Welcome Back Kotter #5, May 1977

“Friends! Romans! Sweathogs!”

Cover: Bob Oksner

Writer: Bob Toomey, Pencils: Ric Estrada

Inker: Bob Oksner, Colorist: Liz Berube, Editor: Joe Orlando

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Due to budget cuts – and the fact the Sweathogs knocked him over one time too many – Woodman gives Kotter and the Remedial Academic Program the ax! But after Kotter’s begging, Woodman gives him one more week to “prove themselves”.

Kotter enters the Sweathogs in the Brooklyn Shakespeare Boosters Amateur Production Contest to donate the winning prize of $1,000.00 to the school. If they win!

Unfortunately, Kotter’s cold gets worse and worse – he eventually loses his voice and his wife and Horshack take over direction of Julius Ceasar!

The play goes on … not badly … until someone throws a tomato at Freddie and the Sweathogs brawl with the audience. They blew it, but even Woodman admits it proved the Sweathogs want to stay in school and keeping kids in school is their business. Woodman gives them another chance.

Friends! Romans! Sweathogs! Dig it!

***

The letter column is still positive, with one writer saying if the art “loosens up” the comic can recapture its old glory … of two issues ago?

Forty years after publication, I still remember the pun: “Et tu, Brute?” “No, only et one, honest!”

***

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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Hercules Unbound #8, January 1977

“Game”

Cover: Walt Simonson & Wally Wood, Editor: Joe Orlando

Writer: David Michelinie; Pencilers: Walt Simonson, Inker: Wally Wood

Story Editor: Denny O’Neil

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While rafting across the Irish Sea, our heroes are strafed by jet fighters, destroying their raft and killing Dave Rigg! Herc dispatches three of the jets, and he, Kevin, Jennifer and Basil follow the fourth to a strange citadel. They are again attacked, this time by gorgeous Wally- Woodish women in spandex and metal hats! Discovering they are androids, our heroes quickly destroy them.

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They are invited into the compound and meet Miss Agatha Simms: a paraplegic military and scientific genius who built the compound (and the androids) to further her “game”. Game? She and her unknown opponent, who also has a military compound, have been hammering at each other for weeks. She mistook our heroes for agents of her opponent, hence her jet fighter and android attack. She explains she plucks her weapons from earth’s past, going back only as far as World War II. As an example, she tries to bring forward PT-109, but instead a … slight miscalculation … brought in the Bismark

Dave Rigg comes ashore, alive and well, and finds his way to a small village. He finds a robotic army recruiter and is knocked unconscious!

Simms promises to restore Kevin’s sight if Hercules helps her with the Game. With the Bismark laying down diversionary fire, Hercules, Kevin, Jennifer and a troop of androids fight their way to the Enemy’s Control Center on the Isle of Man.

Finding a hidden door, they batter their way to the control room to find Dave Rigg in the Commander’s chair!

To be continued!

***

The letters page announces that Michelinie, Simonson and Wood will be the permanent creative team under the editorial guidance of Denny O’Neil!

***

Simonson’s art is once again nearly hidden by Wood’s dominating inks, but it this is still cracking good story and art!

***

About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

 

Metal Men #54; November, 1977

“After the Ending”

Cover: Jim Aparo

Writer: Gerry Conway; Penciler/Inker: Joe Staton

Colorist: Liz Berube

Story editor: Paul Levitz; Managing editor: Joe Orlando

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The rest of the Metal Men join Platinum’s walk-out at the end of the prior issue. We later learn that it was with Doc Magnus’s blessing!

Meanwhile, the Guardians of Oa tell Green Lantern that the Missile Men are invading planets and stripping them of all metal! They are heading to earth! GL discovers them on the moon, where the leader tells the other Missiles they were created only for the pleasure of their queen – Platinum!  The leader of the Missile Men has had a thing for Platinum since issue #5.

Green Lantern wonders if the Metal Men are involved in goes back to earth to find them, not knowing he is a pawn in the Missile Men’s plan!

Green Lantern greets the Metal Men; but the Missile Men leader changes what the robots hear – GL threatening our heroes instead! A fight ensues with Lantern getting the best of Lead, Iron, Platinum and Mercury. Gold (being yellow based) smothers GL, leaving only himself and Tin alive in the final page cliff-hanger!

***

The letter column printed letters for and against the “tongue-in-cheek” approach to the comic. The editor mentions that with Gerry Conway back at the typewriter, a comic will see a more serious approach.

***

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

Shazam #29. June, 1977

“Ibac Meets Aunt Minerva”

Cover Artist: Kurt Shaffenberger

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Kurt Schaffenberger

Inker: Vince Colletta; Managing Editor: Joe Orlando

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Sivana kidnaps Stanley Printwhistle to convince him to help defeat Captain Marvel. Prince Lucifer appears (the one who gave Printwhistle his powers) and vows to make him stronger. Stanley says his magic word: “Ibac” (Ivan the Terrible, Borgia, Attila, Caligula) and turns into Ibac the Cursed! Sivana also brings in arch-criminal Aunt Minerva and instructs her and Ibac to distract Captain Marvel while he is busy blowing up Niagara Falls.

But Cap is busy doing charity work! So, when Ibac starts crushing cars and destroying lampposts, it is up to Uncle (Dudley) Marvel to stop him! Ibac runs from Uncle Marvel – well, it was actually from Minerva who rounded a corner and also gave chase…

… all the way to Niagara Falls! Ibac hides from Minerva in a barrel – which Sivana was to used for his bomb. Ibac begs Dudley for help and they both seek advice from Solomon.

Captain Marvel finds Dudley and Ibac. Thinking Dudley needs rescuing, he fights Ibac. Minerva finds them all, and Ibac reverts back to Printwhistle to stop Minerva’s advances (she’s not THAT desperate for a husband!). Cap catches Minerva and Sivana (who vows to escape and battle Marvel in Pittsburgh) and Printwhistle vows never to turn into Ibac again – to avoid Minerva’s romantic advances!

***

So far so good – the letters are positive for Cap’s new direction! The return of great Captain Marvel villains continues: This is Aunt Minerva’s first Bronze Age appearance (Shazam #12 was a reprint) and Ibac’s fourth!

***

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 #7, November 1976

“To Slay a Legend”

Cover: Rich Buckler, Wally Wood & Tatjana Wood, Editor: Joe Orlando

Writer: David Michelinie; Pencilers: Walt Simonson & Wally Wood

Letterer: Milt Snapinn; Colorist: Jerry Serpe

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At the shores of Loch Ness, Hercules and friends are greeted by three beautiful women who invite them for a dinner and a peaceful repast. Naturally, Hercules is suspicious, but relents when the others see nothing wrong here.

Surprise! The parties are drugged into unconsciousness! When they awake, they are bound and Kevin is staked at the shores of the loch. The villain is revealed: Casper Zedd – given magical powers by a Cthulhu-esque insectoid who appeared at Loch Ness days after WWIII began.

Zedd was ordered to capture Kevin and imbue the new and weakened god-thing with Kevin’s more-than-mortal power!

Hercules recognizes the god-thingie as Oceanus the Titan! Hercules … unbinds and attacks Zedd, knocking him out and stopping Oceanus’ recharge.

Per Hercules, only Zeus’ lightning can destroy Oceanus. Our heroes decide to use the nearby hydroelectric dam to generate a large enough charge to destroy Oceanus – who felt the destructive power of WWIII and came to investigate the end of the world, but became too weak in transit.

Oceanus attacks the heroes at the dam, and is joined in battle once again with Hercules. Hercules wields the electrical bolts of “lightning” and knocks Oceanus back to his nether realm.

Zedd’s scepter explodes when Oceanus disappears and his followers leave him. He is now as he was before the war – alone.

***

The letter column “Myth Mail” thanks legendary writer David Micheline and legendary artist Walt Simonson for this “fill-in” issue. Gerry Conway, we are told, is gone forever, and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez will be back next issue.

Simonson’s art is also hidden by Wood’s dominating pencils and/or inks, but it still makes for a dazzling combination!

And thank you, David, oh thank you for NOT having Nessie pop up anywhere in the story. Oceanus the Titan was enough of a Loch Ness Monster for all of us!

***

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

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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.

***

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

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“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!”

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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!

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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…

***

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!