Saturday, January 13, 2018

REVIEW: Chasing HItler #2 of 4 (2017)



CHASING HITLER #2 of 4 (2017) —
Cover by Jethro Morales. ©Red 5 Comics
CHASING HITLER #2
Red 5 Comics, $3.99, 28pgs.
On-sale December 27, 2017

“Chasing Hitler, 2 of 4”
20 pages, Read Time – 7:55

by Jai & Hayley Nitz (story); Jethro Morales (art); Marie Enger (colors); and Chris Crank (letters). Edited by [unknown].

 BOTTOM LINE: A high concept with lots of promise, but one that ultimately gets squandered in a book that buries the lede in an overly decomressed set-up.


I really wanted to like this comic, and, in truth, the series started out well enough last issue. The concept is all one could hope for in the “cinematic-style comic book entertainment” Red 5 promises: A special ops team, discovering Hitler survived the Battle of Berlin and escaped the Fuhrerbunker, races to rein him in before anyone else learns the world's greatest criminal is still alive. But sadly, this second issue seems to flounder from too much decompression.

One thing Red 5 needs to understand, I think, — and you’ve heard me say this before — is that comics are NOT movies. They are entirely different art forms, with their own narrative tricks and techniques. Sure, there is a good deal of crossover, but you do not write a comic book or “direct” the on-page action in at all the same way you would script movie, or design the its storyboards.

For example, we start with three pages of our two lead characters at a bomb crater as they are shown the charred bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun by some Russian Army dude. The heroes quickly deduce these are not the actual bodies, and that Russian Dude knows this full well. Then we get two pages of some U.S. Army commander telling the heroes — a Brit named Walsh and a Kansas City Yank named Taylor — to back off. Hitler’s dead. War is over. End of story.

It’s all done well enough, with decent dialogue and panels laid out capturing each moment in a way that is indeed cinematic. But five pages is a LOT of real estate to chew up in a 20 page story to impart not a lot of information. The centerpiece of this issue should have been the assault on the estate where Hitler is holed up. But that entire sequence is given just one page, and then half a page of someone — we’re not told who — telling the commandos, "Oop, Hitler just slipped out the back door. But if you run you might still catch him."

The art of Jethro Morales is fine enough — not spectacular, but I’ve seen plenty worse in lots of Marvel and DC comics. But a lot of weird decisions are made. I have no way of knowing if Morales was following the script exactly, or if he made layout decisions on his own, but someone — and there is no editor listed for this issue — ought to have asked if we really needed a half-page panel of Taylor and Walsh exiting the Army general’s tent. Especially when all we see, thanks to the bird’s-eye shot, is ground and the front tent flap. Does this panel need to be that large to convey the information given? Do we need this panel at all? And why the overhead shot, which is usually used to give a sense of emotional detachment from the characters? Given that the heroes are here resigning themselves to the fact that brass doesn’t care about their discovery, that’s not a bad choice, but I’d have preferred to have had the “camera” pulled back far enough to see more of the army base, to convey in a meta-textual way that Taylor and Walsh are just two tiny specs in a larger, and largely spent, war effort.

We get some sense of that in the next scene, in which an OSS guy recruits Taylor and Walsh to hunt down Nazi scientists who are disappearing into the ether as the war winds down. They go for a jeep ride as Mr. OSS makes his case, and we see superimposed scenes of victorious Allied and Red Army soldiers as they talk about the war's end. There’s a misplaced word balloon here that makes the panel hard to read, but we get the idea. Still, OSS-guy should have taken them to visit some weary soldiers just glad the war is over and mostly too tired and overcome with war fatigue to cheer. The idea here is to convince Taylor and Walsh to keep whatever they know under their hat, so the war can, in fact, be over for those who have suffered the most. Otherwise, what is the point of the Jeep ride? Why not just have this conversation in Taylor & Walsh's tent? 

The OSS guy mentions that the next war will be fought with science, but it might have been nice to have had him mention a terrible weapon being devised to end the war in the Pacific. He also should have referenced the knowledge that, already, it was known the next war would be against communism and nations who were currently allies. But best, OSS guy should have said, to leave that to the sons and grandsons of these soldiers — kind of muffing just how soon Korea would come — and let things end for those who have already done more than their fair share. Taylor and Walsh agree to focus on tracking down Nazi scientists, but only because they think this will lead them to Hitler. It would have been nice if they had also acknowledged what has been won, and lost, to date in the war. But then, frankly, we don’t really get a ton of personality and emoting from either man, as they mostly just say whatever needs to be said to keep the plot going.

Next we get a page of parallel scenes, with Taylor and Walsh trying to gather info on the missing scientists and Hitler luring same back into the fold. It’s a good idea, but I found the way it was done confusing, and had to go back over the page a couple of times to make sure I understood what I was reading. Part of the confusion may have been that Hitler is depicted in a cowboy hat and kerchief, sans ‘stach, looking a lot more like a robust Ronald Reagan than a frazzled and beaten Fuhrer.  

It’s also strange that Hitler is shown with mostly willing scientists as he eggs them on to build a Forth Reich. We later see at least one scientist who goes to Hitler’s hideaway more out of fear for not doing so that genuine eagerness to advance the Nazi cause, but I think this should have been more the norm. We ought to have had more of Hitler using a few remaining loyalists and other means of coercion to more or less force cooperation. After all, Nazi scientists were already defecting en masse. It’s arguable that America might not have beaten the world to development of “The Bomb” otherwise. Certainly, we would not have got to the moon quite so soon, and OSS guy might have mentioned the promise of Nazi rocket technology. But at any rate, I somehow doubt it was true that, had Hitler been alive, "the scientists are going wherever Hitler goes." I imagine most would be running toward Taylor & Walsh, shouting, "Take me! Take me!"

I also find it more likely that Hitler would have been looking to land one super-weapon for a final knock-out blow — a hail-Mary toss to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. And that most of his time would be spent railing against those whom he feels cost him so dearly to date. I imagine at this stage, Hitler would be insistent he can still win the current war, not be looking ahead to the next one. I somehow doubt he would have given up on his Third Reich quite so easily.

Then we get more decompression — an entire page to discover a scientist who killed himself rather than talk to Taylor and Walsh; one whole page for Hitler to tell Eve they will escape the continent via U-boat; and two pages for Taylor and Walsh to get some advanced OSS listening devices, with which they quickly discover the location of the Nazi gathering spot. As an aside: The (presumed) wife of the scientist who mentions the meeting spot looks enough like the depiction elsewhere of Eva Braun that I was, like, “Wait? . . . what??”

Anyway, all of the above business should have been condensed in order to give more space to the parallel hunt by Hitler and the Allies for the Nazi brain trust driven into hiding, which might have made the one page that does deal with that aspect of the story easier to decipher. But also because that’s really the part of this tale that’s the most interesting, having had the best chance of shedding some light on just who these characters are, and what motivates them. This should have been an entire sequence featuring the frustration that comes from chasing down a MacGuffin that keeps heading you off without even knowing you’re after it, just because your clues are also the elements of its master plan. There ought to have been a scene or two of Taylor & Walsh thinking they've managed to tree one of their Brainiac quarry, only to find Hitler got to him first. Yeah, we get the one who commits suicide because he's too scared to talk, but otherwise we get no real feeling for the investigation, now impending sense of danger in a belief that Hitler is planning something, is two steps ahead of us, and just might pull it off.

Once Taylor and Walsh have Hitler’s location, they’re told they’ll have to parachute directly onto the manor house, because “there is wide open space all around,” and, “an approach on foot will be seen from a mile away.” But then in the very next set of panels we see Allied forces in the bush, close enough to spy on the building with binoculars and listen in on what is being said there.

We then get a cute scene in a plane as Taylor and Walsh compare jump stats with their team, only to discover at least one is making his first jump. This would have been more worthy of precious panel time if we'd been given more on these paratroopers as something other than backdrop extras. At the very least, we should have seen evidence of some or most of them missing the target, just to demonstrate how perilous of a jump it truly was. But as it is, once everyone jumps in (and it appears everyone makes it safe on the manor patio) these other soldiers just disappear. But again, the entire assault on the secret base lasts only one full page — the second half of one page, then the first half of the next — before Taylor and Walsh learn Hitler has flown the coop. So much for the element of surprise, I guess.

And just who is the guy who gives up this Hitler's-gone detail? Is he one of the scientists? A German soldier in civvies? A butler? We don’t know. He's a total rando.

Taylor and Walsh then ride a motorcycle through a village to the coast, just in time to see Hitler’s U-Boat depart, but soon enough to tag it with a Spidey-tracker. A running gag for this series is that Walsh (or Taylor, I lose track of which is which) always has to ride in a sidecar. The gag works better this second telling then the first time it’s mentioned in this issue, in part because the first time it’s done in conversation only, and requires having read and/or remembered that bit from the first issue.

It does seem odd to me that the gathering spot for the scientists would be in Germany, close enough to the coast for a U-Boat get-a-way. I would have thought the German countryside too well ravaged at this point in the war, particularly any coastal manor house that could have been pressed into service as a base of operations, and that the coast would have been too well guarded to effect an escape by that means. I would have thought the escape point would have been in Spain, which is where most of the Hitler-lived literature points to.

So, am I saying you should pass on this book? No. It’s decent enough. It’s just that in reading it I felt as I often do when attending a local community theater production — wanting to cheer the effort, but unable to keep from thinking here and there as I sit in my seat that, well, they could have done this thing better, or that thing. The difference is, I have a blog. So, I’m not keeping anything to myself. But it's also true that I often wonder at these community theater shows are worth the ticket price, and there is that same nagging doubt here. Four bucks is a lot of money for a piece of entertainment that lasts less than eight minutes.

And what of this small publisher?

Based in Texas, Red 5 was founded by Paul Ens, former director of Lucasfilm’s Lucas Online, and Scott Chitwood, co-founder of TheForce.net and writer for Superherohype.com and ComingSoon.Net. They won a 2007 Gem Award for Best New Publisher and their titles have been nominated for three Eisners and two Harvey Awards. So, that’s nothing to sneeze at. Still, I get the idea most of their titles are distributed digitally on Comixology only. The series listed in the house ads of this issue number to nearly a dozen titles, none of which I’ve ever heard of. And, in truth, the first Red 5 title I ever saw solicited in the Diamond PREVIEWS catalog was last year’s THE RIFT.

I bit on that one based on solicitation copy claiming it was “presented” by actor Jeremy ("Hawkeye") Renner. I didn’t know what that meant then and, having read the series, I’m still not sure I get it. But the four-issue time travel romp was pretty good. I liked it. And so, when I saw the solicitation for the first issue of this series, with a cover that practically screamed Dan Spiegle to me, I did not hesitate to take a second bite at the apple.

And while the first issue was okay. This one left me a little cold. I am hoping for better in the final two outings. But, it's worth saying tat this issue does not dampen my intent to try a third Red 5 title, RIPTIDE. It's listed as coming in the Winter of 2017, but I have not yet seen it solicited. Maybe that’s only on Comixology, as well? But the very compelling cover image advertised in this issue promises something very like THE POSEIDEN ADVENTURE. So, that should be fun.

***MILDLY RECOMMENDED***

STORY GRADE: C­–
ISSUE SCORE: 60.75

COVER: 6.50 | PLOT: 7.00 | SCRIPT: 7.50 | LAYOUT: 6.75 | ART: 7.25 | EDITS: 5.00
PRODUCTION: 7.50 | VALUE: 4.50 | COLLECTIBILITY: 3.00 | GOSH-WOW: 5.75

Friday, January 12, 2018

REVIEW: Wonder Woman #37 (2017)



WONDER WOMAN #37 (2017) —
Regular cover by Bryan Hitch.
©DC Comics
WONDER WOMAN #37
DC Comics, $2.99, 32pgs.
On-sale December 27, 2017

“Children of the Gods: Conclusion”
20 pages. Read Time – 9:25

by James Robinson (story); Carlo Pagulayan & Stephen Segovia (pencils); Jason Paz, Art Thibert, and Raul Fernandez (inks); Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colors); and Saida Temofonte (letters). Edited by Chris Conroy.

 BOTTOM LINE: Nice to look at, but a little anti-climactic and of no seeming consequence, other than the fact that Darkseid’s back — but we knew he would be.


I don’t work in the comic book industry and, so, of course, cannot know, but I suspect they’re building the books backwards these days. Hey, I’m not saying all comics are edited by Bizarro, but those who are doing the work certainly don’t appear to be starting at Step 1 anymore.

I imagine that in the old days, the editor would say to the writer, ‘Pitch me a story,” and, having caught whatever bull the writer was throwing that day, would decide how many issues it should take to tell that tale. But now, I must suspect, the editor says, “Your story has to last six issues. What’ve you got?” 

I suppose that’s tpb syndrome. The first consideration is not the story structure, but the story length, and the need to fill an eventual trade paperback collection. We know the tpb will be, say, 120 pages, and we can’t have a single story run four issues and 100 pages, then have just the first two issues of the next three- or four-part tale.  And, so, what we get, almost invariably these days, are story arcs that start out on a strong concept in issue one, maybe play with that idea a little bit in issue two, and then devolve into so much filler for parts three, four — and, maybe five. Whatever need has been decided in advance. Each of these issues is generally about little more than setting up the last-panel surprise appearance for some character or concept. Then, almost without fail, after everything has dragged out, we get to about the halfway point of the last chapter and everything wraps up quick in a neat little bow.

And while the filler issues always annoy me, it’s these last chapters that really disappoint. Instead of building up to a climax and coming back down, these comic book conclusions tend to keep on building and building and building, and then without warning go full Thelma right over the cliff, ending with a thud like Wile E. Coyote on the canyon floor below.

And that’s kind of what we’ve had here: A seven-issue epic with maybe four issues of plot — three if you cut out the one with the life history of Wonder Woman’s new brother Jason, who ended up having just about zero impact on the story.

This issue is mostly a throwdown between Zues and Kid Dardseid. And it looks great. So props there. Although it’s done in lots of splash pages and large panels of about three to a page, so it reads pretty quickly. And even at that it’s a tad too decompressed for my tastes. It takes two pages just to have Darkseid slip away in a Boom Tube to a new battle location once Wonder Woman joins the fray. The fight would be more epic, but Jason, who was totally awesome, until he was totally evil, and then totally evil until he suddenly wasn’t, keeps Grail from joining in, and that takes them off-panel for most of the issue.

Once Darkseid kills Zeus and returns to his full adult might, the Justice League shows up and Darky exits stage left. That leaves Wonder Woman feeling a little peevish at her peers, as she had intended to fight to the death for the sacred honor of daddy dearest. It would have been interesting to have that confrontation play out in some way, but the League is there really just to effect a full stop in the story, not to enhance its telling or to help shed any light on Wonder Woman's many conflicted feelings about her father. They are basically the living embodiment of Wile E's ACME rocket sled smashing into the plot. It might have been interesting to have Wonder Woman give her colleagues more of a tongue lashing, leading to Jason lashing out physically, thinking he's coming to her defense. Then big hero fight, which seems just about all Darkseid could have hoped to leave in his wake. In this way, we might have had a chance to see Jason's conversion from villain to repentant hero. But as it is he just says he's sorry for betraying Wonder Woman to Grail and Darkseid in the earlier chapters, and ta-daaaa, the Wonder Twins are totally reconciled, which, as portrayed, proves that Wonder Woman is either a lot more forgiving, or else a lot stupider than we would expect.

I have to doubt Hercules and Zeus are really good and truly forever dead. They are immortal Gods after all. I mean, if every character in the DC pantheon can come back from the grave, I’m sure Herc & Pop-Pop will find a way.

And actually, that would have made a fun quest for the next story arc — Wonder Woman and Jason wading though the hoards of Hades to bring back their father and beloved half-brother. But instead we’re promised The Silver Swan. Meh.

One thing that did seem odd — Robinson completely dropped the subplot with Giganta. She had been tracking down ancient artifacts and, somehow, in a way that was never quite explained (at least not well enough for a dunderhead like me to get it) that was what enabled Grail to find all the children of Zeus she killed for energy to revive and restore Darkseid. But it had seemed last issue like there was more to it that that, and I got the distinct impression Steve Trevor and Etta Candy were on the trail of a greater mystery. But then this issue comes, big fight, and, hey, no more of that artifact stuff over there in the sidebar. Steve doesn't appear in this issue at all.

Maybe some of that artifact stuff is what will lead us into the coming confrontation with Silver Swan. Still, when this issue is collected in tpb form, I imagine the sub-plot will come off seeming strange, as something presented as a big whoop of great significance to the overall plot, and then just left dangling, as if all it ever was, was busy-work to keep Steve busy and out of Wonder Woman’s hair, or else just to drag this story out to seven issues and a full tpb.

One final thought — I am a wee bit disappointed that probate attorney Blake Hooper ended up being Zeus in disguise. It seemed to me like an attorney-to-the-super-heroes would have offered up tons of story springboards, and Hooper himself was given a fun and interesting characterization, like a kind of Saul Goodman by way of Felix Unger. That could have made for an interesting supporting player.

You can read my full review of the first chapter of this arc, in WONDER WOMAN #31, here.

***RECOMMENDED***

STORY GRADE: B
ISSUE SCORE: 75.25

COVER: 8.50 | PLOT: 6.75 | SCRIPT: 8.50 | LAYOUT: 8.50 | ART: 8.75 | EDITS: 6.00
PRODUCTION: 9.00 | VALUE: 5.50 | COLLECTIBILITY: 7.00 | GOSH-WOW: 6.75

Thursday, January 11, 2018

TIME BUBBLES: Comics on sale 50 years ago this week (Jan. 8-14, 1968)



Boom-boom, Bubblenauts! Welcome back for another trip to newsstands of old, to see what four-color wonders beheld our younger selves. This week, we're going back 50 years, to the second week of January, 1968! 

Now, me, I was a mere 40 days old on this day back in those halcyon hippie years of yore. So, I was not buying many comic books myself. Still, it’s weird to know I am so close in age to a Green Lantern. Yup, that Trump-touting member of the GL Corps turns 50 years old this week! Make 2814 great again!

Comic book stores weren’t really a thing yet back in ’68. Funnybooks were still a newsstand staple, and generally arrived fresh and new twice per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So, what we'll be looking at here are comics that went on-sale Tuesday, January 9, and Thursday, January 11, in 1968. The on-sale dates herein are taken from Mike's Amazing World of Comics, a great resource you should definitely check out if comics are at all your thing. We’ll also review a few circulations statistics as part of our review. Those numbers come either from the Grand Comics Database or Comichron.com

But before we begin, one quick note to observe that while most comics in 1968 sold for 12¢, that equates to 87¢ in 2018 dollars. So, still a great deal, considering the cheapest comic books you can find today go for $2.99 a pop. In a few places before you’ll see a comic that sold for a whole quarter. Well, 25¢ then had the buying power of $1.81 today. Also a deal.


GREEN LANTERN, No. 59
DC Comics — 32pgs for 12¢
On-sale January 11, 1968 

When he first appeared in this issue, Guy Gardner was not at all the jingoistic uber-dude we know today. He has just a one-off character, a nondescript gym teacher who was special only in the sense that he was honest and knew no fear. Oh, and also in that he would've been Earth’s Green Lantern had he been in closer proximity than Hal Jordan on the day Abin Sur crashed into the planet.

In this issue we learn alongside Hal, via the Guardians’ supercomputer on Oa and its equally one-off ability to depict alternate timelines, that had be been chosen instead, Guy would have served with honor and distinction. However, despite an early GL career not unlike that experienced by Hal Jordan in the prime timeline, the Guy of the Kelvin timeline was fated to die, saving a planet full of children, but in so doing exposing himself to the same plague that wiped out all adults on that world. In the end, Hal would have ended up with the ring anyway. Still, in recognition of his alt.deeds, Hal seeks out Guy-Prime and they become fast friends, while we are led to believe that Guy will function, unbeknownst to him, as Hal’s back-up, should the need ever arise. That’s sort of an interesting concept and you’d think current Lanterns scribe Peter Tomasi could get some mileage out of revealing just where the rings of Jessica Cruz and/or Simon Baz would bee-line to if either ever fell in battle.

Guy’s appearance in this debut tale is said to have been modeled by artist Gil Kane on the actor Martin Milner, who starred in the CBS-TV show ROUTE 66 from 1960 to 1964. Coincidentally, nine months after his likeness first appeared wearing a Green Lantern Ring, Milner would return to television screens in the role for which he would become most famous, as police officer Pete Malloy on ADAM-12.

But as for Guy the character, well, he wouldn’t be back so soon. He’d pop up next in #87, on-sale October 21, 1971. By this time Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams were deep into the relevancy period that would come to be known as the “Hard-Traveling Heroes” Saga. In this issue, Hal has need of his sub, but we learn that, since we saw him last, Guy has been injured in an accident that left him dain-bramaged. So, the ring seeks out a back-up to the back-up, and in so doing selects John Stewart — a (gasp) black man! Heady stuff for the era. 

Guy would then go back into limbo until #116 (February 22, 1979), although, in fairness, DC did not publish GREEN LANTERN at all between February 1972 and May 1976. 

After a handful of cameo appearances, Guy would disappear again until #189 (March 21, 1985), when writer Steve Englehart would remake the character into the version we know and love to hate today. And Englehart regretted ever doing it. In an interview for an article in the the September 2016 edition of BACK ISSUE! magazine, entitled, “All About Guy Gardner,” Englehardt wished aloud he had given Guy some other name, ANY other name, as DC always denied him royalties for what he perceived to be an entirely new character built on the template of Earth’s long-lost Green Lantern. So far as Englehart is concerned, the character he devised, and that DC has used ever since, was really a GINO — Guy In Name Only.

Of course, Guy was a linchpin of the DCU in the late ’80s and early ‘90s, becoming a centerpiece of the Justice League of that era and even headlining 44 issues of his own title, from September 1992 to May 1996, in addition to various limited series outings. And he remains central of the GL Corps, having also logged time as a red lantern, and a yellow lantern — probably a chartreuse lantern, too, for all we know — among other temporary roles. 

Personally, I could take Guy or leave him. In the right hands he can become a very noble character. However, not all writers keep in mind that from among the 7 billion people on the planet, Guy was the No. 2 man deemed most worthy to wear a Green Lantern ring. Instead, liberal sensibilities tend to get in the way and Guy most often comes off as a cartoon caricature of conservative politics. He’s a walking talking stereotype of the typical Tea Party redneck — or at least of what late night talk show hosts would have you believe a Tea Party redneck thinks and feels.

GREEN LANTERN the title was launched May 24, 1960, following the introduction of, and a trio of appearances by, Hal Jordan in SHOWASE issues #22-24, between July and November 1959. His next round of  appearance actually came in the debut stories of the Justice League over in THE BRAVE AND  THE BOLD (issues #28-30), all of which came out before Hal graduated to a mag of his own. John Broome wrote most early issues of this title. But sales just were not that great.

According to, the annual Statement of Ownership and Circulation printed in this issue — as required back then by the U.S. Postal Service for all periodicals mailed via 2nd Class rates, including home subscriptions to comics books — average monthly sales for all issues published in the 12 months prior to the October 1, 1967, filing deadline (so, issues #50-56) was 201,700. Sales for the issue sold closest to the filing date (meaning #56), is given as 223,500. So, that’s more than twice the sales on the best-selling comic book series today. More to the point, in November 2017 only three books, topped 100,000 in sales, and none were regular ongoing series!

However, at this time, just three years before cancellation, GREEN LANTERN was definitely a mid-list title. For 1967 it ranked No. 63 among 111 series tracked by Comichron.com. As we’ll see in the numbers below, it was outsold by such things as YOGI BEAR (#52 with 229,100 in average sales), THE METAL MEN (#47, 239,700) and UNCLE SCROOGE (#26, 278,901). Comichron has sales states on just 59 titles for 1968, the period in which this issues Guy Gardner into. falls, and yet GL still comes in at No. 40 — two spots behind PORKY PIG!
But one thing you won’t get for your Porkies is the kind of money this issue draws on the back issue market. According to comicbookrealm.com. If you insist on a decent-grade copy, GREEN LANTERN #59 can be expected to set you back on the retrial market anywhere from $297 (in Very Fine-minus condition) to $425 (in Near Mint).



And also on sale January 11, 1968, 50 years ago today:
   
GIRLS’ ROMANCES, No. 131
DC Comics  — 32pgs for 12¢ 

Launched November 30, 1949, this was DC’s fourth overt romance comic, after ROMANCE TRAIL (May 13, 1949), GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES (June 17), SECRET HEARTS (July 22). That was quite a commitment to the genre in so short a time after Simon & Kirby created it with YOUNG ROMANCE, for Prize Comics, on July 15, 1947. This title lasted all the way to #160, out August 31, 1971. Thisish features three stories, writers unkown, with art by John Rosenberger, Arthur Peddy & Bernard Sachs, and Tony Abruzzo. The cover is actually taken from the splash page of the Abruzzo story, a fairly common trick for the romance line. Saved shelling out extra money for a cover, I guess. This issue’s circulation statement claims the title enjoyed average sales on issues #121-128 of 170,400. Honestly, that’s not as far off the GREEN LANTERN posting as I would have expected. It’s also more than four times the monthly sales of the average comic in the DC line today. But even so, good luck finding this issue in high grade, if at all. Romance comics simply did not get saved the way super-hero titles did. Silly girls. [$27 – $38]


THE HOUSE OF MYSTERY, No. 173
DC Comics  — 32pgs for 12¢ 

This title began life on October 5, 1951 and lasted all the way to #321, on stands July 21, 1983. The began as advertised, although there was no actual house just yet. It was more of a figurative thing, And the first issue had stories with titles like, “I Fell in Live with a Witch,” and “Wanda Was a Warewolf.” So, you get the idea. But the title quickly took on a more occult and boyish bent. However, as the Atom Age transitioned into the Silver Age, sci-fi elements began to evolve, with a dinosaur appearing on the cover by #41 (June 2, 1955), the first aliens by #53 (June 5, 1956). By 1958, the tile was pretty solidly a sci-fi/monster series, with titles after it passed the century mark in 1960 such as “The Case of Creature X14,” and, “Invaders from the Doomed Dimension.” The book remained an anthology for a long time, but did become home to The Martian Manhunter from #143 (April 2, 1964), finally developing its own ong0ing character with Robby Reed in Dial H for Hero, with #156 (November 18, 1965). But both Robby and J’Onn J’Onzz bowed out with this issue, the former in a tale by Dave Wood and Sal Trapani, and the latter by Jack Miller and Joe Certa. As of #170, George Kashdan had taken over the big chair from founding editor Jack Schiff, and one gets the idea he was just minding the store. With #174 Joe Orlando would take over, turning the title into the classic (CCA approved) horror anthology, for which it would come to be best remembered by most fans. The reason for the change is clear when one looks at the circulation statement, which claims average sales of 158,500 per issue for #164-170. So, yes, this title was getting outsold by GIRLS’ ROMANCES!  [$46 – $65]


THE LONE RANGER, No. 10
Gold Key — 32pgs for 12¢ (87¢)

First appearing on radio station WXYZ on January 30, 1933, the masked lawman of the Old West quickly came to dominate all forms of media, appear in comic books as early as 1939, with a collection of comic strip reprints in David McKay’s FEATURE BOOK #12 on January 15, and his first original comic book story in Dell’s LARGE FEATURE COMIC #3, around June 1. Between August 10, 1945 and August 29, 1947, the Ranger graced seven issues of Dell’s FOUR COLOR series (#s 82, 98, 118, 125, 136, 141, and 167). He then graduated to his own series on November 28, 1957. However, rather than counting the FOUR COLOR one-shots and starting the new series at #8, as it would have with many other properties, Dell gave the Lone Ranger a #1. The character would be depicted in a red shirt and blue jeans until #38 (out May 29, 1951) when he would adopt the light-blue togs made famous by Clayton Moore on the LONE RANGER TV show — which launched on September 15, 1949, but did not go color until 1956. This series lasted until #145 (February 13, 1962) when Dell split with Western Publishing, which provided the material for the comics Dell distributed, and generally held the leash on licensed properties. Western would wait until July 1964 to launch its own LONE RANGER comics, under its Gold Key brand. But publishing was erratic, with one issue in 1964, one in 1965, three in 1966, four each in 1967 and 1968, and three in 1969. The book would then go on hiatus, with one issue released in 1972, before returning in 1974 and finally dying at #28 on December 2, 1976. The Long Ranger has made few appearances since then, with his fortunes in comics not much better that his post-Moore outings on the silver screen. Topps put out a four-issue limited series by Tim Truman in 1994, and Dynamite Entertainment has run series off and on since 2006, most recently in a five issue crossover with The Green Horner in 2016. This issue features one Ranger story by Paul S. Newman and Tom Gill, but creators for the other two are currently unknown. Neither GCD nor Comichron list a 1967 circulation for this title. [$28 – $40]


OUR FIGHTING FORCES, No. 112
DC Comics  — 32pgs for 12¢ (87¢)

The war started for this series on August 15, 1954, and lasted all the way to #181, out June 8, 1978. So, was, while the book survived the anti-war explosion of the Vietnam War era, it was done in by the infamous DC Implosion. This issue features Lt. Hunter’s Hellcats, by series editor Robert Kanhiger and artist Jack Abel. We can safely presume, I think, that Hunter was an attempt to mimic the success of Sgt. Rock over in OUR ARMY AT WAR. However, he was actually preceded on the front lines by his son. Green Beret Capt. Phil Hunter began searching for his twin brother, downed fighter pilot Nick Hunter in #99 (February 10, 1966), supplanting the series title with his own logo as of #102 — the first time that has happened in series history. Even so, Hunter only hunted until #106 (January 26, 1967), when he finally found and rescued his brother. With that same issue, the prime masthead real estate, was given over to the twins’ father, Lt. Ben Hunter, who recruited and led The Hellcats, a unit of military prisoners who battled it out with Nazis during World War II. It’s often been said the Hellcats were a comic book copy of THE DIRTY DOZEN, but that movie did not grace movie screens until June 15, 1967. Hunter’s Hellcats lasted until #122, giving way to The Losers with the next issue, on-sale November 11, 1969. Lt. Hunter and one of his Hellcats made a cameo in #123 as the effectively handed over the series lead, and have not been seen since. In addition to Hunter’s Hellcats, this issue also featured a genre tale written by Howard Liss and drawn by Abel. Per Comichron, this title enjoyed an average circulation of 152,200 for issues #105-110. [$49 – $70]


THE OWL, No. 2
Gold Key — 32pgs for 12¢ 

The second and last issue of the series, published a full year after the first, with both featuring stories by Superman co-creator, Jerry Siegel, with artwork by Tom Gill. So, basically, this was about as close as Siegel ever came to writing a Batman tale. The Owl made his debut in Dell Publishing’s CRACKAJACK FUNNIES #25 (on-sale June 1, 1940 — about 14 months behind Batman). He was Detective Nick Terry, who fought crime at night in cape and cowl using gimmicks such as his “black light” gun that cast beam of darkness, a cape that functioned as a hang glider, and his flying “Owlmobile.” His girlfriend was newspaper reporter Belle Wayne — a little on the nose with the surname, I think — who learned Nick’s secret and became his sidekick, Owl Girl, with #32 (on-sale January 15, 1941). So, she beat Hawkgirl to the scene, at least, by about six months. The Owls fought through to the last issue of Crackajack (#43, on-sale December 15, 1941), then migrated over to POPULAR COMICS with #72 (January 2, 1942). They lasted there about a year, to #85 (February 1, 1943), and then were not seen again until the first issue of this series, which was done very much in the camp style of the Adam West BATMAN TV show. Despite the passage of time, Nick was still The Owl, but here Owl Girl goes by the name Laura Holt. After this issue, The Owl would not appear again until a guest-shot in THE OCCULT FILES OF DOCTOR SPEKTOR #22 (August 12, 1976). The character is in the public domain and since 2008 has kicked around Dynamite Entertainments Project Superpowers line, even getting his own four-issue mini-series in 2013, alongside a new Owl Girl who is the granddaughter of the original. In his most recent appearance, The Owl for a retro-turn in 2017 in ALL-NEW POPULAR COMICS #1 from InDELLible Comics. [$46 – $65] 


SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN, No. 109
DC Comics  — 32pgs for 12¢ 

Launched on July 2, 1954, purportedly on the strength of Jack Larson’s portrayal of Jimmy’s on the CSS-TV show THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, this title soon became a staple of the Silver Age, fondly recalled for Jimmy’s many wacky transformations. The title lasted until #163, on stands November 20, 1973. After a two month hiatus, DC used the numbering to launch SUPERMAN FAMILY at #164, essentially merging Jimmy’s books with to other canceled titles, SUPEMAN’S GIRLDFRIEND, LOIS LANE (which had ended at #136 on October 11, 1973, but for some reason issued a #135, on June 27, 1974), and SUPERGIRL (which, in similar fashion to Lois ended at #9 on September 27, 1973, but then issued a #10 on June 27, 1974). The combined SUPERMAN FAMILY book ran until #222, out June 17, 1982. This issue features the imaginary tale, “Luthor’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen,” by writer Cary Bates and artist Pete Constanza, as well as a reprint of Jimmy as, “The Human Octopuss,” from issue #41, all under a cover by Neal Adams. According to this issue’s listing in the Grand Comics Database at comics.org, the average number of copies sold each issue during the preceding 12 months (issues #99-106) was 791,000. I expect whoever transcribed the listing transposed the “total print run” number, rather than the actual sales. Generally speaking, publishers of the era could expect to print three issues for every one sold. I checked with Comichron’s John Jackson Miller and the says the correct number was 450,700. Still impressive by today’s standards. Take that DOOMSDAY CLOCK! [$35 – $50]


THE TWILIGHT ZONE, No. 25
Gold Key — 32pgs for 12¢ 

Rod Serling’s seminal tv anthology hit TV screens on CBS on October 2, 1959. Dell Publishing soon packaged two issues of its FOUR COLOR series licensed from the show, #1,173 (December 29, 1960) and #1,288 (November 14, 1961). Then, just before it split with Western Publishing in 1962, Dell put out two issues of a TWILIGHT ZONE comic, with #1 on February 13 and #2 on May 29, 1962. Western then launched this ongoing series under its Gold Key brand, starting August 9, 1962. The series lasted to #91, which hit stands April 26, 1979, although one final issue was released on April 2, 1982. So, even absent that final outing, the comic book (with Serling’s image above the logo) outlasted the TV show by 15 years. Thisish features a new story, “Tombstone Valley,” with art by Luis Dominguez, as well as four-page Alex Toth reprint from #4 and a pair of tales (two pages by George Evans, and 10 by Reed Crandall) both reprinted from the two FOUR COLOR issues. The property was subsequently revived in the form of limited series and one-shots by Now Comics and Dynamite Entertainment, as recently as 2016. According to the GCD, the circulation statement in this issue lists average sales for issues #19-23 at 237,000, which seems like a number only Rod Serling himself could have invented. But Comichon agrees, or nearly so. It giving the number at 236,720. The GCD poster probably added in undistributed “free copies.” [$28 – $40


YOGI BEAR, No. 32
Gold Key — 32pgs for 12¢ 

The bear with above-average smarts made his debut as a supporting character on THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUN SHOW circa 1958. Dell Publishing put out three Yogi issues of its FOUR COLOR series (#1,067, #1,104, #1,162) between October 15, 1959, and February, 23, 1961. It then launched Yogi in his town title from #4 (June 27, 1961) to #9 (May 10, 1962). After its split from Dell, Western Publishing launched a new Yogi series under the Gold Key label, starting with #10 (July 3, 1962), and running to #42 (May 22, 1970). Yogi later enjoyed 35 issues from Charlton Comics (1970-1977), nine from Marvel Comics (1977-1979), and six from Harvey Comics (1992-1994), as well as one from Archie Comics in 1997. Surprisingly, Yogi has never enjoyed a DC Comics series, even though Hanna-Barbera is firmly ensconced within the same Warner Bros corporate family. This issue features all-new material, but the Grand Comics Database has no idea who did any of the work. What it does tell us, however, is that average monthly circulation issues #27-30 was 228,557 (or 229,100 per Comicheon). Not bad, Yogi. But do I really believe you were outselling GREEN LANTERN by nearly 27,000 copies per month? No, I do not. I don’t believe you could sell that yarn to even your ol’ buddy Boo-Boo. [$22 – $32]


And hitting stands this same week 40 years ago, just a couple of days earlier, on January 9, 1968, to also vie for buyer attention: 

ACTION COMICS, No. 360
DC Comics  — 80pgs for 25¢ 

It’s one of the internet’s more memed covers ever, as least of those that feature Supergirl, and a must-have for anal-retentive Legion collectors to boot, given the cover cameo and the reprint of their appearance from Supergirl’s public unveiling in #285 (from December 28, 1961), even if this reprint does cut two pages from that story. This 80 page giant also features reprints of the Supergirl back-up stories from Action issues #278-280, 283, and 284. DC’s packaging of reprints under the 80-PAGE GIANT banner began in June 1964 and lasted through 15 issues of a titular title, to August 1965. According to the online inflation calculator provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During that run, the value of a quarter in terms of 2018 dollars ranged from $1.99 to $1.95. Starting in November 1965, the 80-Page Giant logo was incorporated as special issues of regular ongoing titles in the DCU line (to include some of the war books), staring with JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #39, which was also numbered as 80-PAGE GIANT #G-16. There were 74 issues in the format, which ended (coincidentally enough) with JUSICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #93, out on August 26, 1971. By time the cover price had risen to 35¢, or $2.12 in 2018 dollars. After the 80-page format folded, DC immediately launched its 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR series which ran from June 1971 to December 1974. Like its 80-page predecessor, the 100-page specials ran both as part of their own series, and within the regular numbering of various DC titles, including those in the romance line. Although these books were all reprints, the squarebound format makes that hard to find in high grade, and so they are highly coveted. As far as circulation goes, GCD does not indicate the presence of a an owner’s statement in this issue, but Comichron found one somewhere, and gives the average monthly sales for issues #332-343 as 420,900. I’d be interested to know of the 80-pages sold better to or on par with regular format issues on either side of their release, or perhaps less well due to the cover price. No matter. At this time DC did not pay royalties on reprints, so these books were likely still a cash cow, however well they sold. [$108 – $155] 


THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, No. 59
Marvel Comics — 32pgs for 12¢ 

Over layouts by John Romita, pencils by Don Heck, and inks by Mike Esposito, Stan Lee offers up, “The Brand of the Brainwasher.” One of you might tell me I’m wrong, but I believe this is the first cover appearance of Mary Jane Watson, who, after appearing with her features obscured in #25 (March 11, 1965), made her official jackpot debut in #42 (August 9, 1966). Average monthly sales of issues #45-55 are given in this issue as 361,663. So, but for a few titles, Marvel was well on its way to market dominance. And FWIW, The Brainwasher is not a Marvel baddie you’ve never heard of. It’s the Kingpin. [$210 – $300]


ARCHIE, No. 180
Archie Comics  — 32pgs for 12¢ 

The lead story in this issue, written by Frank Doyle and drawn by Harry Lucey, with inks by Marion Acquaviva, has the gang conspiring to make Veronica think there’s a new fad going around in which boys carry girls on their backs. Not wanting to be left out, she dons riding gear and makes Reggie to the honors. What’s funny though, is that there is today and actual event held here in Maine called The International Wife Carrying Championship, in which men race an obstacle course while carrying their wives. The GCD does have any circulation data, but Comicchron lists average sales for issues #169-177 as 484,648. So, yeah, Archie comics was doing okay at time point in its existence, and arguably better than DC.  [$24 – $35]  


THE AVENGERS, No. 50
Marvel Comics  — 32pgs for 12¢ 

It’s Hercules, almost comically ill-proportioned by an otherwise great John Buscema vs. Tyhon, the dragon-headed Greek god, said to be the most deadly creature in existence, except he loses his dragon head in this depiction and doesn’t seem so threatening. Hercules’ tenure as an Avenger was astonishingly brief. He began appearing regularly with #38 (January 10, 1967) during his banishment from Olympus, but was not named an official member of the team roster until #45. And this was basically his swan song. He did not appear in #51, only has a cameo in #52, and by #53 had been replaced by the Black Panther. But that’s okay, Herc — we’ll always have The Champions. GCD has no sales data for this issue, but Comicchron says the average for issues # 35-46 was 269,139. It’s somewhere in that neighborhood today, but only because Marvel publishes 12 Avengers titles per week. [$87 – $125] 


CAPT. SAVAGE AND HIS LEATHERNECK RAIDERS, No. 2

Marvel Comics — 32pgs for 12¢ 

For many years, Marvel was a slave to its distributor. During the years it was known as Atlas Comics — a kind of retroactive umbrella label for the many shell company names publisher Martin Goodman slapped on his titles. — the company pumped out between 40 and 60 titles per month. During these years, from 1952 to 1956, the comics were distributed by sister company Atlas News Company (another reason the Atlas appellation has stuck) . But in 1956 Goodman threw in with American’s largest newsstand distributor, American News Company, which ended up collapsing about a year later under a federal Justice Department probe into its monopolistic business practices. Having little else in the way of options, Goodman went hat in hand to distributor Independent News, a sister company of DC Comics. Picking up Marvel as of November 1957, Independent placed a collar on Marvel, limiting it to just eight titles per month. Everybody was let go and Marvel was basically Stan Lee, a production guy and a secretary, with all the creative relegated to freelance status. But then the Fantastic Four happened, and Spider-Man, and all the rest. And over time, the power of its product not to be denied, Marvel was allowed to double in size over time to as many as 16 titles most months. But then DC was sold to Kinney National Company, which was in the business of parking lots and funeral homes. Not really knowing what to do with its new holdings, and newsstand distribution proving a challenge, Independent News was allowed to wither and die, and by 1970 was no more. During the Kinney years, Marvel titles began in inch well past the 16-title limit. In 1968 Marvel also passed into corporate hands, purchased along with other entities by Perfect Film & Chemical Corp. to form Cadence Industries. By 1969 Marvel was distributed by Curtis Circulation, sister-company to the SATURDAY EVENING POST, and never looked back. Anyway, this title was part of that initial expansion during the 18 months or so between the sale of DC to Kinney and Marvel to Cadence. Presumably intended as a companion book to SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS, the title was set in World War II and, in this issue, the unit battles HYDRA, invading its island HQ with the help of series creators Gary Friedrich and Dick Ayers. Capt. Savage himself first appeared in SGT. FURY #10 (July 9, 1964), but was short-lived in his own title, which got a name change to CAPTAIN STORM AND HIS BATTLEFIELD RAIDERS with #9 (October 10, 1968). The title ended at #19 (January 20, 1970).  [$24 – $35]


DAREDEVIL, No. 38
Marvel Comics — 32pgs for 12¢ 

The Fantastic Four guest-stars as ol’ horn head battles Dr. Doom, courtesy of Stan Lee and Gene Colan. After a few issues of jumping bodies (don’t ask) DD & Doom end up back to their former selves, although the FF hasn’t quite caught up to the current events. This story continues in this month’s FANTASIC FOUR #73. Maybe that crossover helped sales?  Comicchron quotes average monthly sales for issues #23-34 of 275,361, which jumped to 292,423 for period of issues #35-46. But then, most all Marvel’s were climbing during this period, while most DC titles were falling. Lee & Colan would remain on the title through #49 at the end of this year, though Colan would come back after a three-issue break for a long stay, but for one or two fill-ins, to #100 (March 6, 1973). And he’d come back after that from time-to-time. DD is still with us, of course, although it’d take a doctorate in quantum math to work out his legacy number. [$77 – $110]


FANTASTIC FOUR, No. 73
Marvel Comics  — 32pgs for 12¢ 

Continued from this month’s DAREDEVIL #38, with elements carrying over from last month’s THOR #149, this issue is a “Giant guest-star bonanza!” although that really just means Spider-Man, in addition to DD & Thor. Because the FF still thinks Dr. Doom is inhabiting the body of Daredevil, thisish is an EVERYBODY FIGHTS! free-for-all by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, sandwiched in between issues featuring The Silver Surfer and Galactus. The FF were still da bomb back then, with GCD and Comichron both quoting this issue’s circulation statement and average monthly sales of 329,536 for issues # 58-69. [$157 – $225]


GROOVY, No. 1
Marvel Comics  — 32pgs for 12¢ 

It’s the debut issue of a (blissfully) short-lived Marvel mag that tried to capture the hippie zeitgeist of the time. This is all gags and joke cartoons, mostly by Bob Thaves (best known for the comic strip FRANK AND ERNEST, which began in 1972). The debut issue also features a couple of panels by Dan DeCarlo, a story with script credited to Johnny Carson (really just based on his 1967 book MISERY IS A BLIND DATE) and photos of Sonny & Cher and The Mamas and the Papas.  Technically issues by Atlas Magazine, although the third and final issue from May 9 does carry the Marvel Comics Group logo. [$105 – $150]


THE INCREDIBLE HULK, No. 102
Marvel Comics  — 32pgs for 12¢

As noted above in the confab for CAPTAIN SAVAGE, Marvel had the boot lifted from its neck re: distribution and, as such, one of the first things it did was split up it’s twofer titles. Thus, it canceled the long-running TALES TO ASTONISH, which began on September 2, 1958, and had featured the Hulk since #60 (July 2, 1964), and launched Hukie back in his own mag, albeit with the TTA numbering. Back in the day, the conventional wisdom was that a higher issues number was actually preferable to a new #1, because that connoted longevity, and, as such, communicated some perceived level of quality to the potential reader. Also, starting over at #1 meant having to buy a new postal permit for mailing subscriptions. And never let it be said that Publisher Martin Goodman ever parted with a dollar he did not absolutely have to fork over. TTA also starred the sea-spanning Sub-Mariner (since #70, when he replaced the less popular Giant Man), but more on his below. The change allowed the Hulk to expand his destruction from 11 pages to 20 each month, and Marie Severin remained on art chores, but Stan Lee took himself off the book, naming Gary Friedrich his successor, which freed up his time to go out on the college lecture circuit. And how did the change impact sales? TTA issues #87-98 averaged 269,132, while TTA/Hulk issues #99-110 clocked in at 277,857. Te numbering would last until #474 (January 20, 1999) by which time the market had changed enough that a new #1 was reason enough to cancel any title, even to relaunch it more-or-less exactly as is. Interestingly, Marvel would revive the TTA title in for a brief 14 issue run starting September 25, 1979 — as a new #1, but his time with Subby in command. [$385 – $550]


MARVEL COLLECTORS’ ITEM CLASSICS, No. 14
Marvel Comics  — 64pgs for 25¢ 

Launched on October 5, 1965, as a giant-sized reprint book, featuring four classic tales each issue — although Marvel skimped a bit, giving readers just 64 pages for their 25¢, as opposed to DC’s ballyhooed 80-page giants, with required the same fee for admission. The first year of the series reprinted the covers of the reprinted stories on its cover, but with #12, new scenes for the issue’s Fantastic Four reprint began to dominated the dooryard real estate. Thisish re-presents (and I think for the first time in each case) FANTASTIC FOUR #20, the Iron Man story from TALES OF SUSPENSE #56, the Doctor Strange outing from STRANGE TALES #123, and THE INCREDIBLE HULK #1. The last is from 1962, the rest 1964. So, imagine Marvel today pitching you reprints of stories from 2013 as “collectors’ item classics.” But, in 964, it could rightfully make that claim of its early oeuvre. Heck, I’d buy such a reprint title today! Although each issue would probably cost $7.99. Anyway, the title would change to MARVEL’S GREATEST COMOCS with #23 (July 22, 1969) and begin limiting itself to just FF team and FFer solo stories as of #29. And as the base price of comics rose from 12¢ to 15¢ and finally to 20¢, the title would drop its 25¢ giant format (after one outing at just 48 pages for that price), settling in as a regular-sized FF reprint series starting with #35 (January 18, 1972). As such, the series would last to #96, which hit stands October 21, 1980.  [$45 – $65]


NOT BRAND ECHH, No. 7
Marvel Comics — 32pgs for 12¢ 

Although the Marvel Universe as we know it was not born until August 1961, and didn’t really get going until June 1962 — when Ant-Man, Spider-Man, an Thor all made their debuts — by 1967 the brand had grown to such a point that Marvel could launch a satire book consisting entirely of self-parody. Imagine the uptight squares over at DC doing the same! So, Marvel really was a free-wheelin’ fun-house. But, in a way, this series, which first hit stands on May 2, 1967, always struck me as a little sad. MAD magazine was then at the height of its popularity and cultural impact, and ECHH always seemed to me a comic book equivalent of Fat Amy from the PITCH PERFECT movies, who goes around calling herself Fat Amy in order to keep the mean girls from doing it first behind her back. Although often cited as Marvels “first” satire series, it was not. It was just the first of the Marvel super-hero universe. In the wake of MAD’s 1953 debut, Marvel put out a title called SNAFU, starting July 29, 1955. It only lasted three issues though. But it featured a nebbish, put-upon character put forward as the magazine’s founder, Irving Forbush. For ECHH, Irving was revived as a low-level employee as “Marble Comics,” who fought crime in a union suit and tin-pot helmet — looking not a little bit like the original Red Tornado — as Forbush-Man. ECHH didn’t exactly set the world on fire. The  series was demoted to bi-monthly status with #6 at about the time sales on the first couple of issues could be confirmed, and it was gone with #13 (February 4, 1969). The series does carry a bit of a nostalgia factor, however, and this past fall Marvel actually put out a 14th issue of the title, establishing possibly the longest publishing gap of any series in comic book history.  [$38 – $55]


WALT DISNEY PRESENTS BALOO AND LITTLE BRITCHES, No. 1
Gold Key  — 32pgs for 12¢ 

Disney’s animated JUNGLE BOOK movie hit screens on October 18, 1967. It was a hit. Western Publishing, which then held the license for Disney project, was not stupid. It put out a one-shot comic THE JUNGLE BOOK #1, based on the movie, on December 14, 1967. Today, that issue would have been timed to come out closer to, and maybe even before the movie’s release. So, I think we can say the comic was a reaction to the film’s popularity, not something issued in anticipation of it. Although, to be fair, Western would have had to have begin work on the issue while folks were still in line at the theater. What I do find interesting, however, is that Western did not continue to pump out comics under the Jungle Book logo. Instead, this month, it gave us two one-shots that are touted only as “from The Jungle Book.” There was this one, and then on January 31, one starring King Louie. Both feature Mowgli, of course, but both use Baloo’s nickname for him, “Little Britches.” I presume that is because Western thought Mowgli might be too far out a name for tiny child minds. This one actually puts the real name in parenthesis on the cover, albeit in a smaller font, as “. . . AND LITTLE BRITCHES (MOWGLI).” Oddly, the King Louie book reversed the order, and styles it, “. . . AND MOWGLI (LITTLE BRITCHES).” The art in this book, and it’s KING LOUIE cousin is by Al Hubbard. According to the Lambiek Encyclopedia, Hubbard started out as an in-betweener (the person who supplies the character drawings that continue the motion linking main action poses done by the lead animator) in 1937, and “left after the big strike in 1941.” He landed at Western/Dell, where he became kind of the go-to guy for licensed properties, particularly from the Disney line. He is particularly well known for SCAMP, although he did help introduce Donald Duck’s beathnik cousin, Fethery, for the overseas market.  [$35 – $50]


THE X-MEN, No. 42
Marvel Comics — 32pgs for 12¢ 

It’s hard to believe there was a time when the X-Men were not the be-all and end-all of all things Marvel. But as per the circulation statement in this issue, they averaged just 266,034 per month in sales for issues #27-38. That put them just ahead of SGT. FURY and TALES OF SUSPENCE, with only STRANGE TALES and THE RAWHIDE KID bringing up the rear. For the span of issues in which this outing falls (#39-50) monthly sales grew to 273,360, just barely ahead of STRANGE TALES, which became DOCTOR STRANGE during the year, and RAWHIDE KID. For 1969, monthly sales fell to 235,811 behind everything (so far as we know, not all sales are known) except cowboy bebop.  And so, with #67 (on-sale September 22, 1970) X-MEN also would go into reprint mode, a condition that would persist until #94 (June 10, 1975) when a certain batch of new mutants would hit the scene. In what might have been an effort to goose sales, this issue is the first of several to minimize the X-MEN title in favor of character logs. This outing it’s Professor X, next issue is Magneto. Then TPTB get around to the actual X-Men, starting with Angel, then Cyclops, then starting a twofer rotation with Beast and Ice Man. In thisish by Roy Thomas and Don Heck, the professor does indeed go to that big wheelchair in the sky. But Charlie had had a habit of dying and un-dying over the years, to the point where IGN.com even ran in 2012 an article called “The ManyDeaths of Professor X”   [$140 – $200]



Well, that's just about it, kids, everything that came out the same week we got our first glimpse of Guy Gardner.

But just for fun, here’s a list of what else his stands during the month of January, 1968. All were 32 pages for 12¢, unless otherwise noted and, as you will see, there were quite a few historically significant gems scattered among the new releases, 50 years ago this month:

On-sale Tuesday, January 2
AQUAMAN, No. 38 (DC Comics)
The Sea King battles Lord Ragnar and The Liquidator, in the only appearance of both, by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy. [$70–$100]
 
CAPTAIN AMERICA, No. 100 (Marvel Comics)
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby launch Cap “in his own magazine at last!” as he tales over the numbering from TALES OF SUSPENSE. [$595–$850]
 
IRON MAN & SUB-MARINER, No. 1 (Marvel Comics)
While Cap and Hulk gets their own mags this month by taking over their previous homes, Shellhead & Subby get evicted into one additional shared book, albeit a No. 1 one-shot, preparatory to getting their own series stating next month. [$280–$400]
 
MILLIE THE MODEL, No. 158 (Marvel Comics)
Fifth issue of “The New mmmMillie.” [$45–$65]
 
OUR ARMY AT WAR, No. 191 (DC Comics)
Sgt. Rock in, “Death Flies High,” by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert, with a genre back-up, “Phantom Fliers,” by Dave Wood and Jack Abel, making for an rare all-air force issue. [$80–$115]
 
RAWHIDE KID, No. 63 (Marvel Comics)
“Shootout at Mesa City,” by Ron Whyte, with pictures Stan Lee’s kid brother Larry Lieber, who both writes and draws the back-up tale, “The Gun that Couldn’t Lose.” Plus there’s a Kid Colt reprint. [$56–$80]
 
SECRET HEARTS, No. 126 (DC Comics
A romance comic. By the people who did romance comics. I don’t really know from romance comics, but there it is, if that’s your thing. [$24–$35]
 
SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS, No. 52 (Marvel Comics)
The Commandos are prisoners of war in, “Triumph at Treblinka,” by Gary Friedrich and Dick Ayers.  [$35–$50]
 
STRANGE TALES, No. 167 (Marvel Comics)
Just two issues from series’ end, a patriotic Jim Steranko cover sees modern-day Nick Fury, back when a World War II connection was still believable, facing, “Armageddon,” also by Steranko, while the back-up features Doctor Strange in, “This Dream . . . This Doom,” by writer Denny O’Neil, with Dan Adkins on the art chores. [$112–$160]
 
SUPERBOY, No. 145 (DC Comics)
Ma and Pa Kent get their youth restored, courtesy of Otto Binder and George Papp. [$63–$90]
 
THOR, No. 150 (Marvel Comics)
Thor faces off against Cate Blanchett “Even in Death . . . “ by Lee and Kirby, backed up by The Inhumans, also by Lee & Kirby. [$126–$180]



On-sale Thursday, January 4   
THE ADVENTURES OF JERRY LEWIS, No. 105 (DC Comics)
Jerry meets Superman, courtesy of Arnold Drake and Bob Oksner. [$77–$110]
 
BUGS BUNNY, No. 116 (Gold Key)
Bugs doing Bugs. [$15–$22]
 
DOCTOR SOLAR, MAN OF THE ATOM, No. 23 (Gold Key)
We’re just four issues away from series’ end when “King Cybernoid Strikes,” courtesy of Dick Wood and Al McWilliams. [$35–$50]
 
HANNA-BARERA SUPER TV HEROES, No. 1 (Gold Key)
The debut of a short-lived (seven issues) series, featuring Hanna-Barbera’s adventure heroes, such as Mighty Mightor, Birdman, and The Herculoids. And I think the reason this is "SUPER TV HEROES" and not "TV SUPER-HEROES" is because, by this point, Marvel and DC had jointly trademarked the word, "super-hero."  [$175–$250]
 
TOMAHAWK, No. 115 (DC Comics)
These days, a “flaming ranger” would probably mean something different, but back in sweet ‘60s it still referred, simply, to a ranger, who happened to be on fire, in this issues lead tale, drawn by Fred Ray. [$42–$60]
 
WALT DISNEY PRESENTS THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE, No. 1 (Gold Key)
A one shot adaptation of the Fred MacMurray Disney musical which featured the film debut of Lesley Ann Warren — and a slow-burn at that considering the movie came out on June 23, 1967. As a photo cover, it's Lesley's first comic book appearance, too! So, there's that. [$28–$40]
 
WONDER WOMAN, No. 175 (DC Comics)
It’s a book-length battle with, “Wonder Woman’s Evil Twin,” by Robert Kanigher and Irv Novick. [$84–$120]


On-sale Tuesday, January 16
BOMBA, THE JUNGLE BOY, No. 4 (DC Comics)
We’re more than halfway through the short seven-issue run of this series, with help from George Kashdan and Jack Sparling. [$21–$30]
 
]
PLASTIC MAN, No. 9 (DC Comics)
DC did not continue Plas’ when it bought out the Quality stable, as it did with BALCKHAWK, because the series had been in reprint more for a while, so what was the point. But when it did get around to a revival, it never really got a handle on the character, and the series lasted just one more outing after this issue, by Arnold Drake and Jack Sparling. [$42–$60]
 
THE SPECTRE, No. 3 (DC Comics)
Following a guest cameo in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, and a pair of JLA/JSA team-ups, this is just the sixth appearance of Wildcat in the Silver Age, brought to us by Mike Friedrich and Neal Adams. I always wondered why this series never caught on, but it was gone after #10 (March 18, 1969) [$115–$165]
 
• YOUNG LOVE, No. 66 (DC Comics)
More romance. People bought it. No, I can’t explain that. [$38–$55]
On-sale Thursday, January 18
 
BATMAN, No. 200 (DC Comics)
Origins of Batman and Robin recapped by Mike Friedrich and Chic Stone in this bicentennial issue. [$199–$285]
 
THE DOOM PATROL, No. 118 (DC Comics)
Just three issues from their untimely demise, the Doomsters face “Videx, Monarch of Light,” by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani. [$56–$80]
 
THE FLASH, No. 177 (DC Comics)
It’s the infamous giant head cover, with The Flash facing The Trickster as, “The Swell-Headed Super-Hero,” by Gardner Fox and Ross Andru. [$87–$125]
 
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., No. 17 (Gold Key)
Just five more issues before series end, which is not really surprising given that the TV series ended this same month, on January 15, 1968. [$49–$70]
 
PORKY PIG, No. 17 (Gold Key)
That’ll do, pig. That’ll do. [$17–$24]
 
TUROK, SON OF STONE, No. 61 (Gold Key)
Although a lot of Gold Key adventure comics were winding down in this period, Turok was just getting his second wind, and would fight with stone age might all the way to #130 (March 18, 1982). I’d like to get this issue, though, just to find out what weapon the cover refers to as, “a deadly honker.” [$49–$70]
On-sale Tuesday, January 23
 
THE INFERIOR FIVE, No. 7 (DC Comics)
Okay, so DC did kind of have it’s own Not Brand self-parody comic, although this one also took gentle jabs at Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Groucho Marx, along with Stanley & his Monster and Fox & Crow. By E. Nelson Bridwell and Win Mortimer. [$21–$30]
 
METAMORPHO, No. 17 (DC Comics)
Final issue, by Bob Haney and Jack Sparling. Rex would not appear again until BRAVE AND THE BOLD #101 (February 3, 1972), leading to a short-lived back-up series in ACTION COMICS. [$49–$70]
 
SHOWCASE, No. 73 (DC Comics)
The first appearance of The Creeper, by Steve Ditko, with Don Segall, who would move directly into his own series, BEWARE THE CREEPER, starting March 26 — meaning the ongoing series was likely prepared well in advance of this issue going on sale. [$157–$225]
 
TEEN TITANS, No. 14 (DC Comics)
The Titans see Robins unmasked face for the first time in “Requiem for a Titan,” by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy. [$73–$105]


On-sale Thursday, January 25
HUCKLEBERRY HOUND, No. 33 (Gold Key)
Three tales plus one of Yakky Doodle. [$28–$40]
 
• JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, No. 61 (DC Comics)
The JLA members finally learn the secret identity of teammate Green Arrow in a tale by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky. [$63–$90]
 
WALT DISNEY DONALD DUCK, No. 118 (Gold Key)
Three tales, two of Donald, and one of Goofy, all drawn by former Disney animator Tony Strobl, who worked on FANTASIA, DUMBO, and PINOCCHIO. Strobl was a Cleveland native and according to Gerard Jones’ book MEN OF TOMORROW, Jerry Siegel approached him to develop Superman in place of Joe Shuster, but Strobl declined, saying his more cartoony style, of more polished than Shuster’s work, was less appropriate to the character. [$34–$48]
 
WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES, No. 330 (Gold Key)
Tales of Donald and Scamp by Strobl, plus Uncle Scrooge by Pete Alvarado and Mickey Mouse by Paul Murry. [$20–$28]
 
WORLD’S FINEST COMICS, No. 174 (DC Comics)
Superman & Batman face, “The Secret of the Double Death-Wish,” thanks to newcomer Cary Bates and old pro Pete Costanza. [$56–$80]



On-sale Tuesday, January 30 
ACTION COMICS, No. 361 (DC Comics)
It the second appearance of The Parasite, about 18 months after his first, by Jim Shooter and Al Plastino. Plus, Leo Dorfman and Jim Mooney give us, “The Supergirl Identity Hunt!” during a reunion of former inmates of the Midvale Orphanage. [$84 – $120]
 
ADVENTURE COMICS, No. 360 (DC Comics)
It’s the second appearance of Shadow Lass, who joins the Legion of Super-Heroes thisish with the help of Jim Shooter and Curt Swan, and, let’s be honest, The Fatal Five. [$67–$95]
 
DETECTIVE COMICS, No. 373 (DC Comics)
Mr. Freeze (formerly Mr. Zero) makes his 2nd appearance, a decade after his debut, by Gardner Fox and Chic Stone. The return, as well as the name change, came courtesy of a guest-role on the BATMAN TV show. [$70–$100]
 
STRANGE ADVENTURES, No. 210 (DC Comics)
Deadman by Jack Miller and Neal Adams, a regular feature since #201, which would give way to Adam Strange reprints with #217. [$53–$75]



Also, the following comics hit stands, exact date uncertain. Mike’s Amazing World estimates the first batch, below, as on sale January 1, the second batch for the 15th of the month.

THE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE ARCHIE, No. 45
(Archie Comics) 64 pages for 25¢. [$53–$75]
ARCHIE’S GIRLS, BETTY AND VERONICA, No. 147
(Archie Comics) [$20–$28]
• ARCHIE’S JOKE BOOK MAGAZINE, No. 122
(Archie Comics) [$14–$20]
ARMY WAR HEROES, No. 24
(Charlton Comics) [$21–$30]
BEETLE BAILEY, No. 66
(King Features) [$21–$30]

CHARLTON PREMIERE, No. 3
(Charlton Comics) Starring Sinistro, Boy Fiend. [$25–$35]
GARRISON’S GORILLAS, No. 2
(Dell Publishing) Based on the TV show. [$28–$40]
JUGHEAD, No. 154
(Archie Comics) [$20–$28]
JUGHEAD’S JOKES, No. 4
(Archie Comics) [$22–$32]
LAUGH, No. 204
(Archie Comics) [$14–$20]
LIFE WITH ARCHIE, No. 71
(Archie Comics) [$25–$35]
PEP, No. 215
(Archie Comics) [$21–$30]
REGGIE AND ME, No. 28
(Archie Comics) [$18–$26]
TEXAS RANGERS IN ACTION, No. 65
(Charlton Comics) [$10–$14]
• TIPPY TEEN, No. 18
(Tower Comics) 48 pages for 25¢. [$67–$95]
TIPPY’S FRIENDS GO-GO AND ANIMAL, No. 8
(Tower Comics) 64 pages for 25¢. Highly coveted for the Beatles photos on the cover. [$147–$210]
TOP ELIMINATOR, No. 28
(Charlton Comics) [$21–$30]
• WALT DISNEY PRESENTS ZORRO, No. 9
(Gold Key) Last issue [$46–$65]


CASPER’S GHOSTLAND, No. 41
(Harvey Comics) [$22–$30]
THE FRIENDLY GHOST, CASPER, No. 116
(Harvey Comics) [$18–$26]
HOT STUFF, THE LITTLE DEVIL, No. 83
(Harvey Comics) [$20–$28]
PLAYFUL LITTLE AUDREY, No. 75
(Harvey Comics)  [$20–$28]
RICHIE RICH, No. 68
(Harvey Comics)  [$46–$65]
• RICHIE RICH DOLLARS AND CENTS, No. 23
(Harvey Comics)  64 pages for 25¢. [$32–$45]
• RICHIE RICH MILLIONS, No. 28
(Harvey Comics)  64 pages for 25¢. [$42–$60]
• SAD SACK AND THE SARGE, No. 67
(Harvey Comics)  [$11–$16]
• SAD SACK LAUGH SPECIAL, No. 40
(Harvey Comics)  64 pages for 25¢. [$21–$30]
SPOOKY, No. 103
(Harvey Comics)  [$14–$20]

• SPOOKY SPOOKTOWN, No. 24
(Harvey Comics)  64 pages for 25¢ [$28–$40]
TV CASPER AND COMPANY, No. 18
(Harvey Comics)  64 pages for 25¢. [$35–$50]
• WENDY, THE GOOD LITTLE WITCH, No. 47
(Harvey Comics)  Harvey [$25–$35]


And out on January 31, as previously discussed:
WALT DISNEY PRESENTS KING LOUIE AND MOWGLI, No. 1
(Gold Key) [$28–$40]


And that is it, Bubblenauts, everything on sale the second week of January 1968, as well as a few bonus bits that might have been (but probably hit stands before or after).

Be here next week when we set the Time Bubble controls back another decade, to the third week of January in 1958! There we’ll witness, among other wonders, the debut of Superman’s Girlfriend in her own mag, in LOIS LANE #1.

See ya then!