Me and my comics, back together again. Not as many as there once were; I sold 1,000 of them in 1976 to get money to publish my first comic book (Mayhem #1), which may explain the holes in my pre-1976 collection. I am going to get some more of the long boxes for the scattered issues I have haphazardly boxed. I also need to reorganize something terrible. I am also thinking of getting the drawer boxes rather than the long boxes. If anyone has had experience with the drawer boxes (good or bad), let me know if they are worth the extra money ($9 a box vs. $2.5 a box). It is a pain in the ass to have to pull something from one of those boxes on the bottom row.
Once I sort through these and get some new boxes, I hope to be back up and running here.
I've had a number of life changes in the past nine months, but one of them is happening tomorrow, where I will be reunited with my comcic collection. I can't promise that I can get this blog back to the robust ramblings of the past, or that I can make up the two+ years I have been absent, but I really do miss looking back at these old books from my past. So, look here soon for some new content as I delve back into "my" Golden Age of Comics!
House of Mystery #188 (On Sale: July 9, 1970) has a cover by Neal Adams.
This issue introduced American comic fans to the amazing pencil and ink artwork of Tony DeZuniga in its first story, "Dark City of Doom" written by Gerry Conway.
Next is a Cain's Gargoyles one-pager written and drawn by Sergio Aragones, a Page 13 one-pager by Joe Orlando and Sergio Aragones and a Cain's Game Room one-pager by John Albano. In a few years John Albano and Tony DeZuniga would team up to create western anti-hero Jonah Hex.
This issue ends with "House of Madness" drawn by Bernie Wrightson.
The entire issue was reprinted in Showcase Presents: The House of Mystery Vol. 1 TPB.
Binky's Buddies #11 (On Sale: July 9, 1970) has a cover by Henry Scarpelli.
We begin with Binky in "The Unbelievers" by Henry Boltinoff, Winslow Mortimer and Henry Scarpelli. This one was reprinted in Best of DC #70. Next is Binky in "Tennis the Menace" which was reprinted in Best of DC #28. We end with Binky's Buddies in "The Fashion Show."
Wonder Woman #190 (On Sale: July 7, 1970) has a cover Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano.
Mike Sekowsky wrote and drew and Dick Giordano inked "Detour" our book-length Wonder Woman story. Back from China and a little bit down, I-Ching suggests that Diana visit her mother on Paradise Island, but when Amazon messenger Leda attempts to bring Diana through the dimensional stream they take and unexpected detour and end up int he dark fending off unseen creatures. When a green moon appears the creatures scamper and Diana and Leda find themselves in an alien landscape.
When finally the sun rises a strange flying ship appears and armed men attempt to capture Diana and Leda. Diana holds them at bay while Leda escapes through the dimensions to Paradise Island to bring reinforcements. Eventually the men overpower Diana and she and a barbarian man are taken to the city of Calendar where they are brought before the queen.
They learn that they were captured to fight in the arena for sport, but the queen dismisses Diana as "just a girl." Diana says she sees no reason to wait for the arena to fight and using her shackles as a weapon sets upon her captors, the barbarian man at her side. Diana makes it to the queen but is overpowered and knocked unconscious.
She awakes in a cell with Rancor the barbarian and they manage to escape. They are chased through the castle but end up in the arena, realizing they were allowed to escape and were pointed toward their death. In the arena they face a giant monster called a gnarth, but Diana has a plan for killing it. The plan works and then they leap out of the arena and once again are upon the queen and her men. As reinforcements arrive they are chased once again through the castle and up to the top of a tower. From there they see an army amassed at the gates of Calendar.
Rancor says it is the army of his father, King Zangor and that he was captured when he was scouting ahead of the army. They are there to end the rule of the evil queen. As the queen's men approach, Diana and Rancor leap from the tower into the moat. This one is continued.
Reprinted in Diana Prince:Wonder Woman Vol. 3 TPB.
Superboy #168 (On Sale: July 7, 1970) has another of my favorite Neal Adams' covers. Just beautiful.
We begin with "Leave Us... or We Perish" by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Murphy Anderson.
The back-up Superboy story must have been in inventory for a few years. "The Negative Boy of Steel" is by Arnold Drake who was fired in 1968, Al Plastino who was also fired in 1968 and Mike Esposito. Except for a Superman's Wedding Album pin-up in 1996, this is Al Plastino's last work for DC.
Al Plastino's earliest comic work was as an assitant to Bill Everett working on Sub-Mariner for Timely Comics and his first credited work was the cover of Novelty Press' Blue Bolt Comics #9 in 1943.
In 1948 Plastino showed samples of his work to editors at DC and began a 20-year stint on the Superman family of books. At first he was required to mimic Wayne Boring's style but as time went on he was allowed to draw like Al Plastino. The worked on Superman, Superboy, and Lois Lane. With Otto Binder he co-created Supergirl and The Legion of Super-Heroes.
Plastino also drew the Superman newspaper strip in the late 60s and the Batman strip from 1966-1972. When DC ousted him from their books in 1968 Al Plastino also took over the Ferd'nand newspaper strip which he drew until he retired in 1989. In 1983 he drew the Sunday episodes of Nancy after Ernie Bushmiller died and he also drew a year's worth of Peanuts strips in the early 1980s to be used if Charles Schulz became ill. I don't think those will ever see the light of day, but it does make for an interesting trivia question, "Who besides Charles Schulz drew an entire year's worth of Peanuts strips?"
Secret Hearts #146 (On Sale: July 7, 1970) has a cover inked by Dick Giordano.
This issue has two longer than normal stories. We begin with "A Kiss to Light the Darkness" inked by Vinny Colletta and we end with our cover-story, "Wasting My Love on You." Not much else to say about this one.
Tomahawk #130 (On Sale: July 2, 1970) has a cover by Neal Adams.
Well, the great run on Neal Adams' covers and the superior artwork by Frank Thorne could not quite save Tomahawk. This is the last issue to go by that name, at least on the cover, as next issue is known as Hawk, Son of Tomahawk as Joe Kubert takes over the editorial reigns from Murray Boltinoff. We begin this last true Tomahawk issue with "Deathwatch at Desolation Valley" by Robert Kanigher and Frank Thorne.
The back-up Tomahawk story is "A Bullet for My Brother" by George Kashdan and Frank Thorne.
Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #104 (On Sale: July 2, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson featuring Lois Lane's Greatest Scoops.
We begin with "The Super-Prisoner of Amazon Island" by Otto Binder, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye and reprinted from Action Comics #235. Lois and other members of her Super Sorority are shipwrecked on a small island. Superman comes to rescue them, but he has violated the laws of the native Amazons living there. He is declared a slave and his services are bid upon.
The queen, Elsha, wishes to make Superman her husband. When she loses in the auction, she abolishes the law and creates a new one. Superman must now perform a task for each woman, if he cannot he must marry them.
Superman agrees to the procedure in hopes of finding a cure for Kryptonite which he believes is on the island. Each woman takes her turn, but Superman completes each task. The final task is the queen’s. He destroys her crown to make her a commoner which was what she asked him to do. The Man of Steel is set free, but he realizes too late that the crown was the cure he sought. He and the sorority return home, leaving the Amazons behind.
Next is "The Monkey's Paw" drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger and reprinted from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #42. Lois receives a box of strange curios from a recently deceased explorer. Inside is a monkey’s paw which legend claims will grant three wishes. Lois imagines possible wishes for herself, but she uses one to save an airplane and another to save Superman from Kryptonite. When she tells Lucy Lane and Jimmy Olsen about her wishes, they reveal that the wishes were not responsible for the rescues. Lois uses her final wish to give Clark Kent super powers. He fakes an illness, so Lois believes the wishes didn’t work. As a result, she throws the monkey’s paw away.
That is followed by "The Town of Supermen" by Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan and George Klein and reprinted from Superman #153. Eight prisoners of the Phantom Zone escape and move to a ghost town, Drywood Gulch. They bring Lois to town and tell her that they are Kryptonian astronauts. Later, Lois returns with Jimmy and Perry to show them the town of Supermen, but the men pretend to be normal men. Finally, Lois convinces Jimmy of the truth and he summons Superman. The Man of Steel out duels the criminals and returns them to the Phantom Zone.
Next is "Lois Lane's Great Houdini Trick" by Otto Binder and Kurt Schaffenberger and reprinted from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #58. Lois receives a request to expose a phony spirit medium. When she visits the swamis parlor, she discovers that the medium is Voodoo Vickers, a notorious gangster wanted for murder. Lois attends a séance in disguise and uses the swami's own tricks to force Vickers into revealing the location of the murder victim. Superman then apprehends the swami.
That brings us to "The Reversed Super-Powers" by Jerry Siegel and Kurt Schaffenberger and reprinted from Action Comics #274. During an experiment to find an antidote for Kryptonite, Superman’s powers are transferred to Lois Lane. Without powers, Superman proposes to Lois, but she decides to think about it first. When she discovers that she has gained powers, she decides not to marry Superman for fear that her enemies would harm him. Superman then passes out. Another Superman arrives through the window and explains that it was only a Superman robot. The robot wanted to see if Lois loved Superman only because of his powers. The real Superman apologizes for his robot’s interference and returns it to the Fortress. Lois’s powers wear off restoring her to normal.
We end with "The Girl Who Destroyed Atlantis" drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger and reprinted from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #42. While touring Atlantis with Lori Lemaris, Lois Lane is transported into the past by a time-travel belt. She arrives in ancient Atlantis and soon meets Roh-Tul, a dictator who resembles Luthor. Roh-Tul convinces Lois that he is benevolent and that his for Klar-Kan is evil. However, Lois soon learns that Roh-Tul is the tyrant and spurns his affections. Roh-Tul then detonates a bomb. Lois is sent back to the present believing she was responsible for the sinking of Atlantis. Lori explains that the bomb was not the cause of Atlantis’ demise, but another later explosion caused the city to sink
Super DC Giant S-13 (On Sale: July 2, 1970) has a Binky cover by Henry Scarpelli.
We have a flurry of uncredited Binky tales in this one. They are: "A Person Could Starve," (It's a good thing you can work...) , (Thanks for taking my books...), Benny in (Hello, Amy! This is Benny...), Binky in (Oh, Binky, would you do me a favor...), Buzzy in "A Good Listener," and then Binky in (I like these scales...) and (I've got to go now, Binky...) .
Aquaman #53 (On Sale: July 2, 1970) has another classic cover by Nick Cardy. Good lord they don't get much better than this!
It is 1970 and there is a rumor going around that California is going to have a major earthquake and sink into the Pacific. Kinda hard to believe these days, but this rumor got so much traction that then governor, Ronald Reagan found some flimsy excuse to be out of the state the day it was supposed to happen. Just a funny last minute schedule change his people said, but we all knew. "Is California Sinking?" by the SAG team (Steve Skeates, Jim Aparo and Dick Giordano) taps beautifully into this 1970 paranoia as only Steve Skeates could.
It opens on a mundane scene of a secretary typing away in an office, obvious until the last moment to what is happening around her. From that startling scene we flip the page to one of Jim Aparo's great splash (no pun intended) pages, showing the power of his triple-threat penciling, inking and lettering. IS CALIFORNIA SINKING?
Well, is it? Californian millionaire Elliot Harlanson (gotta love that name!) has just been told that it will and what that means to him is his beautiful home will sink with it. And Elliot is having none of that. But he is being told that he can save his home, and California in the bargain, if he just buys an atomic bomb and blows up Atlantis. Because, you see, it is the rising of Atlantis that will cause the sinking of California and if Atlantis does not rise, well then, California does not sink! Or at least that is the story being peddled by Elliot's visitor, a mysterious "scientist" who we shortly learn is actually an agent of O.G.R.E. (Organization for General Revenge and Enslavement), who can't afford to buy an a-bomb of their own. They plan on seeing that Aquaman is in Atlantis when Elliot's bomb goes off.
It is now two weeks later and on the east coast Elliot and is his ever-present girl-friend meet the "scientists" from O.G.R.E. on a dock, where Elliot's submarine, atomic bomb inside, await. We find out that O.G.R.E. has enlisted the help of Black Manta to keep Aquaman by Atlantis and preoccupied. They have given Manta a gun that scrambles brain waves and Manta uses it to thwart an attack of sea creatures on him orchestrated by Aquaman. As Aquaman leaves Atlantis to confront Manta, the sub leaves the Florida coast heading for Atlantis.
When Manta uses the gun on Aquaman, the Sea King is able to counteract the gun's affects by concentrating on getting Manta. While Aquaman takes care of Black Manta, Aqualad and some Atlantian police take care of Manta's men. When Manta mumbles something about "They said I'd have nothing to worry about," Aquaman wants to know who "they" are and sort of, well, beats the information out of Manta. When Manta confesses that he got the gun from O.G.R.E., Aquaman knows something bigger than Manta and a gun is going on and he begins scouring the area around Atlantis looking for danger.
Meanwhile on the shore the O.G.R.E. "scientists" have a run in with the feds. who take them down only to be told that they are too late to save Atlantis or Aquaman.
Back at Atlantis, Aquaman sees the sub coming in close and sends a giant squid to capture it. Caught in the squid's grasp, Elliot freaks out, "You act like you don't care what happens to my beautiful, spacious home!" and accidentally whacks a lever. The lever that releases the bomb! Learning what he has done a distraught Elliot proclaims, "I'm too rich to die! Do something!" But there is nothing they can do while caught in the squid's grasp.
Aquaman sees the bomb however and races toward it at speeds only the King of the Sea could muster. Alas, he is still to slow and the bomb hit the sea floor!
And bounces harmlessly away. It is a dud! Inside the sub, Elliot is furious! "Wait till I get my hands on the rat who sold me that bomb!" His girl-friend tells him to, "Just cool it!"
In the epilogue a few days later the feds tell Aquaman the O.G.R.E. are being taken care of by them and not to worry. They also tell him that they have let Harlanson go, as he was duped; he actually thought he was saving California from destruction and had no idea that Atlantis was populated. When Aquaman talks about the act a fate that resulted in a dud atomic bomb the feds reveal that they actually took care of that, or rather their agent on the inside did. That is when Elliot's girl-friend, in reality Agent 03, Honey James, shows up.
Aquaman says that he let Manta go, as the revelation that Manta was being duped by O.G.R.E. was more than enough punishment. After they leave the feds and head back for Atlantis, Aqualad wonders what will happen to Atlantis's people should it rise from the ocean depths. Aquaman says not to worry as that would not happen till well past the year 2000, so they have plenty of time to figure it out.
"And so our story ends. Yet, once question remains unanswered..." Shots of the secretary going under water... "Is California Sinking?" Shamefully, shamefully never reprinted.
Detective Comics #402 (On Sale: June 30, 1970) has a great cover by Neal Adams.
The Man-Bat returns in "Man or Bat?" by Frank Robbins, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano. The story opens with some thugs pulling a heist at a biochemical lab. what they don't know is that hanging in the rafters above them lurks the tormented Kirk Langstrom, now even more bat than the last time we saw him in the classic Detective #400. He waits in an agitated state for them to crack the safe below so that he can get what he so desperately needs. But just when it seems the hour of his saving is at hand Batman appears to break up the heist. When the Man-Bat appears to join him in thwarting the crime, Batman calls him a friend, but when Man-Bat reveals that he needs something from the safe, something he has brought money to pay for, Batman tries to stop him.
When Batman tries to unmask Kirk he realizes that he is not wearing a mask, but is truly a transformed human. Still he tries to stop the Man-Bat, but is knocked unconscious in the scuffle and Kirk departs with the drug he came looking for.
When he awakens, Batman heads off for the museum when he first met the Man-Bat hoping there to find a clue to his identity. When he gets there he finds Francine Lee, Kirk's fiancée trying to gain entrance. Kirk was supposed to be at an exhibit in Chicago, but he never arrived there and Francine is worried that something may be wrong. Upstairs Kirk has concocted a formula he hopes will reverse his bizarre transformation, but when he is startled by Batman and Francine at his door he drops the serum and flees out the window.
Batman tells Francine that the strange creature who has just fled is her fiancée, Kirk Langstrom, and that when they barged in Batman saw him mouth her name. batman thinks he can recreate the dropped serum in the Batcave and heads off to find Kirk and hopefully a cure for this transformation.
He finds Kirk up on a cliff and when he comes for him Kirk leaps from the cliff in fear, but rather than dying in the fall, huge batwings appear from under his coat and his transformation complete he flies off into the night following the flight of a "brother" bat. He follows the bat to his home, which happens to be, the Batcave. Kirk reaches the inner recesses of the cave just as Batman returns. He is momentarily blinded by the lights as they come one but uses his bat sonar to find an exit. Only, Langstrom's exit is the Batmobile;s entrance and Batman leaps from the car to divert Kirk from hitting it head-on.
He latches on to the Man-Bat, telling him that he is there to help him, to create an antidote, but Kirk takes Batman on a ride to the heights of the Batcave only to drop him from there. Some light fixtures break his fall, but from the floor he sees Langstrom about to fly out the open Batcave entrance. Clicking a remote on his belt Batman closes the door and Kirk is knocked unconscious by the door. Batman then ponders what to do, should he attempt to cure Langstrom, even though his brain may have been permanently damaged by his transformation, or should he leave him alone in his cursed condition? "Merciful heaven--What an impossible decision to make! There can be only one answer...if he must ide...ket it be as the man he once was!"
Batman gets to work in a tale continued in Detective #407."Man or Bat?" was reprinted in Batman from the 30s to the 70s HC, Man-Bat #1 and Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 2 HC.
The back-up story is Robin in "My Place in the Sun" by Mike Friedrich, Gil Kane and Vince Colletta. The story begins with Robin flying in on the Arrow Jet with Speedy all the way fromTeen Titans #28. Dick shows Roy (Speedy) Harper around Hudson University. In the cafeteria a fight breaks out between some "punks" and a group called Project 70 who work with kids from a nearby juvenile detention farm. Dick changes into Robin to stop the fight. Robin goes after the big punk only to find out that it was the little kid Robin was trying to protect who started the fight.
Back in his room Dick is pissed at himself for jumping to conclusions without any evidence. That day Dick hears it all over campus, as Robin becomes the main topic of discussion. Some of the kids are for him, but many think he is just a vigilante and shouldn't be there. When he returns from shopping he finds Roy in his Speedy threads, heading off for a date with Wonder Girl.
After Roy leaves, Dick begins to question his role as Robin, but in the end he decides to keep the name and the costume. "...if I made a mistake once, I'm not gonna make it again! When I go out into that adult world, I want everyone to know that Robin is no longer a boy, but still a wonder!" Not a great story and certainly not great artwork.
Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #103 (On Sale: June 25, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.
We begin with our cover-story "The Devil's Bride" by Robert Kanigher, Irv Novick and Mike Esposito. The back-up story is "The Fantastic Wigs of Mr. Dupre" drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger and reprinted from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #35. Lois Lane attends a performance of Booth Barry, an old actor. Barry invites Lois backstage and relates a story about magical wigs that cause a person wearing them to die in the same manor as the model for the wigs did. Barry then is accidentally shot with a pistol in a manor similar to Alexander Hamilton, whose wig he was wearing.
Lois investigates the story and is led to the shop of Anton Dupre. Lois tests two wigs herself and is nearly killed. The third attempt nearly succeeds as Lois wears a Supergirl wig, however the real Supergirl has replaced Lois. Together they expose Dupre’s plot to eliminate Lois from discovering his underworld activities. The dangerous wigs were merely a hoax, and Dupre turns out to be Booth Barry in disguise.
Girls' Love Stories #153 (On Sale: June 25, 1970) has a cover inked by Dick Giordano.
We begin with "For Love or Money," which according to Wikipedia, contains the first American comic work of Tony DeZuniga. In this case it is Tony's inking that is introduced over the pencils of Ric Estrada. We move on to "The Engagement Ring" pencilled by Don Heck. Next is "The Cheat" inked by Vinny Colletta and we end with "The 3 Faces of Love."
The late Silver Age of Comics, 1967-1971, was my "Golden Age." I was just old enough to start seriously collecting and DC Comics were my preferred brand. Join me as we explore the Dynamic Content of DC Comics, 40 Years Ago!
Barry Keller is an artist, writer, programmer, creator, thinker, lover. Some day I will have some of this mastered. Well, one can hope. If I never master any of this, at least I will have had the pleasure of trying.
All cover artwork and characters are copyright 1967-2012 by DC Comics. All commentary and remarks are copyright 2007-2012 by Barry Keller, except in the case where I pulled them without interpretation or extrapolation from somewhere else.