Super Friends #5, June, 1977

“Telethon Treachery”

Cover: Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Ramona Fradon

Inker: Bob Smith, Colorist: Jerry Serpe

Editor: Dennis O’Neil, Executive Editor: Joe Orlando

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From the Superfriends Wiki (snarky comments are edited out):

Greenback chooses to begin his crime spree during the third annual, Justice League ‘Super-Thon’ in Midtown Metropolis that is hosted by the SuperFriends and their teenage sidekicks Wendy and Marvin.

His plan involves two components, both of which hinge on the superheroes hanging around the TV studio making oblique references to other superheroes (For example: Harvey’s old Black Cat, Siegel and Shuster’s Funnyman and even Iron Man, among others, get either a shout-out or a brief appearance). The first part of Greenback’s pan hinges on the hope that the superheroes will be too busy answering the phone to fight crime. The second part of his plan is to kidnap all the richest donors who call into the telethon.

Greenback waits for the names of the biggest donors to be mentioned on the air. The first are from New York, which he disregards as too far away and waits for donors from Metropolis or Gotham City.

When he finally abducts his first wealthy guy, it’s Bruce Wayne, so that’s bad luck for Greenback. One by one the Super Friends pursue the abducted Batman, eventually leaving only Wonder Woman and Superman on the phones.

In the Batmobile, Aquaman & Robin, Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog follow Bruce’s signal device but are downed by Greenback’s gun and captured. Wendy sends a message to Superman and Wonder Woman via Wonder Dog (who was hiding under the Batmobile when the others were caught! WW rescues the other Super Friends as Superman rescues Bruce Wayne.

Wayne switches to Batman and captures Greenback. Back at the telethon, our heroes celebrate a record-breaking total!

***

Much is made over the guest stars and donations made during the telethon – including $75,000.00 to the Heart Fund by Anthony Stark (Marvel’s Iron Man).

***

The letter column reviews continue to go from loving it to hating it. It is announced that Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog will leave as of issue #7, to be replaced … but they don’t mention by whom. I Wonder …

In the meantime, the letter column says the Atom will guest-star next issue!

***

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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Super-Team Family #2: January 1976

Behold, the Bronze Age!

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Creeper and Wildcat: “Showdown in San Lorenzo!”

Writer: Denny O’Neil, Artists: Ric Estrada & Bill Draut, Editor: Gerry Conway

Wildcat agrees to fight contender Japhy Shim for charity but also to drum up publicity for Shim and the resort paradise San Lorenzo. Jack Ryder of WHAM is there doing the play-by-play.

A gas grenade interrupts Wildcat’s interview. In the chaos, thugs grab Shim and Jack Ryder changes into the Creeper! Creeper’s old enemy Proteus is standing in the ring and Creeper attacks!

Creeper eventually realizes he is fighting Wildcat and not Proteus; deducing that Proteus used hypnotic gas to fool Creeper to get him and Wildcat out of the way. Creeper and Wildcat decide to rescue Shim together.

Their hunt leads them to San Lorenzo. General Pedro Lobo (who lost the recent national elections), demands to be put back into power or Shim will not fight the champion! The financial loss to San Lorenzo will bankrupt it! The readers discover Lobo is really Proteus using his power of disguise.

Wildcat agrees to take Shim’s place during the big fight.

Jack Ryder/Creeper spots one of the thug from the charity match and follows him. He discovers Proteus intends to off Shim by dropping him to the ring from the ceiling of the arena!

Creeper captures Proteus and his thugs, but not before Proteus hurls Shim from the rafters to the boxing ring. Wildcat, knocked flat by the champ, sees Shim and breaks his fall. Through the thugs’ confession, Creeper confronts the President of San Lorenzo – who orchestrated the entire kidnapping plan to consolidate his power and ensure his reelection!

***

The text feature gives brief origins for Wildcat and Creeper.

***

“Track of the Hook” (Batman and Deadman) from Brave and Bold #79 (September 1968)

Even in 1976 the Deadman saga from Strange Adventure was considered a comic book classic. Part of the saga was told in the pages of Brave & Bold. In fact, the two Batman/Deadman tales (of which this was the first) book-ended B&B’s greatest run: #s 79-86. Unabashed plug: for more check out my free ebook, Brave & Bold: from Silent Knight to Dark Knight).

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Green Arrow: “Mystery of the Vanishing Arrows” from Adventure Comics #266 (November 1959).

Superman appears to help solve the mystery.

***

The Batman/Deadman story was not an odd choice to reprint in this issue, but it certainly overshadowed the “new” tale that fronted the magazine. This story got top billing on the cover.

So why “debut” the team-up format with (to be kind) C-grade heroes? Did they think a comic starring Wildcat and the Creeper would fly off the shelves? It even got second billing on the cover!

Why not team more popular heroes that did not have their own magazines – like Green Arrow or (at that time) Green Lantern? GA could have been deftly inserted over Wildcat (whose only appearances in the past twenty years were in the pages of Brave & Bold).

The story and art were good, but not great. The exercise was fun, but forgettable.

For a new team-up book, this is Strike Two (Strike One being the debut issue promising but not delivering no new material)…

***

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 #3, February, 1977

“The Cosmic Hit Man?”

Cover: Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Ramona Fradon, Inker: Bob Smith

Editor: Dennis O’Neil, Executive Editor: Joe Orlando

As two separate teams, the Super Friends defeat Spectrum and Anti-Man while Wendy and Marvin safely watch from the sidelines. But after their defeat, the villains disappear.

They were captured by Dr. Ihdrom along with a hundred other intergalactic villains. He atomizes all the villains and coalesces them into one being: the World Beater!

World Beater quickly dispatches the Justice League and then appears in the Hall of Justice to battle the Super-Friends. Wonder Woman whisks Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog and tells them of her mother’s prophecy (from last issue) that they are earth’s only hope!

World Beater defeats the Super-Friends with ease (we the readers learn that Dr. Ihdrom has been captured and jailed for his murderous crimes) leaving only Wendy, Marvin & Wonderdog.

They come up with a cunning plan: they assume if he has all the super-villains powers, perhaps he also has their weaknesses. They trick World Beater into using Spectrum’s x-ray powers (Anti-Man’s weakness – that is how Superman defeated him in the earlier pages of the story). World Beater is weakened and passes out.

Wendy and Marvin revive the Super-Friends and the Justice Leaguers and receive their thanks.

***

The letter column explains why these five heroes were given the job of training their young recruits: through some inventive reimagining of their origins, it is explained that Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman were all trained to be superheroes in their youths. Thus, having been trained as children, they know how to train children.

Ah, yes.

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***

The story here is still oriented to the younger audience, but still keeps a cosmic scale to it. Plus it guests most of the Justice League, whetting the appetites of the young TV-show fans who picked up the comic to read the adventures of other DC stars!

Ramono Fradon’s art is pitch-perfect for this comic. Her style is easy on the eyes and accessible to young fans who might be overwhelmed by … say … Mike Grell if he did the book. She would have been my pick for the book, too. And Kurt Schaffenberger…

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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!

 

Happy 80th Birthday, Superman!

Action Comics #1 was published 80 years ago today.

Action Comics #1000 is now on the stands.

Wow.

Happy Birthday, Man of Steel. I’ve loved and hated the changes you’ve been put through. You were always my favorite, especially when helping the downtrodden and oppressed – THAT is the real truth, justice and the American way!!

MC

 

Jonn Jonzz Martian Manhunter; Mission: Catch a Killer story arc (part two)

The Back Pages: back-up features of the Bronze Age of comic books:

J’onn J’onzz The Martian Manhunter; Mission: Catch a Killer atory arc (read part one here)

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Adventure Comics #451, June 1977

Adventure 451

“Return to Destiny”

Writer: Denny O’Neil

Penciler: Michael Nasser, Inker: Terry Austin

Colorist: Liz Berube, Editor: Paul Levitz

From DC Wikia:

J’onn J’onzz, having eliminated Superman and Green Lantern from his list of suspects, confronts and attacks Hawkman and Hawkgirl in their Thanagarian spaceship and accuses them of R’es Eda’s murder. Hawkgirl rescues her husband and J’onzz from dying in airless space, and they prove their innocence to J’onzz, who apologizes. But N’or Cott has equipped a Superman robot with a bomb and sent it towards Hawkman’s ship, and it is admitted inside.

***

The reader discovers this story line concludes in the pages of World’s Finest Comic #245.

Frankly, even after all these years, this has to be the strangest dialogue to ever create a cliffhanger in comics…

Adventure 451 final panel

Very strange …

Very …

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World’s Finest #245

July, 1977

Writer: Bob Haney

Penciler: Curt Swan, Inker: Murphy Anderson

Colorist: Jerry Serpe, Letterer: Debra Schulman

Editor: Dennis O’Neil, Executive Editor: Joe Orlando

From DC Wikia:

After a mysterious Superman Robot attempts to murder J’onn J’onnz, Superman and Batman lend a hand on the investigation and return to Mars II with J’onn J’onzz after they learned that some Martians are trying to conquer a city, unaware that its atmosphere will prove deadly to them.

J’onn and Superman are unable to convince the Martians to stop their efforts, as they all believe J’onn is a traitor and they shouldn’t heed his words. Meanwhile, Batman finds a Martian who has been affected by the city’s deadly atmosphere and takes him to the rest of the Martians, who are finally convinced of the truth and decide to follow J’onn’s leadership.

***

Going from Nasser/Austin’s uber-gritty and realistic art to the legendary work of Swanderson is a jolt. A pleasant jolt, true, but still a jolt. The Nasser/Austin team was present in the Green Arrow/Black Canary tales in this same comic!

Also, O’Neil edited the story but handed the writing chore to WF regular Bob Haney.

***

Jonn Jonzz was, unfortunately, a third-tier (if that) character in the Bronze Age, appearing in a few issues of Justice League of America and in this back-up feature. His fortunes would change in the modern age with his stint in Keith Giffen’s Justice League and his own long-lasting series in the 80s and 90s. He is now also a regular character in the CW/TV series Supergirl.

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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 #2. January, 1977.

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“Trapped by the Super-Foes”

Cover by Ernie Chan & Vince Colletta; Editor: Joe Orlando

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Ric Estrada, Inkers: Vince Colletta

A recap of the previous issue leads into Wonder Dog playing charades to warn Wendy and Marvin about Chick’s radio transmitter in his umbrella. Too late! The Super Foes invade the Hall of Justice and capture Wendy and Marvin. Wonder Dog escapes with Cheetah chasing after him.

He avoids Cheetah by running through a dog show (the entrants quickly start chasing Cheetah) and Wonder Dog re-enters the Hall of Justice secretly and uses the transporter to materialize up to the Justice League Satellite headquarters. The on-duty Flash beams up the Super Friends (and Krypto to translate) and they learn of Wendy and Marvin’s plight!

Penguin uses floating umbrellas to lift Wendy and Marvin in to the sky. Toyman uses toy hummingbirds to attack the balloons. Toyboy and Kitten worry – they do not want to take part in murder!

Fortunately, a batarang, heat vision and a golden lasso smash the mechanical birds just in time: the Super Friends save the day!

But it was all a distraction: during the rescue, the Super Foes stole all the parts to the Super Robot. Emergencies across the globe leave only Batman and Robin to track own the stolen robot parts.

The Junior Super Foes capture Batman and Robin. Penguins orders the Juniors to kill off the dynamic duo. The Juniors refuse. Just as Penguin is about the pull the trigger himself, he is knocked out by Marvin – he and Wendy snuck aboard the Batmobile in the best Spritle and Chim Chim fashion!

Wendy and Marvin convince the Juniors to help them catch the Super Foes, but Penguin activates the Super Robot to stop them all!

Superman swoops in and is nearly crushed by the robot, but finally defeats it with his mightiest blow. The Super Foes are captured, and our heroes promise to put in a good word for the Juniors.

Afterward, Queen Hippolyta the Amazonian mother of Wonder Woman looks into the Magic Sphere – the earth faces destruction unless it can be saved by three heroes: a girl, a boy and a dog (no, not Trixie, Spritle and Chim Chim)!

***

The letter page give brief origins for each of the Super Foes and hypes the next issue.

***

The story was again aimed at younger readers and the fans of the TV show – although with more violence (punches thrown, etc.). The art was not cartoonish – although the Juniors had wide eyes and Wonder Dog was drawn in a typical cross-eyed cartoon animal way.

Estrada and Colletta did a good and serious job.

***

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!

DC’s the Human Target (part 2)

The Back Pages: back-up features of the Bronze Age of comic books:

Continuing the stories starring the Human Target as the back-up feature in Action Comics! Read part one here!

Action 423

Action Comics #423. April 1973.

“The Deadly Dancer Contract!”

Writer: Len Wein, Penciler/Inker: Dick Giordano, Editor: Julius Schwartz

Christopher Chance poses as a man named Hyram Walsh, an accountant informing on the mob, to draw out a hitman named Dancer – that man who killed his father. He knocks out two thugs trying to collect the price on Walsh’s head and leaves them in an alleyway. Tracking the killer down to an abandoned movie theater, Chance confronts Dancer. It is an intensely physical struggle, with a single gun between them. After a number of exchanged blows, Chance grabs the weapon. Chance points the gun at his assassin and reveals his true identity. Before he can kill him, Chance watches decades of mental illness finally catch up with Dancer. The man descends into madness before Chance’s very eyes, and he begs and pleads Chance to spare his life.  The killer by now has completely snapped and begins hallucinating – seeing his father. Christopher takes pity on the villain, and stays to comfort him until an ambulance arrives to take him away.

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Action Comics 425, July 1973

“The Short-Walk-to-Disaster Contract! Part 1”

Writer: Len Wein; Penciler: Neal Adams

Inker: Dick Giordano, Editor: Julius Schwartz

Let’s let Christopher Chance describe this issue: “It started as a favor for a friend, for Luigi, my landlord, whose cousin, Antonio, had wagered his half-share of a circus that he could walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls … only someone was trying to make sure he didn’t live that long. Easily, Luigi convinced me to impersonate his cousin … . Luigi tucked the real Antonio away as I became a reasonable facsimile … now I was the would-be killer’s intended victim … and it di not take him very long to strike! But surviving that kind of “accident” is what I do for a living. Within seconds, Id regained my feet, then pursued my unknown attacker across the silent circus grounds, around a blind corner, and ran straight into the tunnel-like muzzle of an angry gun … held by … Antonio!” (from the splash of Action Comics #426.

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Action 426

Action Comics 426, August 1973

“The Short-Walk-to-Disaster Contract! Part 2”

Writer: Len Wein; Penciler/Inker: Dick Giordano, Editor: Julius Schwartz

How Antonio came out of hiding and ended up confronting Chance was never explained, but Chance deduced Antonio was NOT the killer he had been chasing (he was not winded, etc., and must have happened between Chance and the killer he was chasing) and Chance subdued him and convinced him to stay hidden until his killer is flushed out. Antonio agreed.

Chance, as Antonio, was half-way across Niagara Falls as the tightrope snapped! Suspended in mid-air Chance flew down to the crowd and knocked out his assistant – his partner Martin in disguise. Chance revealed he was suspended by wires from the news helicopter -hence his “flying” when the tightwire broke.

Chance was betting his partner wanted it to be an accident as opposed to a sniper shooting at him. If Martin had used a rifle, even Chance admits he might not have lived through it!

***

Action Comics 429, November 1973

“The Rodeo Riddle Contract”

Writer: Len Wein; Penciler/Inker: Dick Giordano, Editor: Julius Schwartz

Someone is trying to kill rodeo star Rick Ryan. Chance ducks attempts on “his” life – by a thrown branding iron and a bucking bronco while keeping tabs on three suspects. Chance corners the three hoping one of them would snap. He did! Chance chases down the would-be killer and hog-ties the varmint. But he wasn’t supposed to kill Ryan – just scare him into marrying his girlfriend – so says his girlfriend in a twist confession!

***

Action_Comics_432

Action Comics 432, February 1974

“The Million Dollar Methuselah Contract”

Writer: Len Wein; Penciler/Inker: Dick Giordano, Editor: Julius Schwartz

From DC Wikia: Christopher Chance is hired by millionaire oilman Henderson Repp, who suspects his nephew is trying to kill him.

While riding a motorcycle through an oil field, disguised as Repp, Chance is attacked by an unknown assailant with a bazooka but only pretends to be dead to trick the assassin into believing he has succeeded. Chance is picked up by Repp’s secretary Deedee and visit an oil well to congratulate the workers as Repp would.

That night, Deedee is kidnapped and held captive at the same oil well seen earlier as Chance heads to the scene disguised as Repp again. The assassin fires on a dummy riding the motorcycle and that allows Chance to shoot the gun out of his hand. As Chance begins to climb the tower, the assassin threatens to explode a grenade and kill them all. Chance appears to lower his gun but fires a shot that dislodges the well cap. The oil shoots up and knocks the gunmen off the tower as the grenade explodes harmlessly.

The next day, Chance tells Repp that he should be safe as the assassin has provided enough information to arrest Repp’s nephew.

***

Thus ended the Human Target’s Action Comics run. We hear nothing else from Christopher Chance until he turns up in Brave & Bold in the midst of the greatest comic event of all time: The DC Explosion!! Why are you laughing? Then he appeared for several issues in the Dollar-Comic era of Detective Comics.

I hope you enjoyed this stroll through the Back Pages of DC’s Bronze Age. Go to my home page and type “Back Pages” for more Bronze Age goodness!

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!