Mr Miracle #19; September 1977

Behold!

Bronze age

Jack Kirby leaving Marvel for DC is held by some (myself included) as the beginning of the Bronze Age. It is arguable, and some of the other dates and events have merit, but everyone agrees Kirby’s work at DC left an impact felt to this day (as was obviously his work at Marvel).

His creations in the early Bronze Age will battle the Justice League in their upcoming movie.

Kirby started the Fourth World mythos with the New Gods, Forever People, (taking over) Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen and Mister Miracle. Mister Miracle was the last surviving Fourth World book by the time of its cancellation in 1974 after 18 issues (Kirby left Jimmy Olsen some time before). By 1977 it was time to revive the super-escape artist with one of the best writers and one of the best artists of this or any age!

I won’t review the Fourth World books in this blog – it’s been done by others (and far better than I) and those reviews are easy to find online. Besides, I tend more toward the second (or third or lower) tier of comic books of the 1970s. By third tier I mean in terms of popularity and sales, certainly NOT quality!

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MrM house ad

Mister Miracle #19.  September 1977

Cover: Marshal Rogers, Managing Editor: Joe Orlando, Editor: Denny O’Neil

“It’s All in the Mine”

Writer: Steve Englehart, Penciler: Marshall Rogers

Inkers: Marshall Rogers & Ilya Hunch (alias Crusty Bunkers: Dick Giordano, Mike Nasser, Al Milgrom, Jack Abel, Alan Weiss, Joe Brozowski, Terry Austin, Neal Adams).

Per DC Wikia:  When Marshall Rogers realized that he was running out of time on the issue, he enlisted the aid of his friends, and assigned each of them a character in the story: Mister Miracle by Rogers, Barda by Giordano, Granny Goodness by Mike Nasser, Kanto by Milgrom, Highfather by Abel, Oberon by Al Weiss, Bedlam by Brozowski, Vermin Vundabar by Austin, and Mister Miracle’s eyes on page 1 by Neal Adams.

Colorist: Liz Berube, Letterer: Morris Waldinger

Per DC Wikia:

Granny Goodness and three of Mister Miracle’s other foes (Dr. Bedlam, Kanto and Vermin Vundabar) kidnap Big Barda from New Genesis, forcing Scott Free to become Mr. Miracle again. To rescue his new wife, he returns to Earth and reunites with Oberon, and the two go after Granny. She forces Scott to enter a deathtrap without his Mother Box, but when he escapes, he finds that his foes have left, and still have Barda with them. He deduces that they are now on the moon and he plans to follow them… continued next issue.

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The letter column gives a brief history of the magazine and waxes philosophically on … escaping. It asks for letters and hypes upcoming DC comics.

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This series is superb and never got the sales it deserved. Englehart and Rogers make a wonderful team – at this time they were also doing their six-issue legendary run on Detective Comics (the run that included the Joker Fish). The story is intriguing for this first issue – picking up where the last issue left off years before with Free’s and Big Barda’s honeymoon on New Genesis.

Marshall’s art is as wonderful as always – the characters look so real you think you are looking at a photograph. Barda never looked so beautiful. Not even the pencils and inks of Crusty Bunkers could hide his style!

An excellent start. This series will last for years!

Won’t it?

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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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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.