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This issue reprints Wonder Woman’s first appearance in All-Star Comics 8 (Dec/Jan 1941), and an completed but unpublished story from the Golden Age.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

DC Bronze Age Read-through Project: March 1971

March 1971: Aquaman saves Detroit from algae, but with a bit of a cliffhanger that won’t be resolved due to this being the final issue of the series (for now), although, they might have had room if it wasn’t for the pointless 2 page Aquagirl story. In Wonder Woman, she manages to play detective and find a guy before he makes a terrible mistake, all without the help of any men (finally!). In Superboy, the Teen of Steel goes up against an honest-to-goodness gorilla from Krypton. Then, the Legion makes its debut in this title with a quick recap of their origin, then tells how Lightning Lad and Light Lass’ brother became Lightning Lord, and got his white hair. In Superman, the Man of Steel has to deal with a man who keeps stealing his powers by using a magic harp, while also having to deal with being weakened by the Sand Creature. The cover to Batman makes it look like he’s going to deal with the Black Panthers or something, but instead it’s a misguided gang the Batman actually put together, that has no black members. Also, Robin deals with violence on campus. Over in Flash, Iris keeps keeps blurting out other people’s secrets without knowledge of doing so, including the identities of Barry and his fellow JLA members, and in the backup, Kid Flash has to keep the spirit of an Egyptian prince from inhabiting people. Speaking of the JLA, humans that apparently inhabited Earth before humans did (didn’t makes sense to me either) have returned to reclaim the planet. The JLA intervenes, but it’s actually 3 ordinary humans who save the day (even if 2 of them have no idea that any part of this story is actually taking place). Action Comics tells its own version of Clark moving from the Daily Planet to WGBS, then goes into a story about people being controlled by the music at various music festivals. The backup story involves Superman trying to save animals, and Supergirl, who have been turned into trees. But it turns out, they are only tree duplicates of whatever, or whomever, was near the tree as it grew. Also, Superman uses his x-ray vision in a way that makes no sense. Finally, in Detective, Batman takes on a guy who is damaging the paintings of a guy that he blames for a car accident that ruined his good looks. Meanwhile, Batgirl stops the man responsible for sabotaging matador’s career.

While Wonder Woman finally got a chance to shine without needing a man to help her, not all of the others heroes fared as well this month. The Batman stories were both subpar, with the one cover being completely misleading. Batgirl was a continuation from last month, and wasn’t bad, but I’m finding the Robin stories to be pretty bland and boring (and focusing on him saving the day despite being wrong a lot). The Aquaman story would have been better if the ending hadn’t been rushed, and ended on a cliffhanger, despite 2 extra pages for a pointless Aquagirl story. My only guess with that one is that they didn’t know it would be the last issue at the time. The Superman stories were pretty good, although the alternate take on Clark’s switch to TV news seemed redundant. And the backup was annoying because they had to through a pointless action scene in the middle of it that revolves around Superman using his x-ray vision to make the bad guys see each other as skeletons. That’s not how his x-ray vision works! Superboy introduces a new survivor of Krypton that is never seen again, although the Legion story ain’t bad. The JLA story is kind of pointless, although they do bring an end to the rarely mentioned Batman-Black Canary-Green Arrow love triangle by having Black Canary telling Batman that she seems him as more of a brother. And Flash was actually pretty good, and ties into the story from last issue.

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: 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: 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: 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.