Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #47 - April 1984

sgMore Suagr & Spike!

This time, it's all material from the classic S&S comic, all by Sheldon Mayer of course:
"Egg, Sunnyside Down"
"Grown-Up Talk"
"Photo Finish"
"Little Giants"
"Double Trouble"
"How to Play Loozum"
"Runaway Dump-Truck"
"Where's the Toozit Tree?"
"First Echo"
"Zelda, The Walking Riot"
"Busy Corners"
"What's a Flumish?"
"My, How Time Flies"
"The Experiment"

...again, charming, cute, funny stories. How S&S never got tapped to star in their own cartoon series is beyond me.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #46 - March 1984

sgMost younger comics fans probably can't imagine an era when Jimmy Olsen not only could headline his own title, but do so for twenty years. I think if you combined the solo-title runs for Aquaman, Green Arrow, Atom, and Hawkman you wouldn't make it to twenty years!

So even as late as 1984, Jimmy Olsen was still enough of a headliner to get his own digest, something even Wonder Woman--Wonder Woman!--never did.

Behind the goofy, tongue planted-firmly-in-cheek cover by Ed Hannigan and Dick Giordano, come these tales of the cub reporter:
"The Boy of 100 Faces!" by Otto Binder, Curt Swan, and Ray Burnley
"The Elastic Lad of Metropolis" by Binder, Swan, and George Klein
"The Super-Lad of Space!" by Binder, Swan, and John Forte
"Jimmy Olsen, Superman's Ex-Pal!" by Binder, Swan, and Burnley
"The Lone Wolf Legionnaire Reporter" by Jim Shooter and Pete Costanza
"The Strange Second Life of Jimmy Olsen" by Leo Dorfman, Kurt Schaffenberger, and Vince Colletta
"Olsen's Time-Trip to Save Krypton"(what?!?) by Robert Bernstein and Costanza
"The Winner's Prize...The Loser's Grave" by Bob Haney and Costanza

...even though the stories are goofy beyond imagining, they are graced with some beautiful artwork. Schaffenberger of course, but I wasn't familiar with Costanza's work outside of Captain Marvel, and his Jimmy Olsen stories are really enjoyable to read and follow. They fit the tone perfectly--hmm, maybe this is why Jimmy lasted so long in his own title...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #45 - Feb. 1984

sgYou asked for more Binky, and...well, actually you probably didn't. Oh, well.

Obviously DC commissioned the great Stan Goldberg to do a new cover, since you're not gonna find anything as modern as(gasp!) a video-game on the inside, what with all the bell-bottoms, shag vests, and such.

Stories include:
Binky in "The True Beauty", "Paid in Full", "The Football Flop", and "Slappy Birthday"
Debbi in "It's A Small, Small World", "Hat's All Folks!", "Oh, Those Beautiful Chicks", and "The Little Cowboy"
Scooter in "Money, Money, Money"
Sherwood in "Kisses, Kisses, Kisses"
Malibu in "The Matchmaker"
Kenny in "Kenny's Fate--Is A Date!"
Benny in "Monkey Business"
Penny in "The Cat That Stole"

...hmm, I'm at a loss here. I mean, what can you say about Binky that hasn't already been said?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #44 - Jan. 1984

sgAnother Legion digest? Thanks heaps, DC.

Sorry, it's just that my mostly-indifferent feelings toward the Legion are well known on this blog, and how I wished they hadn't been given two slots in each issue of Adventure Comics as it ended its legendary run, so here they are with an entire book devoted to them.

Obviously, I was--and remain--in the minority of superhero comic fans, who made
The Legion of Super-Heroes at the time one of DC's best-selling books. Nothing personal.

Waiting for you behind the fun, poster-ish cover by Gil Kane are the following tales:
"The Legion's Suicide Squad" by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte
"Revenge of the Knave From Krypton" by Jerry Siegel and Forte
"The Code of the Legion" by Hamilton and Forte
"Lois Lane's Luckiest Day" by Leo Dorfman and Kurt Schaffenberger
"The Super-Tests of the Super-Pets" by Hamilton and Forte
"Eight Impossible Missions" by Siegel, Forte, and George Klein

...a really nice bonus is the inclusion of the two-page Legion preview from DC Sampler #2, which we discussed yesterday. Presumably put together by Mssrs. Levitz and Giffen, this is a clever ad for the book utilizing a lot of DC's old, classic comic logos:
sgFor the record, the logos are copped from: Adventure Comics, House of Secrets, G.I. Combat, Mystery In Space, Young Love, Police Comics, Action Comics, Detective Comics, Funny Stuff, Weird Worlds, and Plop!

...am I the only one who finds it charming that DC even still had the Young Love logo lying around in 1984?

I assume that when a digest had a page or two extra, it was up to editor Nicola Cuti to find stuff to fill it up. If this was his idea, hats off to him. They could've run boring ads for other books but instead gave Legion fans an extra treat. Nice job, Mr. Cuti!

Friday, July 27, 2007

DC Sampler #2 Ad - 1984

sgThis is one the very few ads DC ran for the digests past their initial debut in 1980, in the second, 1984 edition of the DC Sampler.

(If I may digress a moment--I don't know any comic fans who didn't loooove the DC Samplers. First, they were free, so you couldn't beat the price. Second, the ads were almost always really beautifully put-together, some giving you glimpses of events that were to come, which were exciting as all get out.

In this same Sampler, there was one for Saga of the Swamp Thing--it contained a gorgeous, moody two-page shot of the swamp by Bissette and Totleben, with an equally moody, evocative piece of writing by Moore. Nowhere in the ad did the Swamp Thing actually appear. Way, way cool.)

Ok--anyway, I like this ad because it features a rare moment of Superman being sarcastic. You can't see it here, but when the cast of Funny Stuff says "...and every other month--Superman!", he replies "Thanks heaps." Does Supes not particularly like sharing digest duties with the various funny animal stars of the DCU?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #43 - Dec. 1983

sgMore Funny Stuff! Nice poster-ish cover by Sheldon Mayer.

Stories include:
Peter Porkchops in "Roman Around"
Flippity and Flop in "Well, Well"
Three Mousketeers in "Ship A-Hooey" and "Patsy the Space Mouse"
Doodles Duck in "I Get A Kick" and "Hippo My Dreams"
Goofy Goose in "The Magic Show"
J.Rufus Lion in "Bird Brain:
Nutsy Squirrel in "U.F. Foes"
Peter Panda in "All At Sea"
Dizzy Dog in "The Ketchup Genie" and "Switch-A-Roo"
Dodo and Frog in "Fenimore's Travels"
Bo Bunny in "Bully Bear"
Raccoon Kids in "Tossing the Bull"

...a lot of this material is by Mayer, and his stuff is uniformily well done, quick-paced, and pretty witty. I'd love to see DC put together a cheap collection of his humor work and and get it front of their Cartoon Network comic-reading audience.

I have no idea what these humor-themed issues sold like, though I bet not that well(I'd love to know!). DC was determined to push that rock up the hill, and I commend 'em for it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #42 - Nov. 1983

sgSuperman vs. Aliens? Sure, why not? He's been pitted against Luthor, Kryptonite, and the Supernatural so far in the digests...an aliens theme only makes sense.

Behind the funny, roustabout cover by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano, come these stories:
"The Legion of Super-Creatures" by Otto Binder, Curt Swan, and George Klein
"The Midget Menace" by Edmond Hamilton, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye
"The Thing From 40,000 A.D." by Bill Finger, Boring, and Kaye
"The Invulnerable Enemy" by Binder and Boring(sounds like a law firm)
"The Interplanetary Circus" by Robert Bernstein and Al Plastino
"Jimmy Olsen's Private Monster"(!) by Jerry Siegel, Swan, and Forte
"The Creature of 1,000 Disguises" by Hamilton, Boring, and Kaye
"The Super-Human Bomb" by Jim Shooter and Boring
"A Dog-House for Superman" by William Woolfolk and Plastino

...a pretty goofy collection, and I'm not sure why they stuck to the 50s-60s era so relentlessly instead of throwing in some newer tales, but what the hey.

I also enjoy Brainiac on the right of the cover, just sort of watching what's going on.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #41 - Oct. 1981

sgWhat a treat! 100 pages of all-new Sugar & Spike stories!

There's something magical about Sheldon Mayer's little tot characters, since even among many comic/DC/superhero fans, they are beloved, and that's not something you can say about a lot of the other kiddie material DC put out over the decades. Heck, Sugar & Spike even made an appearance in Crisis on Infinite Earths--they're canon, for pete's sake!

Apparently, this material was put together for foreign editions, so this is the first time these stories have appeared in English. One wonders how much other material is out there, featuring who knows who...

Anyway, the S&S stories in this collection are:
"Two Little Davids Take On One Big Goliath"
"The Truck Driver"
"Pint-Size Human Flies"
"The Monster"
"Pillow Pictures"
"Who's Throwing This Party?"
"The Grown-Up Toy Boat"
"A Study in Science Friction"
"The Egg"
"The Day The World Turned Upside-Down"
"The Crazy Mixed-Up Hamburgers"
"Something Special"

...plus a first for a DC digest, a letters page! These letters were in reference to Best of DC Digest #29, the previous S&S collection, which I thought was a nice touch. Cool to know I wasn't the only one out there buying the digests!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Adventure Comics #503 - Sept. 1983

So it's come to this...the final issue of the legendary Adventure Comics.

Adventure was always my favorite of DC's "big three" omnibus titles--Action Comics = Superman, and Detective Comics = Batman of course, so I liked how Adventure was home to the lesser known guys, like The Spectre, Plastic Man, Deadman, and of course the home-away-from-home of my favorite hero, Aquaman.

Maybe it's randomness is what kept it from being a consistently big seller, so it was subject to cancellation, something DC would never dare do to Action or Detective. Ah well...it was fun while it lasted. At least DC tried to give the book a nice send-off, with this wraparound cover by Ross Andru and Joe Rubinstein, starring almost everyone who flew threw Adventure's pages during its fifty year history(I hope they got paid double for all the work this baby must have been!).

The final set of stories include:
The Legion in "The Mutiny of the Legionnaries" by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte
Plastic Man in "Brickface" by Martin Pasko, Joe Staton, and Bob Smith
Aquaman in "The Big Pull" and "The Traders' Trap" by Steve Skeates, Jim Aparo, and Dick Giordano
Zatanna in "The Tower of the Dead" and "Kill Or Be Killed" by Len Wein and Gray Morrow
The Guardian in "The Newsboy Legion" by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Jimmy Olsen in "Elastic Jimmy and His Legion Romances"(which sounds like a 60s rock band) by Jerry Siegel and Forte

...on top of the regular Paul Levitz Legion text piece, there's also a nice three-page cover gallery, showing the evolution of the title from being called New Comics with #1, New Adventure Comics with #12, and then finally just Adventure Comics with #32. An all-too-brief tribute to an era of comics long gone--goodbye Adventure Comics!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #40 - Sept. 1983

sgIt's Superman and his fabulous world of Krypton! It's a testament to the imagination of Superman's writers and editors that, over the years, you could do this many stories about Kal-El's home planet, since, you know, it blows up in the first panel of the first Superman story.

Nice cover by Gray Morrow, which was an unusual choice for a digest. I like how Jor-El and Lara look like regular people(Jor-El is even a little paunchy by comic book standards), not ripped-to-the-nth-degree superheroes.

Stories include:
"A Name is Born" by Cary Bates and Morrow
"Let My People Live" by Elliot S. Maggin, Bob Brown, and Dave Cockrum
"The Headband Warriors of Krypton" by Maggin and Cockrum
"The Face On The Falling Star" by Maggin, Dick Dillin, and Joe Giella
"A Tale of Time and Tide" by Maggin, Dillin, and Murphy Anderson
"The Death-Trails of Krypton" by Bates, Brown, and Anderson
"The Loneliest Man in the Universe" by Martin Pasko and Ernie Chua
"All in the Mind" by Marv Wolfman and Cockrum
"The Magic Master of Krypton" by Bates, Curt Swan, and Tex Blaisdell
"The Doomsayer!" by Denny O'Neil and Dick Giordano(guest-starring Green Arrow and Black Canary!)
"Jor-El's Golden Folly" by E.Nelson Bridwell and Anderson
"Marriage, Kryptonian Style" by Bates, Rich Buckler, and Anderson
"The Princess and the Glass Tree-Man" by Maggin, Swan, Giordano, and Frank McLaughlin
"The Man Who Cheated Time" by Bates and Mike Kaluta

...plus an editorial about Krypton by editor Nicola Cuti.

There are some really interesting stories here, and the brief page count and unusual setting seemed to free up the writers to really let their imaginations go wild. Sure, some of these stories are pretty out there(Headband Warriors?), but what they might lack in reality they make up for in inventiveness. And how many times did you get to see Gray Morrow or Mike Kaluta do anything remotely involved with Superman?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Adventure Comics #502 - Aug. 1983

For this, the next-to-last issue of Adventure Comics, DC changed up the contents a little plus ran with this beautiful, striking cover by Ed Hannigan and Klaus Janson.

We open again with an untitled Plastic Man story by Martin Pasko, Joe Staton, and Bob Smith, followed by:
The Legion in "The Renegade Superhero" by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte
Captain Marvel in "The Human Hawks" by Otto Binder and C.C.Beck
The Spectre in "The Parchment of Power Perilous" by Steve Skeates, Jerry Grandinetti, and Murphy Anderson
"Can This Be Death?..." by Skeates, Jim Aparo, and Dick Giordano
new feature Zatanna in a self-titled tale by Len Wein and Gray Morrow
The Legion in "The Menace of Dream Girl" by Hamillton and Forte

...judging by the last sentence in Paul Levitz's Legion text feature, "If you'd like to see more of these tales, write in and let editor Nick Cuti know!", the decision to cancel Adventure--one of DC's three longest-running titles--came very, very abruptly, and that they didn't even know #503 was the final issue as they worked on #502.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #39 - Aug. 1983

sgIt's everybody's second favorite comic-book teenager, Binky! And his buddies!

The promised 100 pages of guys, gals, and gags include:
Binky in "Lucky Binky" and "A Message To Peggy"
Benny in "Near Sighted Devil"
Binky in "Predictions Anyone"
Debbi in "Tennis Bums"
Binky in "The Slow Talker" and "Never When You Need One"
Scooter in "Fishing"
Cynthia in "The Picnic Sick-Nick"
Binky in "All In A Day's Work"
Scooter in "Weird Wild Wheels"
Debbi in "Take It Off"(!)
Buzzy in "Girl Trouble"
Binky in "Run, Mudder, Run"
...most of the work is by Henry Scarpelli in one way or another, and it certainly is nice to look at in that very clean, easy-on-the-eyes Archie-style.

Sure, most of the costumes and jokes are laughably out of date, but this collection would still probably make good reading for little girls who are jusy starting to read beyond picture books.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Adventure Comics #501 - July 1983

If you swapped out the Legion for the Justice Society, this cover could've appeared on a Golden Age-era issue of All-Star Comics. I mean, come on, you can't beat a Hitler/Nero/Dillinger combo as villains. Nice job by Ed Hannigan and Paris Cullins.

Stories include:
Plastic Man in "Codename: Pinkeye" by Martin Pasko, Joe Staton, and Bob Smith
The Legion in "Super Villains of All Ages" by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte
an uncredited Ultra Boy pin-up
Captain Marvel in "The Chameleon Stone" by William Woolfolk and C.C.Beck
The Spectre in "The Ghost That Haunted Money" by Gardner Fox, Jerry Grandinetti, and Murphy Anderson
new feature The Ray in a self-titled tale by Will Eisner and Lou Fine
Aquaman in "When The Seas Die" by Steve Skeates, Jim Aparo, and Dick Giordano
The Legion in "The Legionnaires Super-Contest!" by Hamilton and Forte
...plus an uncredited Legion of Substitute Heroes pin-up(can you feel the excitement?) and the regular Legion text page by Paul Levitz.

Only two more issues of Adventure left...*sniff*


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #38 - July 1983

sg"Superman vs. the Supernatural"? Hmm, doesn't seem like the firmest ground to build a digest upon, but I guess DC knew what it was doing...

Stories include:
"The Eliminator" by Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan, and Jack Abel
"The Truth Mirror" by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan, and Stan Kaye
"The Demons from Pandora's Box" by Siegel and Kurt Schaffenberger(gosh, the artwork is beautiful here)
"The Enchanted Mountain" by Don Cameron and Ira Yarbrough
"The Spectre Suitor!" by Cary Bates, Werner Roth, and Vince Colletta
"The Spell of the Shandu Clock!" by Jerry Coleman, Wayne Boring, and Kaye
"The Ghost of Lois Lane" by Bill Finger, Boring, and Kaye
"The Black Magic of Supergirl" by Dorfman and Jim Mooney
"The Ghost That Haunted Clark Kent" by Dorfman, Swan, and Murphy Anderson

The cover is by Ed Hannigan and Bob Smith, with a spooky Superman on the front. Despite the potentially horrorific content, most of these stories are farily benign and forgettable, although this image did stick with me:
...Graphitti Designs needs to make this into a t-shirt, and I mean now.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Adventure Comics #500 - June 1983

It's Adventure Comics' 500th anniversary issue! One hundred and fifty pages of excitement!
...well, it's one hundred and fifty pages of excitement for die-hard Legion fans, for someone like me, it was one hundred and forty-seven pages of kinda dull material, and three pages of a cool retrospective of the history of Adventure Comics(which you can read here).

Behind the fine cover by Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt are these Silver Age Legion adventures:
"The Secret of the Mystery Legionnaire" by Jerry Siegel and John Forte
"The Legion of Substitute Heroes" by Edmond Hamilton and Forte
"The Secret Power of the Mystery Super-Hero" by Hamilton and Forte
"The Return of Lightning Lad" by Hamilton and Forte
"The Legion of Super-Monsters" by Hamilton and Forte
"The Doom of the Super-Heroes" by Hamilton and Forte
"The War Between the Substitute Heroes and The Legionnaires" by Hamilton and Forte
"The Super-Sacrifice of the Legionnaires" by Hamilton and Forte
"The World of Doomed Olsens!" by Siegel, Curt Swan, and George Klein
"The Condemned Legionnaires" by Hamilton, Swan, and Klein

...plus the Legion text-piece by Paul Levitz. The "First Five Hundred Issues" history is by E.Nelson Bridwell, who ends the piece with "...and now we have #500. What next?"

Sadly, cancellation...


Monday, July 16, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #37 - June 1983

sgStarting with this issue, Best of DC started it's unofficial Superman/Funny Stuff rotation. I guess this was DC's attempt at having it both ways--doing what sells(Supes) and then trying to re(capture) the ever-dwindling young kids audience with Funny Stuff, Suagr & Spike, and Binky.

As we'll see in the next few weeks, it must have worked for at least a little while, since this rotation scheme was in place for the majority of the rest of Best of DC's run.

Stories include:
Peter Porkchops in "Knights of the Round Table"
Doodles Duck in "Crystal Ball"
Three Mousketeers in "Out To Launch"
Dodo and Frog in "Magic Mischief"
Dizzy Dog in "Mad Hatter"
"Ma Nature's Curiosity Shop" (a cute fun facts page)
Stanley the Timid Scarecrow in "Fright-Fully Yours"
Doodles Duck in "Airplane Pain"
Peter Panda in "A Very Crooked Tale"
Nip and Chip in "Battling Bed"
Nutsy Squirrel in "Egg-Heads"
Bo Bunny in "Flyin' Fish"
Goofy Goose in "Land of Animathings"
Dodo and Frog in "Balloon Baloney"
Dizzy Dog in "Duel"
Stanely and His Monster in "Camp Cru-M-Bee's Pet Dog...Spot"
Three Mousketeers in "Name Droppers"

...take a moment to consider just how many different "funny animal" characters DC had at one time(and the above list doesn't even cover all of them!), and how completely they disappeared later on. How different a company DC must have been--a more diverse group of creators, all with different interests, strengths, and backgrounds.

Ah, I can picture it now--you toiled on a Dizzy Dog story in the morning, pitching it out with the guys and then laying out the story; breaking for lunch down at the Automat(mmm...mac and cheese!), then back to the office to start drawing the pages.

Sounds like heaven to me.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Adventure Comics #499 - May 1983

"Who is the Legion's Traitor?" Well, it could be Chameleon Boy, Saturn Girl, or maybe Mon-El...or maybe even the shifty-eyed alien right in the center of the picture! Another Gil Kane cover, with...unusual poses, to say the least. When have you ever seen Saturn Girl from that angle? Has anyone, except for Lightning Lad?

Stories include:
Plastic Man in...um, well..."Plastic Man", apparently, since the story has no title, by Len Wein, Joe Staton, and Bob Smith
The Legion in "The Fantastic Spy!" by Jerry Siegel and John Forte
Aquaman in "A Kingdom To Rebild" by Steve Skeates, Jim Aparo, and Dick Giordano
Captain Marvel in "The Talking Tiger" by Otto Binder and C.C.Beck
The Sandman in "The Villain From Valhalla!" by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
The Legion in "The Stolen Super-Powers!" by Siegel and Forte
Captain Marvel(again!) in "The Man in the Moon" by Binder and Beck
The Spectre in "Pilgrims of Peril" by Gardner Fox, and the unusual art team of Jerry Grandinetti and Murphy Anderson(!)

I've said before, I think Jerry Grandinetti is very underrated, both for his storytelling and his page layouts--he crams more into a panel than Evan Dorkin, yet it doesn't ever look crowded; instead it gives his work a weird, dream-like quality, perfect for Spectre stories.

There's also the Legion text page by Paul Levitz, as always. I guess the Legion was the engine driving this particular series, since they always got two stories per issue, Captain Marvel being the only other feature to do so, just this once. And fans of the Legion would be even more thrilled with Adventure's 500th issue celebration coming in two days!


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #36 - May 1983

As Superman collections go, "Superman Vs. Kryptonite" isn't a bad idea, since approximately every third Superman story in the fifties and sixties were kryptonite ones. Plus the cover by Ed Hannigan and Dick Giordano is, no pun intended, a killer.

Stories include: 

• "The Curse of Kryptonite" by Otto Binder and Al Plastino 
"The Greatest Pitcher in the World" by Bill Finger, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye 
"The Untold Story of Red Kryptonite" by Binder, Curt Swan, and John Forte 
"The Invasion of the Bizarro World" by Jerry Siegel and Forte 
"The Menace of Gold Kryptonite" by Binder and Plastino 
"Superboy Visits the 50th Century" by Binder, Swan, and Forte 
"Secret of Kryptonite Six" by Leo Dorfman, Swan, and George Klein 
"The Super Outlaw of Metropolis" by Jerry Coleman, Boring, and Kaye 
"The Fury of the Kryptonian Killer!" by Jim Shooter, Swan, and Klein

...in addition to all stories, there's an inside back cover "puzzle" that shows the cover to Jimmy Olsen #70 ("The Secret of Silver Kryptonite") and seeing if readers can "guess the secret." Can you?*

Also, on the back cover there's a handy Kryptonite Handbook which gives you a brief rundown on all the types of K-metal in case you come across some and want to pull a mean practical joke on Superman.

*There is no such thing as Silver Kryptonite! It was a hoax perpetrated by Jimmy. Don't ask.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Adventure Comics #498 - April 1983

Hey, the new lead feature for Adventure is Plastic Man, so where's his front cover slot? Geez, such little respect for Plas! Instead we get a double Legion cover, still nicely drawn by Gil Kane.

The Plastic Man story, self-titled, is by Len Wein, Joe Staton, and Bob Smith, and may hold the record for fastest reprint ever, since this story originally appeared in Adventure Comics #467, a mere thirty issues ago! It's a common remark for people to say no ever did Plastic Man as good as Jack Cole, but I really liked these stories--I thought they were fun, quick-paced, and Staton was a great choice for Plas. DC must have recognized that and decided they were worth reprinting, even so soon.

The other stories are:
a Bouncing Boy pin-up(because you demanded it!) by...uncredited!
"The Secret Origin of Bouncing Boy!" by Jerry Siegel and John Forte
Aquaman in "Come the Revolution" by Steve Skeates, Jim Aparo, and Dick Giordano
"Captain Marvel Battles The World's Maddest Ghost" by Otto Binder and C.C.Beck
The Sandman in "The Man Who Knew All The Answers" by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
"Sun-Boy's Last Power" by Siegel and Forte
Mary Marvel(who doesn't even get on either cover!) in "The Thanksgiving Thieves!" by E.Nelson Bridwell and Bob Oksner
The Spectre in "The Fugitive From Justice", written and drawn by Neal Adams
...plus the obligatory Legion text piece by Paul Levitz.

Even though I miss the Rozakis/Toth Challengers of the Unknown stories, Plastic Man is a nice addition, and the Mary Marvel tale(from DC's Shazam! #10) is a sweet, fun story; it's a darn shame that this was her one appearance in Adventure!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #35 - April 1983

sgAh, it's that time again--time for a Year's Best collection!

First off, love the cover by Ed Hannigan and Dick Giordano--it's a fun concept, pulling back the curtain and showing these heroes as "stars" on the way to an awards show. And I love the old-timey "press" guy on the bottom right.

Anyway, these stories were DC's self-appointed best of 1982:
"Dear Mom and Dad", by Marv Wolfman, George Perez, and Romeo Tanghal (New Teen Titans #20)
"Keep Me Alive!" by Bob Kanigher and Frank Redondo (Sgt.Rock #361)
"Plastique Is Another Word For Fear" by Gerry Conway, Pat Broderick, and Rodin Rodriguez (Fury of Firestorm #7)
"In The White Room" by Martin Pasko and Tom Yeates (Saga of the Swamp Thing #4)
"Haven!" by Doug Moench, Don Newton, and Frank Chiaramonte (Detective Comics #514)
"Old Friends, New Relatives, and Other Corpses!" by Paul Levitz, Broderick, and Bruce Patterson (Legion of Super-Heroes #286)
I...Vampire! in "Manhattan Interlude" by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, Adrian Gonzales, and Tom Sutton (House of Mystery #310)
"When You Wish Upon A Planetoid!" by Mishkin, Cohn, Curt Swan, and Kurt Schaffenberger (DC Comics Presents #50, featuring Superman teaming up with...Clark Kent!)

Looking back over 1982, you can see that our pal Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn had a good year, as did Pat Broderick (I hope DC threw them a bonus or two for landing two stories in one Year's Best collection, though I doubt it.) Starting around this time, there would always be New Teen Titans and Swamp Thing stories in each year's collection--the creative teams of Wolfman/Perez and Moore/Bissette/Totleben were cooking on all burners(even though this year's Swampy tale was from the earlier creative team!) and DC recognized that.

There's also a listing of some of the runners-up, like "A Loop In Time" by Mike W. Barr, Keith Pollard, and Mike DeCarlo from Green Lantern #158, "Starfire Unleashed!" from New Teen Titans #16, "The Private War of Hendrickson" by our pal
Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle from Blackhawk #253, "The Bunny From Beyond!" by Roy Thomas, Scott Shaw!, and Al Gordon from Captain Carrot #6, "The Debt" by Michael Fleisher, Ross Andru, and Tony DeZuniga from Jonah Hex #57.

One of my favorite tales in this collection the Batman one, "Haven!" which puts Batman in a very atypical location--a snowy wilderness miles away from Gotham--and tells a very compelling, heartfelt story. Hats off to Moench and Newton, and I'm glad DC recognized how good a job they did.

See you next year!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Adventure Comics #497 - March 1983

Another Gil Kane cover, and while I admit upfront my lack of fascination for the Legion, I really do wish the Challengers of the Unknown got the full cover--their half looks really exciting! Though I'm sure the lack of superhero uniforms would've ruled it out as the only image used to sell the book.

Rozakis and Toth, this time with inker Dan Adkins, are on board for "All Together Now!" the opening Challs story, and the final chapter of the extended origin storyline started in Adventure #493. This was a really fun set of stories, especially the ones drawn by Toth. This run should really be collected somewhere.

The other stories are:
• Superboy in "The Boy With Ultra-Powers!" by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan, and George Klein
Aquaman in "The Explanation" by Steve Skeates, Jim Aparo, and Dick Giordano 
The Marvel Family in "The Mighty Marvels Join Forces!" by Otto Binder and C.C.Beck 
The Legion in "The Face Behind The Lead Mask!" by Siegel and John Forte 
The Spectre in the classic "Stop That Kid, Before He Wrecks The World!" by Neal Adams

...plus another Legion text piece by Paul Levitz.

I was sad to see the Challs go, but as we'll see in two days, there was some more fun features in Adventure's future!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #34 - March 1983

sgThis had to be a favor to someone at DC--a whole digest devoted to The Metal Men?

Don't get me wrong, I like the Metal Men, but the digests most of the time seemed to be an indication of who were the heavy-hitters, sales-wise, in the DCU, like Superman and The Legion, so a whole collection of Metal Men stories seemed pretty off-beat.

But hey, there's always time for another Superman collection next time, let's all bask in the metally goodness of these stories!

After the cover by Ed Hannigan and Bruce Patterson , we start with "The Flaming Fiend!" by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, and Mike Esposito, who also do the honors for the other tale in this collection, "The Deathless Doom!" These two stories are culled from the Metal Men's appearances in Showcase #'s 37-40, yet they're printed without covers so they read like two really long stories. Also, on the inside cover is a one-page feature "Metal Facts and Fancies!", a fun relic of comics gone by.

The one other curious bit from this book is the price/issue/date box on the cover:

...as you can see, obviously someone in the paste-up department put that month's Adventure Comics(see tomorrow's post) info box on this book by mistake. The inside indicia gets it right, but for a minute you think "Man, Best of DC Digest ran for almost five hundred issues?"

Monday, July 9, 2007

Adventure Comics #496 - Feb. 1983

This time its Gil Kane who provides the Legion/Challengers cover for this issue of Adventure. The Legion half is ok but I really dig the Challs motif!

The Challs lead off the book in "Tomorrow's Answers!" by Bob Rozakis, Alex Toth, and Frank Giacoia. While Toth inking Toth is best I think, Giacoia does a nice job on these stories.

The other stories are:
Supergirl in "Supergirl's Greatest Challenge!" by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney 
Aquaman in "Underworld Reward Part 2" by Steve Skeates, Jim Aparo, and Dick Giordano 
Captain Marvel Jr. in "The Mystery of the Missing Newsstand" by Elliot S! Maggin and Dave Cockrum 
Supergirl again in "Superman's Super-Courtship" by Siegel and Mooney. This is the story that famously features this uber-creepy panel:
Not an imaginary tale!

Somehow the book finds a way to kep going with The Sandman in "Dreams of Doom" by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby 
• We wrap up with The Spectre in "Hang 'Em Up, Wildcat--You're Finished!" by Gardner Fox and Neal Adams, which of course guest-stars Wildcat.

It's a testimony to just how good Neal Adams was that he could make such a hero with such a goofy uniform as Wildcat look totally badass, which he does here. After reading one Adams-drawn Wildcat story and you're ready for a Wildcat solo title! Though, of course, teaming up The Spectre with Wildcat is like teaming up a nuclear bomb with a sling-shot, but what the hey, things have always been a bit nicer on Earth-2.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #33 - Feb. 1983

sgYou asked for the Legion, and you're gonna get 'em! Don't blame me--I sure as heck didn't ask for the Legion. Nothing againt them; I just was never that big a Legion fan, except for the Levitz/Giffen run. But if you were, this was the first(of many) digests for you:

"The Lone Wolf Legionnaire" by Edmund Hamilton and John Forte
"The One-Shot Hero" by Cary Bates and the late, great Dave Cockrum
"Dawnstar Rising" by Paul Levitz, our pal Paul Kupperberg, James Sherman, and Bob McLeod
"Brotherly Hate!" by E.Nelson Bridwell and George Tuska
"The Trillion-Dollar Trophies" by Jim Shooter, Mike Grell, and Bob Wiacek
"The Infinite Man Who Conquered the Legion!" by Levitz, Sherman, and Wiacek
...then the cover feature, "Secret Origins of the Legion of Super-Heroes"(reprinted from the Legion treasury comic All-New Collectors' Edition #C55), plus a cover gallery of some of the books reprinted.

Nice wraparound cover by Keith Giffen and Mike DeCarlo!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Adventure Comics #495 - Jan. 1983

Crazy angles? Amazing renderings of the human form? That's gotta be a Ross Andru cover!

We open this issue with another brand-new Challengers of the Unknown adventure, "Yesterday's Clues!" by Bob Rozakis, but this time drawn by Alex Toth and Frank Giacoia! Wow! 

The other stories are:
 Superboy in "The Secret of the Seventh Super-Hero!:" by Robert Bernstein and George Papp 
Aquaman in "Underworld Reward!" by Steve Skeates, Jim Aparo, and Dick Giordano 
Captain Marvel in "Man Without A World!" by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck 
Superboy in "The Legion of Super-Traitors!" by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan, and George Klein 
The Sandman in "Crime Carnival" by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby 
The Spectre in "Die, Spectre--Again!" by Gardner Fox and a superb art job by Neal Adams

Wow, Toth, Aparo, Beck, and Adams--that's worth the cover price alone!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #32 - Jan. 1983

Someone in DC accounting ran some actuary tables, then yelled down the hall: "Hey, tell someone in editorial--we're a little behind, sales-wise, on the digests. Do another Superman!" And so they did. As you can see from the cover by Rich Buckler and Frank Giacoia, this one is all about Supes vs. "The Mightiest Men in the Universe." Oh, and Vartox(sorry, Vartox fans--all three of you--I could never get past his Village People look).

Stories include:
"Solomon Grundy Wins On Monday" by Gerry Conway, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, and Bob Oksner 
"Power of the Parasite" by Jim Shooter and Al Plastino 
"The Ultimate Battle" by Denny O'Neil, Curt Swan, and Murphy Anderson 
"The Man Who Murdered the Earth" by Len Wein, Swan, and Anderson 
"Mystery Mission to Metropolis" by Cary Bates, Swan, and Oksner

...plus a three-page text feature all about more "mighty men" from Superman's world, like Bizarro, Hercules, and Hyper-Man(?). I dunno, for my money, I could read a whole book of DCU heroes Vs. Solomon Grundy--I always thought he was one of DC's weirdest, creepiest, yet-underused bad guys!


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Adventure Comics #494 - Dec. 1982

The Challengers of the Unknown still open Adventure with the second part of the brand-new story started last issue, "Contract on a Champ!", by Bob Rozakis, George Tuska, and Andy Mushynsky.

Other stories include:
"Superboy's Big Brother" by Robert Bernstein and George Papp
Aquaman in "To Win Is To Lose" by Steve Skeates, Jim Aparo, and Dick Giordano
"Captain Marvel Faces Fear!" by William Woolfolk and Pete Costanza
"The Legion of Super-Villains" by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan, and Sheldon Moldoff
The Spectre in "The Sinister Lives of Captain Skull" by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson
...plus the regular text-page feature about the Legion by Paul Levitz.

Because of the extra-long Superboy story, there is no seventh feature in this issue. As a kid, I remember being disappointed because I would've always rather read a Zatanna or Black Canary story than another Legion tale. Oh, well.

Covers by Keith Giffen and Frank Giacoia and Giffen and Romeo Tanghal.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #31 - Dec. 1982

One of my all-time favorite digests, if not the favorite(I know, I've said that before). Every time there was a JLA collection I just went nuts, since it was my favorite book growing up and usually reprints showed me tales I had never read before. And this collection was even more special, since it was all stories where a new member joined the JLA, and I always loved those. The covers are by Gil Kane, and I liked them both so much I wanted to show them both off!

The stories are: 

• Black Canary joins in "In Each Man There Is A Demon" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Joe Giella 
Elongated Man joins in "Specter in the Shadows" by Len Wein, Dillin, and Dick Giordano 
• Red Tornado joins in "Wolf in the Fold" by Wein, Dillin, and Giordano 
Zatanna joins in "The Reverse-Spells of Zatanna's Magic" by Gerry Conway, Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin

There's also two really nice bonuses included: one is the cover to JLA #42, the classic "Metamorpho Says No!", and even cooler is a retro, classic-DC-style ad for the current issue of JLA, #209. The ad works even better since the cover, by George Perez, is a beautiful, exciting, poster-like image:
sg...I don't know who put this ad together, but I hope they got a raise. It's a wonderful, fun little bonus.

I'd say the only thing that mars this book is that a few pages were actually printed out of order. Yep, instead of page ten of the Black Canary story, we suddenly jump into the Zatanna story for two pages, then it happens again on page twenty-six, where we suddenly find ourselves on the last page of the Red Tornado story and the Zatanna issue's cover(JLA #161). Oops!
(This was another purchase made at the beloved Voorhees News and Tobacco Shop--amid the porno mags and smell of cigars, the place was a wonderland of comic book fun.)