Soldiers of Victory appear in the first fourteen issues of Leading Comics.

A script by Joseph Samachson (co-creator of Martian Manhunter and Tomahawk) from the 1940s, in which the elflike Willie Wisher banishes the Soldiers to the “Land of Magic,” where they encounter various supernatural characters, was later serialized in 1975 in Adventure Comics #438–443, with each chapter illustrated by a different artist (Dick Dillin, Howard Chaykin, Lee Elias, Mike Grell, Ernie Chan, and José Luis García-López).

The first few issues of this story were overshadowed by the now-classic Fleisher/Aparo Spectre run as the main feature. Compared to those stories, nearly anything else would pale in comparison. But we fans of the back pages got a nice Golden Age gift!

Around this time, DC Comics had redrawn some Golden Age stories in their reprint books, but this was an unusual move for DC – taking a discovered script of third-tier characters (and except for Green Arrow, calling them third-tier is kind) and putting some of their best artists on it. It was a treat for Bronze Age readers. This story has not been reprinted that I know of – not even in the Seven Soldiers of Victory Archives (which in three volumes reprinted all the Leading Comics issues).

A truly hidden Bronze Age gem.

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Adventure 438 splashAdventure Comics #438, April 1975

The Seven Soldiers of Victory

“Land of Magic!”

Writer: Joseph Samachson, Penciler: Dick Dillin, Inker: Tex Blaisdell, Editors: Joe Orlando & Paul Levitz

John Shoman, philanthropist, introduces the first film he has produced – the Seven Soldiers of Victory gather and ask each other who called the meeting. It was Willie Wisher. The elfin Wisher can make anything happen simply by wishing it. He brings in John Shoman and a film crew and decides to send the 7 to the Land of Magic for their new adventure.

Dick Dillin, at that time rendering the adventures of the Justice League of America, was a canny choice for the opening salvo in this team adventure, and his workman-like style did not disappoint!

***

Shining Knight 438The Shining Knight

“Knight After Knight!”

Writer: Joseph Samachson, Penciler/Inker: Howard Chaykin, Editors: Joe Orlando & Paul Levitz

The Shining Knight lands Winged Victory near a castle reminiscent of Camelot. He overhears that the magician living in the castle is keeping a fair maiden captive – the Princess of Twin Oaks. The Shining Knight vows to rescue her!

He fights his way into the castle before seeing his own image in a mystic mirror. His reflection steps out of the mirror and does battle with the Shining Knight.  They are too evenly matched and wear each other out. When the evil magician tries to capture the Knight, he pretends to be the reflection. Not knowing which is the real Knight, the magician locks them both into the dungeon.

The Shining Knight escapes his bonds and confronts the magician. The wizard explains that the Princess of Twin Oaks is a prize sow promised to him before the farmer reneged. The magician vows to do no further harm and Shining Knight’s doppelganger tells Knight that the mystic mirror can return the Knight to any location he wishes.

The Shining Knight and Winged Victory use the mirror to go back to Willie Wisher and to find his fellow Soldiers.

Legendary artist Howard Chaykin lent his pencils to this segment – superb art reminscent of the Shining Knight’s former pen man Frank Frazetta!

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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!

 

 

Metal Men #53; September, 1977

bronze-age

Cove: Jim Aparo

“The Hand that Shocks the Cradle Rules the World”

Writer: Martin Pasko; Penciler/Inker: Joe Staton

Colorist: Liz Berube

Story editor: Paul Levitz; Managing editor: Joe Orlando

The Brain Children trick Doc into thinking the Metal Men are greeting him at the entrance of Happyland, but Platinum warns him of the trap! The children affect with Doc’s mind and drives him insane! Tina and Iron dispatch the babies incurring the wrath of Strangeglove.

One of the babies rebels at being nothing but a slave and sabotages the Helix Ray.

In the meantime, we learn the origin of Strangeglove: the nuclear explosion fused a typewriter to his hand giving him strange typewriter-based powers (remember this is the “tongue-in-cheek” style of the MM).

To punish the rebellious baby Albert, Strangeglove points the Helix Ray at him, turning the infant into a huge angry baby! Doc convinces the other Brain Children to also rebel. They release the General and Johanna from their cages and restore their minds and turn Strangeglove into a slobbering, gibbering baby.

In the end Tina wants to adopt the genius babies to help Doc Magnus. Doc says no – Platinum is only a robot and will be unable to mother the babies. Platinum, in a fit of pique, quits the Metal Men!

***

The letter column printed only two letter this time, again debating the recent “tongue-in-cheek” approach to the comic.

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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!

 

 

Hercules Unbound #6, September 1976

bronze-age

“Even a God May Die!”

Excellent, excellent cover: José Luis García-López, Editor: Joe Orlando

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

***

While carrying poor Basil away, Kevin, Hercules, Jennifer and their friends are attacked by Ares’ soldiers. Durok Malloy and his animal army help in the battle – which includes five cavalrymen in the second wave of attack.

Hercules explains that Ares has the power to restore life – perhaps there is a way to bring back the beloved Basil

Ares and his army encamp at Stonehenge with his hostages David Rigg and Simon St. Charles. Rigg escapes and finds Hercules and company.

Ares meanwhile confesses why he started World War III – after thirty thousand years he seeks the sweet oblivion of death – something denied to a god. Hercules appears and says he will oblige Ares by helping him fulfill his wish. The battle commences!

In the spectacular fight, Ares admits why he hates Hercules so – daddy issues. “We were both his sons yet, it was you he loved, while I … I was ever despised!”

Herc 6 battle

Showing some of the gorgeous art in this issue!

Ares is eventually worn down and surrenders after the stones of the henge are toppled on him.  He capitulates: truces are called and bargains made, including the resurrection of faithful Basil in exchange for his freedom. Ares flees, but both he and Hercules swear that should they ever meet again, one will die!

***

The letter column “Myth Mail” tells us the sales of Hercules Unbound are very good!  Odd that there are only two letters published – one of praise and the other echoing the HU/Wonder Woman mash-up. There is a small pin-up of the Man-God. If it is such a success, where are the letters?

The editor mentions that writer Gerry Conway is considering some “century shifting”. Is he already tired of Earth After Disaster?

 ***

Hercules Unbound ended its first year of publication on a high note. A unique idea with a unique hero. The creative staff was unchanged to date (a good sign) and was top level (Garcia was the only “newbie” in the group and even then was gaining gravitas with his Batman pencils).

It was a very good year!

The issue even got it’s own “article” in DC’s house ads! Another good sign!

herc6-kobra4 direct currents banner

Hercules 6 house ad

The blurb on the last panel promises a new menace and a new direction for the man out of myth.

Uh-oh … that’s never a good sign…

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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!

 

 

 

Mister Miracle #23. April 1978.

Behold, the Bronze Age!

bronze-age

Cover: Marshall Rogers, Managing Editor: Joe Orlando

“As Ethos is My Judge”

Writer: Steve Gerber

Penciler: Marshall Rogers, Inker: Joe Giella

Colorist: D. R. Martin, Letterer: Ben Oda

Story Editor: Larry Hama

Ethos shows Mister Miracle that to be a secular messiah to the Lowlies, he must embrace the light and the darkness be both of New Genesis and Apokolips and not of New Genesis and Apokolips. In other words, human. He is also shown that the war between the light and the darkness can never be won and cannot avoid the destruction of life. Whatever Steve Gerber was on when he wrote this … I’ll take two!

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The letter column tells us Steve Englehart has left comics and wishes him luck. Who could replace such a legendary writer? Another legendary writer in Steve Gerber!

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Dear Mr. Oda; When you write the word “flick” in a comic book (blue box, upper right corner), please be very careful. You made me do a double-take here … if you know what I mean … With utmost respect, …

MM Flick***

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!

Welcome Back Kotter #3, March 1977

logo

“The Return of Augie Berelli”

Cover: Bob Oksner

Writer: Tony Isabella, Pencils: Ric Estrada & Bob Oksner

Inker: Bob Oksner, Editor: Joe Orlando

A thug visits Kotter and his wife at their home. He warns Kotter that Augie Berelli will be at the school that day and Kotter better be there.

Kotter tells his wife that Berelli, one of the most notorious gangsters in the country, was an original sweathog and a classmate of Kotter’s! In fact, Kotter won the heart of a fair maiden also wooed by Berelli, who swore vengeance!

At school, Kotter is beside himself – he believes Epstein’s note from his mother, takes Horshack seriously and apologizes to Woodman! The Sweathogs offer to help their teacher.

Berelli walks into the classroom and says hello to Kotter and his nephew Vinnie Barbarino.

NEPHEW!!? That’s right, Berelli isn’t here for vengeance, but to thank Kotter for the good job he is doing teaching his nephew.  The Sweathogs are impressed by Berelli’s charm … and wealth!

Kotter reminds his class that Berelli is a criminal, infuriating Barbarino who leaves in a huff.

The FBI approach Kotter and ask him to help catch Berelli. Barbarino hears the conversation and throws a punch at the agent. Kotter agrees to help the FBI in exchange for releasing Vinnie.

The next day, Berelli charges into the classroom to confront Kotter. The FBI get the drop on him, until he takes Kotter hostage. Barbarino tries to intervene and is rewarded with a smack from his uncle. Berelli whispers to Kotter to fight back and catch him. Fumblingly (is that a word?) he finally does so.

It turns out this confrontation was planned by Berelli and the FBI as part of a guilty plea. After Berelli found out Vinnie punched a G-Man, he realized his nephew was going down his path and did not want Vinnie to turn out like him. So, he arranged his capture by Kotter; who has the one thing Berelli does not have – his nephew’s respect.

The last panel shows Vinnie at his classroom desk crying.

***

The letter column printed positive review of issue #1, most were thankful the comic was not done in the Binky/Scooter (read Archie) mode of half-page gags and two or three-page stories.

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The art here is still wonderful. The team of Estrada and Oksner work on these characters, although at times there is a lack of background art. Perhaps they were rushed by a dreaded deadline doom (to borrow a phrase from the competition)?

Tony Isabella is a wonderful comic book writer, prose author, comic book historian (1001 Comic Books You Must Read Before You Die and July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic Book Life of Tony Isabella, Volume 1) and is a very nice guy – the creator of Black Lightning, the Champions, Misty Knight and more! Black Lightning is the most recent (and welcome) addition to the current “DC/TV” line on the CW network and Tony’s latest comic book work is Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands at DC.

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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!