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.

1 thought on “DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: May 1971

  1. It was the first appearance of the Elongated Man in almost three years since his strip ended in Detective Comics.

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