Friday, September 26, 2008

Detective Comics #381

Detective Comics #381 (On Sale: September 26, 1968) has a dramatic cover by Irv Novick.

We begin with "One Drown -- One More to Go" by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella. Batman detects an coded infra-red signal being transmitted from a lighthouse that calls for the death of Robin. Batman orders Robin to return to the Batcave where he will be safe. He then investigates the lighthouse of Cyrus Spume. He spots the crooks plotting to kill Robin, but he wants to find their leader.

Batman arranges for Robin to appear to die by killing him himself. The crooks then proceed with a diamond robbery. Batman tries to stop them, but he is caught.

The Elongated Man back-up "The Come-and-Go Mansion Mystery" is by Gardner Fox and Sid Greene. On their way to a New England hotel Ralph and Sue Dibny spot an old Victorian mansion. When they inquire about the mansion, the hotel manager tells them that it burned to the ground a year ago. The Elongated Man investigates the mystery and finds that crooks have created an inflatable mansion that they inflate on foggy nights. They are trying to coerce the butler of the former mansion owner into remembering where many of the art treasures that were taken from the house before it burned down are currently hidden. The butler leads them to the paintings, but the Elongated Man stops the crooks from stealing them.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Adventure Comics #374

Adventure Comics #374 (On Sale: September 26, 1968) has a cover by Curt Swan and Mike Esposito.

"Mission:Diabolical" is by Jim Shooter and Winslow Mortimer. Various teams of Legionnaires are overpowered and taken captive at different locations, leaving only five members, Ultra Boy, Element Lad, Dream Girl, Supergirl, and Matter-Eater Lad, at headquarters. A mysterious masked figure suddenly appears on their communicator and tells the five heroes that the notorious space gang, Scorpius, holds their comrades hostage. Teleporting them to a hidden headquarters, he informs them that they must defeat a group of criminals who are part of a rival organization called Taurus. These include Rogarth, who possesses super-strength, Black Mace, who wields the weapon for which he is named, Mystelor, a woman with telepathic and telekinetic powers, Shagrek, an alien able to disintegrate anything with beams from his antennae, and Quantro, a member of a self-professed "superior" race able to change into a beam of light.

Forced to obey, the Legionnaires disguise themselves and assist a Scorpius squad in battle with the Taurus Gang at the Brande Industrial Complex in Metropolis. When the Substitute Heroes and the Science Police arrive, the Legionnaires and the gang members flee. Police Chief Zoltorous ignores the Taurus Gang to concentrate on the Scorpius Gang, and the Substitutes recognize the departing Legionnaires. Later, Zoltorus visits Leland McCauley, the second richest man in the universe, to accuse him of being the brains behind Scorpius, and of attacking R.J. Brande out of jealousy.

Meanwhile, Ultra Boy and his fellow Legionnaires try to discover the identity of Taurus's leader. Dream Girl predicts where the Taurus gang will next strike, and Ultra Boy makes plans to impersonate Black Mace and to switch places with him. The heroes follow Dream Girl's prediction and show up in a casino on the asteroid, Ceres, but in the ensuing struggle, Ultra Boy is knocked out. Dream Girl decides to follow through with his scheme and, after rendering Mystelor unconscious, takes her plate within the Taurus Gang. Once inside their ship, Dream Girl, as Mystelor, persuades the gang to meet their leader to demand more pay for their services.

Secretly tracked by the Legionnaires, the Taurus Gang meets with their boss, and to the heroes' astonishment, he is none other than R.J. Brande, their benefactor. After capturing him in the battle that follows, however, they unmask him as a disguised Chief Zoltorous, who had kidnapped Brande and used his money to build a crime empire.

When Quantro learns of the fake Mystelor, he vows to her that he will try to reform his fellow criminals. The heroes are then transported back to Scorpius headquarters, where they are reunited with their captive comrades. When Scorpius is about to kill them all rather than let them go free, however, the Substitute Legion arrives to save them. Scorpius is captured, and the two Legions compare notes on the case. Reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 8 HC.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Action Comics #369

Action Comics #369 (On Sale: September 26, 1968) has a cover by Curt Swan and Jack Abel.

We begin with "Superman's Greatest Blunder" by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and Jack Abel. Continuing from last issue, Superman has exiled himself to a world with a red sun after a group called the Sentinels have eliminated crime and disasters on Earth. Without his powers Superman becomes hungry and eats some local fruit. He is arrested by the local authorities because the fruit was reserved for the planet's king. Superman is to be executed for his crime, but his powers return. The red sun is actually half yellow, which allows him to escape the planet.

Superman returns to Earth and becomes suspicious about the motives of the Sentinels. When he sees one attempting to seal his Fortress with the inhabitants of Kandor trapped inside, Superman suspects that the Sentinels plan to conquer Earth. He then proceeds to destroy them after realizing they aren't alive. After all the Sentinels are destroyed Superman learns that he was wrong and they actually were benevolent. Because of Superman actions, crime and disaster has now returned to Earth.

The Supergirl storiung is "The Boy Who Broke Supergirl's Heart" by Leo Dorfman and Kurt Schaffenberger. Linda Danvers consoles her friend Claire Valton when she is jilted by campus playboy Gary Sparks. Linda tries to get revenge on Gary by dating him, then dumping him. However, before she can finish executing her plan, Gary has already started dating another girl. Though she is upset with Gary, Linda can't stop thinking about him and decides to try winning him over as Supergirl.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Teen Titans #18

Teen Titans #18 (On Sale: September 24, 1968) proves once again that all experimentations with logos do not result in winners. Cover by the wonderful Nick Cardy.

"Eye of the Beholder" is written by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman and drawn by Bill Draut. This issue is important for the number of "firsts" it contains. This is Bill Draut's first super-hero artwork. This is Len Wein's first story for DC. This is the first book with the Len Wein/Marv Wolfman credit, a credit that would be seen over and over for the next few years as for a while the two worked together as a writing team. This may also be the first appearance of a Russian super-hero.

Interpol requests that the Teen Titans team up with a Russian super-hero, Starfire, to safeguard the Crown Jewels of Sweden from Andre Le Blanc, the self-styled "world's greatest jewel thief". Mutual antagonism spoils the joint efforts of the Soviet and American heroes, until Starfire rescues the Titans from Le Blanc's death-traps. Kid Flash then returns the favor by saving Starfire from death on the subway tracks, while Robin defeats Le Blanc in hand-to-hand combat. Reprinted in Best of DC #3 and Showcase Presents:Teen Titans Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #88

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #88 (On Sale: September 24, 1968) has a cool, pretty dramatic cover by Neal Adams.

"Through a Murderer's Eyes" is by E. Nelson Bridwell and Irv Novick. A member of the Cary Mob tries to kill Lois to prevent her from testifying against the mob boss Nero Cary. Jimmy stops the killer, but Lois is temporarily blinded. The eye doctor warns her that the blindness may become permanent. When Lois returns to be rechecked, the Cary Mob replaces the doctor and convinces her that the damage is permanent.

Superman helps Lois by bringing the doctors the body of Gunner Stowe, an executed convict. Lois is then given an eye transplant and receives Stowe's eyes. She then begins having visions of Stowe's victims.

When Lois is called to testify against Cary, the defense tries to use the hallucinations to discredit her. Lois then explains that she has discovered the crooks' scheme. She was not blind and did not receive Stowe's eyes. The crooks placed contact lenses on her eyes that caused the visions. With their scheme exposed, the crooks give up, and Nero pleads guilty. OK, not the soundest of plots but enough to get it reprinted in Superman Family #174.

Our back-up story is "The Perfect Husband" reprinted from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #24 and is drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. Lois Lane appears on the People are Whacky TV show. The show has a computer select the ideal man for Lois, choosing Roger Warner, a wealthy sportsman and Clark Kent look-a-like. Lois is convinced that Superman is her ideal man, but Roger slowly wins her over, and Lois agrees to marry him. When a gust of wind created by Superman’s super-speed blows Roger’s wig off, exposing his secret baldness, Roger feels that he has deceived Lois and leaves her for good. Wow, I guess I shouldn't have said anything about the previous plot!

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Strange Adventures #215

Strange Adventures #215 (On Sale: September 24, 1968) has a beautiful cover by Neal Adams. This is the second Deadman cover where our hero is depicted as a disembodies head superimposed over the action of the cover. Within a year Adams would perfect this style of cover on the revised Phantom Stranger book.

"A New Lease on Death" is written and drawn by Neal Adams. Neal really moves the basic plot line of the series forward with this issue, moving towards a redesign of the strip's premise. Continuing from last issue, Deadman tracks assassin Willie Smith to Hong Kong where he receives a new assignment. Deadman learns that the target is his own killer, Hook. Willie catches Hook and brings him before a Society of Assassins for which both killers work.

The leader of the assassins known as the Sensei accuses Hook of failing in his initiation assignment, the murder of Boston Brand. The killers believe Boston is still alive since Cleveland Brand has taken his brother's place at the circus.

Sensei then orders Hook's death. Deadman tries to intervene by taking control of Willie's body. However, the Sensei is able to defeat him and is immune to Dead man's powers of possession. Hook is killed and left behind, while the Sensei and the others leave. Deadman is contacted by Rama Kushna, but he feels no satisfaction in the fact that his killer is dead. Reprinted in Deadman #6.

The back-up story is "The Incredible Mutated Man" drawn by John Giunta. Since Giunta had not drawn anything for DC in five years I assume this is a reprint, but I don't know from where.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Justice League of America #67

Justice League of America #67 (On Sale: September 24, 1968), AKA 80 Page Giant #G-53 features a Special Initiation Issue with a cover by Neal Adams.

We begin with "Doom of the Star Diamond" from Justice League of America #4 by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs. An electromagnetic accident in space causes Carthan, a warlord of the planet Dryanna, to become invulnerable to harm. Fearing Carthan’s popularity with the people, Xandor, the planet’s ruler, has the warlord exiled to Earth.

Upon finding that something in the make-up of his protective aura prevents him from seeking the direct aid of the Justice League, Carthan kidnaps Green Arrow, whom the super-heroes have just voted in as a new member. At the same time, he unleashes menaces controlled by a series of golden boxes, which had been created by Xandor to enforce his exile. He hopes that the Justice League will destroy the boxes, and indirectly free him.

Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter battle giant insects created by the first box; Flash and Aquaman prevent the second box from causing Australia to sink into the ocean; Green Lantern destroys monstrous statues animated by the third box.

While Batman and Superman free the captive Green Arrow, the other members invade Carthan’s ship, only to become trapped in a gigantic hollow diamond. The archer rescues them by splitting it with a diamond-tipped arrow.

Carthan returns to Dryanna to settle accounts with Xandor, and Green Arrow becomes an official member of the Justice League of America.

Next is "The Menace of the 'Atom' Bomb" from Justice League of America #14 by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs. Although the Atom is elected as the Justice League’s newest member, no one can remember exactly who he is, or why votes were cast for him. After Green Lantern consults his power ring for the information, J’onn J’onzz is sent to inform the Atom of this strange circumstance, and the meeting adjourns. Meanwhile, in Ivy Town, the entire citizenry, including the Atom himself, forgets about him, and the Tiny Titan is trapped, a victim of amnesia in a world of giants.

The power behind these happenings is a mystery mastermind calling himself Mister Memory, who has invented a De-Memorizer weapon. He recruits Hector Hammond (who uses his evolution-meteor to transform himself into a man of the future), the Pied Piper, the Sea-Thief, the Angle-Man, and Dr. Davis to help him capture Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Green Arrow. Mr. Memory captures the Martian Manhunter, just as the hero is about to confront the Atom. Stunned by the appearance of J’onn J’onzz, Atom accidentally shrinks into a sub-atomic world, and the shock restores his memory.

Trailing Mr. Memory to his hideout, the Atom is captured and used as a weapon against the captive JLA members, but he escapes using his own abilities and Green Lantern’s ring. The League then unmasks Memory, who turns out to be an amnesiac Batman manipulated by the true villain. By tracking the frequencies of the villain’s electronic spy devices, J’onn J’onzz and the Flash are able to capture Professor Amos Fortune.

We end with "Riddle of the Runaway Room" from Justice League of America #31 by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs. Hawkman becomes the newest member of the Justice League, and immediately teams with Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman to stop robbers using fantastic hoops which protect them by propelling whatever threatens them into the near future.

After Hawkman solves the problem of capturing the crooks, the JLA returns to their meeting room to examine the strange hoops, only to find themselves and the Secret Sanctuary suddenly propelled into outer space. Responsible for these occurrences is Joe Parry, a crook who has accidentally come into possession of an alien machine, which has created both the time-hoops and the threat to the League. Hawkman's anti-gravity powers save his fellow members from perishing in space, and the team tracks Parry to his hideout.

Parry then uses the alien device to form a super-being which is a composite of the five JLA members, possessing Flash's legs, Green Lantern's arms and ring, Wonder Woman's head and lasso, Batman's torso, and Hawkman's wings. With its combined powers, the creature defeats the heroes, whom the villain then has hurled back into space, but he has made one error -- since, the composite being, like all creations of his machine, is composed of a yellow force, its power ring cannot function. Hawkman takes advantage of this to turn the tables on both the multi-powered foe and its creator.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Girls' Love Stories #139

Girls' Love Stories #139 (On Sale: September 24, 1968) has a cover that aptly demonstrates Nick Cardy's ability to create amazing, sexy woman of beauty and innocence.

We begin with "The Only Man for Me" drawn by Ric Estrada. That is followed by "How Could He Stop Loving Me?" drawn by Tony Abruzzo. Next is "Kiss Me -- If You Dare" a reprint from Secret Hearts #89 drawn by John Romita and Bernard Sachs. Lastly we have our cover story, "She's Young, Beautiful -- and Alone -- Why?" drawn by John Rosenberger.

Edited by Jack Miller.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Beware the Creeper #4

Beware the Creeper #4 (On Sale: September 19, 1968) has a pretty cool cover symbolic by Steve Ditko.

"Which Face Hides My Enemy?" is by Denny O'Neil and Steve Ditko. The Creeper's search for Proteus leads him to cult leader Yogi Bizerk. However, before he can finish questioning Bizerk, the police arrive forcing the Creeper to flee.

Jack Ryder returns to his apartment where he finds a threat from Proteus. He then meets two agents from Offalia who tell him that Proteus is the former secretary of state from their country. The agents then join Ryder and his roommate Rip Cord in the search for Proteus.

Their quest first leads to a motorcycle gang called the Avenging Terrors then back to Yogi Bizerk. When the Creeper closes in on Bizerk, Sumo kills him. The Offalian agent then reveals that he knows the Creeper is Jack Ryder and that he is an agent of Proteus. A battle ensues with the Creeper ending as the victor.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Superman #211

Superman #211 (On Sale: September 17, 1968) has a fairly cover by Curt Swan and Jack Abel.

"You, Too, Can Be a Super-Artist" is by Frank Robbins, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Clark Kent investigates the E.M.M. art school which takes the money of students with no artist talent. He enrolls in the school and demonstrates incredible skill at duplicating the artistic style of master painters. The school administrator decides to use Clark's ability to create forgeries. Superman travels back in time to meet Rembrandt and Gainsborough so that he can duplicate their famous paintings.

Our cover story is "The Name of the Game is Superman" by Dave Wood, Curt Swan and Jack Abel. Smallville optometrist Homer Ferret lures Clark Kent into a trap. He believes that Clark is Superman and relates several anecdotes that provide evidence to support his theory. He threatens to electrocute Clark if he doesn't admit the truth. If Clark doesn't admit that he is Superman, then the electricity will expose him anyway.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Spectre #7

Spectre #7 (On Sale: September 17, 1968) has a fairly awful cover by two guys who should not be working together, Jerry Grandinetti and Murphy Anderson.

We begin with the Spectre in "The Ghost That Haunted Money" by Gardner Fox, Jerry Grandinetti and Murphy Anderson. While attempting a bank robbery Frankie Barron is shot and killed by a security guard. Even after his death Barron is intent on stealing the bank's money and his spirit remains behind. Though he is physically unable to touch the money, he is able to haunt the bank and interfere with the customers.

Jim Corrigan is unable to stop the ghost, so his other self the Spectre takes on Barron's spirit. However the Spectral Avenger cannot banish the ghost because his attachment to the money is too strong. The Spectre finally prevails by turning the money itself against Barron. Terrorized by the money, the ghost finally breaks his psychic connection to it and leaves Earth for the spirit world. Reprinted in Adventure Comics #501.

The back-up Hourman story is "The Hour Hourman Died" by Gardner Fox, Dick Dillin and Sid Greene. Hourman interrupts a robbery at the Tyler Chemical Company. The thief, Tricky Dick Arnold, is using a device called a Metalizer which enables him to walk through the metal vault door. When exposed to radiation from the Metalizer, Hourman dies.

The Miraclo in Hourman's system revives the hero a short time later, but he deduces that once the Miraclo wears off, he will be dead permanently. Hourman then tracks down the crook, before his life is over. Then by analyzing the metalizer radiation he concocts an antidote just before the hour is up. Reprinted in Justice League of America #91 and Crisis on Multiple Earths:The Team Ups Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Falling In Love #103

Falling In Love #103 (On Sale: September 17, 1968) has a fairly interesting cover by persons unknown.

Once again we know very little about a DC romance comic. We begin with "The Secret in My Past" and continue with "We Belong to Each Other," a reprint from Falling In Love #57 and we end with "He Belonged to Someone Else." All of these are written and drawn by persons unknown.

Edited by Jack Miller.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Young Love #71

Young Love #71 (On Sale: September 12, 1968) has a Lisa St. Claire cover with uninspired coloring that I am certain is inked by Dick Giordano and that might be penciled by Mike Sekowsky.

We begin with "Tall Dark and Married" by persons unknows anf then move on to "Come to My Arms" a reprint from Heart Throbs #83 pencilled by Mike Sekowsky. Lastly we have our untitled Lisa St. Claire story also by persons unknown.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Showcase #78

Showcase #78 (On Sale: September 12, 1968) has very nice Johnny Double cover by Dick Giordano.

"Meet Jonny Double..." is plotted by Marv Wolfman, scripted by Joe Gill and drawn by Jack Sparling. Down-on-his-luck private investigator Jonny Double gets a case to help Wilson Twain, a financier who has received death threats from the synicate. Jonny begins questioning underworld informants and draws the attention of the criminals. After taking a beating, Jonny traces the crooks to businessmen Piker and Glass. He is spotted snooping in their office, and the crooks try to kill him. Jonny stays alive and defeats the crooks, leaving them for Lt. Branigan his former boss on the police force.

The last five single issue debuts in Showcase resulted in five six-issue series, but Johnny Double would not be so lucky. The story I have read, and I don't remember where, is that Johnny Double was supposed to be a "Disguise Expert/Bodyguard," who would through the use of disguise become the body double of someone targeted for murder. For some reason the "Double" name was kept, but the concept was jettisoned. Four years later Len Wein would revisit that concept in The Human Target in the pages of Action Comics.

As for Johnny Double, he was a character that, for a time, would not die. He was revived in 1970 in Challengers of the Unknown #79 (an issue also featuring Deadman and a few pages drawn by Neal Adams) and then more famously went on for a stint in Wonder Woman beginning in 1972.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Our Fighting Forces #116

Our Fighting Forces #116 (On Sale: September 12, 1968) has just a Lt. Hunter's Hellcats cover by Joe Kubert.

We begin with "Peril from the Casbah" by Robert Kanigher and Frank Thorne, the second of three Lt. Hunter's Hellcats that Frank Thorne would draw. This was followed by "Combat Cowboy" drawn by George Evans in his first work for DC. Evans had worked on Crime SuspenStories and Aces High at EC Comics and may have been brought in by fellow ECer Joe Orlando. In 1980 Evans would take over the Secret Agent Corrigan newspaper strip from another EC alumnus, Al Williamson, a strip which ended with Evans' retirement in 1996. Evans died on June 22, 2001.

We end with "The Silent Tin Can" a reprint from Star Spangled War Stories #104 by Bob Haney and Jack Abel.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Angel and the Ape #1

Angel and the Ape #1 (On Sale: September 12, 1968) has a nice cover by Bob Oksner.

"The Case of the Going, Going, Gone Go Go Girls" is by John Albano, Bob Oksner and Henry Scarpelli. It would be a year before another Albano story would be published by DC. When Albano returned he worked on the DC teen books for a while before hitting his stride with the creation of Jonah Hex in Weird Western Tales. In this issue, when Angel O'Day can't pay the rent at her detective agency she takes a job as a Go Go dancer. Several dancers have recently disappeared only to reappear later as hypnotized thralls who rob men. Professor Klutz is the man behind the kidnappings, and he sets Angel as his next target.

When Klutz and his assistant Feebles snatch Angel, Sam tries to stop them. He is knocked out and taken to the gorilla cage at the local zoo. Sam manages to escape and track down Angel before Klutz can finish making her a thrall. The detectives are then attacked by the hypnotized dancers. Sam forces Klutz to surrender his control over the girls, ending the threat.

Here is the title page from this issue courtesy of Robby Reed at Dial B for BLOG who recently did a very nice piece on Angel and the Ape. As Bob Oksner's forte was drawing beautiful, sexy women, he was the pefect choice to bring bubble-headed beauty Angel O'Day to life. For those who don't know and once again lifting from Robby Reed's excellent blog, Bob Oksner passed away February 18, 2007. He was 90 years old. Bob had been illustrating comics since 1943 when he redesigned Marvel Boy for Timely Comics. He drew many different character during the next 43 years as he shuffled from super heroes to humor and back to super heroes. Among his work were stories for The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Adventures of Bob Hope; The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis; Sgt. Bilko; Pat Boone; Angel and the Ape; Welcome Back, Kotter; House of Mystery, Stanley and His Monster.

When the DC line of humor comics was axed in the 1970's he went back to heroes and drew Superman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Shazam (Captain Marvel), Black Orchid, Lois Lane and many others. He won the National Cartoonist Society award for comic books in 1960 and 1961, and in 1970 he won the Shazam Award for his work on DC titles. Bob Oksner retired from comics in 1986.

I met Oksner at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2006 (I think). He was a sweet, unassuming man with lots of stories and so much life in him; I had no idea he was almost 90 at the time.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

World's Finest Comics #180

World's Finest Comics #180 (On Sale: September 10, 1968) has just a very nice cover by Neal Adams. Gorgeous coloring on this one!

We begin with "Superman's Perfect Crime" by Cary Bates, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. In this imaginary story, after losing his powers, Superman assumes a new costumed identity as Nova. However, he is captured by gang boss Mr. Socrates on his first crime-fighting adventure. Using an electronic implant embedded in Superman's neck, Mr. Socrates is able to control Superman's actions remotely. He then uses the former Man of Steel to lure Batman into a trap.

Batman escapes the trap and takes Superman back to the Batcave. However, Mr. Socrates is able to trace the signal from Superman to find the hidden location of the Batcave. Superman gets away from Batman, who gives chase. While the heroes are away, Mr. Socrates enters the cave and sets a booby-trap.

Superman is able to interrupt the signal that is allowing Mr. Socrates to control him. He then teams up with Batman and they return to the Batcave. Mr. Socrates falls victim to his own booby-trap. The rest of his gang is apprehended. Batman states that he will contact Green Lantern to brainwash the crooks, so that they will not remember his secret identity or the location of the Batcave. This story was reprinted in DC Special Series #23.

The back-up Batman story is "The Batmen of All Nations" a reprint from Detective Comics #215, by Edmond Hamilton, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris. A group of international costumed heroes visit Gotham City to meet their idol Batman. Knots Cardine, a bold gang leader, embarrasses Batman by escaping him during a robbery. When the other heroes help Batman track down Cardine, a bomb detonates, apparently killing Batman.

The other heroes agree to guard a bank delivery in Batman’s place. The Legionary, an Italian hero, is actually Cardine in disguise and he robs the delivery truck. However, Batman is inside, and he stops the robbery. Batman suspected that Cardine took the place of the real Legionary, so he led the crook into a trap

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Justice League of America #66

Justice League of America #66 (On Sale: September 10, 1968) has just a nice cover by Neal Adams.

"Divided -- They Fall" is by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Sid Green. Generalissimo Demmy Gog and his rag-tag six-man army set out to conquer America using the stolen morale machine inventor by Professor Howard Aiken. Meanwhile, the lesser-powered members of the Justice League have a falling-out with their mightier comrades, which results in Batman, Green Arrow, and Atom joining Snapper Carr to investigate the morale machine's disappearance, while Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern remain behind.

A boost of morale allows ordinary humans to defeat the first JLA trio, and finally lands them in Gog's death-trap. At the same time, a lack of morale fills the other three members with such apathy that they cannot summon the will to use their super-powers. Hitchhiking to rendezvous with their comrades, they too fall into Gog's trap, until the Atom rallies the will to escape and switch off the morale device.

The JLA defeats Gog's men, after which Gog himself filled with an excess of morale, attempts to overcome Superman single-handedly – to no avail. Reprinted in Justice League of America Archives Vol. 8 HC.

Edited by Julie Schwartz.

House of Mystery #177

House of Mystery #177 (On Sale: September 10, 1968) has another beautiful cover by Neal Adams featuring those kids who can't keep out of trouble. Once again the Jack Adler coloring on this one is just beautiful.

We begin with "The Son of the Montross Monster" drawn by Mort Meskin and reprinted from House of Mystery #130. This is followed by a Room 13 page written and drawn by Joe Orlando. Next is Odds and Ends From Cain's Cellar drawn by Sergio Aragones and a text feature, "Last Meal," written by Charles King and illustrated by Joe Orlando. The cover story is next, "The Curse of the Cat," written by Anthro's Howie Post and drawn by Brother Power, The Geek's Bill Draut. We end with "Cain's Game Room" by Sergio Aragones. The entire contents is reprinted in Showcase Presents: The House of Mystery #1.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tomahawk #119

Tomahawk #119 (On Sale: September 5, 1968) has just a stunningly beautiful cover by Neal Adams. Gorgeous coloring on this one!

We begin with "Bait for a Buzzard" by Robert Kanigher and Frank Thorne. This is Frank Thorne's first Tomahawk issue, a book he will stay on for the next 21 issues and marks a turning point for this book. Boltinoff is finally updating the interior to match the amazing covers Neal Adams has been producing for the six months or so. The back-up story is "Trap for the Teen-Age Rangers" by France Herron and Fred Ray.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Flash #183

Flash #183 (On Sale: September 5, 1968) has a cover by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito.

"The Flash's Dead Ringer" is by Frank Robbins, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Before the Flash is scheduled to speak at a police symposium in Central City, he learns about a potential assassination attempt. To fool the assassins he travels to Borderville and lets the crooks believe that he is an out of work actor doubling for Barry Allen. Then Iris, disguised as Barry, leads the crooks astray. The deception works, and the crooks call off the assassination attempt.

When Flash then trails one of the crooks, he is caught and frozen solid by an instant icer. With the Flash unable to stop them, the crooks then proceed with a large scale robbery.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Behind the Times

I've had some not so great medical news this week and more just depressing nonsense at work this week and I am just drained and not in a good place. I will get caught up on the fun and games here when I can face the task with something resembling a clear mind. Sorry for the delay.

Brother Power, the Geek #2

Brother Power, the Geek #2 (On Sale: September 5, 1968) has a cover by the legendary Joe Simon, the creator of Brother Power. Not a bad cover this time out.

"A Visit from the Dead" is by Joe Simon though like last issue the artwork is generally credited to Al Bare and Bill Draut and Jack Oleck is considered the co-writer. As we last left Brother Power, the Geek he had driven his motorcycle off a bridge to a watery doom. As we pick up the story while fishing some kids accidentally hook a Geek. Then a guy named the Baron decides to steal Brother Power’s boots, so then he and his gang fly their homemade bi-plane to go do it.

Brother Power kicks their butts and recaps his origin. The kids get him a job in a market, where he starts as a mover and bag boy but moves up the ranks. He ends up finding work and encouraging other hippies (the group from the first issue show up) to do so, eventually getting hired by the J.P. Acme Corporation just as it was taken over by the wicked Lord Sliderule. Brother Power's ingenuity still made the assembly line run more efficiently.

Lord Sliderule launches an unmanned space missile that malfunctions and explodes and the factory is surrounded by tanks who want to destroy the Geek. Geek runs into the Baron, who has become a hippie, and has a glider crash into the tanks. Brother Power was last seen being shot into space on orders from Governor Ronald Reagan, after trying to prevent the sabotage of a rocket launch by Mad Dawg and his gang, knowing it would be blamed on hippies. yeah, it wasn't the tightest of plots.

This was the final issue of Brother Power, The Geek and it has long been regarded as one of the biggest flops in DC history. However, the demise of Brother Power, the Geek had little to do, actually, nothing to do with sales. While sales were modest, Brother Power's real problem was with some of the old-time DC staff. To be precise, Mort Weisinger.

Carmine Infantino has claimed in several interviews following his retirement that Superman editor Mort Weisinger disliked the character very strongly, and petitioned DC publisher Jack Liebowitz to shut down the title. Infantino and others who knew and worked with "Uncle Mortie" have said that Weisinger harbored an admitted dislike for the hippie subculture of the 60's, and felt that Simon portrayed them too sympathetically.

According to Joe Simon, the third issue was canceled just before the finished artwork was to be set up for print duplication, and to this day Simon refuses to discuss exactly what the plot of this issue was about, nor release any of the original art.

Would Brother Power, the Geek ever became a mainstream hit at DC? I kind of doubt it, but it certainly would have had a longer shot. Most of the books that DC killed during this time period were given a full year to make it or die; Geek never got that shot.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Batman #206

Batman #206 (On Sale: September 5, 1968) has a very dramatic cover by Irv Novick

"Batman Walks the Last Mile" is by Frank Robbins, Irv Novick and Joe Giella. Batman and Robin investigate a crime scene and utilize the clues they find to capture a trio of crooks. Their crime was set up by a crook known as the Planner, who decides to get revenge on the Dynamic Duo.

Posing as detective E.G. Never, the Planner interrupts a charity event claiming that he is the "brains" behind Batman's detective ability. He then challenges Batman to a duel of wits. When the next crime is committed, Never is able to identify the crook because he set up the crime. Next he has a crook plant a phony clue to lead Batman astray.

Batman is humiliated by his defeats. However, he deduces that Never was behind the crimes. The Cat-Crook, one of the Planner's hirelings, also realizes that he was set up.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Adventures of Jerry Lewis #109

Adventures of Jerry Lewis #109 (On Sale: September 5, 1968) has a cover by Bob Oksner.

We begin with "Hai Stakes and Karate Chops," in which Jerry uses his "karate" skills to protect a princess, and "Pizza Pie in the Sky," in which Jerry has a short-term job as a pizza maker and which was reprinted in Adventures of Jerry Lewis #121. We end with "A Hard, Dazed Knight" where Jerry spends the night in a haunted house he inherits from his Uncle. All stories are drawn by Bob Oksner.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wonder Woman #179

Wonder Woman #179 (On Sale: September 3, 1968) has a beautiful cover by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano.

"Wonder Woman’s Last Battle" is by Denny O'Neil, Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano and continues the amazing transformation of Wonder Woman. In this classic issue Wonder Woman relinquishes her powers and costume, her mentor I-Ching is introduced as is the new villain Dr. Cyber. As the cover says, "Goodbye to the Past!"

Continuing from last issue, Steve Trevor undertakes a mission to infiltrate the organization of high powered criminal Doctor Cyber. To do so, he is labeled a traitor by his own government. Wonder Woman wants to help Steve, but her mother informs her that the Amazons and Paradise Island must leave Earth's dimension to renew their magical powers. Wonder Woman elects to stay behind, but she must give up her powers and costume.

Wonder Woman returns to America as the powerless Diana Prince. Without the support of her Amazon heritage, Diana must seek a new career. She rents a storefront and soon meets I-Ching, a blind Asian master of martial arts. Ching trains Diana in hand-to-hand combat to take on Doctor Cyber.

Diana finally finds Steve Trevor who has been critically injured. While Steve is hospitalized, she and Ching stop a plot by Cyber's gang to use deadly toys against the families of America's leaders. Reprinted in Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Jack Miller.

Our Army at War #199

Our Army at War #199 (On Sale: September 3, 1968) has a Sgt. Rock cover by Joe Kubert

We begin with "Nazi Ghost-Wolf" a Sgt. Rock story by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. Next is "Think Like a Nazi Soldier" by Howard Liss and Frank Thorne, thorne's second story for DC. Lastly we have "Shadow Targets" a reprint from Our Army at War #42 by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Aquaman #42

Aquaman #42 (On Sale: September 3, 1968) has a wonderful cover by Nick Cardy. In The Art of Nick Cardy Nick says of this cover, "This cover is a departure...The logo was placed at the bottom in the shape of stalagmites, the design is in the form of an inverted 'V' as if viewing from the inside of the inferno. There is heavy influence from my Eisner/Iger days."

"Is This My Foe?" is by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo. As the story of Mera's kidnapping continues, Aquaman locates the Maarzons and discovers that they worship Black Manta as their god. He concludes that Black Manta must have kidnapped Mera, and a fight begins. Black Manta really had nothing to do with Mera's disappearance, but he uses Aquaman's suspicion to force his advantage in the fight. Aquaman triumphs and forces his opponent to flee. Black Manta then admits that he lied about kidnapping Mera. Aquaman then must flee the area before he is attacked by the Maarzons.

However, with Manta gone and no more clues to Mera's whereabouts, an anguished and unbelieving Aquaman wishes he could have "beaten the truth out of Black Manta." Reprinted in Adventure Comics #493.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Anthro #3

Anthro #3 (On Sale: September 3, 1968) has a cover by series creator Howie Post.

"Journey to the Island of Green" is written and drawn by Howie Post. As the story continues, Anthro and his family survive an attack by a race of sub-men. Ne-Ahn worries about surviving the long winter and decides to move his family to warmer climates once the weather improves. As Spring approaches, Anthro is sent to look for food to carry on the journey, but first he wants to see his girlfriend Embra. He tells her that his family will be moving, and she asks that he mark the trail for her people to follow. Her father Tugg then chases Anthro away.

Anthro returns to his family with fresh food and a horse "borrowed" from Tugg. The group then begins their journey to find a new home. Anthro marks the trail which eventually leads to a lush tropical valley. They find a tribe of advanced people with knowledge of architecture living there. When the people see Lart riding the horse, they believe he is a child of prophecy.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Gaspar Saladino

One of the joys of this year's San Diego Comic-Con International was sitting in on Mark Evanier's panel with letterer extraordinaire, Todd Klein. Todd talked about a lot of his favorite letterers over the years, but the master, was Gaspar Saladino. I don't think I really noticed Gaspar's work until Swamp Thing came out, but most of the astonishing covers on this site are lettered by the brilliant Mr. Saladino.

I'm not going to say much more about Gaspar, but "Robby Reed," the creator of the Dial B for Blog website, has a lot he would like to say, in an amazingly detailed tribute to Mr. Saladino. The fun begins right here!