Sidekicks, Kid Gangs and Golden Boys

This was another Super-Spec bought in Bairds in Strathaven. I’m guessing that the cover date was still synched up to the month and not three months in advance . This is because I recollect reading this comic in the car while my dad tossed pigeons on the Sandford road, beside the Avon Water. He wouldn’t be doing that in December.

The Boy who was Stronger than Superboy: the real value of the Smallville Sensation was the opportunity to tell stories for boys; this is an effective tale of rivalry and self-sacrifice. I was reminded of the story of Gary  (Ultra Boy) Crane, who had a happier time of it than gangster stooge Ted Grahame.

The Boy Commandos: my favourite story in the whole package. Simon and Kirby’s epic sweeps with cinematic flair from Nostradamus’ France to an English public school. There’s an exciting commando raid and a dastardly Fifth Columnist. Dead End Kid Brooklyn is de obvious star, youse mugs!  It never dawned on me that the boys featured, with Batman, in Detective and were one of DC’s biggest wartime hits. Why is this strip not a “major motion picture”?!

The Boy of the Year Contest: a dull, forgettable entry from 1957. We coulda had a solo Robin story, youse mugs!

The Menace of Aqualad: a touching little Ramona Fradon tale about Aquaman’s paranoia towards his frog-faced sidekick. I don’t know when Garth grew the curly black mop I remember best.

Twice Burned: I’ve still never read the Ditko version but saw the previous installment of this Hawk and Dove story in a Gnarrk issue of Teen Titans. Hmmm…must pick that up again on ebay. This is another dynamic Gil Kane story; I associate his pencils with athletic heroes. Crying.  Hawk has one of my all-time favourite super-hero costumes. If Mike Friedrich was the Roy Thomas of  DC’s late Silver Age, Steve Skeates was Gerry Conway.

The Trial of Superboy: a clever but very talky hoax story from the late 50s.

A Drama in Dreams: Simon and Kirby’s Dynamic Duo star in a series of gaily coloured punch-ups in an Art Deco world. Joe Simon, who passed away this month is often overshadowed by the King but this team-up is head and shoulders above similar fare, such as the Star-Spangled Kid, or TNT (still to come)

Dr. Cyclops- the Villain with The Doomsday Stare: Jim Mooney’s airy, kinetic 1967 story feels a lot like early Marvel. The monocular vilain wouldn’t be amiss in the Flash but some of the one-shot heroes are just silly-a wooden robot?!

I suspect Marv Wolfman and Len Wein’s Nova was inspired by this story’s Super-Nova. I think the concept was stronger in the early 80s when Wolfman used readers submissions. There’s a suggestion for free, New 52…

Superbaby’s Search for a Pet: Otto Binder and George Papp deliver a sweet little tale about the super-toddler and some alien critters. The baby talk gimmick is a bit laboured but only the stoniest heart would be unmoved by “Krypto, me love you! Don’t go away!”

A Look Through the Super-Spectacles: ENB says he has a policy of not reprinting stories that are less than five years old but admits he broke it for Hawk & Dove. He also heralds the return of Joe Simon who would create Prez (and the, cough, Outsiders)  and rework the Sandman with Kirby. Kirby’s Demon and Kamandi are plugged too.

Meet the Super-Stars: a text feature on origins. I had never read Robby Reed’s before. Now it strikes me as very, very similar to Thor.

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners and are reproduced here for purposes of comment and nostalgia.


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