Friday, February 26, 2010

Wonder Woman #188

Wonder Woman #188 (On Sale: February 26, 1970) has a cover by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano that is a wonderful return to the heavy bondage roots of classic Golden Age Wonder Woman covers.

We begin with our cover-story "Cyber's Revenge" written and penciled by Mike Sekowsky and inked by Dick Giordano. Continuing from last issue, Diana and Ching have been pulled from the waters of Hong Kong Harbor as the Junk that was the headquarters of Dr. Cyber burns. The badly burned Cyber and her associate Lu Shan, maybe I Ching's daughter, escaped with a new power source to be used to power Cyber's earthquaker devices. Ching was shot by Lu Shan and is rushed to the hospital, while Diana and Patrick McGuire meet at the police station and go over the events thus far.

Suddenly Hong Kong is hit by an earthquake and Diana and Patrick head for the streets where they are shot at by a strange car carrying Lu Shan and a assortment of Cyber henchmen. They escape Cyber's people by hiding under some wreckage, when another quake hits Patrick is knocked unconscious. Meanwhile Cyber sends a message to the wold that she must be declared supreme ruler of Earth or she will level every city on the planet with her earthquakers.

Lu Shan and her thugs locate Diana but she overpowers her and chases off the thugs and "convinces" Lu Shan to show them where one of the earthquakers is located. However, suspecting a trap, Diana wants Lu Shan to throw the power switch to turn off the machine and when she refuses Diana once again overpowers her. Eventually Lu Shan is convinced to turn off the earthquakers safely, bypassing the self-destruct feature that she was hoping would catch Diana.

Back at the inspector's office, Diana gets the location of the other earthquakers out of Lu Shan and while the inspector's men go after most of the machine, Diana and Patrick take the last one themselves. They race across the destroyed city to the location of the final earthquaker as it is turned on once again. They make it into the facility but run afoul of a trap door.

When they awaken they are chained to the ceiling and a heavily bandaged Dr. Cyber is there. She removes her bandages and shows Diana the mess she made of her face. Diana turns her face away from the sight and Cyber grabs her and turns Diana toward her. Which is what Diana hoped she would do, come in close enough so that Diana could knock her out with a swift kick to the face. Using the training she was taught by I Ching Diana is able to free herself but then is attacked by Cyber's personal guards, whom she quickly defeats.

As Diana frees Patrick Cyber awakens and attacks her with a sword, but Diana uses the chains to keep Cyber at bay and knock her into a power supply on the earthquaker. As Cyber fries, she pushes the self-destruct button. Diana and Patrick barely make it out alive. From hiding we see Lu Shan, vowing to get revenge. Diana and Patrick then begin helping those wounded in the quakes.

Days later she and Patrick make it to the hospital to check in on I Ching only to find that he is gone. A visitor came to his room and spoke something of Lu Shan and how she had crossed the border into Red China. Ching seems to have followed her. Reprinted in Diana Prince:Wonder Woman Vol. 2 TPB.

We get another great Sekowsky/Giordano teaser page for the next issue followed by a two page filler, "Crime Does Not Pay!" also by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano. This little short is about a pick-pocket who unwisely tries to pick Diana's pocket!

Edited by Mike Sekowsky.

Detective Comics #398

Detective Comics #398 (On Sale: February 26, 1970) has a cover by Neal Adams.

This issue begins with our cover-story "The Poison Pen Puzzle" by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella. It begins with Bruce Wayne on a jet headed for Los Angeles where Wayne Enterprises is about to buy into the picture business by purchasing a stake in Seven-Star Pictures. Sitting next to him is writer Maxine Melanie, who creates quite a stir on the plane when her identity is revealed by a couple of flight attendants. Her latest Hollywood tell-all "novel" has just been published and when she asks Bruce if he would like an autograph, he makes it clear how he feels about her type of literature, "I wouldn't be seen dead with your--book!"

But as fate would have it Seven-Star Pictures has just optioned the thing and after landing Bruce makes a big stink in the boardroom of Seven-Star, threatening to call of the merger if Seven-Star makes the movie. One of the board-members rightfully accuses Bruce of being a boorish "censor" for criticizing a book he has not read and when they go to get Bruce their advanced copy, they find it missing. This sends Bruce to a nearest bookstore where Maxine just happens to be signing her work.

Bruce is told that if he wants an autograph from Maxine that he better bring his own pen as "Maxine ran out of hers hours ago..." Just then an old woman asks to be let into the line awaiting autographs as she is "too frail to take this pushing around." As Maxine signs her book, she spasms, screams and collapses. The old woman tries to beat a hasty retreat but drops her book. Bruce tries to return it to her and is flipped onto his back by the old broad. By this time a doctor has shown up and pronounces Maxine dead. Bruce notices that there is a pin-prick in Maxine's finger and that there is a needle sticking out of the pen. When Bruce looks at the dropped book he sees that it is an advanced copy.

Back at Seven-Stars Bruce finds that they know of Maxine's death and that one of their top "properties," Loren Melburn has confessed to the murder. She is half of Hollywood's "perfect couple" with husband Dorian Spence. They were both "speared by Maxine's poison-pen in her novel." They mention to Bruce that there is a third major star mentioned in the book, Ronald Dart, who also had motive to kill Maxine. Another board-member walks in and announces that Dorian Spence has also confessed to the murder of Maxine.

Bruce says he will handle this personally and as Batman visits the Los Angeles police where he tels them to announce that Batman is on the case. Later Batman visits the Spense's where Dorian tries to convince him that he is the real killer. Planning to head over to Rod Drake's place next door Batman is confronted by Drake in the garden, where he says he overheard Spence planning Maxine's death. When Drake comes out of the shadows he is wielding a fireplace poker and is not Drake, but Dorian Spense. But just as quickly he is grabbed by Dorian Spence who pulls the mask off the attacking Spence to reveal Rod Drake.

Drake confesses that he fed Maxine most of the dirt in her "novel" with the promise that he would star in the movie version. Only, she reneged and he decided to kill her for it. Does much of this make any sense at all? Not really.

The back-up is Robin in "Moon-Struck" by Frank Robbins, Gil Kane and Vinny Colletta. Hudson University is being visited by a moon rock which NASA is giving to Russia and is being accepted by Russian Exchange Professor Zukov. Geeky student Herb Stroud, the campus "profit of doom" who "showers every hour--on the hour" arrives to say that the moon rock may be dangerous. His prediction appears to have been right as the rock flashes green and Herb's skin turns the exact same color. The campus is quarantined and NASA people grab Herb for testing. They can find no radiation issues at all.

Meanwhile Robin is suspecting a hoax and is visiting the showers and finds a strange bar of green soap with an odd scent. Just hen the lights go out and so does Robin, who is attacked trying to keep the soap. When he awakens he smells an odd scent on the hand of the person who awakened him. Reprinted in Showcase Presents: Robin the Boy Wonder Vol. 1 TPB. Not much to say about this one except the art is horrible and I don't blame Gil Kane.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Aquaman #51

Aquaman #51 (On Sale: February 26, 1970) has another brilliant cover by Nick Cardy. This may be the Silver Age of comics, but it was the Golden Age of Comic Covers.

We begin with Aquaman in "The Big Pull" by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo. Continuing from last issue, some alien creatures sent by Ocean Master have blasted Aquaman, well, somewhere unearthly. There he met a woman who lived in a strange city where their religion only allowed for communication in their sanctuary. Looking for information about Earth the woman has brought Aquaman to Brother Warnn and as we pick up the story this issue we learn that even this man has no concept of Earth. The people here only believe in the City and the Wilderness beyond; to them nothing else exists.

When Aquaman tells the woman that he intends to search for someone who knows of Earth, the woman warns him that there is nothing but the City and the Wilderness and to speak otherwise is blasphemy. Aquaman is overheard however by a Supreme Brother, one of the few allowed to communicate outside of the sanctuary. The woman tells Aquaman that if he leaves they will surely attack him, but Aquaman doesn't want to wait around any longer and bolts from the place. He is followed by a couple of warriors with the crazy bubble-guns seen last issue. Aquaman sneaks up on an unsuspecting guard, and knocking him out, uses his body as a shield from the bubbles. Escaping Aquaman soon finds that he is once again being followed by the woman.

Back in the City, on official turns on a machine which sends out huge telepathic waves into the Wilderness. The waves his Aquaman and his companion, causing extreme pain and knocking her out. Aquaman carries the woman and swims on. Eventually as he puts more distance between him and the City the pain eases.

Back in Atlantis, Black Manta is seen approaching the city and Mera, alone and in charge, wishes with all her might that her husband were back with her. At that same instance, somewhere else, Aquaman feels a strange force pulling him in a specific direction. His companion wakes up and seems unsure of what to do, but eventually decides to continue following Aquaman.

As they continue on they are seen by two strange little men toiling in a rock quarry. Jimm thinks he sees Aquaman, but Steev has never heard of Aquaman and thinks they better get back to work or Dikk will have their heads. This was a nice little inside bit by Skeates and Aparo.

Luckily the woman did not see Steev or Jimm for she would have surely freaked when she saw them talking, for a little later on Aquaman is drawn toward a large sphere, covered with cave-like structures. When the woman sees the cave-people communicating in the open she is shocked and pulls out her gun to shoot them. Aquaman stops her, but not before one errant shot is let loose. It hits near a child playing and the cave people head toward Aquaman with clubs at the ready. This story was reprinted in Adventure Comics #503.

The back-up is Deadman in "The World Cannot Wait for a Deadman" written and drawn by Neal Adams. If you remember last time, the same aliens that zapped Aquaman where ever the heck he has been zapped, let loose a cat-like creature when they realized a non-corporal being like Deadman was in their midst and said cat-like creature was flipping Deadman out! More like taking him for an inter-dimensional ride! Now as he lands on solid ground (hard for a dead man to do!), the cat-like create has turned into a beautiful woman who explains that in this dimension Deadman is real

The beautiful Tatsinda explains that in our world she can only exist as the "cat-like" creature, that the aliens captured her two years ago and that the only way she could get home was to "ride" a nonentity, such as Deadman, back to her dimension. Deadman says that she can just ride him right back then, "Look, just drop me off and you can come back here!" But of course, she can only make the dimensional jump with someone like Deadman to ride her through it.

Just then Tatsinda's brother and sister arrive and after a tearful reunion they all run underground to avoid a massive storm. As they near Tatsinda's underground home city they are attacked by two ugly-looking guys on a giant crab-like creature. The crab-like creature's eyes hold them all in a hypnotic trance as the ugly ones grab Tatsinda and scamper (scuttle?) away on a giant network of spider-like webbing. Once they snap out of the trance Deadman asks what is the best way to go after them and Tatsinda's brother says that there is no way, that no one has ever followed the depth crabs, "We'll never see Tatsinda again!"

Not the right answer for Deadman, who leaps into the depths and swings about on the webs like he once did the trapeze. He quickly finds the ugly ones and landing among them begins to open a can o' wup ass! He rescues Tatsinda and as he is taking her back to her home she says, "You've done what no man on this whole planet could have done! I've been thinking...about how your dimension needs you more than I need to go home! Don't throw up!" and she rides him once again through the dimensional barrier! This story was reprinted in Deadman Collection HC.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #128

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #128 (On Sale: February 24, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

This issue begins with our cover-story "No Father for Jimmy" by E. Nelson Bridwell and Pete Costanza. The back-up is "The Story of Superman's Souvenirs" from Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #5 by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and Ray Burnley. Killer Burke, a hunted fugitive, hides in the apartment of Jimmy Olsen. Burke forces Jimmy to tell him the stories behind several of his Superman souvenirs, hoping one will enable him to escape. Burke then uses an invisibility belt invented by Luthor to slip past the police. However, the belt causes Burke to go blind. Without his sight, Burke is forced to surrender. When Jimmy turns off the belt, his sight is restored.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Heart Throbs #125

Heart Throbs #125 (On Sale: February 24, 1970) has cover by Ric Estrada and Vince Colletta.

This issue begins with our cover-story "Leave Me! Leave Me! Leave Me" drawn by Ric Estrada and Vince Colletta. Next is "Two Loves Have I" drawn by Lee Elias. We end with "Am I Too Young for Love?"

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Green Lantern #76

Green Lantern #76 (On Sale: February 24, 1970) is an obscure, little-known book of no real importance. Not! Neal Adams provides the cover to this ground-breaking comic with the new Green Lantern Co-Starring Green Arrow logo.

I remember seeing this book on the stands like it was yesterday. Having read the Green Arrow make-over issue of The Brave and the Bold and having been following his exploits in Justice League of America I was hankering for some more Green Arrow, and I was always ready for a new Neal Adams' series. This issue I got both and so, so much more. "No Evil Shall Escape My Sight" is the classic Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams revamping of the ailing Green Lantern franchise that changed the direction of comics for years to come and introduced the word "relevance" to comics.

This landmark issue almost went out with this cover instead, but editor Julius Schwartz passed on this one, perhaps because it looks like Green Arrow is about to shoot Green Lantern in the back. I've seen another version of this cover on-line somewhere which has the Green Lantern figure inked by Adams.

Stop me if you've heard this one before... or not. Green Lantern is in the area of Star City and decides to drop in on Green Arrow to see how he is doing. Once in town he sees a guy in a suit being accosted by "a punk" on the street. Lantern does a little green-ring razzle-dazzle and sends the "punk" off to police headquarters. He then picks the accosted man off the street and dusts him off accepting his gratitude. Then the crowd gives Lantern their opinion of his performance as they begin to pelt him with bottles, cans and other assorted garbage.

Green Lantern grabs the nearest punk and is about to work him over when Green Arrow arrives with the classic lines, "Touch him first, Green Lantern, and you'll have to touch me second...and I'll touch back!--Believe it chum!" "I was almost tempted to throw a can at you myself!" Arrow takes Lantern aside and explains that the accosted guy was Jubal Slade, the fat-cat landlord who owns these tenement slums, and who is now evicting everyone to turn the buildings into parking lots.

Up on the roof of the building, the straight-laced Green Lantern says he was only doing his job and Arrow accuses him of being a Nazi. Then in one of the more powerful moments in comic history an old black man asks Green Lantern a question, "I been readin' about you...How you work for the blue skins.. And how on a planet someplace you helped out the orange skins...And you done considerable for the purple skins! Only there's skins you never bothered with--! The black skins! I want to know... How come?! Answer me that, Mr. Green Lantern!"



This is one of two scenes that everyone seems to remember from this book and regard as its high point, but for me it is the first panel on the next page that makes this scene kill. More precisely, it is the caption of that first panel: " In the time it takes to draw a single breath...the span of a heartbeat--a man looks into his own soul, and his life changes..." What makes this story work and the whole concept of the book work, is that Denny O'Neil is able to give voice to two opposing views through the two main characters, but he is obviously slanted toward Arrow's more liberal views.

In a way, O'Neil turned this book into his own take on Steve Ditko's the Hawk and the Dove, only he is playing the favorite that Ditko never would ever have considered. Arrow gives a powerful voice and presence to the Dove and Lantern finds himself conflicted as the black and white Hawk. The country, certainly the youth of the country, was rejecting Ditko's black and white view of the world and embracing a more humanistic approach. Green Arrow was the perfect tool to bring that view to comics.

Back in our story, Green Lantern goes to Jubal Slade and tries to talk him out of razing the buildings. Slade calls him a "bleeding heart" and has his men attempt to throw him out. Lantern takes out Slade's thugs and is about to open a can of whoop-ass on Slade when the Guardians intervene, telling Lantern to report to Oa immediately. The Guardians are pissed that Hal attacked Slade, who in their eyes, had committed no crime. They send him out to save a moon of Saturn from a swarm of meteors and tell him to wait there for further orders. Tired of doing the work of the "blue skins" and thinking back on the words of the "black skin," Hal disobeys the Guardians and heads back to Earth.

At that moment Arrow is visiting Slade and convincing him that he needs to pay Arrow for "protection." They set up a meeting for later than night for a payoff. We watch the two guns heading for the rendezvous, silencers in place. Seeing a figure in a chair they pump it full of lead, only to find it is a dummy and Green Arrow is upon them! After handling the men, Arrow retrieves his hidden tape recorder, only to find that one of the gunsel's stray bullets has scored a direct hit on the tape and Ollie is back to square one.

When Arrow and Lantern get together, Ollie relates his failure and Hal comes up with a plan. One of the gunmen shows up at Slade's penthouse and Slade erupts, telling him never to come there and wanting to know if the "hit" on Green Arrow was a success, "Green Arrow! Did you finish him? I paid you to kill him...remember?" At which point the gunman turns into Green Lantern and Green Arrow shows up with the District Attorney in hand to arrest Slade.

All that is left is Slade's attempt to get away via a hand grenade he uses as a paperweight, but Green Lantern makes quick work of that and the D. A. takes Slade away. Happy ending, right? Not so fast bucko! There is the Epilogue and the other famous scene from this story.

The Guardians are pissed off at Hall for disobeying their orders and Green Arrow lays into them and Hal in some of the most amazing dialog ever written. For the time it was shocking. "Listen...Forget about chasing around the galaxy!...and remember America...It's a good country...beautiful...fertile...and terribly sick! There are children dying...honest people cowering in fear...disillustioned kids ripping up campuses...On the streets of Memphis a good black man died...and in Los Angeles a good white man fell...Something is wrong! Something is killing us all...! Some hideous moral cancer is rotting our very souls!"

And so Ollie tasks the Guardians to do something about it and after much deliberation they send down one of their own, disguised as a human and together, the three of them take off in a pick-up truck to find America. "Three set out together, moving through cities and villages and the majesty of the wilderness...searching for a special kind of truth...searching for themselves."

This classic tale has been reprinted in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #1, Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told HC, Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told TPB, DC Silver Age Classics Green Lantern 76 (#6), Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection Vol. 1 TPB, Millennium Edition: Green Lantern 76 (#5), Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection HC and Green Lantern/Green Arrow Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Girls' Romances #148

Girls' Romances #148 (On Sale: February 24, 1970) has an absolutely beautiful cover by the great Nick Cardy.

This issue begins with "I Won't Fall in Love" drawn by Ric Estrada and Vince Colletta. Next is "My Nightmare Love Affair" drawn by John Rosenberger. We end with the transgendered romance (just kidding) "I Wish I Wasn't Born a Girl" inked by Vince Colletta.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Brave and the Bold #89

Brave and the Bold #89 (On Sale: February 24, 1970) has a Batman and Phantom Stranger cover by Neal Adams over an obvious Carmine Infantino layout. This is the first issue to use the new Batman logo, which will disappear next issue but return after that.

This issue is dreadful. From the uninspired cover to the uninspired ending this book reeks. Bob Haney doesn't have the slightest clue how to use the Phantom Stranger or worse yet, Dr. Thirteen. We open with a group of covered wagons pulled by oxen and led by one Josiah Heller, self-proscribed descendant of the Hellerite leader of the same name. The Hellerites, so Batman says the legend goes, settled in Gotham 150 years ago, a strange sect of people (think Amish crossed with Mormon) who frightened the citizens of Gotham because they were so different. When a child is found dead on the streets the citizens blame the Hellerite sorcery for the death (most likely caused by a fever) and burned the Hellerite encampment, killing Josiah who proclaimed as the flames engulfed him that, "Someday the dust of the desert will fill Gotham's streets--and then this city's sins must be cleansed!"

These modern-day Hellerites set up camp in Gotham Park, where Batman and Commissioner Gordon head Heller tell his people that they have returned to Gotham for reparations and that they will demand that Gotham give up the land where their ancestor's encampment once stood. This land is now part of downtown Gotham, even Bruce Wayne owns a piece, and worth a fortune. The declaration splits Gotham in two and at a council meeting, Bruce Wayne (who Haney seems to think in on the City Council), donates the Wayne Foundation building to the Hellerite cause.

As Batman, Bruce keeps tabs on Heller and that night Heller is visited by the Phantom Stranger, who warns Heller that he has "unleashed a terrifying threat against Gotham City." When Heller tried to attack the Stranger, he knocks himself unconscious and Batman enters Heller's room and finds cigarettes in his pocket. He notes that Hellerites don't smoke and that they are supposed to be non-violent, yet Heller attacked the Stranger.

The city is soon crawling with Hellerites with glowing eyes and when Batman attempts to find out why he is confronted by the Phantom Stranger who paralyzes Batman so he can watch the Hellerites confronting Gotham citizens and demanding their property. The people find it impossible to resist the glowing stare of the Hellerites. The Stranger tells Batman that some of the Hellerites are "spectral beings...ghosts of Gotham's past."

Batman heads to Gotham Park and confronts Heller, who says that his people are all in the park and knows nothing of the Hellerites walking around Gotham. The Stranger appears and says that Heller has unwittingly called forth the spirits of the long-dead Hellerites. Dr. Thirteen shows up to call the Stranger a fraud (does he do anything else?) and karate-chops the Stranger unconscious.

Heller disappears during all of this and Batman goes searching for him, finding him painting a mark on the door of a house in Gotham. When Batman confronts Heller, his hands go right through him and Heller vanishes. Batman notices that the house is the one he has rented after vacating the Wayne Foundation building. Using the Gotham police computers Batman finds out that all of the houses "marked" by the Hellerites have an elder son at home (I guess Haney decided to ignore the fact that Robin wasn't living at home anymore).

Returning to his house Batman is psychically attacked by Dick and when Heller arrives to ask Bruce Wayne for even more "reparations" he is attacked by the ghostly Heller who calles him "an imposter." The ghostly Heller says that the modern-day Heller is not his decendant and only has the power to "unwittingly stir the spirits from their eternal sleep. Once aroused, all we can do is evil--until he who called us forth confesses his sacrilege."

Batman awakens the Stranger in police lock-up and the two of them go on the attack against the ghostly Heller and Dick. The ghosly Heller tries to kill the modern-day Heller and the Phantom Stranger intervenes. A sherriff arrives with a wanted poster for Karl Lofus, the modern-day Heller. Seeing the poster snaps Lofus out of his delusion that he is Heller and the spirit Heller and all his Hellerites disappear.

It is explained how Lofus had amnesia after breaking out of jail and ran into the Hellerite settlement in the desert and was mistaken by them for Heller. Dr. Thirteen looks stupid once again and the real Hellerites head back for the desert. Ugh! Horrible story all around. This piece of dreck was reprinted in Showcase Presents: The Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2 TPB and Showcase Presents: Phantom Stranger Vol. 2 TPB.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Adventure Comics #392

Adventure Comics #392 (On Sale: February 24, 1970) has a Supergirl cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

This issue begins with Supergirl in "The Super-Cheat" by Robert Kanigher and Kurt Schaffenberger. The back-up story is our Supergirl cover-story "One Hero Too Many" by Leo Dorfman, Winslow Mortimer and Jack Abel. This story guest-starred the Legion of Super-Pets and was reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9 HC.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Action Comics #387

Action Comics #387 (On Sale: February 24, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

This issue begins with our Superman cover-story, "Even a Superman Dies" by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and George Roussos. The back-up story is the Legion of Super-Heroes in "One Hero Too Many" by E. Nelson Bridwell, Winslow Mortimer and Jack Abel. This story guest-starred the Legion of Super-Pets and was reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9 HC.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Star Spangled War Stories #150

Star Spangled War Stories #150 (On Sale: February 19, 1970) has an Enemy Ace cover by Joe Kubert.

This issue begins with our Enemy Ace cover-story, "3 Graves to Home" written and drawn by Joe Kubert. I liked this story a lot; the reader is asked to imagine themselves in Rittmeister Hans Von Hammer's place, soaring through the air in a wood-strutted, fabric-covered flying machine, high over hostile French territory and suddenly set upon by a squadron of French sopwiths. Kubert is just a master at these aerial fight scenes and the four pages of flying carnage is a wonder to behold.

Von Hammer watches two of him men go down in flaming coffins and he personally dispatches the two sopwiths which took them down. But now he finds himself in the sites of three remaining sopwiths, and as his plane erupts in flames he goes into a power dive hoping to blow out the fire around him. But unable to put out the fire he instead attempts to land the plane. Jumping from the burning wreckage before his fuel tanks blow Von Hammer realizes for the first time that he has been shot in the leg. He finds himself, wounded, alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Despite his injury, he has to move fast and by dusk finds a lone farmhouse. Von Hammer speaks perfect French and as the fates would have it, the woman inside the house is blind. She dresses his wound and then shows him a picture of her son in front of his flying machine for he is a French flier. Von Hammer recognizes the marking on the plane and thinks back to two week prior when he shot this reconnaissance plane out of the air. They are interrupted by a knock at the door and thinking Von Hammer is just a young man in trouble with the local police, she hides him in her vegetable cellar. When she finds out that he may be the Enemy Ace, she points the soldiers to his hiding place. But Von hammer has escaped out an outside door.

Moving only at night Von Hammer slowly makes his way back toward Germany. On the dawn of the third day a young boy finds him sleeping in the family barn. The boy sees that Von Hammer is a pilot, and tells him of his brother, also a pilot and once again Von Hammer shooting down the planes of the brother's squadron. Not knowing Von Hammer is German, the boy gives him cheese and bread before he leaves.

Somehow Von Hammer makes it to the high country bordering Germany and awakens one morning to the lapping of sheep at his face. The young shepherdess who finds him speaks of her fiancé, a pilot in a plane adorned with two hearts entwined. Von Hammer says he does not know of such a plane, but of course he does and recalls how it flew too close to the French reconnaissance balloon it was guarding when Von Hammer riddled the balloon with bullets and it exploded, downing the French plane.

He cannot look the woman in the eyes and leaves quickly. That night during a snow storm Von Hammer finds a cave and builds a fire which he tends through the night. But he is not alone, in the flames he sees the images of all the warriors he has killed in aerial combat and thinks, "The dead are fortunate!...Never again must they wrestle with conscience! It is for us, the living...who must justify war's wanton killing!"

The next morning he makes his way down the mountain and to his Jagdstaffel and the morning after that he finds himself on the tarmac, ready to once again embrace the killer skies. This story was reprinted in DC Special Series #18, Enemy Ace Archives Vol. 2 HC and Showcase Presents: Enemy Ace Vol. 1 TPB.

Next we have a Viking Prince reprint from Brave and the Bold #12, "Monster of the Viking Sea" by Bob Haney and Joe Kubert. The fishing nets of Olaf's village are found cut. Jon investigates and discovers a hidden cavern containing a dinosaur. The dinosaur is trapped inside, but can reach through a small hole to cut the nets.

While Jon plots a strategy to deal with the monster, Ulric, his rival in the tribe plots against Jon. Ulric causes a rockfall which releases the monster. It then attacks the village. Jon forces it out to sea, where Ulric plans to kill Jon. Instead, the monster attack Ulric, taking them both to their deaths at the bottom of the ocean.

We end the issue with "Great Battles in History -- The Marne" drawn and I would guess written by Ric Estrada. The story entails how in 1914, for the first time battles were often wages and lost and won on the telephone.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

From Beyond the Unknown #4

From Beyond the Unknown #4 (On Sale: February 19, 1970) has a cover by Murphy Anderson.

This issue begins with our cover-story, "Riddle of the Vanishing Earthmen" from Mystery in Space #32 by Gardner Fox, Sid Greene and Joe Giella. Next is "Our Home is in the Stars" from Mystery in Space #65 by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. We end with "The Surprise Package Planet" from Mystery in Space #47 by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

DC Special #7

DC Special #7 (On Sale: February 19, 1970) has a cover by Murphy Anderson on the theme Strangest Sports Stories, something Julius Schwartz seemed to like but which never interested me much.

This issue begins with "Gorilla Wonders of the Diamond" from Brave and the Bold #49 by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. Next is "The Hot-Shot Hoopsters" from Brave and the Bold #46 also by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. That is followed by "The Man Who Drove Through Time" Brave and the Bold #48 by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene. Next we have "Goliath of the Gridiron" from Brave and the Bold #45 by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. We end with "Solar Olympics of 3000 A.D" from Mystery in Space #39 by John Broome and Carmine Infantino.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Witching Hour #8

Witching Hour #8 (On Sale: February 17, 1970) has a nice cover by Neal Adams.

This month DC put out two excellent horror/mystery comics, House of Secrets #85 and this book. Not surprisingly, they are both the work of editor Dick Giordano. This issue's framing sequence, "The True Picture of the Servant Problem at the Witching Hour" is drawn by, well, my guess is Alex Toth and Neal Adams. It might be Adams by himself, but if so he is surely channeling the work of Toth; it is a beauty. It seems the girls have hired photographer Renay Phydeaux to create a family portrait. In order to set the mood for Renay, the girls each tell a tale...

The first real story is "Above and Beyond the Call of Duty" written by Sergio Aragones and Neal Adams and drawn, so they say, by Neal Adams. I say that because this is obviously Neal's inks, but the pencils have got to be by someone else. Neal doesn't draw entire pages with no backgrounds; it just doesn't happen. Stylistically this reminds me of "The Succubus" from Vampirella #10, which was penciled mostly my soon to be comic writer Steve Engelhart. I don't know if Steve was apprenticing with Neal here a year earlier, but it has that look of Neal working with a raw, young talent, rather than Neal blasting through a story.

Don't get me wrong, the artwork is extremely nice, just the lack of backgrounds makes you wonder. Also, the layout is very straightforward; most pages are in a three-tier, six-panel fixed format. Not very Adams-like, but his may have to do with Aragones, who was known for turning in his stories as quick-sketch layouts.

Regardless, old, rich Jonas Sentry spends his days contemplating the glories of his past. He wishes he had a young body again, like that of his butler, so that he could chase after beautiful young women, like his chambermaid Maria. His butler overhears him one day and says that for his soul, a deal can be struck, where Jonas could have the butler's young body. Over the next few days, Maria seems more attentive to Jonas than ever and finally he confronts her, will she be his?

She says that it is not possible due to the difference in their ages, but if he were young like her, she would marry him in an instant. And with that incentive the deal with the butler is done. As Jonas moves from his old body to that of the butler, the devil emerges from the butler's body. Jonas kicks his old useless body down the stairs and grabs Maria as the devil phones the police to report that Jonas Sentry has been murdered by his butler. Jonas tries to explain, but in the end he is sentenced to life in prison. This story has been reprinted in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #17 and Deadman #4.

Next is our cover-story, "Three Day Free Home Trial" drawn by Nick Cardy. A housekeeper named Winifred offers Emily Carson three days free of charge to test out her abilities. On Wednesday Emily finds her house to be the cleanest she has ever seen it, but she feels a bit faint and Winifred offers her some more of her wonderful tea, an old family recipe don't you know? For some reason Winifred shoos away Emily's cousin Elmer. By Thursday Emily's head feels like it is going to explode. but the doctor she has summoned is sent away by Winifred, who offers up more tea as her cure-all.

Later that evening Emily awakens to some horrible noises in her house but finds the door to her bedroom locked. Looking through the keyhole she sees Winifred dancing and cavorting with all manor of demon and creature. Winifred comes in to calm her, but so do her fiends. they leave poor Emily in her room going mad while outside the loud noises continue. Then, abruptly, they end. The silence is deafening, but it to eventually ends, replaced by the thumping of footsteps, getting closer and closer. The door slowly opens and in walks Cousin Elmer.

He finds his cousin in a state of shock and summons a doctor. They find a note to Emily from Winifred reading, "Dear Miss Emily, I thank you for the use of your lovely home!! It made our annual meeting a great success! You really must learn to relax more! Get Well! Love Winnie! P.S., Hope to see you again next year...that is if we don't find a better place!" It is the morning of Friday, the 13th.

Our last story is "ComputERR" written, drawn and lettered by Alex Toth. It's a cute little piece: Kipp meets Rod through computer dating and they get married. Rob moves Kipp to his house, a huge mansion all alone in the hills. It's a sweet place, just Kipp and Rod and, oh yeah, Ferencz, a trollish little bald fellow who takes care of Rod's every need. Days turn into weeks and Kipp and Rod are in bliss in their new life together, just the, eh, three of them; Ferencz is ever-present.

One day Rod is missing, gone on a business trip and it is just Kipp and Ferencz together for a bit. Rod's trips become more frequent, more lengthy. Ferencz tries to entertain Kipp, but she begins to resent the ugly little fellow. They have no phone, no car except the one Rod takes on trips, they get no mail, Kipp has no contact with the outside world; her house has become a prison and Ferencz is her jailer. Finally she can stand it no more and confronts Rod, either Ferencz goes or she goes.

Hearing this sentence of confinement Kipp hops into Rod's beautiful 1937 yellow Cord and attempts to drive off. Rod tries to stop her and she backs into him as she leaves. Ferencz runs to Rod's side. Later we see Ferencz working on Rod's insides, he is a robot. and Ferencz promises that he will make him better than before and they will once again use their computer-match service to find a more quiet, stay-at-home type of girl. Just then there is a knock at the door. The police want to know if Ferencz owns a yellow Cord and when he replies in the affirmative they want him to come with them to the site of the wreck. "Wreck?" he asks?

There is something they want him to explain to them. When they get there, he sees the body of Kipp, thrown from the car and lying on the road. She has been ripped apart and her mechanical insides are showing.

This brings us back to the wrapper story, which now looks to be totally Neal Adams art. The girls' stories have petrified Phydeaux, so Igor shows him out, dragging his chair behind him as he goes and then trudging off into the swamp. The girls are sure the readers will be upset with them as they promised the readers a picture of Igor. There is a pounding at the door and the girls worry that the readers are in revolt, but at the door they find waiting for them a cute little girl, holding a big envelope. She gives the witches the envelope then runs off. Inside they find a picture of the girl and Igor. Of course, you can't see much of Igor, but what did you expect?

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Superboy #164

Superboy #164 (On Sale: February 17, 1970) has a cover by Neal Adams. Given the subject matter, this one should have been much more effective and emotional.

This issue begins with "Your Death Will Destroy Me" by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Mike Esposito. The back-up story is "Revolt of Ma Kent" by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Mike Esposito.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Secret Hearts #143

Secret Hearts #143 (On Sale: February 17, 1970) has a cover inked by Dick Giordano.

This issue begins with "I Never Thought It'd End Like This" inked by Vinny Colletta. Next is "Masquerade" drawn by Alex Toth. We end with "For Singles Only" also inked by Vinny Colletta.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Debbi's Dates #7

Debbi's Dates #7 (On Sale: February 17, 1970) has a cover by,well, I don't know.

This issue begins with Benedict in "The Fall Guy" and "The Big Spender." Next is Buddy in "The Kissin' Kid," followed by Debbi's Dates in "A Bottle of Love." We end with the Ding-a-Lings in "Country Cousins." I have no writer or artist information on this book.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #100

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #100 (On Sale: February 12, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

This issue begins with our cover-story, "Lois Lane's Last Mile" by Robert Kanigher and Irv Novick. The back-up is from Showcase #9, "The Un-Curious Lois Lane" is by Otto Binder, Ruben Morira and Al Plastino. Superman has created a new identity for himself, salesman Allen Todd. He does this because two nosy crooks have been trailing Clark Kent in an effort to expose him as Superman’s other identity. The Man of Steel plants clues for Lois to lead her to Todd, but Lois has taken a new approach and is now trying to cover for Superman.

After she successfully protects his new identity several times, he sends a letter with the address of Todd to Lois and leads the crooks to believe Lois knows his secret. The crooks expose Todd in front of Lois, but Superman then takes them to jail because they tried to shoot him. He then vows to adopt a new identity, which is really his old one, Clark Kent. Lois is intrigued and returns to her old ways of trying to learn the big secret again.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Girls' Love Stories #150

Girls' Love Stories #150 (On Sale: February 12, 1970) has a cover by. well, I don't know, but I know it is not by Nick Cardy as the GCD says.

This issue begins with "Confessions, Episode #4" drawn by John Rosenberger. Next is our cover-story, "Her Secret Shame" penciled by Tony Abruzzo. We end with "Wallflower" with the unusual art team of Wally Wood and Murphy Anderson. I don't know if I believe this credit, as I never heard of these two working together and Wood inked most of his own work. If anyone has this book, I would sure like to see some of these pages.

Nick Katradis actually owns most of the "Wallflower" pages, and has them online for those interested in viewing. Nick has identified the artists as Werner Roth with Wally Wood providing the inks.  this makes so much more sense than the Wood/Anderson team. Thanks Nick!

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Flash #196

Flash #196 (On Sale: February 12, 1970) has a cover by Murphy Anderson.

This issue begins "The Mightiest Punch of All Time" reprinted from Flash #153 and created by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. Professor Zoom is released from prison in the 25th century when he fools the officials and passes an electronic psychological examination. Zoom returns to his lab where he perfects a machine that will enhance a person's tendency towards evil. Zoom tries to use the machine across the centuries to affect Al Desmond and force him to become Mr. Element again. Al contacts the Flash for help.

Zoom's machine fails to function properly when used from the 25th century, so he constructs his own cosmic treadmill and returns to the 20th century. A side-effect of the machine gives Professor Zoom temporary control over the residents of Central City. He forces the Municipal Council to pass a law which forbids the use of super speed within Central City. Flash is unable to use his own powers legally to battle Zoom. He tries to leave town, but Zoom captures him.

Zoom then brings Mr. Element to his hide-out to kill the Flash. Before returning to his criminal ways, Desmond has hypnotized himself. When he sees the Flash, the he succumbs to the hypnotic suggestion to release his foe. Once free of Zoom's trap, Flash punches Zoom. The punch counteracts the effects of Zoom's cosmic treadmill sending the villain back to the 25th century where he is again incarcerated. Desmond however has returned to his criminal ways, so Flash takes him to the future where scientists are able to rehabilitate him.

Next we have "The Speed of Doom" from Flash #108 by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Frank Giacoia. Responding to Dr. Hirach’s offer to time his speed, Flash takes part in an experiment. However the experiment is actually a trap designed by an alien criminal. Flash is trapped on a treadmill and forced to run himself to death. He manages to escape by speeding up and surpassing light speed.

The alien criminal is a Mohru named Kee Feleg. The gang of criminals have been taking fulgramites from Earth which give them amazing speed. Flash follows the trail of one of his foes, when the Mohru disappears into the side of a hill. Another Mohru vanishes at the same spot. Flash runs into that spot and discovers it is a dimensional gateway to the Mohru’s world. Flash captures the gang and turns them over to the Mohru authorities.

That is followed by "The Origin of Flash's Masked Identity" from Flash #128 and created by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. In the early days of the Flash’s career, Barry Allen wore a mask-less uniform. He did so on his first couple of cases and was not seen. While deciding whether or not to include a mask with his costume, he has a dream.

In the dream, Barry announces his identity publicly. People are skeptical at first, but when he stops a tornado the people believe him. Crowds flock to police headquarters to see him and get autographs. When a burglary occurs across town, Barry has a difficult time making his way through the crowds to get to the scene. When Flash arrives, the thieves have left. Flash is able to catch the getaway car and catch them.

Waking from his dream, Barry realizes that the delay from the crowd almost prevented him from catching the crooks. He decides it would be better to wear a mask and keep his identity secret.

We end with "The Mirror Master's Invincible Bodyguards" from Flash #136 and also the work of John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. Mirror Master, upset with being slighted by the criminal fraternity in a recent poll, breaks jail and begins a new robbery spree. To avoid capture by his nemesis the Flash, Mirror Master designs two mirror bodyguards which protect him from the Flash.

At the scene of his first crime the bodyguards stop Flash in his tracks, and the villain escapes with the loot. Mirror Master’s scheme has landed him as the top criminal in a new poll.

Flash tracks down his foe by tracing the radiation given off by the bodyguards. He locates Mirror Master’s hideout. Using his amazing speed abilities, Flash is able to create two-dimensional duplicates of himself that defeat the bodyguards. With the bodyguards pacified, Flash easily captures their master. The quick defeat lands a dejected Mirror Master at the bottom of yet another criminal poll.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Young Romance #165

Young Romance #165 (On Sale: February 10, 1970) has a cover by Ric Estrada and Vince Colletta.

This issue begins with "Second Choice - First Love" drawn by Ric Estrada and Vince Colletta. That is followed by "Any Man's Equal" drawn by Lee Elias. We end with "Love is a 3 Ring Circus."

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Sugar and Spike #89

Sugar and Spike #89 (On Sale: February 10, 1970) has a cover by Sheldon Mayer.

We begin with "Runaway Dump-Truck" reprinted in Best of DC #47. We continue with "Flavor Favor," "Peace on Wheels" and finally, "Bernie the Brain Does It Again." As usual, all stories and art by Sheldon Mayer.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

G.I. Combat #141

G.I. Combat #141 (On Sale: February 10, 1970) has a Haunted Tank cover by Joe Kubert.

We begin with the Haunted Tank in "Let Me Live... Let Me Die" by Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath. This story was reprinted in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #21 and Showcase Presents: Haunted Tank Vol. 2 TPB.

Our back-up stories are "Sea Devil" from All-American Men of War #65 by Bob Haney and Mort Drucker and "Churchill at Omdurman" by Ric Estrada.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Binky #72

Binky #72 (On Sale: February 10, 1970) has a cover by Henry Scarpelli and a new name. The series was previously known as Leave it to Binky.

We begin with Binky in "It's Unsteady to Go Steady." That is followed by Little Allergy in "The Artist" and in "The Sleep-Walker," which was reprinted in Best of DC #28. Next we have Binky in "Beware -- of Benny's New Wheels" and Little Allergy in "The Wanderer." We end with Binky in "It's an Ice Day" drawn by Artie Saaf and Henry Scarpelli.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Unexpected #118

Unexpected #118 (On Sale: February 5, 1970) has a cover by Neal Adams.

We begin with "Play a Tune of Treachery" by George Kashdan, John Calnan and Murphy Anderson. Next is "The Face in the Ball" by Jack Oleck and Jerry Grandenetti. This story was reprinted in Unexpected #161. We end with our cover-story, "Why Was Everyone Afraid of Hester?" by George Kashdan and George Tuska.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Swing With Scooter #26

Swing With Scooter #26 (On Sale: February 5, 1970) has a cover by Henri Scarpelli.

We begin with Scooter in "Cry Baby" and "Where There's Weight There's No Will." Next is Malibu in "It's a Mod World," then Scooter again in "Let's Play Catch the Plane." We then have Malibu in "Jekyll and Hide" and we end with Scooter in "The Mod Clod."

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Superman #225

Superman #225 (On Sale: February 5, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

This issue has the book-length "The Secret of the Superman Imposter" by Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan and George Roussos.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Falling In Love #114

Falling In Love #114 (On Sale: February 5, 1970) has a cover inked by Vince Colletta.

We begin with "Passport to Heartbreak" drawn by Ric Estrada and Vinny Colletta. Next we have "Somewhere I'll Find Him" penciled by Jay Scott Pike. We end with our cover-story, "I'll Never Love Again" drawn by Ric Estrada and Vinny Colletta.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Our Army at War #218

Our Army at War #218 (On Sale: February 3, 1970) has a cover by Joe Kubert.

This issue begins with our Sgt. Rock cover-story, "Medic" by Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath.

Next we have a reprint from Our Fighting Forces #5, "The Tortoise and the Hare Went to War" by John Reed, Sam Burlockoff, and Joe Giella.

Sam Burlockoff started out at DC in 1943 as an inker working on such strips as King, The Justice Society of America, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. Around the same time he was working for MLJ on The Shield, The Web and Dusty. He later moved on to Quality where he inked Blackhawk, Captain Triumph and Plastic Man. He returned to DC in the 1950s to work on a number of mainly war stories, this time doing pencils or full art. His last DC story was this one from 1955.

After that final stint at DC he worked for Atlas and Eastman Color and on a number of newspaper strips, such as Flash Gordon, Apartment 3-G and The Saint. He worked on comics for overseas syndication and also drew illustrations for encyclopedias and coloring books. He retired in 1989.

The final story in this issue is "Frightened Boys... or Fighting Men?" written and drawn by Sam Glansman. This is the first of Glanzman's U.S.S. Stevens stories that he would write and draw for DC war comics for the next eight years. These stories were based on Glanzman's own experiences in World War II on the destroyer U.S.S. Stevens.

Sam Glansman broke into comics in 1939 working at Funnies, Inc. a "packager" that supplied comics to publishers. There, for Centaur Publications, he wrote text stories with some art for Amazing-Man Comics. Later for Harvey Comics, he created Fly-Man, writing and drawing the feature for at least two issues. He also contributed to Harvey's All-New Short Story Comics, Champ Comics (doing the Human Meteor) and Green Hornet Comics. His comics career was cut short by World War II, where he did indeed serve in the Navy on the U.S.S. Stevens. When it was over Glansman chose to not return to comics, as the pay was not to his liking and he took to working in cabinet shops, lumber mills and boat yards. In the 1950s he would work at Republic Aviation installing machine guns on military jets.

Glansman toyed with some comic work in 1950, but not until 1958 that he would return to the field in earnest, working at Charlton Comics. There he drew war stories in Attack, Battlefield Action, Fightin' Air Force, Fightin' Marines, Submarine Attack, U.S. Air Force Comics and War at Sea through 1961, when he switched to Dell Comics. At Dell he drew Combat and Kona, as well as movie adaptations such as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and the very similar book, Voyage to the Deep.

Beginning in 1964, Glansman worked regularly for both Dell and Charlton doing a ton of war books. At Charlton he was also drawing Tarzan and creating, with Joe Gill, Sarge Steel and Hercules, Adventures of the Man-God. With writer Willy Fran,z Glansman also created The Lonely War of Willy Schultz, about a U.S. Army captain conflicted by the war and his German heritage.

Once he made the shift to DC, Glansman never looked back. Besides his years on U.S.S. Stevens, Glansman drew the Haunted Tank feature in G.I. Combat from 1972 through 1986. In '86 he also started drawing Mercenaries in G.I. Combat and in 1988 he drew a few issues of Sgt. Rock. Beginning in 1993 Sam Glansman became the inker for a number of Jonah Hex mini-series drawn by Timothy Truman, his last being Jonah Hex Shadows West in 1999. His last work for DC was in the 9-ll book, DC published in 2002.

Sam Glansman did a handful of war stories for Marvel in the late 1980s and in the 1990s worked for Topps Comics inking Turok Dinosaur Hunter and Zorro. In 2003 Glansman began doing web-comics.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

House of Secrets #85

House of Secrets #85 (On Sale: February 3, 1970) has a cover by Neal Adams.

Able is visited by brother Cain in this issue's wrapper story, which features some rather good Bill Draut artwork. The wrapper leads into our first real story, "People Who Live in Glass Houses..." by Len Wein and Don Heck. Some kids sneak into an abandoned house of mirrors only to find a mirror which casts no reflection. The kids hide when they hear someone coming. That someone turns out to be Mordecai Gaunt and he steps into the mirror and disappears.

The boys come out from hiding and are pulled into the mirror by Mordecai where they learn that through the power of a stone, the Rock of Ages, which Mordecai killed a Tibetan wizard to possess, Mordecai was able to enter the world of the mirror and gain immortality. His image in the mirror grows old, while he remains young. One of the boys snatch the stone away from Mordecia and he chases the kids out of the mirror. Once in the real world, the kid throws the stone at the mirror, shattering it and the fixed image of Mordecai it now reflects.

The next story is the classic "Reggie Rabbit, Heathcliffe Hog, Archibald Aardvark, J. Benson Babboon and Bertram, the Dancing Frog" by Len Wein and Ralph Reese. This is only two pages, but we get some great funny animal artwork and some great Wally Wood-inspired science-fiction work.

This is Ralph Reese's first work for DC where he would draw almost a dozen stories, all for the mystery/horror books. Ralph Reese began his career at the age of 16 as Wally Wood's assistant. His first solo comic work was for the short-lived but much loved Web of Horror black and white magazine. He also did a number of strips for National Lampoon, including The One Year Affair. He worked at Neal Adams' Continuity Associates between 1972 and 1977 and did a lot of work inking penciler Larry Hama.

In the 1980s Reese worked on the Blade Runner adaptation and an number of the Bantam Books "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. In the 1990s he pulled a stint on the Flash Gordon newspaper strip and did considerable work for Valiant Comics on Magnus Robot Fighter. Reese's last work for DC was in 2009 on The House of Mystery.

The real gem of this issue though is "Second Choice" by Gerry Conway, Gil Kane and Neal Adams. It combines beautiful artwork with a really great story. Abel reads this story from the biographical section of the library in the House of Secrets. It is the tale of Henry Landsbury, born in 989, the son of a scholar, but who for years has lived in a village under the thumb of a dark sorcerer, a masked monster in possession of the Star Ruby, which gives him ultimate power over the people of the land. We meet young Henry the day he tries to stand up to the sorcerer in the streets, only to feel the harsh sting of an enchanted lash. Henry's mother rushes to his side and warns Henry to be less like his father, who died fourteen years ago when he too was fed up living under the sorcerer's rule and tried to do something about it.

As fate would have it that evening Henry overhears a conversation in the local tavern of a white wizard named Glarn who resides at Stonehenge. Henry decides that night to travel to Stonehenge and plead the case of his village to the wizard Glarn. When he gets there Glarn it appears has been waiting for Henry to arrive and asks Henry for a token from his home village that Glarn may use as a focal point for an incantation. He gives Glarn a talisman given to him by his father before he foolishly ventured to the wizard's castle.

With that Glarn opens a gate between Stonehenge and Henry's village and calls forth the black wizard into battle, saying that now that he has a clue to his true nature he will prevail. And battle they do, though finally, in the end, Glarn prevails, the dark wizard is destroyed and Henry returns to his village to live out the rest of his life in peace.

But, Abel finds the ending of the tale unsatisfying, that Henry was more a spectator than a participant in the single most adventurous happening in his life. Abel wonders what would have happened if Henry had not heard of Glarn and had instead yielded to his "second choice," and followed his father's path, sword in hand.

As Henry nears the wizard's castle he is set upon by a flying beast and though shear will alone slays the creature. He is then transported by a dissolution spell to the black wizard's castle, where the wizard taunts him and opens up a pit of hell in front of him. Standing tall with sword in hand, Henry begs the wizard to fight him, but the wizard's spell does away with Henry's sword, leaving him without weapon. Still Henry marches forward saying he will take him on barehanded for killing his father. The wizard laughs at Henry and pulls off his hood just as Henry lands a massive blow to his face, knocking the wizard off balance and back into the hell pit, his face that of Henry's own father.

And now Henry realizes that his father must have defeated the wizard all those years ago. And then he sees the Star Ruby, "The supreme power--the supreme glory...A tempting, near over-powering prize--To be supreme, to own the world...must have been too temping for a man such as my father, a glory seeker... a man like my father... a man like me!"

This story was reprinted in Deadman #2 and Deadman #3. The entire issue was reprinted in Showcase Presents: The House of Secrets Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Challengers of the Unknown #73

Challengers of the Unknown #73 (On Sale: February 3, 1970) has a cover by Nick Cardy.

This issue begins with our Challengers of the Unknown cover-story, "The Curse of the Killer Time Forgot" by Denny O'Neil and George Tuska. This is Tuska's first action strip for DC. The back-up is "A Flash of Memory" by Murray Boltinoff, Dick Dillin and Vince Colletta.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.