Big Society

NB: To my surprise, I actually blogged about the comic below already- THREE years ago.!( I think I wrote better then but I’m not pulling the post. It’s interesting to see how my opinions have changed, somewhat- https://materioptikon.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/the-society-pages/)

Summer is the time for specials and few comics were such good value as the 100-page  DC Super-Spectaculars of the early-to-mid 70s.

I’m enjoying the current return of Paul Levitz and Dr. Fate so, fittingly, here is a facsimile Super-Spec: one that was rustled up fifteen years ago to showcase Fate’s team-mates:

JSA_100-Page_Super_Spectacular_Vol_1_1

I was crazy about the JSA from the minute I first glimpsed them in Denny O’Neil’s bonkers “Aquarius” adventure.

For many years, I longed to read the Flash comic that re-introduced the Justice Society. I was especially interested in their rogues gallery of villains, particularly since reading about Vandal Savage in the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes strip in  the East Kilbride News.

Flash_v.1_213

I failed to read it in its early-70s reprint form but in the early 80s, as comics marts started to spring up in Glasgow, I finally got that totemic issue, which commemorates my date of birth. So, this facsimile 100-pager is my second edition, if you like, although technically the second reprinting.

Vengeance of the Immortal Villain: The two Flashes have a speed duel in Mammoth Caves to rescue JSAers trapped by Vandal Savage ( interpreted by Infantino here as a cross between Napoleon and Peter Lorre.) The Prussian-style immortal  uses technology devised by his old allies The Brain Wave and Per Degaton, who have a cameo along with the other members of the Injustice Society.

This is a delightful nostalgia trip for dad and a whole new world of heroes for the kids. However, the gulf between Flash 123 and All-Star Comics 37 is only 18 years- that is, the gulf between today and the George Clooney Batman and Robin or Grant Morrison’s JLA!

Brave_and_the_Bold_v.1_62

The Big Super-Hero Hunt: another story I had longed to see as a kid, this  1965 tale pits DC’s first married supervillains, “Mr. and Mrs Menace” against Starman, Black Canary and Wildcat. This is a beautiful strip with some wacky imagery, including the Sportsmaster’s flying putting green.

In his overrated 90s  Goth saga, Starman, James Robinson decided the two married JSAers would have an affair in the wake of this adventure because, you know, gritty realism.  And what did Fox and Anderson know, anyway.

Finale for a Fiddler: a classy short by Kanigher and Anderson from Flash 201, 1970. Jay-Flash wonders if he’s past it, capturing the Turtle Man. He then attends the Stockwood Music Festival with his wife where he prevents the Fiddler from robbing the hippies.  It’s a sweet little fable about how cool your elders really are.

The Sight Stealers: reprinted from Adventure Comics 418, this is a dull little story.  The Medical Manhunter is a boring blend of Batman and Daredevil. Mid-Nite develops an echo-flashlight, which will nullify his blindness handicap, which is of course, his only unique trait.He ends up tied to a penny farthing but escapes to pursue crooks in a chariot.

The Mystery of the Missing Detectives: In the last JSA adventure of the late Golden Age, four foreign detectives are kidnapped and the heroes have adventures in London, Paris (with Quasimodo’s hidden fortune!), Istanbul and Honolulu. The villainous Key falls to his death from a cable car.

This isn’t quite as Roy Thomas/Golden Age-y as you might imagine: this is the year captain Comey made his debut and Catcher in the Rye was published.

This is a really good-looking collection; the only dud is Mid-Nite. I think a better choice might’ve been a Simon/Kirby Sandman story. Had this comic actually existed in the 70s, it would’ve been a fine platfoem for the Conway/Estrada/Wood revival of All-Star Comics.

Coming soon: Green Lantern, Justice Inc. and Bran Mak Morn

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners

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