Justice League of America 213, 1983 “Into the Microcosmos!”

In light of all the recent DC news (good and bad), I thought it would be appropriate to spotlight one of my favorite books. The last few years I’ve made it a point to grab some Silver and Bronze Age issues of Justice League of America. The animated television shows were such a huge part of my viewing when they came out, I always wanted to check out the comics. The books are definitely worth checking out, as the creative teams over the course of these ages do not disappoint. You do get varying degrees of quality, but they all do present something positive that one can grab on to.

In this story (part one of a multipart story), we see The Atom, as he’s struggling to remember who he is, as he tumbles through the microcosmos. The scene then switches to the Justice League Satellite orbiting the Earth, and Hawkman trying to explain to the other League members what happened. He tells them that Ray’s wife called him to ask for help, because Ray went off the deep end and had a nervous breakdown. Hawkman shows up at his lab to help, but he’s too far gone, and attacks Hawkman. He turns into the Atom, and shrinks into miniature size. He then vanished into this microcosmos (a sub-atomic world). So, Batman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Hawkman, and Red Tornado all use the machine to shrink down and go after their disturbed comrade. They do not realize though, that the trip messes with ones mind, and basically turns you into an amnesiac. So now not only do they have to find their friend, they need to figure out who they are!

This issue is just the beginning of this wild adventure. There is one thing of note in this issue and that is that it’s a first appearance of a new character. The Wanderer is a very secretive character, and you really don’t find out much about her in this issue. The story by Gerry Conway is pretty good. It definitely is good enough to get me to seek out the rest of this story-line. The interior artwork is by the team of Don Heck and Romeo Tanghal. This team does an admirable job on this one, and really excels with the action scenes. The colors are also quite good by Anthony Tollin, and the letters are by John Costanza. And let us not forget the awesome cover by Mr. George Perez! He was a staple at DC comics in this era and his work is looked back on with a lot of fondness, and rightly so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen 125, 1969 “Superman’s Saddest Day!”

Alright, look, I’m gonna be straight with you. I might just turn this blog into a crazy Superman blog. OK, I’m not going to do that, but insane Superman stories have become my new obsession. While Marvel was publishing stories about social inequality and Charlton had cool stories of Science Fiction, war, and the Warren magazines were top of the food chain with their edgy, horror stories, then you had DC, on the cusp of a completely new universe thanks to Jack “King” Kirby and his Fourth World (among other ideas), but then still putting out crazy books like this one. Oh don’t get me wrong, I love this type of comic book now (2020), but as a kid, I would’ve thought it was the dumbest book on the rack. Most probably thought so too, as the numbers show people had flocked to Marvel. But, looking back, these silly adventures are a lot of fun and definitely will entertain you!

In the lead story, Jimmy is up to his old shenanigans. He’s on vacation in the Caribbean, and how he can afford a vacation like that nobody knows. He’s scuba diving, and gets caught in some kind of whirlpool that drags him into the depths of the ocean. He sees a sunken ship and a book laying inside it. It’s a book written by Nostradamus, but since its been underwater for so long, almost all of the predictions are faded. He can read one though, and it exclaims that if you can obtain tears from a clown, a king, a criminal, and wait for it…a Kryptonian, you can get an unknown power! So, Jimmy sets out to achieve this goal! An absolutely crazy tale by Leo Dorfman (writer) and Pete Costanza (art)!

The second story “The Spendthrift and the Miser,” shows an out of control Jimmy, spending money like crazy during the day, but then acting like he’s broke at night. At one point, he walks out into the street to pick up a penny and almost gets run over by a car! Superman intervenes and eventually finds out that some crooks have Jimmy hypnotized into doing these insane things. Written by Otto Binder, with art by Curt Swan and Ray Burnley.

Get out there and find a copy of this book (and any of these Silver Age Superman comics), because even if it’s a reader copy, it’ll be worth your time for sure! Cover  by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World’s Finest 237, 1976 “Intruder from a Dead World”

To those on the east coast, good morning! Magazines and Monsters proudly presents another entry into the Zany Haney Hall of Fame! It’s only been two weeks since I spotlighted a story by him, but you can’t get enough of the Haney-verse in your life. When you have Batman and Superman acting crazy, then throw in giant locusts, you’re bound to have a good time.

The story starts out with Batman in Gotham Park, as he witnesses something resembling an earthquake, but then a metallic objects pushes up through the ground, smashing the stage. Batman, who’s the world’s greatest detective calls Superman for help (for real). The pair of heroes investigate the bizarre structure, but cannot figure it out. Superman remarks that if his strength and X-Ray vision can’t affect this object, that it might be from Krypton! The pair of heroes are in for an even bigger shock, because the creature that resides inside this monolith is near unstoppable!

As usual, any story by Bob “Zany” Haney (writer) finds itself very high on my to be read list. Traditionally, his stories are crazy and so is the dialogue. This is why I adore his work, and yes I realize what that says about me personally. The art in this issue is by Lee Elias and John Calnan. It’s solid for sure, but not quite on the level of Swan or Dillin that did most of the issues from this era. The letters are by Ben Oda, and as usual they’re very good. The crazy cover is by Ernie Chan and John Calnan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unknown Soldier 261, 1982 “Hour of the Beast!”

After two weeks of marvel, I decided to swing back to the other side and roll with a weird DC book. Although, this one has me with mixed emotions. For one, it’s really cool, and has everything you could want in a bizarre war story. On the other hand, it drives me crazy when the cover gives away the story (but there is a twist to that statement). Yes, those editors that allow that should be let go. Anyways, on to the book!

The first story, starring The Unknown Soldier, is absolutely nuts. Lady Jade has been captured by the Nazis, and being tortured, and the Unknown Soldier is not happy about it. He then finds out that he’s indirectly responsible for the betrayal that lead to her capture. She’s being held in a castle…in France…by Japanese soldiers (not sure how many Japanese soldiers were in France, but let’s not parse hairs here). His superiors tell him his orders are to stay put, but he knocks out the two MP’s taking him outside, and makes a b-line for Jade. He decides that this time, he must not just use a disguise, but it must be “a complete metamorphosis.” He then disguises himself as a hunchbacked SS torture expert, and heads to the castle. As he attempts to rescue her, his disguise is  removed, and the chase is on. Now, this is where the story gets really crazy. As the pair are running down a hallway, Jade is possessed by a spirit that also changes her appearance. After introducing herself she tells him he must don a suit that’s hanging in the hallway of a demon (resembling a Satanic figure). He puts it on, and they both kill all of the Nazis in brutal fashion. Then they walk away arm in arm, while inside the castle, the woman/ghost that possessed  Jade remarks to the demon that they might be needed again someday.

Written by Bob “Zany” Haney, art by Dick Ayers and Gerry Talaoc, colors by Bob LeRose, and letters by Esphidy Mahilum.

The second story is a very hardcore story about racism. It shows a brutal killing right on the splash page of a racist soldier killing another during the Civil War. I gotta admit, although the story is about revenge against the racist guy, it was still a bit jarring to read in 2020. Written by Bob Haney, art by Ric Estrada (no, not from C.H.I.P.’s), colors by Bob LeRose, and letters by Pierre Bernard Jr.

The final story stars Enemy Ace! Anyone that knows this character knows that a quality story and art always accompanied Enemy Ace! This was a solid story involving an imposter that Von Hammer must deal with in a dogfight! Written by Robert Kanigher with art by John Severin!

Overall a fun issue that is most certainly worth seeking out! Oh and always an incredible cover by Joe Kubert!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Beyond the Unknown 23, 1973 “The Secret of the Man-Ape!”

Sometimes when I see a cover, I know it is going to be absolutely crazy. Honestly, in the last few years, that’s mostly what I’m looking for in a new (to me) comic. A comic with a gorilla holding a librarian at gunpoint? There’s a name for that- pure gold. Three reprint stories from the Silver Age are entombed inside, so let’s get cracking!

The first (and best) tale, is the cover story. We see a scientist using a machine to try and turn a gorilla into a human. The captions and images show us that years ago, a civilization of gorillas dominated the Earth, and that aliens were watching this and wanting to conquer Earth, sent a spy, but not in their more humanoid forms, but as a gorilla. After some miscalculations aboard the spaceship, the “gorilla” alien guy winds up in modern times where man rules, and not gorillas.

Pretty much shenanigans ensue for the rest of the story, but the highlight is or sure the gorilla-alien guy using his telepathy to tell a librarian to give him some classic novels (not at gunpoint as the cover shows). A little bit of a bait and switch there, but still, the story is comical, and extremely strange. Story/script by Otto Binder, art by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.

The next two stories are from the mind of Gardner Fox. First, “Language-Master of Space” is a story that still makes my head explode just trying to figure out what the point was, but it also left me laughingly entertained. The art by Sid Greene helped, as his renditions of the different aliens was great.The second story, “World of Doomed Spacemen” is another crazy one. It’s one that shows life in the 25th century, and a time of giants! Art by Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs. The magnificent cover is by none other than Nick Cardy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawkman 9, 1965 “Master Trap of the Matter Master!”

After searching through my boxes for source material, I came upon this issue of Hawkman! A recent acquisition, as I’ve made it a point to read more DC comics from the Silver and Bronze Ages in recent years, this one fits the bill perfectly for my weird tastes. A villain called the Matter Master, Hawkman and Hawkgirl trapped in a diamond, with the Atom in the corner with a pink burst of energy behind him, all show exactly why this appeals to me!

The story begins with Matter Master (Mark Mandrill) in prison. He’s slowly finding elements in the prison yard to try and construct a smaller version of his wand (it was taken from him by the Justice League, and resides in their trophy room). He succeeds, but the smaller wand isn’t powerful enough to do his bidding. He then asserts that it might be able to draw his original wand to him though, and it works! He then busts out of prison and heads straight for his abode. He immediately hatches a plan to get revenge of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and hopefully the Justice League as well!

This story by Gardner Fox, is a lot of fun. Just a superhero versus villain tale that doesn’t have much depth. It is however entertaining and of course with great characters like Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and a crazy villain like this, you can’t help but have fun. I’ll always give Fox credit for that fact. The art is very good, and we have Murphy Anderson (cover as well) to thank for that. He draws a very sinister looking villain here, and even though he’s not the most threatening guy ever, he still poses a real threat to society. The letters are by another standout, Gaspar Saladino! His lettering is legendary, check out his credits!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dynamic Classics 1, 1978 “Starring Batman”

The more I read Bronze Age Batman, the more I look forward to the next time I buy and read another story! In this superb reprint issue, we see a Batman story (originally Detective Comics 395, 1970), and a back up featuring Manhunter (Paul Kirk). We also get this super creepy and cool cover by Dick Giordano!

In the first tale, Bruce Wayne has been invited to a party in Mexico, by a normally reclusive, but wealthy couple. He realizes something must be up, so he begins investigating immediately. He foils a murder attempt, and starts to piece things together. Before he can dig any deeper, he’s in fight for his life against armed thugs, then a pack of wolves! He eventually conquers those obstacles and comes face to face with the real masterminds, but as he’s about to put a stop to their plans, he’s rendered helpless by an unforeseen power they possess!

This story was a good one and really resonates with the other stories of Batman in the Bronze Age. It shows him first and foremost as a detective, then a superhero in a cape (or sometimes not at all). Moody, atmospheric, and a slight touch of horror all bring this story together. It’s not simplistic, but it’s certainly not overly complicated either. A good mix of both, to be honest. Writer, Denny O’Neil, art by Neal Adams (pencils) and Dick Giordano (inks), with letters by Ben Oda.

The second story is one I’m not familiar with, as it involves a character I’ve heard of but never read before in Manhunter (originally created by Jack Kirby in the Golden Age). This version of the character has two legendary creators behind him in Archie Goodwin (writer), and Walt Simonson (art)! Just quickly breezing through the story, it’s definitely something I’ll be looking into in the future! Definitely look for this book in the bargain bins, as that’s where I found it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brave and the Bold 108, 1973 “The Night Batman Sold His Soul!”

From the cover, you’d think that DC put out a comic book with Batman and Sgt. Rock versus a vampire. Well, if they ever did, this isn’t the issue. No, this isn’t a bait and switch, but the contents certainly don’t match up (100%) with the cover. Rest assured though, this book is highly entertaining, and will leave you happy you’ve read it!

Somewhere up near the Canadian border, Batman has cornered a kidnapper. The guy has a kid, but Batman insists it’s not who the kidnapper believes it is, so there will be no ransom. The kidnapper is losing his mind, so Batman attempts to jump through a window to try and surprise him, but it doesn’t work. The kidnapper shoots Batman, then for some odd reason dumps him in a well. As batman is coming to, he’s helped out of the well by some cloaked stranger. The man has a hat on as well, so you cannot see his face. Batman thanks him for the assist, then heads back to apprehend Mad Dog Dorn (the kidnapper). After returning to Gotham, and his guise as Bruce Wayne, he then slumps over in an alleyway, still reeling from the wounds from the gunshot. As he’s trying to get up, that same cloaked figure appears, and tells him that he owes him for the help he gave him in the well. Wayne tells him he owes him nothing and the strangers tells him that his soul now belongs to him! As the man shuffles away, Wayne attempts to catch up. He does, or so he thinks, and grabs a man in the foggy street, but that man was also following after the cloaked figure. The man Wayne grabbed turns out to be none other than Sgt. Rock! Rock then reveals the identity of this mysterious figure, and Wayne cannot believe it!

I know of a few encounters between Batman and Sgt. Rock, and this is a good one. Sure, it’s a bit ludicrous, but it’s a ton of fun as well. You can’t deny that Bob “Zany” Haney writes wild, but fun stories. I honestly haven’t read one yet that disappointed me. The artwork is by Jim Aparo (cover and interiors), whom I, and quite a few others feel is the best artist to ever draw Batman. Of course there are plenty of other fantastic artists that drew him over the years (Neal Adams, Irv Novick, Bill Finger, etc.), but Aparo seemed to really get the character and his moody scenery better than anyone. Colors by Tatjana Wood, and letters by Jim Aparo (cover letters by Gaspar Saladino).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Beyond the Unknown 20, 1972 “Fishermen from the Sea!”

I’m on a bit of a DC kick lately, so I’ll let the train keep rolling. The sci-fi stories they produced in the Silver Age are a blast (off). The talent they had was perfect for the genre, and seeing is believing. Most associate DC with superheroes, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t just stop there, because these books (the originals, and reprints like this one) are great fun! You get three big stories in this issue, and a cool cover by Nick Cardy!

The first adventure (“Fishermen from the Sea!“) shows an alien invasion. These fish-like creatures want to take over the Earth by flooding the planet, thereby killing all humans. Not sure where Aquaman was, but it’s up to “Dave” and “Helen” to save the day. OK, they do get a small assist from the U.S. government testing atomic bombs. Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Mike Sekowsky and Joe Giella!

The second story is one of my all time favorite wacky, sci-fi stories! “The Interplanetary Restaurant!”  A new restaurant is opening and everyone is buzzing. Why? Because the owner claims the food is from outer space! Is it really? Or is it a ruse, as many people believe? You must read this bonkers story and find out! Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Gil Kane and Joe Giella!

Lastly, we have “When Did Earth Vanish?” This is a story starring the Star Rovers (click here for another story of theirs I covered). To try and describe this story would not only be near impossible to do in less that a thousand words, but might not even be possible. This story is all over the place and kooky to say the least. Story by Gardner Fox, with art by Sid Greene.

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, this is an all Gardner Fox penned issue. Really dig deep into his history in comics (click here for a recommendation), especially his sci-fi work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challengers of the Unknown 39, 1964 “Rocky, the Genius Challenger”

In 1957, we have the brilliant Jack “King” Kirby, creating more heroes from his pantheon of work. The Challengers of the Unknown, although not nearly as popular as let’s say the Fantastic Four, predate them by four years. The Challengers were a group of guys that all survived a plane crash and vowed to help humanity because they’re on “borrowed time,” so Ace, Red, Rocky and Prof, ban together for the benefit of all mankind…or something like that.

In this issue, we see two stories that are both equally ludicrous, but fun! In the lead off, we have “The Phantom of the Fair!” In this adventure, the Challengers get Madame Zaddum (a medium) to look into her crystal ball at the future, to see what their kids are up to. They see how a crook named “Stokie Johnson” is being let out of prison, and is plotting a revenge scheme on the Challengers. This one is part mad scientist, part revenge plot. Art by Bob Brown (cover as well) and possible scripting by Ed Herron.

The next story is (from the cover), “Rocky, the Genius Challenger.” In this one, Wizard Welles builds a machine that can transfer information from a computer into the mid of a human being. Before he can do it to himself, though, Rocky knocks him out of the way, and takes the brain boost himself. His cranium then grows to twice the normal size, and his brain power is now beyond any person on earth. Shenanigans with the team and the Wizard ensue. The awesome art is again by Bob Brown (an unsung hero of comics to be sure). The writing credits are possibly by Arnold Drake (Deadman, Doom Patrol).