I’m back with a look at the next handful of issues of DC Super Stars.
DC Superstars #7 is a all wet, as it features the entire Aqua Family. I actually really like the Aparo cover, as it just shouts “Hey, I’m Fun! Check Me Out”, although that Dolphin doesn’t look as though he’s having much fun. Much like the Teen Titans, Aquaman was ‘between series’ at this juncture, so this book served as s tryout. The main story is a reprint of a 1967 Skeates/Cardy effort. Personally, I would have preferred to see some from Ramona Fradon’s tenure, or one of the great Skeates/Aparo tales. There’s also an Aqualad solo story taken from Teen Titans #30 and a two-page overview of Aquaman’s main villains. It’s certainly not the best representation of how good Aquaman can be, but it’s a decent little package.
The very last of the “… of Space” installments can be found in DC Super-Stars #8. Ernie Chan does a decent job trying to channel classic Infantino for this cover. The Adam Strange story is solid, but people may have seen it elsewhere. More interesting, is the debut Space Ranger story. I’m not the world’s biggest Space Ranger fan, but I’ve always felt Bob Brown to be an underappreciated artist and this is an inexpensive way to read the first appearance of a character. What I said about Brown also applies to Sid Greene. Most people know his work as an inker, but he was a capable and often very imaginative penciller. That being said, I would have preferred a Space Cabby or Star Hawkins reprint to this Star Rovers tale.
I’ve discussed my general dislike for DC Super-Stars #9 elsewhere You've Been Warned: DC Super-Stars #9 , and I thank my good friend T Guy for pointing out that with this issue, the series was no longer under the direction of E Nelson Bridwell. I like the cover design, I only with the 3rd, eth and 5th characters had been better executed. There’s a decent Superman reprint, a fun story about a police sharpshooter with temporary blindness and a rather bleak tale of a Earth weapon being used to take down aliens at an alarming rates. I really like the Nighthawk story, as I’ve always been impressed by Ruben Moreira’s pencils. The thing that bugs me is that this story was reprinted just a few years earlier in Johnny Thunder #1. There are dozens of Nighthawk tales and I wish they did a bit more digging to come up with some different material. One of the things that drive me nuts about these reprint collections is that there is no mention of the origins of these stories. You can guesstimate by looking at the copyright information, but I really couldn’t tell whether the crime story came from Mr. District Attorney or Gang Busters. With the internet being sold helpful and all, I now know that it was the latter – but that’s beside the point.
You should expect nothing but silliness from DC Super-Stars #10 and that’s ok. The Ernie Chan cover is very awkwardly designed. The lead story is new – and it involves a remarkably nutty baseball game between the heroes and villains. It’s just crazy, and I only wish that Bob Rozakis had been able to see a bit more of the absurd humor of the situation. Everyone should read this story at some point in their lives. The reprints are ok, and it’s nice to see the mid-50s Gil Kane drawn story for pennies a page. I only wish they’d managed to sneak one of the great Carmine Infantino ‘Strange Sports’ stories from Brave and the Bold stories in here, as those are elegant and fun.
DC Super-Stars #11 is the perfect gift for the Zatanna fan in your life. Many of you may know that Zatanna starred in a very enjoyable back-ups series in Adventure Comics in the early 70s. The only problem was the structure, as Len Wein was trying to tell some longer tales that had to be chopped up over several issues. This didn’t help the flow of things. Here, they’ve pieced together stories from 3 issues into a single package and it works much better. Wein has some good dialogue and Gray Morrow’s artwork is fantastic, as usual. The reprint here is a great choice, reprinting the first appearance of Abra Kadabra from Flash #128. There are few neat ‘magical’ features, including one-pager on Houdini and some instructions for various magic tricks. I must be getting up because my fingers were not nimble enough to make any of them work. Did I mention the Gray Morrow cover? Gorgeous! This one’s a keeper.
Superboy and Superman fans take note; DC Super-Stars #12 features a brand-new Superboy story that adds a nice little detail to Superman mythology. Using the “Super Teacher From Krypton” story from Adventure Comics #240 as a springboard, Cary Bates as crafted an interesting tale that enlightens us on part of the transition from Superboy to Superman. It’s a bit convoluted, but there some good stuff packed in here and a final test of Superboy’s decision making. There’s some nice Swanderson art, and DC wisely bookends this with the original story of the Kryptonian Robot whose main function seems to be lecturing young Kal-El.
So that’s it for this edition, next week I’ll be back with a rundown of the final 6 issues of DC Super-Stars. For more comic book nonsense – stop by my blog Seduction of the Indifferent