I've started this thread for issue reviews of comics from the Silver and Bronze Ages that were by published companies other than Marvel and DC. Comics I currently have in mind to write about include issues of Charlton's Blue Beetle (pre-Ditko) and Son of Vulcan, Dell's Brain Boy, Kona and Space Man, Lightning Comics's Fatman the Human Flying Saucer, M.F. Enterprises's Captain Marvel, and Tower Comics's Undersea Agent. Please feel free to contribute your own reviews.
This post displaced The Grant Morrison Thread from the home page.
Fight the Enemy #1 (Tower, 1966)
This was a war comic that ran three issues. Like other Tower titles it cost 25c and had more story pages than Marvel or DC comics. This issue has 54 story pages consisting of six stories and a fact item.
"The Saga of the Lucky 7" was an ongoing series about a WWII bomber crew. "Secret Agent Mike Manly" was a spy series. The other stories in this issue are non-series tales. "Chain of Command" is a Vietnam War tale. The remaining war stories are WWII ones. The cover has a Vietnam War image pencilled by Mike Sekowsky.
"The Saga of the Lucky 7": "The Mission!"/"The Rescue!"
The Lucky Seven is assigned to bomb Tokyo. The hits it takes from the Japanese cause it to catch fire, and the captain has to land in the sea.
This instalment places the Lucky 7 crew in the Pacific, but the other instalments were set in Europe. It starts as a realistic bombing mission tale and becomes an adventure story in its second half. The seven crewmen all have names and distinctive appearances, but their personalities don't play a role in the story.
The story was pencilled by Mike Sekowsky, and the GCD attributes the inks to Frank Giacoia and Joe Giella. It's a good-looking story drawn in Sekowsky's Barry style.
"The Well in the Desert!"
American and German units deep in the desert both need water and fight over a waterhole.
This is the grim type of war story, with interesting stylised art that really works for it. The GCD credits the pencils to Jerry Grandenetti, and the inks tentatively to him.
The opening of the story recalls the movie Sahara (1943) and the ending shows it was definitely the inspiration, although the story here is different.
"Gallant Warriors": "Major Charles Loring Jr., U.S.A.F."
This is a two-page fact feature about the military career of Major Charles Loring Jr and his death in the Korean War. The GCD attributes the inks to Giacoia, and the pencils tentatively to Sekowsky.
"When It's Time to Die...."
A group of American commandos is sent on a mission to destroy heavy guns that might stop the Allied invasion. They are assisted by freedom fighters with a woman leader.
The opening caption calls the commandos "soldiers of central intelligence". The caption is written in the first person as by one of the participants, but the later captions are in the third. The train scene reminded me of Force 10 from Navarone (1978). Possibly the story's inspiration was The Guns of Navarone (1961).
The setting isn't clear. The initial reference to "the Allied invasion" suggests France, all the enemy soldiers are Germans, and the freedom fighters could be members of the French underground. But the heroine is named Maria rather than Marie, one of the commandos talks of how he could "go for a beautiful Italian girl", and a German says he's tired of spaghetti. Those touches suggest Sicily or mainland Italy. The gun emplacement is in a castle.
The GCD attributes the art to Grandenetti and Frank Giacoia. It's not as stylish as the art of "The Well in the Desert!" but it tells the story OK.
Spoiler warning. The moral of the concluding part of the story is a woman can die as a bravely as a man. When the attackers are withdrawing and Maria doesn't make the rendezvous they leave without her. They're right to do so as she's shown to have died, but it's a surprising touch.
"Secret Agent Mike Manly": "Message of Doom"
Spies shoot a man on the steps of a public library. His prints show he was an undercover man. Agent Mike Manly investigates his murder.
The story is classily drawn by Dick Giordano, but the plot and action are standard spy stuff. I'm willing to like this kind of tale, but a story needs more than that. Manly is visually based on Sean Connery.
"Chain of Command"
A PFC finds himself in command of his unit.
The last two stories in the issue are more DC-ish. In this one the soldier thinks command turns men into glory-hounds until he finds himself in the position. The GCD credits the pencils to José Delbo and the inks tentatively to Delbo. His art here is like 60s DC work rather than his later stuff.
A frightened soldier fighting in the Battle of Iwo Jima has a buddy who seems unafraid. But as the battle progresses his buddy shows fear too.
This time the moral is it's normal to feel fear and sometimes it temporarily gets the better of even a brave man. The GCD credits the art to Delbo, pencils and inks. I like the art of his other story a bit more.
The Bravados #1 (Skywald, 1971)
This issue is really a continuation of Skywald's Wild Western Action. It was the Bravados' last appearance. My reviews of the three Wild Western Action issues are on p.2 and p.4.
"The Bravados": "Ride to Vengeance!"
The Bravados ride into a small town. Gideon recognises one of the locals as Jonas Payne, who commanded a Confederate prisoner of war camp during the Civil War and was responsible for many deaths.
This instalment is 15 pages rather than 10 like the previous ones. It's easily the best entry in the series. The story has more room, and the personalities of the heroes and how they interact are brought out better. Gideon has a strong motive for taking on the villain and brings the others with him.
What's implausible is the violence never draws any attention. The locals must really keep their heads down, like in A Fistful of Dollars.
The previous covers emphasised the feature's team aspect. This one'treats Reno as the star, but it's really Gideon's story, as the blurb implies. We learn he fought for the Union in the Civil War and afterwards became a hired gun.
Once again the creative team was Len Wein, Syd Shores, and Mike Esposito.
"The Durango Kid": "Death Duel on Main Street!", from Charles Starrett as the Durango Kid #32 (ME, 1954)
After Muley is apparently killed the Durango Kid accepts an outlaw's showdown challenge. What he doesn't know is the gang have replaced his bullets with duds.
This is another Fred Guardineer-drawn story. The story structure - a tense situation in the present explained by flashbacks - reminds me of EC and 50s Marvel.
"Red Mask": "The Man Who Rescued Redmask", from Red Mask #48 (ME, 1955)
An older man several times saves Redmask from being shot, but his help also allow the gang Redmask is chasing to get away.
This is another domino mask Redmask story drawn in Frank Bolle's rough style. I admire Bolle's clear style, but it can be a bit dull. His stories in his rough style are more exciting to read.
The surprise twist is obvious from the start, but I like the intelligence shown by the villain at the end. I think he could have made a good recurring foe.
As in the Wild Western Action #3 reprint Redmask's clothing is coloured like ordinary clothing rather than red as originally. I prefer this look on the domino mask Redmask.
"Billy Nevada": "The Purple Back", from Billy the Kid Adventure Magazine #9 (Toby, 1952)
A strongman called the Purple Back has been showing off his strength. Billy meets a man with a grudge against him. They arrive in a town where he's offering to fight any comers.
This is another Toby "Billy the Kid" story. The art is OK. The GCD ascribes it to Jack Sparling. If this is right his art took on its loose, ugly look later. The opening has promise but the rest of the story is uninteresting.
"Men of the Law", from Death Valley #5 (Comic Media, 1954), where it was titled "The Deputy"
Sheriff Henderson has decided to retire, and his son, who is one of his deputies, wants to be his replacement. Henderson backs his other deputy as he thinks his son is too young and reckless.
The story's artist was Bill Discount. (The original version was signed.) The present story has been altered to remove its more violent content and make the dialogue clearer. In the original version Bill and the wounded man can be seen in the splash panel, the sheriff is shot at the climax, a gunfight follows, and several characters have strong accents.
My acknowledgements to the GCD for its information about the stories' original appearances.
When I reviewed Wild Western Action #1 on p.2 I disagreed with the GCD's indexer's guess that "The Two Guns of Rio Vegas!" was a Billy the Kid story, and the identification of the penciller as Mike Sekowsky. Well, the story is "A Brother" from Billy the Kid Adventure Magazine #28 (Toby, 1955), and the indexer of the original issue tentatively ascribes its pencils to Sekowsky too. I guess I can see his style in it now, so that's GCD 2- Me 0.
I also couldn't find the original appearance of the Billy "Nevada" story, "The Town that Forgot!" It was in the same issue. The original story was six pages. The reprint simply dropped two, and it's a lot better with them.
When did the Silver Age start? There's no clean answer, because it didn't arrive everywhere at once. It’s often said to have started with the Flash's debut in Showcase #4 in 1956, but in some respects DC’s Silver Age goes back further. The Superman and Batman series in World's Finest Comics began in 1954, and so did Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. DC titles carried the Comics Code seal from Jan. 1955 (on sale). Krypto debuted with it, and Ace, the Bat-Hound was introduced a few months later. The Manhunter from Mars series commenced in the second half of the year.
1956 markers aside from the Flash's intro include the commencement of Sugar and Spike, Batwoman's debut, and DC's taking over Blackhawk. From Showcase #6 the features in the title are like a Silver Age roll call.
But it was 1958 that was the big transition year for DC. The markers include the commencement of Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane and Challengers of the Unknown; Wonder Woman's revamp (Ross Andru and Mike Esposito took over the art, her origin was retold, and Hippolyta became a blonde); Space Ranger's Showcase try-out; Congo Bill's becoming Congorilla; Green Arrow's origin story; Lady Blackhawk's introduction; and the end of DC's licensed police/crime/detective titles (Gang Busters, Mr. District Attorney, The New Adventures of Charlie Chan).
The markers in the Super-titles include the intros of the LSH, the Silver Age Fortress of Solitude, Brainiac and Kandor, red kryptonite, and Bizarros (a Superboy one in the comics, a Superman one in the newspaper strip).
Finally, the Schwartziverse became a regular presence on the stands when the Flash got his own title in Dec. (on sale). The second Schwartziverse feature, "Adam Strange", was appearing in Showcase at the time.
1959 markers outside the superhero titles include DC's shift to the use of ongoing features in its war titles; The Brave and the Bold's transformation into a try-out title; the commencement of "Mark Merlin" in House of Secrets; the commencement of Adam Strange's and Space Ranger's ongoing features that same month; and the end The Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog. DC also began dropping its Western titles other than Tomahawk: Hopalong Cassidy in 1959, Western Comics in 1960, All Star Western in 1961.
At Marvel the Silver Age only fully got going with the commencement of Fantastic Four in 1961, or even its introduction of further superhero features, creating a line, in 1962. Earlier markers include Marvel’s adoption of the Code seal in Dec. 1954 (on sale); the line's severe curtailment in 1957 due to the collapse of its distributor; Joe Maneely's tragic death in 1958; the commencement of Tales to Astonish and Tales of Suspense (and the short-lived Strange Worlds with them) in 1958; Jack Kirby's return to Marvel in 1958; the shift of its fantastic stories anthologies to a monster stories approach in 1959; and the introduction of the new Rawhide Kid in 1960. The Dr Droom stories appeared in Amazing Adventures in 1961, before Fantastic Four #1.
Quite a number of companies folded, or ceased comics publishing, in the course of the 1950s. This happened before and after the bad publicity of 1954 and the introduction of the Comics Code, but I think the end of a number of companies in the early Code period is a Silver Age marker. The casualties include EC apart from MAD (1955), Eastern Color (1955), Avon (1956), Lev Gleason (1956), Superior (1956), Ace (1956), Quality (1956), St. John (1957 or 1958), Magazine Enterprises (1957 or 1958), Farrell (1958), and Pines/Standard (1959). Prize continued until 1961.
These panels are from one of the last St. John issues, Atom-Age Combat #1 (second series). The issue was dated for Feb. 1958, so I don’t know if it came out in late 1957 or early 1958. Either way it predates many of the DC markers I mentioned, but check out that craft: that’s Silver Age! Art by Dick Ayers.
This repost displaced the thread Least Useful Supe Power from the homepage.
Atom-Age Combat #1 (St. John, 1958)
This was the second St. John title with this name. The earlier one ran for 5 issues in 1952-53. The present comic was the only St. John issue of the second series, but the title was continued by Fago Magazines for another two. All three issues were wholly drawn by Dick Ayers.
The theme of both series was WWIII. Ace tried two comparable titles, World War III (1952-53) and Atomic War (1952-53).
Ayers's work here isn't as impressive as his Ghost Rider art, but it's OK. Like his other work from the era it has a cartoony element. The issue is nicely coloured. I suspect the writer was someone like Otto Binder or Jerry Siegel, but I'm not a good enough writer-spotter to name him.
"On Target" is the issue's best story.
This is an editorial in comics form explaining the approach of the series. It says the title will present stories of limited thermonuclear battle. "These stories will be reassuring insofar as they will demonstrate how amazingly powerful and fantastically ingenious our country's atomic defences are! And by giving an insight into these weapons' terrifying potential, the stories will reinforce your fervent desire to help prevent an all-out war in the Atom Age!"
The US is fighting a limited atomic war against another country. The enemy is losing, and a general fears it is about to escalate. Each country has inspection teams at the other's strike-bases to prevent this, but the general suspects the enemy has built an new one close to the front. He keepings sending drones over the sector, but they keep going missing...
An American position is being bombarded nightly from an emplacement it cannot locate. The marine lieutenant general in charge is famously reactionary. He goes on reconnaissance himself, and is captured.
The pullout from a mission behind enemy lines goes wrong. A soldier reflects on the similarity of Atom Age combat to WWII combat.
Seven pager on the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment system, narrated by SAGE itself. SAGE detects a possible attacking force and guides the American interceptors, and gains a better understanding of its place in the world.
This is a one pager about the DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line.
"America's Atom-Age Airplane"
This is a one pager about the Convair F-102A.
The text story is a future history. A brief atomic war is followed by the restoration of civilisation and an endless one.
Another of St. John's late titles was Do You Believe in Nightmares, which ran for 2 issues in 1957-58 (cover/indicia date). The GCD says stories in Do You Believe in Nightmares "were originally produced for Charlton editor Al Fago, who reportedly took the stories and sold them to St.John when he left the company."
It's not clear whether the GCD means all the stories in both issues. The stories in #1 were mostly drawn by Steve Ditko, and it has one story by Dick Ayers. The stories in #2 were all drawn by Ayers. So perhaps Fago only brought the Ditko stories with him, but Ayers did work for Charlton.
In addition to Do You Believe in Nightmares #2 Ayers drew all the stories in St. John's Atom-Age Combat (second series) #1, Fago Magazines's Atom Age Combat #2-#3,(1) and Fago's Tense Suspense #1-#2.
At the start of 1957 St. John's line was down to Fritzi Ritz, Nancy and Sluggo, and Tip Top Comics. Tip Top Comics was originally published by United Features, and featured United Features properties. These ended with the issues dated for July. Apparently St. John had lost the licenses to Western, as replacement Dell titles started before the end of the year.
St. John launched several new titles after a short hiatus. So I take it the publisher didn't want to give up on comics publishing and recruited Fago to edit the new line. The GCD doesn't know who edited Do You Believe in Nightmares, Double Trouble, Atom-Age Combat, or Li'l Ghost, but it lists Fago as the editor of the two romance titles from this period, Love, Love, Love and Secrets of True Love. None of these titles ran more than 2 issues.
Lambiek says Fago began his own "label" at St. John after leaving Charlton, but that's not right unless the reference is to Fago Magazines.
The last St. John issues were dated for Feb. 1958, and the first Fago Magazines ones for Dec. The new publisher continued Atom-Age Combat and Li'l Ghost. It also used the boisterous duo Tuffy and Snuffy from Double Trouble in supporting slots. Fago's other titles were Li'l Menace, Tense Suspense, and Beanie the Meanie. None of these titles lasted longer than 3 issues.
Were the stories in Atom Age Combat #2-#3 inventory stories prepared a year earlier than they appeared? The issues were dated for Jan. and Mar. 1959.
"The Rescue" from Atom Age Combat #2 opens with a depiction of Sputnik. The satellite went up in early Oct. 1957. Sputnik's launch was very topical at the start of 1958, but it was still topical a year later.
I reviewed the first issue of Tense Suspense here. It was one of the first Fago Magazines issues, and the cover was taken from the splash page of the first story. That might be an indication the stories were inventory stories intended for Do You Believe in Nightmares and Fago wasn't in a position to get Ayers to do a new cover.
The cover of Atom Age Combat #3 is an altered version of "Atom Age Combat" p.2 panel 5 from St. John's Atom-Age Combat (second series) #1.
(1) The covers give the title as Atom-Age Combat, but the GCD follows the indicia, which omit the hyphen.
Thunderbolt #54 (Charlton, 1966)
I reviewed #53 of this series p.3.
"Peter Cannon... Thunderbolt": "This One's for Tabu!"
Peter Cannon intends to not become Thunderbolt again. Tabu suddenly falls unconscious while they are boxing. At the hospital Cannon learns Tabu is dying of sleeping sickness.
Cannon knows of a Tibetan cure, and returns to the lamasery where he grew up to get it. But it is made from flowers which aren't available due to the winter snows. So Cannon heads for the Cave of the Peaks "where all things exist", which he knows about from the ancient scrolls he has studied.
On the way Cannon is spotted and pursued by Mongol bandits. His horse stumbles, and he is forced to fight them. The Mongols are shocked by his fighting ability and flee. He gets the cave's location from one of them before letting him go.
Arriving at the cave he find a spare uniform with his travel gear, because Tabu always packs one with it. He switches to it. He begins to explore the cave and finds a dinosaur and mammoth, frozen in ice...
Like most instalments of this series the story was written and illustrated by Pete Morisi, credited as PAM. #58's story was a sequel to this one, and PAM's last.
PAM's work doesn't entirely click with me, but I like the relationship of Tabu and Cannon, and Thunderbolt's "power", which is simply superb fitness, speed and agility.
The cave turns out to be - spoiler warning - the entrance to a prehistorical land, like the Savage Land. I assumed Thunderbolt must have passed into another universe, but his explanation is the land is cut off from the outside world by "the wind currents" and mountain peaks.
The story ends too abruptly, and not much is done with the lost land premise, but I thought it well-written for its first half.
("The Sensational Sentinels!"): "Behold... The Sentinels!"
Synopsis (complete): Rick Strong, Cindy Carson and Crunch Wilson perform as a folk rock trio called the Protestors. They receive a message after a performance that their landlord wants to see them. He is dying, and tells them he's really a Russian who was exiled due to his anti-Communism. He's a scientist, and his real name is Dr Kolotov. He has dedicated his life to the development of weapons "to fight crime and Communism". He has studied the trio and has chosen them as the recipients.
The three devices grant their wearers superpowers. Rick is given a power pack that can make its wearer lighter than air. Cindy is given a tiara that gives its wearer ESP/precognition. Crunch is given gloves that confer super-strength. The landlord names them Helio, Mentalia and the Brute.
The landlord has the trio swear an oath to use their powers only to combat evil, and to dedicate their lives to being "sentinels of the rights of men". Then he dies.
Rick and Cindy name their group the Sentinels. Crunch derisively says next they'll want to wear costumes, and the others think it's a good idea.
This feature was "created and written" by Gary Friedrich and drawn by Sam Grainger. The writing style is modelled after Marvel's. Crunch is argumentative and physically aggressive, like the early Thing. Grainger uses an art approach like Dick Ayers's.
The feature continued in this title to #59, the second-last issue. Grainger drew all the instalments, but Friedrich only wrote the first three. The splash of this instalment shows the team in uniform, but we don't see them in action.
The song the Protestors are shown singing has the following lyrics:
What'll we do when doomsday comes,
Will we sit around on our thumbs?
What'll we do when the bomb goes boom,
And in the rubble we're all entombed!
Oh, the doomsday dirge,
The doubters we'll purge!
The issue has a letters page. It concludes with an announcement that henceforth the second slots in this and the other action hero titles will be used to showcase new features.
Morisi drew the cover.
The first version of this post displaced the thread Trends in DC's Digital Reprints on Comixology from the homepage.
Thunderbolt #55 (Charlton, 1966)
"Peter Cannon... Thunderbolt": "Where Stalks the Mummy?"
Four archaeologists discover an intact pharaonic tomb. One of the items is a sealed sarcophagus with the mummy of a slave who was buried alive to serve the pharaoh. One of the archaeologists, Drummond, claims this for himself. He believes the mummy is in a state of suspended animation, and means to revive it. His colleagues are hostile to the idea. Mentally sneering at them as fools, he rents an abandoned armory that looks like a castle, acquires a tiger as a guard, and sets to work.
After weeks of work he detects a heartbeat. But his encephalograph registers no brain activity. So he attempts to stimulate its mind with the impulses from his own brain. As he does this the armory is struck by lightning. Drummond finds his mind has been transferred to the mummy, and his own body is now in suspended animation. Only he call also remember Ancient Egypt, and all the things that happened to the mummy when it was a slave. He is no longer Drummond, but a mental fusion of Drummond and the slave. His mummy body has fantastic strength, and his Ancient Egyptian side gives him access to the "knowledge of the ages". He swears "the slave that knew poverty will possess riches... and the professor that bore ridicule, will taste revenge!"...
The Mummy is initially drawn as fully wrapped in bandages, but with skull features that show through them, much as Negative Man's facial features showed through his bandages in "The Doom Patrol". Later he wears a roll-neck, overall and gloves over his bandages, so he looks like the Red Skull. He also uses modern equipment like the Skull, so I think he must have been modelled after him.
It's nice to see Thunderbolt get an interesting opponent, so I enjoyed this the most of the stories from this series I've read so far. Thunderbolt defeats the Mummy by his strength and skill. He was apparently meant to be a recurring foe: the Mummy's body isn't found at the end and Drummond's body remains in a coma.
The story was again written and drawn by PAM. It has the usual likeable interaction between Tabu and Cannon. PAM also did the cover.
"The Sensational Sentinels!": "Beware... the Menacing Mind-Bender!"
Synopsis (complete): The Sentinels don costumes and go out in public. Mentalia mentally spots a purse-snatching, but the guys bungle catching the crook and the Brute accidentally smashes a hole in a building. The police catch the crook and arrest the Sentinels.
They call their agent to bail them out. They tell him they mean to devote their lives to superheroing, but he's just landed them an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. He talks them into continuing as the Protestors because they'll need secret identities, and suggests they wear masks to conceal their identities on stage.
Some force causes Russian and American leaders and representatives to be suddenly overcome by war fever. The two countries declare war. A mysterious figure called the Mind-Bender offers to prevent war "if both nations will surrender to him".
Back at their apartment building the grandson of Dr Kolotov brings them a letter his mother has found in his grandfather's safety deposit box. This reveals he meant the Sentinels to battle "a former cohort of his" who has "somehow achieved the power to control men's minds". Helio guesses this is the Mind-Bender.
The Mind-Bender has a giant robot in the room and addresses them through it. He declares he monitored Dr Kolotov and knows the powers they've received. Since Kolotov lives on in them he means to defeat them. The robot attacks them, but the Sentinels defeat it. Through its remains the Mind-Bender tells them he has "many allies" and the battle is not over.
This instalment is even more Marvel-ish than the first, and enjoyable. The instalment has amusing ideas like the concept of the heroes' wearing masks in their secret identities, and the storyline is interesting. The art is much better than Paul Reinman's Marvel imitations for Archie. It's not as polished as the better Marvel artists', but the drawing isn't messy-muddy like Don Heck's and the story is told well.
Having looked at the later instalments I think Grainger weakness was the portrayal of action. The action at the climax here could be better but is OK. He draws a decent robot.
Helio's power is too weak, but the Brute is a good character.
Thunderbolt #56 (Charlton, 1967)
"Peter Cannon... Thunderbolt": "Beware... the Cobra"
The Cobra was formerly a lab technician. He has a means of treating cobra venom so it can be used to put people into hypnotic trances. He has his agents kidnap people, subjects them to his formula, and sells them as a slaves. His agents are themselves hypnotic slaves.
Tabu informs Cannon that people have been disappearing. One of the missing is a surgeon who was about to perform an operation to save the life of a child. Unless he can be found the child will die within a day. This spurs Cannon to act. It is already night. He becomes Thunderbolt, and searches the city...
Spoiler warning. The Cobra captures Thunderbolt with his formula, ties him up, and releases a cobra to kill him. Thunderbolt manages to overcome the drug and kills the snake with his teeth. The sequence is a homage to the cover-featured opening scene of the first Amazing-Man story from Amazing Man Comics #5. Toonopedia notes Amazing-Man's origin was the model for Thunderbolt's.
Thunderbolt tracks the Cobra down too easily, but this story has a good premise. The Cobra doesn't wear any kind of costume. He's just an evil slave trader with a black beard who's very pleased with himself.
Once again the story and cover were by PAM. He did only one more Thunderbolt story after this, in #58.
Cannon learns Tabu is keeping a record of Thunderbolt's cases, and they spend two pages discussing them. The adventures are represented by adapted panels from the earlier adventures. The figure of Thunderbolt in the image for Case 006 is from #55's story p.13 panel 1, and the Mummy head is adapted from the one on its splash page.
"The Sensational Sentinels!": "Where Walks...the Titan!"
Synopsis (complete): The Protestors perform on the Ed Sullivan show, in masks, and are a smash.
Later, a giant orange android called the Titan seeks information about the Sentinels' whereabouts at Coney Island. Those it questions can't provide it, so it goes on a rampage so they'll come to it.
The Sentinels learn about the Titan's rampage from the news, and head for the amusement park to fight it. When they fought the robot in #55 Metalia's ESP was jammed. This happens again. When Helio tries to attack the giant his powers go wrong too, and the Titan strikes him hard. The Titan and the Brute then have a big fight. As they fight at the top of a roller-coaster the Brute is forced to admit the android is too much for him. He dives into the ocean to escape.
Helio wakes up, but he's lost his memory. To be continued!
This is another very Marvel-ish instalment. The superhero stuff is played straight, but there's some broad comedy from an obtuse grandmother in the first scene with the android. The masks the trio wear as the Protestors don't conceal their identities at all.
At this point Mentalia didn't have powers that could be used for combat, so the guys do all the fighting. In the next instalment, plotted by D. C. Glanzman, she learns she has telekinesis.
The Sentinels take " a long but necessary ride on the BMT" to get to Coney island. That's the train.
The opening caption speaks of the world as teetering "on the brink of atomic holocaust", but the war the Mind-Bender started last episode is otherwise not mentioned. It certainly hasn't affected the Ed Sullivan show. Neither side was planning to go to war, so maybe there's been no actual fighting yet.
The likeness of Sullivan in the opening sequence is very good. His full name was used last issue, but he's only called Ed here. (My acknowledgement to the GCD for this point.) The network, CBS, is identified by a caption and the writing on a camera.
The Protestors' song has these lyrics:
I was sitting in the jailhouse late last night,
Getting really bugged by all the peace and quiet,
When an idea came to me that seemed all right
And I decided that I would incite a riot!
Then I flung a pie into the Warden's face
And he yelled of tricks like that you should be wary
Then he grabbed me and he said you're a disgrace
Now I'm eating bread and water in solitary.
Mentalia's tiara resembles Marvel Girl's pointed mask. MG first wore it in X-Men #6, and adopted it more lastingly when the X-Men got modified uniforms in X-Men #27. That issue came out a couple of months after the first "Sentinels" instalment. Perhaps Gary Friedrich had discussed Marvel Girl's mask with Roy Thomas, and the Sentinels from X-Men inspired this group's name.
Career Girl Romances #38 (Charlton, 1967)
The heroines of this issue's three stories all have jobs, as the title suggests.
"Truck Drivin' Man"
A young woman is a waitress in a roadside diner. Her father was a truck driver, and she has resolved not to marry one as they're always on the road. When a driver comes on too strong a young man helps her out. They commence dating, and she falls in love with him. She accepts his proposal, and finally asks him what his job is. He says he's a truck driver...
This is a standard romance story. The GCD credits the script to Gary Friedrich, the pencils tentatively to Charles Nicholas, and the inks to Vince Colletta. The art is underdrawn but OK.
("Tiffany Sinn"): "To Save an Agent"
Private Detective Tiffany Sinn was rescued as a child from East Berlin by a man named Rex Swift. Men from the CIA tell her he's gone missing in East Berlin, and they want her help bringing him back.
Sinn appeared twice more, in stories in Career Girl Romances #39 and Secret Agent #10. This instalment doesn't read like it was intended as the first of a series as she finds true love and ends up with the guy at the end. The tale mixes adventure (with shooting!) and romance.
Spoilers warning. Considered as an adventure story the tale's not well-plotted. The Communists throw Sinn in the same cell as Swift (!) and leave them alone (!!), and they escape the prison, and East Berlin, too easily. But as romance stories go it's a lot more fun than the mopey stuff.
The GCD ascribes the script to Gary Friedrich, the pencils to Charles Nicholas, and the inks, tentatively, to Vince Alascia. The art is not up to DC's or Marvel's standards, but it's serviceable, and Sinn is dressed attractively.
"The Face of Love"
A blonde female factor worker is in love with the son of the owner, but she thinks he's never noticed her. When his family goes to stay at Green Lake she contrives to meet him under a different name wearing a black wig.
As her real self the heroine waits passively for her Prince Charming to make a move. In her other identity she entices him. I found that part a more believable depiction of romance, because I could believe she was attractive to the hero.
The GCD doesn't know the creators, except the letterer, Herb Field. Once again the art is serviceable but not great. Whoever inked it put effort into his depiction of foliage.
The text story is about why a man jilted his fiancée at the altar, and what happened to the two afterward.
The cover features "The Face of Love", and is attributed by the GCD to Dick Giordano.
Career Girl Romances #39 (Charlton, 1967)
This issue Tiffany Sinn is co-cover-featured. The inset shows her lounging against a wall in a heavy coat, looking like a spy. Inside she dresses fashionably and looks like Jackie Kennedy.
The main cover-image features "Annie Lane Girl Adventurer". As with the previous issue this is placed last. The GCD again attributes the cover to Dick Giordano. His work here reminds me of Gene Colan's.
All the stories are narrated by their heroines in the captions. This was the case with the previous issue's too.
"Tiffany Sinn the C.I.A Sweetheart": "St. Louis Stake Out"
Synopsis (complete): Sinn and Swift arrive back in the US. Sinn is immediately grabbed by CIA agents. Sinn's spymaster tells her Swift has been arrested because the authorities haven't learned he's not a traitor, but he can get the charges dropped if she'll perform a mission.
The mission is to find and "dispose of" (!) Swift's younger brother Alfred, who's "a member of the Nazi party and extremely dangerous". Tiffany agrees to go after him. The mission takes her to St Louis.
In St Louis she checks into the Chase Park Plaza. There's a knock on the door of her room. She's not expecting anyone so she opens the door cautiously. A man enters gun first, so she grabs his arm and disarms and topples him.
He turns out to be another agent named Terry Terrell. He quickly disarms her in turn. He immediately makes a pass at her, and they kiss. Sinn's thoughts reveal she's strongly attracted to him.
Later Terrell contacts her and she meets him outside. He has learned Alfred is about to make a move. He tells her Alfred has a laser device that can destroy the city, and they stake out the nightclub he's been seen entering.
They spot Alfred leaving and trail him in Terrell's car. Alfred stops his car in a dark lane to make sure he isn't being followed, so Terrell stops too and he and Sinn neck to pass the time. Then they notice Alfred has gone.
Sinn guesses the only place suitable for firing the weapon is the Gateway Arch. They head there and spot Alfred. He starts to climb the arch using magnetic shoes.
He spots them coming after them and there's an exchange of gunfire. Terrell is shot. Sinn stops shooting to tend to him. Alfred declares he's going to wipe out the business district of the city in a single blast and heils Hitler.
Terrell dies. To be continued!
Sinn got engaged to Swift at the end of last issue's story, but I think she might not be really ready to settle down.
I take it the Swifts are naturalised Americans of German origin. Alfred wears a heavy brown coat and hat and a big green mask. He looks like the TV version of the Green Hornet.
The CIA is supposed to not conduct operations like this. The FBI could've arrested him.
The GCD tentatively assigns the script to Gary Friedrich since he wrote the first story. The art is signed, and by Luis Dominguez. He's a better draftsman than the previous artist, but it doesn't make much difference.
The concluding caption promises an instalment in the next issue titled "Three Shots of a Laser". This didn't appear. The third Sinn story appeared six months later. It wrapped up this one's storyline in a flashback, and is clearly not the story envisioned.
A young woman assists her father on his charter boat. He's broken his arm, so for the summer the ship has had a young replacement captain who flirts with the lady passengers.
The GCD tentatively attributes the pencils to Charles Nicholas, and attributes the inks to Vince Colletta. The combination reminds me of José Delbo's 1970s work.
The database tentatively attributes the writing to Joe Gill. It's a standard romance story, but I think it's too well-written for him.
"Annie Lane Girl Adventurer"
When she graduates from college Annie breaks up with her boyfriend because she wants adventure. She first works as the confidential secretary of a Las Vegas gambler. Later she works for a bush pilot in Central America.
The title gave me hope this was going to be another adventure/romance feature, but it's not. There a scene where the plane is shot at, but it sours the heroine on adventure right away. The cover implies the story is about a woman who plays the field and is averse to marriage, but that's not its theme.
This is a romance story at its beginning and end, but a career girl story in its middle. What it has going for it is some quite accomplished art. The artist was likely Filipino or Latin, but the GCD doesn't identify him and I can't. It tentatively attributes the writing to Gill, but as with the previous story I think that's on the rote assumption he wrote most of Charlton's stuff.
The text page is an advice column for teens called "Canteen Corner" that apparently also appeared in other Charlton titles. In this one the columnist answers a letter from a mother.
Secret Agent #10 (Charlton, 1967)
Sarge Steel carried the sub-title Special Agent on its covers from its sixth issue, and was renamed Secret Agent with its ninth. Steel's feature continued in the back of Judomaster, where it appeared from #91 to #98, the last issue.
Secret Agent #10 came out a year after #9, while the Judomaster series was running. It had a lead "Sarge Steel" story and "Tiffany Sinn" backup. The creative team on the lead story was Steve Skeates and Dick Giordano, who did three of the back-ups in Judomaster together. Giordano also drew the issue's cover. Giordano was "Sarge Steel"'s original artist and drew it off and on. He wrote the final instalment in Judomaster himself so there wouldn't be an unfinished story in the last issue. (My hat-tip to the GCD for the link.)
Steel also appeared in "Sport of Judo" fillers in Sarge Steel/Secret Agent, Fightin' Five and Special War Series #4. These were all written and drawn by Frank McLaughlin.
He was also used in "The Sensational Sentinels!" in Thunderbolt #57-#58. In #57 he proclaims himself "Sarge Steel of the CIA" and places the Sentinels under arrest. The CIA has no arrest powers.
"Sarge Steel": "The Case of the Third Hand"
Steel has been dating a jazz singer named Linda Velvet. As he's taking her home somebody starts shooting at them. Steel assumes he's the target, but the gunman runs off after hitting Linda and Steel realises it was her.
Steel gets her to a hospital and starts trying to track down the gunman. He has no luck. By the time he's done it's morning and he heads for his office.
Steel is a private detective, but he also works for the CIA as a special agent. His CIA contact Lowell Cade is waiting for him. Cade says Linda is a member of an independent spy ring calls the Third Hand. Steel is reluctant to buy it. While they're arguing Cade gets a call. He and Steel head for the hospital. A gas grenade has been smuggled into Linda's room, and she's dead...
Although this story has a spy angle it's written as a tough PI story. Skeates gives the story a solid plot and and Giordano's art is quality art in a realistic style.
Steel tends to hit people with his right, normal hand. You'd think he'd use the metal one all the time.
The story is narrated by Steel in the captions in the present tense. He's supposed to have been in love with Linda, but the plotting treats her as a plot device.
"Tiffany Sinn": "Espionage: Muscle Beach Style!"
Sinn is now a CIA agent. She communicates with her superior through her lipstick holder.
He sends her to Los Angeles. Her mission is to determine how a lab worker who's believed to be betraying secrets is getting the information out.
Her cover is a job in the lab. The suspect is a bodybuilder and he asks her to come to the beach with him on Saturday. It's a muscle beach and he works out there. They go dancing later.
She continues dating him, but can't spot anything. To trap him the lab is given information about a new rocket fuel...
This is a semi-serious spy story: played straight, but with a jokey plot. The instalment was written by David Kaler and drawn by Jim Aparo. I always like seeing Aparo's work in Charlton titles. His work was cartoonier than Giordano's, but he tells a more exciting story. The writing is good too. The plot is nothing I haven't seen before, but the story has zest and humour.
The story opens with a brief account of Sinn's earlier adventures, which doesn't mention she was previously a private eye and only alludes to her engagement to Swift. We learn she exchanged fire with Alfred and shot him as he was climbing the arch.
Muscle Beach is in Los Angeles. Presumably the beach in the story is a similar San Francisco one. Counterintelligence is the FBI's job.