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!

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!

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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.

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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!

Kobra #2: Super-heroing a pulpy idea …

Behold! The Bronze Age

bronze-age

Kobra #2, May 1976

“Code Name: Gemini!” written by Martin Pasko, art by Chic Stone. Editor: Gerry Conway, Inker: Pablo Marcos, Colorist: Liz Berube, Letterer: Ben Oda

Cover by: Ernie Chua (Chan)

Synopsis: Jason Burr is attacked by his brother Kobra in a hall of mirrors; but it ended up being a dream. He is consoled by his girlfriend Melissa and Jason tells her (and thus we, the readers) the main plot thread of the book:  he and Kobra, the leader of the international Cobra Cult, are Siamese twins separated at birth but still linked empathically – a symbio-link in which one feels what the other feels whether pain or pleasure. Kobra awakes after having the same dream. He feels Jason kissing Melissa. We learn of Kobra’s deceased lover Natalie and how he now loves Melissa who, somehow, ended up in Jason’s arms. We are told by the editor that we will learn more about this triangle soon…

Kobra then attacks the headquarters of Solaris, a former NASA engineer who created the Heliotron after losing his job “and, apparently, his sanity”!  The Heliotron accelerates the decay of the skin and kills instantly, but without pain (well, let’s be thankful for that). Solaris and his weapon escapes the coils of Kobra.

Meanwhile, Lt. Perez goes to Jason and orders him to assist in their own assault on Solaris; as Solaris threatens to use his Heliotron on a Long Island town. Perez gives Jason a uniform and a code name: Gemini.

Perez and the military await Solaris’ attack on the town. Solaris and Kobra appear at the same time and all three forces enter into battle.  Jason Burr uses his jet pack to fly to Solaris – and right into the beams of the Heliotron. Kobra, knowing his fate is tied with Jason, leaps through the air to rescue his brother. The Heliotron hits Gemini’s jet pack and destroys it (it was made of skin?) and Kobra and our hero plummet earthward!

To be continued!

***

Turning Jason in to a named hero called Gemini was an eye-rolling moment. The reader groans as loudly as Jason Burr laughs at the idea. Please, don’t turn this into just another superhero comic, please! Ironically the letter page says they are NOT “…creating a super-hero mystique around either of our characters…” but that the “… occasional use of a costume by Jason Burr will add to that larger-than-life quality (that is the business of comic books). Or so we hope.”

I certainly don’t … After the first issues homages into pulpy goodness we switch gears into a typical super-hero pastiche.

The premier issue was not a dazzling debut, and this issue is, well, somewhat pedestrian.

Strike Two?

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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!

Kobra #1: Kirby’s DC leftovers, but great pulpy fun!

Behold!

Bronze age

Kobra # 1, March 1976 (remember the cover date of comics is about three months ahead of the actual publication date, blah blah blah…)

“Fangs of the Kobra” written by Martin Pasko and Jack Kirby, art by Kirby and Pablo Marcus. Editor: Gerry Conway, Inkers: D. Bruce Berry and Pablo Marcos, Colorist: Carl Gafford, Letterer: Ben Oda

Cover by: Ernie Chua (Chan)

Synopsis: (why type it all out when someone else has done it for me?)

(the following paragraph courtesy of ReadComicsOnline):

Deep beneath the streets of Manhattan, assassin-for-hire, Horst Buchner, along with two associates, are ushered through secret tunnels, to keep a prearranged rendezvous with Kobra. At the first sign of insult, Buchner’s men draw on Kobra. Put off by Kobra’s arrogance, Buchner declines his offer of employment, deciding, instead, to rob Kobra of several intriguing artifacts. Still held at gunpoint, Kobra leads Buchner and his gunsels into another chamber, one that holds Kobra’s most unique artifact, the Ovoid. Within the confines of the still shimmering meteoroid, Kobra reveals an enormous alien robot, he calls the Servitor. At Kobra’s command, the Servitor steps forward, then murders Horst and his associates, pummeling them to death with its giant metal fists. Sensing that his brother, Jason Burr, is soon to learn of Kobra’s existence, and whereabouts, Kobra sends the Servitor up to the streets, on a mission to slay Burr. The Servitor leaves a swath of destruction in its path, as it makes its way to Columbia university. Despite opposition from New York’s finest, the Servitor moves inexorably to the student union building. Inside, Lieutenant Perez is interviewing Jason Burr. Just as Perez is about to reveal to Burr the existence and identity of his brother, the Servitor crashes through the wall. Lifting Burr up in one of its gargantuan hands, the Servitor, at Kobra’s command, begins crushing him. Suddenly, Kobra, too, feels the crushing force of the Servitor’s grip compressing his own chest. Realizing that he and Burr share a sympathetic bond, Kobra orders the Servitor to release him. The countermand causes the Servitor to self-destruct…

Jason meets Lt. Perez who tells Jason the secret origin of Kobra …

(from Wikipedia): (Kobra) “… was born part of a set of Siamese twins, but was stolen at birth by the Cult of the Kobra god, since a prophecy claimed he would lead them to rule the world. Under their teaching, he became a dangerous warrior and a sadistic criminal mastermind. He led the cult into using advanced technology to menace the world.  … However, unknown to the cult, he had a psychic link to his twin brother, Jason, who knew nothing of Kobra. As a result, one felt what the other felt, including pain. Because of this, his brother was recruited by an international agency to help them combat Kobra.”

Perez convinces Jason to injure himself (holding his hand over a candle flame. Kobra cannot stand the pain any further and confronts Jason for the first time). Perez and his men try to capture Kobra, who slithers through their trap. The police shoot at the terrorist. “No guns!” shouts Jason to no avail. Were they trying to kill Kobra? IF they do, he will be collateral damage! Kobra escapes unharmed …

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(from Wikipedia):

(Kobra was) “… created by Jack Kirby for a proposed DC Comics series called King Kobra, the first issue of which was both written and drawn by Kirby (the letter column discussed Infantino and Kirby wanting to do a take on the Corsican Brothers). This first issue then sat in DC inventory for over a year, during which time Kirby left the publisher to return to Marvel Comics.  Eventually the concept was handed over to writer Martin Pasko with orders to make a series out of it. Pasko was unimpressed with King Kobra, feeling it to be a throwaway idea churned out by Kirby as he was preparing to leave DC, and tried to make the best of the assignment by whiting out all of Kirby’s original dialogue, rescripting the issue, and having Pablo Marcos redraw some of the art (and re-)titled simply Kobra. … Pasko later reflected, “I wrote all of Kobra with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek—it was a preposterous exercise dumped in my lap, and it helped pay the rent on a very nice place in the Village.”

Dumped? Even the letter column introducing the comic said the title was “thrown” into Conway’s Corner. It seemed no in at DC gave much of a damn about the comic.

Pasko was correct about this preposterous exercise, but THIS pre-teen loved every issue of it! I still have every issue of the original run. The comic is great fun straight from the pulps – not a caped crime-fighter in sight! It was akin to Dr. Yen Sin or the Mysterious Wu Fang.  DC did something it did not do often – it took a chance! An unknown villain in the lead and an unknown cast! Very shortly it would launch another villain-led comic: the beloved Secret Society of Super-Villains, firmly entrenched in the DC’s superhero world.

Kirby’s art by the mid-1970s was an acquired taste: exaggerated physiologies, gaping mouths, fingers the size of Snickers bars, women whose eyes were set below the center horizontal line of their faces, etc. Marcos did his best redrawing Jason and Perez, but the redo was glaring and obvious. I would have loved cringing at Kirby’s original dialogue, but Pasko did a fine rewrite with what he had (I kept expecting one of the Cobra Cult to say, in Kirby’s typical expositional shorthanded way, “We must obey!”).

Not an auspicious beginning to only the second DC title to headline a villain (The Joker was first by less than a year). Villains starring in comics was a rarity (and was to remain so for the next several years – nowadays it is somewhat common): the Golden Age had its Yellow Claw and the Sub-Mariner (who was more of an anti-hero than an outright villain). The Silver Age, with its Comics Code, was more cautious about villain-led features. Even the House of Ideas itself – Marvel in the Silver Age – only gave Doctor Doom the lead in an anthology without giving him his own title.

The comic got better in later issues … much better …

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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!

Adventure Comics #425: a new, less super direction…

Behold!

Bronze age

Adventure Comics #425. January 1973.

Joe Orlando: editor. Mike Kaluta: cover artist.

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“The Wings of Jealous Gods”

Writer: Lynn Marron; Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Alex Toth

Rodeo showman Chad L. Hammond is in the Himalayas, where he hears rumors of “hawkhorses”. His guides say they are a myth, but he wants to hunt them anyway! In a snow-less grassy valley, he captures a foal and kills its winged mother. His guides accuse him of killing a sacred god and desert him.

While descending with the foal, he is attacked by pegusi, but managed to take the foal (now named “Cloud”) to the US and enters her into the racing circuit until its wings sprout. It wins, often, making Hammond a rich man.

Cloud’s wings begin to grow much to Hammond’s ire – he can’t race it if it has wings! He orders the wings removed. Cloud’s handler (who came with Hammond from the Himalayas) tries to stop Hammond but is killed for his concern over the sacred animal. Hammond sets the barn on fire – hiding the evidence of his murder.

After Cloud’s wings sprouted, Hammond rides the skies – only to be held hostage as Cloud joins the white Pegasus. They make it back to the sacred mountain and drop Hammond into a nest of hungry, sharp-toothed foals!

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“Prior Warning” Writer: unknown. Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Frank Redondo

Aliens come to earth claiming to be peaceful. They think they are tricking the earthlings and actually plan to attack. But earth attacks them first and drive them off! The aliens have no idea what made the earthlings know they were, in fact, aggressors. Maybe the fact they dressed like Nazis and their leader is a dead ringer for Hitler!

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“Sword of the Dead” Writer/ Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Gil Kane

Evlig, the renegade knight, slaughters a woman and her children, not knowing it was the family of John the Gaunt, retired champion of the kingdom. John comes out of retirement to hunt down the killer and both fight to the death … and beyond!

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“Captain Fear”

Writer: Robert Kanigher; Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Alex Nino

A native Carib tribe in Haiti are attacked by Spaniards in search of slaves. Fero, the son of the chief, and others are captured and put to work in the mines. They revolt and escape in a Spanish ship; only to have the ship destroyed in a storm.

Rescued by other pirates, Fero fights for the command of the ship and kills the Asian captain. He renames himself Captain Fear – for that is what he will put in the hearts of every white devil he will meet! This he vows to the cheers of his bloodthirsty crew!

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In a short letter column Joe Orlando explains the change in the magazine’s format from Supergirl to high adventure: fantasy, science fiction, mystery and/or horror!

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Until its first cancellation in 1982, Adventure Comics was the oldest continually running comic book on the stands (back when there were stands…). Its first issue was called New Comics dated December 1935 by someone calling themselves National Allied Publications. It changed its title with issue #12 (January 1937) to New Adventure Comics. The “New” was removed in November 1938 and remained that way until its cancellation (although during the Spectre’s run in the early 1970s it was called Weird Adventure Comics, to cash in on the horror trend: Weird Mystery, Weird War, Weird Western, etc.

With its change to New Adventure Comics, it changed formats from humorous stories to action/adventure tales – some stories were written and drawn by future-Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Seigel.

At the dawn of the superhero age Adventure dove right in with the debut of the Sandman with issue #40, Hourman (#48, March 1940), Starman (#61, April, 1941) and Simon & Kirby’s Manhunter (#73, April 1942).

When More Fun Comics changed formats to humor stories, its characters moved to Adventure, including Superboy, as of issue #103 (April 1946).

Issue #247 (April 1958) the Legion of Superheroes debuted. They eventually shared billing with Superboy during their classic run.

They were replaced by a solo Supergirl lead as of issue #381 (June 1969). She starred in the comic until #424 (October 1972). The letter column of her last issue explains she will get her own book but says the editors do not yet know the next issue’s new format. It only says to be back for a “new line-up of fantastic features!”

With #425 Adventure went back 35 years to focus on … well … adventures! Why? A search of the internet does not say specifically, but I can guess. At this point both DC and Marvel were making good money with their non-superhero lines – horror comics weren’t outselling Superman, but by gum the sales figures weren’t bad! With the Legion safely ensconced in Superboy and the Maid of Steel getting her own magazine, maybe it was time to add another non-superhero anthology … perhaps a repository for some not-quite-horror-themed tales …

(For more on Adventure Comics history AFTER issue #425, click here … or watch this blog for future issues!)

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Captain Fear is the only feature of this short-lived era of Adventure with any legs. He had back-up stories in later issues of Adventure and in the Unknown Soldier.  He is given pages in Who’s Who and the History of the DC Universe.

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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!

 

 

 

Behold! The Bronze Age! A new series

Regular readers of Curry Takeaways know of my many loves; including the Bronze Age of comic books.

What is the Bronze Age? It is a vague time period of comic book publishing. Most ages are determined by fixed events or dates in the history of comic book publishing – although even those are debated.

Only a contrarian disagrees that the Golden Age of comics began with the publication of Action Comics #1 and the debut of Superman (June 1938 – let’s please stop discussing cover date vs actual date; if you don’t know by now …).

There are more arguments over the beginning of the Silver Age, but the majority still believe it began with the publication of Showcase #4 and the (what we would now call) reboot of the Flash (October 1956).

The Bronze Age beginnings are more arguable. Was it when the price of comics went to fifteen cents? Was it when Jack Kirby left Marvel for DC? Some simply say 1970. This was when Kirby left for DC, Green Lantern became Green Lantern/Green Arrow and symbolized DC’s going “relevant” and growing up, many old-time writers and artists retired and were replaced by fans-turned-pros, Marvel published Conan the Barbarian, etc.

I do not really have a preference, although I lean more to the fifteen-cents-theory (early 1969).

The theories as to the date of the end of the Bronze Age is almost universal – the Crisis on Infinite Earths and the deaths of Flash, Supergirl and others in 1985.

Ages since have been of little interest to me – I just call anything since the Modern Age (some have coined post-Bronze Ages as the Copper Age and the Modern Age …).

I love comics in all of the various Ages, but the Bronze Age was when I first really read and paid attention to the comics I was getting (and saving).

Over the next few years on this blog I will share my favorite Bronze Age comics – sometimes going through entire series or a specific run. It will focus mainly on DC versus Marvel, Atlas, Harvey or Archie – but that’s because that is what I read.

They will be similar to other specific runs in the past (what I call the Adventure Line imprint, the Bicentennial issues and a few others) and may repeat some blogs. Forgive the reruns – I’ll keep them to a minimum.

I’d like to hear your opinions. Keep up the comments.

Enjoy.

Michael Curry

 

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!


 

Back to the Blogging Board …

Mike, where have you been?

The Doctor Strange movie came and went, no review.

Guardians of the Galaxy came and went, no review.

The season finales of Supergirl, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Flash …

The 50th Anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band … and the new commemorative CD…

And now the Wonder Woman movie…

Silence.

Oh I posted a little about the death of Rich Buckler and the Beauty & the Beast movie and Sensory-Free movies, but I do admit my blog posts have been very thin of late.

Work is the main reason.

I started my own office in April of 2016 and I concentrated on my work blog more than my writer’s blog.

I hope to remedy that. Wonder Woman so inspired me I may write a late review of the film, and I plan on a series of reviews of my favorite Bronze Age comics.

And anything else that comes to mind. I hope to be back to regular blogging from here on.

So I am coming back. Thanks for sticking with me!

 

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!