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: 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: April 1971

Thanks to several reprint Giants, and not-yet-monthly publishing schedules, this is a light month. The ongoing story in Superman comes to a screeching halt so that Superman can enter a dream-state and fight villains that look like angels. Then he tells Black Canary and Green Arrow about a scientist who realized Krypton was going to blow up 20 years before Joe-El, but was ignored (like the people ignoring Earth’s pollution problem). Over in Superboy, Clark has to pretend some ambrosia has given him super-powers, and we are reminded of how petty Lana, and Smallville, can be. Then Superboy is called to the 30th Century to determine which Cosmic Boy is the real deal, and which one is a magical copy created be Mondru. In GL/GA, an weird old man uses a little girl with amazing powers to control an entire school, and it’s up to our heroes, plus Black Canary, to stop them. Also, Hal declares his love for Carol Ferris, who is engaged to the man who owns the school that has been taken over. Well done Hal! In Action, Superman learns that he’s actually the third Superman and that he’s dead, but it turns out that he has been shunted over to another Earth (Earth-AC399 if you will) where Superman is recreated/cloned every time he dies. The backup is a Superbaby story where the Kents take Clark to pseudo-Disneyland and he ends up taking down the infamous Connie and Hyde (not a typo). In Detective, Batman chases a criminal into the make-shift home of some circus-freaks, than has to solve a murder (this was mostly adapted into a Batman:TAS episode, but added Killer Croc). Meanwhile, Batgirl enters the dangerous world of fashion to fight espionage and murder!

This month was…okay. After Superman finally confronts, then we completely change gears with the angel story. The fact that this was by the same creative team adds to the frustration. Nothing much to say about the Krypton story. Another social issue story by Denny O’Neil. The main Superboy story makes everyone else look bad. Lana suddenly loves Clark (despite the embarrassing uniform she makes for him), the townspeople have him doing mundane things, and they demolish a Superboy statue for a Super-Clark statue. Then, when Clark pretends the ambrosia has worn off, they take down Clark’s statue and stitch the Superboy statue back together. And, Lana treats Clark like a loser again. The Legion story was good, probably my favorite of the month. The GL/GA story was frustrating. After suiting to stop the birds at the start of the story, why didn’t the heroes change back to their civvies before dropping Dinah off at the school? Way to protect those secret identities. Also, Hal and Carol seem to have forgotten about Carol’s engagement by the end of the story, despite her fiancè being part of the story. The Main Action story was one of the first Superman stories I ever read, so my rose-colored glasses cover up any flaws. Although, I’m not sure how Superman could believe at a solar project could kill him when he’s been in the heart of the sun without trouble before. The Superbaby story follows the usual formula of Superbaby using his powers to inadvertently do something good, but no one believe he exists. The main Detective story was fine, and had Batman showing off his detective skills (and challenging the reader), but was sort of boring, despite the Neal Adams art. The Batgirl story was a mix. I can see the behind-the-scenes stuff going on, but I don’t think a fashion designer’s decision over mini or maxi would make headline news.

Next month, all I know for certain is Superman returns to the Sand Creature story, and Batman takes on the League of Assassins again.

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: 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: 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: 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…