Kobra #6, February 1977

“The Crack-in-the-World Conspiracy”

Cover Artists: Michael Netzer, Joe Rubinstein, Tatjana Wood

Writer: Martin Pasko

Penciler: Michael Netzer, Inker: Joe Rubinstein

Colorist: Liz Berube, Letterer: Ben Oda

Story Editor: Paul Levitz, Managing Editor: Joe Orlando

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Jonny Double uses the glass shards of his wrist watch to cut the ropes binding him to the Golden Gate Bridge. He engages Kobra, knocks off his wrist weapon-unit, and is flung with him over the bridge! Kobra uses his teleportation ray to safely get back to the Ark. Double climbs back on the Bridge and retrieves Kobra’s wrist weapon-unit to stop the earthquake-causing mechanism.

Meanwhile, all the passengers on Jason Burr’s plane – which is crashing in Oregon – disappear! Kobra appears on the plane and tosses an envelope to Burr containing a lock of Melissa’s hair. Kobra advises Burr he shall not make it to his meeting with Double in San Francisco.

But Randu Singh DOES make it to Double’s office. They discuss their missing friend and meet Professor Ross Emerson – electronics expert – who examines Kobra’s wrist weapon-unit.

Disguised as Kobra henchmen, Double and Singh return to Kobra’s computer bank he visited in the previous issue to discover why Kobra forced the earthquake. Kobra catches them mid-hack and engulfs the room with poison gas as Kobra’s goons invade to finish them off. With the help of the wrist weapon-unit, Double kills the Kobra agents allowing Singh to retrieve computer tapes. They escape out the window.

Jason Burr lies unconscious in the airplane – which, to the amazement of the two pilots, landed safely on an Oregon lake.

Double and Singh discover Kobra’s plan – using the earthquake to damage global communications cable. Disguised as repairmen, Kobra’s men will “repair” the cables and plant a “bug” – effectively tapping the entire world! The find and board Kobra’s Ark, hidden in the Bay.

Kobra blinds Singh and engages Double. Double shoots at Kobra with the wrist weapon-unit – who was aghast that Double had his weapon. His one error in calculation …

Double shoots and shoots at the Ark, finally causing it to explode in mid-air! Singh cries out – with Kobra dead, so is Jason Burr!

The Coast Guard investigate the explosion and then report that the telephone company will repair the cables near the explosion tomorrow. One of the officer’s hand-held radios is marked with a cobra-symbol.

To be continued!

***

The letter page announces this as Rich Buckler’s second appearance as artist in this issue. He wasn’t the artist.

Also, Double and Singh escape Kobra’s computer room by jumping out the window. Window? In last issue the computer room was in a sub-basement … oops!

***

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 #55; January, 1978

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Cover: Jim Aparo

“The Master Machinations of the Missile Men!”

Writer: Gerry Conway; Penciler/Inker: Joe Staton

Colorist: Liz Berube; Letterer: Ben Oda

Story editor: Paul Levitz; Managing editor: Joe Orlando

Green Lantern’s ring helps Gold restore the rest of the Metal Men (Tin is strangely MIA during the other’s restoration). The team heads for the moon to rescue Platinum.

Meanwhile, Doc Magnus reveals the Inheritor – a synthetic robot Doc was building in the past issue – with all the powers of the Metal Men and more! Doc sends the Inheritor to the moon to do battle with the Missile Men.

The Metal Men attack and defeat the Missile Men’s leader, based on an observation by Lead of their potential weakness. The leader is destroyed and the remaining Missile Men are rendered inert. Platinum is rescued and all is well.

Oh wait, the Inheritor is on his way … to be continued.

***

It is at this point that Joe Staton stopped trying to draw like Walt Simonson and used his own style on the Metal Men (although you could see glimpses of his style readers of Showcase, Superboy and All-Star Comics have seen for a while now!

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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 #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

The Seven Soldiers of Victory: the lost story!

A Bronze Age/Golden-Age hidden gem!

The Seven Soldiers of Victory (or Law’s Legionnaires) is DC Comics’ second super-hero team, following the Justice Society of America. Like the Justice Society, the membership of the Seven Soldiers is drawn from DC’s anthology comics: The Vigilante (Action Comics); the Crimson Avenger (Detective Comics); the Green Arrow and Speedy (More Fun Comics); the Shining Knight (Adventure Comics); and the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy (Star-Spangled Comics).

The Seven Soldiers of Victory appear in the first fourteen issues of Leading Comics.

A script by Joseph Samachson (co-creator of Martian Manhunter and Tomahawk) from the 1940s, in which the elflike Willie Wisher banishes the Soldiers to the “Land of Magic,” where they encounter various supernatural characters, was later serialized in 1975 in Adventure Comics #438–443, with each chapter illustrated by a different artist (Dick Dillin, Howard Chaykin, Lee Elias, Mike Grell, Ernie Chan, and José Luis García-López).

The first few issues of this story were overshadowed by the now-classic Fleisher/Aparo Spectre run as the main feature. Compared to those stories, nearly anything else would pale in comparison. But we fans of the back pages got a nice Golden Age gift!

Around this time, DC Comics had redrawn some Golden Age stories in their reprint books, but this was an unusual move for DC – taking a discovered script of third-tier characters (and except for Green Arrow, calling them third-tier is kind) and putting some of their best artists on it. It was a treat for Bronze Age readers. This story has not been reprinted that I know of – not even in the Seven Soldiers of Victory Archives (which in three volumes reprinted all the Leading Comics issues).

A truly hidden Bronze Age gem.

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Adventure 438 splashAdventure Comics #438, April 1975

The Seven Soldiers of Victory

“Land of Magic!”

Writer: Joseph Samachson, Penciler: Dick Dillin, Inker: Tex Blaisdell, Editors: Joe Orlando & Paul Levitz

John Shoman, philanthropist, introduces the first film he has produced – the Seven Soldiers of Victory gather and ask each other who called the meeting. It was Willie Wisher. The elfin Wisher can make anything happen simply by wishing it. He brings in John Shoman and a film crew and decides to send the 7 to the Land of Magic for their new adventure.

Dick Dillin, at that time rendering the adventures of the Justice League of America, was a canny choice for the opening salvo in this team adventure, and his workman-like style did not disappoint!

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Shining Knight 438The Shining Knight

“Knight After Knight!”

Writer: Joseph Samachson, Penciler/Inker: Howard Chaykin, Editors: Joe Orlando & Paul Levitz

The Shining Knight lands Winged Victory near a castle reminiscent of Camelot. He overhears that the magician living in the castle is keeping a fair maiden captive – the Princess of Twin Oaks. The Shining Knight vows to rescue her!

He fights his way into the castle before seeing his own image in a mystic mirror. His reflection steps out of the mirror and does battle with the Shining Knight.  They are too evenly matched and wear each other out. When the evil magician tries to capture the Knight, he pretends to be the reflection. Not knowing which is the real Knight, the magician locks them both into the dungeon.

The Shining Knight escapes his bonds and confronts the magician. The wizard explains that the Princess of Twin Oaks is a prize sow promised to him before the farmer reneged. The magician vows to do no further harm and Shining Knight’s doppelganger tells Knight that the mystic mirror can return the Knight to any location he wishes.

The Shining Knight and Winged Victory use the mirror to go back to Willie Wisher and to find his fellow Soldiers.

Legendary artist Howard Chaykin lent his pencils to this segment – superb art reminscent of the Shining Knight’s former pen man Frank Frazetta!

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

 

 

Kobra #5, December 1976

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“The Eye of the Serpent”

Cover Artists: Rich Buckler & Frank McLaughlin

Writer: Martin Pasko

Penciler: Rich Buckler, Inker: Frank McLaughlin

Colorist: Carl Gafford, Letterer: Ben Oda

Story Editor: Paul Levitz, Managing Editor: Joe Orlando

I contributed this description to DC Wikia:

Kobra lands his ark in San Francisco. His surveillance overhears Jason Burr and Randu Singh back in New York discussing Melissa’s disappearance.

We then meet Jonny Double, a private eye from DC’s past who questions his current assignment – helping a secretary accused of murdering her lover/boss. His suspicions are aroused when police records confirm the murder, but there is no evidence of the existence of the boss … that and Double spots his client leaving a motel with her supposed victim.  Before he can trail them in his borrowed cab, he is flagged down by a fare. The customer leaves his valise; Double deduces it contains explosives – this WAS a set-up! Double escapes the destruction of his taxi. He finds remains of the case containing the bomb – marked with a strange cobra symbol…

Double returns to the office building at which he dropped off his murderous fare and is attacked by three hoods. Dispatching them, Double takes an elevator to a computer control room, where he gathers as much information as he can about the murder of Ricardo Perez and something called Operation: Chrysopylae … Through his contacts, Double learns of Perez, Horst Buchner and … Jason Burr. He calls Jason …

Double complains about the heavy traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge due to construction while on his way to testify to a trial. One of the construction workers has a cobra symbol on his hand-held radio.

Double hopes to meet Mack, his CIA contact, at a Chinatown theater, but finds Mack murdered. The killer fires on Double Meanwhile, Jason Burr cannot find a flight to Frisco. The booking agent helps find a flight on a smaller airline. She reaches for her walkie-talkie … which has a cobra symbol on it.

The gunman who killed Mack runs for it and Jonny Double gives chase. He also takes out two more Kobra hitmen before escaping onto a cable car. Kobra confronts Double directly and disengages the cable car, causing it to plummet downhill.

After several hours of delay, Jason finally boards his flight to San Francisco. The pilot’s hand-held radio is marked with a cobra-symbol.

Jonny Double jumps from the cable car just before it crashes, knocking him unconscious on the street; his limp form rises slowly in Kobra’s anti-gravity beam.

The engines of Jason Burr’s plane catch fire; it plummets into the Oregon wilderness.

Double awakes to find himself strapped to the Golden Gate Bridge. Kobra reveals his plan – he will destroy San Francisco with an earthquake! To use his words: “… an earthquake created by one of my devices … which is implanted in the beam to which you are tied. The mechanism is constructed of a material that disintegrates when it vibrates. The earthquake’s shock-waves will destroy the machine and no evidence of its ever having existed will survive! The device extends down through the support beams – into the bay – forming a needle which penetrates the earth’s crust! The needle will cause the San Andreas fault to shift! … The action of sunlight on the solar panel triggers the mechanism. At dawn – approximately 20 minutes from now – the bridge will be the first casualty. And you, Mr. Double, will be …. the second!”

Mwah-Ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!!

To be continued!

***

The letter page mentions a new approach and welcomes Rich Buckler as the new penciller. The magazine was saved by an “avalanche” of positive mail!

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Jonny Double previously appeared in Showcase #78, Challengers of the Unknown #74 and Wonder Woman #199-203.

Note the cover date – December? Three months since issue #4. Was it scheduled for cancellation but given a reprieve with a new direction and new art team? The opening splash says “The story originally scheduled for this magazine will not appear.” Hyperbole? Did the story exist and crumbled to dust in someone’s file cabinet telling us of the “Panic on Pennsylvania Avenue” (as hyped on the final panel of issue #4)?

Regardless, the quality of this comic’s plot increased 1000%. DC hyped this issue and the next – these last three issues (and the “conclusion” in DC Special Series #1) were some of the best pulp-inspired comics ever published. Seriously. I love them, I f’ing love them!

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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!

***

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!

 

 

Kobra #4, September 1976

Behold, the Bronze Age!

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“Brother’s Keeper – Brother’s Killer” Written by Martin Pasko, Art by Angel Gabriele. Inker: Lowell Anderson, Colorist: Liz Berube, Letterer: Ben Oda, Editor: Gerry Conway, Assistant Editors: Paul Levitz and Jack C. Harris

Cover by: Joe Kubert

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Kobra 4 house ad

Synopsis: Kobra leaves his New York headquarters to go to Peru to oversee an archeological dig. There his crew find another Ovoid similar to that found in issue #1. As before, the Ovoid opens and a second Servitor attacks! The blast to Kobra’s arm also causes Jason to flee from his graduate school class. Melissa follows Jason, a synopsis of the comic’s plot is given (“I just met my brother … we have a symbiotic link…”) and Jason questions Melissa about her past relationship with Kobra. Melissa runs out before giving any answers.

Meanwhile, the battle with the Servitor ends in the machine’s dismantling. During the battle it carried a metallic cylinder that spoke to Kobra after the battle. It is an alien from the planet Illandus, who came to retrieve the pod that creates the Servitors.  Kobra takes the Illandian to his New York City lair.

Jason returns to his apartment after a late class to find Randu Singh waiting. After a quick confrontation Randu asks Jason’s help in defeating Kobra – Randu fears Kobra will soon declare war against his native India.

The Illandian reveals its physical form to Kobra – a two-headed four-armed alien that shall soon split in two again. Kobra is intrigued by its duel nervous system and plans to examine the alien to eliminate the link between himself and his brother. They discover the first ovoid has again produced a Servitor. The Illiandian wishes to take his probes and Servitors and return to his home, but Kobra says there are forces on our planet that will stop the alien from doing so.

Well, he IS correct …

And convinces the Illiandian to help Kobra stop him! Kobra’s first victim is Lt. Perez – whose outgoing plane is torn apart by one Servitor and Perez crushed by another! Jason and Randu arrive in the midst of the “Chaos at Gate 57”. Jason confronts his brother.

The Illiandian realizes that it is Kobra who is preventing him/them from retrieving the pod and unleashed a wall of flame at the airport. Jason and Kobra continue to fight over what happened to Melissa – Jason is convinced Kobra is involved in the disappearance.

An ovoid appears around the Servitors and the Illiandian and whisks them back into the alien vessel. Kobra is enraged and strikes Jason now that all his plans have been thwarted – even Project R might be abandoned, he says!

Jason awakes to find the airport in chaos, Perez dead and Kobra long gone (but how, he thinks? Kobra would have been knocked out cold, too!). Perhaps he should seriously consider Randu’s suggestion about making the ultimate sacrifice…

***

The letter page explains that the magazine was reprieved from the pending cancellation of #3, but also says its mailbox is almost empty of letters! AND this is the fourth artwork team in as many issues! Bad signs …

This issue had the famous editorial that ran in all the Conway’s Corner magazine:

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Oh how I yearned for a team-up between Kobra and Kamandi!

And as for Jason’s foreboding dread of Kobra being more powerful than he (Jason was knocked out while Kobra escaped). Even when I read this back in 76 my first thought was … “Well, wouldn’t his followers have carried him away … or wouldn’t he still be teleported to his ship…?”

This issue is a nice book-end with issue #1 – explaining some of that storyline while (thankfully) forgetting the super-hero-y aspects of #s 2 & 3. No one was expecting the series to get better.

But it did!

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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!