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!


 

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DC Comics Right in your Mailbox!!

DC COMICS RIGHT IN YOUR MAILBOX!!

Over the July 4th weekend I binge-read DC’s “Ghosts” (don’t judge). I came across the house ads asking readers to subscribe to their favorite issues.
I noticed something.
I had seen it before in my comics from the early 1970s, but since I had a stack of comics ranging over a seven year period, I decided to compare the ads.
Each comic had a number. Action Comics, for example, was #1. And it stayed at #1 through the decade. Say that in a Casey Kasem voice…
Where did the numbers come from? Apparently it was divided into genres and listed alphabetically; except for Forever People and Flash. Perhaps Forever People was just slid into the line-up replacing a comic that started with a D, E or F.
Superman’s titles were first. Those were the single-digit comics.
DC’s other stable of stars made up the tens, starting with Batman (hard as it is to believe in this day and age, Superman outsold Batman for many decades – vastly outsold Batman, in fact…).
Horror titles made up the 30s and love stories were the 40s (how the Shadow snuck into that number scheme …).
War titles were in the 60s and adventure or other the 70s.
Whither the 50s? Was it their comedy or teen line? Titles that they stopped publishing in the 70s like Jerry Lewis, Scooter, Binky and Debbi?

It interested me in my own OCD way. What were the numbers of other comics and why weren’t they listed? Were comics that only lasted two issues (like Man-Bat) given a subscription number at all? Anyone know?

I left some blanks on my numberings to keep Word’s Auto-numbering from making me do more work. I’m lazy that way…
Most of this information is from the ads taken from my “Ghosts binge”. If I took ads from a Google search, I will so note.

February 1972 (Google search):

ad 1972

Comics that were mailed as a subscription from the Silver and Bronze Age are easy to spot in the secondary markets – they were folded in half long-wise before mailing. Collectors still cringe at the idea…

Note these are gathered into sections by genre. The Superman titles are gathered into their own section.

1. Action
2. Adventure
3. Jimmy Olsen
4. Lois Lane
5. Superboy
6. Superman
7. World’s Finest

10. Batman
11. The Brave & the Bold
12. Detective
13. The Forever People
14. Flash
15. Green Lantern
16. Justice League
17. Mister Miracle
18. The New Gods
19. Teen Titans
20. Wonder Woman

30. Ghosts
31. House of Mystery
32. House of Secrets
33. Phantom Stranger
34. The Unexpected
35. Witching Hour

40. Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love
41. Sinister House of Secret Love
45. Falling in Love
46. Girl’s Love Stories
47. Heart Throbs
48. Young Love
49. Young Romance

60. GI Combat
61. Our Army at War
62. Our Fighting Forces
63. Star Spangled War Stories
64. Weird War Tales

70. All Star Western

75. Tarzan
76. Korak

July 1973: The cancellation of Kirby’s Fourth World books accounted for some of the holes. There were also some title changes, but the list is essentially the same. What a selection!
Notice Shazam and Wanted were given single digits to fill in the gaps. However, this was accompanied by an ad for Prez, and Prez himself is making the offer in the ad. Prez the comic book is not available as a subscription.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

1. Action
2. Adventure
3. Jimmy Olsen
4. Lois Lane
5. Superboy
6. Superman
7. World’s Finest
8. Wanted
9. Shazam
10. Batman
11. The Brave & the Bold
12. Detective
13.
14. Flash
15.
16. Justice League
17. Mister Miracle

20. Wonder Woman
21. Supergirl
22. Secret Origins

30. Ghosts
31. House of Mystery
32. House of Secrets
33. Phantom Stranger
34. The Unexpected
35. Witching Hour
36. Demon
37. Swamp Thing

40. Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion (a change in name but not number)
41. Secrets of Sinister House (ditto)
42. Weird Mystery Tales
43. The Shadow
44.
45. Falling in Love
46. Girl’s Love Stories
47. Love Stories (a change in title lasted for six more issues)
48. Young Love
49. Young Romance

60. GI Combat
61. Our Army at War
62. Our Fighting Forces
63. Star Spangled War Stories
64. Weird War Tales

70. Weird Western Tales (Jonah Hex changed the format and title)

75. Tarzan
76. Korak
77. Weird Worlds
78. Kamandi
79. Sword of Sorcery
80. From Beyond the Unknown
81. Strange Adventures
March 1974: Note the ad says the 100-pagers are wrapped flat. It presumes the other ones are still folded.

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1. Action

2. Adventure
3. Superman Family
4. .
5. Superboy
6. Superman
7. World’s Finest
8.
9. Shazam
10. Batman
11. The Brave & the Bold
12. Detective
13.
14. Flash
15.
16. Justice League
17.
18.

20. Wonder Woman

30. Ghosts
31. House of Mystery
32. House of Secrets
33. Phantom Stranger
34. The Unexpected
35. Witching Hour
36. .
37. Swamp Thing

42. Weird Mystery Tales

60. GI Combat
61. Our Army at War
62. Our Fighting Forces
63. Star Spangled War Stories
64. Weird War Tales

75. Tarzan

78. Kamandi

Where was Weird Western Tales?

February 1976: the subscription ad only offered 16 comics, but the numbering is unchanged. And note the old-fashioned-even-at-the-time illustrations of the Caped Crusaders; I’ll bet they are over a decade old at this point.

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1. Action
3. Superman Family
6. Superman
7. World’s Finest
8.
9. Shazam
10. Batman
11. The Brave & the Bold
12. Detective
13.
14.
15.
16. Justice League
17.
18.

31. House of Mystery
32. House of Secrets
33.
34. The Unexpected
35. Witching Hour

48. Young Love

61. Our Army at War

75. Tarzan

Why just these 16 comics? There were dozens more being published – the war comics from the 1973 and 1974 lists were still being published, as were Weird Western Tales and, at this time (early in the year) the six “Adventure Line” comics.

December 1978: Just after the massive DC Explosion guaranteed DC’s place of dominance in the comic book field (who’s giggling?) Note some of the new titles – Warlord, the excellent Men of War. Interestingly, Superfriends – with its notable inclusion of Superman – was given #8, replacing Wanted. Note also the lack of Detective Comics as a choice. At the time, it was facing the chopping block of cancellation!

(from a Google search)

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1. Action
5. Superboy/Legion (note the addition of the Legion)
6. Superman
8. Superfriends
10. Batman
11. Brave and Bold
14. Flash
16. Justice League
18. Green Lantern (by now GL is back but given #18 instead of its old #15)
20. Wonder Woman
22. DC Comics Presents
30. Ghosts
31. House of Mystery
34. The Unexpected
35. The Witching Hour
44. Secrets of Haunted House
45. Jonah Hex
61. Sgt. Rock (renamed from “Our Army At War” but with the same number)
62. Our Fighting Forces
63. Unknown Soldier (renamed from “Star Spangled War Stories”, same number)
64. Weird War Tales
66. Men of War
69. Warlord
70. Weird Western Tales (this title’s first appearance in a subscription ad in many years)

The Dollar Comics were listed separately …

2. Adventure Comics
3. Superman Family
7. World’s Finest
52. Batman Family
60. GI Combat

So … where are all the titles from the DC Explosion … ? What did they know that we didn’t? Well, at least what did we not know for another month or two?

I wonder who decided which comics went into the ads. Would it have helped a flailing title to include it? Or would it be too much trouble for the sales department to keep track of subscriptions to cancelled comics?

I found a subscription ad from the 1960s on Google. This was from 1966-1968, as Superhip debuted in 1965 and both Bob Hope and Fox & Crow were cancelled in 1968. Note some of the wonderful comics available – Metal Men, Blackhawk …

ad 1960s

And notice Showcase is no where to be found on any of the ads. Not a one. Why?

I searched a few comics from the 1980s and did not find many subscription ads except for things like this (these are Google-found ads, btw). Note these ads do NOT list comics available from DC, but focus only on one or two specific comics.

superman subscription detective subscription
So maybe subscription numbers was purely a Bronze Age thing …

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry
Artwork and Layout from the ads are copyright their respective holders and used here under the Fair Use Act as commentary and critique.

DC Bicentennial banner comics by the numbers: lies, damn lies and statistics!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

Tale of the Tape

 This is for all the number crunchers …

 Tally:

Of the 33 Bicentennial comics …

 

 July issues: 12

August issues: 21

 50-cent issues: 5

35-cent issues: 28

 

Bi-monthly issues: 20

Monthly issues: 11

9-times-a-year: 2 (Superboy/Legion and World’s Finest)

 ***

             Comic books were “required by law” to publish an annual sales statement, including individual issues sold closest to the reporting month. Here are the comics I have during that reporting month from 1976 that stated their individual sales figures.

Brave & Bold 151,000
JLA 193,000
World’s Finest 132,185
Adventure 104,309
Superman 216,122
Superman Family 156,636

***

 Editors:

 Denny O’Neil edited one comic

Nelson Bridwell two

Gerry Conway, five

Joe Kubert, three

Julius Schwartz, seven

Murray Boltinoff, seven

Joe Orlando led them all with eight comics

 ***

Cover artists:

 Bob Oksner

Dave Manak

Keith Giffen

Ricardo Villagran

Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, two including one with Bob Wiacek

Mike Grell, two

Jim Aparo, two

Luis Dominguez, three

Joe Kubert, four

Dick Giordano, five issues, including one with Terry Austin

Ernie Chua drew an astounding ten issues

 ***

 Writers: keep in mind there are more than 33 writers here, that’s because obviously many comics had two (or three or sometimes more) stories per issue. Some comics, such as Ghosts, did not list the writers, and neither Grand Comics Database nor DC Comics Database list authors for that issue.

 Barry Jameson

Bart Regan (two)

Bob Haney (three)

Bob Rozakis (two, including one with Michael Uslan)

Cary Bates (three)

Dave Wood

David Anthony Kraft

David Michelinie

David V. Reed

Denny O’Neil

Don Cameron & Joe Samachson

Elliot S! Maggin (three)

Gardner Fox (two reprints)

George Kashdan (two)

Jack Oleck 

John Broome (two reprints)

Len Wein

Martin Pasko (two, NOT counting two more with Gerry Conway and Paul Levitz)

Michael Fleisher

Russ Manning

Sheldon Meyer (a reprint)

Steve Skeates

Weshley Marsh (Murray Boltinoff)

Gerry Conway (seven, including one with Marty Pasko)

Robert Kanigher (our leader with nine total stories written in the 33 comics)

Did I miss any? Wouldn’t surprise me… 

***

 Artists: as with the writers category there are more than 33 artists here, that’s because obviously many comics had two (or three or sometimes more) stories per issue

 Buddy Gernale

Carmine Infantino (two reprints)

Chic Stone and Mike Royer

Curt Swan (three, including one with John Calnan)

Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin

Don Perlin

ER Cruz

Ernie Chua (two including one with Tex Blaisdell)

Nestor Redondo (and/or his studio)

Franc C Reyes

Fred Carillo

Gene Ureta

George Evans

George Molintorni

Gil Kane & Sid Greene (reprint)

Irv Novick (two, one with Ted Baisdell)

Jerry Robinson (reprint)

Jess Jodloman

Jim Aparo (two)

Jim Mooney (a).

José Delbo

Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (two, one with Bob Oksner)

Keith Giffen & Wally Wood

Keith Griffin, Ricardo Villagran and Oscar Novelle & Luis Dominguez

Mike Grell

Mike Kaluta (reprint)

Noly Zamora

Pablo Marcos

Pablo Marcos  & Bob Smith

Paul Kruchner and Tex Blasdell

Ricardo Villamonte

Rich Buckler

Rico Rival

Romana Fradon & Juan Canale,

Ross Andru & Mike Esposito

Rubeny

Ruby Florese

Russ Manning

Sam Glanzman

Sheldon Moldoff (reprint)

Terry Hensen

Ric Estrada (an amazing 8, which includes 2 with Joe Staton and one with Al Milgrom – with that many comics I can imagine he would need the help!)

 ***

             Comics, especially from the Big Two, rarely have letter columns in these days of email and Instant Messaging. I think that’s a shame. But letter columns made up an integral part of a comic book – it’s how fans kept in touch with one another. Some fans became professionals simply because their letter writing gave them name recognition at hiring time (Bob Rozakis for one) – it helped that the letter writers (Bob included) were also talented! One wonders how many hacks were turned away – “but I had 46 letters published!” “Your letter writing skill is good, that’s true, but as a comic book fiction writer … you stink.”  The only future comic book talent from the letter writers of these July 1976 comics that I recognize is Bob Rodi (from Karate Kid #3).

            “Hey!” I write for comics and I’m on that list! Oops, sorry I didn’t recognize the name. What comics do you write/draw/etc. for? I’d love to read them!

            I left out anonymous and obvious fake names. Here are, I think, all of them:

            The most prolific writers were Mike White, who appeared in 7 issues (nearly one third of the comics) and Fred Schneider in 5 issues.

 Adam Castro of New Rochelle, NY (3 letters total)

Arthur Grance of Staten Island, NY

Arthur Kowalik of Wilmington, DE

Barry Charles of Louisville, KY

Bart Casey of Dayton, Ohio

Bob Robinson, Lincoln, NE

Bob Rodi of Columbia, MO

Brian Dyke of Goodlettsville, TN

Brian Scott of Streator, IL

Burt Fowler of Jacksonville, FL

Cadet Captain Ruby S Nelson of Jacksonville, AL

Carlton McDaniels of New York

Clifford Gerstman of New York, NY

Craig Kenner of Massillon, OH

Damian Brokaw of Denver, CO

Dan Cardenas, San Luis Obispo, CA

Dave Wilcox, Arlington Heights, IL

David A Jones of Horse Cave, KY

David B. Kirby of Richmond, VA

David Hanson of Swartz Creek, Mich.

David J. Brown of Hammond, IN

David L Klees of Newton Centre, Mass 

David Trenton of New York, NY

DK Thomas of Brunswick, ME

Doil Ward of Ardmore TX

Don Vaughn of Lake Worth, FL

Drury Moore of Springfield, IL

Edward Wojcik of Detroit, Michigan

Elizabeth Smith of Tacoma Washington

Eric Ehrlich of North Platte, NE

FL Watkins, Champaign, IL

Fred Schneider of New York (6 issues)

Gerald Duit of New Orleans, LA

Glenn Rowsam of Oakland, CA

Hugh J. Leach, Mason, MI

Charles Backman of Sterling Heights, MI

Jack Gregotz, Mayfield Heights, OH

James Parker of Clarksville, TN

Janet Fadel of Hollywood, CA

Jeff Sporn of Bethesda, MD

Jerry Rosen of New York, NY

Jim Dever of Philadelphia, PA

Jim Humm of El Monte, CA

Jim Planack of Poughkeepsie, NY

Jimmy Holcomb of Mesquite, TX

Joe Peluso, Brooklyn, NY

John Baker of Baltimore, MD

John Elliot, New York, NY (3 letters)

John Jesse of Hobart, IN

Jonathan Kuntz, Los Angeles, CA

Judy Newton of Thompkinsville, RI

Katie Raisler of East Lansing, MI

Ken Kemble of San Antonio, TX

Ken Regalado, South Pasadena, CA

Kevin L. Callahan, Brea, CA (3 issues)

Kirk Anderson of DeForest, WI

Linas Sabalys of Laval, PQ, Canada (3 issues)

Louis A, Latzer of St. Louis, MO

Marie Munas of La Mesa, CA

Mark McIntyre of Atlanta, GA

Mark Schmeider, Concord, Mass (5 issues)

Mark Wannop of Camden, NJ

Mark Zutkoff, Timoniom, MD

Mary E. ReCasino, Vernon, CT

Matthew Elyosin, Madison, CT

Michael D Dargay of Royal Oak, MI (3 issues)

Michael Lapsley of Morrow, GA

Mike Karvalas of Chicago, IL

Mike Thompson of Lockemup Prison

Mike White of Mackinaw, IL (the most: 7 issues)

Paul Emrath of Milwaukee, WI (3 issues)

Paulo Mariorann of Parma, Ontario

Peter Sanderson of New York, NY

Robert Gustive of Grand Island, Neb

Robert LaChine of Chicago, IL

Robert Vias, Dover, NJ

Robert W. Chan of Edmonton, Canada

Rod McLaughlin of Ramsey, Mont.

Roger Thomas Enevoldesen, North Augusta, SC

Ron Lindsey of Augusta, GA

Ronald M. Fitz, Valparaiso, IN

Sam MCHendley of Berkeley, CA

Sarah Finnegan of Washington DC

Scott Gibson of Evergreen CO (5 issues)

Scott R. Taylor of Portland, TX (3 issues)

Steve Kalaitzidis of Toronto, Ontario

Teddy Arnold of Houston TX

Terry Chadwick of Phoenix, AZ

Thomas Edward Bigham of Matt, Mass

Thomas Russon of Mt. Kisco, NY

Tim Corrigan, Rochester, NY

Tom Kelleher of Norwalk, Conn.

Tom Weyandt of Broadtop City, PA

Wade Sears of Calgary, Alberta

Walter Green of Wading River, NY

 ***

 Thanks for reading the blog series. It was as much fun to read (and re-read) these comics as it was to comment about them.

 My father would bring home stacks and stacks of DC comics for me. He worked for the Air Force, but some of his staff’s spouses worked for Sparta Printing – where they used to give away comics to the employees by the truckload. It was literally, “your boss has a kid? Here!” {thud}

Doing this blog series reminded me of that. I had a stack of comics next to my chair. I also had a notepad and pen to make notes. But at times I imagined my dad bringing home these 33 comics for me to enjoy.

This blog series is dedicated to him.

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

            Images used are copyright their respective holders and and reproduced here under the “fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

DC Salutes the Bicentennial Belt Buckle!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

The Buckle

            The point of collecting 25 of the 33 Bicentennial banners (remember?) was to get the free metal Superman Belt Buckle in antique silver finish.

            I found the belt buckle on ebay last spring. It went for about $15.00 and I was the only bidder. Yes, I paid $15.00 for it. $15.00 for a belt buckle? No, it’s not just a belt buckle, I paid $15.00 for the Superman Belt Buckle in antique silver finish offered in the DC Salutes the Bicentennial promotion!

            I’ve seen it more recently going for $40.00 or more nowadays. This was listed last week on ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Superman-S-Logo-1975-National-Periodical-Made-in-USA-Vintage-Belt-Buckle-as20-/281389078166?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4184189696

            So here it is, along with 33 of its friends…

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

            By the way, of you are looking for the buckle on ebay you have to look long and hard. You have to go through a lot of belts and buckles with the Man of Steel or come kind of “S” on it until you reach THE buckle. In March there were 528 hits when you type in “Superman Belt Buckle” on ebay.

           

            My buckle has a little bit of rust on it and I had to polish it a bit. But I have it! It took 39 years to get it (and the comics), but, hey, I’m a collector! A obsessive/compulsive collector, true, but …

 

            And if there are any readers out there who actually collected and sent in the comics (I’ll bet Mike White and Fred Schneider did), I’d love to hear from you. Actually, if you enjoyed this series I’d like to hear from you regardless! If you didn’t enjoy it; why are you reading this? It’s my 36th blog on the subject for gods sake…

           

            And for a forehead slapping moment – dig this ad I found while reading The Witching Hour #75 from November 1977: 

 

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            Do you see it? Middle left: there it is! They are selling the buckle! Along with a Batman and Wonder Woman buckle! All that scrambling around town looking for 25 bicentennial banners and I could have bought it for $3.35 (with shipping & handling) a year and half later!?

            Aargh!

            Thanks for reading through these blogs on the DC Salutes the Bicentennial comics over the past several months. I hope you enjoyed this trip back when comics were fun!

            There will be one more blog for all the number crunchers…

 

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

            Images used are copyright their respective holders and and reproduced here under the “fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

 

Golden Age Flash redux!

Sometimes I love the internet. I also love the Facebook pages I have joined. I am on a LOT of Facebook pages dedicated to comic books. I post my blogs on them and get some wonderful responses and and have made friends with my fellow posters

My most recent blog post – part of my series on DC Salutes the Bicentennial comics from July and August of 1976 – was about the last comic: #33 – DC Super-Stars #5 and commented about the golden age Flash strip contained therein.

Here is what I posted on some of the Facebook pages I frequent:

I discovered an odd thing in two Flash reprints from the 1940s: DC decided that our eyes would not be able to withstand the “poor” original art from the golden age, so the story was redrawn in the “modern” style. This was done with a golden age Flash story in Four Star Spectacular #1 and the letters taking them to task for doing so (in the letter page of a later issue) would make you think they wouldn’t do it again. Nope…
They did it again in a golden age Flash reprint in DC Super-Stars #5.
In comics from years previous it was explained that reprinting golden age stories were hard to do because of the poor reproduction technology at the time. That makes more sense and we the people would likely accept that as a more logical explanation (although still BS).
As far as I can tell they only did this twice. Perhaps the third time was not the charm and boomeranged on the editor. Keep in mind the publisher of National comics once drew the Golden Age Flash strip.
“Mr. Infantino, let’s redraw this Flash story, the art is abysmal compared to our modern artists!”
“I drew that originally.”
“… … … I’m fired, aren’t I?”
“Yep.”

Here are the two comics in question: 

4 star1

and

DC_Super-Stars_Vol_1_5 - Copy

Here’s the wonderful part: after I posted all that another member posted the splash page from the original Flash story from All-Flash #22, May 1946):

Flash deal

and I immediately photographed and posted the redrawn splash page: 

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And with some cheesy photoshopping I put the two pages together: 

Flash deal 3

Fun stuff! Thanks for reading! 

***

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

The last Bicentennial banner comic … DC Super-Stars #5, a Flash in the pan?

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#33

DC Super-Stars #5

DC_Super-Stars_Vol_1_5 - Copy

Published monthly, fifty cents, August

Cover artist: Dick Giordano

Editor: E. Nelson Bridwell

            DC Super-Stars was an anthology series published from March 1976 until February 1978 lasting 18 issues.

            It began as a reprint series (such as this Bicentennial issue) but as of issue #12 began printing original stories.  Teen Titans, Aquaman, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Zatanna, Adam Strange (these were titled DC Super-Stars of Space and also featured the Atomic Knights, Captain Comet, Space Ranger, etc.) were some of the headliners. New stories included Strange Sports Stories (heroes and villains play a baseball game. Uncle Sam umpired), Superboy (that issue was a best seller and revived an interst in a solo Superboy series), a Sgt Rock/Unknown Solder team-up, a Phantom Stranger/Deadman Halloween team-up, the debut of the Star Hunters (an excellent forgotten comic book series) and origin issues featuring various heroes and villains (including the debut of the Huntress in #17).

            This Bicentennial issue features the Flash.

***

“The Day Flash Aged 100 Years”, Gardner Fox ( w ), Carmine Infantino (a), Joe Giella (i), Julius Schwartz (original editor).

            Scientists at Centralia University have created an aging formula. The Top steals the vial containing the liquid, intent on using it on Flash, It will age the Scarlet Speedster and force him to retire as old athletes do.

            The Top raids the Flash museum and is stopped by the Sultan of Speed. Top hurls a grenade at his adversary. When it goes off, Flash ages 100 years! He has a long beard and his costume droops on him. Top easily beats Flash with a punch.

            But it is all a ruse. Flash vibrated through the toxins and disguised himself at superspeed to trick the Top! But no matter how many times he encounters (and is beaten by) the Top, Flash still cannot find the vial of the remaining aging formula.

            The Top’s vibrational weaponry combined with the aging formula now causes Flash to evolve as well as age (how can this be when it was a ruse? Quiet…). His head grows as his mind evolves! He attacks Top with his mental prowess. Top escapes – and realizes that with the formula and his tops he can evolve himself into Super-Top! He takes the formula from a hollow leg of a table. Flash snatches it away before Top can use it. Flash’s evolving into a higher being was a ruse (but … I said quiet!)! Magnets and superspeed helped create the illusion of the Future Flash! Flash thanks museum guide Dexter Miles for his acting and make-up expertise in capturing the Top!

            This story is reprinted from Flash 157 (December 1965)

Flash_v.1_157 - Copy

and also reprinted in Showcase Presents: The Flash #3 (tpb) (2009)

showcase-flash3 - Copy

***

“The Midnight Peril”, John Broome ( w ), Carmine Infantino (a), Joe Giella (i), Julius Schwartz (original editor).

            To join a high school fraternity, Wally West and Peter Willard must stay in a haunted house until midnight.

            Discussing Kid Flash to pass the time (Peter: “Do you really think he can do all that super speed stuff?”) they see two figures in ghostly garb who demand they leave! The boys bolt from the house. Thile Peter keeps running, Wally dons his Kid Flash garb to investigate. Sure enough, the ghosts are merely two crooks scaring the kids away from their hideout! Kid Flash puts on the ghostly disguise (a sheet with holes in it) and with his superspeed haunts the crooks with dozens of “real” ghosts! The crooks flee with the “ghosts” chasing them. Kid Flash herds the crooks into police headquarters where they happily surrender.

            And they’d have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids…

            Meanwhile, a panicked Peter catches his foot between rocks at the bottom of a tall rocky hill. Lightning from a summer storm strikes the hill and causes an avalanche. Kid Flash deflects the stones and rescues Peter. Peter goes back to the “haunted” house where Wally tells him Kid Flash appeared and sent the “ghosts” to police HQ.

            The boys are welcomed into the fraternity, having passed their test (although technically they DID leave the house before the deadline …).

            This story is reprinted from Flash 118 (February 1961)

Flash_vol_1_118 - Copy

and also reprinted in The Flash Archives #3 (tpb) (2002) 

Flash_Archives_3 - Copy

and Showcase Presents: The Flash #1 (tpb) (2007)

showcase-flash1 - Copy

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“The Speed of Light”, writer unknown, Mort Drucker (a), Whitney Ellsworth & Julius Schwartz (original editors)

            A one-page feature describes the history of measuring the speed of light. Even I understood it!

            This is reprinted from Strange Adventures #15 (December 1951)

Strange_Adventures_15 - Copy

and also reprinted in Strange Adventures #82 (July 1957).

 Strange_Adventures_82

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“Deal Me from the Bottom”, John Broome ( w ), Rico Rival (new art), Sheldon Meyer (original editor), Ted Udall & Julius Schwartz (assistant editors)

            Nearly a half-century (actually 44 years) before the X-Men’s Gambit, Ace Wolfe could also throw playing cards with deadly accuracy. After his crimes in the west coast made things too hot for him, he returned to Keystone City and met up with his childhood friend, professional gambler Deuces Wild. Deuces was an “honest” gambler and didn’t want any part of Ace’s crimes, but Ace left him no choice. Deuces sent a secret message to Joan Williams about Ace’s upcoming crime.  Joan, you see, is rumored to have an “in” with the Flash (she is unknowingly the girlfriend of Jay “Flash” Garrick).

flash

            Flash stops Ace from his robbery, but Ace and gang manage to get away. Ace suspects Deuce of finkery and keeps him captive for their next crime.

            Fortunately Jay discovers Ace’s next move while buying a costume for a masked ball. Seems the saleslady said there was a big demand for mailman uniforms for the big postal workers ball. Why would postal workers need mailman uniforms? Sure enough, Flash stops Ace from robbing the party-goers and sends Ace to prison after rescuing Deuces.

            This story is reprinted – kind of – from All-Flash #22 (May 1946).

AllFlash22 - Copy

DC apparently decided that our eyes would not be able to withstand the “poor” original art from the golden age, so the story was redrawn in the “modern” style. This was done with a golden age Flash story in Four Star Spectacular #1 from three months before and the letters taking them to task for doing so (in Four Star Spectacular #3) would make you think they wouldn’t do it again. Nope…

4StarSpectacular - Copy

            In comics from years previous it was explained that reprinting golden age stories were hard to do because of the poor reproduction technology at the time. That makes more sense and we the people would likely accept that as a more logical explanation (although still BS).

            Let’s not put the onus on Rico Rival – who did a great art job on a thankless task. It wasn’t his fault, folks, give him some credit here… But still, it kind of smacks of “Star Wars Special Edition” – the original was probably just fine.

    Here are the splash pages of the original and the redo: 

Flash deal 3

 

            Keep in mind the publisher of National comics once drew the Golden Age Flash strip.

“Mr. Infantino, let’s redraw this Flash story, the art is abysmal compared to our modern artists!”

“I drew that originally.”

“… … … I’m fired, aren’t I?”

“Yep.”

***

            A text piece “A Zip of Super-Speedsters” (writer unknown) discusses all the speedsters, good guys and bad, in the DC Universe – both Flashes, Kid-Flash, Johnnie Quick, Joanie Quick, the Reverse-Flash.  But not Rival (one of the last villains of the Golden Age Flash’s run). This leads me to believe Bridwell did not write it – surely his encyclopedic knowledge of all things comic books would know about the Jay Garrick villain…

***

            John Broome, Gardner Fox, Whitney Ellsworth, Carmine Infantino, Julius Schwartz, Joe Giella, Mort Drucker, Sheldon Meyers, Ted Udall … it’s great seeing these names in a comic book, isn’t it? Rico Rival, too!

***

Next: “at last … the Buckle!”

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

 

Timba! Ungowa! Tarzan read Bicentennial blog! Blog good!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#32

Tarzan #251

 tarzan 251

Published monthly, thirty cents, August

Cover artist: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Editor: Joe Orlando

            Do I really need to tell you about Tarzan? You know all about the King of the Jungle … Lord Greystoke, parents marooned, raised by apes, you Jane …

            I will say he debuted in the 1912 novel (the first of 24) “Tarzan of the Apes” by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

            There have been Tarzan comic books as long as there have been comic books – even during the so-called “Platinum Age” when companies would reprint his strips into comic book format. From February 1948 until August 1962 Dell Comics published the adventures of the Ape Man for 131 issues. Gold Key took over the comic from #132 (November 1962) until #206 (February 1972).

            DC Comics published the character from #207 (April 1972) through #258 (February 1977), when Marvel Comics bought out the rights and published their own comic beginning with new numbering.

***

            Another missed opportunity – with a scheduling version of three card monte, the 250th anniversary issue of Tarzan could also have been a Bicentennial Banner comic…

***

“Jungle War (part two)”, adapted from the novel Tarzan the Untamed, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Gerry Conway ( w ), Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (a). This serial will conclude in issue #256.

 untamed

            It is 1914 in British East Africa. Tarzan carries Major Schneider of the Kaiser’s army to the top of a ravine and, after a struggle, kicks him into the waiting paws of a hungry lion (hungry, Hun, get it?), thus avenging Jane’s (supposed) death. Still, mourning, he kills an antelope for food and viciously fights off a pack of jackals intent on stealing his meal.

            Later, he attacks a German machine gun nest, turns their guns on the German army and escapes unseen.  He informs the general in command he will not rest until every German in Africa is driven out or dead. Tomorrow he vows to empty out the German trench without firing a shot.

            Tarzan shoos off a pack of hyenas eating a boar to skin it. He returns to the ravine where the lion is sleeping off his Germanic meal from two days before. Tarzan uses the skin to cover the lion’s head and paws – rendering it helpless. He unleashes the lion into the German trench. The Boche flee into No Man’s Land and and thus shot down by the English. The lion finally ends by killing Lieutenant Von Goss – who was at the moment bragging about burning the Greystoke plantation to the ground.

            Tarzan chases the other commanders into No Man’s Land. They beg for mercy, please do not kill us as you did Schneider’s brother, they say.

            Brother? Yes, Tarzan killed the brother of Captain Fritz Schneider. Not Schneider himself.

            “Jane’s killer still lives?!” Tarzan bellows in rage.

            To be continued…

 

Ape Mail: letters commenting on issues #247 and 248 by Mark Schmeider, Concord, Mass (mostly positive, but wants more details as to the artists involved – it is explained that the Redondo Studio does some of the art and it is hard to track – whoever came in that morning did the art!) and Don Vaughn of Lake Worth, FL (positive and requests they continue the Fantastic Creatures of Edgar Rice Burroughs feature – the editor says the feature will resume in Tarzan Family and hypes that companion title, telling us all new stories are on the way (for two more issues …).  The column also contained a list of the first ten Tarzan novels, their dates of release and the issues of Tarzan that adapted the stories so far! The editor also asks for more of your letters!

***

Join me next time for the last DC’s Bicentennial issue #33: DC Super-Stars #5

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.