Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Our Army at War #220

Our Army at War #220 (On Sale: March 31, 1970) has an awesome Sgt. Rock cover by Joe Kubert.

Our Sgt. Rock cover-story is "Stone-Age War" written and illustrated by Joe Kubert. This story was reprinted in Sgt. Rock #318. Next is "The Last Soldier" by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. We end with a U.S.S. Stevens story, "The Idiot" by Sam Glanzman.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dick Giordano, R.I.P.

Dick Giordano died this morning. I was re-reading Hot Wheels #2 (March 17, 1970) for this blog last night, late as usual, and thinking what a stupid and utterly lame idea for a comic book this was. And what a magnificent series this turned out to be and the reason it was not the disaster it should have been was Dick Giordano. As editor he pulled together an amazing team, from the actually exciting scripts of Joe Gill and Alex Toth and Len Wein to the wonderful covers of Neal Adams and Alex to the even better pencils of Alex and Ric Estrada and later Neal and the glue that held the interior artwork together, some amazing, just dazzling, inks by Dick himself.

Dick Giordano had his hands on more of the comic books that I loved in those important early teen years than any other person in comics. The Marvel people had Stan Lee, but I never felt welcomed in by Stan. Dick Giordano on the other hand welcomed me into his books and seemed genuinely interested in what I and other fans had to say and he was nice enough to actually thank us at the end of each letter column for buying the book and joining in on the fun he had a hand in creating. I felt at home at DC because Dick Giordano made me feel that way.

I feel a hole in my heart the size of a child's wide-eyed enthusiasm. Thank you Dick, but this one is not going to be a very good afternoon.

And I sincerely mean that thank you. Thank you Dick, for the best series I ever read, the Skeates/Aparo/Giordano run on Aquaman, a series that was likely to go anywhere at any time and always do it with style and the greatest of artistry, Thank you for the Secret Six, the Mission:Impossible of comics that made me appreciate the non-super-hero books for the first time. Thank you for The Hawk and the Dove and the Creeper and the excitement that Ditko brought to DC if only for a little while. Thank you for the Teen Titans issues with the Wein/Wolfman controversy, Wonder girl's uniform, the sexiness of uniformless heroes, and the great artistry of Neal and Gil and George and of course and always Nick Cardy. Thank you for Hot Wheels, the greatest TV show/Toy/Comic book cross-over ever. Thank you for mixing a little more humor into the horror with The House of Secrets and even more humor in The Witching Hour, those early issues being more fun than chilling.

Thank you for knowing when to stay out of the way and let your writers write and your pencilers pencil and your inkers ink and for letting Nick Cardy create one amazing masterpiece after another. Thank you for bringing us Steve and Jim and Denny. Thank you for proving over and over again the pencils do not have to be weak to be improved by the inker. Thank you for some of the better parts of my childhood.

-Keller

Friday, March 26, 2010

Detective Comics #399

Detective Comics #399 (On Sale: March 26, 1970) has a great cover by Neal Adams.

Our cover-story is "Death Comes to a Small, Locked Room" by Denny O'Neil, Bob Brown and Joe Giella. During a demonstration for cadets at the Gotham City Police Academy, Batman embarrasses Khan, a master of judo, karate and kung fu. When an enraged Khan comes after Batman with a steel identification bracelet across his knuckles, Batman decks him. In steps Arthur Reeves, the mayor's new Public Works Coordinator and soon to be a regular pain in Batman's backside.

Reeves wants to know what Batman is hiding behind that mask, why he isn't up front and out in the open. When Batman asks Reeves if that is what he believes in and Reeves answers in the affirmative, Batman lifts up Reeves toupee and quickly ducks out a window.

A month goes by and the incident quickly slides form Batman's memory till one night, 30 days later Batman is called to the site of Khan's training school which has been destroyed in a furnace explosion with Khan inside. Reeves shows up and accuses Batman of maybe causing the explosion to get back at Khan and Batman suggests that Reeves stick to sharing his fantasies with his barber.

Gordon and Batman have an appointment to get to, a séance of some sort to which they have been invited in an invitation that hinted at "solving a crime if we show." As they pull into the parking lot in Gordon's cruiser the car is strafed with machine gun bullets and crashes into a tree. As the machine gun-toting thug comes out to inspect his handy-work, Batman takes him out. Just then a man appears, "Big Dough" Joe Brunner a man sent to the pen by Gordon who is now out and wants to thank Gordon for setting his life straight. After he leaves Gordon wonders is "Big Dough" might not be behind the attack, but Batman says if he is, they know where to find him.

Inside the séance they meet the Great Dilbert--Medium Extraordinary who says he will "zummon spirits of dead!" He begins and the "spirit" has a message for Batman. The spirit seems to be speaking in Khan's voice and says that since Batman humiliated him in life he will humiliate Batman in death by killing Commissioner Gordon at midnight tomorrow. The lights go out and zee Great Dilbert has skedaddled. Batman says that Dilbert was a ventriloquist and wore a high collar to hide the movement of his throat muscles.

The next night Reeves tries to lock Gordon into a sealed vault for his protection, but one of the guards is actually Batman, who once again makes Reeves look life a fool. But the embarrassment just keeps on coming as Batman reveals that Gordon is not Gordon but actually the Great Dilbert. Pulling of Dilbert's mask and handing it to him Batman explains that "Gordon" was too clean shaven to have been on the job all day. Dilbert says that he might as well tell them where Gordon is really being held, but as he attempts to do so he dies from a poison on the outside of the Gordon mask Dilbert was holding. As he dies Dilbert says "D...do...j...jo..." and one of the guards says that it is obvious that the filler is "Big Dough" Joe Brunner, AKA Dough Joe.

Reeves sends men out to pick up Joe Brunner, but Batman has other ideas and heads back to Khan's training school, or dojo! There in a fireproof vault under the rubble Batman confronts and takes out Khan before he can harm Commissioner Gordon.

The back-up is Robin in "Panic by Moonglow" by Frank Robbins, Gil Kane and Vinny Colletta. Continuing from last issue where the moon rock turned geeky student Herb Stroud squeaky green and all, raising a panic within NASA, but leaving Robin with that not so subtle taste of hoax in his mouth. So much so that he went and checked out the shower Herb used, finding some funny smelling soap and a massive headache when someone slammed his head into a wall and stole the soap of questionable properties. When Robin comes around it is with the help of Zukov, the Russian exchange professor, whose hands have that tell-tell smell of gimmicked out soap.

The campus is quarantined by NASA so Robin needs a place to crash and Zukov offers his cottage guest-room. using a stolen stethoscope, Robin listens in as Zukov and some cronies hidden under his floor discuss their plan to make NASA look irresponsible for "polluting our glorious planet," losing public support and dropping out of the space race so that the Soviets can get their moon program on track and once again be the leaders in space. But first they want to get Robin out of the way.

However, when they kick down the door to his room, he has of course fled the scene and is heading for the science-hall to retrieve the lunar rock sample. After skirmishing with some of Zukov's men, Robin comes in through the roof, but gets his cape caught on a piece of broken glass, hanging him up in the air. Zukov shows up with a pencil laser gun he used to drill a hole into the glass case containing the moon rock, so that he could inject a secret gas that could be triggered by cosmic rays to turn the rock and Herb a lovely shade of green. Now he plans to use the same pencil to drill a hole into Robin's brain, but Robin slips out of his cape and collar and swings into the darkness on a batrope (or do we call this a robinrope?)

Shooting wildly after Robin's ever-moving voice, Zukov severs one of the legs of a Lunar Module on display and it crashes down on him with a satisfying KRUNCH! With Robin's information the NASA people are able to determine that Herb has been exposed to a Russian nerve-virus and they are able to give him an antidote in time to stave off the bitter green end. This story has been reprinted in Showcase Presents: Robin the Boy Wonder Vol. 1 TPB.


Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Adventure Comics #393

Adventure Comics #393 (On Sale: March 26, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

Our cover-story is "The Unwanted Supergirl" by Robert Kanigher, Winslow Mortimer and Jack Abel. The back-up is "The Girl Who Knew Supergirl's Secrets" by E. Nelson Bridwell and Kurt Schaffenberger.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Action Comics #388

Action Comics #388 (On Sale: March 26, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. I remember falling for this cover gag and trying to count everything that was wrong on it.

Our cover-story is "Puzzle of the Wild World" by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and George Roussos. I think the answer to the cover question was that nothing was wrong, that on the planet it was depicting, everything was normal, but it has been a while and I might have that wrong. As I have mentioned earlier, I sold most of my Weisinger books in the late 70s.

The back-up Legion of Super-Heroes story is "Sun Boy's Lost Power" reprinted from Adventure Comics #302 and created by Jerry Siegel and John Forte. After attending the dedication of a Sun Boy statue, Sun Boy finds that his powers of heat and light have stopped working. With the help of the Legionnaires, he tries to recharge himself by duplicating the accident that gave him those powers, but to no avail. After his powers briefly return in an entomologist’s office, he invites Ultra Boy and Superboy to concentrate their heat vision powers on him, still with no effect. Heartbroken, he resigns from the Legion, just as Kranyak, his old foe, breaks prison and comes after him.

More worried than before, Sun Boy realizes what it will take to recharge his powers, and deliberately walks into the blast of a Kryptonian flame-beast. With his abilities restored, he defeats Kranyak, and rejoins the Legion. He then explains that he needed the heat-energy of a living being to restore his power, and the Ultra Boy and Superboy present are robots, sent to take those heroes’ places while they celebrate Pete Ross’s birthday in the 20th century.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #101

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #101 (On Sale: March 24, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

We begin with our cover-story,"The Super-Reckless Lois Lane" by Leo Dorfman and Irv Novick. The back-up is "The Anti-Superman Lois" from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #13 and drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. Lois Lane goes undercover as blond-haired Sadie Blodgett to get a story. Two members of the Anti-Superman Gang see her and decide to use her in a plot to kill Superman, by having her impersonate Lois Lane. The crooks train her to be Lois, while she plays dumb. The crooks pull off their scheme, but Lois had tipped off Superman. He foils their plan and captures them.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Girls' Love Stories #151

Girls' Love Stories #151 (On Sale: March 24, 1970) has a cover attributed by GCD to John Rosenberger, but is obviously the work of the great Nick Cardy.

This issue begins with our cover-story, "The Wrong Kind of Love" drawn by John Rosenberger and Vince Colletta. Next is "Love Thief" drawn by Joe Giella. We end with "Confessions, Episode 5" drawn by John Rosenberger.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Date With Debbi #9

Date With Debbi #9 (On Sale: March 24, 1970) has a cover by I don't know.

We have four Debbi stories this issue, "The Hitchhiker," "Debbi's Secret Weapon," "Not Worth a Scent" and "Where the Action is." No creator information is available on this book.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Three Mouseketeers #1

Three Mouseketeers #1 (On Sale: March 19, 1970) has a cover by Rube Grossman.

Here is a series I don't recall ever even seeing on the stands, reprinting stories from Three Mouseketeers #1 of 1956. The stories featureing the Three Mouseketeers are "Brave Deed," "Temper, Temper," "Air-Minded," "The Explorers" and "The Problem." The final story featues Dizzy Dog and is "Say It with Music." All artwork is by Sheldon Mayer.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Swing With Scooter #27

Swing With Scooter #27 (On Sale: March 19, 1970) has a cover by Henry Scarpelli.

This issue begins with three Scooter stories: "Double Trouble," "Gift Package" and "Sylvester's Meat is Dutch Treat." It ends with two Malibu tales: "Weird Do We Go from Here?" and "It's Only Fate -- Not My Date." I have no creator information.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Superman #226

Superman #226 (On Sale: March 17, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

We begin with our cover-story, "When Superman Was King Kong" by Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan and George Roussos. The back-up is "Uncle Sam's Prize Prisoner" by Bob Haney, Curt Swan and Joe Giella.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Hot Wheels #2

Hot Wheels #2 (On Sale: March 17, 1970) has a cover by Neal Adams.
This issue begins with "Dragstrip Disaster!!!" by Joe Gill, Alex Toth and Dick Giordano. an exceedingly well done piece of work from all involved. It is the dragstrip finals and Jack Wheeler is on the line for the Top Eliminator, but watching is Dexter Carter and his Demons and they let on that they have spiked Jack's fuel with nitro. As Jack barrels down the track his throttle is stuck wide open and he jumps into the lead when suddenly his engine erupts in flames. Jack jumps from the smoking railer as it explodes! Guessing that Dexter spiked his fuel, Jack has to hold Tank back from taking it out of Dexter's hide and Dexter challenges Jack to a no-rules race in one month at the same track.

How minimally can you draw an effective
dragster explosion? How about a sound
effect only?
During the next month Jack and the gang build a sweet railster, but Dexter and his goons, seeing the threat it poses, steal it and leave in it's place, an old clunker railer. With the threat of police intervention Dexter lets them check out his mansion, but Jack rod is not to be found. On the way back to their shop Jack thinks he has a way of beating Dexter at his own game.

The next day is the big race and Jack talks Dexter into betting their railers on the outcome of the race. During the prelims, Mickey Barnes and Ardeth both smoke their competition (Ardeth's being the nasty-looking woody from the cover). Before the big race a gloating Dexter reminds Jack that there are no rules in this race, only a winner.

The race begins and Dexter's railer jumps into the lead of Jack beater till Jack pushes a newly installed dashboard button and ignites the J.A.T.O. (Jet-Assisted-Take-Off) rocket packs he installed on the car the night before. With the rocket boost Jack easily beats Dexter, A dejected Dexter offers Jack his railer but Jack declines saying all he wants back is his railer that Dexter stole.

In the middle of this story was a two-page "Racing Album" on the 1953 Grand Prix of France by Jack Keller who did his only work for DC in this book.

Next is "The Mint 400, A Membership Drive!!" by I am guessing Joe Gill and drawn by Ric Estrada and Dick Giordano. Gill isn't credited, but he seems to be the only writer of record for the first three issues. The Mint 400 is a 400-mile race that takes place every year in the desert outside of Las Vegas. During a trail run, Mikey Barnes and Tank Mallory barely escape an avalanche of boulders during part of their run and when they find find Dexter and his goons in the pits they throw down. Mickey busts his knuckles on the jaw of one of the demons and the rest dog-pile on Tank. In to the fray jumps Kip Clarke, an African student who happens to be an expert on karate, and just about everything else it appears.

Kip takes the place of the injured Mickey in the race and they note that Dexter's Demons took off a bit before them so are out ahead of them on the course. Up ahead Dexter and his thugs put up some fake signs to send Kip and tank off course. It works and Kip and Tank are soon careening down a steep cliff, rumbling boulders at their back. But, Kip's skilled driving handles the problem completely and they finish the race anyway as the 4WD winner. Afterward Kip is introduced to Jack and he finds out that Kip will be staying in California, Jack offers Kip membership in the Hot Wheels, which he gladly accepts.

This is followed by a text piece (something Dick Giordano included often in the DC books) and another "Racing Album" by Jack Keller, this one on the Novi race car.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Falling In Love #115

Falling In Love #115 (On Sale: March 17, 1970) has a cover attributed to Jay Scott Pike, but I personally don't see it but the inks by Vince Colletta could be why.

This issue begins with "First Love of My Life" drawn by John Rosenberger. That is followed by "Hold on to Your Dreams" inked by Vinny Colletta. We end with "Love is Where You Find It" penciled by Artie Saaf.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Adventures of Jerry Lewis #118

Adventures of Jerry Lewis #118 (On Sale: March 17, 1970) has a cover by Bob Oksner.

This issue jas five Jerry Lewis short stories in it, two of them without titles. The ones with titles are "The Spaceman in Sneakers," "Eat at Your Own Risk" and "The Man-Eating Hitchhiker." I have no other information ont his book.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Teen Titans #27

Teen Titans #27 (On Sale: March 12, 1970) has a cover by Nick Cardy. The full-body Titans down the side of the cover appear this issue for the first time in an act of extremely strange timing. We all remember last issue's cover where Wonder Girl says they will, "never wear their costumes again!" and the next issue they become a feature of the cover. I guess it could have been worse had these body-shots premiered last issue.

This issue we have "Nightmare in Space" by Robert Kanigher and Nick Cardy. Now, some people attribute the pencils on this one to George Tuska and Carmine Infantino (GCD even tells you which pages Carmine penciled), but all you have to do is look at the artwork to see that Carmine Infantino and George Tuska had nothing to do with this book. Also, Nick Cardy sure seems to think he drew the whole thing as noted in the checklist in The Art of Nick Cardy. I can see why people would want to take credit for this book though, as the artwork is wonderful throughout.

This story left me very conflicted in 1970 and I'll tell you why. First off, I was a grade A, number one space nerd. I watched every launch and reentry of every Mercury, Gemini and Apollo mission (my mother thinking it was better for me to see history happening than to read about it in school). I belonged to the "Space Club" at school and flew model rockets. I even designed my own model rocket LM (Lunar Module) that I actually got off the ground. My point being, I was very jazzed about all things that were space. But the "space" that I was jazzed about was very different from the "space" of comic books, what with Superman and Green Lantern and Hawkman zipping about all the time, just to name a few. Comic book space was always very different from real space and when they tried to do real space in comic books they usually goofed it up really bad. So where does this story fit into that scenario?

"Nightmare in Space" is maybe the most realistic portrayal of "space" I ever read in a comic book and the whole time I am reading it I am thinking, "Yeah, but if things go really bad they can somehow contact Superman or Green Lantern and they can fly out to save them!" which totally destroys the universe this story attempts to play in. The problem is the universe this story plays in is not the DC Comics universe. It is a hell of a great attempt at a real space story in a DC comic book and when it fails it is because it is a real space story in a DC comic book.

But for a space nerd in 1970, man was this something to read (and I don't often say nice things about Robert Kanigher stories)!

The de-uniformed Teen titans have been training with Mr. Jupiter and their newest member, Mal has done a Dr. Smith and stowawayed on board Jupiter's supposedly unmanned ship to Venus. The Titans and Jupiter have been working round the clock to get a rescue mission going and in a few day's time the Venus Chaser launches with the Titans as crew. On their way to the Moon the Titans lose contact with Mal but continue on their journey.

The mission is complicated. The first objective is to get to the Moon where Dove will stay in the Command Module (CM) while Speedy, Wonder Girl and Hawk take the Lunar Module (LM) down to the moon to check on experimental packages left by Apollo 11 and Kid Flash and Lilith man the Venus Probe Chaser going after Mal. Eventually everyone has to rendezvous above the moon with Dove in the Command Module for the return trip to Earth. The Cardy artwork on this stuff is just spectacular, particularly on the lunar landing.

The first real problem we have is with the lunar landing party. They land fine, but there is no sign of the equipment, or anything for that matter, left by Apollo 11. While Wonder Girl works on a bent landing probe rod, Speedy, and Hawk take a moonwalk scouting for signs of Apollo 11. They find nothing but when they get back to the LM they find Wonder Girl is missing.

Meanwhile on the Venus Probe Chaser they locate Mal's ship and though it is touch and go for a bit, including broken tethers and such, they are able to transfer Mal from the Venus Space Probe, which will go on with it's unmanned mission, to the chaser ship.

Back on the moon these glowing creatures (see the cover for details), show up with Wonder Girl in tow. They are alien creatures who crash landed on the moon and were using the Apollo 11 lunar packages as spare parts to try and repair their damaged ship. Wonder Girl has convinced them to put everything back the way it was and that the next Apollo mission will be there soon and will provide assistance to the aliens.

The Venus Probe Chaser docks with the CM and soon the three on the moon are blasting off in the LM to do the same. All goes well with the docking and the Titans head back for Earth. But at some point they all go mad and begin attacking each other but luckily Kid Flash notices that their is a malfunction in the oxygen mix and corrects their nitrogen intake, ending their hallucinations. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Teen Titans Vol. 2 TPB.

Thirty days after this issue hit the stands, on April 11, 1970, Apollo 13 launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Strange Adventures #224

Strange Adventures #224 (On Sale: March 12, 1970) has an Adam Strange cover by Murphy Anderson.

This issue begins with Adam Strange in "The Weapon That Swallowed Men" by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson and reprinted from Mystery In Space #63. Rann is invaded by alien conquerors using a device called the vacuumizer which changes the Ranagarans into a gas vapor. Adam Strange is altered by the weapon, but returns to Earth intact when the Zeta Beam wears off. When he returns Adam finds that the people have been restored but the aliens have uses the weapons to steal the city of Ranagar itself.

Adam believes that the vacuumizer can only transmute one substance at a time, so he devises a plan to stop the aliens. As Adam and several Ranagaran soldiers approach the invaders, the vacuumizer is used against them, but they have coated themselves with different liquid metals. The vacuumizer must be adjusted to deal with each layer of metal. The delay gives the defenders enough time to catch the aliens and defeat them hand-to-hand. With the vacuumizers in the hands of the Ranagarans, Ranagar is restored, and the aliens leave Rann.

Next is "The Planet That Advanced Backward" from Mystery In Space #41 by Bill Finger, Sid Greene and Bernard Sachs.

We end the issue with the Atomic Knights in "Attack of the Giant Dogs" by John Broome and Murphy Anderson from Strange Adventures #138. After finding two giant dalmatians that survived the war inside a test rocket, the Atomic Knights return to Durvale. The town is attacked by Khagan and the Atlantides. Gardner and the other Knights chase them off, but not before Hollis and Douglas are injured.

Gardner decides to mount a counterattack against the Atlantides. He uses the dogs to track them down, then he and Wayne use them as mounts to defeat the enemy soldiers. The Atlantide menace is finally ended. The town welcomes the dogs for their part in the victory. The dogs soon have puppies, that may eventually grow into giants too.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Phantom Stranger #7

Phantom Stranger #7 (On Sale: March 12, 1970) has a great cover by Neal Adams. this is the second issue to use the Phantom Stranger as a passive part of the background, as a force maybe not controlling events, but watching them unfold.

This issue features "The Curse" by Robert Kanigher and Jim Aparo and the real news here is that in Jim Aparo the Phantom Stranger has found a champion, someone who will stay with the character as it develops and someone who as their own talent is exploding pushed that dynamic and exciting energy into the character. It is the perfect match. On one hand you have a character DC is trying to revive but having some conflicting issues on what direction the revived character should take, given the ever-changing environment of comics in 1970 and on the other you have an artist coming into his own, a burgeoning talent looking for an outlet in which to mature. A match made in heaven or wherever the Phantom Stranger comes from.

Since we still have Robert Kanigher we still have the loopy "teenagers" and Tala and multiple stories of no consequence and Dr. Thirteen saying the same lame dialog over and over. But, as it did with Neal Adams' artwork a few issues ago, it all goes down much better with Jim Aparo's wonderful dark and gloomy illustrations.

Jim Aparo's Phantom Stranger has that sort of domino mask like another character called the Phantom which Aparo was known to draw from time to time, but his pages and panels are much darker than the work he did on that other Phantom. His panels here are dense and full of detail and loaded with dark and unsettling corners where god knows what may be lurking. There is a rich yet claustrophobic feeling to the artwork in this book, very much at odds with the open feeling you get from his Aquaman pages of the same time. His visual voice fully secured in Aparo's hands, this is the point where the Phantom Stranger finally took root.

So the "teenagers" have come to the town of Seaview in search of Vulcan's Castle, invited by Vanessa Vulcan a chick they met at a folk festival. No one will rent them a boat but they find one unattended and decide to avail themselves of its services. It has a strange black sail, but that doesn't deter them. However, once at sea the sail turns into Tala and deserts them and the sea turns into a giant whirlpool and sucks them down to their deaths. Oh, so we hoped! The Phantom Stranger shows up and plays with Tala for a bit then saves the kids. When they get back to the surface, Dr. Thirteen arrives in time to call the Stranger a "stage charlatan" and to let us know that he is also going to Vulcan's Castle because billionaire Andrew Vulcan has hired him to break a curse which torments his daughter.

They all arrive at the castle in time to meet Vulcan, his gardener Thomas and to see Tala lure Vanessa off one of the ramparts to the peaceful "embrace" of the sea. The Stranger is there once again to save Vanessa and be called a "stunt man" by Dr. Thirteen. We learn that the supposed curse began when Vulcan bought the castle from old bankrupt Count Druga in Transylvania who said the curse would follow the castle across the sea. Dr. Thirteen then tells a story of a fake curse that he exposed, which includes the pretty cool scene from the cover of the tree branches attacking Dr. Thirteen himself. "The Curse of Shaft Seven" has to do with a cursed coal mine which was actually being haunted by the brother of a dead miner.

The Phantom Stranger then tells his story, "The Curse of the Sea Siren!" about a ship haunted by the figurehead on the ship (which bears more than a passing resemblance to Tala) and how the ship really was cursed. After those plot stretchers (and I give them such short shift because that is what they obviously are) we return to the real story and Vanessa and the curse that befalls anyone who loves her.

It started with Nicholas, son of Thomas the gardener we met earlier. Nicholas and Vanessa grew up together as children but as they grew older Vanessa became interested in other men and Nicholas wanted Vanessa to himself. One night Nicholas poisons himself and on his deathbed curses anyone who so much as kisses Vanessa (don't know why we had the Count Druga story if this is the cause of the curse!). Since then it has been one Lifetime Move of the Week romantic tragedy after another for Vanessa. Lee accidentally shot himself on their wedding day, Michael's boat was capsized at sea, William was thrown from his horse. Dr. Thirteen calls them all coincidences, but the Phantom Stranger sees something else.

He has Nicholas's body exhumed and though Dr. Thirteen proclaims him dead, the Stranger notes that he perspires quite a lot for a dead man. Thomas rushes in and commands Nicholas to awaken and to kill the Phantom Stranger for exposing their secret. Nicholas tries to kill Vanessa first, but one of the teenagers (where did they go during this story?) knocks her out of the way and Dr. Thirteen takes one in the arm. The Phantom Stranger explains to us that Thomas, in a fit of rage over Vulcan having so much and he having so little, placed his son into a hypnotic trance, simulating death, and would call him from his coffin to "off" Vanessa's beaus. But the power to do so was given to Thomas by none other than Tala.

Nicholas attacks the Stranger and falls to his death, Tala beats a hasty retreat, Dr. Thirteen says the whole thing was just coincidences and Nicolas was in too deep of a trance to do any of the killings and the Stranger says, "you be the judge of--The Curse!" We won't even attempt to go through all the holes in this one, just know that Aparo's artwork somehow makes all of this total nonsense work. Oh, and also know that it is reprinted in Showcase Presents Phantom Stranger Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

World's Finest Comics #193

World's Finest Comics #193 (On Sale: March 10, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

This issue begins with Superman and Batman in "The Breaking of Superman and Batman" by Bob Haney, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. The back-up story stars Robin and is from Star Spangled Comics #120 and is drawn by Jim Mooney.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Showcase #90

Showcase #90 (On Sale: March 10, 1970) has a Jason's Quest cover by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano.

This issue begins with Jason's Quest in "The Circle of Death" written and penciled by Mike Sekowsky and inked by Jack Abel. Continuing from last issue, Tuborg has put the word out on the streets of Paris to find Jason and his sister and they do. Jason has bought a new guitar and is picking up a little extra cash playing in a club in town when in walks Jason's sister. Jason is shocked that she knows his name and then finds out that she was GG, the girl from the ferry, as she looks so different without her wig and makeup on.

As Jason tries to tell her he is her brother, the guy GG came to the club with attacks Jason for making a move on his girl at about the same time that Tuborg's men move in for the kill. Jason grabs GG and they head out the back and into the streets. Eventually they meet artist Andy and with his help get away from Tuborg's men. Just as Jason is about to tell GG they ware brother and sister more of Tuborg's men show up and they head off once again, once again meeting Andy who takes them to his second studio where a group of "friends" are making signs for a big protest tomorrow.

The next morning Jason and GG join the protest and Jason decides the safest place for them to be is in jail, so he smacks a French cop with a protest sign and he and GG are arrested. But Andy and his friends hijack the police van they are being carried in and "rescue" Jason and GG. Though they get away from the police, Tuborg's men are still on their trail.

Eventually Jason and GG make it to a warehouse and a room full of mannequins. Putting GG's clothes on one of the mannequins and strapping it to the back of his bike, Jason lures Tuborg's men away from GG and tells her to meet him tomorrow at noon under the Eiffel Tower. But GG has other ideas, "If I ever see that crazy man again--I'll take off in the opposite direction as fast as I can go! What a kook! And those friends of his--they're worse than he is! goodbye -- and good riddance!"

I really liked Jason's Quest and was sorry that this was the last issue. My good friend Tony Isabella also liked the strip as there is a long letter from on on the letter page.

Next is a on-page ad from Manhunter 2070 in the next issue of Showcase and that is followed by "Incident on Krobar 3" a two-page Manhunter 2070 story by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano.

Edited by Mike Sekowsky.

Justice League of America #80

Justice League of America #80 (On Sale: March 10, 1970) has cover by Murphy Anderson.

"Night of the Soul-Stealer" is by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella. The Flash finds Hawkgirl floating in space outside the JLA headquarters and when the other JLAers arrive Atom relates how Hawkman and Hawkgirl were taking the deranged Jean Loring to Thanagar in hopes of curing her mental problems. When Hawkgirl revives she is in a vegetative state. The team breaks up, Batman and Green Arrow head for Midway City, Superman heads for Thanagar, Atom and The Flash head for the Grand Canyon where there is some sort of disturbance and Black Canary gets to cool her heels in the JLA satellite.

At the Grand Canyon the annual Boy Scout Jamboree is going very wrong as the boys are all mindlessly walking towards the edge of the canyon to do the big drop. Flash builds a barrier between the canyon and the kids and they learn that the kids were fine until a creature on a flying broomstick passed overhead.

In Midway City while looking for Hawkman Batman and Green Arrow see a creature riding over the city on what looks like a rocket-powered broomstick. Arrow brings the rider down and in the ensuing scuffle with Batman the rider drops a box he is holding. He makes quick work of both Batman and Green Arrow and as he is about to leave comments that had he not damaged his Ghenna Box he would of added their souls to his collection. Oh and we also learn that his name is Norch Lor and he is on some kind of mission.

Meanwhile, out in space Superman finds Hawkman's ship about to be eaten by a neutron star. Using all his strength he is able to pull the ship from the star's gravitational grasp. Someone we don't see come upon the exhausted Superman and whacks him but good!

Back at JLA headquarters Canary is practicing her sonic wave power when Batman and Green Arrow arrive. Batman has a patch he ripped off of Norch Lor's uniform and the JLA computer says the patch is from Thanagar. Because of Hawkman, the JLA computer is programmed to ignore Thanagarian ships and once Batman adjusts the programming they see the alien ship. However, Norch Lor is at that moment cutting through the wall of the JLA headquarters. Luckily Black Canary is able to reach the switch for the emergency sealer before they are all sucked out into space, but now that Norch is inside the HQ, he opens the Ghenna Box and steals the JLA member's souls.

At the some time on OA, Green Lantern has been summoned by the Guardians who explain that they dispatched the Green Lantern of Xudar, Tomar-Re, to a Thanagarian ship that was under attack. the Green Lantern found a Kryptonian there and thinking he was the attacker, took him out. In minutes Green Lantern is on the scene and he and Tomar-Re take the unconscious Superman inside of Hawkman's ship where they find Hawkman and Jean Loring in a state of mindlessness. Playing back the ship's records they see that they answered a distress signal from another Thanagarian ship and rescued it's pilot, but the pilot opened up a strange box he carried with him and the Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Jean were all incapacitate.

As he was leaving the ship the pilot, Norch Lor, said that they will thank him some day as the signs all point to the end of the universe and only the Ghenna Box and preserve the identity, the soul of beings. As Norch left the ship, Hawkgirl's body drifted out with him and moments later the ship "drifted into space-warp and was carried to its present location" whatever that means.

The two Green Lanterns and a revived Superman head for Thanagar in search of Norch Lor. But back at the JLA headquarters where Norch really is, Black Canary was not affected by the Ghenna Box, perhaps protected by her sonic power and she attacks Norch just as Flash and the Atom show up. Between the three of them they are able to take care of Norch and rescue the Ghenna Box. When the others return the box is opened and everyone's souls return to them. Kind of a confusing story, requiring a lot of coincidences to make it work. It has been reprinted in Justice League of America Archives Vol. 9 HC and Showcase Presents: Justice League of America Vol. 4 TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tomahawk #128

Tomahawk #128 (On Sale: March 5, 1970) has cover by Neal Adams. The layout of this one seems forced; the medicine man and the archers too squeezed into the picture and the coloring somewhat off-putting.

This issue begins with Tomahawk in "Rangers -- Your 9 Lives for Mine" by Robert Kanigher and Frank Thorne. The back-up Tomahawk story is "Stovepipe's Secret Skirmish" by George Kashdan and Frank Thorne.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Superboy #165

Superboy #165 (On Sale: March 5, 1970) has cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

This issue begins with "The Super-Dog from Krypton" by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and John Fishetti and reprinted from Adventure Comics #210. This story tells the origin of Krypto, Superboy's dog. Superboy encounters a super powered dog on the streets of Smallville. The dog seems to recognize him and is friendly. Superboy follows the dog to a rocket that has recently crashed on Earth. Inside the rocket he finds papers which reveal that the dog came from Krypton. The dog was sent into space by Jor-El to test a rocket which was deflected by a meteor. The dog, Krypto, belonged to Kal-El as a baby. Krypto's ship eventually made its way to Earth.

Superboy is thrilled to have his dog back. However, Krypto's frisky nature and super powers cause several problems for Superboy including threatening his secret identity. Superboy constructs a super doghouse for Krypto, but the dog is easily able to free himself.

Eventually Krypto takes off into space to chase meteors. Superboy is happy that he won't have to deal with Krypto's antics anymore, but he is sad that his friend is gone.

Next we have "Superboy's Last Day" by Otto Binder and George Papp and reprinted from Adventure Comics #251. This story tells of Superboy's first encounter with Kryptonite. While cleaning house, Clark Kent recalls how one of his Superboy robots saved his life. Many years before, Pa Kent brought home a green glowing rock for Clark’s mineral collection. Clark immediately took ill and was on his deathbed. To replace him as Superboy, a recently constructed Superboy robot was sent out controlled by Jonathan.

When the robot returned, it inadvertently stepped in front of the Kryptonite. Being made of lead, the robot blocked the radiation. Superboy recovered but relapsed when the robot moved away. Pa Kent realizes that the rock must be responsible and places it inside the robot. Superboy recovers and learns that the rock was Kryptonite, a fragment of his home planet, which is deadly to him.

This is followed by "The Girl Who Saw the Future Superboy" by Jerry Coleman and Al Plastino and reprinted from Superboy #90. While helping her father clean a scientist’s lab, Lana accidentally activates a machine that allows her to see the future. Although the image only lasts for a moment, Lana sees Superman and his girlfriend, Lois Lane. Lana become jealous and tries to alter fate by getting Lois to enter a different career.

Lana visits Lois’s school and tries to sabotage Lois’s attempts to join the school paper. Failing in that, Lana tries to get Lois to pursue a career in science and later, sculpture. Each attempt fails due to the Unbeknownst actions of Superboy and Krypto.

Next we have "The Phantom Superboy" by Robert Bernstein and George Papp and reprinted from Adventure Comics #283. This is the first appearance of the Phantom Zone. Professor Lang discovers a box of Kryptonian weapons which he delivers to Superboy. While Superboy examines and tests the weapons, he is accidentally sent into the Phantom Zone, a dimension which exists near ours in which beings can only exist in a ghostly state. Kryptonian criminals were banished here before the destruction of the planet.

Unable to be seen or heard Superboy can not communicate with anyone in his own dimension. Eventually he discovers that his super thought is enough to activate an electric typewriter on which he types a message to Pa Kent. Jonathan rescues Superboy from the Zone, and then the Boy of Steel disposes of the box of weapons.

We end with "The Death of Ma and Pa Kent" by Leo Dorfman and Al Plastino and reprinted from Superman #161. While on vacation in the Caribbean, Jonathan and Martha Kent find a buried pirate’s treasure. The chest contains a scrap from the diary of Pegleg Morgan and presents them a mystery. Superboy carries them into the past to learn how Pegleg was stranded on the island by Blackbeard the Pirate.

When they return to present-day Smallville, the Kents become ill from jungle fever. Doctors are unable to find the cure, and Superboy is likewise helpless. Superboy tries to send them to the Phantom Zone, but solar flares prevent the projector from functioning.

Without a cure, the Kents die. Superboy blames himself for their deaths and gives up his Superboy career. He donates their money to charity, maintaining their house and store for himself. When searching through his father’s belongings he finds the diary scrap and learns that the chest the Kents found in the sand was the actually source of their illness. Relieved that his time-trip was not responsible for the death of his parents, Superboy resumes his career and treasures the memory of his Earth parents.

Edited by E. Nelson Bridwell.

Binky's Buddies #9

Binky's Buddies #9 (On Sale: March 5, 1970) has cover by Henry Scarpelli.

This issue begins with Binky's Buddies in "Binky Keeps His Cool." Next is Benny in "Monkey Business" by John Albano, Winslow Mortimer and Henry Scarpelli, which was reprinted in Binky #81 and Best of DC #45. We end with Binky's Buddies in "Run, Mudder, Run" by John Albano, Winslow Mortimer and Henry Scarpelli, which was reprinted in Best of DC #39.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Young Love #80

Young Love #80 (On Sale: March 3, 1970) has cover not by Bob Oksner and Vinny Colletta as reported elsewhere, but surely inked by Dick Giordano.

This issue begins with "3 Loves... 1 Broken Heart." That is followed by "The Wrong Boy." We end with our cover-story
"Love Me a Little Longer."

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Our Fighting Forces #125

Our Fighting Forces #125 (On Sale: March 3, 1970) has a Losers cover by Joe Kubert

We begin with our cover-story, the Losers in "Daughters of Death" by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Finally, a book I don't own!

That is followed by "Too Much G.I." from All-American Men of War #60 by Bob Haney and Russ Heath. We end with "The Browning Shot" another story of the U.S.S. Stevens by Sam Glanzman.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Our Army at War #219

Our Army at War #219 (On Sale: March 3, 1970) has a Sgt. Rock cover by Joe Kubert.

This issue begins with our cover-story "Yesterday's Hero" drawn by Russ Heath. The new replacement in Easy Co. is Duncan, PFC, who is called the "Hero of Baker Co." Duncan was the first of his company to land at Omaha Beach. The last time his company went out of patrol he was the only one to return.

When Easy Co. goes out on their first mission. to hold a crossroads town, Duncan says the he will do his part, but that he, "won't be responsible for anybody else's skin!" In town they are attacked and Easy responds but Duncan holds back. Confronted by Rock, Duncan breaks down and says that he is no hero. He is too scared to think about others and is just trying to save his own skin.

Rock puts Duncan in a bell town to keep his eyes peeled for Nazis and later that night he sees their dust as they approach. two King Tiger tanks heading straight for the town. Rock tells Duncan to sit tight and stay low in the tower and Easy will take care of the tanks, but instead Duncan draws their fire allowing Easy to take them out. they find Duncan in the rubble of the tower, no worse for wear.

This story was interrupted by a Battle Album on the "Choppers of Viet Nam" drawn by Murphy Anderson.

The book ends with a story of the Civil war, "Follow Sgt. Gruggles" drawn by Fred Ray. Private Tom Cort is following Sgt. Gruggles into battle against the Confederates when he is whacked across the chest with a rifle barrel and about to be stabbed by a rebel. He is saved by Sgt. Gruggles. Hours later after they win the battle Cort says that he was wounded by the smack in the chest and needs to go back for medical help. Gruggles says that the only way he is going to the back of the lines is in a pine box and so he just better get ready for tomorrows assault on Missionary Ridge.

During the next day's assault, Sgt. Gruggles is shot and he and Cort and some of the others are captured by the Rebels and taken to Gray Valley Prison. there Gruggles hatches an escape plan, but they need a diversion and Cort knows that since he is not wounded he is the only one strong enough to "divert the rebs." Tom creates the diversion and holds the Rebels at bay as the men escape, but eventually the sound of his guns stop and he has proven that he did have courage after all.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

House of Mystery #186

House of Mystery #186 (On Sale: March 3, 1970) has a very nice cover by Neal Adams.

This issue begins with our "The Secret of the Egyptian Cat" by Robert Kanigher and Bernie Wrightson. Cain is complaining about the caterwauling of the cat belonging to one of his boarders. Mr. Konassos, when said cat makes an appearance. As he stares into the cat's eyes it turns into a beautiful young girl who says that she was once a priestess in an Egyptian temple.

One night the man Cain knows a Mr. Konassos came to the temple and bespoke of his lust for the priestess. Guards arrive and throw Konassos out, but he returns the next day with magical potions to take care of the guards and a spell that turns the priestess into a cat. And so he kept her through time as they wandered the world together till one day they came to the House of Mystery and Mr. Cain.

At night Isha the cat would sneak out and wail her troubles into the night. Only the wild cats of the woods would answer her call and one of them, Ra-Na became her protector, keeping the other cats at bay. But Konassos saw them together and killed Ra-Na with some poisoned milk. One night Konassos drank himself into a stupor and forgot to lock up his potions. Isha dug through them finding just what she was looking for and dripping the potion onto a scarf she had her revenge.

When Konassos awoke Isha was once again a beautiful woman, but he on the other hand had been transformed into a mouse. And Isha let in Ra-Na's friends from the woods. Cain calls Isha's revenge, "purrfect!" This story has been reprinted in Limited Collectors' Edition C-23, Masterworks Series of Great Comic Book Artists #3, Welcome Back to the House of Mystery #1 and Showcase Presents: The House of Mystery Vol. 1 TPB.

It is followed by a Room 13 page and a two-page Cain's Game Room both by Sergio Aragones.

Next is our cover-story "Nightmare" by Jack Oleck and Neal Adams.Little Judy is a lonely rich girl but in the yard of the estate she lives in the statue of Pan comes alive and plays with her, or so it seems to her. Not to her governess though nor her father. Her nights are filled with the joy of playing with Pan, but during the day she lays in bed, stricken with a fever. When she does get to see Pan again he takes her to a beautiful place of unicorns and fairies but warns her never to go beyond a wall, "There are bad things on the other side. You must never go through the door. Never!"

But Pan fades away and she is back in bed, her fever getting worse by the day. But for Judy, the world of Pan is the only reality. One day Pan takes a nap during their play and Judy opens the door in the wall. She is transported to a realm of hideous creatures who pursue her leading her toward a fire. Alone amidst the hot flames she is rescued by Pan only to awaken in her bed, her terrific fever finally broken. Her father explains that it was all a dream of hers, a way to escape the pain of the fever and he shows her that Pan is not real, but a statue of stone. And she touches the statue and she knows it is true and she walks away and never looks back as the statue of Pan cries.

Great story of the loss of innocence and childhood, wonderfully told and justifiably reprinted in Limited Collectors' Edition C-23, DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #17, Welcome Back to the House of Mystery #1 and Showcase Presents: The House of Mystery Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Flash #197

Flash #197 (On Sale: March 3, 1970) has a cool cover by Gil Kane, which only makes the ungodly inks of Vince Colletta inside this book all the more unpalatable (and please Dan, don't make up yet another fake identity to tell me how wonderful Vinnie's dreadful inks were. I'm looking at them right now; they were a nightmare!). This cover does beg the one question (maybe not a great question) I have always had regarding the Flash. OK, so somehow he fits this entire costume, with hard-soled boots and all, into his ring. If this was such a great thing, why did he never share it with other DC heroes who had to find inconvenient ways of bringing their costume along with them?

This issue begins with our cover-story "Four Star Super-Hero" by Mike Friedrich, Gil Kane and Vinnie Colletta. This story is based on an interesting idea, how people who work together have silent communication, in this case Detective Charlie Conwell and Barry Allen. When Charlie solves a case he tugs at his ear and Barry touches the tip of his nose as a way of saying "nice going!" It is non-verbal and instinctive between the two of them.

After an overnight snow storm the Ice King is on skis hitting a bunch of jewelry stores when the Flash shows up and takes him out, But after he crashes to the snow he is not moving and his heart is not beating. An ambulance shows up and takes the Ice King away, but a few blocks later we see that the ambulance is a fake and the Ice King has turned off his pacemaker to simulate death (OK, so pacemakers don't work that way, but Friedrich obviously didn't know that). back at the scene of the crime Charlie shows up and asks Flash how the ambulance showed up so quickly. Flash replies that he was too stunned to think straight at which Charlie tugs at his ear and proclaims, "The ambulance was a cover for Ice's getaway!" Out of reflex Flash touches the tip of his nose as Charlie stares at him. Realizing his mistake Flash tried to cover up by faking a sneeze, but Charlie is now wondering about the Flash.

The next morning Barry finds out that wife Iris has been made the temporary drama critic for Picture News and she suggests that Barry get involved in the local drama scene., which he does getting a part in the local production of Hamlet. the morning of their opening night the entire cast, except Barry comes down with some sort of virus and as the Flash Barry suggests to director (and curator of the Flash Museum, Dexter Myles, that he can do the entire performance on his own.

Dexter reluctantly agrees and that night the Flash, moving at super-speed, plays all of the parts in Hamlet. During the curtain call he reveals that he is the Flash. Afterward however, he begins to feel ill, just as Ice and his gang, disguised as cops show up. In the middle of a violent seizure due to the virus now attacking his body the Flash is in no condition to take on Ice and his gang, who beat the crap out of him. However, once rested Flash is back in action and takes out the gang.
The next day Charlie Conwell comes to visit the ill Barry Allen at his home and sees that Barry is being visited by the Flash, which is of course Barry moving at super-speed again and looking as if he is two separate people.

The back-up story is "To the Nth Degree" by Robert Kanigher, Gil Kane and Vinnie Colletta. Professor Ira West creates a breakthrough telescope that can pierce hyper-space and allow one to see stars thousands of light-years away as they exist today.The professor is sending the telescope to the Astronomical Society and an amateur telescope to son-in-law Barry Allen, but he gets the labels mixed up and Barry gets the "hyper-scope"

Through the "hyper-scope" Barry sees an inhabited planet in the process of exploding and uses the scope to transport himself to the planet where he is able to stop the explosion and save the aliens. Once back home Professor West shows up to pick up his scope, realizing the shipping mistake he had made. But the Professor drops the scope and shatters the special lens, but says not to worry as he "wrote all the data I need to grind a duplicate lens on a wall in my lab."

Returning to his lab though he finds that the painters have just finished repainting the wall and secret of the Nth Degree lens is lost forever.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Batman #221

Batman #221 (On Sale: March 3, 1970) has cover by Neal Adams, and what a cover. This is another one of those that I would stare at for hours and think, "Yeah, this is Batman!"

This issue begins with our cover-story "A Bat-Death for Batman" by Frank Robbins, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. This story is not nearly as exciting or moody as the cover and it could have been. Novick really needed to get some more blacks into the work and the coloring provides no mood whatsoever, relying heavily on stale blocks of orange and green. The story begins with strange goings on along the Rhine River in Germany. A man is devoured in the water by killer trout and a farmer is attacked by rampaging oxen. As luck, or the story would have it, Bruce Wayne is visiting Baron Willi Von Ritter, head of Biochem-Fabrik, Ltd, a chemical company on the Rhine.

Von Ritter lives in Fledermaus Castle, created in the shape of a giant Bat. Von Ritter and his company were cleared of accusations of conspiracy with the Nazis, but he refuses to cooperate with health inspectors who are investigating the strange animal activities. Once at the castle Bruce meets Von Ritter's wife Ilga and his head bio-chemist, Professor Otto Kramm.

That night as Batman, Bruce does a little reconnoitering of the castle's underground maze. There he finds a masked man egging on a lion to fight. The lions attacker? A lamb! The masked man says that he has synthesized the essential chemical elements that trigger the killer instinct in predators and that some of it accidentally overflowed into the Rhine. He plans on using the serum to see that Germany does not fail next time because its armies will possess the primal killer instincts of predators. With that the masked man traps Batman in the room and lets loose some bats which have been exposed to the serum.

Leaving Batman to his fate the masked man takes off his protective mask to reveal Otto Kramm as Ilga brings in the valet to be used as the first human test subject for the serum. However, before they can administer the serum, Batman shows up and Ilga injects Otto with the serum. Once infected Otto turns on Ilga for hurting him and Batman has to jump in to save her. In the ensuing fight Otto is thrown into the pit with the killer lamb and is killed by it.

Ilga is dying but wants to know how Batman escaped the bats and he explains that he used a wadded up piece of tin foil, ripped into strips to confuse the bats sonar and escape. OK, not much of a story here.

The back-up Batman story is "Hot Time in Gotham Town Tonight" by Mike Friedrich, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. There is a heat wave in Gotham City and the fire department keeps being sent out on false alarms. On their way back from one such false alarm a truck gets a call of a fire in his own building. When they get there the place is in flames and a woman is yelling that her baby is trapped inside. Just then Batman is seen repelling down the side of the building, child in hand. Watching the spectacle are a couple of teenage kids who wonder what would have happened if that had been their kid sister in the fire. They decide to turn themselves in for calling in the false alarms.

Meanwhile, back at the fire the fire inspector says to the fireman that "All signs point toward the firs starting in your apartment Frank!" When they go upstairs they see that the door to Frank's apartment is not burned at all. Inside they find Frank's brother Joey who says he was just polishing an idol he brought back with him from Viet Nam. One of the firemen try to touch the idol and says he is overpowered by the feeling of evil it is generating. It begins to glow and some strange rays flash out from its eyes and suddenly Batman is there racing toward the idol.

He picks it up and with great effort tosses it out of the window where it shatters on the ground below. Once it does the eerie feeling disappears, along with Batman. The closing caption reads: "For the natural violence of life there is always the fireman! For the supernatural violence of life there is always the Batman!" Strange take and one of the first to give Batman some heretofore unknown ability to battle the supernatural. Not a great story, but it points the way that DC was moving and the way they were positioning the Batman. Reprinted in Limited Collectors' Edition C-25.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.