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The back-up feature is an unpublished saga of the Seven Soldiers of Victory – written in the Golden Age but never rendered and completed until 1975.Adventure 443 splash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

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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 Were there other stories tucked away in DC’s files, unpublished?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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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!

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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!

 

 

Justice League of America #132

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#6

Justice League of America #132

JLA_v.1_132

Published monthly, thirty cents, July

Cover artist: Ernie Chua (the date under his signature is 1975)

Editor: Julie Schwartz

            The Justice League of America debuted in late 1960 in The Brave and the Bold #28. After a three-issue try-out, they were awarded their own magazine a few months later. There has never been a month without at least some kind of version of the JLA published by National or DC – gaps as publicity stunts aside…

            Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman joined together to fight evil. 

            Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky wrote and drew the first several years of the series and the editorial reigns were held by Julie Schwartz.  This was Schwartz’s third try at reviving Golden Age characters – updating them for a modern audience.  The Flash and Green Lantern were rousing successes, so he tried again in the pages of Brave and Bold!  This time he brought back the old Justice Society of America: changed the name to something “more exciting” (someone once said a Society makes them sound like they got together to have tea) and updated the roster with the few heroes available at the time.  There was really no one else around: Adam Strange?  He’s good, but harder to work into a plot than Aquaman, so instead he was a frequent guest.  Roy Raymond TV Detective and Rex the Wonder Dog wouldn’t work, Challengers of the Unknown and the Blackhawks would make things too crowded.  Superboy would be impossible!  Batwoman? Robin?  Nah!  Green Arrow?  Oops, forgot about him – he’d join in Justice League of America #4.

            Eventually Fox and Sekowsky left the writing and art chores to others. Some issues were drawn by Neal Adams! But eventually the art was given to Dick Dillin.  Some fans dislike his art even to this day. I loved it! His are the images I have when I think of the Justice League – not Sekowski’s, not Lopez, not Heck’s, not Lee’s nor anyone who drew the later and latter versions of the group. Dillon is my  … Dylan.

            Plus in this particular issue he draws Supergirl! Oh, yummy …

supergirl

            This image is from the next issue, but still …

            Justice League of America was always a sales powerhouse for DC, with only a handful of magazines selling better (Superman for example). Its dip in sales during the 1970s was proportional with the industry as a whole.

            But even in the dip. Marvel was outdoing DC, in buzz if not in sales. Trying to catch up – something DC started in the mid-1960s and continues to this day – DC kept story threads going from issue to issue in some of their comics; Justice League of America included. This bicentennial issue is a fine example: it is part two of a two-part story, but the thread (Supergirl searching for her cousin) continues into the next issue; her search then becomes its own two-parter.

            As is the case with this magazine, the thread is interrupted by the annual JLA/JSA summer multi-parter. One of Justice League of America’s most unforgivable crime in this vein came in the next year with issues #139: Steve Englehart took over the writing chores for an incredible run of issues, but the annual JLA/JSA summer team-up stopped the story in its tracks. When it returned to the storyline (the Construct attacks during dissension amongst the JLAers), it had lost steam and Englehart was gone by issue #150 with his events and changes to the group’s dynamic forgotten.

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            The inner front cover features a different Hostess ad from the Bicentennial comics so far. Instead of “Superman Saves the Earth”, we have “The Cornered Clown” starring the Joker!

            The annual sales statement “required” of every comic book published showed this magazine was selling 193,000 copies*. A fair amount for the time – and today as well!

            “The Beasts Who Fought Like Men”, Gerry Conway   ( w ), Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin (a).

             This story is continued from the previous issue. Returning from a mission in space, the Justice Leaguers not involved in the events of the previous issue are attacked over New York City by Queen Bee and her intelligent swarm! They dispatch the swarm, but Queen Bee escapes. Perhaps they can track her whereabouts in their satellite headquarters…

            … whence they are attacked by Green Lantern foe Sonar! Last issue, Sonar developed a “credit card” that would help him control humans as soon as they touch said card! Instead, the cards made humans as dumb as beasts and as a side effect made animals as intelligent as humans! Sonar defeats the JLA but runs away when nearly bested by Supergirl, who at that moment entered the satellite searching for Superman.

            The team splits up; half go to Washington DC to fight Sonar, who are then also attacked by animals from the Washington Zoo.  Sonar is caught after being nearly trampled by an elephant.

            The other half goes to Chicago to fight Queen Bee. During the fight they discover that although Sonar created the human/animal link, Queen Bee controls it! The two villains were unknowingly in cahoots! Queen Bee is also defeated.

            JLA members missing since the last issue are found – except for the Man of Steel!  Supergirl asks the JLA’s help in finding the missing Superman.

 

 

JLA Mailroom: featuring comments on issue #128; Bob Rozakis answered and commented on the letters. Paul Emrath of Milwaukee, WI (positive), Glenn Rowsam of Oakland, CA (positive – and praises Wonder Woman’s return to the group); DK Thomas of Brunswick, ME, Michael D Dargay of Royal Oak, MI, and Fred Schneider of New York, NY are given brief comments discussing an age-old question argued to this day: is Green Lantern’s oath necessary to recharge his ring?

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            This issue is reprinted in the trade paperback Showcase Presents: Justice League of America Vol. 6.

 

 

* Here is a sample of sales figures published in DC’s annual “required by law” financial statement for 1976:

Brave and Bold: 151,000

Justice League of America: 193,000

World’s Finest: 132,185

Adventure Comics: 104,309

Superman: 216,122

Superman Family: 156,636

 

 

            Shameless plugs department: Some of the information in this blog is gleaned from my new ebook: The Brave and the Bold – from Silent Knight to Dark Knight, an index of the DC comic book. Available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords websites. It’s free, so get it now!

 brave-and-bold-cover

           The Barnes and Noble link is here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-brave-and-the-bold-michael-curry/1120872264?ean=2940046443011

 

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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.