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.
Adventure 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!
The 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!
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!