Friday, January 19, 2018

Adventure Comics

Adventure Comics #378 (DC, March 1969, 12 cents)
"Twelve Hours to Live!" Script: Jim Shooter, Layouts: Jim Shooter, Pencils: Win Mortimer, Inks: Jack Abel, Letters: Joe Letterese, Editor: Mort Weisinger.

A tale of the Legion of Super-Heroes, this comic book features Superboy and other members of the LSH. It is Brainiac 5's birthday, and because of some undetected poison—Rakurga—Karate Kid, Superboy, Duo Damsel, Princess Projectra, and Brainiac 5 himself have only 12 hours to live.

They spend their remaining time in different ways. Brianiac uses his twelfth-level brain to find an antidote. Superboy visits Smallville before saving a Martian city from a glacier, rescuing a Space Roc, and otherwise "devoting even the last hours of his life to the good of the galaxy!" Duo Damsel second guesses the value of her powers and spends time with her mother and father in the suburbs. Karate Kid goes on a suicide mission against the Fatal Five—a team of villains worth revisiting, perhaps. Pp. 11-17 are pretty incredible.

Princess Projectra moons over Karate Kid before going to a senso-theater. In Metro Square Park, she meets Myron Marks, park-bench philosopher, who shows her how to face death calmly. The group reconvenes to write their will on a steel tablet, bequeathing various items to the Legion before sinking into comas. The issue also features a one-page letter column, "The Letter Outpost," which features correspondence as prose rather than as discrete letters.

Adventure Comics #379 (DC, April 1969, 12 cents)
"Burial in Space!" Script: Jim Shooter, Layouts: Jim Shooter, Pencils: Win Mortimer, Inks: Jack Abel, Letters: John Costanza, Editor: Mort Weisinger.

Other Legionnaires arrive to find fellow heroes in a coma. An alien, a Seeron, stops time to seek the help of the Legion—and identifier the killer. Chameleon Boy, Chemical King, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Star Boy, Timber Wolf, and Ultra Boy accompany the Seeron to Seeris City and the Temple of Minds. There, they learn about the struggle between the Seerons, a race of pacifist, sedentary intellectuals, and "beings of pure physical force" who are immune to the Seerons's mind control and telekinesis.

Meanwhile, back at Legion headquarters, Invisible Kid and Shrinking Violet find their comrades' bodies. They mistakenly give them a space funeral, but once their fellow Legionnaires return from Seeris, the mystery is solved. Despite several pages of powerful action—pp. 19 and 21 specifically—the story wraps up a little too quickly to be satisfying, and the perpetrator of the poison isn't fully explored at all.

It's an interesting storytelling approach. The main mystery was set aside for an unrelated tangential intervention, but the arrival of the Seeron bought the dead heroes the time they needed for others to arrive and use a deux ex machina to undo their undoing. All while addressing the killer in a mere panel. Bizarre. Perhaps rushed? Oddly, this was also the last issue of Adventure to feature the Legion, which moved to Action Comics.

"Super-Turtle" Written and drawn: Henry Boltinoff, (One page)
A police office enlists Super-Turtle's aid to avoid a sure disaster that involves misspelling.

Read Also: Adventure Comics #367.

Adventure Comics #437 (DC, January-February 1975, 25 cents)
"The Human Bombs and... the Spectre" Script: Michael Fleisher, Script Continuity: Russell Carley, Art: Ernie Chua and Jim Aparo, Editor: Joe Orlando. (13 pages)

In this excellent comic, Jim Corrigan—not to be mistaken for Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan—the Spectre goes up against a mad scientist who's outfitting prominent citizens as human bombs using a stroboscopic hypno-wheel. Hiding in an abandoned bauxite mine, the scientist dispatches of two hired hands by telling them to walk into a tank of hungry barracudas.

Corrigan tries to stop victim Gwendolyn Sterling from using her detonator after robbing Tiffany's, tracking her to the mine as the Spectre. There, he chases the villain to a "pit full of alligators." Chua and Aparo's art is awesome—as is Aparo's cover—and several panels stand out. Highlights include the settings of pp. 3-4, panel four on p. 6, p. 10, and pp. 12-13.

Chua and Aparo use an interesting page layout a couple of times: p. 3 and p. 12's hexagonal center panel with two panels each above and below. They also use panel elements to break the gutter between panels in some interesting ways: The foot and head on p. 6, Corrigan's head on p. 8, and word balloons otherwise.

"A Quiet Day in Atlantis" Script: Paul Levitz, Art: Mike Grell. (Seven pages)
This is an excellent example of early Grell work; the artist started working with DC in 1973. Aquaman, chased by Black Manta, is attacked by "the first cousin to a cauliflower." The undersea creature on pp. 4-5 of that story ranks among the silliest things I've ever seen in a comic book, but the last panel on p. 5 suggests how Grell's artwork will develop in the future.

The issue ends with a one-page letter column, "Dateline: Adventure." A solid, interesting issue—perhaps more interesting than the LSH issues reviewed above.

Read Also: Adventure Comics #435-436.

Availability: Adventure Comics #378-379 was collected in Showcase Presents: The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 4 and Legion of Super-Heroes - Archives, Volume 9. The Spectre story in #437 was included in Showcase Presents: The Spectre Vol. 1. The Aquaman story was included in Aquaman: Death of a Prince.

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