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: 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…

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: April 1970

Another month done. The Superman and Superboy issues feeling like the story was written based on the cover idea, which I know they used to do back in the day. Superman plays God in the Action issue, which makes no sense considering the dead planet he was using. The GL/GA storyline kicks off with the only issue I had read of it so far, so I’m looking forward to the others. The Batman story was solved for him because they ran out of room, and the Robin backup ended with a cliffhanger just as it was getting started. I’m also noticing the same creative team (Frank Robbins and Bob Brown) working on Superboy and Detective, and I’m liking their Superboy a little better. The writing isn’t bad (Robbins handles Batman better in Batman where he has more pages), but the art looks more like Infantino “new-look” Batman than the more modern work by Irv Novick and Neal Adams. Although, to be fair, this could be more due to Joe Giella’s inks than anything else.

Now to see what May had to offer…

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: March 1970

Another interesting month. Wonder Woman gets saved by others, Deadman returns as Aquaman disappears, Green Lantern has his final adventure before he starts traveling with Green Arrow. Oh, and The JLA fights pollution.

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: January 1970

This month, Superman is tested, fails, and becomes half as effective. Before I go on, this issue is kind of special to me as, for a long time, this was my oldest Superman issue I owned, and is still the only Superman issue I have ever bought in Metropolis, Illinois (the prices in that store are terrible). Anyway, Superboy gets sent to the Phantom Zone and is replaced by an evil impostor (and somehow Krypto learns how to talk), Superman has to fight a sentient costume, Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams tell their first dark and moody Batman story, and Green Lantern has to take on the combined might of Star Sapphire and Sinestro. Hal also reveals to Carol Ferris that she is Star Sapphire, which she doesn’t believe.

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: December 1969

Announcing a new reading project! Over the next…however long it takes… I’ll be reading many of the super-hero titles published by DC Comics, from cover date December 1969 until at least the end of the Bronze Age (so late 1986). I was going to start from Jan 1970, but there was too much continuation from the previous month (Green Lantern, Detective, Action, and JLA all carry over). Interesting to see all the changes initiated at this point (Dick Grayson goes to college, Bruce and Alfred move downtown, Snapper betrays the League forcing them to relocate, etc.). Almost like a rebirth of sorts… Anyway, I’ll be making posts here to chronicle my foray through DC’s Bronze Age.

This month, Superboy decides he’s had enough and wants to just be Clark, which includes giving up his powers. If you’ve ever ready a Superman comic, you know this doesn’t last long. In Green Lantern, Hal returns to Coast City, and Star Sapphire returns to GL’s life, leaving him in space and with amnesia at the end of the story. Meanwhile, in Gotham City, Dick Grayson heads off to Hudson Univerisity, so Bruce decides to move to the Wayne Penthouse downtown and employ a “back to basics” approach. He also starts up a new program to help out the vicitms of violent crimes, which also provides cases for Batman. In Central City, Captain Cold finds a way to restore youth to old people, and tries to use it to save and marry an old, rich actress. It kind of works, but after taking out Flash (catching him in suspended animation which the hero was vibrating), he brags to Heat Wave which ends up being his undoing. Elsewhere, the Joker, in disguise, tricks Snapper Carr into revealing the location of the Justice League’s secret headquarters. Fortunately, Black Canary’s new sonic powers, which she cannot yet control, allow her to save the day. However, this still leaves the JLA in need of a new headquarters. In Action, 2 alien space suits, 1 belonging to a criminal and 1 to a law enforcer, given sentience by the radiation of passing comet, reach Earth, and their struggle causes trouble in Metropolis, drawing the attention of Superman. The story ends with both suits racing to be the first to possess the powerful Man of Steel. In the 30th Century, Chameleon Boy falls for a girl who is scared of his looks, so he disguises himself to appear more human. This doesn’t last long though, as he is forced to uses his powers, revealing who he really is, but the girl decides that there is more to him than his alien appearance. In Detective, Batman has to clear both his name, and a driver hired by the Wayne Foundation for a race, when it appears that the driver was hired to shoot another driver, causing him to lose an eye. Meanwhile, Robin has his first adventure at Hudson University.