DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: February 1971

This month, Batman basically takes down a mystic cult. The mysticism also allows Robert Kahniger to bring Batman into the story without actually explaining how Batman knew what was going on. Also, Robin helps save an election. In Flash, we find out that Iris is actually from the future. And while she gets to meet her real parents in their time, she has to go back to the past because that’s where she belongs now. I’m betting she’ll be back though. The JLA then get to take on a robot what has taken over the minds of Batman and Hawkman, then Zatanna helps Flash, GL, and Atom take on the not-Avengers. The story ends with the 3 male heroes embracing Zatanna, as if the issue ends just before a very adult scene is about to take place. In Superman, our hero has to try to save some natives from an erupting volcano without actually setting foot on the island it is on. Also, the sand creature from last issue shows up, which weakens the Man of Steel. Next up, Green Lantern gets sucked into a jewel on a cane by a witch (this reminds of Mr. Oz’s jewel in Superman v2 #51), so Green Arrow and Black Canary have to fight some harpies and Amazon warriors (who are treated as mythological, despite the existence of Wonder Woman and Paradise Island). Also featuring an appearance by Sinestro! Over in Action Comics, we learn that Superman’s power loss is all mental due to feeling useless thanks to mankind’s technological advancements. After he’s forced to use his powers again, Superman leaves Earth to look for a planet in need of a superhero. Ironically, in the backup, some aliens send a cloud over the earth that messes with Superman’s powers unless he’s underwater, all to see how well Superman operated underwater so that he can become the protector of their world, without bothering to ask Superman. Finally, considering Len Wein just passed away this week, I find it interesting that this is also the week I get to my first Len Wein story of this read through. In this story, Batman is haunted starts off being haunted by a strange house, and then it turns more sci-fi. Also, Don Heck takes over as Batgirl artist in a story where Batgirl investigates strange attacks against a matador while trying to accept a manuscript for the Gotham Library.

For issues that came in December, there was a lot of mysticism and magic this month. I was annoyed by the Batman issue due to story shortcuts. Batman just shows up, and fights some people, and then the story just ends. Maybe it was a rush job, I don’t know. I can’t wait to see the letter column reactions to Iris’s retcon. I can’t imagine such a big change to her backstory did not have some negative reactions. I like the nod to this being inspired by Superman’s origin too. The Justice League story was weird, feeling like 2 stories put together. And that ending… Also, both Flash and JLA depicted Superman as a stranger in a strange land, really bring focus to his alien origin. I’m not really a fan of this, but maybe that is mostly due to being raised in the post-crisis era. GL/GA surprised me by having an established villain. If there has been one thing I’ve been noticing when O’Neil takes over a book, the established villains get put away for awhile. Anyway, Wein’s Batman story in Detective, co-written by Marc Wolfman, also appears to be 2 stories put together, although it was nice to see Robin save the day. And while Don Heck is a far cry from Gil Kane as far as drawing Batgirl and Company, having Giordano ink this story does help soften the blow.

Overall, it was a fun month, and I’m looking forward to March. I’ll let you know how that goes when I finish it.

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: January 1971

A new month and a new year does bring some excitement, as well as some big changes. But not in Aquaman, where our hero goes back to that crazy, miniature world he was stuck in a few issues ago to help the girl that has been helping him. But, she doesn’t really want his help. Over in Wonder Woman, it is all out war, with the good guys having a major disadvantage. Fortunately, Diana is there to introduce these people to gunpowder, which only barely evens the score. In the end, the evil queen is forced to surrender, and the Amazons show up to take Diana back to her normal surroundings. Also, she wears a suit of armor that is all white. It’s like she’s a Power Ranger or something. Everything she wears is white.

Next up is the most exciting Superman story I’ve read so far. An experimental Kryptonite engine explodes, transforming all Kryptonite on earth into iron. Also, Clark begins his career as a TV newsman by standing way too close to a launching rocket. Also, at the site of an explosion, a creature made of sand rises mysteriously. Also, in a tale from Krypton, Jor-El invents an anti-grav system that doesn’t work too well in space.

Over in Superboy, the Teen of Steel meets Aquaboy, and they the social issue of pollution. Also, an announcement is made about bringing Superboy a little closer to the present. See, since Superman was created in 1938, and there would have had to be Superboy before that, all Superboy stories had been taking place in the 30s. But that would seriously age Superman. In order for him to stay 29, Superboy has to move up. So as of this issue, Superboy stories take place in the mid-50s and will move up in time so he always stays roughly 14 years behind.

 

Next up, Action has an imaginary story where Superman has lost his physical powers, but not his sensory powers. As such, he has become a wheelchair-bound beggar. In the backup, a sub-atomic race kidnaps Superman to recharge the core of their sub-atomic world, but by trying to trick him rather than asking for help, they end up super-charging the core and the planet explodes. And in Detective, Kirk Langstrom’s fiancé allows him to turn her into a bat-creature so they can be together, but Batman is able to turn them both back to human form, this ending the Man-Bat saga, until he returns. And finally, Batgirl escapes her death-trap and stops the jive-talking bombers from blowing up any more buildings.

This was the first time since I started this little project that I was more into a Superman book than a Batman book. I was really surprised about the Superboy timeline change, as I thought it would be a subtle change rather than a big announcement. Aquaman and Wonder Woman still aren’t doing much for me, but Aquaman is about to end so that will take care of that. Considering we aren’t too far off from Wonder Woman getting her powers back, I’m not expecting much from her book. Otherwise, it was a fun month, and a great way to start the new year.

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: December 1970

This month, Superboy has to work to keep his secret identity a secret when the Kents have a houseguest. Then he accidentally goes to the past and saves the life of Attila the Hun as a child, insinuating that if he’d known who it was, he wouldn’t have saved him. Hmm… Anyway, Batman tries to prevent Alfred’s niece from being sacrificed, while Robin deals with some political shenanigans at Hudson U. Flash heads out west to save Iris on assignment in LA, and Kid Flash takes on an evil ancient spirit inhabiting the bodies of innocent people. Green Lantern and Green Arrow’s “hard traveling heroes” story comes to an end while also shedding some light on the social issue of overpopulation. The Justice League stars in another socially relevant story in which they have to stop all of the Earth’s plankton from being stolen and sent to another planet suffering from pollution. Despite the cover, Superman does not meet at woman who is mightier than him. He does however meet a warrior woman from another planet who he falls in love with. Also, Supergirl uses hypnosis to try an experiment on Superman without him knowing. And finally Batman works to stop the League of Assassins from killing another shipping magnate, while Batgirl tried to find out who bombed a Gotham building.

Overall not a bad month. I’m noticing a growing amount of protesting, and stories about pollution, which makes sense for this era. And mystic stuff too. Next month, a new era of Superman begins!

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: November 1970

This month, Wonder Woman has a flashback to re-tell the story of how she went from the Amazing Amazon to a non-powered girl who knows all the martial arts and wears alot of white. Aquaman has a trippy story in which he keeps fighting a bigger, stronger version of himself but it is all in his mind. Batman takes on a villain who has has been blinded so he’s had his optic nerves moved to his fingers. This story also involves Batman’s vision getting messed up, so Alfred has to drive him (as Batman, in the Batmobile) to an eye doctor who gives him a check up without removing his cowl (despite those white lenses). Next, The Flash tries to help a kid who has lost the use of his legs, but only because the kid thinks his legs don’t work. Then the Justice League have to work together to stop a Nobel Prize winner who thinks he’s Ra’s Al Ghul, before there was a Ra’s Al Ghul. Also, this month, Black Canary’s sonic power (which she still can’t control) gives her the power to read the mind of the prize winner’s wife. The final Superman story of the Mort Weisinger era ends with the evil Clark dying before he can take out SuperLex. Also note that the cover is laid out so that you can’t really tell that it is Lex in the Superman costume. In Action, Superman once again enacts an elaborate plan that involves him acting out of character, this time so that he can expose a counterfeit ring and get the bad money out of circulation. And, in the backup, Clark exposes a hot rodder who is cheating in order to win against other drivers in a game of chicken. And finally, in Detective, Batman has his very first run in with the League of Assassins. And, in the backup, Batgirl’s case pretty much solves itself without her doing much of anything.

Overall, it was a good month. My favorite story is easily the Batman story in Detective. Just one more month to go in 1970.

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: October 1970

This was a pretty quiet month as far as my read-through goes. Mort Weisinger’s reign as Super-editor enters its final stage with the first part of a 2-part imaginary story. No matter how good the story may be, it is a boring way to end things. Would have been better to end it with a story that actually counts but whatever. Superboy manages to kill Clark for the very first time during this read-through. I know of at least one more time he does this. Green Lantern and Green Arrow restore a corrupt tribunal planet, and part ways with the Guardian who hasn’t really been playing a big part in the series anyway, so no big loss there. Action Comics enters the post-Weisinger era with a forgettable story that does contain the first interiors by the Swanderson team, with a backup telling another version of the day Superboy became Superman (it is quickly forgotten). And in Detective, Batman fails to save a movie in production but manages to get the assistance of the spirit of Enemy Ace to take out a man who looks like Enemy Ace. Also, Batgirl gets knocked out while trying to clear her boyfriend of a murder charge, and is about to be covered in plaster (to be continued).
Overall, not a bad month. Again, I’d prefer to see Weisinger go out with a big story reminding us of all the great things that happened or were introduced to under his watch, rather than some story that doesn’t count (but then again, may). I didn’t really enjoy this month as much as last month. Hopefully, things pick up next month.

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: September 1970

Boy is that Aquaman cover misleading. Just a scam to get some rich guys to blow up Atlantis with an atomic bomb. The Wonder Woman story is pretty forgettable, although she was still able to to find a full buccaneer outfit in full white. Superboy thwarts some Nazis before America enters World War II, therefore indicating that Superman must be in his 40s (this will be fixed later). Green Arrow and Green Lantern end up fighting each other while trying to end a dispute between some Native Americans and some white dudes. Batman gets accused of murder and has to clear his name, then basically has to do the same thing for someone else in the backup. Flash’s mind gets all messed up for the third issue in a row, but this time it involves him killing the President (how many references to the number 200 can you spot?). The Spectre sacrifices himself to save Earth-1 and Earth-2 in the JLA issue. In Action, After taking away his son’s powers last issue, Superman is saved by him. Somehow, this means that Superman Jr deserves to have his powers again, so Superman gives his powers to his son, then retires. And, in Detective, Batman has to avenge a murder that hasn’t happened yet, while Robin pretty much messes up again, but this time it all works out.

I just cannot get into the Wonder Woman series. I’m finding it kinda boring, and it’s getting annoying that she cannot handle anything solo, requiring someone, usually male, to help her. This is probably due mostly to the time period in which these stories are being written, but it is still annoying.

The Aquaman story annoyed me right off because it was very misleading. It wasn’t a dream, not an imaginary story, nor a cautionary tale about what could happen if a large enough earthquake hits (which may or may not be caused by a 200 megaton bomb). Just a dumb plot to scare some rich guy. Even the introductory splash page lies.

The rest was fairly entertaining, although the Action issue does not make up for last month, and seemed to be rushed. Also Frank Springer is a much better inker for this more modern Batman rather than Joe Giella, who seemed to be trying to keep the art in the 60s “New Look” style.

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: August 1970

This month, Batman takes on a monstrous man who is also a very articulate crime boss (O’Neil must have been paid by the syllable for this one), Flash dies (with a poorly attended funeral), the JLA and JSA begin their annual team-up, Supergirl rescues Superman from the Execution planet but also watches a bunch of people sacrifice themselves to their evil gods. Also, all those criminals who stole Superman’s uniform and sent our naked hero away in a rocket appear to have gotten away with it.

Then we have an imaginary story where Superman and Batman act way out of character. Superman acts like an a$$-hat because his son isn’t very good with his powers while Batman’s son is getting awards (which Batman likes to rub in Superman’s face). The first problem is that Batman works with his son, while Superman expects his son to just know what to do on his own. Secondly, Superman says the last straw is when his son wrecks the fortress to destroy a Superboy robot he invented to help with his son’s training. First of all, Superman failed to tell his son about the robot. Second, he should be doing the training, not some robot. Not that his son is completely innocent, but he definitely has self esteem issues, since Superman literally spends the entire issue telling him that he sucks.

Then we end the month with the return of Man-Bat, who completes his mutation into a bat, and Robin re-dedicating himself to being the best hero he can be. At least I think that’s what happened. The story just kind of ends without much of a resolution.

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: July 1970

This month, Aquaman returns to Atlantis, Wonder Woman goes to Red China made up like a Chinese woman (although with this art, the only change was the skin color), Superman saves Metropolis from bombs, but the second story has him losing his powers and costume before being sent to the Execution Planet (to be continued), the story of Superbaby blowing up the Earth helps Superboy save it, Black Canary is hypnotized, Superman entrusts the President with a weapon that can destroy even him (definitely pre-Watergate), Batman is stalked by a hunter, and Batigrl and Robin finally team up in their 2-part team-up story.

Also, in case you weren’t aware, Kirby is coming…

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: June 1970

Another fun month down. Superboy time travels, GL and GA arrive in Desolation, Batman and Robin solve the mystery of the “not-Beatles,” Flash thinks he’s a little kid (but is allowed to make out with Zatanna in front of Iris in the backup, so it’s not all bad), the JLA go crazy while Jean Loring regains her sanity (not an Identity Crisis in sight), Superman acts way out of character so as not to arouse suspicion while preventing an alien invasion (a huge, convoluted plan that wasn’t necessary, but will be explained to the public 100 years after Superman dies), 3 Legionaires fight a robot, Batman meets Man-Bat, and Batgirl and Robin are supposed to be in a story together but don’t. Next up, more Silver/Bronze Age goodness, including a Superbaby story (oh joy)!

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: May 1970

Another month down! Aquaman was doing decompressed storytelling before it was cool (which is annoying in a book that only came out 8 times a year). I’m not a big fan of Wonder-less Woman, but the Cyber story is starting to ramp up. Still waiting for the bat-books to be more consistent. For an era that is supposed to be going back to basics, there sure is a lot of mystical stuff going on outside of Gotham that Batman has to deal with. And the super-books were a bit weird this month, with both a Red Kryptonite story, and a sequel of sorts to the old “The Night of March 31st” story. And, once again, the JLA are saved by Black Canary’s mysterious, uncontrollable, sonic power.

And yet, I really enjoyed reading these books. Had trouble putting the iPad down. Weird!

Also, Commissioner Gordon never puts on his glasses during the Detective issue. It will be interesting to see how long this lasts.