Hercules Unbound #8, January 1977

“Game”

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

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

Story Editor: Denny O’Neil

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued!

***

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

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

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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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Metal Men #54; November, 1977

“After the Ending”

Cover: Jim Aparo

Writer: Gerry Conway; Penciler/Inker: Joe Staton

Colorist: Liz Berube

Story editor: Paul Levitz; Managing editor: Joe Orlando

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

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

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

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

***

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

***

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

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?

***

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!

 

 

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!

***

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!

 

 

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!

Hercules Unbound #6, September 1976

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“Even a God May Die!”

Excellent, excellent cover: José Luis García-López, Editor: Joe Orlando

Writer: Gerry Conway; Penciler: José Luis García-López; Inker: Wally Wood

***

While carrying poor Basil away, Kevin, Hercules, Jennifer and their friends are attacked by Ares’ soldiers. Durok Malloy and his animal army help in the battle – which includes five cavalrymen in the second wave of attack.

Hercules explains that Ares has the power to restore life – perhaps there is a way to bring back the beloved Basil

Ares and his army encamp at Stonehenge with his hostages David Rigg and Simon St. Charles. Rigg escapes and finds Hercules and company.

Ares meanwhile confesses why he started World War III – after thirty thousand years he seeks the sweet oblivion of death – something denied to a god. Hercules appears and says he will oblige Ares by helping him fulfill his wish. The battle commences!

In the spectacular fight, Ares admits why he hates Hercules so – daddy issues. “We were both his sons yet, it was you he loved, while I … I was ever despised!”

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Showing some of the gorgeous art in this issue!

Ares is eventually worn down and surrenders after the stones of the henge are toppled on him.  He capitulates: truces are called and bargains made, including the resurrection of faithful Basil in exchange for his freedom. Ares flees, but both he and Hercules swear that should they ever meet again, one will die!

***

The letter column “Myth Mail” tells us the sales of Hercules Unbound are very good!  Odd that there are only two letters published – one of praise and the other echoing the HU/Wonder Woman mash-up. There is a small pin-up of the Man-God. If it is such a success, where are the letters?

The editor mentions that writer Gerry Conway is considering some “century shifting”. Is he already tired of Earth After Disaster?

 ***

Hercules Unbound ended its first year of publication on a high note. A unique idea with a unique hero. The creative staff was unchanged to date (a good sign) and was top level (Garcia was the only “newbie” in the group and even then was gaining gravitas with his Batman pencils).

It was a very good year!

The issue even got it’s own “article” in DC’s house ads! Another good sign!

herc6-kobra4 direct currents banner

Hercules 6 house ad

The blurb on the last panel promises a new menace and a new direction for the man out of myth.

Uh-oh … that’s never a good sign…

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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!

 

 

 

Metal Men #52; July, 1977

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Cover: Walt Simonson

“Doctor Strangeglove and the Brain Children”

Writer: Martin Pasko; Penciler/Inker: Joe Staton

Colorist: Liz Berube

Story editor: Paul Levitz; Managing editor: Joe Orlando

Doc’s friend Johanna, tells the story of Happyland – an amusement park turned into a pre-natal laboratory. Johanna’s sister was killed at the facility when the nuclear reactor powering the plant exploded, also killing her sister’s unborn baby. Yet, lately Johanna has been getting letters from her nephew…

At first, she asked for General Caspar’s help, but she hasn’t heard from him in weeks.

Magnus and the Metal Men split up – Iron, Tina and Doc will find Caspar; the others to Happyland.

Approaching Happyland, Gold, Mercury, Tin and Lead are blasted out of the sky by soldiers guarding the Happyland facility!

Meanwhile, Doc, Tina and Iron discover the General’s notes about Babylab, located at Happyland. They are shot at by guards, but safely escape after knocking them out.

The other Metal Men have also survive their crash and head into Happyland.

Throughout the story we see the shadowy Dr. Strangeglove and his super-intelligent infants. Strangeglove confronts Johanna’s nephew, Dennis. Dennis shoots a mental blast at Strangeglove – who reveals the secret to his name – his right hand (shaped like an old typewriter) emits power blasts of its own! Dennis manages to escape.

Dennis is killed by the mental blasts of the other Brain Children and Johanna and the Metal Men are captured by Strangeglove. The evil doctor and his children watch Magnus, Platinum and Iron fly to Happyland to the rescue.

If they can survive the Helix Ray!!! To be continued!

***

The letter column printed only one missive – and asked the readers for more input! The letter and the answer explained the “tongue-in-cheek” approach to the comic announced in the previous issue.

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Tongue in cheek? It was deadly serious to me at the time! I enjoyed this run of Metal Men, and now I can see the parody that Marty Pasko wrote into the series. The writing is more than silly and less than serious.

Joe Staton’s art is looking less like Simonson’s and more like his own familiar style. And still Wonderful!

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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!