Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Detective Comics #385

Detective Comics #385 (On Sale: January 28, 1969) has a cover by Neal Adams.

"Die Small -- Die Big" is by Robert Kanigher, Bob Brown and Joe Giella. This may be the only Silver Age Batman story that Robert Kanigher wrote. Mailman Herbert Small learns that he will die in less than a month from a incurable medical condition. When he overhears crooks conspiring to kill Batman, Herbert decides to sacrifice his own life to protect the Caped Crusader.

While disguised as one of the conspirators, Small tells the crooks that he has discovered Batman's secret identity, Herbert Small. Small then delivers a message to Bruce Wayne's birthday party which tips off the real Batman. The crooks track Small to his home. Batman gets there before they can kill him, but Small takes a bullet that was intended to hit Batman. The Caped Crusader grants Small a dying glimpse at his real identity in gratitude for saving his life.Reprinted in Batman #257 and Showcase Presents: Batgirl Vol. 1 TPB.

The Batgirl back-up is "Hunt for the Helpless Hostage," by Mike Friedrich, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. Continuing from last issue, Batgirl tracks down Mark Hanner who has passed out from diabetic shock. She rushes him to the hospital where he makes a quick recovery. Mark works as a private detective and has gathered evidence against gangster Web Foote. The crook has now captured Sharon, his sister. Batgirl and Mark work together to rescue Sharon and capture Foote. The next Friday at the library, Mark asks Barbara Gordon on a date. Reprinted in Showcase Presents: Batgirl Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Adventure Comics #378

Adventure Comics #378 (On Sale: January 28, 1969) has a Legion of Super-Heroes cover by Neal Adams.

"Twelve Hours to Live" is by Jim Shooter, Winslow Mortimer and Jack Abel. At a celebration of Brainiac 5's birthday, five Legionnaires are poisoned. Brainiac 5 analyzes the poison and determines that it will kill each of them in twelve hours. Brainiac 5 uses the time to find a cure. Superboy returns to the 20th century and attempts to stay busy. Duo Damsel returns home to visit her parents for the last time. Karate Kid tracks down the Fatal Five on a suicide mission. Projectra mopes around the city until she meets Myron Marks, who lifts her spirits.

As the twelve hour period comes to an end, the poisoned Legionnaires return to headquarters. Brainiac 5 admits that he could not find an antidote. The Legionnaires then compose a will, before each succumbs to the effects of the poison. Brainiac 5 makes one last effort to save them using the Miracle Machine, but he runs out of time. When all the Legionnaires fall unconscious, their killer gloats over his victory. Reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9 HC.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Action Comics #374

Action Comics #374 (On Sale: January 28, 1969) has another brilliant cover by Neal Adams. Before Neal you would never see anything even close to this dramatic in comics.

"Alias Super-Thief" is by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and Jack Abel. Continuing from last issue, Superman is still unable to recall his secret identity after being exposed to an amnesia ray. Police inform him of a Super-Thief named Jud Blake who has been missing for weeks. Superman follows one of Super-Thief's men back to his hide-out and discovers evidence which convinces the Man of Steel that he is actually Super-Thief.

Using a rubber mask, Superman becomes Super-Thief and helps the gang with a robbery. Superman is conflicted about his role as thief and hero. After a second robbery, Superman returns to the hide-out and discovers another Super-Thief. The two men are then attacked by three criminal fences. Superman stops them, then learns that the other Super-Thief is really an FBI agent who was setting up the fences. Superman realizes that he is not the real crook and must resume his search for the truth.

The Supergirl back-up is "No Mercy for Supergirl" by Leo Dorfman and Kurt Schaffenberger. Supergirl is abducted by an alien from the Sarkon galaxy. The alien known as the Avenger explains that his race values life at all cost and no one is allowed to take a life for any reason. He has come to Earth to enforce these laws on fellow super-beings including Supergirl. He witnessed her cutting a rose and killing a butterfly in her college classes, so he charges her with murder. Supergirl is unable to argue her way out of the situation. She then shows the Avenger that he himself was responsible for the death of some microbes. Believing himself a killer, the Avenger kills himself as punishment for his own crime.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Friday, January 23, 2009

World's Finest Comics #183

World's Finest Comics #183 (On Sale: January 23, 1969) has a cover by Neal Adams.

"Superman's Crime of the Ages" is by Leo Dorfman, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Two members of the future Time Patrol return to the 20th century from the year 4069. They meet Batman and show him that Superman went mad after a failed experiment involving Red Kryptonite. The Man of Steel sent a super-satellite into the future which caused the people their to devolve into ape men. Batman accompanies the Time Patrol officers into the future to confirm their story.

After Batman has seen the truth for himself he returns to the 20th century and apprehends his friend. He brings the Man of Steel before a council of U.N. representatives. After testimony is given, Superman is found guilty. As punishment the Time Patrol officers plan to lobotomize him.

Before they can execute their plan, Superman exposes them as Luthor and Brainiac. Their story was a fake which was backed up a future remake of the Planet of the Apes movie. Batman only witnessed a movie set on his trip to the future. With the villains exposed, Superman is honored by the U.N. council that convicted him.

The back-up story is "The Ghost Planet" reprinted from House of Mystery #80 and drawn by Sheldon Moldoff.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Teen Titans #20

Teen Titans #20 (On Sale: January 23, 1969) has a cover by Nick Cardy.

"Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho" is written and penciled by Neal Adams and inked by Nick Cardy, but that description doesn't even come close to explaining the real pedigree of this tale.

Len Wein and Marv Wolfman turned in a story to editor Dick Giordano which would have introduced a black super-hero by the name of Jericho, but this story was never published. The character was changed to Caucasian and renamed as Joshua. Although the cover still bears the original title: "The Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho."

In The Titans Companion by Glen Cadigan, Marv Wolfman reflects on the story: "The second Teen Titans was a story that no one has ever seen printed. It was a story that Len Wein and I co-wrote that was originally intended for Teen Titans #20. It was 'The Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho'...

"We met with Dick Giordano, and told him our idea of a gang, a black super-hero, and a fairly straightforward type of story, closer to what we were seeing in Spider-Man, but with the Teen Titans. We came up with a black character because DC didn't have any at the time...we grew up with black kids in school. Living in New York, all racers, all creeds, everybody was in our classes, so it was never a matter of 'Why not put a black character in?' it's "Why isn't there one?' I mean, like, 'Duh!' So we just wanted to do that.

"Dick liked the story concept, but knew that there could be some problems because of the time period, and brought us into Irwin Donenfeld's...Irwin said he really wanted us to try to do this, try to make it a multi-parter -- which, in itself, was incredibly exciting -- to really be powerful and very street and very authentic, and try to get down and dirty, get a lit grittier...

"A couple of weeks later we came back, and at that point Irwin had left and there was a new person in charge. Whatever the reasons were, because there are so many differences of opinion on this, the story got dropped...It was all drawn, buy the way. Nick Cardy did one of the greatest jobs I had ever seen him do.

"When it was killed, Dick was in a lot of trouble because of deadlines. Neal Adams took a lot of the pages, added a bunch of new pages and rewrote a story around it; a brand-new story, using Jericho, but no longer black. If you look at the cover, which had already been sent to the printer, all they could do was throw a blue tone over it and all the black characters were put into the background because of that, but they were obviously black on the cover and there were none in the comic anymore...

"At any rate, Neal redrew the story using as many of Nick Cardy's pages as he could. He did it, I think, over a weekend with Nick inking simultaneously. I plotted, secretly, the second chapter which Neal followed and made changes along the way, then he wound up the story on his own...Len and I didn't get work for almost two years from DC."

In Adams' tale, a mysterious costumed crime fighter called Joshua invades Titan Lair and enlists the Teen Titans' aid in stopping a confrontation between police and teenage protesters. All involved are unaware that the protesters are being backed by organized crime figures, who in turn are pawns of the alien invaders from Dimension X. The Titans, together with Joshua and his brother, the leader of the protesters, halt the aliens' scheme to release the Meroul Being, a monstrous giant creature, on Earth, but both the aliens and their criminal underlings continue to plot the team's downfall. Reprinted in Best of DC #18 and Showcase Presents: Teen Titans Vol. 2 TPB.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Showcase #81

Showcase #81 (On Sale: January 23, 1969) has a Windy and Willy cover by Bob Oksner and Tex Blaisdell.

"The Haunted Hippie" is by Arnold Drake and Bob Oksner. This story is a partially redrawn Dobie Gillis story reprinted from Many Loves of Dobie Gillis #26. Someone had to think this was a good idea.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Justice League of America #70

Justice League of America #70 (On Sale: January 23, 1969) has a great Creeper cover by Neal Adams.

"Versus the Creeper" is by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Sid Greene. A juvenile would-be super-hero called Mind-Grabber Kid becomes jealous when he is ignored in favor of the Justice League heroes. When alien visitors come to Earth, he leads them to believe that the JLA is composed of enemies of humanity. Meanwhile, the super-team, at Batman's instigation, investigates the activities of the new crime-fighter known as the Creeper.

The JLA, the Creeper, aliens, and a gang of crooks all come together in a four-way battle at the nuclear power plant. After the aliens overcome the League by mimicking their powers, the super-heroes are about to be murdered by the crooks, but the Creeper intervenes and saves them.

A repentent Mind-Grabber Kid explains matters to the aliens, who depart in peace. Reprinted in Justice League of America Archives Vol. 8 HC. Being just a kid myself, I hoped I would see more of Mind-Grabber Kid, but it never happened. This is his one and only appearance.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Date With Debbi #2

Date With Debbi #2 (On Sale: January 23, 1969) has a cover where Debbi has the same dark eyes as list issue, so I am going to guess that this is also the work of Samm Schwartz..

Inside we have Debbi in "Who's Blue?," "I'll Be Suing You" and aan untitles story all by persons unknown.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Strange Adventures #217

Strange Adventures #217 (On Sale: January 21, 1969) has a nice Adam Strange cover by Neal Adams. Deadman is gone and Adam Strange and Atomic Knights reprints have become the order of the day. Since this was my introduction to both series, it was all new to me.

We begin with the origin of Adam Strange, "Secret of the Eternal City," a reprint from Showcase #17 by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Frank Giacoia. While escaping from some Inca villagers, Adam Strange is struck by a Zeta Beam originating from the planet Rann. Originally designed for communications, the Zeta Beam has been altered by its long journey through space, and it teleports Adam Strange to Rann.

On a world 25 trillion miles from Earth, Adam meets Alanna, a woman and her scientist father, Sardath. Using their advanced technology they teach Adam their language. Adam then gets a tour of the planet from Alanna. Rann itself was more advanced than Earth, but a great war caused much technology to be lost, and a majority of its population has reverted to barbarism.

While exploring the city-state of Kamorak, Adam and Alanna come under attack from alien invaders searching for the element Vitatron. Alanna believes it exists in Samakand, a city which only appears once every 25 years. Adam and Alanna contact the scientists of Samakand and are able to lure the invaders there and trap them in the fourth dimension.

After the threat has passed, the Zeta radiation in Adam’s body wears off, and he is transported back to Earth. Having found a new home and new love on Rann, Adam calculates the next occurrence of the Zeta Beam which will once again return him to Rann.

Next is the origin of the Atomic Knights, "The Rise of the Atomic Knights" from Strange Adventures #117 by John Broome and Murphy Anderson. Gardner Grayle, a man who is statistically the average soldier, has survived World War III, which took place from October 9, 1986 to October 29, 1986 and lasted only 20 days. In the post-holocaust world, all plant and animal life has been destroyed. The only remaining food supplies are being hoarded by a tyrant called the Black Baron.

Grayle is attacked by looters trying to rob him. He escapes, then helps another man, Douglas Herald, fend off the attackers. Grayle and Herald discover a set of six medieval suits of armor that have become resistant to radiation. The two men decide to use the suits to attack the Baron's stronghold. They recruit three other men to join the fight, leaving the last suit of armor behind because it is too small.

The five men assault the Baron's stronghold wearing the armor which resists the tyrant's ray guns. The Baron nearly kills Grayle, but he is rescued by an unknown person wearing the sixth suit of armor. After the Baron is defeated, the sixth knight is revealed to be Marene, Herald's sister. The six knights agree to stay together to fight for justice in the post-apocalyptic world.

DC Comics Presents #57, the post-World War III reality within the Atomic Knights series is said to be a computer simulation run by the real Gardner Grayle. However, Hercules Unbound #10 links the Atomic Knights to Kamandi, Omac, and Hercules. Either the events depicted in the series happened outside the simulation or DC just has some really screwy continuity.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Beware the Creeper #6

Beware the Creeper #6 (On Sale: January 21, 1969), the last issue of this title, has a wonderful, dramattic Gil Kane cover.

"A Time to Die" is written by Denny O'Neil, pencilled by Steve Ditko and Jack Sparling and inked by Mike Peppe. Over at The Comics Bulletin Thom Young did a very in-depth look at Ditko at DC entitled, Ditko Shrugged. He has doubts that Ditko actually drew any of this issue or any of last issue for that matter, though he does think that Steve Ditko may have provided rough layouts that Mike Peppe or Jack Sparling or someone turned into final pages. It's a good read, though I don't think Neal Adams drew parts of Beware the Creeper #5 as Young does.

Back to this issue, continuing from last issue, Proteus leaves the Creeper to die by drowning in a sewer tunnel. Before he departs, the villain reveals that he is Jack Ryder's roommate Rip Cord. The Creeper manages to avoid drowning and escapes the tunnel. He then tracks down Proteus who is impersonating the governor. The two men battle above the dam, which Proteus is trying to destroy. The Creeper prevails when Proteus falls over the edge with explosives and dies in the explosion.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Anthro #5

Anthro #5 (On Sale: January 21, 1969) has a cover by Howie Post.

"The River of No Return" is written and drawn by Howie Post. Anthro and his family escape from Katara on a log raft. In the rapids, Anthro falls into the water and is separated from the others. Ne-Ahn gets his family to safety then looks for Anthro. The boy has washed up on shore and is forced to climb the nearby rocks to avoid a group of bears. Anthro finds a clan of bear hunters led by his uncle Do-Ahn. Anthro and Do-Ahn then make their way to Ne-Ahn and the other members of his family. Ne-Ahn and Do-Ahn are reunited for the first time in years. Anthro then receives word that Embra, his betrothed, is migrating south with her family.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Spectre #9

Spectre #9 (On Sale: January 16, 1969) has a cover by Nick Cardy.

We begin with an untitled story by Mike Friedrich and Jerry Grandenetti. Detective Jim Corrigan and a police sergeant track down a criminal known as Sharky. When they try to make the arrest, the sergeant is shot. This causes the Spectre to emerge, and he kills the shooter. Corrigan is upset with the Spectre and lapses into unconsciousness after denying the Spectre access to reenter his body.

The Spectre is called before the powers that created him. He is pronounced a failure and forced to relinquish his power. He is given a book and tasked with the responsibility to observe and judge the lives within.

Next is "Abraca-Doom" by Denny O'Neil and Bernie Wrightson. This would be Bernie Wrightson's second strip for DC and his first super-hero work (if you consider the Spectre to be a super-hero). The Spectre investigates the life of Fredrick Foost, a small-time magician. Foost bargains with the Devil, who gives him a magic wand known as Abraca-Doom. Foost uses the wand to achieve fame as a professional magician. He then begins amassing power by making himself the ruler of a small country. The Spectre continues to withhold judgment, until Foost presses for additional power. Foost then encounters his old assistant Willard who made the same bargain with the Devil as his old boss. The two magicians then must pay the price for their demonic bargains as the Devil collects their souls. Reprinted in House of Mystery #224.

Lastly is "Shadow Show" by Mark Hanerfeld and Jack Sparling. Mark Hanerfeld was an assistant editor at DC and the original model for Abel, the soon-to-be host of the House of Secrets. This is the first of two stories he would write for DC. Mark belonged to a Queens' comic book fan group called T.I.S.O.S., or The Illegitimate Sons of Superman. Other members included Marv Wolfman and Len Wein. In the photo above are Hanerfeld, Wolfman and Wein.

A crook named Hickey evades police by hiding in the shadows. However, as he escapes, the crook begins feeling paranoia. Hickey feels the shadows chasing him, so he tries to remain in the light. When he finally reaches his home Hickey meets the Spectre and is apprehended. Reprinted in House of Mystery #225.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Flash #186

Flash #186 (On Sale: January 16, 1969) has fairly nice cover by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito.

"Time Times Three Equals -- ?" is by Mike Friedrich, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. This is Mike Friedrich's first Flash story and he uses it to reintroduce Golden Age hero Sargon the Sorcerer, who plays the part of villain in this story. Over the next three years Friedrich will write four more issue of the Flash. While Barry Allen is hospitalized after contracting a virus while visiting the 23rd century, Sargon the Sorcerer makes contact with Professor Zoom in the 25th century. Using the Ruby of Life, Sargon is able to break Zoom out of jail and bring him back to the 20th century. Sargon wants Zoom to teach him the secrets of time travels, but the Reverse-Flash only wants to take revenge on his nemesis.

Sargon casts a spell using an extra uniform from the Flash Museum to make the Flash appear dead. Robbed of his revenge against the Flash, Zoom uses Sargon's own magic against him, trapping the Sorcerer in the nether world of Chimano.

Unable to free himself, Sargon summons the Flash who is able to bring them both back to Earth. Professor Zoom who has been on worldwide crime spree then battles the Flash and shrinks him to tiny size. The Flash is able to free himself using Sargon's ruby. He then defeats Zoom, but Sargon himself has disappeared.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Batman #210

Batman #210 (On Sale: January 16, 1969) has a great cover by Neal Adams. I remember seeing this on the stands and having to have it now!

"The Case of the Purr-Loined Pearl" is by Frank Robbins, Irv Novick and Joe Giella. Since her parole, Catwoman has opened a slenderizing salon and sold her crime accessories. Batman still suspects that she will return to crime and deduces that she will strike at a visiting leader from Katmandu. Batman's hunch is correct, because Selina has trained eight female ex-convicts to help her with the job. All nine women dressed as Catwoman then infiltrate Wayne Manor where the Nizam of Nepal is staying with the Potala Pearl. Batman and Robin are waiting for Catwoman to strike and despite help from her allies, Catwoman is caught.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Green Lantern #67

Green Lantern #67 (On Sale: January 14, 1969) has a cover by Gil Kane and Dick Giordano.

We begin with "Green Lantern Does His Ring-Thing" by Gardner Fox, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella. This book is really Gardner Fox's last work for DC as he has been fired. His first work for DC was in Detective Comics #4, June 1937, a Speed Saunders story entitled "The Mystery of San Jose Island." Fox wrote 1,487 stories for DC in his thirty-two year career. He would go on to write for Marvel for a short time, doing Dr. Strange and Tomb of Dracula. Besides his prodigious comic work Fox also wrote over 100 novels and a number of pulp stories. During a short stint on Batman, Fox created the Batarang and the Batplane and then moved on to create new characters including The Sandman, Starman, Dr. Fate, Hawkman, The Justice Society of America and the Flash. For Columbia Fox created Skyman and The Face.

In the Silver Age Gardner Fox created revamped versions of Hawkman, the Flash, the Spectre and the Atom as well as creating The Justice League of America. In 1968 Gardner Fox, Bill Finger, Otto Binder, and Arnold Drake went to DC and asked for health insurance and other benefits and were summarily fired. Fox spent the last 6 years of his life in the Princeton Medical Center, in New Jersey and died on December 24th 1986.

After being released from prison, ex-convict Bill Baggett travels to Evergreen City where Green Lantern has been operating. He has been improving his will power and when Green Lantern is near, Baggett is able to tap into the power ring. Baggett avoids meeting Green Lantern personally and uses the power for crime.

Green Lantern becomes suspicious after his power ring acts against him. He eventually discovers that Baggett is behind the crimes when he finds duplicate currency which the crook created with power ring energy. Green Lantern traces Baggett with the currency. After defeating the crook, he tries to ensure that Baggett will never be able to steal power from the ring again.

The back-up Green Lantern Corps story, "The First Green Lantern," is by Gardner Fox and Sid Greene. Long ago on the planet Rojira two races existed separated by a lava field. On one side were the warlike Rulanns that were shaped like starfish. The Rulanns constantly fought one another, but their regenerative abilities prevented any side from prevailing. On the other side of the planet lived the peaceful humanoids called the Jirenn.

One day Korad of the Rulann was able to cross the lava field and find the Jirenn. The humanoids were not used to fighting and Korad planned to conquer them. One member of the Jirenn, Rori Dag, stood up and fought Korad. While he was inspirational to his people, he lacked the tools to fight the Rulann.

The Guardians of the Universe observed the events on Rojira and decides to intervene. They gave Rori a power ring and battery with which to battle the Rulann. They told him to use the ring for good and not to kill with it. Rori was able to defeat Korad and return him to the Rulann side of Rojira. He then sealed the gap that allowed the creature to cross the lava field. Pleased with Rori's success, the Guardians made Rori Dag the first of the new Green Lantern Corps.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Girls' Romances #139

Girls' Romances #139 (On Sale: January 14, 1969) has a cover inked by Dick Giordano. Next issue the logo will be slightly modified.

We begin with "It's Over -- All Over" drawn by Tony Abruzzo. Next is "A Searching Love" inked by Bernard Sachs. Lastly is "How to Get Your Man."

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Binky's Buddies #2

Binky's Buddies #2 (On Sale: January 14, 1969) has a cover by Bob Oksner.

We begin with Binky's Buddies in "Winter Ice-Folly," followed by Buzzy in "Puppy Love. " Next is Benny in "Where There's a Will..." and Peggy in an untitled story. Lastly we have Binky in "Beach Dummy." We have no credit for anything in this book.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Angel and the Ape #3

Angel and the Ape #3 (On Sale: January 14, 1969) has a cover by Bob Oksner.

"The Curse of the Avarice Clan" is drawn by Bob Oksner and Wally Wood. Angel is hired by lawyer B. Craven Quail to protect Cad Avarice on Avarice Island. Several of the Avarice heirs are murdered in the castle. Angel searches for the killer and identifies Miss Hemlock, the cook. Sam Simeon then arrives on the scene having followed Stan Bragg to the castle who has escaped from the asylum. Angel and Sam then expose the lawyer Quail as the man behind the killings. He was embezzling money from Avarice and was attempting to kill all the heirs including Angel who is a distant cousin of Cad Avarice. When Cad dies, Angel inherits the estate as the only surviving relative, but she learns the estate is now worthless.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Young Love #73

Young Love #73 (On Sale: January 9, 1969) gets a new logo and a Dick Giordano cover to show it off on.

We begin with "Come to Me" a reprint from Falling In Love #30. Next is "When Love Has Gone". Lastly is an untitled Lisa St. Claire story, most likely written or plotted by Dick Giordano.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #118

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #118 (On Sale: January 9, 1969) has one of those stunningly odd "hippie" cover that only DC could do. This one is drawn by Neal Adams.

"The Touch of Life" is by E. Nelson Bridwell and Pete Costanza. While vacationing in the American southwest Jimmy Olsen saves the life of Indian shaman Great Cloud. The Indian rewards Jimmy by granting him the power to temporarily animate pictures, bringing them to life for an hour at a time. When Jimmy returns to Metropolis he uses the new power to foil crime.

The crooks decide to make Jimmy's power work for them by using him to animate a portrait of Lex Luthor holding a chunk of Kryptonite. The animated portrait then uses the Kryptonite against Superman and kills him. The crooks rejoice at their victory only to learn that the dead Man of Steel is really just a duplicate animated by Jimmy. The real Superman rounds up the crooks, then Jimmy destroys kachina doll which gave him his power.

We end with our cover story, "Hippie Olsen's Hate-In" by Otto Binder and Pete Costanza. Jimmy joins a group of hippies to get a story for the Daily Planet. The hippies are secretly led by two disguised criminals who decide to use Jimmy to destroy Superman. They make Jimmy attack the Man of Steel with Kryptonite by convincing him that he is only dreaming. Olsen realizes that he is not dreaming and thwarts the crooks' plan. Superman then counsels the hippies, explaining that they are easy targets for con artists. Wow, I'm sure Uncle Mortie loved this story.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Our Fighting Forces #118

Our Fighting Forces #118 (On Sale: January 9, 1969) features a Joe Kubert Lt. Hunter's Hellcats cover.

This issue begins with Lt. Hunter's Hellcats in "Hell Underwater" by Robert Kanigher and Artie Saaf. This is Artie Saaf's second story for DC, the first being a romance story in 1967. Saaf would do all kinds of work for DC for the next ten years or so, from romance and horror to Binky and Scooter, Lois Lane, Supergirl and the Teen Titans.

The back-up stories are "Battle Light" from Our Army At War #41 and produced by Robert Kanigher and Irv Novick and "Yankee Stallion" written and drawn by Fred Ray.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tomahawk #121

Tomahawk #121 (On Sale: January 7, 1969) features another stunning cover by Neal Adams. Nobody else did anything even remotely close to this quality in 1969.

This issue sported two Tomahawk stories. "To Kill a Ranger" is by Robert Kanigher and Frank Thorne began the book. "Aim Your Cannons at Me" by Howard Liss and Frank Thorne came next. It was reprinted in Sgt. Rock Special #7.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Superboy #154

Superboy #154 (On Sale: January 7, 1969) has a cover by Irv Novick with an inking assist by Neal Adams.

"Blackout for Superboy" is by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Wally Wood. Superboy rescues a fisherman who places a second adhesive emblem on top of Superboy's chest. The emblem contains a transmitter which allows the fisherman to fire a heat ray from long range that makes Superboy think his heat vision is out of control.

Superboy dons a pair of lead glasses and summons Krypto to lead him without sight. Though his crime fighting abilities are hampered, Krypto's assistance allows him to continue. Dr. Dento, the fisherman, then tries to eliminate Krypto with synthetic Red Kryptonite. Superboy removes the lead glasses to help Krypto and learns that his eyesight is normal. Krypto discover the emblem transmitter which leads them to Dr. Dento, who is then taken into custody.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Secret Hearts #134

Secret Hearts #134 (On Sale: January 7, 1969) has a very nice cover by Neal Adams, I think the only romance cover Adams ever did. This is the last issue of Secret Hearts to us this logo.

We begin with "I Had to Run Away to Find Myself..." penciled by John Rosenberger. That is followed by "Not Even a Dream" which is reprinted from Falling In Love #29. We end with "Reach for happiness -- Episode 25."

Edited by Joe Orlando in his last issue as editor.

House of Mystery #179

House of Mystery #179 (On Sale: January 7, 1969) has another wonderful cover by Neal Adams. This is just a classic issue as you will see.

We begin with an introduction page featuring Cain written and drawn by Joe Orlando. Next is "Sour Note" by E. Nelson Bridwell, Jerry Grandenetti and George Roussos. This is the story of Mark Eldon, who was given a note written in a strange language by a mysterious silent woman in a dark abandoned mansion. Everyone he gives the note to seems to be able to translate it and every time they do, the results are disastrous for Mark. What is the secret of the sour note? Reprinted in House of Mystery #229.

Next is "The Man Who Murdered Himself" by Marv Wolfman and introducing Bernie (Berni) Wrightson. This is Marv's first horror story sale and of course he would go on to write years worth of Tomb of Dracula for Marvel. Bernie will always be remembered for his classic run on his co-creation, Swamp Thing, and the numerous covers he will do over the years for the DC horror/mystery line. Bernie also pulled a long stint at Warren drawing some classic black and white horror stories. Reprinted in House of Mystery #228. This story is a pretty inauspicious start for Wolfman, a short tale of a maybe haunted house.

Next we have "Page 13" by Joe Orlando and Sergio Aragones and "Cain's game Room" by Sergio Aragones.

That brings up to "The Widow's Walk" by Howie Post, Neal Adams and Joe Orlando. This is the second of five horror stories that Anthro creator Howie Post would write for DC. Joe Orlando's inks are not a very good fit for Neal Adam's pencils and this is a team you would not see again. Post's story is terrific, beginning in 1897 where we meet Angus Beame, a young merchant seaman. This is the story of Angus's foiled marriage for money scheme and the curse of a scorned and devoted wife. Great stuff and obviously the reason it has been reprinted so much. Reprinted in Limited Collectors' Edition C-23, DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #17 and Saga of Ra's Al Ghul #3.

The entire issue was also reprinted in Showcase Presents: The House of Mystery Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Aquaman #44

Aquaman #44 (On Sale: January 7, 1969) has a great Nick Cardy cover.

"Underworld Reward" is by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo and continues the story of Aquaman's quest for Mera. Aquaman takes his quest to find Mera to the surface world. He witnesses the mob kill an informant. The killer thinks the informant passed information to Aquaman, so the underworld places a price on Aquaman's head.

Aquaman takes refuge in the apartment of a young woman. He gives her a note detailing the information he has and asks her to give it to the police. He then avoids the mob and returns to the ocean and his quest.

As he swims away, Aquaman has second thoughts about leaving the situation behind. He turns around and confronts the mobsters, who have now kidnapped the woman Aquaman met.
Meanwhile, Aqualad who is being held prisoner by the men of Eldfur is taken to face the Bugala, a creature that has been killing their people. Reprinted in Adventure Comics #495.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Adventures of Jerry Lewis #111

Adventures of Jerry Lewis #111 (On Sale: January 7, 1969) has a cover by Bob Oksner is a very strange style.

Inside we have three stories all by persons unknown: "The Jolly Queen Giant," a titleless story and "A-Creep in the Deep."

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Action Comics #373

Action Comics #373 (On Sale: January 7, 1969), AKA 80pg Giant #G-57 has a cover by Curt Swan and Neal Adams in a special Supergirl issue. With this issue the 80-Page Giant is no more and the age of the 64-Page giant began.

We begin with "The Battle of the Super-Pets," from Action Comics #277 and created by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney. Krypto helps Supergirl protect herself from being adopted which wins her favor. Streaky is jealous of the canine and when he regains his powers begins fighting with the Dog of Steel. Superman and Supergirl arrange a competition between the two animals.

They take the rivalry to an alien planetoid and compete in a series of events. Krypto and Supergirl fall in a hole and land near some Kryptonite. Before Streaky can rescue them, the cat loses his powers, however a wish from Supergirl makes the Kryptonite harmless. They soon discover that the planetoid is a playground for Mr. Mxyzptlk. The hole was really a wishing well, which allows Supergirl’s wish to come true. Streaky and Krypto become friends, but the arrival of Super-Monkey starts a new rivalry.

Next is "The Bride of Mr. Mxyzptlk," from Action Comics #291 and also the work of Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney. Mxyzptlk returns to Earth to plague Supergirl. First, he changes everyone in New York into a Bizarro, then he falls in love with Supergirl. To make her happy, the imp brings Zor-El and Alura back with his magic. Kara now has two sets of parents who fight over her.

Zor-El agrees to allow Mxyzptlk to marry his daughter, but instead slips him Kryptonian Truth Serum, forcing the imp to say his name backwards. When Mxyzptlk disappears back to the 5th dimension, Zor-El and Alura disappear as well since they existed only with the power of Mxyzptlk’s magic. The world forgets the events that happened while under Mxyzptlk’s influence, but Supergirl remembers that her parents were briefly restored to life.

"Supergirl's Farewell to Earth" from Action Comics #258 and created by Otto Binder and Jim Mooney is next. While saving two children from a falling tree, Supergirl spots Krypto. She introduces herself to the super-dog and plays with him. Superman arrives and is upset that Supergirl revealed her existence to his dog. He exiles her to an asteroid for a year.

From the asteroid, Supergirl keeps an eye on Earth and even puts out a forest fire. Krypto arrives a week later and warns Supergirl of a kryptonite cloud approaching. She is allowed to return to Earth for one day.

Her absence as Linda Lee has caused people to look for her. She gets her clothes dirty and pretends to have been lost in a swamp. Amazed by the girl’s ability to survive, a reporter checks her for mosquito bites. When he finds none, he guesses that she is a super-girl. Linda removes her disguise and reveals herself to the reporter. Then she tells the reporter that he is Superman. The reporter was Clark Kent.

The whole exile was a test by Superman to see if Supergirl could protect her secret. He wanted to see if she was worthy to learn his secret identity. She found out by herself which proved her ability to Superman.

Next is "The War Between Supergirl and the Supermen Emergency Squad" from Action Comics #276 and drawn by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye. Clark Kent grants a dying man’s wish and reveals his secret identity of Superman. However, the dying man was faking his death. He is secretly the leader of the Anti-Superman Gang, John Kiley.

With knowledge of Clark’s secret, the gang traps him in a mine with a Kryptonite meteor. The gang also uses a device which disables Superman’s robots. Instead, the Man of Steel summons the Superman Emergency Squad and Supergirl for help.

They free Clark from the mine and then trick the gang into believing the drug Kiley used to fake his death gave him hallucinations. With Superman’s secret safe again, the crooks are sent to jail.

Lastly we have "Supergirl's Greatest Challenge." from Action Comics #287 and created by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney. The Legion of Super-Heroes summons Supergirl to defeat the Positive Man, a once-human changed into a massive destructive force by the explosion of his home planet. As they watch from their spaceship, the Maid of Might lures a Negative Creature, created by the same explosion, toward the Positive Man, and the resulting explosion causes both to vanish.

Upon returning to Earth, the Legionnaires learn that this explosion has also erased their powers. Supergirl decides to stay with them, and, working behind the scenes with Whizzy, the telepathic descendant of Streaky (aka Super-Cat), helps the Legion deceive criminals into thinking that they still possess their abilities.

However, the real reason that the Legionnaires are powerless is that they are actually members of an alien chameleon-like race who, in the aftermath of the positive-negative explosion, imprisoned the real Super-Heroes and took their places. Having fooled Supergirl and Whizzy, they project them into the Phantom Zone.

From here, the phantom heroes mentally command a scientist at an android factory to construct a bogus chameleon man, who infiltrates the Legion impostors and releases Supergirl and Whizzy from the Zone. Supergirl captures the aliens and rescues the real Legion.

Edited by Mort Weisinger (E. Nelson Bridwell).

Friday, January 2, 2009

Wonder Woman #181

Wonder Woman #181 (On Sale: January 2, 1969) has a very nice cover by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano. I really loved the non-super-hero action of the revamped Wonder Woman and the very James Bondish covers and stories produced here.

"The Wrath of Dr. Cyber" is by Denny O'Neil, Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano. Diana Prince and I-Ching learn the location of Dr. Cyber's secret undersea base from one of her agents. The duo invade the facility to rescue Tim Trench. They then manage to escape before the base self-destructs.

Tim and Diana return to her shop and renew their hunt for Cyber. Tim recalls that Cyber mentioned the European town of Bjorland. Diana, Tim, and I-Ching visit the mountain village and discover that the inhabitants all work for Cyber. They locate Dr. Cyber, who tries to bribe Trench into betraying his friends. Reprinted in Wonder Woman #197 (yeah, only two years later!) and Diana Prince:Wonder Woman Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Jack Miller in his final editorship at DC. Miller had spent five years at DC as an editor, but was pushed out so that the artists could move in. In the case of Wonder Woman Mike Sekowsky would take over the running of the book.

As for Jack Miller, he would be gone from DC for two years, returning in 1971 to write three horror stories for the burgeoning horror/mystery line and in 1973 to write a single romance story. I don't know where Miller went after that but this was kind of an ignoble end for a guy who had been a DC writing mainstay for nearly 19 years.

Miller started writing for DC in 1945, doing a Congo Bill story in Action Comics #86, but became a regular DC writer in 1950 when he penned years' worth of Congo Bill stories in Action Comics and Johnny Quick stories for Adventure Comics. He also wrote a string of science-fiction stories for Strange Adventures and Mystery In Space, many of these treasures penciled by the great Gil Kane. Jack Miller was also one of the key Phantom Stranger writers in the early 1950s and also did a stint writing Roy Raymond for Detective Comics.

He wrote war stories for All-American Men of War, G.I. Combat, Star Spangled War Stories and Our Fighting Forces. He did a few issues of Blackhawk, wrote the Manhunters issue of Showcase and created Rip Hunter -- Time Master first for Showcase and then in his own book. He wrote the Aquaman reboot in Showcase #30-#33, a couple of issues of Detective Comics, Worlds Finest Comics and five issue of Aquaman. He also wrote Tommy Tomorrow for World's Finest Comics. Jack Miller wrote six of the key Deadman issues for Strange Adventures and a shit-load of Martian Manhunter stories for House Of Mystery and Prince Ra-Man stories for House of Secrets. I'm sure I am missing a bunch of stuff (Green Arrow for example), and I wish I had more to tell about the man, but I don't.

Our Army at War #204

Our Army at War #204 (On Sale: January 2, 1969) begin s the books of 1969 with a cover by Joe Kubert proclaiming a "Special Issue!"

Now by "Special Issue!" DC really meant "Reprint Book!" Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert created a framing sequence around a number of reprints, beginning with "Battle of the Bugles" by Nat Barnett, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito from Our Army At War #16. Next was "Trench Battle" by Jack Miller and Joe Kubert from Star Spangled War Stories #48 and "Stand-In Soldier" written and drawn by Fred Ray from Our Army At War #19.

This was followed by "The Golden Gladiators" by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito and reprinted from Our Army At War #52. The book ends with "Sword for a Statue" by Nat Barnett, Gene Colan and Joe Giella and reprinted from Our Army At War #17.

Edited by Joe Kubert.