FOREVER PEOPLE #1  /  Mar’71 – “IN SEARCH OF A DREAM!

When Jack Kirby went to DC in late 1971, the first thing he did were the first issues of FOREVER PEOPLE, NEW GODS, and MISTER MIRACLE.  However, in order to get a quicker return on their “investment”, the higher-ups at DC insisted that he take over some established book, and they apparently didn’t care which one.  They gave him his choice of any one he wanted.  He looked over them all, and felt none were right for him.  (CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN, which he had started himself, was about to be cancelled, and apparently was out of the running.)  Kirby asked for whichever book didn’t have a regular team, and as JIMMY OLSEN was in the midst of switching creative teams, JIMMY OLSEN it was.  Also, several people apparently suggested Jack revive his NEWBOY LEGION, and since Jimmy was already a “newsboy”, it seemed to make sense to somebody.  Anyway, this is how Jack got on JO, and how his 1st JO arrived 4 MONTHS before any of this other brand-new series.


Jack had a long tradition of creating “group” books, going back to “kid gangs”.  In the tradition of the “Dead End Kids” (who themselves eveolved into the East Side Kids and then The Bowery Boys), Jack, together with Joe Simon, had done The Young Allies, The Newsboy Legion, Boy Commandos, Boy Explorers, Boys’ Ranch, and finally the more grown-up CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN.  With Stan Lee, he did FANTASTIC FOUR (who only acted liked kids), THE AVENGERS, X-MEN (definitely a return to “young” heroes with an adult mentor).  And so it was, when he returned to DC, the very first thing he did (apparently) was a new “kid gang”, but one geared toward the modern-day of the late-60’s youth and counter-culture movement.  THE FOREVER PEOPLE were not quite hippies, not quite bikers, and not quite super-heroes either.  More like a little bit of each.  I always had the most restrictive, conservative upbringing anyone could imagine, and yet, in the late 60’s, while I admit I probably shook my head in dismay at some of TV’s depictions of “hippies”, there was something about the attitude, the philsophy, and the design and dress sense that I found appealing... and still do.


The cover of FP #1 shows the group racing toward the readers in their “Super-Cycle”.  Between the characters and the bike, the colors are as wild and glaring as you could get.  Probably for commercial reasons, Superman is a guest-star this issue (in a similar way that Spider-Man kept turning up early in the runs of new Marvel Comics).  If ever a costumed hero’s whole personal screamed “conservative”, by the late 60’s, Superman was it.  So how curious to see he’s racing after the young heroes of the book, apparently desperately in NEED of help only they can give him!  Like so many DC Comics of the 60’s (never mind that this probably came out right at the end of 1970), here was an image sure to pique any potential reader’s curiosity.


If you look close, it’s also very obvious the cover was inked by Frank Giacoia.  I always thought Frank did more work for Marvel than DC (in fact, I was somehow under the impression he worked exclusively for Marvel), so it was a surprise to realize he’d done this.  Apparently, he only did it because the cover was the very 1st piece of art Kirby turned in—and Vince Colletta hadn’t worked his back-office deal to ink ALL of Kirby’s books.  (Jack was FAST—so was Vince.  I guess SOMEBODY must have thought having them together was a good idea.  Oy.)


The book opens with 3 consecutive panels which show—SOMETHING—appearing from nowhere.  A glowing light, radiant energy, a cylinder-shape, accompanied by a steadily-increasing high-pitched noise.  And then—“RRRABOOOOM”—a strange, multi-colored multi-wheeled “bike” (it’s got handlebars, what the heck else would one call it?), with 4 equally-colorful teenagers (presumably) riding the thing, roaring out of the energy cylinder and into our reality.  The title reads, “In Search of A Dream!”, which suggests a combination of 2 different Moody Blues album titles, “In Search Of The Lost Chord” and “On The Threshold Of A Dream” (1968 & 1969, respectively).  “Biker” movies were a big fad in the late 60’s, the most famous and successful perhaps being EASY RIDER.  If that film had Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild’ as its theme song / anthem, looking over these first 4 pages, The Moodies’ “Departure” and “Ride My See-Saw” come to mind.  I can easily picture them being used over the opening credits of a possible FP feature film, as they seem to perfectly reflect the style, the attitude, and even the philsophy of the comic.


Teenagers will be teenragers (wherever they might come from), and sure enough, no sooner does this wild bunch arrive on Earth than they almost cause a traffic accident.  But here they display some amazing talents, first by shifting their atoms to avoid a head-on collision (Barry Allen’s FLASH would be proud), but then to catch a plunging car in mid-air after it’s soared off a cliff.  Whoever these guys are, they’re definitely not baddies.


The large group shot on page 6 for some reason makes me think of the cast of THOR, as filtered thru an entirely different generation.  Something in their various appearances and personalities remind me of Hogun (Vykin), Thor (Mark Moonrider, the obvious leader), Volstagg (Big Bear) and Fandral (Serifan).  As if, if those guys had kids, this might be what they’d look like.  (I’m reminded that right around this time, Hanna-Barbera had a short-lived series on Saturday mornings, PEBBLES AND BAMM BAMM.)  By luck, the 2 people they saved after running them off the road are friends of JIMMY OLSEN (small world?) and intent to pass on their story, with pictures.


With the introductions out of the way, we’re plunged right into the drama, as Serifan collapses, exhibiting psychic power which clues him in on ther location of their missing friend, “Beautiful Dreamer”.  And while this is going on, they’re being watched by some underworld types, members of a group called “Inter-Gang”, who in turn are working for some nasty-looking character called “Darkseid” (nothing subtle about some of these names, is there?).


Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Clark Kent has just finished interviewing a fighter named “Rocky” (who doesn’t look like Sylvester Stallone—heh).  Rocky’s upset, because despite his fame and success, he points out how, with someone around like Superman, the whole “fight game is a farce”.  After he leaves, Clark (who, of course, IS Superman) finds himself pondering, does the general public fear, resent, or even hate Superman?  And after 30 years of comic-book stories, he suddenly begins to feel alone in the world.


Just then, Jimmy pops in with news and a photo of the “Boom Tube”, and, incredibly, his microscopic vision actually allows him to see something in the photo invisible to any other eyes—the sight of a CITY in the far, far distance, at the other end of the dimensional tunnel.  He’s suddenly overcome with the desire to find this “Supertown”, where, he hopes, he might find others like himself.  (I guess his buddies in the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA wouldn’t be too flattered by his attitude here.)


Things happen fast for the rest of the story.  Supes is shot out of the sky by a helicopter that’s trailing the teenagers, who, after seeing him take out the copter, mistake him for being someone from the same place they come from!  As famous as Supes is, this clearly demonstrates they’ve never been to Earth before.  Then, attacked by a group of monsters, Supes seems helpless—until the kids gather as one around their “Mother Box” (apparently a sentient, living computer), and shouting a certain word—“TARRU!”—disappear, and are replaced by a super-hero type called “The Infinity Man”.  He makes short work of the critter, when suddenly, Darkseid appears in person.  He reveals he was after the girl, Beautiful Dreamer, because he believes she’s one of the few can fathom “The Anti-Life Equation”.  However, her mind somehow refuses to “interpret” it, making her useless to Darkseid, who nonetheless reveals there aree “others” who can—“and when the secret is MINE, I shall TEST it here!  --snuff out ALL life on Earth—with a WORD!”  With that, he vanishes.  WHOA.  Heavy stuff!


That’s when they notice Dreamer is laying atop some bombs which will detonate if she’s moved.  Supes quickly figures out the only way to save her is to move SO fast he can OUT-RUN the blast—and he DOES, taking her and Infinity Man with him to safety.  The hero vanishes, replaced by the kids, who offer to help him find “Supertown”, while telling him the fight is HERE, and he’s needed HERE as much as they are.  As Big Bear puts it, “You’ve earned the trip!  But I hope you can LIVE with your CONSCIENCE—LATER!”  He flies into the re-materialized Boom Tube, and almost makes it thru, before he realizes whatever is going on behind him is too important to put aside for personal reasons.


This is one WILD comic-book.  Kirby creates a non-stop thrill ride, and Vince Colletta doesn’t do all that badly (though I thought he did MUCH better work on the JIMMY OLSEN series).  There’s a few problems, though, and most of them center on Superman—and Jimmy.  For the most part, I didn’t mind when Murphy Anderson re-drew Supes & Jimmy in JO, as he’s just so good, and somehow the difference between him and Kirby isn’t as glaring as it might be.  But Al Plastino, who did the redraws on the first 2 JO issues, also did this one, and Supes is in SO much of this book (the teens are almost reduced to guest-stars in their own mag), it’s really glaring, especially as Plastino did both pencils AND inks with no regard to how the rest of the book looked.


Also, when Jimmy walked into Clark’s office—all smiles and wearing his BOW-TIE, I suddenly realized, THIS issue MUST take place before the story in JIMMY OLSEN #133-138.  Has to!  Aside from anything else, there’s no mention of Morgan Edge, who, presumably, took over the Daily Planet JUST before the events in JO #133.  Also, Supes & Jimmy do not leave “The Project” until JO #139, and there’s NO obvious break between issues or during the issue wherehis other appearances should take place.  (Having no knowledge of Supes’ OTHER books, I’m not even gonna try to figure out the continuity between Jack’s stories and the rest of them.)


This may seem odd, considering how slowly, subtly, Darkseid is introduced and built up, a bit at a time, over those JO issues, while HERE, he gets a full-blown personal appearance, and actually SPELLS OUT what his goal is.  I know this was done FIRST, but I imagined the JO issue (since they came out first) were designed as a “prologue”.  Now, I feel THIS is the prologue, and the JO issues are the first act, though in the beginning, it’s not apparent to everyone involved.


The funny thing about that is, in the JO story, Supes repeatedly shows no care for the fact that he’s up-staging everybody (Jimmy, The Newsboys, etc.), and that becomes a deep concern of his here.  Also, in this issue, Darkseid talks about “the war”, and the “Anti-Life Equation”, and the fact that there are “others” he will find who can put it into effect for him.  Which of course, makes this story serve as a direct lead-in to NEW GODS #1, which came out a couple weeks after this comic did!  In effect, FOREVER PEOPLE #1 can be seen as a direct lead-in to JIMMY OLSEN #133, NEW GODS #1, and of course, FOREVER PEOPLE #2.  Take yer pick!


Before I finish, I’d just like to mention two things that struck me re-reading this time.  One, the way the Forever People say “TARRU!”, disappear and are replaced by The Infinity Man (and vice-versa), seems like nothing less than a modern-day (1970) version of the Billy Batson-Captain Marvel transformation!  In current comics, writers have completely re-interpreted “Captain Marvel” as being Billy himself, in a grown-up body (but still with the mind of a child).  Apparently, for the characters’ entire existence at Fawcett Comics, this was NEVER the case.  Secondly, when I look at Beautiful Dreamer, especially when she’s sleeping, she reminds me a young Shelly Winters.  So there!
    (6-17-2011)

Oh yes.  And one more thing.  As far as I can recall, FP #1 is the ONLY time Darkseid is wearing a CAPE. You know, WITH the cape, all of a sudden those boots make me think of something out of some tiny European country from the middle ages. Not sure I ever noticed that before. Sort of like in THE PRISONER OF ZENDA. As far as I know, he was NEVER seen with a cape again... until Kenner gave him one with their SUPER POWERS line action figure!  (It still butg me how those IDIOTS packaged those things.  In a crate, they'd have like 10 SUPERMANs, 10 DARKSEIDs, and 1 of each of all the others.  And specialty dealers who were pals with the guys who worked at the toy stores would have access to them FIRST, so a lot of the figures NEVER even got on the shelves.  Is it any wonder they wound up going for SO MUCH per figure at conventions?)

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KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH #48 / Jan'77

The best version I could find of this online was at Heritage Auctions, but was only 728 pixels wide!  So it's a bit fuzzy.  I only slightly adjusted the white background using "levels" so as not to blank out the skin tones, then adjusted the white the rest of the way separately (using "magic wand" to grab areas).  This one was very off-rotation, and clearly the crease was on in the wrong place, as there wound up being way too much room on the upper-right, while the left edge was missing too much and had to be filled in.  Luckily there wasn't much detail.  At least it was a "quickie".

KOBRA #6  /  Feb'77

Absurdly, the biggest image I could find of this one was only 523 pixels wide (again, at Heritage Auctions).  What is the problem with so many of these from this period?

This was, apparently, when the book finally found a stable art team, in Mike Nasser & Joe Rubinstein, a pair of impressive talewnts if ever there were from the late 70's.  Sadly, while they did 3 episodes together, the book was cancelled after their 2nd...

I notice Randu Singh, who was a regular in THE DEMON, turned up in the last several issues of KOBRA.  Was he intended to become a regular?  Hard to tell, as the book was cancelled so soon.

My recollection is he was introduced as if he were going to be a regular character, but of course a character might appear for an arc and then depart. The GCD tells me he arrived in #4. Perez was killed in the same issue. Johnny Double was used in the later issues and can be seen on the cover of #5. I don't recall either Singh or Double as having appeared in the DC Special Series #1 story reportedly intended for the unpublished Kobra #8, but that story might have been written with the intention of changing the series's direction to save it from cancellation.(1) Martin Pasko, who wrote the series after it left Kirby's hands, later used Kobra as a villain in Superman, but the story wasn't one of his best.

 

(1) Spoiler warning for the DC Special Series #1 instalment. The story was basically written as a Batman story. Kobra, protected by a psychic shield, had Jason killed. (The sequence revealed he had already murdered Jason's girlfriend.) Batman vowed to avenge him.

SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS #4  /  Dec’76 – “WHEN THIEVES FALL OUT...

The SSoSV call Wizard & Sinestro out for sitting on the sidelines during the recent battle, waiting to see who would win.  As more in-fighting breaks out, Wizard zaps Hi-Jack into another dimension, before Sinetro grabs Wizard and the pair escape.  Manhunter tells the rest of the group they’re better off without them.  Meanwhile, Star Saphire leads Green Lantern into a confrontation with Mantis, during which the latter becomes so arrogant he makes the mistake of offending his lord and master, Darkseid.  Perhaps most strange, when Sinestro & Wizard return to the Citadel, they find talent promoter Funky Flashman waiting for them, with an offer to improve their public image.  WTF?????

Star Saphire finally rendezvous with the rest of the SSoSV, but has failed to notice she’s lost Green Lantern—but picked up Kalibak!  A huge battle erupts between Kalibak & Gorilla Grodd, tearing across half of San Francisco, until Grodd winds up beating Kalibak more through trickery than sheer strength.  While this is going on, Mantis begs to stay in Darkseid’s favor, but panics when he sees—of all things—The Black Racer (the embodiment of death) heading his way!


Another chaotic mess.  Halfway thru the issue, Ernie Chan took over from Pablo Marcos, with Vince Colletta (apparently) inking all of it.  David Kraft continues as writer, and Gerry Conway as editor, so it’s difficult to be sure who came up with what ideas in this issue.  Funky Flashman, who had been such a vividly-crafted character in MISTER MIRACLE #6, seems more “generic” this time out, his dialogue terribly-over-written, and physically, he seems to bear more of a resemblance to Dave Kraft’s later DEFENDERS comedy character, “Dollar Bill”, than the obvious Stan Lee parody he was originally designed as.  In general, I hate the habit of many 70’s comics writers of introducing sub-plots for a page or two in one issue, then leaving us hanging until next time... and probably the time after that.  (Marv Wolfman would do this in TOMB OF DRACULA, usually for 6 issues in a row, when introducing new sub-plots.)  It’s an over-reliance on “soap-opera” story structure which is just, to me, sloppy story-telling.
    (12-6-2012)

Wizard zaps Hi-Jack into another dimension

 

"Enjoy the land of limbo, scoffer!"

NOTHING to do with the Fourth World (except by extension, Gorilla Grodd in SSoSV)...

...whatta ya think, one of the best-selling DC reprints of all time (potentially) ???

DC SPECIAL (v.2) #16  (Spring 1975)

DC SPECIAL #27 / May'77

A relatively simple restoration, the biggest challenge was eliminating the glare at the bottom edge (yes, another of those endless comics sold in a SEALED plastic box).

Although this came out in between SSoSV #6 & 7, according to "He Who Wanders" (at LEGION WORLD), this CAPTAIN COMET spotlight issue apparently takes place in between #4 & 5, which is why I'm posting it here.  Which makes sense, as CC seems to be missing from an issue or two.

The behind-the-scenes changes really kick in here.  Gerry Conway was listed as editor on SSoSV #1-4.  After that, Paul Levitz was listed as editor on DC SPECIAL #27, Denny O'Neil as editor on SSoSV #5, and Jack C. Harris took over for a nice haul beginning with SSoSV #6.  When I was a teenager, I had no idea what an "editor" did on comics, and so had no idea that often they are THE driving force behind everything that goes on, including assmbling the creative team, and often steering the writers in whatever directions to take a series in the long haul.  So when you go thru 4 editors in 4 issues, you can expect CHAOS, not to mention a complete overhaul of creative teams, and in this case, a total change in the overall direction of the book in general.

Bob Rosakis (a constant presence at DC in the 70's) was the writer for DC SPECIAL #27 as well as SSoSV #5-7.  One could say he was filling in for Gerry Conway, as when Conway returned to DC from his brief return to Marvel, he took back SSoSV and did the title from #8-14, and also did DC SPECIAL SERIES #6 (the SSoSV SPECIAL), and, SUPER-TEAM FAMILY #13-14, which features plot-lines that spilled over into it from SSoSV.

When I think about it, Conway leaving a book, then coming back some months later, is something that one almost never saw happen at Marvel (except when it happened with Jack Kirby in the early & mid-60's, on books he created himself, and was then asked back to make "modifications" to, such as Ant-Man / Wasp / Giant-Man, and Hulk).  Frankly, when Conway kicked so many people off so many books during his brief return-stint to Marvel in 1977, it annoyed me no end, and saddened me that NONE of the writers displaced (Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber, Tony Isabella, Marv Wolfman) ever managed to return to the books they were kicked off of (with the exception of Steve Englehart on AVENGERS, but that took an awful lot of years to happen, not a matter of a few months).

As often happens with a change in editors, the switch from Conway to (eventually) Harris saw the departure of penciller Pablo Marcos, who was replaced by Rich Buckler, who did DC SPECIAL #27 and SSoSV #5-9.  Inks were supplied on the various issues by Joe Rubinstein, Vince Colletta, Bob Layton & (my favorite) Bob McLeod.

Many of the covers of DC SPECIAL focused on themes rather than characters:  Super-Gorillas, Earth-Shaking Stories, War of the Giants, War Against the Monsters, Earth Shattering Disasters.  This may explain why "Dinosaurs At Large!" was more prominent than "Captain Comet".

SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS #5  /  Feb’77 – “ENDGAME!”

Mantis grovels at Darkseid’s feet for his life as The Black Racer approaches.  Just then, the SSoSV, led by Manhunter, arrive, and Darkseid—incredibly—orders The Black Racer away.  (Since when does he have any connection with, or power over, the being who is the embodiment of death?)  After the group of villains gives Mantis a pounding, and Manhunter decides to tackle Darkseid himself (physically—this is unheard of!!!), Darkseid decides to open a Boom Tube to return to Apokalips.  But Manhunter zooms in after him, announcing that his creators made him a human bomb.  An instant later, a huge explosion erupts from the Boom Tube, apparently taking both Manhunter and Darkseid with it.

And so, it looks like 7 pages in, the first main storyline of this series reached an abrupt (if absurd) conclusion.  We then have 2 pages of Funky Flashman (who has ditched the sunglasses now) incessantly rambling on and on and on about nothing I can make any sense out of, until Sinestro literally pushing his face away and flies off, departing the group, and Earth.  (“On that note, we take out leave of the frankly fantabulous Funky for now... to return next issue!”  As I said, this sort of bad habit of using brief interludes to advance sub-plots got very, very annoying in the 70’s.)

Captain Comet digs himself out of some rubble, then proceeds to dig Green Lantern out as well.  GL takes CC to the satellite HQ of the Justice League of America, where Superman announces their computer database has verified that CC was a hero decades past.  GL suggests they “chaperone” CC for awhile, to help bring him up to speed on the status of heroes and villains on Earth.  A little while later, GL and Hawkman see Sinestro attacking San Francisco on their monitor, and Hawkman decides to dive into action, since GL was scheduled for “monitor duty”.  Apparently pissed off at the entire SSoSV, Sinestro has decided to cause San Francisco to suffer a massive earthquake, JUST to ensure ther destruction of the Sinister Citadel!  (Isn’t that a bit of overkill?)

Seconds into a fight, Sinestro smashes Hawkman’s gravity belt, showing up just how limited this guy’s range of super-powers really is (and making it look like he should have let Green Lantern go on this mission instead).  As CC dives to Hawkman’s rescue, Sinestro decides to escape into space (like he probably should have done earlier).  In the sort of stunt you’d probably never see outside of a DC comic, CC manages to stop the Citadel building from collapsing.  He then takes Hawkman with him into space, using his unusual power to surround the two of them with an oxygen bubble.  What Hawkman could do, in space, without his gravity belt, is beyond me, though.  Sinestro attacks CC, and CC manages to beat Sinestro single-handed (while Hawkman just hovers there helplessly as a spectator).  As the pair take Sinestro back to the JLA satellite as their prisoner, CC announces his intention to round up the remaining Secret Society members.


Well, this was one severely underwhelming transitional issue.  Denny O’Neil fills in as editor for the departed Gerry Conway, while Bob Rosakis joins the line-up as the new regular writer.  Along the way, O’Neil and Rosakis prove they have no clue how to write Darkseid, and their grasp of physics, characterization, character motivation, pacing and story structure are severely backward.  Maybe having just spent a year-and-a-half re-reading Jack Kirby comics has spoiled me, but it seems the contrast between his writing and just about everyone else’s at DC points out just how lame most DC Comics writing really was back then.  The fact that, to this day, many so-called ‘fans” continue to push the idea that Kirby was a “terrible” writer becomes all the more baffling then.  I can only figure that people who feel that way are either used to reading CRAP and can’t deal with anything that ISN’T crap, or there’s a certain amount of jealousy or resentment involved, if only by proxy.  Many fans look back on old comics they read when they were kids with an almost unhealthy amount of nostalgia, which makes many old books seems better, in their memories, than they actually were.  Kirby’s stuff is SO GOOD, it makes everyone else’s look WORSE than it already was.  And who wants their cherised memories ruined that way?

Along with the change-over in writing, this issue also marks the debut on the book of Rich Buckler.  A lot of people tend to dismiss Buckler for the periods where he was tracing Kirby panels, but the truth is, he spent most of his time being a 3rd-rate Neal Adams.  What nobody seems to point out is just how stiff and awkward so much of his figure-work tends to be (which may be why his bogus Kirby work stands out, as it tends to be better than his usual stuff).  Quite often, intense, overpowering inks help to hide Buckler’s shortcomings as a layout man, but in this case, the inks are by Vince Colletta, and somehow, that just draws more attention to the problem.

The nicest way I can describe this issue is that it’s across-the-board “average” for mid-70’s DC.  It’s not really terrible... but there’s nothing here to get worked up about either.
    (12-9-2012)

KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH #49  /  Mar'77

I dunno, this may be my LEAST-faovore Ernie Chua cover from this period.  The image I found was dark & dirty, and had a lot of bleed-thru from the other side (blasted cheap, thin paper stock).  Fortunately, I was able to take care of most of it by using "magic wand" (which required hitting an AWFUL LOT of small red areas-- ands I'm sure I missed some of them) and then cranking up the red in "color balance".  Despite itself, a relative "quickie"... thank goodness.

KOBRA #7  /  Apr'77

Another relative "quickie".  When I adjusted "levels" a lot of it got faded out, but fortunately going in with "fence" and "airbrush" fixed the large black areas in the upper half.

The creative team of Martin Pasko (who'd been involved since the revamp of #1), Mike Nasser (not the greatest layout man or storyteller in the world, but servicable and visually impressive enough) & Joe Rubinstein (one of the BEST inkers to come into the biz in the late 70's, and who, decades later, has NEVER done a bad ink job that I've seen) were apparently just starting to really kick ass on this book.  They did 3 issues in a row, of which this was the 2nd... but unfortunately, this was the LAST issue of the book, as the chaos of the earlier issues apparently put sales in the toilet, and it was cancelled with this issue.  The 3rd Nasser-Rubinstein episode was published 5 months later (only 3 months later than KOBRA #8 would have been) but I wonder how few readers actually found it, on purpose?

SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS #6  /  Apr’77 – “CAPTAINS CATACLYSMIC!

It’s “theme” crime time again, as former SSoSV members (and Flash rogues gallery members) Captain Cold and Captain Boomerang have (between issues) broken Batman pirate-themed villain Captain Stingaree out of prison, to go on a crime spree in which they capture of kidnaps other “Captains”.  Only in a DC book, right?  First, they use Captain Boomerang’s rotating boomerang-shaped spaceship to invade “Space Lab” and hold its crew hostage, then they board and loot the “S.S. Sunset” (the world’s largest passenger liner), and finally, they interrupt a football game in order to kidnap the captain of one of the teams.

Captain Comet interrupts the 1st crime (but is forced to let the baddies go free when they threaten the life of one of the astronauts), nobody gets in the way the 2nd time, but Comet and Black Canary intrude the 3rd time, beating and capturing the 3 baddies, and managing to rescue the 2 earlier captives when Comet learns their location by reading Stingaree’s mind.

While this is going on, Funky Flashman & The Wizard are watching the crime spree on the TV news, as Funky keeps rambling about how this sort of thing give super-villains “poor P.R.”.  I just don’t GET what he hopes to accomplish with his idea of “selling” the Secret Society to the “buying public”.

In the meantime, Comet, dejected after the 1st fight with the baddies went bad, tries to help an old lady across a street, and is almost beaten to a pulp by the angry, paranoid woman who begins swinging her handbag at him and warning him to stay away.  Watching the scene, an attractive brunette named “Debbie” introduces herself and invites him up to her apartment for “coffee and a bite of an apple”.  I suppose this is supposed to pass for both humor and character development, but I don’t know.  Later on, Green Arrow continues to be annoyed at the idea of “baby-sitting” an over-the-hill hero, and gets even more annoyed when his steady girlfriend, Black Canary, decides to accompany Captain Comet on a crime-fighting jaunt, leaving him behind.  There are times when the “new”, loud-mouthed Oliver Queen was interesting, meaningful, or funny, but sometimes, he’s just an annoying parody of himself.

The last page reintroduces Copperhead, and reveals that the mysterious person who broke him out of jail a few issues back knows about the Secret Society, and announces to Funky & The Wizard that HE intends to take over!  (Even a brief glimpse at the shape of the person’s silhouette should be enough to clue in any longtime DC reader as to their identity...)



Jack C. Harris takes over as regular editor this issue, but the only immediate change is former Wally Wood assistant and future superstar Bob Layton taking over the inks—which is a HUGE step up from Vince Colletta, no doubt about it.  Apart from making Rich Buckler almost look like he knows what he’s doing, for the first time, Funky actually begins to resemble Marvel Comics editor & huckster Stan Lee.  (Sadly, Vince Colletta inked the cover.  Maybe it was done before the rest of the issue?)

This issue also announces the major shake-up of the editorial staff, and introduces new publisher Jeanette Kahn!  This coincides with the debut of the new DC logo (a wide circle with stars in it surrounding a bold “DC” tilted at a 45 degree angle, resembling a sports team logo).  A new era for DC was about to begin!
    (12-9-2012)

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