Adventure Comics #323

August 1964

Cover art by: Curt Swan & George Klein

Story: The Eight Impossible Missions!

Writer: Jerry Siegel

Art: John Forte

I always like it when we get some Legion tryouts, and this issue kicks off with a couple. We get the introduction of Spider Girl who wouldn't join the team here, but would later be a part of them during Keith Giffen's 5 Years Later story. Also, Double Header pops up. He would barely make the Subs.

Into the meat of the story. Proty has developed a puzzle and whoever figures out the answer will be the new Legion leader. By the title you can tell there will be 8 of them. Since there are 8 and we have a story to finish, we blow through them fairly easily. We also learn things like Jor-El's greatest reward was the globe brain of Garf-Og, and Brainiac 5 is really honest.

I enjoyed the trials of the honorary members. Those were probably the most entertaining. Pete Ross had to come up with a super power, and Jimmy Olsen had to become Elastic Lad and amuse everyone. Saturn Girl is the one who figures out the answer to Proty's final puzzle, and she actually remains as Legion leader.

This is a quieter issue, and even the moments of danger lasted only a panel or two. It was fun to see Proty take center stage here. The art by John Forte was excellent I thought. Very clean and crisp.

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I always thought that the deconstruction of Henry Pym was always intended to be a fall-out of his blurting out an insult about Moondragon...that she triggered it as payback...and I was very disappointed when they closed off that avenue in a few more issues down the line, when Iron Man or someone conducts a "test" with ahelmet to determine there was NO other mental influence. Yeah right.

As far as I was concerned, Moondragon was also controling HIM as he reported "No outisde mental control."  Would have been much more satisfying.

Brave and Bold #101

Apr./May 1972

Cover art by: Nick Cardy

Story: Cold Blood, Hot Gun!

Writer: Bob Haney

Art: Jim Aparo

Some dude with the very generic name of “The Bounty Hunter” is in Gotham City hunting some people. Bruce Wayne's name appears on the hit list! The Caped Crusader and Commissioner Gordon decide they are going to have to protect the people on that list.

Metamorpho has been in Simon Stagg's laboratory for the past three years in something with the very scientific name of “glop bath”. Seriously, everyone calls it glop. Simon arouses him a year to early and Metamorpho is ticked. Stagg quickly explains he did this because his daughter, Sapphire, is in danger, and he wants Rex to protect her. Her name also appears on the aforementioned list.

Another dude on the list gets killed off, and the World's Greatest Detective and Gordon are just shocked the Bounty Hunter didn't go down the list in order. What a curve ball!

We learn that Sapphire is a master of disguise, and she sneaks out of her mansion for a night on the town, which includes a visit to an illegal gambling house were she wins big. As she leaves the Bounty Hunter makes an attempt on her life, but Metamorpho saves her. She escapes, before Rex can catch he himself to get her to safety.

Here's the deal. The list if names are all prospective bidders on the Fairbairn Estate, being sold by two brothers. If none of the bidders are there at midnight for the unsealing of the bids, then the mansion reverts back to the brothers. Sapphire and Bruce Wayne are the only two who make it, but they are locked in rooms in the mansion. One of the brothers is behind the whole thing, as he wants to keep the home in the family. Believing his brother only cares about money.

Bruce slips into his Batman garb, and Metamorpho was able to track Sapphires car by her exhaust fumes. When the one brother takes the Bounty Hunter to were his prsioners are supposed to be, the room is empty, and he kills that Fairbairn, before Batman can stop him. The pair get into a bit of hand-to-hand combat (which was wonderfully illustrated). As Batman gets the upperhand Sapphire appears, and the Bounty Hunter uses her to escape. He lets her go once he is safely away.

The living Fairbairn brother decides to keep the estate. Sapphire thinks she should have gotten it since she was the only bidder still there at midnight. Batman stalks off knowing he will meet the Bounty Hunter again, and he will have to stop him or die trying!

A pretty decent comic, and I don't know if it was ever explained previously why Metamorpho was gone so long, or why he would be gone, but this was as good a reason as any other. Simon Stagg was trying to cure him. I am assuming not, but does anyone know if the Bounty Hunter showed up again? Also, what a give-up name. I would have preferred Assassin or Mercenary over the Bounty Hunter for such a generic name. All of them are terrible though.

There was also a Viking Prince reprint as the backup which featured some dynamite Joe Kubert art.

One thing that you forgot to mention was that the Bounty Hunter had one arm. In B&B #113, Batman would fight another one-armed man nicknamed, well, "One Arm". Haney never was good at making up super-villains.

Sapphire Stagg was quite the wild child then. To his credit Batman doesn't leave the brat to her fate!

This issue was Metamorpho's first appearance (My'72) since his last issue of his own comic, #17 (Ap'68). Immediately the Element Man became the back-up of Action Comics #413-418 (Ju-N'72) and went on an adventure through time in Justice League of America #100-102 (Au-O'72).

The Fabulous Freak then became the back-up of World's Finest #217-220 (My-D'73) and co-stars with Superman and Batman in #226 (D'74) and #229 (Ap'75). Which led to 1st Issue Special #3 (Ju'75) and the classic (IMHO) B&B #123 (D'75) where Rex battles the manic-depressive Plastic Man!

After that Metamorpho vanishes again except for B&B #154 (S'79) and DC Comics Presents #40 (D'81) until he rose to prominence once more in Batman and the Outsiders #1 (Au'83).

 

Good info, Philip! I figured this was his first appearance in quite some time. Although it does amuse me that after everything that Bob Haney just lets go, or never bothers explaining he feels a need to tell us were Metamorpho has been.

I know I have some of those other appearances like that 1st Issue Special, with that great Ramona Fradon cover. I also really like that issue of Brave and Bold with Plastic Man.

In one of those uncanny coincidences that seem to follow me on this forum, today (Tuesday), I picked up April's comics including the lastest Back Issue which featured DC's Bronze Age back-ups. There is an article about the Metamorpho stories I wrote about last Friday!

 

Captain Marvel #1

November 1989

Cover art by: M.D. Bright

Story: The Dream is the Truth

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie

Pencils: M.D. Bright

Inks: Stan Drake & Frank Bolle

First thing I learned in this comic was that this version of Captain Marvel had lost her powers. I had no idea. Well she is moving on with her life, and has taken on a job at a shipping company as a captain of a ship. Working for her friend Ron Morgan.

On the trip down to Rio the ship is hi-jacked by some high tech criminals. They kill the rest of the crew but mistake Monica for a passenger (she was in workout clothes). Not being completely helpless she knocks out the pair who have her, and goes to her room to don her Captain Marvel uniform. If you are wondering why she even packed, that is a good question even asked in the comic. She has no idea why. Alright, lets just move along then. There is also never a reason given why they decided to kill the crew, but not the passengers.

She arrives on the deck, and hopes her reputation alone will get the bad guys to give up. Amazingly, this works! Up until a real villain, Powderkeg, shows up. Still she manages to outsmart him, and he manages to bury himself under 6 tons of wheat. CM quickly gets the passengers onto some life boats, right when the wheat dust catches fire.

She goes back down below to rescue Powderkeg, and finds him looking for a box. He attacks her again, and her powers kick back on. Although not quite working like they did before. She can no longer go immaterial, and now is super strong and really tough. Wow, what an original power set...She can still fly, though. She knocks out Powderkeg, and flies back to the states.

Once there Mr. Fantastic tests her new abilities, and lets her know she isn't nearly as powerful as she was before. She has to concentrate now stay in her energy form, so she is much more vulnerable due to lapses in concentration and surprise attacks. She then wings her way to Ron Morgan's office to find him bloodied on the ground and the office ransacked. He confesses to her that he got the loan to start his shipping company from Kristina Ramos in exchange for some Stark circuits he had found. Only later to learn she is a Brazilian crime-lord. He was attacked by a female, and he finally gave her to box of circuits.

Time to fly back to Rio, and she gets there the same time as the plane carrying Dr. Sofen AKA Moonstone! The pair get unto a really nice battle on the page. With some great action. Moonstone is looking for some revenge since Captain Marvel almost broke her neck once. She just about has CM dead to rights when Monica wallops her with a a truly fierce punch that Moonstonee wasn't ready for now that she is so strong.

Kristina Ramos then shows up in a set of old Guardsman armor. She manages to get the Stark circuits into the armor, and is now “Unstoppable!”. She then begins to kick Captain Marvel's butt all over the airport. That is when Morgan and James Rhodes show up with a device that will disable the armor. Which it does.

Which makes me wonder. It takes Captain Marvel 3 hours to fly from Rio back to the U.S. , so how did Morgan contact Rhodes, go get him (or Rhodes come to him) with the device and then fly down to Rio themselves. Arriving 10-15 minutes after Capatain Marvel at the most. I guess it is best not to think to hard about it.

A pretty average comic, but fine for only 50 cents. Depowering Captain Marvel seems like a terrible idea to me, and making her like so many other heroes and villains was rather weak. I guess it might have been this or not use her at all.

The art by MD Bright and company had a lot of John Byrne going on here.

Marvel's handling of Monica Rambeau is a regretable mess. Roger Stern had developed a powerful, African-American female super-hero. They had so much faith in her that they dubbed her Captain Marvel (II in the MU) something it took over thirty-five years for Ms. Marvel to do. Not only does she join the Avengers, not only does she become such a pivotal member that she's part of Secret Wars but she becomes its chairperson.

An ill-considered change of direction banished her from the MU briefly as she lost her energy-based powers. This made her more of a physical character. When Genis-Vell, after being called Legacy, decided to be Captain Marvel III, Monica was demoted to Photon. Then Genis wanted to be called Photon, so Monica, being too good a sport, renamed herself Pulsar. She regained her energy powers but not her rank or her standing.

The lady deserved better!

 

When Genis-Vell changed his name to Photon was a pretty funny scene in Thunderbolts.  She went out and confronted him about it.

I always liked her as a character. I missed it originally when she was un-powered, and then re-powered. I was pretty much out of comics then. Not for a lack of desire, but no money.

Daredevil #276

January 1990

Cover art by: John Romita Jr & Al Williamson

Story: The Hundred Heads of Ultron

Writer: Ann Nocenti

Pencils: John Romita Jr.

Inks: Al Williamson

This is part of the Acts of Vengeance storyline, and here Dr. Doom has activated an old Ultron robot to take down old Horn Head. Seems a bit like a little overkill to me. I generally like JR Jr's art, but his Ultron looks terrible. He looks like he is made out of a white box and some PVC pipe, or maybe that exhaust pipe from your dryer.

This Ultron has had it programming really messed up, and has all kind of problems above and beyond what he normally has. This one has fallen “in love” with an artificially created human, Number Nine. Yes, later there is a “Revolution Number 9” joke. Somehow he thinks climbing to the top of a pile of his heads (he calls it an altar) well help him solve this problem.

Well, Daredevil isn't alone here, as he as two Inhumans here to lend a hand. Karnak begins to meditate to find out Ultron's weak spot. Gorgon just watches as DD idiotically crashes a truck into Ultron, and then he pulls Daredevil out of the wreckage. Meanwhile, Number Nine begins to actually reach Ultron, and help with his programming. Ultron's solution? Begin to remove his own head, I guess that will get rid of the offending circuits. NN tells him to do it cautiously.

Gorgon finally decides it is his time to attack! Ultron just thrashes him in like one panel. Karnak has a plan though. He and Daredevil attack simultaneously, and decapitate Ultron! Winning the day. Number Nine finds the head and trudges off. Planning to rebuild him as this one had turned good, and they were meant to be together.

I really like the idea behind Acts of Vengeance, and I wish we would see more of it in comics. Villains going up against heroes they don't usually fight. I still remember the shock of seen Ra's al-Ghul as the villain in the Legion all of those years ago. Obviously, here you need to give DD some help to be able to battle a powerhouse like Ultron, and they did, I guess. I'm not real knowledgeable on the Inhumans.

There was a lot of what Ultron did that didn't make sense, but you can gloss over that because of the weird programming this robot had.

The art was okay, but like I said I didn't like the look of Ultron, nor the hair that was going on Number Nine, just way to wild. She isn't Medusa.

If you liked the Acts of Vengence concept, may I recommend two Omnibus for you to consider?  Both are for sale on ebay and through Amazon and Tales of Wonder, etc.  The first is the collected main storyline of Act of Vengence.  The SECOND, and not to be confused with the first, is the Omnibus that collects all the CROSS-OVERS ONLY...and is sounding like it's more along the lines of what you're looking for.

I think I bought virtually all of the original storyline in various Avengers titles, so there wasn't much I missed...however, I shunned most of the Cross-overs as unnecessary to the main story, and I won't shell out big bucks for either Omnibus until one falls in price and I catch it on ebay.


Enjoy. PS: This was a wierd period for DD... IIRC, the son of Mehpisto "Blackheart" shows up while JRJR is drawing and it takes the Silver Surfer to save DD's bacon.  Thant is all...

Thanks for the tips on those Omnibus, Kirk. Man, those are pretty pricey though. The DD books only cost me 50 cents a piece. Maybe I'll look for the individual issues at a con or soemthing on the cheap

You are right it was a weird period for him. Ann Nocenti at times took him to a very street level stories with no supervillains at all, and then would mix it up with some supernatural ones as well. It was also when they introduced Typhoid Mary who is bat guano crazy, and a really interesting character.

DC Comics Presents #4

December 1978

Cover art by: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Story: Sun-Stroke!

Writer: Len Wein

Art: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Chemo emerges from the ocean, and trudges off towards downtown Metropolis. Where the Metal Men happen to be playing a game of tennis. The robots see their old nemesis and attack. Gold tells Tin and Platinum to turn into meal flakes in order to smother Chemo. Their responosmeters don't respond, and they are unable to. Chemo defeats the Metal Men with ease, and leaves them under the wreckage of a construction site.

Meanwhile, Clark is filming the test flight of a new commercial plane (think Concorde) when a water spout appears in middle of the ocean. He flies out as Superman to save to plane. How he got out without decompressing the cabin I have no idea. Anyways, the Man of Steel tries to use his heat vision on the water spout and it fails him. It takes all of his concentration to get anything going at all. Once a second spout appears, Supes uses brute strength to save the plane. He needs some answers on his powers.

He flies over to STAR Labs, and the Metal Men are already there to get their responosmeters checked out. This marks the first time they have met. Dr. Klyburn has figured out what is going on. A magentic beam has hit the sun and the magnetic waves are screwing with the responosmeters, and it has also affected the sun which in turn has messed with Superman's powers. Also there has been an increase in ultraviolet light which is harming everyone on Earth. The group decides to figure out how to fix the problem.

In the lab of the villain IQ, Chemo appears, answering the summons that IQ sent out for him. IQ is even able to mentally control him with some effort. IQ is responsible for everything that has happened. He gets smarter the more sunlight hits him, so he used a magnetic cannon that was supposed to make him even smarter. He made a miscalculation, and has unbalanced the sun, and it will soon go nova. He has deduced he can stop it if he fires Chemo into the sun.

The heroes track IQ down, but not before he fires his new Chemo-cannon. Superman admonishes the villain, pointing out he made another mistake and the Chemo beam will actually cause the nova to happen. Darn decimal points!

Superman flies off and intercepts the beam, but is knocked unconscious. The cannon itself explodes and now we have 6 mini-Chemos. IQ is unable to mentally control them, and they turn him into stone. The Metal Men then attack. They are defeated quite easily AGAIN. The 6 merge back into 1 big Chemo. This one destroys the malleable robots. Superman returns, and he and Chemo get into a heated combat. Literally, as Chemo begins to overheat from the exertion. Superman grabs the behemoth and tosses him into space as he explodes. Superman take the Metal Men back to STAR Labs is able to get them back on their feet.

I like the Metal Men, so I rather liked this comic. It also had some villains I have hardly, if ever seen before. Even if I did have some issues with it. The main problem, especially in the early issues DC Comics Presents, is that it is hard to make to co-stars shine. This was more of a Superman comic with some guest stars. The Metal Men were ineffectual the entire story. Seriously, they didn't do anything right outside of being used as a giant diving rod to find IQ.

Was this really the first time Superman met the Metal Men? Only a few of Superman's powers were effected by the sun. Has that been established before? Was IQ seen after this? I don't remember him at all, but that isn't saying much. The heroes didn't speak about him at all after he was turned to stone.

The art was fantastic, and I really liked the look of Chemo here. Also the short beach scene in which not everyone was a tanned 6 pack god/busomy goddess walking the Earth. It had some realistic looking people.

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