Saturday, September 12, 2015

I've Fallen Behind

Life has a way of getting in the way of blogging. I recently had a death in the family and last week got married. Both have taken time away from this blog. I will try to get back on track in the next week or so.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tomahawk #131

Tomahawk #131  (On Sale: September 1, 1970) has a Hawk, Son of Tomahawk cover by Joe Kubert.

So, big changes this issue. Murray Boltinoff is out and Joe Kubert is in as editor, Tomahawk is out and Hawk, Son of Tomahawk is in. This is another book I have but cannot put my hands on right now. 

Needless to say this is the introduction of a new character for DC and it happens in "Hang Him High"14-page tale by Robert Kanigher and Frank Thorne.

So, though the character is different, the creative team is not, but that is OK. Frank Thorne's work was always a joy to behold. 

Next is "The Moccasins That Won a War," a six-page reprint from All Star Western #84. This one features the character Strong Bow and is by France Herron and Jerry Grandenetti

We end with "Botalye -- Immortal Indian Warrior," yet another reprint, this one from Jimmy Wakely #7. Now somehow I don't think people minded this reprint all that much as it features the writing of Gardner Fox! OK, what I meant to say is it features the artwork of Frank Frazetta. 

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Our Army at War #225

Our Army at War #225  (On Sale: September 1, 1970) has a Sgt. Rock cover by Joe Kubert.

I have this book somewhere but can't find it, so I don't know a whole lot about it off the top of my head. We begin with Sgt. Rock in "Face Front," 14-page tale written by Joe Kubert and drawn by the always amazing Russ Heath

That is followed by "Buckethead,"  a four-page U.S.S. Stevens story by Sam Glanzman.

Next is "Swamp Indian," another four-pager, this time by Ric Estrada. I liked how Kubert let his artists write their own stories. 

We end with a six-page reprint from Our Fighting Forces #17: "Anchored Frogman." This piece was by Bob Haney and Joe Kubert.

Edited by Joe Kubert

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Girls' Romances #152

Girls' Romances #152  (On Sale: August 27, 1970) has a cover by Ric Estrada and Vinnie Colletta. 

We begin with our cover story, "Horoscope, Don't Fool with My Heart." This 11-pager is drawn by Ric Estrada and Vinnie Colletta.

Next is "Love is a Memory"  inked by Bernard Sachs and reprinted from
Secret Hearts #43.

We end with "Cry, Funny Girl, Cry," a nine-page tile by unknown creators.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Detective Comics #404

Detective Comics #404 (On Sale: August 27, 1970) has a wonderfully colored cover of Batman and Enemy Ace by Neal Adams. This sucker just leaped off the newsstand. Such wonderful eye candy looks good in black and white but amazing in color.  I love the sense of depth and motion in this cover; the flaming bi-plane retreating from us in the background, the leaping Batman coming towards us in the middle-ground and the Enemy Ace sliding across the foreground firing up at Batman. Just great stuff from Neal Adams at his peak.

We begin with "The Ghost of the Killer Skies!" by Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano. It opens with the murder of a stunt pilot on the Spanish set of "The Hammer From Hell." As in the recent Brave and the Bold #92, Bruce Wayne is in Europe looking into the production of a film into which he has invested money.
Also like the Brave and Bold story, there is murder on the set and Bruce/Batman decides to investigate it, after learning that the shoot has been plagued with mishaps and sabotage and Anson, the director, asks if it is even worth finishing when another WWI film is being made at the same time? Bruce reaffirms his faith in his director. 

Bruce meets Heinrich Franz, technical advisor for the time and a dead ringer for Joe Kubert's Enemy Ace.  Heinrich tells Bruce that perhaps they are "not fated to complete zis film...Von Hammer was a great believer in fate...the destiny of the killer skies, he called it." It is back in his hotel room when Bruce is looking through information on the film that he realizes Franz is a dead ringer for Von Hammer.

That night, two men, under the guidance of a third try to blow up the remaining bi-planes only to be thwarted by the Batman. He captures one of the men but when he gets him to talk he says he does not know who their leader is, only that he is masked in goggles and scarf and pays them to "ruin the work of the American filmmakers."  Batman tells the man to turn himself and his companions into the police and then runs off thinking he knows who the mysterious leader really is.

Returning to the film companies living area Bruce sees a light on in the trailer of his suspect and inside confronts Gavin the cameraman removing his Von Hammer costume. Gavin confesses to sabotaging the film for the company making the other WWI movie, but says he had nothing to do with the pilots murder. Just then shots ring out and Batman hurries to discover Anson the director dying, saying he was shot by the ghost of Von Hammer.

Batman realizes that two people are sabotaging the movie for different reasons, and since he does not believe in ghosts he has a pretty good idea who the second saboteur must be. batman hears an engine being started out on the airstrip and runs there to see a pilotless Fokker triplane readied for takeoff. batman is met by a man calling himself the ghost of Hans Von Hammer, but Batman knows him as Heinrich Franz. 

Franz says he has been sabotaging the movie because it is "an insult to the memory of Germany's finest hero." Franz says he is going to kill Batman, who responds by asking if that is how Von Hammer would have done it, "Or would he have welcomed a fair fight?" Franz agrees and tells Batman to meet him in the killer skies. As Batman climbs into the cockpit he recalls how an old stunt pilot had once taught him how to fly these plane and hopes it all comes back to him or Franz will kill him and get away.

Franz tried to shoot at Batman with his Lugar and as he tries to avoid Franz's shots he maneuvers the plane with a skill far beyond his own, as if another were piloting the plane. batman's fuel line gets hit and he does the unexpected, jumping from his plane to Franz's. In the insuring fight Franz's scarf is caught by the plane's propeller and he is flung from the plane to his death.

As batman lands the plane he wonders if Franz was a descendant of Von Hammer or just a victim of the grimmest love of all, the love of war. The story ends with a proclamation that is has been a tribute to the Joe Kubert and Robert Kanigher.

This story has been reprinted in Limited Collectors' Edition C-25, Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told HC, Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told TPB, Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 2 HC, Showcase Presents:Enemy Ace Vol. 1 TPB, Showcase Presents:Batman Vol. 5 TPB and Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 2 TPB.

The backup Batgirl story is "Midnight Doom-Boy" by Frank Robbins, Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia. When a police surveillance film showing Jason Bard murdering X-rated film director Billy Warlock, the criminologist is arrested. Although the evidence shows that Bard killed Warlock, Barbara Gordon believes that Bard is innocent of the crime and begins launching her own investigation as Batgirl. 

Reviewing the film she sees that in the footage of Bard leaving the scene, "Bard" is putting weight on his bad leg. Realizing the footage has been doctored with, she goes to Warlock's studio (Where the reels where originally taken) to find that the footage shows Veda, the woman who Bard claimed drugged and framed him for the murder was on the scene. But before Batgirl can do anything she is attacked by Veda herself, and during the combat a studio light is broken and the fumes inside knock Batgirl out. When some comes too she finds herself bound to a chair and Veda preparing a plaster mix to pour on Batgirl... This story is continued next issue. 

Reprinted In Showcase Presents:Batgirl Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Julie Schwartz.

Adventure Comics #398

Adventure Comics #398 (On Sale: August 27, 1970) has a Supergirl cover by Dick Giordano. The news here is the new Supergirl logo which dominates the cover  Also, if you don't count the Johnny Double Showcase cover (and you should not), this is Dick Giordano's first  super-hero artwork for DC.  I find it odd that Mike Sekowsky is not yet branding this book with his own covers, but that will come.

We begin with a reprint for some reason. From Action Comics #306 we have "The Maid of Doom!" by Leo Dorfman and Jim Mooney. To prepare Earth for conquest, the Plasmos of the planet Mutor, who have the power to transform their bodies, send their secret agent Sklor to eliminate Supergirl and Superman. First, imitating Supergirl, Sklor tricks Superman, Krypto, Streaky, Comet, and the Kandorians into going to the 40th Century. Then he imitates Superman, Krypto, Streaky, Comet, and Mr. Mxyzptlk in succession, pretends to die and glow blue when Supergirl touches him, and convinces her she has gained the "touch of death" for super-beings. However, Supergirl deduces the truth when she hears Comet speaking to her instead of using telepathy. She forces the Mutorians to sign a peace treaty and abandon war forever.

The back-up is the new material, "Catcher in the Sky" written and penciled by Mike Sekowsky and inked by Jack Abel. Supergirl, investigating the disappearance of an aircraft carrier, follows two vanishing planes. All of them turn up on the examination table of a gigantic alien child, who has stolen his father's dimensional grappler to bring in objects and tiny people from another dimension. Supergirl gets the attention of the child's father, and, just before they are sent back to their normal dimension, the humans see the child's father giving his son a licking.

Edited by Mike Sekowsky.

Action Comics #393

Action Comics #393 (On Sale: August 27, 1970) has a Superman cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. It is hard to tell if this is an inventory issue or not as this is Murray Boltinoff's first issue as editor, taking over for the soon to be history Mort Weisinger.  

I haven't read this issue in years, but I don't recall there being a huge shift in the character or the presentation, certainly nothing like what was happening in Jimmy Olsen. We begin with "Superman Meets Super-Houdini," our 14-page cover story from Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. Clark Kent and some fellow reporters are at the Metropolis Airport to watch "Hairbreadth" Holahan perform his death dive act. 

It looks like Holahan is too close to the ground to make an escape, so Clark plays the milquetoast and runs off so he can change into Superman. Meanwhile, Holahan's son Dan says that his dad still has 10 seconds to spare and clicks his stopwatch. Just as Superman arrives to save Holahan, the lock on his chain suddenly pops open and he's able to land safely via parachute. The crowd goes wild and Superman pretends to be stumped, but his thoughts reveal that Dan clicking his stop watch sent a hypersonic signal to the lock, causing it to open. Superman invites Holahan to do some stunts with him at a museum fundraiser the next week.

The next day two cons looking at Holahan's poster realize that he's actually Mace Larkin, another con who escaped from prison 15 years ago and got married. His wife died a few years ago, but not before giving birth to a son. That night, the cons confront Holahan and blackmail him into helping them with a scheme.

A few days later, at the fundraiser, Superman uses his heat-vision to weld Holahan into a suit of armor. Moments later, Holahan mysteriously emerges from behind a curtain, much to the amazement of Superman. After Superman inspects the armor and sees that it is still intact, Holahan and Dan leave to prepare new stunts. Suddenly an alarm goes off in the museum and it is discovered that the Star of Asia has been stolen with the lock and glass staying intact. Superman figures that only Holahan could pull off this robbery and with a quick blast of heat-vision, melts the tires of Holahan's car. After revealing that Holahan is really Larkin, Superman flies him to prison, where he is locked up in Maximum Security in a cell across from Stoney Croy, the boss of the convicts who blackmailed Larkin.

We learn that the jewel theft was a ruse to get Larkin into prison so he could then escape with Croy. Pulling out a fake molar, he uses the chemical inside to freeze the cell lock and kick the door open. Repeating the same trick on Croy's cell door, they then use old drain pipes and conduits to escape from the prison, before heading to the old state pen. Seems the cons have secretly bought it and turned it into an underworld resort. Once inside, Larkin recognizes the cons as being wanted by the FBI. This sets off Croy because Larkin wouldn't actually know who the FBI are looking for if he's really been "out of the rackets" for 15 years.

A shotgun blast to Larkin's chest reveals that he's actually Superman in disguise. While explaining that Larkin told Superman about his visit from the cons, and that they switched identities so that Croy would show him the new hideout, he swiftly knocks all of the cons out. For his assistance in helping Superman round up the hoodlums, the Governor grants Larkin a full pardon. We end with Superman flying off wishing he had a son like Dan.

Our back-up story is "The Day Superboy Became Superman!" by Leo Dorfman, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Years ago at Metropolis University a group of students discover that the Raiders, a gang from the slums, have broken in and are using the new college pool. Clark Kent, who just happens to be nearby, ducks behind a hedge to change to Superboy. He then uses his super-breath to freeze the Raiders into a block of ice and drops them off off-campus. When he returns, Marla Harvey, one of Clark's fellow students, chastises Superboy for ruining those poor kid's fun. The next day, the Raiders steal the food from the cafeteria and take it back to the slums where others join in the "banquet." Superboy then swoops in, retrieving the food. Later, Clark sees Marla leaving the school with luggage. Turns out she's leaving the college because the school arrested the Raiders for feeding the hungry.

A few weeks later, the Raiders "borrow" several books from the university library, and take them to their new teacher, Marla Harvey. She tells them they shouldn't have, then tells them to run when she sees Superboy arrive on the scene. She reveals that she is starting a school for the slum kids in a condemned building that a demolition company is letting her use temporarily. She then explains to Superboy what life is like in the slums and that instead of helping other planets, he should become a Superman and help these people. He then returns the books and heads off on a vital mission in space. 

When he returns to talk to Marla the next day, he sees that the demolition company is tearing down the "school." Suddenly, his X-ray vision reveals that Marla is still inside the building. He's too late to save her, but before she dies she makes Superboy promise that he will help the people in the slum. He starts to build a new school for the kids when he realizes what Marla really meant. He tells the watching crowd that he could build a new school and rebuild the entire slum area, but then they would be relying on him. He suggests that they go to their mayor or councilman and fight for their future.

Months later, when the new school is completed, the school is dedicated to Superman for inspiring the improvements to the slum. Superman declines and remolds the statue to look like Marla, saying that it was all because she inspired Superboy to become a Superman. Not a bad little story.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #133

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #133  (On Sale: August 25, 1970) has a Jimmy Olsen cover by Jack Kirby, Vinnie Colletta and Al Plastino. BOOM!!!!!

The word from high is...the great one is coming!

Screw that, as the cover proclaims, "Kirby is Here!" DC has been playing with us for months with those "great one is coming" ads. I remember the first time I saw one, showing it to my best friend, Baron Mrkva, and asking, "Any idea what this is all about?" He didn't have one and we never would have guessed that Kirby was moving to DC. 

And had we somehow figured out the identity of "the great one" we never would have guessed that his first move at DC would be to drop an atomic bomb on the staid and boring Jimmy Olsen book. As the modified logo spells it out, "Superman's Ex-Pal, the New Jimmy Olsen."

So now we knew why all of the DC reprint books lately had Jack Kirby stories in them; it was a reminder of what Jack had done for the company in the past and a signpost pointing toward the future. Well, the future had arrived.

Is Kirby going to change things up at DC, or play it safe? Let's see, in 22 pages of "The Newsboy Legion" Jack Kirby, as writer and penciler introduces us to Intergang, Morgan Edge, The Newsboy Legion, the Wild Area, the Outsiders and the Whiz Wagon. At the same time he begins laying the groundwork for the "Fourth World" with the New Gods and Darkseid. The inks were handled by Vinnie Colletta and Superman and sometimes Jimmy's face was drawn (or redrawn) by Al Plastino for the sake of continuity with the rest of the DC line. 

Jimmy Olsen is paired with the new Newsboy Legion, the sons of the original boy heroes plus Flippa-Dippa, a newcomer, to investigate the Wild Area, a strange community outside of Metropolis. The boys are given a super-vehicle called the Whiz Wagon for transport. When Clark Kent shows concern for Jimmy, Morgan Edge, owner of Galaxy Broadcasting and the new owner of the Daily Planet, secretly orders a criminal organization called Inter-Gang to kill him. 

However, Kent survives the attempt and later hooks up with Jimmy and the Newsboy Legion in the Wild Area. The youths have met the Outsiders, a tribe of young people who live in a super-scientific commune called Habitat, and have won leadership of the Outsiders’ gang of motorcyclists. Jimmy and company go off in search of a mysterious goal called the Mountain of Judgment, and warn Superman not to stop them. 

Boom! Take that DC! Kirby is here indeed.

This story has been reprinted in Superman in the Seventies TPB, Jimmy Olsen:Adventures by Jack Kirby Vol. 1 TPB, Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 1 HC and Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 1 TPB.

For a few issues DC would keep up the facade that Murray Boltinoff was doing something as editor of this book. 

Green Lantern #80

Green Lantern #80 (On Sale: August 25, 1970) has an interesting duo-tone cover by Neal Adams, making a play on a planet's yellow journalism with its coloring.

In the 22-page tale "Even an Immortal Can Die" Denny O'Neil tackles more societal ills than you can shake a stick at. As such, the story gets sort of lost along the way. I've read that the story is meant to evoke the trials of the "Chicago Eight," particularly the binding and gagging of Bobby Seale.

After messing around with a number of inkers on the book, we pretty much settle down now to Neal Adams' pencils being handled by Dick Giordano (with an assist here and there this issue from Mike Peppe), which is a good thing I think.

After crashing their truck into the water, Green lantern, Green Arrow and the Guardian they call the Old-Timer are rescued by a passing ship carrying barrels of toxic waste. They arrive on board just in time for the ship's boiler to over-heat. Before the Lantern can do anything to stop it, it explodes and GL is seriously injured.

The Old-Timer has the same powers as Green Lantern, but being on Earth for so long has weakened them. He can either save Green Lantern's life or save the ship. He chooses to save the life of his friend.

In order to keep the toxic waste from igniting and blowing up the ship, the crew, with Green Arrow's assist, dump it into the water. This gives Green Arrow a chance to moralize on the greed of those who make such waste in the first place.
Green lantern, green Arrow and the Old-Timer are summoned to OA by the Guardians of the Universe. There they are told that for putting the welfare of Green Lantern ahead of the ecological welfare of the planet Earth, the Old-Timer will be sent to the planet Gallo to be judged by the Tribune. Green lantern says he and Arrow wish to accompany their friend as witnesses, and Lantern says how his respect for the Guardians is greatly diminished.

When they arrive on Gallo, they are all muzzled and the Old-Timer is judged guilty without trial. The heroes realize that something is terribly wrong. They discover that the real Tribune have been replaced by their mechanic who, with his robotic forces, has taken control.  The Green ones must then fight to restore the proper process of justice and save the life of the Old-Timer.

Not the best of stories, so many ills Denny is trying to hit on in a single story, but still, hell, it is 22 pages of Neal doing the Green ones. Why complain? This has been reprinted in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #3, Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection Vol. 1 TPB, Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection HC, Green Lantern/Green Arrow Vol. 1 TPB, Showcase Presents: Green Lantern Vol. 5 TPB and Green Lantern/Green Arrow TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Brave and the Bold #92

Brave and the Bold #92 (On Sale: August 25, 1970) has an amazing cover by Nick Cardy. This is just a beautiful, moody masterpiece by Nick. 

"Night Wears a Scarlet Shroud!" by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy stars, introduces and lays rest to The Bat-Squad. Cardy's art is really top notch this issue; one of his best. Bruce Wayne is in England looking into his investment in director Basil Conventry's new historic thriller, "The Scarlet Strangler." Bruce meets script girl Margo Cantrell, technical adviser and former Scotland Yard Inspector Major Dabney (an expert on the history of the real Strangler) and Mick Murdock, a young musician hired to play weird music to keep the cast in the right mood. 

As the fog rolls in and the filming starts, a half-human shape grabs actress  Vivian Tremaine and shambles off with her into the mist. When the director faints and the actor who was supposed to be playing the Strangler is found dead in his trailer, Bruce Wayne exits and Batman appears. With the help of his three new friends Batman begins investigating the murder. As Batman and the Bat-Squad fan out it is discovered that Coventry has disappeared.

In the misty fog Batman has a run-in with a carriage that makes him wonder if he seeing things, but the next thing he sees is the Strangler. Batman jumps him but the Stranger gets the better of him. As he closes in for the kill he is interrupted by the sounds of approaching footsteps and makes a hasty retreat. The Major finds Batman and a clue on a piece of the Strangler's garb in Batman;s hands. 

The Major goes off in search of wine cellars while Batman uses Mick and Margo to set a trap for the Strangler with Margo as the bait. The trap they set works and Margo is attacked by the Strangler. They all attack the Strangler and are wearing him down when a mysterious stranger steps in and knocks out each of our heroes. When they regain their senses the team finds a newspaper on the ground dated 1906.

Meanwhile, the Major has discovered the wine cellar they were looking for and calls the other to him.Inside they find actress Vivian Tremaine chained to a wall, but when they release here she says she is Lucy Crown, a shop girl. Lucy was the first victim of the real Strangler back in 1906.

While considering the unthinkable, they see the Strangler outside as he is approached by Basil Coventry who seems to be warning the Strangler away. However the Strangler attacks Basil and as Batman rushes to save him the Major has no choice but to shoot the Strangler, who falls into the Thames. When they look to check in on Coventry he is again missing. 

Batman goes searching for him but is attacked by Coventry who is mad and convinces that he is the Strangler. In their scuffle they fall through a weak floor and end up in another cellar. As they crash through the rubble Batman finds himself trapped under an old WWII bomb. The sight of the bomb snaps Coventry back to reality The team tries to move the bomb off of Batman but are unable to do do. Worse, the bomb has become activated in all the movement and will explode in 10 minutes. 

Mick and the Major try without success to disarm the bomb and finally Batman tells them to get out of the area. From a sage distance they Bat-Squad views the explosion and morn the Batman's loss. Just then Batman shows up and tell them how he was able to dig a hole in the wall and let the river in which made the bomb buoyant enough for him toe swim free before the explosion

It ends up the Basil Coventry is the grandson of the original Strangler and became obsessed with making a movie about his grandfather. However, his father, who had been in a mental institution for years, leaned of the movie and snapped, thinking he was the Strangler. He killed the actor hired to play him and abducted Vivian Tremaine thinking she was Lucy Crown. With the case wrapped up, Batman expresses his interest in someday working with the Bat-Squad again. Apparently his interest was not that great, as The Bat-Squad never appeared again. 

This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents:The Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2 TPB.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Superboy #169

Superboy #169 (On Sale: August 20, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. There is a new circular Superboy logo in the upper left corner. 

The cover story is "No Escape for Superboy!" This 22-page tale is by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Murphy Anderson. Bob Brown is not one of my favorite pencilers, but he had some great inkers on Superboy, mainly Anderson and Wally WoodLana Lang takes Superboy to a mysterious gypsy for a fortune-telling session. The fortune-teller’s predictions all seem to come true...including one prophesying the “death” of Clark Kent...because Lex Luthor’s hand guides them to fruition.

The back-up feature is "Hi! A lot of you have asked about my super-costume..." a two-pager by E. Nelson Bridwell, Bob Brown and Mike Esposito.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Super DC Giant S-20

Super DC Giant S-20 (On Sale: August 18, 1970) has a House of Mystery cover by Neal Adams. Another not-so-great Adams cover, but not really his fault. The sidebar, particularly the coloring of the sidebar, just sucks all the life out of this cover.

The book begins with the only non-reprint material, the 11-page "Room 13" drawn by Jack Sparling which is used as a framing sequence around the book's reprinted material.

Speaking of reprinted material, we begin with "Black Magic For Sale" a six-page tale drawn by Bill Ely and reprinted from House of Mystery #46.

Next up is "The Second Death of Abraham Lincoln," another six-page tale, this one by Arnold Drake and Leonard Star and reprinted from House of Mystery #51.

"The Thing in the Box" is yet another six-page story, this one drawn by Jack Kirby and reprinted from House of Mystery #61. Hmmm, there's that guy Kirby again.

That is followed by "The Laughing Ghost of Warwick Castle," a change-of-pace four-page yarn drawn by George Papp and reprinted from House of Mystery #56.

Next is "Riddle of the Red Roc," a six-pager drawn by Jack Kirby and reprinted from House of Mystery #63. Wow, a lot of Kirby reprints this month.

Next we have "The Lady and the Creature," a six-page tale drawn by Nick Cardy and reprinted from House of Mystery #63.

That is followed by "The Thief of Thoughts," another six-page story and once again drawn by Jack Kirby. This one was reprinted from House of Mystery #66.

The word from high is...

We end with "The Ghost Snowman," a four-page story drawn by Mort Drucker and Joe Giella and reprinted from Sensation Mystery #114.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Star Spangled War Stories #153

Star Spangled War Stories #153 (On Sale: August 20, 1970) has a nice, dramatic cover by Joe Kubert. By looking you would guess this might be an Unknown Soldier cover, but in reality, this book features, for the most part, reprints and the Unknown Soldier is only a used in a framing sequence. this cover features a new logo and the new round icon in the upper left corner.

"Everybody Dies" is our cover feature, an eight-page reprint from Star Spangled War Stories #36 by Robert Kanigher and Irv Novick, with a new one-page introduction by the Unknown Soldier. As a kid, I remember feeling ripped off by this book.

That reprint is followed by another: "Fokker  Fury," an Enemy Ace story from Our Army at War #155 by Robert Kanigher and Joe KubertDuring a fierce aerial battle, Enemy Ace pursues an English plane and shoots it down. Only too late does he realize that the enemy plane's guns were empty. He returns to base feeling bad for killing an unarmed man.

Later Von Hammer receives a challenge from Alan Iver, a pilot in the RAF. The Englishman wants to duel with Von Hammer because he killed the unarmed pilot. Enemy Ace meets the challenge with his own guns empty. He dodges the English pilot's shots until both are out of ammunition. The Englishman realizes that Enemy Ace is a man to be respected, and the warring pilots depart the scene intact.

The book ends with the only new material, a four-pages U.S.S. Stevens story, "Double Rescue" by Sam Glanzman.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Secret Hearts #147

Secret Hearts #147 (On Sale: August 20, 1970) has a nicely designed cover by Dick Giordano.

This is a very unusual issue in that except for a one-pager that starts out the book, it is one full-length story. For romance books, that is a rarity. Also a rarity is the artist for this long story; a rarity and a treat. If you blinked, or didn't read romance books, you might have missed the entirety of his American comics career.

Now as to this one-pager, I have seen some people refer to this a the work of Gray Morrow, but it is not even close to the quality of Gray's artwork.

I have my guesses as to who this is, and it might be penciled by one person and inked by another. The figures are a little wonky if you ask me, but the inking is more than competent and may be hiding even more flaws in the original pencils. 

Our cover story is "Cry, Soul; Cry, Love," a 26-page heartbreak fest by Gerry Conway and Frank Langford. Doing a single, long story like this was unusual for DC romance books and was an experiment that would never be repeated in Secret Hearts

I don't know much about the story here, nor have I seen any of the artwork from this book, however, I do know that this is one of only four stories Frank Langford will do for an American comic company and this is the only extended story he will do.

A page from Langford's Doctor Who Holiday Special.
British comic artist Frank Cyril Langford was born Cyril J. Eidlestein in Stepney, London in 1926. He married Hilda M. Langford in 1953 and changed his name legally to Langford some time in the 1960s.

His earliest work in comics was in Roxy in the late 1950s. His highest-profile work in British comics was "The Angry Planet" (1963) in Boy's World, some pages of which are signed "Eidlestein", and the title strip in Lady Penelope (1966-69). From 1969 to 1973 he drew romance comics for DC. He also drew "Doctor Who" for Countdown, TV Action and the Doctor Who Holiday Special (1973), 

A sampling of Langford's Jack and Jill.
He went on to draw "The Persuaders" for TV Action, and the daily strip Jack and Jill, written by Les Lilley, for the Herald and Sun. "Jack and Jill" was a daily gag strip featuring a young married couple. Jack works in an office; Jill stays at home. In the strip's first week they discover "the Pill didn't work" and Jill is pregnant. The jokes are divided between his office and her pregnancy. Around strip #230 Jill has twins

Langford had a long-standing sideline in advertising strips, from ads for the W.R.A.C. in 1964 to Corgi Toys in 1979 to KP Outer Spacers in 1982.

Frank Langford died in Enfield, Middlesex, in the first quarter of 1996.

Edited by Dick Giordano.  

Heart Throbs #128

Heart Throbs #128  (On Sale: August 20, 1970) has a cover inked by Vinnie Colletta and penciled some say by George Tuska. I like the penciling on this one, the figures are great, but it is hard to say who is under Vinnie's inks. As you will see, this is one of the problems with things inked by Colletta, you can't tell what is under his scratchy lifeless inks.

We begin with  "Come Back to Me,"  an eight-page tale that had the essence of the now unknown peniler drained out of it by Vinnie Colletta's inks. 

that is followed by "The Truth About Tony," a seven-page reprint from Heart Throbs #68 by Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs. As with most of the romance reprints, the artwork has been "modernized."

"Love is Where You Find It" is a three-page story penciled by George Tuska.

We end with our cover story, "No Love for Miss Goody Two-Shoes." This ten-page story is drawn by George Tuska and Vinnie Colletta. 

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Young Romance #168

Young Romance #168 (On Sale: August 18, 1970) has a cover by, well, good question. Some say Nick Cardy, but that is ridiculous, others say Bill Draut, but I don't think so. Look at those high-water, semi-bell bottoms on the guy; this looks like Artie Saaf to me, but that it a total guess on my part. But Cardy it certainly is not and Draut it looks nothing like as well. Regardless of who drew it, it is not a very good cover and showcases a new, uglier than before, logo and the new DC Romance heart in the corner. Ugh.

We begin with "Love Me, Love Me Not," an eight-page story by Jack Miller and Don Heck. Heck was still transitioning from Marvel to DC for a two-year stint. While Heck was transitioning in, Miller was being squeezed out and would be gone from comics within a year. I remember Miller fondly as the editor who brought us Deadman and as the writer who took over Deadman after creator Arnold Drake was pushed off the strip.

Next is "Dates 'n' Mates" a one-page filler by Barbara Friedlander and Liz Berube. Liz did a lot of one-pagers for DC during this period. She had a unique style, very Art Nouveau. 

That is followed by "A Smile for Someone," and eight-page reprint from Heart Throbs #68. that might be drawn by Bill Draut and inked by Bernard Sachs, or not. As the attribution of most romance comics is pretty much a guess, I can't be sure of this one.

Our next one-page filler is an untitled Hang-Ups text article by Henry Boltinoff and Lee Elias.

We end with "The Stolen Face of Love, Part Two," a ten-page story continuing from the previous issue, written by Robert Kanigher, penciled by either Win Mortimer or Ric Estrada and inked by Vinnie Colletta.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

World's Finest Comics #197

World's Finest Comics #197 (On Sale: August 6, 1970) has a Superman/Batman cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.  This is the final issue of World's Finest to feature this team for a couple of years, well, as the regular team at least. Starting next issue, and I could never understand why they did not wait two months for issue #200 to do this, World's Finest will become Superman's Brave and the Bold. That is, starting next issue, they will team up Superman with another character, not just Batman.

This issue is a pile of reprints beginning with the Superman/Batman team in  "The Capture of Superman." This 13-page tale is by
Jerry Coleman, Jim Mooney and Sheldon Moldoff and is reprinted from World's Finest Comics #122. Batman and Robin are forced by an alien, Klor, to capture Superman for crimes committed on his world of Belvos. Superman feels betrayed by his friend, but Batman succeeds in making the capture.

Superman is returned to Belvos to stand trial. He is accused of causing destruction on the planet during a visit there. Superman does not recall ever having been to Belvos and claims he was searching for a strange asteroid at the time.

Klor is secretly behind the destruction. Having found special weapons, he disguised himself as Superman and caused the damage. He wants to get Superman out of the way so he can obtain treasure which will make him master of Belvos. However, the heroes realize that Klor had been to Earth before and was responsible for the crimes. They convince the Belvosian tribunal and capture Klor in the act of robbing a jeweler on Earth.

Next is another Superman/Batman tale, "The Feud Between Batman and Superman," an 18-pager by Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan and George Klein. When Batman is accidentally shot while pursuing some crooks, he gets an inferiority complex. Superman tries to help Batman by staging a fake menace inside Kandor where he has no super powers. Batman discovers the hoax and becomes angry, challenging Superman to a duel. Batman wins, then storms off.

The fake menace turns out to be real, when Jhan-Ar, the brother of Superman's friend Thar-Ar, becomes a Metalloid. Superman is taken prisoner, forcing Batman and Robin to rescue him. They succeed and defeat Jhan-Ar. Batman's confidence is restored, so he resumes his crime fighting career. This is reprinted from World's Finest Comics #143.

That is followed by Green Arrow in "The Unmasked Archers." This six-page tale is by France Herron, Jack Kirby and Roz Kirby. Oliver Queen and Roy Harper awaken to find that the morning newspaper contains a story revealing their secret identities. Believing their careers are over, they stop a few crooks then return to police headquarters where they unmask in front of the police commissioner.

The commissioner doesn't believe Oliver is the real Green Arrow. When Oliver checks the other newspapers, he discovers that his morning paper was a fake. It was created as part of an initiation prank for his men's club. Oliver then proves to the commissioner that he is not Green Arrow using a specially prepared trick. This is reprinted from World's Finest Comics #98. Hmm, strange how they seem to be reprinting a lot of Jack Kirby this month.

We end with a final Superman/Batman team-up story,  "The Prison for Heroes" from World's Finest Comics #145. This 16-page tale is by Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan and George Klein. An alien race contacts Batman and brings him to an alien world under the pretense of aiding a great emergency. When he arrives on the alien world, Batman is hypnotized by the aliens into becoming a cruel prison warden. His prisoners are the innocent heroes of many worlds.

Batman then tricks Superman into coming to the planet. The aliens use a filter to cause the sun's rays to become red, removing nearly all of Superman's powers. Superman then becomes a prisoner.

With his last remaining bit of super powers, Superman manages to restore the powers of some of the other prisoners. They break free, help Superman fake his powers, and overthrow Batman. Superman then puts Batman to work as a prisoner.

The aliens discover Superman's escape and return to the planet to investigate. They discover that Superman does not have his powers. However, Superman has helped Batman break the hypnosis. While the aliens are investigating Superman, Batman destroys the red sun filter with the aliens' own ship. Superman's powers are restored. He frees the wrongly imprisoned heroes and ends the aliens' plans to conquer the galaxy.

Edited by E. Nelson Bridwell.

Witching Hour #11

Witching Hour #11 (On Sale: August 18, 1970) has a cover by Neal Adams. This is not one of my favorite Adams covers; it seems choppy and lacking in focus.

Alex Toth draws a framing sequence around this issue's stories featuring the three witches. 

We begin with "The Mark of the Witch," a nine-page tale by Jack Oleck and Alex Toth. Some of the pages look to be all Toth, but some look to be inked by someone else, maybe Bill Draut.

A man locked in a madhouse hopes that the new doctor will believe his story about a coven of witches slaying a young girl as a Satanic sacrifice and blaming him for it, but the doctor is a member of the coven as well and merely tells his fellows that the madman will need to remain locked up for life.

Next we have "The Sands of Time, the Snows of Death," a nine-page story penciled by George Tuska. A man lost in the Arctic who has murdered his three associates for gold comes across a cave. Inside the cave he finds a skeleton with a sack of gold. Further back in the cave he finds strange markings on the wall and a warning away from the inset door. Behind the door he finds a time machine. 

He uses the time machine to escape the cold by traveling into the distant past, but he forgot about giant dinosaurs, so he flees back to the cave when they pursue him. Inside he attempts to return to the present but the door is stuck, so he carves a warning for his future self and seeks food outside the cave where he lives and eventually dies. Many years later, the man enters the cave and sees the skeleton and crumbling gold sack unaware that he is looking at his own body. 

Edited by Dick Giordano.