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!

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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!

 

 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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”. 

GL Archives 5GL showcase 2 GL Omnibus 2

 

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.