Wednesday, August 6, 2008

DC Special #1

DC Special #1 (On Sale: August 6, 1968), or as they called it, "The Daring and the Different," a, wow I've never seen one of these before, reprint book! This first issue is a tribute to Carmine Infantino, at this point, the head of DC Comics and sports a cover by said head honcho.

We begin with "The Mystery of the Menacing Mask," a Batman story from Detective Comics #327 by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. This story introduces the "New Look" Batman, which included changes to the general direction of the feature. The stories now rely less on science fiction, aliens, and giant monsters. Instead the stories focus on Batman's detective abilities and include more down-to-Earth opponents. Other changes include the loss of Batman's supporting cast: Batwoman, Bat-Girl, Bat-Mite, and Ace the Bat-Hound.

Artistically, the "New Look" includes a stylistic change to the pencils of Carmine Infantino. Bob Kane had gotten credit for all Batman stories up to this point even though the vast majority were done by ghost artists. His name no longer appears on the stories.

Batman's costume now includes a yellow oval around the Bat-symbol on his chest. This change was first seen in World's Finest Comics #141, which predates this story.

While trailing a jewel thief, Batman is caught in an explosion. He is unharmed, but a red "X" suddenly appears on his forehead. A similar mark appears on Robin's forehead, then both marks disappear. After analyzing his mask, Batman is able to trace the chemical in the mark to Frank Fenton, the thief. However, Fenton is able to use the marks to paralyze Batman and Robin, then escape.

Batman and Robin decide to search Gotham Village, where several crooks have disappeared, to locate Fenton. They meet Linda Greene, who shows them a map with an "X" like the one on their foreheads. Batman then follows Linda's fiance James Greene. The trail leads to an underworld hide-out. Fenton is there and tries to protect the crooks using his power over Batman. However, Batman and Robin use lead liners on their heads to protect themselves from the paralyzing rays. After taking down the crooks, including Fenton, Batman learns that the hide-out is run by the leader of a Committee to Preserve Gotham Village, Roland Meacham.

Next is "The Doorway to the Unknown," a Flash story from Flash #148, and also created by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. When Flash returns home after an adventure, he finds Fred Dallman waiting in his apartment. Dallman explains that he has embezzled money from his bank and that another man, David Dean, was convicted of the crime. Dean was sent to prison and is now a hostage held by escaped convicts. After Dallman finishes his story, he disappears.

Flash races to Arizona City where the jail break occurred. He finds and rescues Dean, who explains that his brother Jack is also in trouble. Flash protects Jack, who is being recruited by some hoodlums. Then Flash searches for Dallman. Flash learns that Dallman died in a car crash before he confessed in Barry's apartment. Flash finds the money and clears Dean, but he remains puzzled by the after-death appearance of Dallman.

This is followed by "The Scientific Crook-Catcher," a Detective Chimp story from Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog #29 and created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino. Bobo, the Detective Chimp, goes undercover as a scientist to enter a science convention in search of criminal Larry the Lynx. Bobo tries to maintain his cover, but his disguise is pulled off by one of the machines. Bobo suspects Larry the Lynx was responsible and unmasks the crook. Bobo then chases Larry through the exhibit hall and eventually makes the capture.

Next we have "Mystery of the Giant Footprints," an Adam Strange story from Mystery In Space #57, by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson. When Adam Strange returns to Rann using the Zeta Beam, Alanna takes him to visit a sinking island where they encounter several giants. The giants are Rhollians, an alien race which is affected by the metal Orichalkum. The presence of the metal is the galaxy has caused their race to grow, and it will eventually kill them. The aliens have found Orichalkum on the island and plan to sink it as they did ancient Atlantis. With the island and the Orichalkum underwater, it cannot affect them.

Adam and Alanna are briefly captured, but escape and lead the Rhollians on a chase across the island. The island begins to sink, as it does on a regular basis, convincing the aliens that their work is done. They leave the planet, and Adam and Alanna are rescued. Alanna plans to send a ship after them to insure they do not return.

We end with "Challenge of the Headless Baseball Team," a Strange Sports story from Brave and the Bold #45 by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.

Besides the obvious fact that this was just a reprint book, I found myself buying most issues of DC Special.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.


Steve Pick said...

I remember the house ads for this one, and I wanted to get it desperately, but I never could find this issue. Even later on, when I started buying tons of back issues, I don't think I ever came across this one. Heck, I still felt the excitement of a book with that beautiful cover when I saw this post.

-Keller said...

When I was a teenager I used to make up my own DC team up book and I always used the DC Special name for the book. Wow, thinking back on it, I guess I must have thrown away a bunch of pages as I have none of those left, nor do I have any of the Teen Titans In Space book that I did. They were all pure crap of course, but they were my pure crap!

vinnie said...

Keller, judging by the quality of your current stuff, I have a feeling your teen efforts weren't as crappy as you think. ;-) Sorry to hear you no longer have the pages. I made up a few comics, too, and managed to save most of them. Now---THAT was some real crap (but they're fun to have around in a time capsule sort of way).

Having started with comics in the mid-60's, Infantino is "my" Batman in the same way Swan is "my" Superman. Incidentally, the guy is still around at age 83.