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.

Blackhawk #247: the Bicentennial Banner blog continues!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#25

Blackhawk #247

Blackhawk_Vol_1_247

Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, August

Cover artist: Dick Giordano

Editor: Gerry Conway

            This paragraph is a repeat of my blog on Freedom Fighters #3. Quality Comics was a successful comic book company during the medium’s golden age. It introduced Kid Eternity, the Blackhawks, the much-lauded Spirit and Plastic Man to comics. The company closed shop in the mid-1950s and the catalogue of characters was bought by DC/National. They continued only four of Quality’s titles: GI Combat, Plastic Man (although DC would not publish a Plastic Man comic until the 1960s), Blackhawk, and Heart Throbs – all but the latter were still being published by the time of the Bicentennial (Plastic Man would get much more popular in the coming decades).

            Blackhawk debuted in Military Comics #1, August 1941 as ace pilots fighting the Nazi menace. Note this was before the US involvement in WWII. The group was given its own comic published in Winter 1944 beginning with issue #9 (retitled from Uncle Sam Quarterly – this was commonly done even as late as the 1970s to avoid postal fees and registrations, etc.). They still starred in Military Comics (renamed Modern Comics) until it was cancelled with issue #102 (October 1950).

            At one point the Blackhawks outsold every other comic book character other than Superman.

            DC Comics continued the series when it bought Quality and continued publishing the comic until 1968, canceling it after issue #243. During the mid-1960s the Blackhawks became costumed superheroes rather than ace pilots.

            The title was brought back with #244 in January 1976. Although still ace pilots, the series was set in modern times fighting modern menaces. This run ended with #250 (January 1977) and was successfully revived in later years (picking up with the original numbering) and also appearing in the anthology Action Comics Weekly in the 1980s.

***

 “Operation Overkill”, David Anthony Kraft ( w ), Ric Estrada and Al Milgrom (a), Liz Berube (c), Gaspar Saladino (l)

            I think this synopsis will take longer to read then the comic itself, as is usually with the masterful David Anthony Kraft, his comics are chock-full of plot and details!

            While debriefing their workout in their private training course, the Blackhawks are interrupted by the Duchess Ramona Fatale, also called Patch. She introduces her own team of lady commandoes and asks the Blackhawks to help her raid the HQ of Anton Vibrax – who murdered Patch’s troops in issue #244. Blackhawk allows only Andre to go with them, as he has worked with Patch’s commandos before.

patch

 

            Meanwhile, Blackhawk receives a message from their CIA contact asking them to escort a secret cargo from Greenland to Great Britain. They agree and take off – except for Hendrickson, who stays behind with his daughter, as he is getting too old for such adventures.

            The CIA contact reveals himself to be the villain Bio-Lord. The Blackhawks are flying into a trap!

biolord

            And indeed cyborgs blast two of the Blackhawks out of the sky (Olaf and Blackhawk himself) and capture the others mid-air. Blackhawk and Olaf are eventually also overcome and captured.

            Andre and Patch’s commandoes invade the headquarters of Vibrax’s master. Andre chastises the women warriors for using real bullets to kill instead of subdue. They find the HQ empty – it was a decoy. Andre again chastises them for taking lives for nothing!

            Andre learns of the other Blackhawk’s fate from Hendrickson and heads to Greenland. Hendrickson’s turns around to find his daughter, Elsa, pointing a gun at him and threatening his life!

            The Biolord explains to Blackhawk his evil scheme: he will detonate an anti-matter bomb and decimate Great Britain as part of his plot to destroy the human virus. Blackhawk breaks his bonds and rescues his troops, but not before the Anti-bomb is launched!

            To be continued…

            I started collecting Blackhawk with the next issue until its cancellation with #250.

 

Blackhawk By-lines: Letter discussing mostly issue #245. Assistant Editor Jack C. Harris introduces us to new writer David Anthony Kraft with a lengthy bio. Letters by Brian Dyke of Goodlettsville, TN (very positive) and Carlton McDaniels of New York, NY (negative – bemoaning that these new Blackhawks carry guns and kill their adversaries.

***

Join me next time for DC’s Bicentennial issue #26: World’s Finest Comics #239

 

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.

 

 

Secret Society of Supervillains #2 – Bicentennial Bad Guys!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#21

Secret Society of Supervillains #2

SSOSV2

Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, August

Cover artists: Dick Giordano & Terry Austin

Editor: Gerry Conway

            I loved Secret Society of Supervillains. I frickin’ loved it!I got a late start on collecting the series – My first issue was #6 after the Darkseid/Manhunter introductory story arc finally ended. By now it was 1977, when I started seriously collecting comics instead of getting the odd issues from friends and family. But I got every issue after that and was very sad when it was cancelled with issue #15 during the DC Implosion. Over the years I trolled the back issue markets until I completed the collection. Two more issues were written and drawn and reproduced in the famous Cancelled Comic Cavalcade, and the finale of this story arc (started in #15) that would have concluded in #18 was written and discussed in Back Issue #35. The Amazing World of DC Comics #11 reprints the original first issue with a different line-up and direction. 

            I told you I loved this series…

            A mysterious benefactor formed an “anti-Justice League” led by a clone of the original Manhunter. Founding members included Captain Cold, Gorilla Grodd, Sinestro, Star Saphire and others. In issue #2 more intrigue is revealed…

***

“No Man Shall I Call Master”, Gerry Conway Robert Kanigher ( w ), Ric Estrada (a)

            Captain Comet returns from obscurity a 20-year mission in space (what IS it this month with missions in space? See Superman and Justice League of America…). While noting the change in clothing styles, Comet comes across a battle between Green Lantern, Gorilla Grodd and Hijack (a former member of the Royal Flush Gang, but still with the card motif).

            Since Lantern attacked first, Comet assumes he is the bad guy in the brawl and knocks him out and saves Grodd and Hijack. He reveals to Grodd that he can read his thoughts.

            At the Society’s headquarters, Grodd (who has in turn read Comet’s mind) reveals to the SSOSV Comet’s origin, recapping Strange Adventures #9 & 10 from 1951.   Since Comet knows nothing of superheroes, the SSOSV ask him to join their group as a dupe in their fight against good!

            Later, Comet finds the graves of his parents and friends. Manhunter approaches and reveals that the SSOSV are criminals. Comet knows. Grodd’s mental block is good, but not THAT good. Manhunter reveals he is ALSO fighting on the side of the angels. They are both attacked by Mantis of Apocalypse! They fend off Mantis, who escapes before he completely runs out of power.

            Manhunter takes the SSOSV to the underground laboratory of their benefactor and reveals him to be Darkseid! Mantis attacks again! To be continued…

 

            The Superman Hostess ad appears in this comic rather than the Joker ad. Don’t they put ANY thought into these things?

  ssosv

The Sinister Citadel: Gerry Conway’s soapbox asking for suggestions appears (see All Star Comics #61). Also, there is text of the publication history of Captain Comet, a bio of Sinestro and new writer David Anthony Kraft.

***

Join me next time for DC’s Bicentennial issue #22: Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes #218

 

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.

All Star Comics #61 – the Justice Society & the Bicentennial

jsa alex

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#17

All Star Comics #61

All-Star-Comics-61_00

Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, August

Cover artist: Ernie Chua

Editor: Gerry Conway

JSA logo

            All Star Comics debuted in summer of 1940 as a quarterly comic book in the genre’s golden age. It was an anthology series and its first two issues featured the best strips from other comics published by All American Publications, a subsidiary-yet-separate-but-equal partner of National Comics/DC.

            It changed format with Issue #3. It also changed the history of comic books. Issue #3 was the debut of the Justice Society of America. It was still an anthology of separate stories, but the stories were framed by the first meeting of the JSA – all the heroes together swapping tales.

            With issue #4 the comic featured one story told in separate chapters – each chapter featuring an individual member of the JSA typically written and drawn by his (my choice of gender is intentional) usual team. Each issue was bookended beginning with the heroes meeting and identifying a crisis and ending with their uniting to finish off the bad guys once and for all.

            For example – the JSA learned of a fifth column spy ring. Then each chapter starred one hero defeating part of the ring. In the final chapter the heroes united to crush the leader of the ring. Later issues (because of cuts in page count), the heroes teamed up two or three to a chapter.

            It was the first time individual heroes met and fought together – as opposed to heroes who were teams at their inception. The Justice League, Suicide Squad, Avengers, Defenders, Teen Titans, The All-Winner’s Squad, The Mighty Crusaders, etc. all owe their existence to the Justice Society.

            And if for no other reason, All Star Comics would make history in issue #8 with the debut of Wonder Woman.

            The fun lasted until issue #57 February 1951 in a tale ironically called “The Mystery of the Vanishing Detectives”.  Superheroes were on the outs and thus the title of the comic was changed to All-Star Western and the JSA replaced with a western anthology. All-Star Western ran until #119 in 1961, when it was finally cancelled due to the Silver Age revival of superheroes. In a sense, the guys in capes got their revenge… The last features in the comic were superhero-y characters like Superchief.

            All-Star Comics was brought back in February 1976 with issue #59 – ignoring the numbering of its western incarnation. It starred the JSA but also introduced a new team within the group – the Super Squad. This featured the trio of the now-adult Robin, the Star Spangled Kid (who was trapped in time and rescued in Justice League of America #100-102 and was once in the golden age team Seven Soldiers of Victory or Law’s Legionnaires), and a new character Power Girl – Superman’s cousin, the Supergirl of Earth-2.

            This revival lasted until issue #74 and was cancelled as a result of the DC Implosion. By then the character Huntress was introduced. Stories slated for subsequent issues were published in the dollar-sized Adventure Comics.

            As a kid the idea of an alternate earth with alternate versions of my heroes – and some I had never heard of – enthralled me. I anxiously awaited the annual summertime JLA-JSA team-ups in Justice League of America. The first issue of the revived All-Star Comic I owned was the one after this Bicentennial issue. I thereafter followed the series through to its cancellation. It took some years to get the prior issues and their last few tales in Adventure Comics. I loved every issue! Still do. I regret that I do not have any issues of the golden age run. Perhaps someday…

***

“Hellfire and Holocaust”, Gerry Conway ( w ), Keith Giffen & Wally Wood (a)

            As is usual in comics in those days (and these days, too), this is a continued story. Although this story concludes with the defeat of the main villain, it still ends on a cliffhanger and there are enough threads leading to upcoming issues to prevent this issue from being called “done in one”.

vulcan2

            Astronaut Christopher Pike was transformed into Vulcan during a trip around the sun (the Star Trek references are obvious and intentional). Vulcan, Green Lantern and Dr. Fate battle. Vulcan escapes after causing a building to explode leaving Dr. Fate’s … er … fate in the balance. Lantern digs through the rubble as best be can (lots of wood in the rubble, you know) looking for his friend. While fleeing, Vulcan briefly and mysteriously loses, and then regains, his powers when the sun comes out from behind a cloud.

            Meanwhile, archaeologist Carter (Hawkman) Hall is showing a friend his latest find – a citizen of the lost continent of Lemuria encased in amber. We see the amber casing slowly dissolving unbeknownst to our heroes…

            Cut to other JSAers Power Girl, Star Spangled Kid (hereafter SSK) Flash and Wildcat stand by as firemen put out the JSA headquarters set ablaze by Vulcan in the prior issue. Flash’s wife Joan appears and begs him to leave with her, fearing for his safety. He does. SSK calls other JSAers for help. Dr. Midnite and Hawkman respond just as Green Lantern send out an SOS. They finally find Fate in critical condition.

            Power Girl left earlier, hearing a police bulletin about a UFO landing in Gotham. She confronts the alien and learns Vulcan’s secret. The alien, Xlk-Jnn “saved” Pike when he crashed into the sun by transforming him into a creature that absorbs heat. PG and the alien confront Vulcan, already in battle against Hawkman and SSK. Vulcan destroys the alien that turned him into a monster.

            Power Girl tells the JSA of Vulcan’s weakness (told to her by the alien): sunlight! SSK feeds Vulcan enough sunlight with his cosmic rod to destroy him.

            Meanwhile, the team learns Dr. Fate is dying and only a miracle can save him now…

  

All Star Comments (letter column): comments on issue #59. The bulk of the letter column is made up of Gerry Conway’s editorial (dare I say soapbox) asking for suggestions. I remember this editorial even to this day – what do you want to see? A team-up between Kobra and Kamandi? We are reminded this is the team that brought us Superman vs Spider-Man so anything is possible. Too bad the Kobra/Kamandi thing never happened…

            Mike White of Mackinaw, IL (positive) and Scott Gibson of Evergreen, CO (positive, but is confused by the long title of the comic and asked who is on what team: “The Justice League of America in All Star Comics with the Super Squad”) contributed letters.

 

            This issue is reprinted in the trade paperbacks “Justice Society #1” (2006) and “Showcase Presents: All-Star Comics #1” (2011)

 

justice society #1 2006showcase

***

Join me next time for DC’s Bicentennial issue #18: Claw the Unconquered #8

 

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.

Superman #301 – DC Bicentennial blog series continues!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#9

Superman #301

Superman 301

Published monthly, thirty cents, July

Cover artist: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez & Bob Wiacek

Editor: Julius Schwartz

           I must admit it is a coincidence that I am posting this blog 77 years to the day when Action Comics #1 hit the stands! But what a wonderful way to celebrate!

           Superman, the comic and the character, was DC’s sales juggernaut in the 1970s, even before the movie starring Christopher Reeve. The annual sales statement “required” of every comic book published showed this magazine was selling 216,122 copies*. A good amount for the time – and today as well!

            Superman debuted in Action Comics #1 cover dated June 1938. One year later – cover dated June 1939 – Superman was given his own comic. It was the first comic book devoted to the adventures of one superhero. The first issue reprinted the serial from the first few issues of Action Comics as well as original material. And for the past 75 years, renamings and renumberings notwithstanding, there has been a solo Superman series published ever since.

            Other than that, c’mon if you don’t know who Superman is, are YOU reading the wrong blog. But for more of a biography, check out my previous blog post spotlighting famous adoptees real and otherwise: https://michaelgcurry.com/2014/11/05/the-most-famous-adoptee-of-all-national-adoption-month-spotlight-on/

***

            “Solomon Grundy Wins on a Monday”, Gerry Conway ( w ), Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and Bob Oksner (a)

            The Joker’s Hostess ad appears in this comic.

            Terry Austin and Bob Wiacek’s names appear on a theater marquis. Austin’s distinct artist’s signature appears on a restaurant sign.

            Coincidental continuity worthy of Marvel: Superman mentions the rest of the Justice League are away on a mission in space. Justice League of America #132 (discussed here) begins with the JLA indeed returning from a mission in space!

            A new criminal organization, Skull, who would torment Superman and Metropolis for many years to come, enters – filling the gap left from the now-defunct Intergang.

Grundy GL

            Solomon Grundy, trapped in Slaughter Swamp on Earth 2 by the Green Lanterns of Earth 1 and Earth 2 (Hal Jordan and Alan Scott back in Justice League of America #92), realizes that if his hated enemy Green Lantern has a double on another earth, he might have one, too! Somehow he teleports to Earth 1 Metropolis to search for HIS counterpart (this set a probably-unrealized precedent: The Brave and the Bold #200 featured a villain, Brimstone, who was so outraged at the death of his earth’s Batman that he transported his mind to his counter-part on Earth 1 to battle THAT Batman – obviously you can teleport between earths with raging emotions as well as a cosmic treadmill!). Superman and Solomon Grundy battle, while the swamp takes over the city. Superman disguises himself as an Earth 1 Solomon Grundy and lures his doppleganger to the moon, stranding him there.

roast

             And that was the end of Solomon Grundy … not by a long shot!

Superfriends

 

            All the while, Clark Kent and his new girlfriend/groupie Terri Cross report on the battle. Clark Kent? Actually, it was Steve Lombard hypnotized by Superman into protecting his antagonist’s secret identity.

            The last several issues sought to change the old status quo of the Superman mythos – giving Kent a new girlfriend and giving him (and Superman) more spine and attitude. “This isn’t even a challenge,” he tells some Skull cronies…

Not that Superman #300 needed the extra sales boost, but why not bend the rules a bit and delay the release of that milestone until the July cover date and make it a Bicentennial comic? Marvel did that with Captain America #200!

 

Metropolis Mailbag: E. Nelson Bridwell answers the queries. Letters for Superman #296 were all positive; Jonathan Kuntz, Los Angeles, CA, Adam Castro, New Rochelle, NY, Scott Gibson, Evergreen CO, Ken Regalado, South Pasadena, CA (pointed out some flaws in the story, although was mainly positive), Bob Robinson, Lincoln, NE, and Mark Zutkoff, Timoniom, MD

Metropolis Mailbag Extra: E. Nelson Bridwell. Letters for Superman #297 were mostly positive; Hugh J. Leach, Mason, MI, Jack Gregotz, Mayfield Heights, OH, Roger Thomas Enevoldesen, North Augusta, SC, Ronald M. Fitz, Valparaiso, IN, Mary E. ReCasino, Vernon, CT, FL Watkins, Champaign, IL, Kevin L. Callahan, Brea, CA, and Dave Wilcox, Arlington Heights, IL (a negative letter – E. Nelson Bridwell says this was only one of two negative letters received on this issue. An incredible feat if true…).

 

 

* 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

 

 

Next in my blog series of DC Comics’ Bicentennial issues: House of Mystery #243

 

 

***

 

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.

 

Freedom Fighters #3 (1976) – battle at the World Trade Center!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#8

Freedom Fighters #3

FF3

Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, August

Cover artist: unsigned (Dick Giordano per Grand Comic Book Database)

Editor: Gerry Conway

            Quality Comics was a successful comic book company during the medium’s golden age. It introduced Kid Eternity, the Blackhawks, the much-lauded Spirit and Plastic Man to comics. The company closed shop in the mid-1950s and the catalogue of characters was bought by DC/National. They continued only four of Quality’s titles: GI Combat, Plastic Man (although DC would not publish a Plastic Man comic until the 1960s), Blackhawk, and Heart Throbs – all but the latter were still being published by the time of the Bicentennial (Plastic Man especially would get much more popular in the coming decades).

            But what of the other characters of the defunct company? They languished until 1973 when they were introduced to DC readers in Justice League of America #107 in that group’s annual meeting with the Justice Society of America.

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            The Quality characters, that issue told us, were from an alternate earth – Earth X (most DC characters lived in Earth 1), where the Nazi’s won WWII. The sole superhero survivors of that conflict were Uncle Sam, the Ray, Doll Man, the Human Bomb, Phantom Girl and the Black Condor. With the combined might of the JLA and JSA, the World War (of Earth X) was finally won by the Allies; so the Quality heroes decided to form a permanent group and move to Earth 1. A version of this story was re-imagined in Batman: The Brave & The Bold…

FF

            A letter writer in this issue questioned that – why not have adventures on “their own” earth showing the group rebuilding their world? The editor said that would not make a very good comic book. Perhaps, but would the sales of the comic have been any worse than they were for their adventures on Earth 1? The editor guaranteed there would be an issue #4, an odd thing to say for a successful comic. The comic lasted for 13 issues – personally I loved every one of them! In my opinion the first issues were, indeed, stinkers; but the series picked up steam after a while.

            I particularly enjoy the “secret” Marvel crossover in issues #8 & 9 with the Invaders. Thinly disguised versions of Namor, Captain America, Bucky, the Human Torch and Toro fought our heroes. Mirror dopplegangers of the Freedom Fighters appeared in the Invaders comic.

            Freedom Fighters was cancelled just before the “DC Explosion” of 1978 and merged with Secret Society of Supervillains. SSOSV was cancelled too – no “Explosion” issues were released, although it is available in the Cancelled Comic Cavalcade and as a SSOSV trade paperback. But the cliffhanger – the Silver Ghost hires a company of villains to defeat the FF once and for all – was never resolved.

            Referring to them as the FF in the letter columns and the comic itself seemed awkward. Who didn’t first think of the Fantastic Four, instead?

            Although this issue contains a done-in-one story, a back story continues through the series – the FF are on the run from the police after being tricked by the Silver Ghost (in issue #1) into helping him commit crimes.

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            Untitled (Grand Comic Book Database gives the title as “Scragg the Super Sniper”), Martin Pasko ( w ), Ramona Fradon & Juan Canale (a), Liz Beruba (i)

            The FF escape from a police showdown (last issues cliffhanger, I presume), and hide out in a dumpy loft apartment. Doll Man creates an invisible shield for them. 

            Meanwhile, Arthur T. Sommar finally snaps and kills his wife. He goes to work and ends up in the midst of a battle between the FF and a gang of sport-supply store robbers! Unbeknownst to all, two youthful Qwardian teenagers are exploring earth and also chance upon the battle. They bombard Sommar with a Staser ray to even the odds – mutating him into Scragg the Super Sniper!

            The FF defeat Scragg and take him in for questioning. He reverts back to Sommar and calls his lawyer. The operator has a similar screechy voice as his wife, which snaps him back into his Scragg persona!

            The FF defeat him again at the twin towers of the World Trade Center (Human Bomb: “What’s this clown’s next act — fragging those towers?” 20/20 hindsight makes this reader want to say, “Ouch…”) with the Human Bomb taking the brunt of Scragg’s damage. The Ray tries to grab Scragg’s arm before he plummets to the pavement, but his hand goes ethereal like Phantom Girl’s and Scragg slips away! The incorporeality is likely due to the invisibility ray, Doll Man assumes.

            Back at their loft, the FF realize they signed a lease under their civilian identities – which are known by the police! They must leave. Where can they go to be safe and not hunted like criminals? Where?

            Wonder Woman appears next issue per the last-panel blurb! That issue (#4) was the first issue of Freedom Fighters I owned and read.

 

 

Freedom Fanmail: Mike White of Mackinaw, IL (positive, although the Ray’s contempt of Uncle Sam was criticized – Conway explains that although the FF joined together for common purpose, they aren’t buddies!) and Harvey Sobol of New York, NY (negative – criticizing the art and their move to Earth 1 instead of helping rebuild their own home world).

            Next: Superman #301!

 

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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.

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.