Super Friends #5, June, 1977

“Telethon Treachery”

Cover: Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Ramona Fradon

Inker: Bob Smith, Colorist: Jerry Serpe

Editor: Dennis O’Neil, Executive Editor: Joe Orlando

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From the Superfriends Wiki (snarky comments are edited out):

Greenback chooses to begin his crime spree during the third annual, Justice League ‘Super-Thon’ in Midtown Metropolis that is hosted by the SuperFriends and their teenage sidekicks Wendy and Marvin.

His plan involves two components, both of which hinge on the superheroes hanging around the TV studio making oblique references to other superheroes (For example: Harvey’s old Black Cat, Siegel and Shuster’s Funnyman and even Iron Man, among others, get either a shout-out or a brief appearance). The first part of Greenback’s pan hinges on the hope that the superheroes will be too busy answering the phone to fight crime. The second part of his plan is to kidnap all the richest donors who call into the telethon.

Greenback waits for the names of the biggest donors to be mentioned on the air. The first are from New York, which he disregards as too far away and waits for donors from Metropolis or Gotham City.

When he finally abducts his first wealthy guy, it’s Bruce Wayne, so that’s bad luck for Greenback. One by one the Super Friends pursue the abducted Batman, eventually leaving only Wonder Woman and Superman on the phones.

In the Batmobile, Aquaman & Robin, Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog follow Bruce’s signal device but are downed by Greenback’s gun and captured. Wendy sends a message to Superman and Wonder Woman via Wonder Dog (who was hiding under the Batmobile when the others were caught! WW rescues the other Super Friends as Superman rescues Bruce Wayne.

Wayne switches to Batman and captures Greenback. Back at the telethon, our heroes celebrate a record-breaking total!

***

Much is made over the guest stars and donations made during the telethon – including $75,000.00 to the Heart Fund by Anthony Stark (Marvel’s Iron Man).

***

The letter column reviews continue to go from loving it to hating it. It is announced that Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog will leave as of issue #7, to be replaced … but they don’t mention by whom. I Wonder …

In the meantime, the letter column says the Atom will guest-star next issue!

***

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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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!

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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!

 

 

Super Friends #4, March, 1977

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Cover: Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith

“Riddles and Rockets”

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Ramona Fradon, Inker: Bob Smith

Editor: Dennis O’Neil, Executive Editor: Joe Orlando

From the Superfriends Wiki:

The SuperFriends must deal with the dual crimes of the Riddler and Skyrocket. The Riddler hacks the Trouble Alert with a riddle: “When does a WonderDog cause his master the most worry?” This sends Wonder Woman and Superman to the Museum of Music where they find Skyrocket robbing the place. Together they successfully thwart the crime, but Skyrocket escapes. “Meanwhile, in the Hall of Justice”, the Trouble Alert sounds off again and this time its Commissioner Gordon. He tells Batman and Robin that the Riddler has been spotted at the West Side Kennels. The Dynamic Duo rushes to the high-end kennels fearing that the Riddler will hold these dogs ransom for money. But have no fear, the crime is prevented, the henchmen are captured but the Riddler does escape.

(and by the way, the answer to the riddle is: ‘when he wonders where his dog is’. No one said Riddler was FUNNY …)

“Meanwhile, in the Hall of Justice”, the Riddler successfully infiltrates the Trouble Alert system again and provides another riddle: “Why is Wendy an unusual name?” Robin guess that its because the ‘end’ comes in the middle. This leads the SuperFriends to one of two locations: [1] Since a day ends at midnight, this may be a reference to Jeannine Gale’s performance at the Castle Theater that evening where she’ll perform her latest hit, ‘Midnight in the Andes.’ Or this could refer to [2] the performance of Romeo and Juliet that evening as well and specifically the murder of Mercutio (played by Sir Harvey Arden) who is killed in the middle of a five-act play. His end comes in the middle.

Robin and Wonder Woman head to the Castle Theater. And sure enough, Skyrocket appears. It is clear now that he nothing more than a petty thief. His crimes are prevented, but he escapes. Batman and Superman head to the performance of Romeo and Juliet and this time they capture the Riddler. They find out that he considered Skyrocket a rival, so he tried to put the SuperFriends on his trail so he could get away with his crimes. The heroes realize that he probably knows Skyrockets next criminal outing. He does. He answers them with yet another riddle: “Where does Marvin have a green thumb?”

Robin believes this is a reference to ‘Marvin Gardens’ from Monopoly Game. Wendy chimes in and say that ‘Marvin Gardens’ is in the same group as Atlantic Ave., Ventnor Ave., and the Water Works. Batman adds that there is a ship named Ventnor on the Atlantic at the water front docking in the water. Its cargo is the valuable Chromium. And their off…

They rush to the water front. This time they have plan. As Skyrocket flies over the water, several whales shoot up and out of the water effectively dousing him with several gallons of water. This renders him unable to fly and he plunges into the water, where Aquaman easily captures him.

***

Kurt Busiek mentioned the Superfriend’s version of Skyrocket in the notes detailing his own creation: “Power Company: Skyrocket” #1, March 2002.

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The letter column reviews of issue #1 range from positive to scathing!

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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!

Shazam #28, April, 1977

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Cover Artist: Kurt Shaffenberger

“The Return of Black Adam”

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler & Inker: Kurt Schaffenberger

Managing Editor: Joe Orlando

I still have my original copy I bought from the stands. I love this issue so much I can write the synopsis without re-reading the issue:

Sivana again uses his Reincarnation Machine, this time to bring back Teth Adam. Adam says the magic word and becomes Black Adam. Before Billy Batson, Shazam picked Teth Adam to wield the power of Shazam 5,000 year before. But Black Adam used his powers for evil. He was banished but returned to fight the Marvel Family. Tricked into saying “Shazam” Black Adam reverted to his mortal self and crumbled to dust.

Black Adam confronts Cap in Boston. Their battle nearly destroys the USS Constitution and the statue of Paul Revere before Cap loses track of Black Adam.

Billy Batson seeks the advice of Shazam, who recaps Black Adam’s origins and his first meeting with Captain Marvel.

Meanwhile, Sivana convinces Adam to get revenge on the old wizard – hoping that if Black Adam destroys Shazam, he will also destroy himself AND the Big Red Cheese!

Captain Marvel spots Black Adam and gives chase into eternity. Cap pitches Adam in the wrong direction and they end up in America’s past during the Boston Tea Party! The battle resumes and Black Adam collides with Captain Marvel, shouts “Shazam” and moves away at super-speed. The lightning bolt hits Cap instead and turns him back into Billy Batson.

Black Adam ties up Batson and tosses him into Boston Harbor. Billy swims to the surface and is rescued by Paul Revere disguised as a Native (on their way to dump crates of tea).

Black Adam, realizing Sivana’s trickery, abandons his plan to seek revenge against Shazam and returns to 1976 to confront Uncle Dudley/Mentor, who tricked Adam originally to revert to Teth Adam. Magic lightning strikes twice – Dudley again tricks Black Adam into saying the magic word and revert to Teth. Captain Marvel uses an amnesia punch to make Teth forget about his dual identity!

Billy receives a note from Sivana – his next target is Niagara Falls! The final panel says he will be helped by Ibac and Aunt Minerva!

***

This was only the second appearance of Black Adam; the first was Marvel Family #1 (Dec. 1945)

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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!

 

 

Super Friends #3, February, 1977

“The Cosmic Hit Man?”

Cover: Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Ramona Fradon, Inker: Bob Smith

Editor: Dennis O’Neil, Executive Editor: Joe Orlando

As two separate teams, the Super Friends defeat Spectrum and Anti-Man while Wendy and Marvin safely watch from the sidelines. But after their defeat, the villains disappear.

They were captured by Dr. Ihdrom along with a hundred other intergalactic villains. He atomizes all the villains and coalesces them into one being: the World Beater!

World Beater quickly dispatches the Justice League and then appears in the Hall of Justice to battle the Super-Friends. Wonder Woman whisks Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog and tells them of her mother’s prophecy (from last issue) that they are earth’s only hope!

World Beater defeats the Super-Friends with ease (we the readers learn that Dr. Ihdrom has been captured and jailed for his murderous crimes) leaving only Wendy, Marvin & Wonderdog.

They come up with a cunning plan: they assume if he has all the super-villains powers, perhaps he also has their weaknesses. They trick World Beater into using Spectrum’s x-ray powers (Anti-Man’s weakness – that is how Superman defeated him in the earlier pages of the story). World Beater is weakened and passes out.

Wendy and Marvin revive the Super-Friends and the Justice Leaguers and receive their thanks.

***

The letter column explains why these five heroes were given the job of training their young recruits: through some inventive reimagining of their origins, it is explained that Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman were all trained to be superheroes in their youths. Thus, having been trained as children, they know how to train children.

Ah, yes.

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The story here is still oriented to the younger audience, but still keeps a cosmic scale to it. Plus it guests most of the Justice League, whetting the appetites of the young TV-show fans who picked up the comic to read the adventures of other DC stars!

Ramono Fradon’s art is pitch-perfect for this comic. Her style is easy on the eyes and accessible to young fans who might be overwhelmed by … say … Mike Grell if he did the book. She would have been my pick for the book, too. And Kurt Schaffenberger…

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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!

 

Shazam #27. January, 1977

 

“Fear in Philadelphia”

Cover Artist: Ernie Chua (Chan)

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Kurt Schaffenberger, Inker: Vince Colletta

Managing Editor: Joe Orlando

Sivana uses his Reincarnation Machine to bring Blackbeard, Benedict Arnold and a bevvy of other baddies from 18th-century America back to life! They rob, steal and plunder to distract the Big Red Cheese from Sivana’s real purpose.

Billy Batson asks the Elder Mercury for help and the Messenger of the Gods send Kid Eternity to help.

Kid Eternity goes after the historical bad guys while Captain Marvel tracks down Sivana.

Billy is caught by Sivana after discovering his plot: Sivana has turned the Liberty Bell into an atomic bomb – when Captain Marvel rings it at a special ceremony tomorrow, it will destroy him and the city!

Kid Eternity captures most of the historical bad guys with the help of his conjured heroes – including Ethan Allen, Ben Franklin, Daniel Boone, and others. Kid Eternity chases Benedict Arnold to Sivana where he is also captured! Sivana will detonate the bomb by remote control and destroy them both!

Benedict Arnold, seeking redemption, frees Billy who turns into Captain Marvel and stops Sivana.  Unfortunately, the World’s Wickedest Scientist gets away!

***

The letter column praised the new DC/TV format, with only one letter saying he preferred Golden Age reprints.

The final panel teaser and the letter column tells us the next issue will feature Black Adam as the villain!

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If Sivana wanted to stir up trouble with cutthroats and murderers why did he go to the trouble of using the Reincarnation Machine? He could have just used the line-up of the 1976 Flyers…

This was Kid Eternity’s (and Mr. Keeper’s) first appearance in new material since the Golden Age and his first DC appearance.

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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!

 

 

Four Star Bicentennial Comic blog!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#15

Four Star Spectacular #3

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Published bi-monthly, fifty cents, forty-eight pages, August

Cover artist: Ernie Chua

Editor: E. Nelson Bridwell

            Four Star Spectacular ran for 6 issues from March 1976 until February 1977. It was a reprint series, although some of the stories were redrawn to appease our modern sensibilities. Superboy and Wonder Woman appeared in each issue. As the title suggested, each issue starred four superheroes: half the issues featured four stories and half had three stories with heroes “teaming up” – Hawkman and Hawkwoman in one, Superboy and Krypto in another (although I think that’s cheating a bit: that’s like the Lone Ranger teaming up with Silver…) and in this Bicentennial issue.

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Undersea Trap” starring Wonder Woman, reprinted from Wonder Woman #101, October 1958, Robert Kanigher ( w ), Ross Andru & Mike Esposito (a).  

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            Wonder Woman saves Steve Trevor from crashing his airplane into a burning pylon during a race. Steve bets her that if she rescues him three times in the next 24 hours she will have to marry him. The Amazon accepts.

            Aha! Steve reveals he is scheduled to test pilot aircraft all the next day. All’s fair …

            Aha! Then Steve is reassigned to desk duty all that next day. All’s fair …

            During lunch, Wonder Woman saves Steve from being crushed by space debris … one…

            During a dance, Wonder Woman foils a robbery and saves Steve from a bullet … two …

            Steve ferries a general to an aircraft carrier. He crashed into the ocean and is attacked by a shark! Wonder Woman rescues him. Three? Nope! It is 15 minutes after the 24-hour deadline! Doh!

            One presumes the plane crashed after the delivery of the general to the carrier; otherwise he would have been left in the plane in the briny deep and left to the mercy of a hungry shark. So long, old chum!

            This story is also reprinted in the trade paperback “Showcase Presents: Wonder Woman #1”.

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Superboy’s Workshop. Cut out the provided clown figure, get a little cardboard, a little glue, a pencil and the ability to make a miniature parallel bars and you can make a toy tumbling clown!  Destroying the value of the comic (such as it is) is definitely worth this experiment in perpetual motion.  Whether this one-page craft is a reprint or new for this series is unknown. Art and writing unknown.

***

Superboy in Argo City” starring Supergirl (her logo is at the top of the first page – proving this was published originally as a Supergirl feature, but in this comic Superboy is touted as the star) reprinted from Action Comics #358, January 1968, Cary Bates ( w ), Jim Mooney (a).

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            Superboy heads back to earth after a mission in space (this must be the month for missions in space – both Superman and Justice League of America mention various space missions in its issues…) and stops by a crystal asteroid to create a jewel for a necklace for his mother. He is knocked cold by a space probe gathering mineral samples. How is that possible?

            The probe takes him and the samples to Argo City. Ah! It was a Kryptonian probe – that’s how it could knock out the Boy of Steel. Argo City was blown into space intact from Krypton when the planet exploded leaving survivors, including Superman’s uncle, aunt and cousin – Kara Zor-el! Tweenie Kara races to her father’s probe to find Superboy unconscious. When revived, Superboy has lost his memory!

            Zor-el names him after his deceased nephew Kal-el. Superboy and “Supergirl” fly around Argo City on their jet packs rescuing lost birds and other adventures. A weight ray makes objects weightless: Kal lifts heavy machinery as if he has super-strength!

            Zor-el flies Argo City to a system with a habitable planet. But it is protected by an alien who will accept one sacrifice as penalty for their trespassing. That is the law. Zor-el, blaming himself, offers to go as the sacrifice and walks to the pod that will whisk him to his judgment.

            But Kal-el beats him to the pod! As he leaves with the transport vessel, the alien wipes all memories from the Argonians as the City leaves the system – memories of their trespass AND of Kal-el!

            Somehow, being transported returns Superboy’s memory!  He escapes by flying through the sun to avoid the alien. The last thing he remembers is forging a crystal jewel for his mother.

            “Presently” Supergirl shows the jewel to Superman – who remembers making the jewel but not what happened to it. How did it end up with Supergirl?

            The biggest hole in this story is Superboy’s powers returning. How? If this system had a yellow sun ALL of Argo City would have been imbued with superpowers (this was before Superman became a “solar battery”…), right?

            Superboy’s memory returning to the point at which he lost it is likely, though. That happens with real amnesia victims.

            And this being a “team-up” with Supergirl is a bigger stretch than Superboy and Krypto… hmmph…

            Still, a fun story, which is the point. And it is nice to see Jim Mooney’s art again. His Supergirl was always a cutie!

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            “Power Ring Peril” starring Green Lantern, reprinted from Green Lantern #32, October 1964, Gardner Fox ( w ), Gil Kane & Sid Greene (a).

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            Tyrant Vant Orl conquered the planet Thronn and entombed its united league of heroes – Energiman, Magicko, Golden Blade and Strong Girl, among unnamed others – in a crystal monolith on the planet’s moon.

            Energiman’s powers work on the same frequency as Green Lantern’s ring. Every time Hal Jordan recharges, Energiman draws a bit of power. Eventually, he sucks GL through his battery and to Thronn’s moon at the cost of Energiman’s life. With his last bit of … er … energy, Energiman tells all to Green Lantern. GL flies to Thronn to confront Vant Orl.

            But Vant Orl also can manipulate the power ring’s energy – he is also on that frequency! Green Lantern covers his ring with a yellow leaf (the ring has a “necessary impurity” and does not affect anything colored yellow, remember…) to regain more control over his ring, defeat Vant Orl and release Thronn’s heroes!

            This story was also reprinted in “Green Lantern Archives #5”, “Showcase Presents: Green Lantern #2” and “Green Lantern Omnibus #2”. 

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Four Thought (great title to their letter column for issue #1). Gerald Duit of New Orleans, LA, Arthur Kowalik of Wilmington, DE, David J. Brown of Hammond, IN, and Fred Schnieder of New York, New York all had positive comments and suggestions for reprints. They were especially glad to see solo Superboy since him comic was now a permanent vehicle for the Legion of Superheroes.

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            Join me next time for DC’s Bicentennial issue #16: Karate Kid #3.

 

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.