As we are about to embark one the next box of my unread comics, I would like to thank all of you who come to read and/or comment on these threads. When I first started this project back in July 2006  (really?) on the old board I never thought I would even make it through the first box. The threads have helped keep me semi-honest here.

I'm pretty excited about this upcoming box. It is a very eclectic mix of comics. There are a bunch of my old standbys. Like Legion comics, Daredevil, Marvel Team-up, war comics. There is a ton of other stuff like '80s black and white comics, some Kirby, a touch of Vertigo. I don't know how much will inspire me to write about, and if it does others to comment, but I am looking forward to it.

I'm really stoked to have you with me. Let's get it on!

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"...shreds of his costume hang in the dragon's mouth."

That's one expert nibbler there, btw. More proof that it's a fake devouring because the shirt would have been a bloody mess! In real life, natch!
 
Commander Benson said:

Philip Portelli said:

Maybe the K-dino swallowed [Superboy] whole (but left the cape)!

 

 

I factored that in. True, Bouncing Boy exclaimed that the dragon devoured Superboy and that could have simply meant the beast swallowed him whole.  But if you look at the panels on that page, you see that the Boy of Steel's cape is torn and shreds of his costume hang in the dragon's mouth.

 

Green kryptonite would not affect the indestructability of Superboy's costume.  It couldn't have been torn by the dragon's jaws.  So there was another clue that should have tipped off the Legionnaires that someone was running a ringer on them.

With regard to Adventure Comics # 352, I liked the idea that the Science Police had been able to capture Validus and Mano on its own.

 

Certainly, in that futuristic era, standard law-enforcement agencies know that they are going to face super-powered threats and will have developed techniques for dealing with them.  The fact that they were able to subdue and imprison Validus and Mano showed that the S.P. was a competent, capable organisation.  That's a more worldly approach than seen in most super-hero series of the time, which tended to treat conventional police forces as if they were just a bunch of Toodies and Muldoons.

 

One other thing about the story presented in Adventure Comics # 352---something which later writers all but forgot---is that Validus has a normal intellect.  No doubt a low-brow one, but perfectly normal.  Legion writers of the '70's always depicted Validus as having a child-like mentality, even when he was out of range of Tharok's mental control or by himself.  Making Validus a child in intellect no doubt was some '70's Legion writer's Neat Idea, but the fact of the matter is Validus was just as much of a criminal on his own as the rest of the Fatal Five.

All-Star Squadron #44
April 1985
Cover art by: Tony DeZuniga & Arvell Jones


Story: Night and Fog
Writer: Roy Thomas & Paul Kupperberg
Pencils: Arvell Jones
Inks: Pablo Marcos

Hourman is finally going out on his first date with Firebrand. Two things about it irritate him though. 1. It is a double date with the Tarantula and Phantom Lady. 2. It is a costume party thrown by Firebrand's father, an she wants everyone to switch costumes to change it up a bit. That means Hourman is going to be putting on the Tarantula's costume. Me and him agree that it is pretty disgusting. She had him show up in costume, so it isn't like like they are fresh and clean.

We get to the party and when Hourman and Firebrand go out on the balcony a sketchy looking couple go inside. We soon learn that they work for Germany and they are there to see Danette's (Firebrand) father. He used to indirectly help the Axis, but after the attack on Pearl Harbor he has withdrawn his support. Unable to convince him to continue his help, Fog throws him out the window. This is just as our heroes enter the room, thinking something bad was happening. Firebrand flies out the window to save her father and the battle is on between Night and Fog and the rest of the heroes. The villains have their way with heroes, until Hourman pops his emergency Miraclo pill (he had sworn them off) and saves the day. Grabbing Phantom lady before she is tossed out of the window as well.

Firebrand is on the ledge below and her father is clinging to life. She bursts back into the room with everyone else, and uses her flames to drive back Night and Fog. The heroes stop her before she burns the building down. She then pulls all of the fire back into her, but Night and Fog escape during all of the commotion. Unfortunately, her father died.

There was also a decent prologue to this story. First we had Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle catching a train. We also have some other All-Stars watching a boxing match with a member of the Guardian's Newsboy Legion. What I really like was the panel that had the heroes in their civilian ID with a little picture of their heroic ID next to them.

A good comic with a nice mix of action and little moments. Including a cameo by Frank Sinatra and Tommy Dorsey.

The Atom #14
Aug.-Sept. 1964
Cover art by: Murphy Anderson & Gil Kane


Story: Revolt of the Atom's Uniform!
Writer: Gardner Fox
Pencils: Gil Kane
Inks: Sid Greene

This is one wacky comic. Somehow a piece of the white dwarf star that broke apart and powered the Atom's uniform has become sentient and has take control over the uniform. It forces the Atom to acquire all of the pieces when it broke apart in the atmosphere. Once that was done the uniform extricated itself from Ray's body, and laid itself on the assembled meteor. Ray runs away, stuck at a six inch height. After some trials and tribulations he comes back with the items he thinks he can defeat his foe with.

This brings us to a very visually appealing fight. Ray Palmer against his empty suit. It was quite a brawl, and Ray defeats his uniform by turning infrared light on it, de-powering it. He then uses a stick of dynamite to blow the meteor into even smaller pieces. Ray re-powers his suit with ultraviolet rays.

One of my favorite parts was when the Atom was still being forced to collect the pieces of the meteor, and he tries to get a former boxer to knock him out. It isn't often you see a hero looking to lose.

Batman #253
Nov. 1973
Cover art by: Michael Wm. Kaluta

Story: Who Knows What Evil---?
Writer: Denny O'Neil
Pencils: Irv Novick
Inks: Dick Giordano

Batman is hot in the trail of some counterfeiters. Their trail leads him to Tumbleweed Crossing, Arizona. Here is were I got thrown out to the story for the first time. You expect me to believe millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne is going to take a bus to a town? I figure fly a plane to wherever is the nearest airport, and have a car waiting there for him. Plus, I find it hard to believe the bus would stop at a town with three buildings total. Then no one figures out there are two new people in a town of, I dunno, about ten people (although we only see one) can't figure out that these two coincide with the appearance of Batman and the Shadow?

I did like that Lamont Cranston has aged here, and both he and Batman use their own methods to track down the criminals. They do shut the counterfeiters down (shocking I know), and discover the big boss is the guy who runs the hotel. Okay, this guys pulls out a derringer on the Caped Crusader that he claims he got in 1919. I figure is he was 18 when he got it, if the comic takes place about when it was published, then that makes this dude 72 yeas old. He looks like he is in his mid-40s.

There are a few action sequences, and they are all well done by Novick and Giordano. The last grumble I had for this comic is that Batman and the Shadow only really meet and talk on the last page. Batman tells him how much he was inspiration, and asks The Shadow if he is coming out of retirement. His reply, “THAT...Only the Shadow knows! HA-HA-HA-HA!” I loved it.

Even with all of those complaints it is a fine comic overall, that O'Neil used as cross pollination for the Shadow series which he also wrote. Finally, a Bob Rozakis letter appears here.

Batman #422
Aug. 1988
Cover art by: Jerry Bingham


Story: Just Desserts
Writer: Jim Starlin
Pencils: M.D. Bright
Inks: Joe Rubenstein & Steve Mitchell

Vito and Karl so far have gotten away for the murders as the Dumpster Slashers. They also know they will be watched closely by Batman and Robin. Karl does eventually lose his tail, Batman. He and Vito meet up planning another murder. Karl stabs Vito, leaves him on the subway tracks, and hides the knife back in his apartment. Horrible idea. Batman finds the knife and Vito pulled his own body off the tracks before he died.

At the trial Karl's lawyer gets the knife thrown out, and the cased dismissed. Throughout all of these events, Karl sees the same blonde woman everywhere he goes. He does decide that it is time to head out of town, but not before he takes care of “Blondie”. He then hears the signal he has been waiting for: Batman and Robin going to bust some counterfeiters airs over the radio, so he decides to strike. He grabs Blondie and is about to kill her, when she suddenly slashes his throat with a straightedge razor.

She is the sister of the killers' second victim, and she deliberately tried to lure Karl into trying to nab her. She taunts Commissioner Gordon and Batman with trying to find a jury who will convict her.

There was also a pretty heavy-handed (in my opinion)subplot about Batman and Robin skirting the law while still being within in it. Outside of that I thought this was a dynamite issue. It apparently wraps up the dumpster killer plot that had been running previously in the book, I wasn't lost at all and had a good handle on what was going on. I really liked that we have a fallible Batman here, not the damn near omniscient one we have now. Karl was able to lose Batman who was tailing him. Batman was unable to do anything to have the charges stick.

I also really like that cover. Very cool, and menacing Batman.

Batman #423
Sept. 1988
Cover art by: Todd McFarlane


Story: You Shoulda Seen Him...
Writer: Jim Starlin
Pencils: Dave Cockrum
Inks: Mike DeCarlo

This is a really sweet story, that takes us to a diner where off-duty policeman go. Here we meet three different officers and each tell about their run in with Batman that night.

One officer is at a bridge were a junkie is about to jump off and end his life. Batman tries to talk him down, but the guy jumps anyways. Bats saves the man, and then berates him for throwing his life away. He tells him to enter rehab and straighten his life out.

The next officer relates a hostage tale, and how man Batman came in and just pounded the crackheads who had taken the hostages. He tells them how brutal and ice cold Batman was. I really liked the part when Batman tells one punk that he will feel pain that he never thought was possible, and it will never end because he won't let him die. It makes you wonder if it is how the scene actually took place, or did our storyteller embellish a little bit.

The last policeman tells the other two about a couple of kids he and Batman chased down. They learn that the pair only have each other after their mother died in Florida, and their father died at a poker game in Gotham after having been down on his luck for some time. Batman tried to hide it, but the officer saw some tears run down his cheek. Batman then tells the policeman to take the kids to Bruce Wayne, and he will take care of them until some family can be located.

The art was a little stiff in this issue, I wonder if was rushed for some reason. I dunno. A good read none the less, and an excellent done-in-one issue.

Batman: Run, Riddler, Run #1-3
May-Jul. 1992
Cover art by: Mark Badger


Writers: Gerard Jones & Mark Badger
Art: Mark Badger

In this mini-series Donna Diforza is attempting to make a New Gotham! The problem is where she wants to build is still occupied and she wants those people out of there. Oddly, enough Bruce Wayne has no problem with this, and he contributes to her efforts. As Batman he does eventually get swayed to help these people out, and sides with them and their leader, Roberta Cifuentes.

Donna, hires the newly paroled Riddler as a security consultant. She fires him after seeing one of the security measures for her building: a complex trap that involves live sharks, and for his incessant use of riddles. She has also hired on Fritz Olmstedt, a former member of the East German Stasi, who has so embraced Donna Diforza's vision that he is willing to even kill her to see it through.

Fritz has developed his own powered armor, and has trained his own private armored squad that includes a “real ninja!.” They are also all enamored with jazz for some weird reason.  At one point Fritz secretly kills one of his own men, and films it. The way it was done it shows Batman as a killer. It convinces Batman he killed the man as well, although accidentally. With the mayor backing him, Fritz is able to get he and his men deputized, with Batman now an outlaw.

We naturally get a number of fights between Batman and Olmstedt's men. Batman and the Riddler do team-up in th end. I liked that the Riddler just can't help himself with his riddles. Even when he knew Olmstedt and his men were closing in on his location to kill him, he still wouldn't tell the Dark Knight straight up where he was, he still wrapped it in a riddle. He drove is PO batty with his constant riddles as well.

I wasn't real wild about the Mark Badger art.  I found his faces to be rendered inconsistently on some of the characters. I think the Riddler's look was the most stable. Another aspect I didn't like, but was corrected after the first issue were the caption boxes. In the first issue they were dark grey boxes with black lettering on dark colored panels. Very hard to read.

This was a decent series, but I wouldn't go out of your way to look for it. I got them for fifty cents a piece, so that was worth it.

Black Hole #3
July 1980
Cover art by: whoever took the picture

Story: Beyond the Black Hole
Writer: Michael Teitelbaum
Art: Al McWilliams

Two things before we begin. First, thanks to the Grand Comics Database for the credits on this comic. Second, I will say early on that this really wasn't that bad. Maybe because my expectations were so low. About this high (imagine my hand about an inch off the ground). The art was no great shakes, but not horrible either. Let's go!

Here the surviving members from the Black Hole movie had gone through the black hole in a probe ship. There the laws of physics, as they know it, no longer exist. They see a giant sun that emits no heat. A planet “grows” out of nowhere and then quickly retracts. Also, Dr. Kate McRae has a vision of her father, who she believes is alive in this parallel universe (it takes them long enough, but they do deduce they are in a parallel universe). They also see another U.S.S. Palomino (their original ship), but with a different crew  inside.

Soon, they are captured by this universe's Dr. Reinhardt, and are aboard his Cygnus. He decides to keep Dr. McRae, but kill the others. Including the robot. V.I.N.CENT. Dan and Charlie do escape with the help of V.I.N.CENT. And the robot B.O.B. who exists here as well. V.I.N.CENT. fights Maximillian, and defeats him easily. Their previous battle aiding him. They tie Dr. Reinhardt up, and escape again in a different space probe. Taking B.O.B. with them.

You know I read all of the dialogue of B.O.B. in Slim Pickens' voice

Lambiek's page on McWilliams is here. I want to read Twin Earths some day.

 

I saw a copy of the The Black Hole novelisation the other day, and had a quick look to see how it ended, because the end of the movie is ambiguous. If I followed it correctly the escaping crew (including V.I.N.CENT.) become bodiless and are mentally fused. I wish I'd bought it now.

Ah cool. I never even thought of the novelisation, Luke. Thanks for the info on that.

Luke Blanchard said:

Lambiek's page on McWilliams is here. I want to read Twin Earths some day.

 

I saw a copy of the The Black Hole novelisation the other day, and had a quick look to see how it ended, because the end of the movie is ambiguous. If I followed it correctly the escaping crew (including V.I.N.CENT.) become bodiless and are mentally fused. I wish I'd bought it now.

Bomba the Jungle Boy #6
July-Aug. 1968
Cover art by: Jack Sparling
Story: Krag
Writer: Denny O'Neil
Art: Jack Sparling

Hundreds of thousands of years ago Krag and his minions ruled their part of the world with an iron fist. They conducted gruesome experiments, until nature itself struck back! This caused Krag to put he and his bodyguards into a state of suspended animation.

In the present, Bomba is taking a drink of water from the river, after a long day of vine swinging when he is attacked by some tribesmen. They are about to kill him when their chief stops them. Apparently, he is the only one who recognizes Bomba. The people fear a pale light that appears in the night sky, and Bomba promises to destroy it for them. The chief's son, Jobo, volunteers to go with him.

The two boys have a bit of fun during their journey, until they are forced to kill a jaguar that attacked them. That night they see a glowing green light. A hand is holding the sphere, and the owner spots the pair. That dude and some other evil tribesmen fight with the two kids winning. At one point Jobo grabs hold of the orb and throws it as a weapon. After the fight there is a giant white sphere in the sky. It grows tentacles and captures the two young men.

They soon meet the reanimated Krag. He tells them that he will rule once again, and he has begun his experiments again. We see inside a pit with animals with different parts, or features. An alligator-headed chicken, or a monkey with scales. Jobo looks down at his hands and sees they are now green and webbed were he grabbed the ball.

We get into another knock down drag out fight between Krag vs. Bomba and Jobo. Krag kills Jobo with a stroke of his sword. Bomba then begins to get his revenge. Before he can claim final victory a weakened ceiling collapses between them, and Bomba must flee before the cave they were fighting in explodes. Bomba vows revenge!

This wasn't completely horrible, not a ringing endorsement I know. Obviously, I did have a few problems with it. I found it hard to believe that only the chief recognized Bomba, are there that many white boys running around the area? The art on Bomba in particular was uneven. His appearance ran from looking 11 or 12 to his late teens. I did like in the flashback scene that opens the book with Sparling used a looser, scratchier style.

An interesting storytelling choice in the comic was not only were there no thought balloons, there were also no speech balloons. All of the speech was handled in the caption boxes. This made the boxes even clunkier when more than one person spoke in a specific panel.

I was never real big on the jungle genre of comics. I'll pick one up every once in a while, and the price was right on this. Cheap! The next issue would be Bomba's last.

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