Friday, July 31, 2009

Detective Comics #391

Detective Comics #391 (On Sale: July 31, 1969) has a cover by Neal Adams.

We begin with Batman in "The Gal Most Likely to Be -- Batman's Widow" by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella. Tim Clark a masseuse and physical therapist at Bruce Wayne's club is having problems with his girlfriend, Ginny Jenkins (from Detective Comics #380). She has started working for Mr. Arnold at Dining Out Magazine. Through an accidentally turned on intercom Tim and Bruce learn that Mr. Arnold is using the magazine to extort advertising money out of restaurants. While Bruce leaves to change into Batman, Tim learns of Ginny's inadvertent involvement in the plan, as she is the magazine's reviewer.

That night at a restaurant being visited by Mr. Arnold and Ginny, two good threaten to ruin the food if the owner does not buy an expensive ad. the plot is broken up by Batman, but the owner refuses to finger Arnold as the instigator. that night Tim tries to warn Ginny that Arnold is a crook, but Ginny just thinks he is jealous and won't listen to him. Tim thinks she would listen if Batman was the one telling her and then hatches a plan.

Arnold meets his henchmen in the sauna at the club once again and gives them the orders for tonight's restaurant attack. When they leave Batman is seen leaving the building and an unseen person removes a bar of soap from the sauna. At tonight's restaurant, the owner is prepared to pay the extortion money when Batman comes to him with a plan. Shortly the waiter brings Arnold and Ginny a souvenir of the restaurant, only Batman shows up and reveals that the small models actually contain the pay-off money. Arnold pulls a gun, but Batman knocks him out and then comforts Ginny.

Arnold comes to and calls for his men who sneak up on Batman and knock him out. Before they throw him off the balcony to his death they unmask Batman and find that he is Tim Clark. Only the real Batman shows up at that time and mops up the gang, reveals that the money they were given was marked by the owner and also reveals a small tape recorder hidden in a bar of soap that Batman used to gather evidence against Arnold and his men.

The back-up Robin story is "Strike" by Mike Friedrich, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson and continues from last issue. Personally, I thought last issue was a pretty much jumbled mess and this issue doesn't really do much to rectify that feeling.I never liked the Friedrich Robin stories, they never rang true for me, though he sure wrote a lot of them in his five years at DC.

The head negotiator for the college has abruptly ended negotiations with the Teachers' Union. Dick Grayson and Gotham Owl editor Rocky follow the negotiator and see him talking to two kids wearing Skyline jackets, one of whom Dick recognizes as the one that got away from the skirmish Friday night.

Rocky leaves and Dick is free to change into Robin and after a relatively quick fight the head negotiator tells how he was blackmailed into ending negotiations and that someone had tried to run over his son. One of the Skyline kids tells Robin who their boss is, where to find him and what type of protection he has.

Robin quickly foots it to the bosses HQ, and knock out the two guards he was warned about outside the building. He then races into the big man's office only to find two more gunsels that he knew nothing about. Robin realizes he has been set up , but as the thugs prepare to blast him, the police call out over a loudspeaker for the thugs to surrender with their hands up. Robin uses the momentary distraction to take out the two thugs and the big boss. When he calls for the police to come in and take them all away he finds that it was only Rocky, who had followed Robin to the thugs hideout.

It ends up the big boss owned land adjacent to the college and wanted to make sure that his land was used for the campus expansion. Later the negotiations are begun again and a new contract is quickly signed. This story was reprinted in Batman in the Sixties TPB and Showcase Presents: Robin the Boy Wonder Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Adventure Comics #384

Adventure Comics #384 (On Sale: July 31, 1969) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

We begin with Supergirl in "The Heroine Haters" by Cary Bates, Winslow Mortimer and Jack Abel. That is followed by another new Supergirl story, "Supergirl's Greatest Failure" by Cary Bates and Kurt Schaffenberger.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Action Comics #380

Action Comics #380 (On Sale: July 31, 1969) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

We begin with Superman in "The Confessions of Superman" by Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan and George Roussos. That is followed by the Legion of Super-Heroes in "Half a Legionnaire?" by Jim Shooter, Winslow Mortimer and Jack Abel, which was reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9 HC.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Friday, July 24, 2009

World's Finest Comics #187

World's Finest Comics #187 (On Sale: July 24, 1969) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

We begin with Superman and Batman in "The Demon Sin" by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. The back-up strip is Green Arrow in "The Green Arrow's First Case" a reprint from Adventure Comics #256. This telling of Green Arrow's origin is by France Herron, Jack Kirby and Roz Kirby. Green Arrow and his partner Speedy learn of a scientific expedition bound for Starfish Island. G.A. is worried that the expedition will uncover his secret identity because the island was where he became Green Arrow. As the two archers fly to the island to intercept the expedition, G.A. tells Speedy the story of how he became Green Arrow.

One night, Oliver Queen fell overboard on a ship. He was unable to be rescued, so he swam to a nearby island. He made a home in a cavern on the island and fashioned a bow and arrow for hunting. At first his aim was poor, but long hours of practice paid off and he improved.

While fishing with his arrows, the fish would swim away after being hit, so Queen attached a vine to the arrow so that he could reel in his catch. This became his first trick arrow; a rope arrow. He soon created net and drill arrows, as well as a green leaf outfit for camouflage while hunting.

One evening Queen spotted a ship offshore. He swam to the ship to discover that the crew was mutinying. Using grease to cover the reflection of light on his white face, The masked Queen defeated the pirates and acted for the first time as Green Arrow.

Green Arrow kept a diary of events on the cavern wall. He is worried the expedition will find it and learn his secret identity. Using a fake-uranium arrow, G.A. scares off the expedition who believes there is radiation on the island. G.A. then destroys the diary so no one will learn his secret.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Showcase #85

Showcase #85 (On Sale: July 24, 1969) has a very nice Firehair cover by Joe Kubert.

We have a feature-length Firehair origin story, "I Don't Belong Here -- I Don't Belong There" which is obviously a labor of love for writer/artist/editor Joe Kubert. the story opens sometime in the early 1800's with our hero riding bareback across the desert being chased by a gaggle of towns-people shooting in his direction. Firehair is a teen-aged boy in Native American garb, with white skin and glowing red hair in two long tails trailing down his back. he has been shot but continues to ride.

When he reaches a rock face he leaps for it and begins to climb its face. The towns-folk dismount and take aim just as a hand reaches out of a cave in the rock and pulls Firehair to relative safety. The enraged towns-people fire off so many shots that they cause a landslide which covers the mouth of the cave, trapping Firehair and his unknown benefactor. Inside we find a Shaman and Evening Star, a young woman of the Blackfoot nation.

Firehair has been shot multiple times and they cannot move him from the cave, As the Shaman dresses his wounds, Firehair is enveloped by delirious dreams of his past. He sees a tribal fire he never witnessed where the Shaman tells the tribal elders of the terrible destruction of the Blackfoot and their brother nations at the hand of the paleface that he has foreseen. He also speaks of a great warrior who will arise, who will not look like any warrior in the Indian Nations, who will be despised by his own people and those he will seek to help. A great warrior who is the Blackfoot's only hope for salvation.

As Firehair's vision continues he sees the same tribe gathered on a mesa and attacking the wagon train below. Attacking relentlessly until all the pale ones are dead, all save one child with flaming red hair, whom Chief Grey Cloud takes to raise as his own. The resentment and hostility towards the white child runs deep in the village, but to some extent hidden. As young Firehair grows he learns that in order to survive and to prove himself worthy of being the Chief's son, he must be better than all the other children in the village, and so he is. But he is also alone and friendless. The years pass and Firehair reaches the age of manhood and goes off on a vision quest; the only one in the village offering him good luck is Evening Star. He fasts for five days seeing visions of his past, present and future and arises a man.

Back at his village he tells his father he dreamed of others with skin like his and wants to find them, to see if he belongs in their world. And so, Firehair heads off for the town, where he is attacked by a bully in the general store and when he fights back the whole town wants his hide. The town Sheriff steps in to break things up, but Firehair has had enough and breaks away, riding out of town, the towns-people shooting at his back.

His feverish vision ends and he finds himself in the cave with Evening Star, who says that now that he is better they can return home. But Firehair says he does not have a home, not with the Blackfoot and not with the palefaces. And so he sets off to travel the Earth looking for a place where he can belong.

I can not say enough about Joe Kubert's artwork on this book. He obviously spent a lot of time doing research on the Blackfoot nation and culture and you see it in every panel. He littered the book with wonderful detail and employed a grease pencil on every page, some times just a little, some times a lot, to give the pages a look different from any of the other books being published at that time.

Firehair would appear in two more issues of Showcase before finding a spot as a back-up strip in Tomahawk for another three issues. He didn't show up again till the character-packed Showcase #100 and then again in Crisis on Infinite Earths. In 1989 he was in one issue of Swamp Thing and then completely forgotten until the publication of War That Time Forgot in 2008 and where he can still be seen today.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Justice League of America #74

Justice League of America #74 (On Sale: July 24, 1969) has a cover by Neal Adams.

"Where Death Fears to Tread" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Sid Greene continues from the previous issue. Banished living star, Aquarius, got hold of Starman's Cosmic Rod and used it to wipe out of existence all of Earth-Two, except for a sextet of Justice Society members. who along with Black Canary's husband, Larry Lance, are trapped in a mystic sphere of Dr. Fate's creation and the android hero Red Tornado who escaped to Earth-One and is now bringing back the Justice League.

I need to stop here for just a moment to discuss foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a literary device where the author drops hints or clues early on in a story, the more innocuous and seemingly unimportant the better, only to have those hints come back later on as a key component in solving whatever predicament arises in the story. For foreshadowing to work, there has to be somewhat of a slight-of-hand going on, the reader must take in the information but not realize it has any importance. What Denny O'Neil does next is a bit of foreshadowing, but it is so clumsily handled that anyone reading the story can see it for what it is and it takes away something from a story that is of classic importance. Yeah, this is a classic issue for a couple of reasons, as you will soon see, but what you are going to see first is a really fumbled attempt at foreshadowing.

As the JLA traverse the dimensions between Earth-One and Earth-Two, most of the member are protected by Green Lantern's ring. Right before they complete the journey, Green Lantern makes sure he avoids the negative matter universe, whose entrance just happens to be right there, along the inter-dimensional path the heroes travel. Oy!

Aquarius is growing bored with the JSA heroes and is contemplating finishing them off when the JLA heroes pop up. Needing time to figure out what is going on, Aquarius places a mesmeric command in the air and then disappears. Seeing Aquarius flee, Dr. Fate relaxes his energy bubble and when he does so Aquarius's command to "Destroy the Intruders!" takes hold.

We are then treated to a fairly interesting eight-page fight between the JSA and the JLA. The only really important part of this fight is when Green Arrow hits Black Canary with a "stickum arrow" which covers her in a gloppy mess, adhering her to the ground (OK, since Earth-Two and everyone on it have been destroyed I have no idea to what "ground" she is stuck, but she is.). The important thing to remember is that she is stuck and can't move. OK, there is one other important thing, Green Lantern of Earth-One has used his ring to find Aquarius and bring him to the JLA.

Aquarius fights off Green Lantern's energy beams and sends some of his own back in Lantern's direction. The beams of energy coalesce into a huge multi-hued sphere, but Aquarius's aim is a little off and instead of heading for Green Lantern the sphere is heading for Black Canary. Canary's husband, Larry Lance, senses the danger to his wife and does the only thing he can think of to save her, he jumps in front of the sphere and shields her body with his own...and it kills him!

The energy released by the exploding sphere releases the JSA from the murderous command of Aquarius and it also restores Earth-Two and everyone on it, but it kills Black Canary's husband. A few hours later the combined heroes bury Larry Lance and Aquarius shows up and laughs at the anguish of the heroes.

The heroes attack Aquarius and the Green Lanterns are able to taunt Aquarius into following them in the negative matter universe where their rings protect them, but Aquarius is destroyed.
The threat ended the JLA say their good-byes and prepare to return to Earth-One, but before they leave, Black Canary, saying she can't stand the thought of living in a world full of memories of Larry, asks if she can go with them to Earth-One. Superman picks her up and the first of the Golden Age DC characters moves from Earth-Two to Earth-One. This has been reprinted in Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2 TPB, Justice League of America Archives Vol. 9 HC and Showcase Presents: Justice League of America Vol. 4 TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Windy and Willy #3

Windy and Willy #3 (On Sale: July 22, 1969) has a very nice cover by Bob Oksner.

We have a feature-length untitled story reprinted from Many Lives of Dobie Gillis #20 and drawn by Bob Oksner. It is partially redrawn and retitled Windy and Willy.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Sugar and Spike #85

Sugar and Spike #85 (On Sale: July 22, 1969) has a cover by Sheldon Mayer.

We begin with "Bernie the Brain and the Octopus" reprinted from Sugar and Spike #72. Next is "The Mystery of the Giant Jungle-Gym" reprinted from Sugar and Spike #43. That is followed by "Sugar Becomes an Indian Chief" reprinted from Sugar and Spike #48. Next is "Who Said That?" reprinted from Sugar and Spike #41. We end with "Sugar's Great-Great-Great Grampa Plumm" reprinted from Sugar and Spike #24. All stories and artwork are by Sheldon Mayer.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Adventures of Jerry Lewis #114

Adventures of Jerry Lewis #114 (On Sale: July 22, 1969) has a cover by Bob Oksner.

We have Jerry Lewis stories: "The Flowers That Boom in the Spring" and "The Nut That Holds the Wheel."

Edited by Murray Boltinoff

Friday, July 17, 2009

Teen Titans #23

Teen Titans #23 (On Sale: July 17, 1969) has one of the most popular Nick Cardy covers of all time. I know the 13-year-old me drooled over this one for hours, eh weeks... OK, months... alright, years! This cover always reminds me of Kurt Busiek's afterword in The Art of Nick Cardy where he recalls, "...I'm at a Marvel Christmas party and Cardy's name comes up, and Miss Jo Duffy, sitting on a desk, bursts out with, "Oh, man! He was the best--he did the best jailbait ever!" Indeed, and Nick Cardy's Wonder Girl was the queen of my Silver Age jailbait.

"The Rock 'n' Roll Rogue" is by Bob Haney, Gil Kane and Nick Cardy and is another example of Cardy's wonderful inking style. The Teen Titans are enjoying a Sammy Soul concert from the front row when Sammy suddenly runs from the stage causing the kids to start a major riot in the theater. Robin and Wonder Girl, showing off her new and improved costume distract the kids with a show of acrobatics while Kid Flash gives everyone on hand an instant refund. the immediate crisis averted the Titans take the Titan whirlybird to Sammy Soul's estate, where below Sammy's cousin Irmgard and her husband Luther are arguing with Sammy's manager over who owns him till he reaches legal age.

The Titans land and listen to Sammy's tale of woe, an orphan who grew up in a foster family who never loved him but now fight over custody since he has become famous and rich, how the only person who ever loved him was his Uncle Matt who was lost in South America years ago whole looking for treasure. Wonder Girl tries to come on to Sammy, to console him and Robin tells her to "Cool it." Looking back on these stories I guess, for a while there, they played up Wonder Girl as a little slut, something I never minded as a kid.

Anyway, the Titans leave but the next day they return to find Sammy is missing, but they find a clue in a guitar given to Sammy by his Uncle Matt and decide that Sammy has headed off to South America to find his Uncle. Sammy has landed in Los Santos Venezuela and is mobbed by fans even there, but is rescued by Juan Sastre, who tells Sammy he remembers Sammy's uncle, Matt Murdock (strange how that name gets around comics), who vanished in the great plateau of the interior of the country. Juan signs on as Sammy's guide and off they go.

Meanwhile, the Titans have tracked Sammy and locate his helicopter on the plateau. When they land to inspect the site, they are attacked by native headhunters, who are beaten back by an onslaught of arrows from Speedy. Sammy and Juan have been taken by the natives to their village where they find Uncle Matt unharmed in one of the huts, However, he has lost his memory, which Juan says is the only thing keeping him alive as the natives will not shrink the head of an amnesiac.

The Titans discover the village and using all of their powers they manage to rescue Sammy, Juan and Uncle Matt and thanks once again to Speedy and his amazing array of arrows they manage to keep the natives from following them. But, a short time later Matt's memory returns and he leads them through a tunnel to a hidden indoor pool,, which he says is El Dorado, where the old Indian civilization tossed their fortune in gold and emeralds to keep them from the Spanish conquistadors. It was while diving deep for the treasure that Uncle Matt lost his memory and was captured by the headhunters.

Wonder Girl says that she can swim very deep and will dive for the treasure but all she finds are the bones of those who tried to find El Dorado in the past. Convinced that he has not found El Dorado Uncle Matt agrees to return home, but on the way back to the choppers the natives capture Juan. Using Sammy's amps and mics from his helicopter, Uncle Matt booms his voice out into the jungle pretending to be the thunder god, Pichu Pichu and using Wonder Girl to drop Sammy Soul dolls from the sky as thunder god tributes the natives are convinced to let Juan go free. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Teen Titans Vol. 2 TPB.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Strange Adventures #220

Strange Adventures #220 (On Sale: July 17, 1969) has an Adam Strange cover by Joe Kubert.

We begin with Adam Strange in "The Beast from the Runaway World" reprinted from Mystery In Space #55 and created by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Bernard Sachs. Adam Strange waits for the Zeta Beam to strike Earth and return him to Rann, but the Beam never comes. Puzzled by its failure to appear, Adam calculates when the next beam is scheduled to strike and takes it to Rann.

When he arrives, he meets Alanna, who explains that the first beam was intercepted by a planet with an erratic orbit. A creature from that planet was brought to Rann, Zaradak. Zaradak, a giant dinosaur-like beast, has been causing damage on Rann ever since.

Adam attempts to stop the creature with his ray-gun, but the creature absorbs and reflects the blast. Adam has food brought to the beast, which settles its rampage. It was only hungry.

When an alien attack force arrives, Adam plans to use the creature to deflect their bombs, but the Zeta energy in the creature returns it to its native world. Adam flies into space to intercept the bomb, destroying with his ray-gun just prior to his own return ride to Earth on the Zeta Beam.

Next is "The Star Oscar" reprinted from Strange Adventures #34 and the work of Sid Gerson and Frank Giacoia.

We end with the Atomic Knights in "The Lost City of Los Angeles" reprinted from Strange Adventures #126 and produced by John Broome and Murphy Anderson. After a hurricane devastates Durvale, Gardner Grayle proposes to discover what remains of the country. He instructs the Hobard brothers to build gliders with which they can fly across country. Bryndon joins Gardner and the Hobards on the trip west. The plains of the midwest are black and lifeless and the Rocky Mountains have become volcanic.

The Knights finally reach Los Angeles, where they locate a small band of living humans. The Knights help them retrieve a supply of food from a canyon protected by electrical beings which are merely illusionary. After getting the food, Bryndon sets up a radio allowing the Knights to communicate with Durvale.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Flash #191

Flash #191 (On Sale: July 17, 1969) has the last of the three brilliant covers by Joe Kubert. This is the least of the three, but it is one of those like Secret Six #1 where the cover is the first panel of the story.

"How to Invade Earth -- Without Really Trying" is by John Broome, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito and begins with a groggy figure crawling around a corner to find the Flash's suit and as the cover tells you, it is not Barry Allen. No, it is Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan and he is surprised as anyone to find the Flash's costume and not his own.

From this point the story backtracks to earlier in the day when Hal is visiting the home of the Barry Allen's, Hal being in Central City on toy business. Iris Allen informs Hal that she has a surprise for him, a beautiful woman who she met while doing interviews for an article on modern fashions for her newspaper. Hal then recounts how he had met another woman in Florida last week and how she had stole his client by employing "the most shameless use of her feminine wiles!" This of course took place in Green Lantern #71 earlier this month and a nice bit of cross-over work by John Broome and Julius Schwartz, something you rarely saw at DC in 1969.

The doorbell rings and the cross-over continues as in walks brazen toy saleswoman Olivia Reynolds. Hal is really annoyed but over a good home-cooked meal he begins to warm up to Olivia and can't believe she is the same woman who went for the "hard sell" in Florida. Hal wonders which Olivia is real when his ring attempts to read her mind to find out. It is an unconscious act which Hal can't stop, but he does manage to turn the mind-probing beam invisible at least. However, for some reason the beam is thrown back at Hal, who yelps in pain. While getting some air he explains to Barry what happened and Barry thinks it might be that the Guardians prevented the beam from reaching Olivia and sent it painfully back at Hal because he was trying to use it for personal gain.

Suddenly spaceships appear over Central City and begin sending out telepathic communications saying they are the Mogrians and the they are taking over the Earth. Barry and Hal change into the Flash and Green Lantern and attack the Mogrians only to be attacked by strange monsters, that look like something out of a science-fiction movie. Something isn't adding up here as the Mogrian's ray-guns are just toys. Just then the aliens link arms and blast the Flash and green Lantern, appearing to disintegrate them.

Inside the spaceship we see a different type of character, an old alien named Glabr, who we learn is from an ancient race know as the Lenglyns, who use the power of subconscious mental giants they call U-Minds to sustain their civilization. Glabr has found a U-Mind on Earth in Olivia Reynolds. It was Glabr who repelled Hal's energy beam from Olivia's mind and decided to distract Green Lantern by staging a fake invasion of Earth using the Mogrian robots he carries on his ship, robots that just so happen chose this time to revolt against their masters and begin constructing machines to build more of themselves.

Which takes us to the opening scene of Hal waking up on a sidewalk to find the Flash's uniform. Just then Barry comes round the corner in Hal's Green Lantern suit, Barry saying he was told where to find Hal by a voice in his head. Glabr appears and tells them what has transpired and that only the Flash and Green Lantern can defeat the Mogrians. But Hal and Barry soon learn that they have been stripped of their powers. Glabr says that the Mogrians do not have the power to do such a thing unless they have already tapped into the power of Olivia's U-Mind. By banding together Glabr, Barry and Hal are able to telepathically locate Olivia being held captive in the spaceship.

They are able to connect with her mind and convince her that she has the power to mentally restore the Flash and Green Lantern's powers, which she is able to do. All that remains is for the Flash and Green Lantern to board the spaceship, defeat the Mogrians and rescue Olivia. Green Lantern uses his ring to remove Olivia's knowledge of what has transpired, a requirement for the Lenglyns to use her U-Mind. They wake Olivia up back at the Allen's house and she is none the wiser where the four of them play some bridge.

The letters page is a real winner this issue, featuring letters by regulars Gary Skinner and Peter Sanderson Jr and a guy named Mark Evanier.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Date With Debbi #5

Date With Debbi #5 (On Sale: July 17, 1969) has a cover by Samm Schwartz.

We begin with an untitled Debbi story drawn by John Rosenberger. That is followed by "Debbi Meets the Hawk" by Henry Boltinoff, John Rosenberger and Henry Scarpelli, which was reprinted in Best of DC #53. We next have Debbi in "Who's Flirting?" and we end with an untitled Flowers story drawn by L. Stuchkus and Frank McLaughlin.

This is the first DC work by L. Stuchkus who would do done more story in the next issue. In the early 1980s Stuchkus would work on a daily newspaper strip entitled Chip's Place. What other work Stuchkus did I do not know.

This is also the first DC work for Frank McLaughlin who would go on to ink more than 365 stories for DC in the next 26 years. McLaughlin is another of the Dick Giordano imports from Charlton, where McLaughlin got his start in comics.

He became Charlton's art director working under Giordano and worked on such books as Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Sun of Vulcan, The Fightin' Five and Sarge Steel, it is his co-creation of Judo Master with Joe Gill for which McLaughlin's stint at Charlton is remembered.
McLaughlin remained the art director at Charlton through 1972, despite also working for DC during this period.

Despite his skills as a penciler, Frank McLaughlin was only utilized as an inker at DC and besides his work on Date With Debbie and Debbi's Dates, he is mainly remembered for long stints on Action Comics Weekly, Flash, Batman, Detective Comics, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, the Justice League of America, Wonder Woman and World's Finest Comics. His last work at DC was on Batman: Shadow of the Bat #39 in 1995.

At Marvel McLaughlin inked Captain America, Captain Marvel and The Defenders. He also did articles and pencils and inks for Marvel's black and white The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu.

Frank McLaughlin has also had a long career in newspaper strips. He was an assistant on The Heart of Juliet Jones. He also worked on Brenda Starr, Nancy and The World's Greatest Superheroes.

As an author he was written How to Draw Those Bodacious Bad Babes of Comics and How to Draw Monsters for Comics both with Mike Gold.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Batman #215

Batman #215 (On Sale: July 17, 1969) has a cover by Irv Novick. I have always wondered if this cover inspired the soon to happen desertion of Wayne Manor.

"Call Me Master" is by Frank Robbins, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. Three of Gotham's leading citizens, J. Carlyle, Andrew Barclay and Clem Sterling, receive strange phone calls giving them orders of some sort. A fourth call to Bruce Wayne is not completed as Bruce is out that night patrolling as Batman. While on patrol Batman and Robin foil a robbery at Carlyle Department Stores warehouse only to find Carlyle himself on site and calling it a legitimate shipment , even though the men a a bunch of ex-cons.

Later on the Dynamic Duo break up a robbery at Andrew Barclay's mansion only to find Barclay there and insisting that the man in the mask breaking into his safe is a locksmith. Still later that night Batman and Robin spy a group of phony guards stealing jewels from Sterling gems. When they call Sterling he says that he turned off his alarm system and opened the vault an hour earlier, but does not know why he did it.

Bruce notes that all three men involved in tonight's crimes are members with Bruce of the Gotham Civic Conscience Council. The next day, after more digging Bruce learns that all the members of the Council have been similarly involved in strange activity where they have somehow assisted in the participation of crimes against themselves. Just them Bruce gets a phone call and won't tell Dick who the caller was.

When it comes time for their nightly patrol, Bruce says he has some business to attend to and Dick tails him as Robin. Bruce drives to one of his warehouses and unlocks the door for a group that Robin recognizes as pharmaceutical smugglers.. Robin breaks up the heist and confronts Bruce, who says he doesn't know why he did it, but felt compelled to do whatever the voice on the phone told him to do. Robin orders Bruce to hit him on the chin and Bruce does it, proving that Bruce will do whatever he is ordered to do by anyone.

The next day Bruce calls an emergency meeting of the Council and lays out his theory of what is going on and gives each member a locket containing a bug that Batman will be listening in to. Should any of them receive a call ordering them to do something Batman will be there too break up the crime and hopefully catch the mastermind. However one of the people at the table is the mastermind and thinks this is his opportunity to get rid of Batman.

That night Myron Mycroft gets a call ordering him to bring his negotiable securities to the Gotham First National Bank. Batman and Robin stake out the place and when Mycroft shows up to hand over the securities the Dynamic Duo attempt to collar the bad guy, only a gunman tries to ambush Batman. Robin takes care of the assassin, but the bad guy gets away with the securities. Batman assumes the gunman was aiming for Mycroft and when he apologizes to Mycroft for bungling their planned trap Mycroft tells him to "Take your inept paws off of me!" to which Batman responds, "Yes, master." Mycroft realizes that Batman is also somehow subject to voice control.

Later Mycroft calls police headquarters and asks to speak to Batman. Robin notices that Batman gets the same strange look on his face as Bruce did when he was ordered to do something. When they return to the Batcave, Batman says he needs to do some "gardening," but Robin and Alfred follow him as he plants explosives around Wayne Manor. Mycroft arrives and orders Batman to complete the destruction of Wayne Manor as he has been ordered. Batman tries to fight the mind-control, but in the end he cannot and he presses the detonator, causing a massive explosion. However when the smoke clears, Wayne Manor still stands and Mycroft thinks that Batman was only pretending to obey his orders in order to capture him, that Batman realized he was wearing on of Mycroft's "micro-wave will-power nullifiers" and removed it. His hands behind his back batman removes something from his wrist and knocks the gun out of Mycofts's hands.

Alfred and Robin appear revealing how they followed Batman around replacing his explosives with fireworks and smoke-bombs. Mycroft is confused by this and Batman explains how when Mycroft revealed that Batman had to be wearing the mind-control device he realized it must be the gold, electronic watches that the Civic-Conscience Council was given that were provided by Mycroft's company. Mycroft then admits that he had made some bad investments and was on the verge of bankruptcy and that the devices contained a "micro-mechanism that tunes the watch-vibrator to a frequency that numbs the voluntary-control center of the brain."

The probmen I have with this story is that it does not explain how Batman got one of the watches unless his secret identity is as one of the members of the Civic-Conscience Council.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Phantom Stranger #3

Phantom Stranger #3 (On Sale: July 15, 1969) has its first cover by Neal Adams, and the new Neal Adams logo. What is interesting is that while the logo depicts the revamped Phantom Stranger, using his hat's shadow as a mask, the cover shows an entirely different guy, closer to the Bill Draut covers of the first two issues.

We begin with the Phantom Stranger in "How Do You Know My Name?" a reprint from Phantom Stranger #5 (1953) by John Broome, Frank Giacoa and Joe Giella. A carnival mystic, Vasti, predicts supernatural behavior will increase at an amusement park. Suddenly ghosts and spectres are seen and cause trouble for the park. The Phantom Stranger investigates in order to debunk the supernatural explanation. He exposes Vasti as a fraud, trying to force the park owner to sell cheaply.

Next we have Doctor 13 in "No Such Thing as Ghosts" a reprint from Star-Spangled Comics #126 by France Herron and Leonard Starr. We end with the only new material in the book, the Phantom Stranger in "Some Day in Some Dark Alley..." by Mike Friedrich and Bill Draut. This was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Phantom Stranger Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Angel and the Ape #6

Angel and the Ape #6 (On Sale: July 15, 1969) has a cover by Bob Oksner on this their final issue, though there will be one more comic in this series, simply entitled Meet Angel.

We have three short Angel and the Ape stories this issue. We start with "The Robbing Robot" by John Albano, Bob Oksner and Wally Wood. Next is "The Liberator" also drawn by Bob Oksner and Wally Wood. We end with "The Ape of 1,000 Disguises" by John Albano, Bob Oksner and Wally Wood.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Young Love #76

Young Love #76 (On Sale: July 10, 1969) has a cover by I would guess Dick Giordano. He certainly inked this beauty.

We really have no luck with this issue. We start with "To My Love," continue with "To Bill... With Love," which is reprinted from Secret Hearts #41 and end with an untitled Lisa St. Claire story. We have zero credits for all of these.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Our Fighting Forces #121

Our Fighting Forces #121 (On Sale: July 10, 1969) has a Lt. Hunter's Hellcats cover by Joe Kubert.

We begin with Lt. Hunter's Hellcats in "Take My Place" by Robert Kanigher and Artie Saaf. The back-up is "Jump into Two Wars" by Bob Haney and Joe Kubert and reprinted from Star Spangled War Stories #108.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

House of Mystery #182

House of Mystery #182 (On Sale: July 10, 1969) has another cool cover by Neal Adams.

We begin with "The Devil's Doorway" by Jack Oleck and Alex Toth. Wealthy student of the occult, Phillip Warren, buys a strange mirror from a New England auction. Phillip mentions his wife's misgivings about owning the piece and the auctioneer says that it is perfectly safe as the contents of the house were exorcised over a century ago and that the records of the exorcism are in the family records in City Hall.

Satisfied, the mirror is shipped home, but almost immediately strange things begin to happen. Phil's daughter Beth begins to disappear for hours at a time and when she does show up she says she has been in the mirror playing with Mr. Belial. Beth is told to stay away from the mirror, but just a few nights later she brings her father a gift, an ancient cult demon statuette used in black magic.

Beth once again claims that she has been in the mirror and the the gift is from Mr. Belial. Knowing the mirror has been exorcised, Phil tells his daughter to stop making up stories and sends he off to bed. But Phil can't sleep and that night while sitting in front of the mirror he sees inside it a strange world. He walks into the mirror and meets Mr. Belial, AKA Satan, who says that he has been expecting him to arrive. Satan explains that he finds students of the occult a challenge and since he could not leave the mirror he had to find a way to lure Phil into his world. He threatens to soon have Phil's wife as well.

Phil hurls the demon statuette at Satan and fights his way past demons to finally reach the mirror portal. Once outside he takes an axe to the mirror and then burns what remains. However, once the mirror is completely consumed Phil falls into a coma, yet a fitful coma of nightmare dreams. Days later the dreams end and Phil tells his wife that he was just sick and hallucinating. Now that Phil is better his wife tells him that their daughter Beth has vanished, that she has not been seen since the night Phil destroyed the mirror. But the mirror is harmless, the mirror had been exorcised. Phil heads to City Hall to look up the records of the house and finds that yes, everything in the house was exorcised, except a mirror that has been sent out to be gilded.

This story is a real winner and Alex Toth's artwork is an amazing workshop in minimalist line-work in the support of a story. This is wonderful work from Toth.

This is Jack Oleck's first credited work at DC, though he is known to have written both issues of Bother Power: The Geek. This only makes sense as Oleck was Joe Simon's brother-in-law and as Simon has said, "the number one scriptwriter for Simon and Kirby since the early days of Young Romance," though, it would seem, largely uncredited. According to the Jack Kirby Museum, Oleck also worked at Atlas in the 1950s when the company was publishing 85 titles a month, but exactly what work he did is not known as there are few records from this era. Jack also wrote for EC Comics doing war stories for Aces High and science-fiction for Incredible Science Fiction.

As a credited writer Jack Oleck would write more than 200 stories for DC, mostly in the horror/mystery books, but a few wars stories and humor stories for Plop! and the first three issues of Kong, the Untamed. Jack also wrote both of the paperback anthologies of adaptations of The House of Mystery stories and EC Comics The Vault of Horror paperback as well.

Oleck also wrote novels, including Messalina. As reviewer Joe Kenney says on Amazon, "Published in 1959 and continuously in print for the next several years, Jack Oleck's Messalina is now long out of print and barely remembered. Yet it is historical fiction of the best sort: trashy, exploitative, packed with violence and graphic sex. No "detectives in togas," no poorly-written military fiction, no thinly-veiled Christian glurge - this is a full-on romp in the salacious world of Imperial Rome, more Technicolor than Elizabeth Taylor's "Cleopatra."

Messalina recounts the tale of the real-life woman who married Claudius, the fourth emperor of Rome. She's known to history as a backstabbing schemer with an insatiable lust for sex, so don't go into this novel expecting a G-rated story of ancient Rome. Oleck takes us from her youth to her end, barring no details of her cold-blooded and predator-like ways: for Messalina, sex was a means to power, and boy did she know how to use it. "

Next is "Grave Results!" a "Cain's True Case File" by Marv Wolfman and Wayne Howard.
It tells the story of the Chase family of Barbados and how each time they go to bury a family member in the family crypt they find the caskets thrown about the crypt and overturned, even though the crypt is sealed each time with molten lead to keep anyone out. The two caskets belonging to the original owner of the crypt and her grand-daughter are never disturbed. Eventually the family has to leave the island to escape the cursed crypt. Reprinted in House of Mystery #229 and Showcase Presents: The House of Mystery Vol. 1 TPB.

This little piece of fluff was Wayne Howard's first work for DC and his first credited work anywhere. He contributed to comics fanzines in the mid-1960s before becoming an art assistant at the Long Island, New York studio of Wally Wood in 1969 and the Wood influence is evident in every panel Howard ever did. Wayne would only draw four stories for DC, though he would ink another 8 over the next 13 years. Howard also did work for the short-lived Web of Horror black and white book that also appeared in 1969.

Howard did work for a number of publishers. He penciled a story in Gold Key's TV-series tie-in The Twilight Zone and inked stories for Warren's Creepy and Eerie. At marvel he did inks for Worlds Unknown, Marvel Team-Up, Thongor! Warrior of Lost Lemuria in Creatures on the Loose and the Marvel black and white Haunt of Horror.

But none of this is what Wayne Howard is known for. Wayne Howard was the first American comics' cover-credited series creator, with the Charlton horror anthology book Midnight Tales which carried the blurb: "Created by Wayne Howard" on each issue. Howard did other work for Charlton, but it is with this book that he made his mark. Charlton writer/editor Nicola Cuti says that Howard's credit was granted since "it was his idea, his concept, his everything." Howard created the main characters, host Professor Coffin, The Midnight Philosopher, and his niece, Arachne, who in a twist on the horror-host convention would themselves star in a story each issue. Howard also developed the notion of having each issue be themed. He penciled and inked every cover, most of the stories and he even wrote a few of them.

In Comic Book Artist #12, Charlton editor George Wildman, described Howard as, "sort of shy. Easy come, easy go",and said Howard had married the sister of one of Wildman's early secretaries. In the same issue, Nicola Cuti said the heavy-smoker artist "always wore the same outfit: a white shirt, a kind of tan bush jacket, black hat, black pants and black tie. ...I was over at his apartment, and he opened up his closet, and there were 20 white shirts, 20 bush jackets, 20 black pants...."

Wayne Howard's last known comic work was for Warlord #64. Always a bit of a recluse, when Comic Book Artist attempted to contact him in 2001 they were told that "the artist/writer had no interest in delving into the past." Wayne Howard, one of the first African-American comic book artists of the Silver Age, died December 9, 2007 at the age of 58.

Next we have a one-page ad for the House of Secrets featuring Cain and written and drawn by Joe Orlando. That is followed by a Cain's Game Room by Sergio Aragones.

The last story in the book is "The Hound of the Night" by Robert Kanigher and Jerry Grandenetti. It was reprinted in Showcase Presents: The House of Mystery Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Green Lantern #71

Green Lantern #71 (On Sale: July 10, 1969) has a very simple but very dramatic cover by Gil Kane.

This one is going to be more than just your normal recap of an issue. There are some things about this issue that are indicative of DC Comics in 1969. Let's start with the first of the two Green Lantern stories, "The City That Died!" by John Broome, Gil Kane and Joe Giella. First off, when you look at the excellent Gil Kane cover it is very hard to believe that the interiors were penciled by the same artist. Joe Giella does everything in his power to quash the vibrancy and life right out of Kane's pencils. He is completely unprepared to handle Gil Kane's expressive faces and dynamic, powerful anatomy. Likewise, there is something very wrong with John Broome's script, something essential that is missing, as you shall see.

Hal Jordon visits a school for handicapped children in Solar City while there trying to land the toy account for the Wilson Chain Stores. His boss has promised him a bonus if he can land the deal and Hal plans on turning the money over to the school for their building fund. His only competition is Olivia Reynolds.

Hal pitches his companies line of toys to the Wilson executive but when it is Olivia Reynold's turn she strips down to s skimpy outfit and garners not only Mr. Wilson's attention but his dinner invitation as well. A little despondent, Hal heads off for his hotel, but along the way his car stops. Soon all the cars in Solar City are stopped as are everything electrical. Hal switches to Green Lantern to investigate.

As Green Lantern Hal works the city, providing emergency energy for medical facilities and stopping an armored car robbery, when he notices that even people are now passing out on the streets. Using his ring Hal pin-points the source of the strange power drain, forty miles beneath Solar City. Diving down Hal finds a pit of boiling metal, which, and this is where Broome really lets us down, seems to be the cause of the problem. Hal closes the pit and all is back to normal in Solar City. Wow, this is about as thin a threat as you can come up with.

With the threat to the city averted, Hal learns that old man Wilson, who must of had a great time with Olivia, has chosen her company over Hal's. However, all is not lost as the city wants to give Green Lantern a reward and though he does not accept payment for his services, he makes the suggestion that the money be given to the handicapped children's school. This lightweight piece of fluff was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Green Lantern Vol. 4 TPB.

The letter page is interesting in this issue for two reasons. First, it contains a letter by Irene Vartanoff. If you read enough DC comics around this time you know that eventually there became the thought that Irene was not a real person, but was actually a name DC editors used to concoct fake letters and eventually leading to these "Yes Grandma, there really is an Irene Vartanoff" messages after she appeared at one of the early conventions. Second, there is a letter by Don McGregor where he re-plots Green Lantern #68 to include the scene Gil Kane had depicted on the cover. This was of course years before McGregor would write Sabre, Detectives, Inc., Nathanial Dusk, Black Panther or War of the Worlds to name but a few.

This brings us to the back-up story, called a Green Lantern Brother Story, "Hip Jordan Makes the Scene!" and it is by John Broome, Dick Dillin and Murphy Anderson. If that name doesn't tell you something really inappropriate, old fogey stick-in-the-mud and decidedly un-hip is about to be shoved down your throat by DC, nothing will. Some of these people where absolutely clueless about where young people in America were in 1969. It is the annual family reunion of the Jordan clan held at the palatial home of millionaire Titus Jordan and the fun of the evening (Uncle Titus thinks that nephew Jim's wife Sue's new dress looks like a bathing suit, etc,) is interrupted by the appearance of cousin Doug "Hip" Jordan, the long-haired hippie black-sheep of the Jordan family.

Some want Hip thrown out but Uncle Titus says he can't do that because he is family, though he does suggest that Hip take a bath because, you know, all long-haired hippies were dirty in DC comics. Now Sue thinks that her husband Jim is really Green Lantern and demands that he change into his suit and check Hip out. She pulls out a Green Lantern costume from a past year's masquerade party and argues that Jim needs to put it on. The argument is heard through the fireplace by Hip who decides he does not want to mess with Green Lantern and jumps out the window beat a hasty retreat.

Unable to convince Sue that he is not Green Lantern Jim puts on the costume to humor her and takes a run around the house in a pretend search. However, Hip thinks Jim really is Green Lantern and that he is tracking him, so he knocks him out and decides to use Green Lantern as a way to win over the Black Scooter gang he has been trying to join for a while, because at DC all hippies are criminals and gang members. Well, when it is discovered that Jim, Hip and Uncle Titus's Rolls Royce are all missing Hal get into the real Green Lantern costume and locates Jim, unconscious in the back of the Rolls which is just stopping at the Black Scooter gang's hideout (Black Scooter? This is the best Broome could come up with? Scooter???). Thinking Jim is the real Green Lantern they tie a bomb around his neck and give Hip the detonator. Just then the real Green Lantern arrives, but gives up his ring when Hip threatens to blow up Jim.

When Hip reaches for the ring, he is paralyzed, as Hal commanded the ring to do before giving it up. Hal then beats the rest of the gang up with plain fists. Hip and the gang are taken to the police and Jim asks Green Lantern if he will show up at the reunion to prove to Sue that he is not Green Lantern. Later Jim wonders why Lantern did not show up as he stands next to Hal. Really, this kind of crap makes me want to puke. This insulting piece of junk was also reprinted in Showcase Presents: Green Lantern Vol. 4 TPB. If you happen to read it, check out the artwork. I don't know how often Dick Dillin and Murphy Anderson worked together, but what a great team they made; I prefer the inks on this story to most of the inking done on Dillin during his long run on Justice League of America.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Girls' Romances #143

Girls' Romances #143 (On Sale: July 10, 1969) has a cover by John Rosenberger and Vinny Colletta.

We begin with "A Lock on My Heart" drawn by John Rosenberger and Vinny Colletta. That is followed by "The Matchmaker by Mail" penciled by Jay Scott Pike. Rounding out the issue is "Summer Heartbreak" from Heart Throbs #55 drawn by Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #123

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #123 (On Sale: July 8, 1969) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

We begin with "The Sacrifice of Jimmy Olsen" by Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan and George Roussos. That is followed by "The Robber Robot" by Jim Shooter and Pete Costanza, and we end with "The Puzzles of Space and Time" by E. Nelson Bridwell and Pete Costanza.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #95

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #95 (On Sale: July 8, 1969) has a strange cover supposedly by Curt Swan and Neal Adams. I'm not sure I see Adams in these inks and if so, it is another example of where DC had someone else go over Neal's Superman face. If there are some Neal Adams' inks on this it is the last Lois Lane cover that Neal would work on.

We begin with "Lois Lane's Super-Brain" from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #27, which is drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. Lois Lane’s head grows to enormous size when she subjects herself to Professor Holt’s brain bank. The knowledge of famous scientists is transferred to her mind for a week, but her huge bald head is embarrassing. She attempts to cover her disfigurement throughout the week. Only her sister Lucy knows the truth. Her greatest fear is that Superman will see her like this. Fortunately only Bizarro sees her, but he falls in love with her because of it. When her head returns to normal, Bizarro becomes disenchanted with her "ugliness".

Next is "The Superwoman of Metropolis" from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #8 written by Alvin Schwartz and also drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. Superman gives Lois Lane temporary super powers for her birthday. She decides to keep her identity a secret, so she wears a blonde wig as Superwoman. Clark Kent tries to prove that Lois is the new Superwoman which makes it difficult for her to preform her duties.

After successfully protecting her identity several times, she eventually has to reveal herself in order to make a rescue. However, her powers have worn off. Clark secretly makes the rescue, and thinks it’s funny that Lois pretended to be Superwoman. Lois now understands how much of a pest she is to Superman.

That is followed by "Lois Lane, Slave Girl" from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #33 also drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. Lois is transported back in time by some crooks to prevent her from testifying against them. Lois winds up in ancient Rome where she is auctioned off as a slave to Crassus, a cruel master. Lois is rescued along with some other slaves by Petronius, an ex-gladiator. Petronius is betrayed by one of the slaves, Julia. Lois tries to rescue him, but learns that he already free because he is really Crassus. He uses the disguise to cover his liberation of prisoners. Petronius proposes to Lois, but she is returned to the present in time to testify.

Next is "The Widow in Black" from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #32 also drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. Lois is upset that Perry White will not let her cover any dangerous assignments. When she complains Perry assigns her to locate the Playboy Poisoner, a con man that poisons widows and steals their valuables.

Lois attracts the attention of the Poisoner at a hotel and tries to gather evidence against him while avoiding getting poisoned. Eventually the Poisoner catches on and ties up Lois. He threatens to blow her up, but Lois has discovered that the Poisoner is really Perry White. Perry tried to trick Lois to teach her a lesson, but the girl reporter has seen through the scheme, forcing Perry to give in and give her tougher assignments.

That is followed by "The Madam Jekyll of Metropolis" from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #36 also drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. While explaining the properties of Red Kryptonite to her fan club, Lois Lane struck with a neutron beam of energy which is focused through the Kryptonite. Later that day Lois begins to exhibit a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Her friends try to help, but Lois gets out of control. Finally, they trick her into getting exposed to another piece of Red Kryptonite which once turned a Phantom Zone villain good. The effect cures Lois of her evil ways.

We end with "Lois Lane, Hag" from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #40 once again drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. Lois Lane investigates a doctor who claims to have invented a youth serum. Lois is knocked out during her attempt to prove the doctor a fraud. She dreams that she has grown old and ugly, until Perry White revives her. The doctor’s scheme is then exposed, and Superman arrives to arrest him.

Edited by E. Nelson Bridwell.

Binky's Buddies #5

Binky's Buddies #5 (On Sale: July 8, 1969) has a cover by Henry Scarpelli.

We begin with Binky's Buddies in "Surfs You Right" drawn by Winslow Mortimer and Henry Scarpelli. Next is Binky, Buzzy and Benny in "One Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures, " Benny in "The Hidden Complex" and Binky's Buddies in "The Music Men?" I have no creator information on any of these tales.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tomahawk #124

Tomahawk #124 (On Sale: July 3, 1969) has another beautiful cover by Neal Adams. It is hard to believe this book was not selling well.

We begin with "The Valley of No Return" by Robert Kanigher, Frank Thorne and Joe Kubert. As Tomahawk and his Rangers march through the thick snow back into Echo Valley, they are faced with three lines of warriors under the guidance of Buffalo Horn, waiting for the Rangers to get into range of their riffles and bows. Behind Tomahawk stands the wagons of the Smith family, steadfastly refusing to go back into the valley. As Tomahawk and his men move forward they are attacked from all sides and Tomahawk thinks back to the first time he entered Echo Valley.

It was warmer days and Tomahawk and his men found the beautiful valley and thought it would be the perfect spot for the Smith family to settle. But Buffalo Horn and his warriors had other ideas and attacked the Rangers. The fight was heavy and brutal, but in the end only Buffalo Horn remained, awaiting Tomahawk's knife. But Hawk surprised him by showing mercy and letting him go, Buffalo Horn remarking that it was a weakness he would not have shown if the roles were reversed.

Tomahawk and his men get to the business of felling trees and getting the place ready for a settlement. Frenchie comment that Big Anvil smells like a bear and that pretty ladies are coming, but Anvil replies that he took a bath last spring and besides, "No gal ever looked at me!" However, when the Smith wagons arrive, Big Anvil meets Liza Smith and his life is changed forever. When the house and barn are completed a party is in order and Liza says she will save her first dance for Big Anvil. Smitten with each other it is only a matter of time before they profess their mutual love and Big Anvil tells Tomahawk that he plans on coming back to the valley and marrying Liza. The Rangers stayed till fall and then headed back to the fort, Big Anvil promising to return to be with Liza.

They find the fort under attack and it only survives due to the extra fire-power of the Rangers. Tomahawk tells Big Anvil that maybe he should slip back to Liza, but the big man says he will stay, that as long as "the Injuns are attackin' this fort -- Liza an' her kin must be safe!" One night while on patrol the Rangers see the warriors sneaking up on the fort with torches and in silence they attack them, fighting them till morning when the "Indians fade away like shadows."

The Rangers head back to Echo Valley only to find the cabin on fire and the Smiths leaving, saying they don't want to stay in the place where Liza was murdered. A shaken Big Anvil charges into the valley with the rest of the Rangers facing off the warriors gunfire. All of a sudden it becomes quiet as the gunfire stops and the whistle of arrows begins. Tomahawk thinks he understands why and has his men fire their guns off in rapid succession, firing everything they have. The gunfire starts an avalanche which buries Buffalo Horn and his men. In the end only Buffalo Horn emerges from the mountain of snow, saying he has had enough of fighting a white man who fights like an Indian.

The Smiths decide to stay on in the valley and as the Rangers leave a weeping Big Anvil kneels down in front of Liza's grave and places a flower. I can't let this one go without mentioning the wonderful art. Frank Thorne and Joe Kubert made a great team and the styles of both men survive the team-up. It's too bad that Kubert could not ink Thorne more as the results were a great treat.

The back-up story is "The Man Who Posed as Tomahawk" a reprint from Tomahawk #31 drawn by Bruno Premiani and Ray Burnley.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Superboy #159

Superboy #159 (On Sale: July 3, 1969) has another interesting cover by Neal Adams.

"The Day It Rained Superboys" is by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Wally Wood.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Secret Hearts #138

Secret Hearts #138 (On Sale: July 3, 1969) has a cover at least inked (and most likely penciled) by editor Dick Giordano.

We begin with "How to Lose the Man You Love" penciled by John Rosenberger. That is followed by a reprint from Secret Hearts #41 "Lonely Lovesong" inked by Bernard Sachs. We end with "Reach for Happiness, Episode 29".

Edited by Dick Giordano

Aquaman #47

Aquaman #47 (On Sale: July 3, 1969) has another cover by Nick Cardy.

We begin with "Come the Revolution" by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo. Aquagirl tries in vain to talk Mupo and his rebels out of starting a revolution to overthrow Narkran from power in Atlantis. As the revolt begins Narkran takes Aquagirl as a hostage. She is injured while escaping which triggers a fight between Mupo and the tyrant.

Meanwhile, Aquaman and Mera hurry home from the surface world to deal with the despot, but are temporarily side-tracked when they spot Aqualad battling the Bugala. This was reprinted in Adventure Comics #498.

The back-up story is "The Adventures of Aquaboy" from Adventure Comics #268 by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon. Aquaman rescues a drowning blind man. The man has lived on a deserted island for years and does not believe in Aquaman’s powers. Aquaman recalls other men being sceptical about his existence when he was just a boy.

Years previous, Aquaboy rescues the man, Captain Harte, from a sinking freighter. Harte believed that the boy was a liar, and that he was saved by accident. Aquaboy had more difficulty in proving his existence, when he saved a town from a broken dike and also when assisting some treasure hunters.

A sea quake causes Harte to fall back into the ocean. Aquaman summons a whale to help him. Harte is convinced of Aquaman’s abilities because he can feel inside the whale’s mouth. He reveals the location of a missing chest of pearls which can be used to pay for an eye operation. Aquaman finds the missing pearls and gives them to Harte.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wonder Woman #184

Wonder Woman #184 (On Sale: July 1, 1969) has another great cover by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano.

Mike Sekowsky is the writer and penciler and Dick Giordano is the inker for "The Last Battle." Continuing from last issue, Diana has been up all night trying to come up with a plan to save her and her Amazons as they await the morning battle against the army of Ares; it is a battle all know they cannot win. As dawn approaches something I-Ching says regarding the cavalry charging over the hill in western cinema gives Diana the plan she so desperately hoped for.

Diana plans to travel to other dimensions where the heroes of old still live. She will ask for their help in fighting the god of war. In the meantime her Amazon's must stall for time, attacking Ares's forces from ambush, blocking their way with avalanches and such, doing anything they can to hold off a full battle that they cannot win. With Drusilla as her guide Diana travels to the world of heroes, where a a great tournament is unfolding In the midst of all the excitement they are unable to plea for an audience with King Arthur.

Taking matters into her own hands Diana jumps into the arena and stride across the field of battle directly towards King Arthur. She pleads for his help in fighting Ares but one by one the knights of the round table refuse to give aid, saying they are tired of saving ungratefully cowards who only pay them mind when they are in need and then quickly forget them. Diana explains that Ares plans to take her world and learn the secret of dimensional travel and that no world, not even their won will be safe if that happens. Still the heroes of old turn her down.

She tells them they are a disgrace to the word hero and Siegfried lays a hand on Diana. Diana flips him over her shoulder and they begin to battle with swords. Siegfried eventually breaks Diana's sword and as he moves in for the kill he is stopped by Brunhilde, who says that she and her Valkyries would be honored to fight along side the Amazons.

Though they know it will not be enough to stop Ares, Diana and the Valkyries travel across dimensions just in time to stave off a breach of the Amazons by the hordes of Ares.

Though they push Ares army back for the day, they know that come the morrow they will be overrun. Even so, they plan through the night as best they can. That night Diana swears to her entranced mother that though they will lose come the new day, that Area will lose as well, that they will all die rather than give Area the secret to dimensional travel.

The next morning the battle is horrific and though they slaughter Area hordes 10 to 1, they are slowly pushed backward, till they cannot retried. As they prepare for the final charge of Areas' army they here the roar of Roland's horn as over the hill comes the heroes of old. Caught sandwiched between the heroes and the Amazons and Valkyries, Ares' army is decimated..

The battle over, Hippolyta's enchantment ends. As they all gather to celebrate they cannot find Diana. Suddenly over the hill come Ares and a few of his men carrying Diana's body on her shield. Area says that she is not dead only being returned on her shield as befits a hero. Areas says that though he is beaten, there will always be those ready to fight with the god of war. When Diana awakens the heroes of old thank her for waking them up to their responsibilities and that they will always be their for her if she ever needs them again. Reprinted in Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Mike Sekowsky.

Our Army at War #210

Our Army at War #210 (On Sale: July 1, 1969) has another interesting Sgt. Rock cover by Joe Kubert.

We begin with Sgt. Rock in "I'm Kilroy" by Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath. This was reprinted in the Sgt. Rock Special #9.

The back-up story is "Death's Promise" drawn by Fred Ray.

Edited by Joe Kubert.