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.

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: October 1971

Another lighter month (lighter based on the number of books, not subject matter), and, unfortunately, quite a step down from last months offerings.

Superman 243: Returning to Earth from a mission in deep space, Superman is drawn back in time to an alien world where he’s basically forced to help a couple reconnect. The aliens have evolved to Super-intelligent brains, but the female wants a body again. In the back up, we learn the origins of the mysterious green mists that make up the Trails of Trolius.

This issue reprints the infamous “Battle of the Atoms” story from Superman 38 (Jan/Feb 1946).

Superboy 178: Superboy’s career is in jeopardy when he keeps transforming into giant animals and causing destruction during super-rescues. It turns out to be a movie producer using red Kryptonite on Superboy to make a monster movie. More on this below. In the backup, Superbaby meets a young boy named Gary, who just so happens to be a witch. They bond quickly thanks to both having special powers, and inadvertently help the police capture 2 escaped cons.

This issue reprints a Legion story from Adventure Comics 320 (May 1964).

Action Comics 405: In an imaginary story that takes place in the near future, Superman is called when the President of the United States receives a death threat from someone calling himself Maserpun. By trading places with the President, Superman is able thwart the assassination, but is unable to learn who was behind it all. In the backup, a bug is planted on Clark, who eventually has to go into action as Superman to prevent a ship from an anti-matter universe from making contact with anything in our universe. Fortunately, the bug only picks up audio, and the anti-matter aliens spoke to Superman telepathically, so, once Clark learns of the bug, he’s able to pass it off as watching a video of Superman doing super-feats.

This issue reprints Vigilante tale from Action Comics 192 (May 1954), and an Aquaman tale from Adventure Comics 206 (Nov 1954).

Detective Comics 416: While working to destroy everything associated with his Man-Bat formula in his museum lab, a combination of a new sonic-bone scrubber and a full moon, cause Kirk Langstrom to once again transform into Man-Bat. Fortunately, Batman is eventually able to get him to take a stronger version of the antidote, and he reverts back to human form. In the backup, Commissioner Gordon is looking for a cop killer, but a fake Batgirl appears to be leading him to the wrong guy. Meanwhile, the real Batgirl is trying to prevent her father from making a terrible mistake.

This issue reprints a Rex the Wonder Dog tale from Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog 3 (May/Jun 1952), and a Casebook Mystery from Gang Busters 30 (Oct/Nov 1952).

Adventure Comics 411: An alien comes to San Francisco, and we get a story about the social issue of judging someone based on their looks. Oh, and we also get men telling a Super-powered, Kryptonian woman how much better they are than her due to their manliness. Sigh!

This issue reprints a Legion of Superheroes story from Adventure Comics 337 (Oct 1965), and a non-superhero tale from Star Spangled War Stories 18 (Feb 1954).

Green Lantern 86: This is the story I️ thought we’d get last month, but Green Lantern isn’t a monthly title yet, so we skipped last month. Anyway, after Ollie puts on his Green Arrow costume and slaps Roy around a bit, he heads out to stop the dealers and supplier from last issue. Green Lantern eventually helps Ollie, while Roy goes through withdrawals with only Dinah to comfort him. In the end, the heroes win, Roy has kicked his habit and heads off take down more of this drug organization. I️ should also point out that this issue also shows one of Roy’s junkie friends shoot up, overdose, and die in a span of 2 pages.

This issue reprints a Golden Age Green Lantern story from All-American Comics 92 (Dec 1947).

Like I️ said above, this month just did not measure up to last month. The Superman issue was okay, but nothing great. The Superboy story should not have worked because of the established properties of Red Kryptonite (unpredictable, only affects a kryptonian once, etc), but Leo Dorfman has made similar mistakes before (lead blocking super-hearing for one). These Superbaby stories are kind of predictable at this point. Clark uses his powers when he shouldn’t, and inadvertently stops some bad guys without anyone realizing it was him.
Action was pretty good this month though. The main story was imaginary (aren’t they all?), and involved Superman being driven crazy, but the mystery behind it, and the tension it created, had be glued to this story. The backup did not have a great premise, but executed it well.
I’m currently at a point in my life where I️ kinda like Frank Robbins art (I️ used to really dislike it), and his women look especially good, but with this issue, it becomes apparent that it was Neal Adams’ art that made the previous Man-Bat stories enjoyable for me. As for the Batgirl backup, the tension of the story really grabbed me. Something tells me that Gordon will somehow see through the ruse, but Batgirl running into trouble while trying to help her father was fun (if you aren’t Batgirl).
Supergirl’s story started off somewhat interesting, and then plummeted into bad pretty quickly. Just a pointless, depressing story. the GL/GA story was also devoid of happiness, other than Roy being able to kick his drug addiction. Watching the one kid OD was quite an experience, and O’Neil actually made a pretty good argument for why people turn to drugs. It was kinda of nice to see Ollie not have all the answers for once.

Here’s hoping that November of 1971 is more consistently enjoyable.

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: September 1971

Another month o’ fun from the folks at National Publications!

Wonder Woman 196: Diana spends most of the issue protecting an ambassador from assassination attempts, then has to take him down when it is revealed that he is an assassin in disguise (the real ambassador has already been killed) with plans to assassinate the President.

This issue reprints Wonder Woman’s first appearance in All-Star Comics 8 (Dec/Jan 1941), and an completed but unpublished story from the Golden Age.

Superboy 177: Superboy has the Kents jailed when they are threatened by a villain named Cerebron, who is actually Luthor is disguise. In the back up, After helping Lana and Professor Lang out of a cave in, he helps them with their archeological discovery (the remains and accessories of an ancient Egyptian wizard). After Superboy opens a sarcophagus and unleashes the “Curse of a Thousand Deaths,” which pretty much kills everyone in Smallville in less than an hour, he uses another one of the wizard’s magical objects to turn back time an hour (not travel back in time, but actually turn back time), and opens the sarcophagus in space where no one can be hurt.

This issue reprints a Legion story from Adventure Comics 320 (May 1964).

Superman 242: After a powerless Superman has surgery to repair his brain damage, he and the Sand-Superman work together to stop the Quarrmer inhabiting the Chinese warrior statue. They are then show a vision of what could happen if the 2 Supermen fought, which causes the Sand-Superman to renounce his powers and head back to Quarrm. As for Superman he’s seen what can happen if you have too much power, and decides to remain at roughly half power. This does last beyond the final page of this story.

This issue reprints Superman tale from Superman 96 (Mar 1955), and a non-superhero take from Strange Adventure 54 (Mar 1955).

The Flash 209: After Flash “dies” battling Captain Boomerang and The Trickster, Gorilla Grodd threatens to end them as well. Meanwhile, Flash’s soul is actually in the unknown area between life and death and traveling at the speed of life (not a typo). He’s been pulled there by The Sentinel to defeat The Devourer, which he manages to do. He then returns to the normal world, and makes short work of Grodd and the other 2 villains. In the backup, Wally’s ring is accidentally switched with the ring of the smartest kid in school, who just so happens to be planning to use the knockout gas in his ring to take down a mob boss and his crew. Unfortunately, when he goes to release the gas, the Kid-Flash costume comes out instead. Fortunately, the mis-coloring of the costume causes enough confusion for Kid-Flash to take them all out at Super-speed, wearing a similarly mis-colored backup costume.

This issue reprints a Flash tale, co-starring Elongated Man, from The Flash 119 (Mar 1961)

Justice League of America 92: After basically getting their rear ends handed to them by Solomon Grundy, the JLA and JSA retreat to regroup. Meanwhile, the alien and his pet are getting closer to death, while elsewhere the Robins complain to each other about how the older heroes treat them, and decide to show them what they can do. The heroes converge on the dying alien, and the Robins are able to get Alan Scott’s GL ring from him. While the Earth-1 Hawkman returns it to its owner, the Robins realize that the alien is dying and suggest bringing the alien pet over to Earth-2 to see what happens if they are together. While the two GLs work together to stop Grundy and keep him trapped in Slaughter Swamp, the alien and his pet are reunited, restoring both to full health. Their rejuvenated life energies allow the alien’s buddies to track him and his pet down, and they are able to retrieve them and head home.

This issue reprints a story of Barry Allen as a one-man JLA in The Flash 158 (Feb 1966), and a villain becoming, basically, and one-man Injustice League long before that was actually a thing in Mystery in Space 29 (Dec/Jan 1956).

Batman 235: One of Ra’s Al Ghul’s scientists has developed a special compound, but it turns out that prolonged exposure to the air turns it into a deadly plague. The scientist is on the run from Ra’s, Talia is after the scientist because she thinks he’s killed Ra’s, and Batman has been brought in by Ra’s to stop them both. In the backup, Robin joins the commune, earning their trust, and convincing them to allow him to take the cop-shooter into custody. The criminal runs off however, and starts a brushfire in the surrounding woods.

This issue reprints a double-sized Batman & Robin story from Detective Comics 329 (Jul 1964).

Action Comics 404: Clark is assigned to do a story on a local science institute, but an Earthquake while en route is a job for Superman. While making sure everyone and the institute is okay, Superman is introduced to their super-smart genius who is also one of Superman’s biggest fans. The genius tricks Superman into a device to siphon Superman’s powers into his body so he can rule the world. Superman’s powers are too much for a human body to handle, and not only are Superman’s powers returned to him, but the process also leaves the genius as a vegetable. In the backup, back in his Metropolis University Days, we learn how Clark showed a fraternity how dangerous hazing can be.

This issue reprints an Atom take from The Atom 5 (Feb/Mar 1963), and an Aquaman tale from Adventure Comics 220 (Jan 1956).

Adventure Comics 410: while apartment hunting, Supergirl has to save a man named Mike from bird people. Later, while Linda is on a date with Mike, the bird people return, taking them to their native island. The bird people were natives that were experimented on by Mike and the scientist he was assisting. They also stole a gem from the natives, but the scientist died in the process. Mike helps Linda escape, she changes to Supergirl to save him, but her powers fade out and she is knocked out, so he has to save her. While she’s out, he reveals that he still has the gem, and knows that Linda and Supergirl are one, and he runs off. In the backup, Supergirl is look for Mike and has to stop a giant gorilla from a nearby circus. Supergirl meets and befriends an alien girl with powers, but it turns out she has been sent to kill the Girl of Steel. However, due to Supergirl’s kindness, the girl refuses, and has her powers taken away. Meanwhile, her boss was watching too closely in his ship, and gets blown out of the sky by the military.

This issue reprints a Legion take from Adventure Comics 326 (Nov 1964).

Detective Comics 415: Batman prevents an assassination, and while investigating ends up uncovering an extortion racket as well. In the backup, while Batgirl follows the physical evidence from last issues assassination attempt, Jason Bard focuses on the killer’s voice, and both end up confronting the killer together.

This issue reprints a tale starring Mysto: Magician Detective from Detective Comics 211 (Sep 1954), and a story from Gangbusters 54 (Oct/Nov 1956).

This was one of the best months so far in my opinion. This is Mike Sekowsky’s last issue as editor on Wonder Woman, and he only writes one more, but the book has been going in the right direction lately by allowing her to actually be the hero in her own book. Hopefully this continues with the new creators coming in. Superboy was okay but not great. At least he learned a lesson in carelessness in the 2nd story. I liked the Superman story, although it did seem a bit rushed. It was nice to see the rogues return to the pages of The Flash, and I found Cary Bates’ first Flash story to be quite refreshing. The Kid Flash story was pretty good too, although, as I mentioned above, his costume is miscolored throughout the entire story, giving him yellow pants and red boots rather than red pants and yellow boots. Still not a fan of the JLA story, so I’m glad it is finally over, but it does leave us with an interesting cliffhanger for next issue. Denny O’Neil’s Batman story shows he really likes Ra’s Al Ghul, as these stories have been the best ones he has written. However, I hope we get a short break so there is no risk of over-exposure. The Robin story was better than I had feared. The commune members were trusting of Robin, and came around to allowing the arrest fairly quickly. Interesting that Superman’s powers would be siphoned away in Action the same month he gave away half his power in Superman. Either way, he’ll be back to 100% next month. I’ve decided to add Adventure Comics now that Mike Sekowsky is not on Supergirl anymore (not a fan of his work on the title), and found it to be somewhat enjoyable. I hope this temporary power loss thing goes away pretty quickly though. I did like how the backup picked up where the main story ended though. Frank Robbins’ Batman story in Detective was good, but he writes a very different Batman than O’Neil. This was one of his best stories though, and could easily have been adapted to the Animated Series. The Batgirl story was fun, in that it shows her and Jason solving the same case 2 different ways.

Here’s hoping next month is good too!

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: August 1971

This month, DC raised the cover prices to 25¢. To lessen the blow, extra pages were added, but those extra pages were pretty much just reprinted material dubbed Demand Classics. As such, I’m going to change up the format of these posts a bit so I can note what happened in each issue as clearly as possible.

The Flash 208: In the main story, Flash secretly (i.e. he vibrates at super-speed to appear invisible) helps out some kids who not only want to get out of the gang they are in, but return the stolen goods they obtained in order to be in the gang. Not sure why Flash had to do this secretly other than so that it can appear to be a miracle in order to satisfy the cover image. In the backup tale, Elongated Man visits a town founded 50 years ago by a relative to Lewis Carroll. To celebrate, the town his having a festival and parade with an Alice in Wonderland theme, and Elongated Man has to stop the theft of a First Edition printing of the story.

This issue’s reprint is a double-length Flash tale from The Flash 149 (Dec 1964), co-starring Kid Flash.

JLA 91: While flying around in that “blind-spot” area of space that connects nowhere and somewhere, an alien and his pet are thrown from their spaceship. The alien ends up on Earth-2, and the pet on Earth-1. Being apart, plus the Earths’ environments, make these beings incredibly powerful and angry. While Black Canary watches over an injured Flash, the JLA and JSA team up to stop the aliens, discovering that their language can not be translated by GL’s Power Ring. As it turns out, the heroes are not strong enough to stop them, and they end up chasing the aliens into Slaughter Swamp, where they run into Solomon Grundy.

This issue reprints a Knights of the Galaxy Story from Mystery in Space 6 (Feb-Mar 1952), and an Hourman story from Spectre 7 (Nov-Dec 1968)

Batman 234: When a pair of of clowns steal a balloon from the Gotham Merchants Parade, Commissioner Gordon calls in Batman to help with the case. The Dark Knight quickly figures out that Two-Face, who escaped a few months ago, has returned. Harvey’s main goal this time around is to obtain a treasure hidden on an old schooner docked in Gotham. After stealing the treasure, and knocking out Batman, Two-Face is about to escape and sink the boat, except his coin tells him he needs to save an innocent who happened to also be stuck on the boat. This gives Batman time to recover, take out Two-Face, save the innocent, and escape the sinking ship. In the backup, Robin’s search for the shooter of a police officer leads him to a commune. Robin figures out who in the commune shot the cop, but the rest of the commune don’t plan on allowing the Teen Wonder to take the shooter to jail.

This issue reprints a double-length Batman and Robin tale from Detective Comics 335 (Jan 1965).

Superman 241: Picking up right where the last issue left off, I-Ching uses his mystical abilities to separate Superman’s psyche from his body, and sends it out to recover Superman’s powers. It finds the Sand-Creature and absorbs his powers, leaving the creature weak and scratching open a hole in reality. Meanwhile, Superman’s psyche returns to Superman, restoring his powers. Soon, however, it is obvious that something is wrong with Superman as he starts acting out of character and making mistakes, thanks to the brain damage he suffered when he was hit in the head last issue. Consulting with Wonder Woman, I-Ching tries talking to Superman, but he thinks the old man is just jealous. Once again using his mystical abilities, I-Ching and Wonder Woman track down the Sand Creature, learning that he is a formless being from Quarrm. As they go off to try to steal away Superman’s powers again, another Quarrmer escapes from the hole in reality. After tricking Superman into an encounter, the Sand Superman sticks close to the Man of Steel, slowly draining his powers, just as the other Quarrmer attacks, having taken the form of an ancient Chinese warrior. At this point, Superman loses all of his powers, and consciousness, and the warrior drags his body toward the city.

This issue reprints stories from Superman 112 (Mar 1957), and Superman 176 (Apr 1965)

Green Lantern 85: After Green Arrow is mugged by a group of addicts needing money for another hit, he calls in Green Lantern to give him an assist. They quickly find the muggers, and find Roy (Speedy) Harper with them. Thinking he is undercover, they leave him behind while the muggers take them to their supplier at a private airfield. But the muggers double-cross the heroes, knocking them out. In order to discredit the heroes, the supplier and his men basically force the unconscious heroes to inhale some of their product. Fortunately, Roy is there to delay the police until he can save the heroes. After GL creates a horrific monster with his ring, he is basically scared into using all his will power to fight off the drug enough to fly him, GA, and Roy to safety. As the heroes comes down from their high, they decided to get some rest, so GL heads home. GA sees him off, and then returns to see if Roy wants to of his famous chili, and ends up catching his former sidekick shooting up.

This issue reprints a double-length tale from Green Lantern 11 (Mar 1962)

Action Comics 403: When a criminal is fatally wounded trying to escape from Superman, he claims that he is a Zohtt, and will have his revenge.

The next day, Superman is called to the year 3458, where he is exposed to a micro-virus created by the now-dead woman the Zohtt was inhabiting. Now that the Zohtt has inhabited the virus, it is affecting Superman, leaving him with 48 hours to live. After thwarting all of his attempts to remove the virus, Superman is left with no choice but to fly off to die in peace. Once Superman’s heart stops, the Zohtt leaves Superman’s body and learns that Superman is on an asteroid, with no one else around to inhabit. Fearing death, it goes back to Superman’s heart to try reviving him, but actually ends up in the “heart” of a robot. The real Superman recovered from the virus now that the Zohtt isn’t inhabiting it, and then switched places with a robot while the Zohtt was distracted. Now inhabiting a fake heart that contains sulfur (the Zohtt’s weakness), the Zohtt is trapped, and Superman heads home. The backup story flashes back to Clark’s college days, where a professor tries taking advantage of a janitor with the power of Skrying (which may be misspelled in the story). Eventually this backfires on the professor who ends up getting himself killed in an explosion that not only removes the janitor’s ability, but causes him some brain damage as well.

This issue reprints a Vigilante story from Action Comics 176 (Jan 1953), and a Superboy story from Adventure Comics 310 (Jul 1963).

Detective Comics 414: According to legend, the keeper of the Keymoore Lighthouse was too busy getting lucky with a lady to turn on the light, causing a ship to crash into the rocks. The keeper was so upset by this that he killed the woman, and now haunts the lighthouse waiting for a chance at redemption. In the present, Batman has traced a group of gunrunners from Gotham to Florida. He takes down the muscle, but the lady of the group offers to take him to where they were going to make the drop, the Keymoore Lighthouse. There, they meet up with a South American General and his soldiers, who were actually planning to take the guns and kill the gunrunners. Batman takes down the soldiers, but the General escapes. However, the girl, even though she’s been shot, manages to damage the boat enough for Batman to catch up. Unfortunately, the storm rolling in causes the boat to lurch, knocking Batman into a railing, leaving him open to an attack by the General. But, a blinding light from the lighthouse sets the General on fire, and he becomes so scared that he jumps in the water and attempts to swim away. However, the storm has cause the water to be a very dangerous place, and the General is crushed by the pounding waves. Our story ends with Batman heading up to the light tower to find that no one has been up there for years, and he thanks the ghost of the lighthouse keeper, who, according to the caption, is now at peace. In the backup, Barbara Gordon and Jason Bard go to see a play, and end up foiling an assassination attempt during the show. With only minimal clues, Barbara runs off to follow a hunch.

This issue reprints 2 non-superhero related detective stories: one from World’s Finest 66 (Sep-Oct 1953), and one from Strange Adventures 83 (Aug 1957).

Review: This was not the best of months. The Flash story was weird, mostly due to the fact that Flash stayed invisible the whole time for no reason. The Elongated Man story was fun and enjoyable, and had some beautiful Dick Giordano art. The JLA/JSA story was just “meh.” This is the 2nd JLA/JSA crossover during this read-through, and so far I am underwhelmed. The Two-Face story in Batman was disappointing. This was O’Neil and Adams bringing back one Batman’s oldest villains. I was expecting some kind of psychological drama, and instead I read a very straightforward, cookie-cutter story. If you are interested in a more of a psychological drama, check out the stories in Batman Adventures, Batman & Robin Adventures, or Batman: Gotham Adventures. They are great. Anyway, the Robin backup story was just kind of boring.

The Superman story was enjoyable, and it feels like we’re ramping up towards a big conclusion, but I may feel this way because I’ve read it before and know what to expect. I will complain that O’Neil keeps hopping between Metropolis and New York like they are the same city. He does better with the GL/GA story, which was pretty good, but could not live up to all the hype that has been built around it after more than 45 years. Interesting that while they were allowed to show drugs and paraphernalia, they couldn’t use any drug names. Also, while being shown as a bad thing for the whole issue, the dope that GL and GA were forced to inhale seems to have fixed Ollie’s arm, which was injured during his mugging and apparently no longer needed to be wrapped and in a sling after the heroes came down from their high.

The story in Action was entertaining, but after reading Superman, and then the GL/GA story, Action seems to still be stuck in the late Silver Age, although they did show a guy dying in a helicopter crash. Same thing with the backup. I look forward to this book catching up with the others. The Batman story in Detective was a good, solid story, typical of most of the stories from this period, even if it was another story with a mystical element. The Batgirl story didn’t have much to it. It was basically all one scene. I’m guessing this will be a 3-parter like the Robin story, but I’m not looking ahead to find out.

My favorite this month would probably be the Superman story, and I only pick that over the drug issue because the Superman story was allowed to be fun due to the subject matter.

Next month, the big Superman story concludes with a final showdown between Superman and the Sand Creature. Also, unless it is delayed due to Adams’ inability to do a monthly book for very long, we get GA angry at Roy and slapping him around a bit, and then Roy going through withdrawals.

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: July 1971

Another mostly magically, mystical month in the DCU. After being stuck in a snow storm, Diana and I-Ching, along with some escaped convicts, take shelter in a mysterious inn. Meanwhile, Superman, who just isn’t as affective with the lower power levels, accepts an offer of help from I-Ching, who offers to uses the mystic arts to try to heal him. In the process, he receives a blow to the head which will have repercussions fairly soon.
Superboy technically gets a new sister when Martha’s childhood friend dies in a car crash, leaving her daughter in the Kents’ care until her father can return from out of the country to get her. Shenanigans ensue. Meanwhile, the Legion try to figure out how to stop a criminal with the same powers as Invisible Kid. In Action, Superman figures out the secret to the “Indian magic” that is removing his powers, and discovers the real reason why Haldine refuses to stop construction on the sacred land. In the backup, Superman and Supergirl hate each other and use their powers to fight over possession of the Fortress of Solitude. Over in Detective, Batman solves the mystery behind the “haunted” town of Phantom Hollow while also dealing with the social issue of tolerance. And Batgirl closes the case of the skull crushing wigs.

The Wonder Woman story was actually pretty good, although being stuck in a snow storm in an issue published in late spring/early summer is ironic. Also, I got a chuckle over the novelist trying to impress and “protect” Diana, and she hardly seemed to notice him. Denny O’Neil’s year-long Superman story begins it’s final phase with this issue, beginning the setup for the finale. Interestingly, this is the only non-team up book to acknowledge the Wonder Woman is still part of the DCU. The Superboy story was interesting, although the title is misleading. I thought the Kents were going to adopt another kid or something, not basically play babysitter. The Legion story was cliché, and I’m not a fan of the George Tuska art, but Invisible Kid trying to figure out how to defeat himself was somewhat interesting.

So, the mysterious “Indian magic” at the end of last month’s Action story was not magic at all, but the explanation of it makes sense. The plot twist with Haldine, however, came right out of nowhere. And, I highly doubt the government would give back land with all the treasure under it, I’m sorry to say. The backup was pretty good though, as both characters realize that they used to like each other and don’t understand the reason for their hate. The only problem is that Superman performs 2 super-feats off panel that should be pretty impossible given the setup. Guess that’s how you write yourself out of a corner. The Detective issue was just bleh all around. The Batman story was boring and the Batgirl story didn’t really hold my interest. Also, Don Heck is inking his own pencils on the Batgirl story, so the are there has taken a dip as well.

Another short but interesting month. Nothing really spectacular, but almost no real complaints either. On to August…

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: June 1971

This month, Superboy’s soul is separated from his body, leaving his body useless and his soul stuck being a child’s genie. In JLA, we learn about the dangers of dumping our trash in the oceans in a story that is in no way subtle about it’s preaching. Meanwhile Flash is missing, and when Batman finds him, it looks like he’s been through the ringer, which apparently sets up next month’s JLA/JSA team up. In an unrelated story in The Flash, Sargon the Sorcerer (Golden Age hero turned Silver/Bronze Age villain) uses his limited magical abilities to force Flash to retrieve his magic ruby, which will fully restore is powers. He succeeds, but ends up sacrificing his relationship with his niece in the process. Also, Kid Flash helps out a speedster who is actually of a species that lives beneath the earth’s surface.  In Superman, our hero deal with a terrorist threatening to destroy the earth with a hydrogen bomb, while also dealing with vastly reduced powers. Also, we learn home Krypton got it’s name. In Batman, The Dark Knight meets Ra’s Al Ghul, and they travel around the globe to save Robin and Talia, who have been kidnapped. In GL/GA, our heroes have to contend with an entire town that is being mind controlled by one of Green Lantern’s super villains. In Action, Superman secretly helps a Native American tribe get rid of a government missile testing facility built on their sacred land, but when it doesn’t work out quite right, Superman is seen as a villain, and taken hostage after they use magic to remove his powers. In the backup, the town of Masonville is evacuated when Superman accidentally triggers an unstable meteor that has crash landed and could blow up the entire town if he moves. Everyone escapes except for a crippled orphan who is willing to sacrifice himself (see, the longer Superman waits to detonate the explosive, the bigger the boom will be). Can Superman save the kid without breaking his code against killing? In Detective, Bruce Wayne’s uncle is near death, and has requested the presence of all remaining Waynes for the reading of the will once he passes. But the castle he lives in is haunted, and Batman must save his relatives from an untimely demise. Also, Batgirl has to figure out the mystery of wigs that will crush your skull in.

A lot of mystical stories this month. It is kind of fitting for when I’m reading these books (October 2017), but not really for when the issues came out (release dates: April/May 1971). Superboy kind of tries to get around it thanks to using science to enhance the mysticism. The JLA issue could not have been more preachy if it was a special one-shot created in collaboration with some anti-pollution group to help spread their message (like DC did with the government for Kennedy’s exercise programs, Nancy Reagan’s War on Drugs, etc). Also, since when does Bruce still have living relatives? How did he not get shipped off to one of them when his parents died?

It was interesting to see Neal Adams’ work inked by Bernie Wrightson in GL/GA. Unfortunately, the quality varied from looking great to looking sketchy. I wonder if this had anything to do with Adams’ being notoriously slow and Wrightson having to deal with deadline pressures. It never really looks bad, just inconsistant.

My favorite stories were the Superman and Batman stories by O’Neil. The only gripe is the way he has the heroes treat their (for lack of a better word) sidekicks. Batman refers to Robin as “kid” and his dialog with Robin reads as less than someone concerned about his ward. Superman seems kind of nasty to Lois, but without any scenes of them being nice to each other to balance it out. As much as John Byrne is criticized for writing a Lois that Superman shouldn’t be in love with, O’Neil writes a Superman that Lois shouldn’t be in love with.

And poor Batgirl. The last 2 issues have had her in the dark world of fashion, and now she’s in the world of those who wear wigs, which apparently was a big thing in 1971. I don’t know, because that was 9 years before I was born. Is there nothing else for female characters to deal with besides these crimes? She lives in Gotham City for crying out loud.

Next month, a combination of reprint only issues and this being an odd month mean that there won’t be as many issues to read. But I can already see, just be looking at the covers, that we’re getting more mystical horror again. Sigh!

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: May 1971

This month, Wonder Woman basically adapts “The Prince and the Pauper” except with a princess so that Diana can be the shlub. The irony is that she is actually a princess herself, so this is actually “The Princess and the other Princess,” but this fact is never actually brought up. Over in The Flash, 2 different people live through accidents that end up killing their loved ones, so some aliens offer to bring them back, but only if they trade their lives for their loved ones’. They agree, and are given 24 hours to put things in order, which also gives them 24 hours of immortality. They use their time to help people, so The Flash steps in to prevent the aliens from claiming any of the lives by showing the full potental of the human race. Along the way, he tackles the social issue of forest fires. Meanwhile, Elongated Man returns to take on Mirror Master. Justice League of America introduces a character named Harlequin Ellis (can you guess who he’s based on?) who can create entire dream worlds with his writing. He uses this ability to try to win the love of Black Canary, but it doesn’t work out for him. In Batman, the Caped Crusader once again clashes with the Man With Ten Eyes, while Robin solves the mystery from last issue and Dick goes on a date. Over in Superman, the Man of Steel winds up as the carrier of a space virus, and the only cure he can find is contact with the Sand Creature. However, this severly reduces his powers, and he still has to save Lois and a pilot from a swarm of army ants. In Action, Superman is given custody of the son of a Nobel Prize winner when the prize winner dies, but the kid hates Superman. See, when Superman saved the kid from one of his father’s experiments that had gone out of control, he was exposed to some strange gases that left him with the ability to temporarly transform into other living creatures. Superman offers to help him learn his powers, and calls him in to help on several emergencies, giving him the codename Changeling (sounds familiar…). Eventually, this leads to Superman taking the kid to see the Fortress, where the kid accidentally activates the disassemble feature on a satellite in space. While Superman’s dealing with that, a report comes in of a trapped sub that needs super-help. The kids uses his powers to become Superman, but his transformation time runs out before he completely finishes the rescue, allowing the water pressure to crush him, and Superman returns in time to finish the rescue and watch the kid turn to dust as he dies. This is followed by a story that takes place in the Bottle City of Kandor, but was so boring I couldn’t finish it. Over in Detective, Batman enters the Den of Death Dealers, meets Talia Al Ghul (who removes his cowl, but only vaguely reconizes his face), and finally comes face to face with Doctor Daark, who is killed when a shot from Talia causes him to fall onto train tracks right in front of an oncoming train. Finally, Batgirl manages to survive her death trap from last issue, and then is released by one of the fashion guys who believes that murder is going too far. She then follows the his “friends” to the cruise ship of the injured fashion guru, arriving just in time to prevent her death. The story ends with the guru not making a decision about skirt length, but instead designing an incredibly ugly outfit based on Batgirl’s costume.

Okay, first off, I just want to say that the back-up stories this month were entirely forgetable. The Robin and Batgirl stories are hampered by the fact that all of them have been 2-parters so you are literally only getting half of a story, and aren’t memorable enough to recall what had happened the previous issue. I liked the Elongated Man story when I read it, but I almost forgot to include it with the Flash summary. And don’t even get me started on the Kandor story. Ugh!

As for the main stories: After taking 1 step forward last issue, I feel like Wonder Woman took a half step back by adapting a rather famous story. The art wasn’t terrible though. Thank goodness for Dick Giordano’s inking! The Flash was a good sci-fi type story with some great art. Irv Novick’s art looks drastically different with Murphy Anderson inks. The JLA story was pretty ho-hum. Apparently, Harlan Ellison was given a copy of the script, and actually gave permission to use his actual name, but the decision was made to keep the fake name. I don’t know how true that is, but as much as I wasn’t impressed by this story, I hope it is followed up on at some point. The guy can create entire dreamscapes and bring other people into it, and Green Arrow and Black Canary just let him walk off at the end. Also, this was also an excuse for Mike Fredrich to use some write some very wordy captions. Hope he was paid by the word for this one. The Batman story was a pretty good follow-up to a strange story (Alfred took Batman to an eye doctor, at night, with Bruce in full costume, and the doctor checking his eyes through the cowl), but is kind of lost amidst all this League of Assassin/Ra’s Al Ghul that Denny O’Neil has been doing. Speaking of which, this was my first time reading “Into the Den of Death Dealers” and it really feels like a prequel. Talia’s introduction is really low-key and she does name drop her father, but this issue’s assassins seem to be from one of the low level classes considering how easily Batman dispatches them (although they did kill their intended target). And Doctor Daark did not live up to the hype. The Superman issue was not my favorite from this run, but it does move the Sand Creature plot forward, and we get the first significant weakening of Superman. I’m not sure why the virus is so selective. Superman spends time in a hospital, and Clark spends time with people in the TV studio, and no one is affected. I’m also not sure bathing in radiation was a good idea either before going back to work. Maybe a trip through the sun would have been safer, all things considered. But the main story over in Action does not live up to the “anniversary issue” hype. It was literally just another silver-age story, which is even more noticable compared to the stuff happening over in Superman.

Next month: I have no idea. I’m not looking ahead to make the experience more authentic.