The Colossus of Crime

This morning’s post – the 99th!- focuses on Super-Team Family # 4 from  May 1976.

I bought this issue from the late Pete Root’ s City Centre Comics ( at the back of Glasgow’s Forbidden Planet) at some point in the late 90s/early 2000s. The shop is now based in Ruthven Lane, opposite Byres Road underground station. It’s well worth a browse for 60s and 70s comics. But I do miss the days when back issues and modern comics were on sale in the same shop.

Anyway, Super-Team Family Giant was, for most of its run, a mix of reprints and new material. This issue’s headliner is that rarest of beasts: a complete JSA adventure, The Revenge of Solomon Grundy. The cover is a visceral Forties pastiche by Conan‘s Ernie Chan.

The swampland hybrid of zombie and Frankenstein’s monster crosses the United States on a mission to crush his enemy Green Lantern. The JSA attempt to end his rampage, thinking initially that they are avenging GL’s death at Grundy’s hands.

Unlike JLA adventures, where the members team up in pairs or trios, the JSA encounter Grundy in a series of individual chapters. Green Lantern ,of course, never fell victim to Grundy in the first chapter; instead he was recruited by his unpopular comedy sidekick Doiby Dickles (or Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, as he’s now known). GL does take a battering from the Ghastly Giant in the State Park but Doc Mid-Nite is on hand to save him with his medical skills.

Each of the chapters has a little mini-drama unrelated to the Grundy rampage. The best of these is Kubert’s five-page Hawkman vignette about feuding father -and -son newspapermen.The Atom’s chapter centres on a washed-up gang boss. Dr. Mid-Nite’s chapter features some kids playing marbles while Johnny Thunder’s segment is an unfunny skit where he’s played by two gang molls.

Unfairly, Wonder Woman never gets to take on the Dreadful Destroyer. She could have used her mental radio gimmick to track him down but Alan Scott does that instead with his engineering talents.

Johnny Thunder, who seems like a real simpleton here and yet more “comedy relief”, gives GL the idea to imprison Grundy on the moon. The creature eventually returns in the 1960s for a Brave and Bold battle with Hourman and Dr. Fate.

I wonder if the story inspired the early clashes between the Avengers and the Hulk?  The Grundy/GL and Hawkman sections are the best part of the tale. The rest of the material is weak and a bit silly but without it, James Robinson would have no plot for his current Earth-2 series.

The Menace of the Moon Man: a Dick Sprang World’s Finest story from December 1958. The Moon Man resembles Dr.Mid-Nite but his gimmick recalls Eclipso.  Pilot Rogers undertakes a manned space flight but exposure to a Kryptonite-flavoured comet gives him magnetic abilities and a split personality. Rogers agonizes over his criminal persona but is abducted by crooks when on the verge of turning himself in.

This is a cracking late 50s story, utilising sci-fi elements in an unusually realistic way (for a WF tale!). The tormented Moon Man is almost a prototype Marvel hero, combining elements of the FF and the Hulk.

In May ’76, I was coming to the end of my first year at Strathaven Academy. 12-year-old  me was pretty happy then: I had a sizeable group of friends in school and we stuck together for about six years ; my dad was still managing the TSB in the town and my mum was working in the typing pool at the EK police office. I didn’t buy many DC comics at that point. Marvel’s Headshop Kozmic output was far more beguiling:

Omega the Unknown was an unsettling mix of sci-fi and social realism. I didn’t glom onto it like I did Gerber’s Defenders though. That Kirby Invaders cover is beautifully inked ( if only Miss America had her brunette hair and glasses!)

Even the British weeklies were still throwing new concepts at their UK audience:

Those Tom Sutton “Future History Chronicles” stories were breathtaking.

Next: the 100th ‘Optkon post!

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners

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