Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #99

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #99 (On Sale: December 23, 1969) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

This issue, the last DC book of 1969 begins with our cover-story, "Is Lois Lane Guilty?" by Robert Kanigher and Irv Novick.

The back-up story is "The Man Who Was Clark Kent's Double" from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #3 and drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. While investigating a story of a modern day Robin Hood in the town of Hadley, Lois Lane meets Mark Benton who looks identical to Clark Kent. She quickly falls in love with Mark, but he slips away several times. She begins to suspect him of being Robin Hood.

While several attempts to learn the truth fail, Lois finally finds the Robin Hood mask in his coat pocket. Mark is upset because his Robin Hood act was done to help the poor. He is really a wealthy man named Ronald Van Horton. He assumed the Mark Benton identity because he doesn’t want people to like him for his money. He had planned to propose, but Lois’s suspicions show a lack of trust. She is heartbroken when Mark dumps her.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Heart Throbs #124

Heart Throbs #124 (On Sale: December 23, 1969) has a cover by Ric Estrada and Vinny Colletta.

This issue begins with our cover-story, "Love Stop," drawn by Ric Estrada and Vinny Colletta. This one is a long, 24-page stroy. We end with "The Girl Voted Most Likely to Succeed" penciled by Jay Scott Pike.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Girls' Love Stories #149

Girls' Love Stories #149 (On Sale: December 23, 1969) has a cover penciled by Ric Estrada. Some have this credited to Nick Cardy, but those people are on serious drugs.

This issue begins with our cover-story, "Forbidden Love," penciled by Ric Estrada. Next is "For Better or Worse" penciled by John Rosenberger. That is followed by "...But Only in My Dreams" penciled by Ric Estrada. We end with Confessions : "Episode 3" penciled by John Rosenberger.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

From Beyond the Unknown #3

From Beyond the Unknown #3 (On Sale: December 23, 1969) has a great cover by Neal Adams.

We begin with our cover-story, "When Earth Turned into a Comet" reprinted from Strange Adventures #150 and created by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. An astronaut on the Moon uses illusion and bluff to save the Earth from invaders.

Next is "Prisoner of the Electronic Eye" from Mystery In Space #53 and the work of John Broome, Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia. A man must figure out how to escape from an inescapable room so he can stop Earth and Saturn from going to war.

The next story is "The Space Hermit" from Strange Adventures #34 and the product of Sid Gerson and Henry Sharp. When an alien sealed in an indestructible bubble crashes into a ballpark a scientist works to free him. The question is should he? Between 1953 and 1955 Henry Enoch Sharp drew 15 science-fiction stories fro DC Comics appearing in Mystery In Space and Strange Adventures; this is the only one of those stories where Sharp provided both pencils and inks. During his tenure at DC Sharp also worked for St. John Publishing.

Henry Enoch Sharp started off in the early 1950s working for the pulps, drawing for Fantastic Adventures and Other Worlds along with doing some advertising work. As the pulps began to die, Sharp switched over to comics, spending four years at Ziff-Davis where he worked on a number of books including G.I. Joe (see his cover painting for G.I. Joe #10, which is actually issue #1) and Sky Pilot. Then in a change of careers, Sharp began to work in television as a writer where he had a successful run through the mid-1970s.

Henry Sharp wrote for such diverse shows as The Real McCoys, Bachelor Father, The Donna Read Show, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Andy Griffith Show, McHales's Navy, Bewitched, Here Comes the Brides, Mission: Impossible, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Target, MacKenzie's Raiders and The Addams Family. Moreover, Sharp was the Story Consultant and one of the writers for The Wild Wild West for four years. In the 1970s he wrote for Valley of the Dinosaurs, Super Friends and The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan.

Our last story is "Escape from Earth" reprinted from Mystery In Space #61 and created by John Broome and Murphy Anderson. In the 30th century the Council of Eternity decrees that all the people of Earth must enter the Chamber of Immortality so they will live forever. Four people decide that the new immortals no longer seem fully human and contrive to escape from Earth and find a new planet to live on as mortals, even though this means if caught immortality will be forced on them and they will be given a jail sentence of 100,000 years!

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Detective Comics #396

Detective Comics #396 (On Sale: December 23, 1969) has a cover by Neal Adams.

This issue begins with Batman in "The Brain-Pickers" by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella. Wall Street wiz-kid Rory Bell makes the cover of Now! Magazine and the notice of Bruce Wayne and three thugs led by a guy named Sharf. Bell rides around on his motorcycle and radio-phones in his orders to his broker and girl friend, Nan Owens.

Sharf has a buddy who works at the garage where Bell keeps his bike and has had his helmet bugged, so that when he places an order Sharf and his buddies will be able to "share in the wealth." Their plan goes south when they find out Bell phones in his orders in code.

As it ends up Nan is Bruce's broker as well and Bruce calls in to see how "the street" is reacting to Wayne Enterprises proposed merger with Seven-Star Pictures. Nan mentions how Bell has bought in for a "big slice" and how others are following his lead. Meantime, Sharf and his buddies waylay Bell on his bike and say they are going to hold him up in a motel room for a few days and make all the same trades as he does to get rich quick.

Bell tells them it doesn't work that way, that if he can't ride his bike he can't figure out what to trade, so the thugs agree to just follow him by car. Bell's first order is to sell Wayne Enterprises which forces Nan to Call Bruce to try and soften the blow on "the street." Eventually Bruce figures out that Bell's orders are really a code for where he located and as Batman Bruce goes to intercept him.

At a gas station Batman confronts the thugs and has to use the remote-control features of the new Batmobile to foil the thug's plans. All in all a pretty stupid story. I remember liking Robbins' run on Batman, so either it gets a lot better or I didn't have very good taste in writing back then.

Much better written by Frank Robbins is the back-up Batgirl story, "The Orchid-Crusher," drawn by Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. The Orchid-Killer is murdering one redhead after another and Barbara Gordon is even dreaming that as Batgirl she is a victim of the killer. She learns that the last victim had registered at a computer dating service when she finds a book with the woman's dating card used as a bookmark. She tracks down the last borrower of the book, but he has moved out of his apartment. Barbara immediately rents the apartment and also joins the computer dating service. She has to brush off Jason Bard's advances as she waits for the trap she is setting to be sprung.

She does get a date through the service, a mousy looking man named Max Tournov, but he seems harmless, till he buys her an orchid and then tries to kiss her. She sends him over her shoulder and he responds by crushing he orchid and running off. As Batgirl Barbara gives chase, but loses him. As she frantically searches, she is pulled into a dark alley by an unseen figure who says, "A red-headed Batgirl will do for now!"

The filler story is "The Master of Mind Over Matter" from Strange Adventures #26 by Jack Miller, Gil Kane and John Giunta. This is a tight little story about a psychiatrist and amateur magician named Blake, whom the police asked to report on the sudden death of a magician named Elmo the Great, since the man had been investigating Elmo for a while. It seemed Elmo could do miraculous things: levitate people, turn water into wine, etc. Blake was present when Elmo suddenly died. In his report he tells the police that he believes an alien creature had entered Elmo's body and was the source of his amazing powers. The police scoff at such nonsense and leave. Blake then reveals that he knows what he says to be true because when Elmo died the creature entered his own body.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Brave and the Bold #88

Brave and the Bold #88 (On Sale: December 23, 1969) has a cool Batman and Wildcat cover by Neal Adams.

We begin with Batman and Wildcat in "Count Ten ...and Die" by Bob Haney, Irv Novick and Mike Esposito. Much like the Vigilante in this month's Justice League of America, this too is a new Wildcat of Earth 1 and never before seen. Bruce Wayne visits a flophouse on skid row to find Ted Grant, the retired undefeated heavyweight champion, who has fallen on hard times since he left the world of heavyweight competition to open a gym for underprivileged children. Over time Ted lost the gym and is now just another bum existing on the seedier side of town.

Bruce offers to pay off all of Grant's debts if Ted will coach the American boxing team for the World Youth Games in Vienna, in which Bruce is coaching the fencing team. Ted declines, saying his best days are in the past and after Bruce leaves he pulls out his old Wildcat costume and thinks how he is even too old and slow to wear it anymore. But when he sees Bruce being hassled by two guys on the street, Ted leaps into action and takes the two out easily. He decides that maybe their is still life in his old bones after all and accepts Bruce's offer. After Ted leaves Bruce pays off the two "thugs" whom he hired to rough him up knowing it would spur Ted into action.

Weeks later in Vienna, the seemingly Russian coach (if is never said for sure), Koslov, taunts Grant in front of his team, saying he was too afraid of Koslov to ever fight him. Meanwhile, as Batman, Bruce is briefed by "Military Intelligence" in Vienna on a free-lance spy named Kurt Schimmerling who was supposed to sell some information on the date the "other side" is planning on launching an armed space station. Schimmerling never delivered the information and it is now assumed that the "other side" has offered him more to sell it back to them. Batman's job is to get the information from Schimmerling before he sells it back.

Back in the athlete's village Ted breaks up a fight between the American boxing team and the team from the "other side." Koslov is there to say that the Americans started the fight and are bad sportsmen. Signs of "Americans Go Home!" and "Americans Don't Play Fair" spring up around the village and later Koslov eggs Ted on and challenges him to a fight, which Ted backs away from. His kids see it all and are afraid of becoming a laughing stock and Bruce tells him that he has now become part of the cold war and needs to fight Koslov and win. Grant is unsure what to do and walks off to think it over.

Bruce needs the time to change back into Batman and pick up Schimmerling's trail. He finds him and begins following him through the streets of Vienna. Meanwhile Ted has borrowed a bike from the cycling team and is tooling through the streets in his old Wildcat uniform when he sees Batman chasing Schimmerling into the sewers. Schimmerling loses Batman there but Wildcat picks up the trail only to lose him as well when he is suckered over a waterfall.

Back as Ted Grant spots him entering an amusement park and when Ted takes a ride on the giant Ferris wheel, Batman joins him in the car. Batman tells Ted that he must fight Koslov and says that Ted has not lost his old gifts at all and to prove it takes Ted on in a massive fight in the car. In the end only Ted emerges, Batman flat on the floor and thinking that though he pulled some punches, that Ted was quite a scrapper in his time.

The ploy works and Ted begins to train for the fight with Koslov. Batman meanwhile sets a timer on the arena lights to turn them off in the seventh round, figuring that if Ted is losing he will "take his place using a plasti-face-mask from my disguise kit." Batman then gets back on the trail of Schimmerling finding a ticket to the Koslov/Grant fight in his room, but before he can act on this information he is captured by agents from the "other side."

Later the big fight takes place and Ted goes out strong against Koslov, but by the fourth round Ted is tired out and Koslov is coming on strong. Later when Koslov gets Ted in tight he tells him that they have Batman and that if he wants to see him alive he needs to lose the fight. Just then the lights go out and Ted knocks Koslov out, carries him out to a nicely placed cycle with sidecar and gets the now awake Koslov to tell him that they are keeping Batman on a river barge.

Ted drives off a bridge onto the barge and rescues Batman and they somehow manager to get back to the arena before the lights go back on. Batman spots Schimmerling as Koslov knocks Ted to the mat. As Batman follows Schimmerling out of the arena and Ted is being counted out, Batman throws a batarang into the ring to land in front of Ted on which Batman has written "has-been!" This is enough to inspire Ted to his feet where he knocks out Koslov. Meantime Batman is able to intercept the transfer of information between Schimmerling and the folks from the "other side"

The American boxing team does well in the games and Ted begins to think that maybe Wildcat isn't completely washed up either. Reprinted in Showcase Presents: The Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2 TPB.

The back-ups are both filler stories written by Murray Boltinoff and drawn by George Tuska: "Death Turns the Dial" and "Killed with Kindness."

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Adventure Comics #389

Adventure Comics #389 (On Sale: December 23, 1969) has a cover by Murphy Anderson.

This issue begins with Supergirl in "The Mystery Magician" by Robert Kanigher, Winslow Mortimer and Bob Oksner. The back-up Supergirl story, "Supergirl's Jilted Boy Friends"is by Cary Bates and Kurt Schaffenberger.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Action Comics #385

Action Comics #385 (On Sale: December 23, 1969) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

This issue begins with Superman in "The Immortal Superman" by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and George Roussos. The back-up Legion of Super-Heroes story, "The Fallen Starboy" is by E. Nelson Bridwell, Winslow Mortimer and Jack Abel. This story was reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9 HC and is the first LSH story in years not written by the now departed Jim Shooter.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Swing With Scooter #25

Swing With Scooter #25 (On Sale: December 18, 1969) has a cover by Henry Scarpelli.

This issue has four Scooter tales: "It's Work Like Ants for the Xmas Dance," "Snow Fun -- Being a Fund Raiser," "Santa's Li'l Helpers" and "Kenny Goes Hollywood."

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Star Spangled War Stories #149

Star Spangled War Stories #149 (On Sale: December 18, 1969) has an Enemy Ace cover by Joe Kubert.

This issue begins with Enemy Ace in "Reach for the Heavens" by the normal team of Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. This is another in a long line of neat little war stories by Kanigher and Kubert, this one revealing the origin of the scar on Von Hammer's face.

One evening Von Hammer thinks back to the days when he was a raw recruit, he and the other young men with him, waiting to learn how to fly. One man though was driven, Heinrich Muller did not want to join the others in youthful camaraderie; all he cared about was learning to fight to kill the enemy.

One day the men played a prank on Muller and he demanded satisfaction from Von Hammer, singling him out. The next morning they dueled with swords till Muller drew first blood and Von Hammer apologized for himself and the men. Muller's reply was, "The scar I put on your face is the only apology I want, Herr Von Hammer!"

From then on the men get serious and finally the day comes when they will get to go up in the planes for the first time. Von Hammer and Muller go together in the rear cockpit on the training mission. Once aloft they spot a French fighter. who, knowing they are training leaves them alone. But Muller pulls out his pistol and begins shooting at the Frenchman against the protest of Von Hammer. When they land Muller cannot understand why he is not commended for shooting down the French fighter.

Back in the present when the morning arrives, Muller is at the Jagdstaffel, assigned to Von Hammer. Muller looks more bitter and determined than ever. That day on patrol they run into an enemy patrol and Muller murders an defenseless British pilot who is out of ammunition. This distracts Von Hammer to the point where he is shot down. As his plane heads for the ground Muller dives after him and Von Hammer jumps from his burning plane to the landing gear of Muller's plane. The English attack till they are all out of ammunition and Muller gently lays the plane down allowing Von Hammer to hit the ground safely. When Von Hammer goes to thank him for saving his life he finds that he is dead. "I felt my heart cry bitter my dry eyes reached for the the killer skies!"

This story has been reprinted in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #21, Enemy Ace Archives Vol. 2 HC and Showcase Presents: Enemy Ace Vol. 1 TPB.

Next is the Viking Prince in "The Terror Stone" reprinted from Brave and the Bold #11 and also the work of Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. All weapons of metal are being seized by a mysterious power from the village of the Viking Prince. Even Jon's boat is torn asunder as the nails are pulled from the boards and disappear out to sea. Jon has a small boat made with wooden nails and carrying only wooden weapons he sets out to see what is causing the strange actions of all metal. He finds the ship of his enemy Baron Thorvald carrying a large rock that fell from the sky and which is the source of the strange metal attraction.

Jon boards the ship and when the rock is pushed overboard, he uses his wooden sword to sever the rope keeping it captive. His men then show up in the ship that has been secretly tailing him and Thorvald is defeated.

Lastly is "Boadicea Queen of the Iceni" the work of the late, great Ric Estrada.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Our Army at War #216

Our Army at War #216 (On Sale: December 18, 1969) has a cover by Joe Kubert.

We begin with Sgt. Rock in "Doom Over Easy" from Our Army at War #107 by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. After Easy Company is shelled by enemy fire, Everett, a new member of Easy, begins having visions of the future. He tries to switch positions with Buster and Ice Cream Soldier after Rock has given them assignments. Rock refuses to make the switch, and the other soldiers die. When Rock goes on a mission himself, Everett comes along to prevent Rock from dying. Rock and Everett both survive, though another blast robs Everett of his precognition.

In the original printing of this story, Ice Cream Soldier dies in action. Here the name of the dead soldier is changed to Young Willy. Since Ice Cream Soldier went on to appear in later Sgt. Rock stories, this change makes sense.

Next is "Silver Star for a Tin Can" from Our Fighting Forces #33 by Bob Haney and Russ Heath. That is followed by "Last on a Match" by Hank Chapman, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito and reprinted from G.I. Combat #77. Next is "Unknown G.I." from Our Fighting Forces #41 and created by Bob Haney and Russ Heath. "Return to Beach Red" from Our Fighting Forces #11 is next and created by Bob Haney and Joe Kubert,

"Introducing -- the Haunted Tank" is reprinted from G.I. Combat #87 and the creation of Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath. Jeb Stuart the commander of an M-3 tank and his crew assist a squad of heavier Pershing tanks. The Pershings are destroyed by enemy bombers, leaving only Stuart's tank to take on a squad of heavy German tanks.

The tiny tank is shelled by the heavy guns of a German "Tiger" tank, and it falls into a ravine. The crew is knocked out, leaving it an easy target for the enemy tank. However, the M-3 manages to fire a shot that destroys the enemy tank. When Jeb and the crew awaken, they are shocked to find the enemy tank destroyed, as they had not fired their gun.

The tank then continues on its mission to protect a squad of infantry. Using its better speed and maneuverability, the M-3 is able to take on and defeat an entire unit of German tanks. Jeb Stuart is the only one that can hear laughter which comes from the ghost of civil war General Jeb Stuart, who has protected his descendant and the tank.

Lastly we have Great Battles of History "Chaeronaea" written and drawn by Ric Estrada.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Witching Hour #7

Witching Hour #7 (On Sale: December 16, 1969) has a cover by Neal Adams.

We have the usual wonderful framing sequence drawn by Alex Toth. We begin with "The Big Break" drawn by Bill Draut. It is our cover-story and a tale concerning an escaped convict and what may be a family curse or the fantastic imaginings of a dying man.

Next is "The Captive" and I won't hazard to guess who drew this one, but it is a tale of an unknown, but brilliant artist and a retired gangster who comes to him looking for a painting or a statue that will make him immortal. He just might get what he asked for.

That is followed by "Look Homeward, Angelo" inked by Jack Abel. In this tale a young adopted boy asks his parents if he had a real mother and father. They say of course, but they don't know who they were and tell young Angelo to shut up. Strange things begin happening at the house: the wife is attacked by nightmarish creatures, the furniture floats in the air and crashes to the floor. The couple come unglued, blaming each other for bringing Angelo into the family and causing all these problems. They take Angelo back to the orphanage and tell them they must take him back. Just then they are joined by a hippie-looking couple who say that they are Angelo's parents and that they had put him in the orphanage to learn about human love. The couple turn into angels and fly away with Angelo, leaving the couple pointing accusing fingers at each other.

We end with "Trick or Treat" drawn by Michael Kaluta. This is a small page and a half story about con-artist who is dressed up as the devil in order to relieve some devil worshipers of their money. His only problem is the real devil has plans of his own. This little piece of fluff is Michael Kaluta's first credited work at DC. Kaluta would be associated with DC for decades to come, doing some of his finest comic work here. From Carson of Venus to Spawn of Frankenstein to his amazing Shadow work, Kaluta would make a name for himself at DC.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Superman #224

Superman #224 (On Sale: December 16, 1969) has a cover by Curt Swan and Jack Abel.

This issue contains the feature-length imaginary story "Beware the Super-Genius Baby" by Robert Kanigher, Curt Swan and George Roussos.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Falling In Love #113

Falling In Love #113 (On Sale: December 16, 1969) has a another wonderful cover by Nick Cardy.

We begin with "I.O.U.: My Heart" inked by Vinny Colletta. Next is "The Most Bitter Lesson of Her Life" penciled by Lee Elias. We end with our cover-story, "Please, Please, Don't Tell Him About Me" inked by Vinny Colletta.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Debbi's Dates #6

Debbi's Dates #6 (On Sale: December 16, 1969) has a cover by Henry Scarpelli.

We begin with Buddy in "Seeing Isn't Believing." That is followed by Benedict in "The Ski Champ" drawn by Henry Scarpelli. Next is Debbi's Dates in "Two Down and One to Go" and we end with the Ding-a-Lings in "Fun in the Sun."

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Friday, December 11, 2009

World's Finest Comics #191

World's Finest Comics #191 (On Sale: December 11, 1969) has a cover by Curt Swan and Jack Abel.

We begin with Superman and Batman in "Execution on Krypton" by Cary Bates, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. The back-up Robin story is "Stone-Deaf Robin" reprinted from Star Spangled Comics #130 and is by David Reed and Jim Mooney.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Showcase #88

Showcase #88 (On Sale: December 11, 1969) has a Jason's Quest cover by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano.

We begin with "The Beginning" of Jason's Quest, written and drawn by Mike Sekowsky and inked by Frank Giacoia. Every resource I can find says this story was inked by Dick Giordano, but I am looking at the pages and it just ain't so, no way, no how.

Before we get to the recap of this book, I must say a few words about Mike Sekowsky at this point in his career. Mike had been in comics since 1941 when he started at Timely and had drawn just about every genre there was: super-hero, western, war, funny animal, romance, TV , jungle action and science-fiction, and though he was known as a super-hero artist, he obviously was more attracted to action stories with more humanistic characters.

While everyone else at DC was chasing Marvel super-heroes or attempting to relive their time at EC, Mike Sekowsky was following a different path. He made the Metal Men look human and turned them into thriller characters on the run. He participated big-time in the biggest deflowering of super-powers in comic history by separating Wonder Woman from her powers and costume. He took chances on new types of books and I for one appreciated the effort. I may be the only one, but I particularly appreciated Jason's Quest.

We begin at "The Beginning" as Jason Davis' father has been mortally wounded in a shooting. Summoned by the doctors to his deathbed, the blonde young man listens to a stunning series of revelations. His real name is Jason Grant, Jr. and when he was just a child his real father had been murdered by a mobster named Tuborg, who sought the elder Grant's latest invention. As Tuborg's killers combed the house for witnesses, Grant's servant, Davis, rushed to the nursery, commanding the nanny to take Jason's twin sister, someone Jason never knew existed, into hiding while he did the same with young Jason. The nanny headed for London while Davis brought Jason to America. Over the next nineteen years, Davis moved himself and Jason constantly, always trying to stay one step ahead of Tuborg's searching thugs.

In preparation for the day Jason would take over the fight, Davis drilled commando training into the boy's head. With his final breath, he gasped, "Your sister ... somehow your father secreted on her person evidence that will end Tuborg and his evil empire. In the fireplace at home ... the box your father gave me -- it has your papers ... money ... and -- and ... I'm ... I'm ... sor --"

In five and a half short pages, including one splash, Sekowsky has neatly set up the entire series and there is not a spandex outfit or alien super-power in sight.

Unknown to Jason, Tuborg had planted a bug in the hospital room and heard every word. Finding Jason's sister was now their number one priority. Jason flies to London, buys a motorcycle and begins his search for his sister. From an ex-neighbor he gets a picture of her and a direction; she is heading for the continent.

Tuborg's men ambush Jason on the road and though they don't get the picture, they get enough clues to track her to a ferry soon to go across the channel. On the ferry Jason saves a woman named Gee Gee from two thugs. Gee Gee asks if Jason would like to travel with her, but he declines, wanting instead to head out looking for his sister. As he drives away Gee Gee removes her black wig and is revealed as Jason's sister.

The three-page back-up "Ghost Rider" is written and drawn by Mike Sekowsky and really is inked by Dick Giordano. It is the tale of teenagers, bikers and ghostly riders.

Edited by Mike Sekowsky.

Justice League of America #78

Justice League of America #78 (On Sale: December 11, 1969) has a more than slightly misleading, though nicely-drawn cover by Gil Kane.

We begin with "The Coming of the Doomsters" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella. In Star City Green Arrow assists a night watchman at a factory on the docks shooting it out with a group of armed thugs, using a Flare Arrow to throw some light on the situation. When the arrow hits the water it erupts in flames and Arrow signals for some JLA assistance. Answering the call is Green Lantern and Superman who make quick work of the flames now threatening the city. Once the fire is out they disburse, not hearing the plea of the watchman to talk about something that the watchman says may hold the key to the future of the entire human race.

Green Lantern and Superman take Green Arrow to, well, to New York (not called by name of course) to the top of the building which houses DC Comics (also not called by name of course) to show him the Thanagarian relativity beam system (think Star Trek-like transporter device) which the JLA has installed there. Superman explains that since their headquarters was compromised by the Joker in Justice League of America #777, they have built a new headquarters and Green Arrow in now standing in the doorway. The transporter energizes and Green Arrow is teleported to the new JLA satellite headquarters 23,300 miles above New York in a geosynchronous orbit, where the rest of the team is waiting for him.

The JLA are to appear at a charity event that night and down earthside the watchman is making his way toward it when he is the victim of a drive-by shooting. He avoids the gunfire though and returns his own, blowing out a car tire and sending the car into a pole. When the thugs extract themselves from the wrecked car, the watchman is gone, but they now think they know where he is going and their conversation makes it clear that they are not from Earth.

Meanwhile, at the charity event the JLA are introducing the crowd to Black Canary when the watchman arrives, followed closely by the two goons from the car. Canary attacks using her judo and Green Lantern protects her from the goons' alien weapons. As the thugs go down Superman jumps on their bodies shielding everyone from the self-destruct blast of the thugs, now revealed as androids of some sort. The watchman grabs the alien weapons and he and the JLA retire to a more private facility, their orbiting headquarters.

The watchman explains how he was hired on by the new factory in town and was assaulted by the amount of pollution the thing put out. When he asked workers what they were producing, no one seemed to know. The watchman soon realized that the product the factory was making was pollution and he stole some papers proving it. Some "men" from the factory chased him and that is where Green Arrow found him. The watchman introduces himself as Greg Sanders, who used to go by the name of the Vigilante, but gave up that life years ago. Now of course, since the Vigilante from the Golden Age was from Earth 2, this is actually the first appearance of this character. So, not only has Denny O'Neil given us the new JLA headquarters this issue, he has introduced a new DC character as well.

The stolen paperwork includes a star map and Superman and Green Lantern head off to explore that end of the story. The rest of the JLA head off to the factory, except for Green Arrow who wants to have a "conversation" with the Star City City Manager, where it seems the City Manager knows the factory only makes pollution and doesn't care as it provides jobs and taxes and that is all that matters. He has Green Arrow thrown in jail Personal aside here: as the husband of an ex-City Manager, the person you might find with that sort of attitude would be a Mayor, i.e., a politician, not a City Manager, who is governed by a whole set of ethics that politicians know nothing of.

Meanwhile the rest of the JLA have made a quick stop at a western goods store and purchased the makings of a new Vigilante costume. Along with that and the alien guns, the Vigilante is back in business. While at the same time on the alien world pointing at by the stolen paperwork Green Lantern and Superman find a desolate destroyed ash-can of a planet where once a vibrant civilization existed.

At the factory the JLA and the Vigilante are confronted and eventually overwhelmed by the alien automatons. As we leave for the month they are being lowered into vats of bubbling, noxious death! This tale has been reprinted in Justice League of America Archives Vol. 9 HC and Showcase Presents:Justice League of America Vol. 4 TPB.

The back-up story is "The Man Who Hated Science!" by Jack Miller and John Giunta and reprinted from Mystery In Space #6.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Young Romance #164

Young Romance #164 (On Sale: December 9, 1969) has a cover inked by Vinny Colletta.

We begin with "The Searing Conclusion to Next Door to Love" drawn by Alex Toth and Ric Dano (Dick Giordano). Next is "Please... Don't Step on My Heart." Next is a lovelorn letters section, Laura Penn...Your Romance Reporter with an illustration by John Romita. That is followed by a fashion page, Dates 'n Mates drawn by Ric Estrada. We end with "I Laughed at Love" inked by Vinny Colletta.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Sugar and Spike #88

Sugar and Spike #88 (On Sale: December 9, 1969) has a cover by Sheldon Mayer.

We have three Sugar and Spike stories this issue: "Little Arthur Strikes Again," "Eggs, Sunny-Side Down" and "Why Babies Do What They Do," all writen and drawn by Sheldon Mayer.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Leave It To Binky #71

Leave It To Binky #71 (On Sale: December 9, 1969) has a cover by Henry Scarpelli.

We begin with Binky in "The T.V. Man" by John Albano, Winslow Mortimer and Bill Draut which was reprinted in Best of DC #29. Next is Binky in "Supporting Your Local Policeman." That is followed by Binky's Buddies in "Easy Bread" by Barbara Friedlander, Winslow Mortimer and Henry Scarpelli. This was reprinted in Best of DC #70. We end with Binky in "(Where are you going in such a temper, Binky?)."

Edited by Joe Orlando.

G.I. Combat #140

G.I. Combat #140 (On Sale: December 9, 1969) has a cover by Joe Kubert.

We begin with "The Last Tank" from All-American Men of War #50 by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. Next is "Time Bomb Tank" from Our Fighting Forces #53 by Bob Haney and Russ Heath. That is followed by "Second-String Soldier" from Our Army at War #71 by Bob Haney and Mort Drucker. We end with "Face of the Enemy" from Our Army at War #56 by Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath.

Edited by Joe Kubert..

Friday, December 4, 2009

Unexpected #117

Unexpected #117 (On Sale: December 4, 1969) has a cover by Nick Cardy.

We begin with Johnny Peril in "Midnight Summons the Executioner" by George Kashdan and Sid Greene. This is the last Johnny Peril story for ten years. Next is "Hands of Death" by Murray Boltinoff and Jerry Grandenetti. That is followed by "The House That Hate Built" by Carl Wessler and George Tuska. This story was reprinted in Unexpected #161. We end with "Death of the Man Who Never Lived" by Carl Wessler and Bruno Premiani.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Flash #194

Flash #194 (On Sale: December 4, 1969) has a cover by Neal Adams.

The Flash stars in "The Bride Cast Two Shadows" by John Broome, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Joan Boardman awakens one night in a trance, walking out of her hotel murmuring something about finding "her love." On the street she sees a poster of the Flash and thinks, "It's him!" The Flash is a few blocks away fighting the Owl Gang and during the fight Joan rushes into the line of fire and is knocked unconscious. When the police and Iris arrive (Iris in her role as a news photographer), Iris suggests that they take the unconscious girl to her house (in real life something this stupid would never happen, but in John Broomeland, this is the norm).

Once there, Joan wakes up and begins referring to the Flash as Daniel. Whenever the woman stares at Barry, he has visions of a past life where he is proposing and planning for his wedding to Elfriede Talman who is the spitting image of Joan Boardman. Eventually Iris uncovers the story of Daniel Porter and Elfriede Talman. Daniel was the mayor of Central City a hundred years ago and is a look-alike for Barry. On the night before his wedding to Elfriede, she disappeared in a freak storm. When Joan awakens again they notice that she casts two shadows, as if two people were in possession of her body.

The next time Joan looks at Barry he does not fight the visions and joins her in marriage. They are then both swept into another realm, where Elfriede says she lives and can visit the Earth once every hundred years for a single day. As she departs, the Flash tries to find his way back to reality but is attacked by a number of demons. Finally, he is able to make his way out of the strange realm, where he finds that Joan Boardman is fine once again and remembers nothing of the past 24 hours.

Confession time. I have never much cared for the art team of Ross Andru and Mike Esposito and found it strange that for years Esposito was the only inker of Ross Andru's pencils (the team actually goes all the way back to Andru's first story for DC in 1953). I particularly did not like the team on the Flash, as Andru's characters seem a little clunky and off-balance and this trait was something that I certainly did not think applied to the Flash. That said, I thought much of the art in this issue worked for me, particularly the scenes of the Flash fighting the demons. Odd that Ross Andru should finally get it "right" on this his last story as the Flash artist.

The back-up story is "The Man Who Televised Time" from Strange Adventures #13 and produced by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. This little story is about a professor who offers $1 million for an invention that will change the world. The first man has what he calls a perpetual motion machine, but has forgotten to take into account the wear caused by friction. Next is a man who claims his machine can extract gold from water, but it costs more to run than it can produce in gold. Next is a man who has invented a sonic typewriter, but it has no way of dealing with homophones. The last man says that he has a machine that can retrieve past light waves and display the past on a television screen. The professor has this man arrested for fraud when he shows sound and pictures at the same time, since sound waves travel at a very different speed than light waves.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Batman #219

Batman #219 (On Sale: December 4, 1969) has a nice cover by Neal Adams. This is the last issue to use this long-time logo.

We begin with our cover-story, "Death Casts the Deciding Vote" by Frank Robbins, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. Bruce Wayne heads to the state capitol to find public funding for his Victims Inc, Program but when he reaches the governor's office he finds Senator Lincoln Webster already there. Webster is visiting on the sly and informs Bruce that a new anti-crime bill he is sponsoring will put V.I.P. out of business, but that there might be a federal "Health and Welfare" bill that some of Bruce's ideas might be tacked on to.

Webster invites Bruce to fly with him back to Washington, DC where he needs to be tomorrow to vote on his bill and promises to introduce Bruce tot he right people. Little do they know that they are being watched and followed as they leave the state house. They take a commuter flight back to DC but things go bad almost immediately.

Unbeknownst to Bruce and Webster, the plane has been hijacked. Bruce notices that the plane is flying in the wrong direction and breaks into the cockpit to see what is going on. There he is knocked out and hijackers tell the passengers that Bruce was a hijacker and that they are the FBI. Webster knows something is up, but does not want to reveal his identity. They put Bruce in a back room where he escapes and returns to the front of the plane as Batman. They threaten to kill Webster if Batman doesn't stop and he is also captured and thrown in with Bruce Wayne (Bruce used inflated Mae Wests to fill out his clothing when he changed into Batman garb).

The hijackers land the plane at an abandoned airfield. There they reveal that they are simply holding Webster until after the vote of his bill, so that it will fail. When they go to check on Batman, they find an unconscious Bruce Wayne and an open door where they assume Batman has escaped. They move Bruce back up with the passengers and he talks the Senator into faking a heart attack. Bruce convinces the hijackers to fly to a nearby medic. When they take off, batman pops up in the cockpit. The gunmen freak out and run back into the passenger area where Bruce gets the better of them. He then rushes to the cockpit where he deflates the Batman suit he had rigged with the wheels hydraulic mechanism and tells the pilots to head for DC.

As they approach DC for landing the wheels open and suck the Batman suit out of the plane, which is sort of what you see on the slightly misleading cover. Not a great story by any means, but also not what this issue is known for.

The back-up story is "The Silent Night of the Batman" by Mike Friedrich, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano. This is a beautifully done Christmas tale of a Christmas Eve which Batman spends singing Christmas carols with Commissioner Gordon and his men, while out across Gotham the spirit of Batman stops one crime after another. Sometimes it is a Batman toy, sometimes a blind man in a Batman costume, sometimes the shadow of a suspension bridge forming a Batman symbol. It is a classic tale like no other and has been reprinted in Limited Collectors' Edition C-43, Christmas with the Super-Heroes #1 and Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 2 HC.

One more back-up before we go and that is "Time to Kill" by Henry Kuttner and John Giunta and reprinted from Phantom Stranger #5. This is a great little story about a rivalry between two scientists, a time machine and a murder that becomes a suicide. Henry Kuttner was a client of Julius Schwartz's, a science-fiction writer who only wrote 21 stories for DC comics. Twenty of them were written between 1944 and 1946 and all twenty were Green Lantern stories. This, his 21st and last story was written in 1953. Besides his work for DC, Kuttner also wrote for Fawcett, Ace and Avon Comics and worked for a while out of the Chesler Studio.

Kuttner was married to Catherine Louise Moore, also a writer and they co-authored a number of science-fiction novels together. Kuttner is the creator of Elak of Atlantis, an early sword and sorcery character. Ten of Kuttner's novels were published after his death in 1958. The Best of Henry Kuttner was published in 1987 and Catherine Lucille Moore and Henry Kuttner: A Marriage of Souls and Talent: A Working Bibliography was published in 1986.

Kuttner wrote under a number of pseudonyms including Lewis Padgett. One of his stories (co-written with his wife) was Mimsy Were the Borogoves which was adapted into the feature-length film The Last Mimzy.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Our Army at War #215

Our Army at War #215 (On Sale: December 2, 1969) has a Sgt. Rock cover by Joe Kubert.

We begin with Sgt. Rock in "The Pied Piper of Peril" by Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath. In a small French town Rock and Easy Co. are ambushed by a squad of SS Troopers. Through the use of slang terms Rock is able to communicate to his men without the Nazis understanding and is able to kill the entire squad, save their commander. The fighting over the women, children and old people of the town come out of hiding and thank Rock and his men for saving them.

Almost immediately the prisoner seems to have some strange power over the youngsters of the town. They sit and watch him while he whittles a flute and seem to spend all of there time around him. Bulldozer remarks how it reminds him of the Pied Piper story. The kids will have nothing to do with Rock or his men and actually seem to protect the Nazi from his captors.

Then next night the kids steal Easy's guns while they sleep and Rock and the SS Officer square off, where Rock finally takes him out. The kids then confess that the Nazi had told them they would never see their fathers alive and that their mothers would also be killed if they did not cooperate with him. A pretty silly story of not much consequence if you ask me.

Next is "The Face of Death" drawn by Fred Ray regarding Joel Kurt, an artist sent by newspapers to try and capture the feel of battle during the Civil War. Kurt keep getting closer and closer to the action, saying he wants to capture the "face of death" for his readers, but he always feels he is failing. Finally he disobeys orders and follows the men during a charge against the Confederates, where he is shot. After the battle they find him leaning up against a tree, where he asks for his paper and pencils. He says, "I've got it... got it at last! Now..eveyonel...will see...the real face of death!" He then dies and when they look at the paper there is nothing but a scribble on it. The only way to see the real face of death, is to die. This story I liked.

We end with a Great Battles of History story, "Liegnitz and the Mongol Tide" written and drawn by Ric Estrada. It is more of a history lesson than a story of the battle where Duke Henry of Sliesia was defeated by the Mongol hoard.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

House of Secrets #84

House of Secrets #84 (On Sale: December 2, 1969) has a cover by Neal Adams.

The book begins and ends with a nice framing sequence drawn by Bill Draut. The first tale is "If I Had But World Enough and Time" by Len Wein, Dick Dillin and Mike Peppe, a tale of suburbia and the perils and ultimate escape that can be found in watching a lot of television.

That is followed by "Double or Nothing" by Marv Wolfman and Sid Greene. This is a tale about Clifford King who runs a crooked gambling room and learns that even crooked games are no match for a man with the right "system."

Next is "The Unbelievable! The Unexplained" by Steve Skeates, Jack Sparling and Jack Abel. Ruth has a plan to steal her uncle's estate by having him committed and placed into a nursing home. Who can blame her, the old guy was catatonic, staring off into space as if he had seen something too horrible to accept. Shortly after moving in to her uncle's home and shortly after he dies in the nursing home, Ruth is busy looking for the deed to the home when she finds a mysterious key. Once in her had the key begins to throb and Ruth is forced to go where the key demands, in this case to an old house in the fog. There she opens a door and sees something, something beyond description that drives her mad. Somehow she makes it back to the estate, but she is in a catatonic state much like her uncle. Well, ,she coveted everything he had, and she got what she coveted. I liked the way that Skeates was able to immerse Abel into the story on this one.

The last story in the book is our cover-story, "If I Should Die Before I Wake..." by Len Wein and Jack Sparling, the story of Alan Fry, a man who dares not sleep for when he does he is attacked by Morlon in the land of Somnia. Fry tries to find refuge at a psychiatrist's office, but Morlon finds him even there. The entire contents were reprinted in Showcase Presents: The House of Secrets Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Challengers of the Unknown #72

Challengers of the Unknown #72 (On Sale: December 2, 1969) has a cover by Neal Adams.

The Challengers of the Unknown star in "A Plague of Darkness" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Frank Giacoia. The back-up story is "Nobody Lives Forever... or Do They?" by Dave Wood and Lee Elias.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.