One last try at the Adventure anthology…

Behold, the Bronze Age!

bronze-age

Adventure Comics #427. May 1973.

Joe Orlando: editor.  Luis Dominguez: cover artist.

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The Adventurer’s Club: “Voodoo Lizards”

Writer: John Albano; Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Jim Aparo

Co-edited by Joe Orlando and E. Nelson Bridwell

Carter desires to be the world’s greatest action photographer and convinces his native guides to herd antelopes into a crocodile nest and pays one native to try to high dive into a river. Unsuccessfully.

But to join the Adventurer’s Club, he tells Nathan Strong about his most nightmarish episode:

After taunting lions into severely injuring his boss and native guide, Carter bribes another native into taking him to a secret ceremony … a woman staked to the ground to be fed to a lizard raised by the witch doctors. If the lizard does NOT attack the girl – she will be married to the native prince!

Carter and his guide were discovered! The guide was killed, but Carter ran and ran … thinking he got away; but, exhausted, he discovered he was right back at the ceremony and attacked by the lizards!

But wait, if he was attacked by the lizards, how could he survive to tell the story to Nathan strong. The last panel reveals the lizard bites caused a strange metamorphosis…

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Vigilante: “The Slaying Town!”

Writer: Cary Bates;  Penciler: Mike Sekowsky, Inker: Dick Giordano, Letterer: Ben Oda

Co-edited by Joe Orlando and E. Nelson Bridwell

The Vigilante tracks smugglers to a set of a western movie. Vig watches from the distance as a scene turns into disaster – a stunt man is shot with real bullets instead of blanks and is killed by the star of the movie Wade Preston. Vig overhears the director admitting to wanting the stunt man dead because he wanted a “bigger cut” and framed Preston. The Vigilante breaks the star out of the jailhouse. The fugitives run through a gauntlet of grips and gaffers until finally escaping with the diamonds the director was smuggling in his gas tank.

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Captain Fear: “His Daughter’s Keeper”

Writer: Steve Skeates; Penciler/Inker: Alex Nino; Letterer: Marcus Pelayo

Co-edited by Joe Orlando and E. Nelson Bridwell

Captain Fear quickly turns the tables on the plantation owner’s daughter and takes her below just as her father attacks Fear’s ship! The father overpowers Fear and his crew and shackles the Captain. Later, the daughter, Denise, rescues Fear.

Before Fear escapes. He confronts the father and kills him. Fear is captured again by the crew and Denise reveals herself not only as the new captain but that she was NOT the man’s daughter, but a purchased slave. She asks Fear to serve as her second-in-command. He kisses her and leaps off the ship – rejecting her offer. Denise vows vengeance!

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The letter column now has missives about the change in format (#425) and is typically mixed – some love the change, some did not, some loved one feature and disliked the others, another gave an opposing view. Joe gives a brief overview of the characters requested to appear. The Legion of Super-Heroes seems to be frequently requested and Orlando hypes their appearance and full-length stories in Superboy.

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The Adventure anthology-style lasted only three issues, this being the last. Sales were likely very low for these issues and the anthology was not given much time to take hold, as it had in DC’s horror titles. Too bad. The comic made a nice repository for stories that did not quite fit into their horror vein. Even their dip into superheroics (the Vigilante) seemed appropriate – a western strip set in modern times.

And over the last three issues we were given a who’s who of comic book writers and artists. This would be the last time DC tried for a non-horror or science fiction anthology comic book.

It was a noble, if failed, experiment. The Captain Fear strip would continue for some issues, but hereafter the comic would resume in the superhero mold (even, arguably, the Spectre series), but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t take chances on something different … Black Orchid debuts with the next issue!

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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 #45, May 1976: Welcome Back!

Behold!

Bronze age

Metal Men #45, May 1976

“Evil is in the Eye of the Beholder”

Cover: Dick Giordano; Editor: Gerry Conway

Writer: Steve Skeates; Penciler/Inker/Colorist: Walt Simonson

The Metal Men tour the country’s colleges displaying their powers. This allows new readers some exposition as to who the Metal Men are. Doc Magnus, meanwhile, is held for mental examination after being rescued from Karnia.

To aid in his recuperation, the Feds allow Doc time and equipment to make another Metal Man. He creates Plutonium Man. PM escapes and leaves a trail of mayhem behind. A Karnian spy is exposed among Magnus’ keepers. Magnus and the surviving military hunt down Plutonium Man.

But the Metal Men get their first. Despite all their efforts, nothing works and member after member meet their doom … until Platinum wraps herself around Plutonium Man to cause a mini-China Syndrome, destroying them both.

Magnus, seemingly all better, vows to rebuild the Metal Men.

***

Metal Men’s history by this point is very strange, stranger than you expect from this group: even Gerry Conway admitted so in the letter column. And if the man who brought you Conway’s Corner’s stable of comic books thinks something is strange …

In brief: by 1968 the original Metal Men creative team moved on to other things and the new team made the Metal Men fugitives from justice and hunted by the law. The robots created secret human identities and fought supernatural enemies. Doc Magnus was kidnapped by the dictator of Karnia and brainwashed to evil and hatred as to his creations. The comic ended with a cliffhanger, of sorts, with #42, January 1970.

Three reprint issues in 1973 failed to gain traction. The magazine was revived again in 1976 with this issue.

Rather than start anew, this new creative team wrapped up the storyline from six years before. Perhaps they should have restarted the comic and pretend 1968 – 1970 never happened! If only because it gives the series an awkward grittiness.

But if this comics’ creators insist on grittiness, it picked the perfect team. Walt Simonson’s art (his first DC work since Manhunter) fits in perfectly. His workman-like style is instantly recognizable even at this “early on” stage. It fits well.

And Gerry Conway’s obvious love for the characters is evident. He does a Red Adair-like job of putting out the continuity fires and inevitable clean-up!

Welcome back, guys!

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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!