Charlie’s Geekcast Episode 46 — Geeking on Superman in the Bronze Age 5

An ancient being is unearthed, but it’s intentions are not what they seem…

Feedback for this show can be sent to: charliesgeekcast@gmail.com

You can subscribe to Charlie’s Geekcast through iTunesGoogle Play, the RSS FeedStitcherTuneIn RadioSpotify, or you can also download the episode directly here. You can also visit the show’s Facebook group page.

Download

Charlie’s Geekcast Episode 45 — Geeking on Superman in the Bronze Age 4

Beginning an exciting new era in the life of Superman! Lois and Superman end their relationship! Clark and Lana begin dating! What is going on with Perry? Vandal Savage Returns!

Feedback for this show can be sent to: charliesgeekcast@gmail.com

You can subscribe to Charlie’s Geekcast through iTunes, Google Play, the RSS Feed, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio, Spotify, or you can also download the episode directly here. You can also visit the show’s Facebook group page.

Download

Charlie’s Geekcast Episode 43 — Geeking on Superman in the Bronze Age 3

Lex Luthor is back, and once again, he’s out to get Superman. But this time, he’s got a groovy new costume of his own!

Feedback for this show can be sent to: charliesgeekcast@gmail.com

You can subscribe to Charlie’s Geekcast through iTunesGoogle Play, the RSS FeedStitcherTuneIn RadioSpotify, or you can also download the episode directly here. You can also visit the show’s Facebook group page.

Download

Charlie’s Geekcast Episode 41 — Geeking on Superman in the Bronze Age 2

Can Superman save the Earth from being sucked into space, or has he finally found something more powerful that even him?

Feedback for this show can be sent to: charliesgeekcast@gmail.com

You can subscribe to Charlie’s Geekcast through iTunesGoogle Play, the RSS FeedStitcherTuneIn RadioSpotify, or you can also download the episode directly here. You can also visit the show’s Facebook group page.

Download

Charlie’s Geekcast Episode 40 — Geeking on Superman in the Bronze Age 1

What happens when a one-time villain from his childhood returns to take down the Man of Steel? A visit to the dentist, and having to save the Earth from…himself?!?

Feedback for this show can be sent to: charliesgeekcast@gmail.com

You can subscribe to Charlie’s Geekcast through iTunesGoogle Play, the RSS FeedStitcherTuneIn RadioSpotify, or you can also download the episode directly here. You can also visit the show’s Facebook group page.

Download

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: February 1972

Batman helps provide a Merry Christmas with a little help from God, Flash is almost killed by television, the JLA take on Starbreaker, Superman may have finally met his match, someone is trying to kill Clark Kent, and Batman has to prevent a murder a decade in the making. This and more happens in the comics cover dated February 1972.

Batman 239: Its Christmas Eve in Gotham, and Batman is chasing down a man who has been knocking out Salvation Army Santas, and taking their money pots. Fortunately, the last victim managed to injure this attacker, slowing him down enough for Batman to capture him. The attacker, Tim, pleads with Batman to allow him to plead his case, and takes the Dark Knight to an apartment in one of Gotham’s worst slums. When they enter, they meet Tim reason for turning to crime, his daughter Betsy. Tim explains that his was fired by his boss due to a drop in business, and promised to be rehired around the holidays when business would be picking back up. Because of this promise, he didn’t go out looking for another job, and his boss sold the company to new owners not interested in rehiring former employees. But Betsy is sick, and medical bills have eaten all of his money, forcing him to steal money to give Betsy a Christmas. When Batman points out that Tim’s beef with the world should really just be pointed at his old boss, Tim knocks out Batman, and heads out for revenge. When he comes to, he takes Betsy along to stop her father. The icy conditions, and heavy snowfall, make the trip impossible for the Batmobile, but Batman manages to find a horse drawn sleigh, and continues his trek. Meanwhile, Tim, who managed to stay ahead of the storm, has threatened his former boss, only to learn that the old man is very sick. Batman arrives and they all manage to get Tim’s boss to a hospital in time to save him. Figuring Tim’s legal troubles can wait until the following week, Batman hands Tim a handful of cash, wishes him Merry Christmas, and then finds that the horse and sleigh are missing, which Batman also chalks up to God creating another Christmas miracle. Speaking of religion, in the backup, Robin is giving Dick Grayson’s college buddies a tour of the Gotham, when they encounter what I can only describe as religious hippies. After Dick’s buddies talk some smack about the “Jesus freaks,” they encounter another group trying to intimidate a kid named Rick, including the use of fists. Dick’s buddies rush in to save Rick and a fight ensues, until Robin and one of the hippies are able to calm everyone down. As the students head back to their place, Robin stays with Rick, who is taken to one of the hippies’ apartment, since he is unconscious. While there, Robin sees Terri in a vision, and learns that Rick’s father doesn’t love him, which is having an adverse affect in him. Coming out of the vision, Robin heads off to find Rick’s dad, while wondering what the deal is with Terri.

This issue reprints a Christmas story from Batman 15 (Feb/Mar 1943).

Flash 212: Barry is babysitting Dustin, a neighbor’s kid who looks like the TV obsessed boy from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. While watching one of Dustin’s favorite TV shows (subtle!), Abra Kadabra appears on screen, taking over the show, using his abilities to force Barry into his Flash costume, and to come through the TV and into the show. For reasons I cannot fathom, Flash also grabs Dustin to bring him with him. While Dustin is busy lassoing some pixies, Flash is being chased by a couple of others, forcing him to vibrate is molecules to defeat them. Kadabra uses this moment to send some special grounding rods Flash’s way, preventing him from being able to completely materialize, and holding him in place so he can’t vibrate. The idea is that once the show is over, the TV world, and the Flash, will cease to exist. Flash manages to trick Dustin to shoot him with his rubber bullets, which set off enough of a vibratory chain reaction for Flash to vibrate himself free of his trap, and then take Dustin to safety. Now outside of the TV world, Kadabra tries to stop Flash with a “spell,” but Flash is able deflect it with some counter-vibrations, causing Kadabra to turn into a cardboard cutout. After depositing him with the authorities, Flash returns Dustin to the Allen residence, and returns as Barry before Dustin’s mom to pick him up. In the backup, Ralph and Sue Dibney witness a child plant a dollar bill and grow a money tree. With his nose twitching, Ralph goes on the case, learning that Timmy is the son of Victor Dennison, the “fox” of the finance world. Some old man had given Timmy a magic potion to grow the tree, so that he would have enough money for his father to notice him. Victor accepts the money, but is more interested in how he can invest it than in Timmy. When Ralph tries to bring Victor’s attention to his behavior, he just throws some of the money at Ralph, thanks him from bringing Timmy home, and kicks him out. Suspicious of the money, Ralph checks the money and finds out its tainted. He heads back to Dennison’s, but he has left instructions to be left alone, and puts his house on lockdown. Ralph basically has to break into the house, but by the time he reaches Dennison, the poison has already taken affect. Later, as the body is wheeled out, Dennison sits up and calls out his killer, who reveals himself to be a member of the crowd of onlookers. Ralph takes him out, and learns that the man had a business that was bankrupted by Dennison, and he wanted revenge. The money tree was some magician’s trick, and the “magic potion” he gave Timmy was the antidote, which kept him from being killed by the money. Fortunately, Ralph has managed to give Dennison the antidote before it could kill him, so he now has a second chance to make things right with Timmy.

This issue reprints a story from Flash 126 (Feb 1962).

Justice League of America 96: Superman arrives on Rann and runs into his team-mates fighting some giant mechanized ants that are tougher than even he is. Flying around at super-speed, Superman manages to interfere with the radio signals to the ants, causing them to turn on each other, and allowing the other leaguers to take them out. Then Hawkman relates that they were brought to Rann thanks to a Zeta beam intercepting the JLA transporter beam, and pulling them there rather than the satellite. We also learn about their foe, Starbreaker, who is basically DC’s version of Galactus. When Green Lantern’s ring discovers 2 more groups of ants, the heroes split up to take them out. Meanwhile, Starbreaker creates 3 versions of himself to take on the Leaguers. Based on how Superman managed to stop the first group of ants, Flash and Green Lantern manage to stop their ants, and surprisingly take out Starbreaker. Elsewhere, Hawkman and Superman manage to do the same. Regrouping, the heroes fly their Starbreakers to the city and meet up with Adam Strange and company, who thank the heroes for their service. At this point, the Zeta beam wears off, sending Hawkman, Flash, and GL back to Earth, followed closely by the 2 Starbreakers also disappearing. Elsewhere, the real Starbreaker vows revenge, vowing to head to Earth and destroy it.

This issue reprints the debut of Hourman from Adventure Comics 48 (Mar 1940), and a Wildcat story from Sensation Comics 84 (Dec 1948).

Superman 248: The Earth has been devastated, everyone is dead, and Lex Luthor is to blame. He created a Galactic Golem that feeds on galactic energy, then secretly used his galactic cannon to bathe Superman in that energy. The ensuing fight ended with an incredible explosion that seemingly annihilated Superman and every other living thing. The Golem then turned its attention on the galactic cannon, but Luthor is saved by Superman. While the Man of Steel wrestles with the Golem, Luther manages to bathe a passing meteor storm with the galactic energy, causing the Golem to take off. Meanwhile, Superman explains that during the fight with the Golem, he managed to set up vibrations to send the entire population of Earth to a different dimensional plane. And although Superman has once again survived and he has to return to prison, Luthor is happy and relieved to not be responsible for all those deaths. In the backup, we learn about a war on ancient Krypton that escalated to the point where an All-Element Bomb was dropped. Eventually, due to being tired of war, the fighting ended, but without any sort of truce declared. Soon after, the effects of the bomb were realized when the next generation of children were born with large heads, weak bodies, and an inability to speak. Eventually, these children were gathered up and sent into exile. Over time, these children learned to communicate via telepathy, and learned that they had telekinetic power (or were strong with The Force, take your pick). Eventually, they were able to build their own community and began to thrive, when they received a message from the older generation pleading for their help to stop a Doomsday weapon. After debating whether or not to help those that has exiled them, they eventually agreed to help, but were unable to return to their old home in time to stop the weapon. With the previous generations wiped out, the kids renamed their community Kryptonopolis, and ended up having children that were born completely normal. And, of course, Kryptonopolis grew into a huge city, becoming not only the 2nd Capitol of Krypton, but also the birthplace of Kal-El.

This issue reprints a Superman of 2966 story from Action Comics 339 (Jul 1966).

Superboy 182: While helping out at the Kent General Store, Clark comes across an old newspaper headline about the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Even though it’s been 2 months, he decides to check in on his friend Bruce. As Superboy, he flies to Gotham and finds Bruce to be a very angry young man with revenge in his heart. Since his time-scope has shown him that he and Bruce will grow up to be friends and partners as Superman and Batman, he feels compelled to help. Bruce is after the Zodiac Killer because he overheard a reporter tell a cop that a zodiac symbol left near the crime scene ties their death with his crime spree. Bruce sets a trap to catch the Zodiac Killer only to learn that he is not real. The reporter from before was actually washed up and needed to break a big story in order to keep his job, so he planted the Zodiac symbols at random crime scenes to make it look like there was a serial killer, and to give him a big, job-saving series of stories to write. This means that the Wayne’s death was just as random as it appeared (until years later when Batman uncovers evidence about Lew Moxon hiring Joe Chill). And, since there is no more room for the story to continue, it ends. In the backup, Superboy recalls other teen heroes who either died or left Earth before they could become famous.

This issue reprints a Superbaby story from Superboy 102 (Jan 1963).

Action Comics 409: Superman has spent every night for the last 3 weeks building a new city to provide free housing for the underprivileged. Meanwhile, during the days, he’s been dealing with someone trying to kill Clark Kent with some very fantastic death traps. An alien who is trying to graduate from his detective school offers to help and discovers that it is Superman trying to kill Clark, all thanks to his lack of sleep. In the backup, an untold tale of Superman, a strange golden slab mysteriously appears in Metropolis Park. The police use everything at their disposal to either move or destroy it, but nothing works. Eventually, Superman arrives and takes it away. Turns out it was all a test of a new metal alloy that Superman created. Superman takes the slab up north and uses it as the door to his Fortress.

This issue reprints the first half of a Teen Titans story from Teen Titans 4 (Jul/Aug 1966).

Adventure Comics 414: A space plunderer has chosen Linda Danvers of Earth to be his bride, and sends a scout team down to collect her. Once she’s left alone, she changes into an incredibly ugly Supergirl costume, and is quickly knocked out. She learns that the plunderer and his crew are from the planet Somar, and escaped from the planet after being imprisoned for speaking out against their corrupt leaders. But, Supergirl reveals that since they left, the people of Somar revolted, the planet is under new leadership, and the plunderer kept this info from his crew. With this info, her guard kills himself, leaving her free to take out the crew and damage the ship so it can’t fight the Planetary Galaxy Patrol who have arrived to arrest the plunderer and his crew. And with this arrest, the story ends, leading into the backup in which, after a costume change, Supergirl returns to space to investigate an unmarked satellite orbiting Earth. Inside is a discredited nuclear scientist who plans to use the satellite to launch the U.S.’s entire bank of defense missiles and basically cause a new world war that would destroy Earth. Supergirl stops the missiles, but while she’s busy, the satellite’s orbit decays, causing it to crash to Earth, and kill the scientist. In the other backup, Zatanna and the statue of Jeff return to New York, where Jeff reverts back to human form. They then confront Zatara in Time Square and learn that his body has been possessed by Allura, his greatest enemy. After faking Zatara’s death, Allura leaves his body to possess Zatanna, but she manages to use her magic to capture her in a bottle.

This issue reprints an Animal Man story, his first as a costumed hero, from Strange Adventures 190 (Jul 1966).

Detective Comics 419: 10 years ago, Piet Van Doorn killed Allan Trevor after they made a big diamond find in South Africa. Now, Trevor is after Van Doorn, and Batman has been called in to stop him. However, after 10 years working near a radioactive mine, Trevor can cause a Geiger counter to go off. Batman ends up finding him hiding in a coffin, and takes him down. Later, Batman arrives at Van Doorn’s mansion, but it’s actually Trevor in disguise. But before he can attack Van Doorn, the real Batman arrives to save the day, but Van Doorn ends up suffering a stroke due to his fear and guilt. In the backup, Commissioner Gordon heads down to Mexico City to investigate a drug smuggling operation sending drugs to Gotham, and ends up taking Babs with him (since he secretly knows that Babs is Batgirl). While Jim meets with a local commissioner and heads to a conference, Babs is taken on a tour by the local commissioner’s son. After crossing paths with the local mob boss (unknown to Babs), they pick up Jim and head for their hotel. Unfortunately, that involved traveling outside of the city where they are intercepted. Babs manages to escape, but Jim is knocked out

This issue reprints a Captain Compass story from Detective Comics 215 (Jan 1955), and a story from Gangbusters 57 (Apr/May 1957).

A very up and down month, with Superman being my definite favorite of the bunch, despite the idea of Superman being able to shift the entire population of Earth to another dimensional plane. The Superboy story is probably the most disappointing because nothing changes. Other than revealing that the Zodiac Killer didn’t kill the Waynes, Bruce is still the angry kid he was at the beginning, and has a costume that is never mentioned again. I’m also not a fan of Superboy having used his time-scope to learn of Bruce becoming Batman, but at least he was not aware of the event that would send Bruce down that path. Also, the scene where he basically creates a short “imaginary story” with Superboy and Bruce teaming up with Superman and Batman was pointless. The main Action story wasn’t bad, but if you are plunking down 50¢ to read both Action and Superman, this causes a big continuity problem. Good thing little things like that weren’t a big deal back then. The Supergirl costume in the first story from Adventure was hideous. I hope these alternate suits disappear soon. Ugh! And the Frank Robbins art in Detective’s Batman story was hideous and unclear. On the plus side, the Swanderson team in the 2 Superman stories were great as usual, and Anderson did a great job of enhancing the art of Bob Brown and George Tuska. The Batman story in Batman was great, and Rick Butler on Robin was a nice change. The Don a Heck art on a Batgirl wasn’t terrible, but looked hurried and unfinished. The best art of the month, once again, belongs to Gray Morrow on the Zatanna feature. So great! The Flash story was good, but not great. However, it was fun to see How Kadabra was handled before Mark Waid came along. Definitely enjoying how Cary Bates has really been bringing back Flash’s rogues gallery after then being away for the first part of this reading project.

Next month, 2 imaginary stories (oh joy!), a Silver Age Flash reprint that sets up the next new Flash tale, the Legion in new costumes, and another appearance by the Al Ghul family!

DC Comics Bronze Age Read-through Project: January 1972

Superman questions his existence, Superboy meets Jules Verne, and Batman solves a murder. All this, and more, in the comics cover-dated January 1972.

Superman 247: A giant cluster of yellow seed pods are hurtling through space, threatening disaster to any planet it makes contact with. Since Green Lantern rings are powerless against yellow, the Guardians of the Universe declare that this is a job for Superman. To solve this problem, Superman basically creates a planet for the pods make contact with, but due to red solar energy in the area, this really wears down Superman to the point that he blacks out. While recovering in the Power Battery on Oa, the Guardians implant in his mind that he may be holding humanity back by always saving them. Fully recovered, he heads back to Earth, where he spots a child about to be beaten. Turns out the kid refuses to work because of the poor working and living conditions provided by his employer, and the employer was about to make an example of him. Superman, angered that the rest of the workers are suddenly also really to stand up to their boss now that he is there, begins to explain that they need to take care of themselves and not rely on others to do it for them, but since it has been several pages since Superman did something super, an earthquake hits. After working to limit the earthquake, he is then kind of forced to rebuild their homes, but finishes his speech anyway. And in the backup, the first “Private Life of Clark Kent,” Clark manages to talk some gang members out of killing a police officer.

This issue reprints a Superman 2966 story from Action Comics 338 (Jun 1966).

Superboy 181: While tearing down a building in Metropolis, a large metal box is found that no one can open, so Superboy is called in to lend a hand. Inside is Jules Verne, in a time machine of his creation. Since his writings have inspired so much of more modern technology, Superboy takes him on a tour of various top secret military installations to see the latest developments. Glad to see that he has made such a contribution to the future, Verne decides its time to head home and his time machine disappears in a cloud of smoke. It is later revealed that Verne was actually a secret agent in disguise, and the US was testing Superboy due to him having such a high level clearance. They think he’s failed since he showed “Jules” all those secrets and allowed him to take pics, but various clues, such as clothing that was too modern, allowed Superboy to figure things out for himself, and he used his x-ray vision to fog the film before “Jules” tried to head home. In the backup, Lana dreams about being married to Superboy once he’s a Superman, and how she’d make him get a real job, such as a salesman. But his morals wouldn’t allow him to be a very good salesman, so she decides it might not be a good idea to marry the Teen of Steel.

This issue reprints a Legion if Superheroes story from Adventure Comics 355 (April 1967).

 

Action Comics 408: The Argo project is a series a space flights to send 1 man to the moon, rather than a team like in the Apollo missions. The current mission was returning to Earth but has just mysteriously stopped in space for no apparent reason. With only 8 hours of oxygen left, Superman is called in to save the astronaut. However, a strange mental compulsion prevents him from going out to the space capsule, or even check on it with telescopic vision. After ridicule from the public, and a second failed attempt, Superman decides to build a ship to take him to the scene. This succeeds and he learns the astronaut is caught in some sort of energy warp that is causing him to evolve rapidly, and it was his new mental powers that kept Superman from rescuing him. After the astronaut uses his new powers to clear Superman’s name, Superman makes his rescue. In the backup, taking place back in Clark’s college days, the younger Superman is exposed to some artificially created bacteria. To keep others from becoming infected, he has to wear a special suit for 24 hours, including using a rubber mask and rubber gloves to mimic his face and hands when he’s Clark.

This issue reprints an Atom story from The Atom 9 (Oct/Nov 1963).

Adventure Comics 414: A new villain calling himself Vortex uses a tornado to steal a building. Supergirl investigates and learns that he is doing this for revenge against the owner of the building. Supergirl steps in and takes down Vortex. In the 2nd Supergirl story, little Judy, the little alien girl from a few issues ago, is kidnapped, and the kidnappers also discover that Linda is Supergirl. They use Judy to blackmail Supergirl into committing crimes for them, but eventually Supergirl finds the kidnappers. But before she can confront them, they are basically killed by Judy’s grandparents who have come to retrieve their granddaughter. After a heartfelt goodbye, things go back to normal. In the backup, Zatanna and Jeff, her manager, escape from the warriors and find the dimensional portal they can use to get home. But the ensuing battle ends with Jeff being turned to stone, and the story ends with Zatanna crying in front of the portal.

This issue reprints an Animal Man story from Strange Adventures 184 (Jan 1966).

Detective Comics 419: A man is found drowned in the river, held underwater by several gold Batman statues. While the police investigate, Batman checks out the nearby Irish festival, and discovers that the murder was set up to keep Batman and the cops too busy to deal with a drug smuggling operation. In the backup, Batgirl has realized that the stepson is innocent of the stepfather’s murder due to the fact that the shooter’s glasses did not have lenses in them (therefore, they also didn’t reflect the muzzle flash that allowed Batgirl to see his face in the first place.) Batgirl helps the cops take down the real culprit, the stepfather’s bodyguard.

This issue reprints a Roy Raymond story from Detective Comics 213 (Nov 1945), and a story from Gangbusters 61 (Dec/Jan 1947).

I’m going to probably upset some people when I say that “Must There Be a Superman?” is not what I would consider a great story. It doesn’t really have any affect on future stories, and the main point of this story is rendered moot by an Earthquake (which even Superman points out). It is a good, well told story with great art, but I don’t see it as one of the best. The backup was not great either. For one thing, the ending a rushed, and rather unrealistic. Also, it wastes story space with Superman giving smoking a try (editorial mandate maybe?).

Man, the government went to a lot of work to test Superboy. Maybe it is due to my age and being jaded by knowledge of behind-the-scene politics (remember, this is pre-Watergate), but I just do not see government agents going to this much effort in real life. The Lana story was pretty pointless, although it was nice to see that the creators remember that she exists. But, like John Byrne’s take on Lois Lane, her characterization here makes me wonder why Superboy likes her.

The Action story was very frustrating. I don’t understand why Superman didn’t even attempt to tell people that he was mentally being stopped from making the rescue. I also don’t understand why it took him so long to make a second attempt. The backup was frustrating too, since Superman could have gone into the sun to burn off the bacteria, like he has done in the past and will do in the future.

The main Supergirl story was forgettable, and the backup story felt more like a “tying up of loose ends” type a story. And the kidnappers getting killed seemed a little extreme, especially since Supergirl just lets Judy’s grandparents get away with it. The Zatanna story was rather decent, and the ending was pretty shocking. Really enjoying Gray Morrow’s artwork too!

The Batman story in Detective was well crafted. Denny introduced several seemingly unrelated characters or events, and tied them all together beautifully. And while I am proud to say I figured out who the killer was as soon as he was introduced, the mystery of how and why played out really well. The Batgirl story was also good. They really had to play up Batgirl’s photographic memory for it, but it worked.

And thus ends another trip in the time bubble. Next month, thanks to issues cover dated February usually being released in December, there looks to be at least 1 Christmas story. Should be fun!

DC Comics Presents Show Episode 79: Superman and Clark Kent

This episode features me as the guest host. Regular host Russell Bragg asked for volunteers to do an episode of his show, and I jumped at the chance to dip my toe back in the podcast pool. In this episode, I go through all of the regular DC Comics Presents Show’s segments. First, I have a Comic Brag to talk about. Then you will hear a Spotlight on Superman‘s Guest, Clark Kent. Next, I cover the subject of the episode, DC Comic Presents #79. Finally, I close out the show with a trip to the Comic Spinner Rack.

I would just like to thank Russell for allowing me to do this episode. It really allowed me to flex my podcast muscles, and I enjoyed doing it. You can check out his other episode at braggaboutcomics.com

DC Comics Bronze Age Read-through Project: December 1971

Algae cleans up Metropolis, Batman and Robin fight Nazis and the Reaper, we get a new Green Lantern, Ollie considers politics, the JLA take on the youth of America, someone discovers Superman’s Fortress, Supergirl really doesn’t do much, Batman gets beat up by the Creeper, and Superboy leads a pack of wolves. These are the comics cover-dated December 1971.

Superman 246: After Superman picks up some algae from the bottom of the Marianas Trench for an anti-pollution experiment at STAR Labs, Clark returns home in time for a meeting of everyone in his building in which most of them want to get guns in response to the rise in crime. Clark voices his opposition to this idea, but it does no good. Meanwhile, the algae experiment literally goes down the drain and eventually causes trouble for the city as it considers everything to be a form of pollution. While Superman takes care of things, one of Clark’s neighbors is mistaken for a prowler and is shot, bringing an end to the gun issue. In the backup, we learn of the computer that Kryptonians used to determine if a couple could marry.

This issue reprints a story from Superman 40 (May/Jun 1946).

Batman 237: Dick Grayson and his buddies go up to Vermont for a super-hero parade and party, and see a kid dressed as Robin getting beat up. This leads Dick on the trail of the attackers, but is taken out by a man dressed as the Grim Reaper. He ends up landing face down in water, but Batman shows up in time to save his ward. He gets him to a nearby doctor, and we learn that Batman was in town because the doctor, a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, recently saw a former Nazi general who has been on the run since the end of the war. Batman manages to stop the Nazi soldiers who are after him, but fails to prevent his death. Meanwhile, Batman realizes that his doctor friend was the Reaper all along.

This issue reprints a story from Detective Comics 37 (Mar 1940) that is actually the last Solo Batman story before the introduction of Robin.

Green Lantern 87: This time out, Green Lantern and Green Arrow split off into separate features. In the GL story, Guy Gardner is seriously injured while trying to save a little girl, so the Guardians have to chose a new backup for Hal. Enter John Stewart, who, despite being an angry young man, also proves that he can handle being a Green Lantern. In the GA story, Elliot S! Maggin’s first ever story, the mayor of Star City is ready to retire, and wants Ollie Queen to be his party’s candidate for the job. After talking it over with his fellow Justice Leaguers, and watching an innocent kids killed during a riot, he decides to accept the offer and run for mayor.

This issue reprints a story from Green Lantern 16 (Oct 1962).

The Flash 211: After watching Iris getting taken out at a roller derby, Flash is called into action when Central City experiences a major earthquake. That is supposed to be geologically impossible, so Flash investigates, and discovers that the source is the roller derby. It turns out that the giant, Amazonian woman in the roller derby is actually an alien, and the roller rink actually sends energy down to earth’s core, causing quakes that will cleanse the surface of the planet so her people can invade and take over. Flash saves the day and has her arrested. In the backup, we learn about a chicken farmer who has been pumping his chickens full of chemicals to make them bigger. Unfortunately, this chemical can make the people who eat the chicken sick. When one person dies, Kid Flash helps to expose the farmer and have him arrested.

This issue reprints Jay Garrick’s final solo Golden Age appearance from Flash Comics 104 (Feb 1949).

Justice League of America 95: The transporter problem from the end of last issue appears to be related to a Zeta Beam from Rann. Superman flies off to investigate. Meanwhile, we learn of a Vietnam vet who gained a mutant power to control people with his voice. He uses that power to control the angry younger people, but he has a hard time controlling them, causing more harm than good. He realizes that the only way to stop them is for them to take him out, so he orders them to attack. He barely survives, but loses his mutant power. Next issue, Starbreaker!

This issue reprints the Doctor Mid-Nite’s first appearance in All-American Comics 25 (Apr 1941), and Doctor Fate’s first appearance in More Fun Comics 67 (May 1941).

Action Comics 407: A pilot crash lands in the arctic, just outside Superman’s Fortress. He is knocked out, but not before memorizing the coordinates. After recovering, he hires an electronics expert to help break into the fortress, and has his son kidnap a hostage to keep Superman away. The kid chooses Clark Kent, who has to figure out how to protect his Fortress, while also handling disaster alerts that come up while he’s a prisoner. The electronics experts turns out to be Luthor in disguise. He kills the pilot, but Superman stops him before he can cause any more damage. This whole situation causes the pilot’s son to decide to reform. In the backup, Superman, on his way home from a mission in another galaxy, is attacked by a small planet that wants to eat him. Fortunately, it can’t process humanoid life forms, so the locals help him escape.

This issue reprints the second half of the Flash/Atom team-up in Brave and the Bold 53 (Apr/May 1964).

Adventure Comics 412: After going a little crazy on a shopping spree, Linda has to go to the back to move some money from her savings account to he spending account, but there is a robbery in progress. She changes to Supergirl, but is unable to stop the robot from escaping. She follows it to a island compound, and meets the man in charge, who has a vendetta against humanity, and bankers in specific. There’s flashback to his son being injured and needing an expensive surgery to save his sight. He went to the bank president, but was denied a loan, so he robbed the bank, and although he had to spend 10 years in prison, his son’s vision was saved. So now he’s taking out his anger in the bankers, specifically the one who declined the loan, but after he sends explosive robots to 2 banks, he learns that his son works at one of them. Supergirl goes after one while he saves his son, but the explosives are so powerful, he is unable to get the robot far enough away without being caught in the explosion. Supergirl stops the other one off panel, and later, her news crew investigate the wreckage and find the body of the criminal. In the backup, Zatara is attacked by some demons in his study while Zatanna practices some tricks with her manager. They go up to see Zatara, and he quickly sends them to a different dimensional world. And since Zatanna isn’t as powerful as her father, she can’t get them back to Earth. As they make their way to a dimensional rift, their only way home, they are attacked by a band of barbarians and knocked out.

This issue reprints a Hawkman story from The Brave and the Bold 44 (Oct/Nov 1962), Detective Comics 178 (Dec 1951).

Detective Comics 417: The Creeper is robbing drug firms of monofragilic acid in the hopes that a scientist can cure him. In reality, the scientist plans to duplicate the serum that created the Creeper, and then kill the original. This plan backfires, and with Batman’s help, the Creeper wins. Also, the scientist manages to poison the Creeper, but it appears that rather than killing him, it turns the Creeper back into Jack Ryder. In the backup, the subject of a movie called “The Stepfather” is killed at the opening of the movie. Barbara Gordon, already in attendance, rushes off to investigate as Batgirl. A muzzle flash from the gun that killed the mobster illuminated the face of his step-son. But when Batgirl investigates, she determines that it couldn’t have been him. Meanwhile, the step-son and his “associates” are aware that she is hiding in his garage.

This issue reprints a Casebook Mystery from Gangbusters 40 (Jun/Jul 1954), and a Sierra Smith story from Dale Evans Comics 1 (Sep/Oct 1948).

Superboy 180: An alien probe lands on the moon, somehow turning Superboy into a werewolf. Meanwhile, a Warlock is in town with plans to corrupt the town’s most moral citizen, Jonathan Kent. Hjinks ensue, Superboy inadvertently works with a pack of wolves to drive out the Warlock, and they all live happily ever after, until the backup. In the backup, Clark realizes that someone is trying to kill his rich uncle. Rather than explain this to is parents, he acts completely out of character, and asks for a trial adoption with his uncle. Then he is forced to act reckless to save his uncle from various assassination attempts without revealing his secret identity, until he his sent back to Smallville, at which point Superboy is able to solve the case.

This issue reprints a Legion story from Adventure Comics 301 (Oct 1962).

This month started out strong, then went downhill pretty quickly. Superman was a great read. Len Wein was very good at writing Superman stories, and this was just part of his first stint on the title. He’s got a few more issues, and then he’ll come back in 78 or 79. This was also the introduction of STAR Labs, and the first time since I started this project that we actually got Clark’s address (not the first time ever, as is pointed out in the letters page). Batman was not only a good story, but was also part of an unofficial DC/Marvel crossover, where a few stories from both companies take place during this festival. Even the Golden Age reprint was enjoyable, which I only read because I really haven’t read any pre-Robin stories before. The GL/GA book was also pretty great. I didn’t like John Stewart much in the GL story, which means Denny did something right, and it was interesting to see Guy Gardner before he became an a—hole. Elliott S! Maggin gets his first story in the GA feature, and also appears to be possibly making a status quo change. Then again, that’s hard to tell, since there is only one more issue of new stuff before GL/GA becomes a backup feature in Flash.
Speaking of the Scarlet Speedster, this is where things started going downhill for me. While the Kid Flash story was good, the Flash taking on alien who is using a roller derby to destroy earth? Well, at least it was original, if not well executed. On the plus side, this was my first opportunity to read a Jay Garrick story from the Golden Age, so I took the opportunity, and found it to be my favorite story of the issue. And it is the introduction of Rival, who comes back in JSA, so that was a nice little bonus.
The Justice League story was super boring. Took me forever to get through it, mostly because I didn’t feel engaged. And I don’t know if it is because I’m reading it 40+ years later, but I’m really getting tired of Mike Fredrich using the book to preach about social issues rather than creating stories as a means of escape from those same social issues. It really stands out here because he focuses so much on the social issue, that the rest of the story suffers.
The stories in Action were pretty good, but the first story spends several pages changing the main point of the story from “protecting the Fortress” to “performing super rescues while protecting his secret identity.” Supergirl really didn’t do much of anything in her story, but the Zatanna story was enjoyable, with great Gray Morrow art and Len Wein scripting.
The Batman/Creeper story wasn’t bad, and was dedicated to Steve Ditko (Creeper creator), but relied on back issue notes rather than flashback for the character history. This wouldn’t have been bad except that the issues noted were from several years earlier, and may not have been easy to obtain in 1971. The Batgirl story didn’t really have much happen, and ends in a weird spot, but does manage to set up the mystery, and gives a slightly humorous nod to “The Godfather.” The Superboy stories were even more boring than the Justice League issue. Bob Haney wrote the first story, which was just weird. And the backup used a Silver Age trope that has always annoyed me. There is no reason why Clark couldn’t tell Jonathan and Martha about his plans. This would have saved them a lot of heartache thinking that their son wanted to leave them.

And that brings 1971 to a close. A very up-and-down year full of up-and-down months. I’m hoping for less “social issue” stories in 1972, and more entertaining stories. Here is what I do know is coming: Superman gets a new 2 new super-villains, one of which will return several times throughout the rest of the Bronze Age; Supergirl gets her own title, causing a temporary format change in Adventure Comics; and issues will drop down to 20¢, but that means we lose the reprints.

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: November 1971

Autumn 1971: kids return to school, football starts, baseball ends, and National Periodicals continues pumping out comics.

Batman 236: In yet another, somewhat mystical story by Frank Robbins, the ghost of the victim of an unsolved murder from the 1930s calls Batman into action. Batman manages to solve the murder and arrests both the murderer, and his accomplice. But, he refuses to believe he saw a ghost, instead crediting his sense of Justice and his imagination for urging him on. In the backup, Robin helps the commune fight the fire, then heads to town to get more help. Eventually, the National Guard is called in to snuff out the fire, leaving Robin free to go after Whalon, who he quickly takes down.

This issue reprints a story from Batman 30 (Aug/Sep 1945).

The Flash 210: Barry and Iris head to 2971 to visit her parents, and for Iris to help set up a news outlet. They are quickly met with news that John Wilkes-Booth has just killed President Lincoln, which has Flash run off to investigate. While Iris keeps an eye on things with orbiting news cameras, Flash follows the killer, saves Lincoln (who survived due to his own ingenuity), and arrests the big man behind it all. In the backup, Elongated Man is called into action to help a magician, forced to help with a robbery in order to ensure the safety of his kidnapped daughter. Also, the first Bronze Age appearance of Sue Dibny.

This issue reprints story from The Flash 111 (Feb/Mar 1960).

Justice League of America 94: The Sensei, head of the League of Assassins, sends Merlyn (archery villain) to kill one of the members of the Justice League. While Batman, Green Arrow, and Aquaman dodge one assassin, Merlyn takes out Superman and Atom. We eventually learn that Batman is the target, and he ends up being the one in the least amount of danger of dying. Also, Deadman had taken over Aquaman to help, but didn’t really do much. And while The Sensei vows to kill Batman, some of the other Leaguers apparently teleport up to the satellite, but never arrive.

This issue reprints the first Sandman tale from Adventure Comics (Jul 1939), and the first Starman tale from Adventure Comics 61 (Apr 1941).

Superman 244: A being of electrical energy, that also puts off a purple aura of quark energy, attacks Metropolis, and it is strong enough to knock Superman around. After several tussles, involving Superman saving the WGBS building, a transmission station, and a nuclear reactor, Superman realizes it is somehow tied to WGBS’ news super-computer network. When he gets to the main hub, he’s able to shut down the system, and stop the “Electronic Ghost.”

This issue reprints the debut of Superman 2965 from Superman 181 (Nov 1965), and a Captain Comet story from Strange Adventures 34 (Jul 1953).

Superboy 179: Superboy comes to in Lincoln City, which has been destroyed. The survivors blame him for the destruction, and melt whenever he gets near them. He doesn’t remember anything that happened, but quickly learns that Luthor is behind it all. Then, another Superboy shows up to confront Luthor, and we learn that this is the real Superboy and that the teen we’ve been following, and the survivors, were all advanced androids built by Luthor. The Android Superboy sacrifices himself to save the real steel deal, and Luthor goes back to juvie. In the backup, Superboy saves a “city” of outcasts from being driven out, and their homes destroyed.

This issue reprints a tale from Superboy 92 (Oct 1961).

Action Comics 406: Clark is sent to do a story on a commune, and ends up meeting its leader, a bearded man with amazing abilities. Eventually, he learns that this man is actually a Kandorian, who is sent back to the bottle city after he’s exposed. In the backup, we have a man who used alchemy to become immortal back in 1665, but this also caused anyone around him to get sick. He spent over 300 years locked alone in the Tower of London, and Superman inadvertently helps him finally die.

This issue reprints the first half of a Flash/Atom team-up in Brave and the Bold 53 (Apr/May 1964).

Adventure Comics 412: After investigating a fake Supergirl who has been committing crimes, the real Supergirl (wearing a new costume without any explanation) ends up going to another planet to help a young couple (the current rulers) stay in power when they are challenged by an evil would-be dictator.

This issue reprints the first appearances Animal Man in Strange Adventures 180 (Sep 1965).

Detective Comics 417: Jan Paxton is a reporter who writes about people by living their lives for a night. He’s been a wrestler, the Gotham City Police Commissioner, and now he wants to be Batman. Even though Batman finds valid reasons to not allow it (too emotional, and threatens a guy with a gun), he allows the reporter to go out in costume. But it isn’t until his sister is killed in a robbery that Paxton learns what really drives Batman. In the backup, Batgirl manages to save her father, but accidentally calls him “Dad” in the process. She then pretends to be the fake Batgirl to learn who the real cop-killer is, and Gordon shows up to make the arrest. The story ends with Gordon wondering if Babs will ever tell him that she is Batgirl.

This issue reprints an Alfred story from Batman 31 (Oct/Nov 1945), and a story from Gangbusters 49 (Dec/Jan 1956).

This was a strange month. Once again I am reminded how Frank Robbins’ Batman seems very much like the Silver Age Batman in slightly darker, less jovial, stories. His story in Batman was alright, but the Batman story in Detective was seriously messed up. Batman only tested Paxton’s fighting prowess, and still found a good reason to not let him go out as Batman, but still allowed him to anyway. Then Mason picks up a gun, giving Batman another very good reason to shut him down, but he still allows him a second night as Batman. Not a fan of this story at all. The 3-part Robin story ended pretty satisfactorily, as did the 2-part Batgirl story, although Don Heck’s art in the latter one really took a step back from last month.

The Flash story was weird, and I felt like I was missing something. We’ve only seen Barry and/or Iris venture to the future twice to see her family, but here they are well known. Flash is well known enough that they know his powers, and that he’s married to Iris. The only thing I can figure is that this was Cary Bates’ first time with a Flash story in the future, so maybe he was confused. Also, the gimmick to have Lincoln in the future makes me think the cover came first, and Bates wrote a story to fit the cover. The Elongated Man story was good, and it was nice to finally see Sue this time.

The JLA story was pretty good, but I really cannot wait for Joe Giella to leave for other assignments. His ink work is really holding the artwork back in the Silver Age while to stories are trying to move forward. This issue emphasizes it thanks to a few pages of Neal Adams art, and the use of the League of Assassins in the story. Also, the cliffhanger kind of has me confused because it looked like the JLAers down on Earth couldn’t use the transporter, but when Superman flies up to check on things in the satellite, Black Canary acts like they did use it, but never arrived. Hopefully this will be explained next issue, but i won’t hold my breath. On the other hand, while I am kind of enjoying the way the stories keep flowing from issue to issues, I’m sure it creates a huge headache for those to worry about chronological continuity.

Denny O’Neil is still writing Superman, although it seemed like the difficulties he said he had while trying to write Superman stories were coming through a bit here. I liked the story, but it felt a bit padded. Then again, there are no ongoing subplots, or new concepts to introduce, so there was less stuff to fill the pages with. I am still amazed at how quickly Clark has gone from newspaper reporter, to TV field reporter, to news anchorman. It’s been less than a year in real time since Superman 233, so it has probably been even less time in-continuity. Also, it appears that Lois has also started doing some WGBS work as well. The Action stories were not as good. Actually, the backup was okay, but the lead story was not great, and at one point Superman acts way out of character when the Kandorians ask for help to repair their census machine. I don’t really have any complaints about the art, although there were a few instances of Superman striking some weird poses during take-offs and landings.

Superboy has been disappointing, especially since Leo Dorfman took over as writer. The main story sounds a lot more interesting in concept than it is in execution, and the backup ended too abruptly and neatly. The Supergirl story wasn’t bad, but it would have been nice to acknowledge that she’s wearing a different costume than she was wearing the last 2 issues. And considering how close that costume was to the costume she will be wearing for most of the Bronze Age, this change was surprising.

Overall, this was an okay month. Not terrible, but nothing great. Next month is the last month with a 1971 cover date. Hopefully it ushers ‘71 out with a bang.