Friday, September 14, 2012

Four More Comics in 1962

The remaining four comics that I bought in September of 1962 were DC titles. And if World's Finest Comics, starring team-ups of Superman and Batman and with Aquaman and Green Arrow in back-up stories was a favorite, you can imagine how much I loved Justice League of America, in which the entire army of DC superheroes joined forces.

Though Superman and Batman were heralded in the advertisements as members of the Justice League, their roles in the stories were limited and they rarely appeared on the early covers. Their absences were covered with lines like "Superman is on a mission in space" or "Batman is tracking an escaped master criminal," but the real reason had to do with office politics at DC. Mort Weisinger, the editor of the Superman titles, was concerned that having the Man of Steel on the cover of JLA would dilute the sales of his books. Jack Schiff, who ran the Batman titles (and World's Finest) jumped on Mort's bandwagon. leaving JLA editor Julie Schwartz to showcase the rest of the characters. Well, having seven heroes, all of whom I knew from their own titles or back-up features in other books, was enough to make me a steady reader.
As exciting as the cover for "Challenge of the Untouchable Aliens" appeared, it was always a good idea not to think too much about it. The alien, wearing some kind of Native American blanket as a loincloth, seems able to hold tight to The Flash and Aquaman, while Green Lantern's power beam, Wonder Woman's lasso and J'onn J'onzz's fist all pass through him harmlessly. So what do we think will happen when Green Arrow fires his arrow with The Atom as its passenger? It's likely it too will fly right through the alien's body, launching the Tiny Titan on a one-way ride. ("I shot The Atom into the air. He fell to Earth I know not where...")

After Superman, Batman was probably my second favorite superhero. Since he appeared in both his own title and Detective Comics (along with the World's Finest team-ups), there were plenty of issues to develop his world and its back story. While most issues had three stories, "Batman's New Secret Identity" was worthy of being a two-part adventure, while "The Mystery Gadget From the Stars" filled out the last third of the issue.
Countless comic book stories had indoctrinated us readers about how important it was to keep a secret identity a secret, so this issue was a must-buy. Batman couldn't give up being Batman, so, obviously, it was Bruce Wayne who had to go!

I had first been introduced to The Flash when my cousin Peter bought one of the very early issues and I had the chance to read it. Not long thereafter, I started buying it regularly.
It was probably the Flash's Rogues Gallery that kept me coming back. Rather than just committing crimes, Mirror Master, Captain Cold, The Top and the rest seemed to have vexing the Scarlet Speedster as their primary goal. This particular issue did not feature any of the costumed villains; instead we have an alien from another dimension who turns Flash into "The Heaviest Man Alive."
The second story was more character-driven, something editor Julie Schwartz liked to do from time to time. "The Farewell Appearance of Daphne Dean" brought back Barry Allen's childhood sweetheart, now with a crush of The Flash, but unaware that he and Barry are one and the same.

My final comic book purchase of September was an odd one, considering that there were other superhero titles that I did not purchase. Showcase was a tryout title in which DC would test the waters on a feature for a few issues before giving it its own magazine or putting it back on the shelf. Aquaman, The Atom, and the Metal Men were among the more recent successes.
I was familiar with Tommy Tomorrow from his back-up appearances in Action Comics and later in issues of World's Finest, but I don't think I was a big fan of his adventures. I imagine it may have been the blurb on the cover heralding his "origin at the West Point of Space" that captured my attention and had me choosing it over the current issue of Aquaman or Detective Comics.
Alas, Tommy Tomorrow did not follow in the footsteps of many of his predecessors in Showcase, despite five appearances over a year and a half, and he disappeared into DC oblivion.
In fact, following his Showcase tryouts, Tommy did not reappear until fifteen years later in "Danger: Dinosaurs at Large" in DC Special #27.
That story was written by yours truly.


  1. Bob,
    I'm enjoying your reminiscences of your early comic-buying days, but I don't understand the West Point connection--if memory serves from the DC lettercols, you're from Elmont, L.I.

    A website I think you'd like is the "DC Archives Message Board Forum"--every month, a webmaster, "Osgood Peabody", opens a "DC comics Time Capsule" of what the zeitgeist, and particularly the DC comics, were 50 years ago. One of its regular contributors is "Commander Benson", a self-described US Navy vet and an enjoyably-keen analyst of Silver Age stories. I'm sure they'd be glad of your input. Check it out.

    1. It was that the issue included an origin that caught my attention, not that it was at the "West Point of space."
      Thanks for the heads-up about the message board. I'll check it out.