Ordinary Boys

Another Super-Spec from Baird’s in Strathaven in late ’73 (I don’t know if the date on the cover-October- was the date the comic was on sale in Scotland- but I think so). The LSH story alone would be enough to tempt me and the 15p price represented huge value for 100 pages.

While this wouldn’t be a “desert island” pick, it’s very entertaining and beautifully drawn, virtually throughout.

Yellow covers : very Seventies

The Superboy Revenge Squad: the Superman Revenge Squad of the future is introduced in this story: a gang of would-be conquerors from the planet Wexr II. Here, George Papp depicts them as big blue aliens although, in later stories, they’re far more human.

Clark has to hypnotise himself to forget his Superboy identity to protect the Earth from this suicide squad. While he thinks he’s an ordinary boy, his staunch friend Pete Ross impersonates Superboy. This is almost the same plot as Paul Cornell’s Doctor Who two-parter Human Nature ! Pete’s selfless loyalty will eventually earn him an honorary Legion membership, which is a sweet message.

Lena Thorul, Jungle Princess: a bonkers story of Luthor’s ESP sister. When Supergirl-double Lena discovers the truth about her brother, she develops amnesia and becomes a Nyoka/Shanna-style  jungle girl and circus attraction. Thanks to Jim Mooney, Lena in a tiger skin is very lovely and the story is a mad, exotic soap opera.

The Miracle Plane: yet again, another delightful tale of brave boys -and inventor dads- which is a simple but charming premise for Superboy. No credits on this late-40s tale but it depicts a much younger Clark Kent than I’m used to, possibly pre-teen.

The Beagle: no credits here either, although the pencils are moodily realistic. It’s ENB’s favourite orientalist boy ghost, Kid Eternity again, in a noirish crime tale of murderers brought to justice.  A dying reporter gets a chance to expose a gangster with help from a deceased journalist. It’s a really interesting story-although the humour is sometimes jarring- but would a 70s kid really have heard of  Richard Harding Davis?  To draw another Dr. Who parallel, it’s like the Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve.

The Super-Moby Dick of Space:  this homage to Herman Melville is the epic tale of Lightning Lad’s injury. His obsessive pursuit of the space monster that maimed him spans a planet of people with mineral flesh; a world of hundreds of tiny moons; and a third where giant robots are frozen into immobility. Unfortunately, in the hands of Forte, the story is as stiff and lifeless as Garth’s robot arm. In the LSH cartoon, L-Lad loses the limb in conflict with brother Mekt, which is logical but not as mythic.

The 1001 Dooms of Mr. Twister: the first Teen Titans tale, elegantly drawn by Bruno Premiani. Again, there’s a charming message about teenagers and adults pulling together in the community. The eponymous villain, with his vague Indian magic powers, isn’t very memorable and Aqualad doesn’t contribute much, although his fish do. It’s odd that the first Titans story was reprinted second and Haney’s hep cat lingo is largely missing.

The Super-Giant of Smallville: deftly drawn by Curt Swan, this short is a silly hoax played on a mad scientist by Supey, successfully getting him back to a productive life. A bit of a disappointing end- another Sandman and Sandy or a Swan Legion tale would have been wonderful instead; maybe the first Universo story? Anyway, I only discovered tonight Swan’s first name was really Douglas!

Behind the Scenes-DC  Comic World: This text feature has the quintessentially early-70s byline “Happenings”. It teases Goodwin and Simonson’s Manhunter and the infamous Aparo Spectre in Adventure Comics. Interestingly, that series is allegedly inspired by editor Joe Orlando’s response to the reprint of the Spectre in Secret Origins. But that book hadn’t hit the stands yet.  More in a post or two…

Back page cover gallery – worth noting that the two 40s  covers are striking and direct, while the 60s pair are  busy and very wordy.

Next: The Way of All-Flash

All images are presumed copyright of their original owners.


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