Friday, March 30, 2007

Action Comics #350

Action Comics #350 (On Sale: March 30, 1967) has a pretty cool Curt Swan and George Klein cover. I remember reading this one, but I don't think I bought it new.

Inside we have the cover story, "The Secret of the Stone-Age Superman" written by Otto Binder and drawn by Wayne Boring. While vacationing in France, Perry White joins a group of amateur spelunkers. In a cave he discovers a skeleton wearing a Superman costume. The real Man of Steel decides to investigate the strange discovery by traveling back in time to the days of dinosaurs and cavemen.

When Superman arrives in the past he immediately loses his powers. He discovers that the sun is red during this period of history, so he has no powers and is unable to return to his own time period.

The second story is "The Anti-Supergirl Plot" and is by Leo Dorfman and Jim Mooney. Linda Lee attends a party where a group of performers named the Heroes play music. The Heroes are all dressed as super-heroes. When a Supergirl performer is on stage, the other Heroes search the building, so they can return later to rob it.

After the second robbery at locations where the Heroes have played, the real Supergirl becomes suspicious. She questions Kim Lorne, the girl who played Supergirl. From Kim, Supergirl learns that the Heroes are indeed responsible for the robberies.

During the next show, Supergirl replaces Kim during the Supergirl act. However, she performs so well that the other Heroes notice. They set a Kryptonite trap for Supergirl. Reprinted in Superman Family #169.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Adventure Comics #356

Adventure Comics #356 (On Sale: March 30, 1967) has a Curt Swan/George Klein cover. This is another book I remember reading, but I know I did not buy this one new.

Inside we have the cover story, "The Five Legion Orphans" by E. Nelson Bridwell, Curt Swan and George Klein. While their comrades celebrate Parents' Day with a parade and a banquet, the five Legion orphans, Superboy, Mon-El, Brainiac 5, Element Lad, and Dream Girl, remain on guard at the Legion Clubhouse.

An alarm reaches them from the planet Zinth, and the five speed there to investigate a stolen power crystal, which the authorities claim raiders had dropped into a deep pond before escaping. As Superboy and Mon-El search for the raiders, the other Legionnaires don masks and dive into the pond to retrieve the crystal. As they attempt to bring it to the surface, however, they find themselves rapidly growing younger. Superboy and Mon-El return and get the crystal themselves, despite Dream Girl's warning. They too soon become younger, until all five are infants. Reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 6 HC

The second story is "Lana Lang and the Legion of Super-Heroes" is a reprint from Adventure Comics #282 by Otto Binder and George Papp. Outside Smallville, Superboy meets Star Boy, a Legionnaire from the future, with powers similar to his own. Star Boy explains that he has come to capture two criminals who have fled to 20th century Earth. He has already caught one, and enlists the aid of the Boy of Steel to snare the other, but not before Lana Lang overhears their conversation and Star Boy’s reference to his secret identity. She waits for Superboy to leave, then approaches the Legionnaire and tells him that she will reveal his secret to the imprisoned criminal unless he makes Superboy jealous by pretending to fall in love with her and taking her with him to Xanthu.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Strange Adventures #200

Strange Adventures #200 (On Sale: March 30, 1967) has a strange cover by Carmine Infantino and George Roussos.

Inside we have an Enchantress story, "The Guardian Eye" by Bob Haney and Howard Purcell. Alan Dale and June Mooney stumble across a museum robbery. June becomes the Enchantress, but is unable to stop one of the thieves from stealing a "Guardian Eye" from the museum. Shortly thereafter, a monster appears in the city. The Enchantress believes the monster was summoned by the Guardian Eye. The Enchantress would not appear again until 1980 in Superman Family #204.

Next was "The Lair of the Dragonfly" by France Herron and Bernard Baily a reprint from House of Secrets #19.

Lastly was the cover story, "The Man with the Comet Head" by Otto Binder and Jack Sparling.

Pretty boring content for the 200th issue.

Edited by Jack Schiff.

Detective Comics #363

Detective Comics #363 (On Sale: March 30, 1967) has a cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson. Anderson's inks are very nice here in another take on the "Batman reveals his secret identity" plot.

Inside we have "The True-False Face of Batman" by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene. I always liked Greene's inks, particularly on Green Lantern where he blended so well with Gil Kane's dynamic pencils. Greene is one of those guys who did a lot of work for DC and then just disappeared. I don't know if he died or was just put out to pasture as so many of DC's personnel was around 1970.

Anyway, in this story Batgirl interrupts a robbery in progress after her job at the Gotham Library provides clues to the criminal activity. Batman arrives on the scene during the fight to help Batgirl defeat the crooks, but one of them escapes.

Batman then blindfolds Batgirl and takes her to the Batcave where he unmasks in front of her. Though he shows his true face of Bruce Wayne, traces of wax and hair dye cause Batgirl to believe that Batman is actually disguised. After Batman returns Batgirl to Gotham, he explains to Robin that the escaped crook had left a bug on Batgirl, so he set up the identity reveal to convince the crook that Batgirl had learned Batman's secret. Reprinted in Batman #255.

The backup Elongated Man strip "Way-Out Day in Wishbone City" is also by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene. Ralph and Sue Dibny visit Wishbone City. After a day of shopping, they witness the residents acting strangely. The people lose their inhibitions and begin carrying out their secret impulses. Ralph and Sue are also affected.

I enjoyed the Elongated Man. His name may have been stupid (Plastic Man was already taken), but his stories had a certain tongue-in-cheek style that I loved. He was married, his identity was known and his wife was a part of most of his adventures. The Dibny's were sort of the Nick and Nora of DC super-heroes, and that was enough to overcome the dumb name and the butt-ugly costume.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sea Devils #35

Sea Devils #35 (On Sale: March 28, 1967) has a cover by Howard Purcell and Jack Adler.

Inside we have "The Name of the Game is Death" by Bob Haney, Chic Stone and Sheldon Moldoff. While rescuing the crew of a damaged cargo ship, Dane investigates a strange glowing patch underwater. The other Sea Devils watch Dane enter the patch and a monster emerge. They believe Dane has been transformed into the monster. When the military orders the monster destroyed after it attacks the shipping lanes, the Sea Devils try to stop it without killing it. The military succeeds in killing the creature, and the Sea Devils mourn the loss of Dane.

This is the final issue of the Sea Devils. It's kind of odd that they had Chic Stone draw this issue given that the book was toast. Stone was a Marvel artist and as DC editors began encouraging their artists to make the DC books look more like Marvel, Stone found work ghosting George Papp on Superboy.

Edited by George Kasdan.

Metamorpho #12

Metamorpho #12 (On Sale: March 28, 1967) has a cover by Sal Trapani and Charles Paris.

Inside we have "The Trap of the Test-Tube Terrors" by Bob Haney, Sal Trapani, and Charles Paris. Simon Stagg holds a competition for scientists, offering a reward to anyone that can cure Metamorpho. Scientist Franz Zorb is awarded the prize and given access to Stagg's labs. Metamorpho is hopeful that Zorb will find a cure, but Stagg has secretly rigged the contest and selected the worst proposal.

Edited by George Kasdan.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #74

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #74 (On Sale: March 23, 1967) has a strange cover by Kurt Schaffenberger. Who else thinks the Bizarro Flash looks like a Mexican wrestler? He is...El Flasho!

Inside we have the cover story, "Superman's Unbeatable Rival" written by Leo Dorfman and drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. An alien space capsule lands on Earth containing a comatose costumed man. Lois Lane manages to awaken the man with a kiss (man is she asking for it!). She finds the man known as Hero to be attractive, and he possesses super powers. Hero acts strangely, but he does act heroically. When he confronts Chopper Blade however, Hero attempts to use Lois as a human shield. This story had it all, Lois, Superman, Jimmy, Perry and Lana. Not to mention the JLA (Flash, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Atom, Hawkman and Green Arrow), Bizarro, Bizarro-Batman and Hero.

The second story is a reprint from Lois Lane #22, "Sweetheart of Robin Hood" is by Kurt Schaffenberger. Lois and Clark visit a display of relics from Robin Hood in an English museum. Lois is cut by a legendary arrow and passes out. When she awakens she is in the past with Robin Hood.

Edited by Mort Weisinger

Girls' Love Stories #127

Girls' Love Stories #127 (On Sale: March 23, 1967) has a cover by Jay Scott Pike. "She was a slave to her love for Tony..." I didn't know Mr. Isabella had such power over women!

Inside we have "Sweet Mystery of Love" drawn by Jay Scott Pike and "Second Love" by Arthur F. Peddy and Bernard Sachs. Next we have the "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" feature with art by Tony Abruzzo and our cover story "He Couldn't Be True to Me".

Edited by Jack Miller.

Showcase #68

Showcase #68 (On Sale: March 23, 1967) has a very nice Maniaks cover by Mike Sekowsky and Mike Esposito.

Inside we have "A Crooks' Tour of Palisades Park" by E. Nelson Bridwell, Mike Sekowsky and Mike Esposito. I vaguely remember reading a Maniaks story, it might even have been this one. This was their premiere issue of Showcase. They would appear here two more times.

The Maniaks are a rock band created by Bridwell and Sekowsky in the mold of TV's the Monkees--a band that would also get involved in wild adventures, often on the way to their gigs.

The Maniaks were:

Silver Shannon (lead vocals, manager)
Philip "Flip" Folger (guitars, contortionist)
Gilbert "Jangle" Jeffries (guitars, ventriloquist)
Byron "Pack Rat" Williams (drums)

DC Comics used Showcase as a tryout magazine for different features and what is now known as the Silver Age of Comics started in Showcase #4, September 1956 with the introduction of the new Flash. Over the years Showcase gave birth to among others, The Challengers of the Unknown, Lois Lane, Green Lantern. The Sea Devils, Aquaman, the Atom, The Metal Men, Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace, The Teen Titans, The Inferior Five, Bat Lash, The Creeper and The Hawk and the Dove.

Some of my favorite Showcase strips never made it out of the book, or did so with very limited coverage. In particular I loved the last twelve issues, which featured three issues each of Nightmaster by Denny O'Neal, Jerry Grandenetti and Berni Wrightson, FireHair by Joe Kubert, the exceptional Jason's Quest by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano and Manhunter 2070 also by Mike Sekowsky.

Edited by Jack Miller.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Falling In Love #91

Falling In Love #91 (On Sale: March 21, 1967) has a rather drab cover by someone I can't recognize.

Inside we begin with "The Only Man for Me" drawn by Jay Scott Pike, followed by "He Couldn't Love Me" drawn by artists unknown and "Blame It on My Heart" penciled by Bernard Sachs. Next we have the "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" feature with art by Tony Abruzzo, followed by "How Do I Love You?" another strip with no known artist.

This title always reminds me of the Deteriorata by National Lampoon. It was a spoof of that silly Desiderata song. Below is part of it and I've highlighted the pertinent line.

Remember the Pueblo.
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate.
Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
especially with those persons closest to you...
that lemon on your left, for instance.
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love, therefore; it will stick to your face.
Gracefully surrender the things of youth,
birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan,
and let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
Hire people with hooks.
For a good time call 606-4311. Ask for Candy.
Take heart amid the deepening gloom
that your dog is finally getting enough cheese,
and reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot,
it could only be worse in Milwaukee.

Edited by Jack Miller

Superman #196

Superman #196 (On Sale: March 21, 1967) has a great Curt Swan, George Klein cover. Superman pounding Superman; as a kid I ate this stuff up!

Really strange editing by Uncle Mortie here. The cover story, "The Thing from 40,000 A.D.," is a reprint from Superman #87, written by Bill Finger and drawn by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye. A protoplasmic blob that can assume the shape of any living creature arrives in the present from 40,000 A.D. The creature battles Superman while trying to construct a machine to return him to his own time, from which he was exiled. By the way, The Thing reappears in DC Comics Presents #89, which clearly takes place on Earth-1.

The second story is the new one, "The Star of Steel" is by Otto Binder and Al Plastino in which Clark Kent attends a press conference for Lyrica Lloyd an actress who has returned to Metropolis after filming a movie in Africa. Lyrica befriends Clark and recommends him for the role of Superman in an upcoming film. Clark initially declines the offer, but Lyrica talks him into accepting.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Wonder Woman #170

Wonder Woman #170 (On Sale: March 21, 1967) says, "It's Purple Gorilla Time!!!" Cover by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. In the 1960s if DC Comics was known for one thing, it was covers featuring purple gorillas. Apparently they sold very well, because DC never passed up an opportunity to have a purple ape cavorting on a cover.

Inside this issue we have "The Haunted Amazon" by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. When Steve Trevor goes missing after a plane crash he is presumed dead. While Wonder Woman mourns Steve's loss, Dr. Psycho uses his skills as a plastic surgeon to give criminal Pete Slote Steve's face. When the Amazon later encounters Slote, she is unable to stop him because his face reminds her of her dead boyfriend. After failing, Wonder Woman vows to give up her costume and return to Paradise Island.

The backup story is actually the cover story "Wonder Woman -- Gorilla" and is once again by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Three alien gorillas land on Paradise Island. Wonder Woman meets them and asks them to leave, fearing that their presence will break Aphrodite's law against man setting foot on the island. The gorillas refuse to leave, and the leader wishes to make Wonder Woman his queen. Man, I hate when that happens! This story was reprinted in DC Special #16.

Edited by Robert Kanigher.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Our Fighting Forces #107

Our Fighting Forces #107 (On Sale: March 16, 1967). Remember last month when I said what a great Irv Novick cover OFF #106 had? I'm not going to say that this month.

Inside we have Lt. Hunter's Hellcats starring in "Raid of the Hellcats" by Robert Kanigher and Jack Abel.

The backup story is "Flying Coffin" also drawn by Jack Abel.

Edited by Robert Kanigher.

Young Love #61

Young Love #61 (On Sale: March 16, 1967) has an interesting cover by Jay Scott Pike. It actually looks like an enlargement of an interior panel from one of the stories Pike drew.

Inside we begin with "My Kind of Love" drawn by Jay Scott Pike, followed by "First Prize -- Heartbreak" drawn by Gene Colan and featuring cameo appearances by Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Bob Hope and David McCallum.

Next we have the "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" feature with art by Ric Estrada, followed by "Give Me Your Heart" drawn by John Forte and Bernard Sachs, a partially redrawn reprint from Heart Throbs #50. Lastly we have "Love is a Million Miles Away" drawn by Jay Scott Pike.

Edited by Jack Miller.

Inferior Five #2

Inferior Five #2 (On Sale: March 16, 1967) has a cover by Mike Sekowsky and Mike Esposito. For some reason I like this Sekowsky cover more than the JLA cover from two days ago.

Inside we have our cover story "The House-Hunting Heroes" by E. Nelson Bridwell, Mike Sekowsky and Mike Esposito. The Inferior Five seek a new headquarters after an awful songwriter barges into their current meeting place. After purchasing a new Inferi-Car, the team visits the Batson Building, a prospective headquarters.

At the same time in the penthouse of the Batson Building, Rod Rickard conducts an experiment which bestows himself, his assistant, his wife, and her kid brother with super powers. The foursome form the Kookie Quartet and promise to take over the crime-fighting duties in Megalopolis.

Before the Inferior Five can meet the Quartet's challenge, a bank robbery is committed. The perpetrators are King-Size and the Tsetse Fly, a pair of crooks with size changing abilities. Guest-stars Plastic Man and Invisible Kid.

Edited by Jack Miller.

Plastic Man #4

Plastic Man #4 (On Sale: March 16, 1967) has a cover drawn by Carmine Infantino and Mike Esposito.

The book-length "Dr. Dome's Dame of Doom" was written by the recently departed Arnold Drake (we miss you Arnold) and was drawn by Winslow Mortimer. In it, Dr. Dome hires Madam Merciless to bring Plastic Man under his control. The woman attempts to hypnotize Plas. Her first attempt fails, but Plastic Man plays along. After drugging Plas, Madam Merciless gets another chance to bring him under control with the help of her witch doctors.

Character Background (from Wikipedia)

Plastic Man (Patrick "Eel" O'Brian) is a comic-book superhero originally published by Quality Comics and later acquired by DC Comics. Created by writer-artist Jack Cole, he first appeared in Police Comics #1 (August 1941). Plastic Man's powers are derived from an accident in which his body was bathed in an unknown industrial chemical mixture that also entered into his bloodstream through a gunshot wound. This caused a body-wide mutagenic process that transformed his physiology.

Plastic Man can stretch his limbs and body to superhuman shapes, lengths and sizes, with flexibility and coordination extraordinarily beyond the natural limits of the human body. He can become entirely flat so that he can slip under a door, use his fingers to pick conventional locks, pose as inanimate objects such as vehicles or pieces of furniture, and disguise himself by changing the shape of his face. There is no known limit to how far he can stretch his body. The only limitation he has relates to color, which he cannot change without intense concentration, so he is usually limited to his trademark colour scheme of red, yellow, black and flesh-coloured.

One of Quality Comics' signature characters during the period historians and fans call the Golden Age of Comic Books, Plastic Man can stretch his body into any imaginable form. His adventures were known for their quirky, offbeat structure and surreal slapstick humor. When Quality Comics was shut down in 1956, DC Comics acquired many of its characters, integrating Plastic Man into the mainstream DC universe. The character has starred in several short-lived DC series (this being one of them), as well as a Saturday morning cartoon series in the early 1980s.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.