Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Groove's Faves: World's Finest Comics #244

What's happening, Groove-ophiles? Yeah, I know today's supposed to be a Black and White Wednesday, but today's the anniversary of the debut of one of Ol' Groove's all-time favorite mags...the Dollar Comic version of World's Finest Comics. By January 13, 1977, Teen Groove was a well-educated and already a bit jaded comics fan. I'd seen many cool formats come and go. The 80 Page Giants. The 100 Page Super-Spectaculars. The tabloid-sized comics. Comics as black and white magazines. I'd seen enough Golden Age reprints (via the above-mentioned tabloid-sized comics) to know that comics were really meant to be thick anthologies with a variety of heroes. That, to Teen Groove, was the ideal comic. No theme, no "star", just a mag filled with unrelated super-hero stories.

So, when DC announced their upcoming Dollar Comics line in the fall of 1976, I was more than a bit interested. Superman Family, House of Mystery, and G.I. Combat sounded fine. I pictured something similar to the 100 Page Specs, but with all-new material. Those mags had always been anthologies, so, while I dug the idea of more new stories for my buck, they didn't grab me.

But World's Finest as a Dollar Comic? Now that's what I'd been waiting for! Yeah, the ever present team of Superman/Batman would take the lead, and that was cool--w0uldn't have had it any other way. But Wonder Woman would have her own feature (set in WW II), too. Green Arrow and Black Canary would move from their supporting-status in Green Lantern/Green Arrow and their back-ups in Action and Detective for a regular berth in WF. Far-out! And I, for one, was tickled that DC had chosen to run Vigilante in the mag, just to break up the Justice League/big guns feel. Besides, Vig's adventures would be very different from any of the mag's other heroes (and DC rewarded my loyalty to assigning Gray Morrow to draw most of the stories!), and variety is what I was after.

I couldn't wait to get my hands on WF #244, and wasn't a bit disappointed when I did. Bob Haney teamed with Jose Louis Garcia Lopez and Murphy Anderson for a cool sci-fi Superman/Batman tale "Three Billion Targets!" The story had a cool/creepy 50s sci-fi movie feel to it that allowed for Batman-style mystery and Superman-style stunts. And dig that art!


Next, Jack C. Harris, Mike Nasser (now Michael Netzer), and Terry Austin combine for a fun Black Canary story involving a Star City track meet, and old Green Arrow foe, and a brand new super-villain. Harris' story has a cool Charlie's Angels vibe to it (complete with the Pretty Bird going undercover). And man, did Teen Groove flip for that hip Nasser/Austin art! Even the title was special: "Rainbows of Doom!"


The Canary story ended with a cliff-hanger that led directly to, you guessed it, the Green Arrow tale for the issue, "Slings and Arrows". Nasser and Austin also handled the art on this story, while Tony Isabella wrote the script. Green Arrow takes on Slingshot in this action-packed tale that includes a truly far-out fight scene--in a moving car. Check it out!

The coolest part of the Green Arrow/Black Canary section of WF was that you never knew what to expect. They might cross-over; they might share a 20 page adventure; one story might continue into the other; or they might have totally separate adventures.

Bill Kunkel, John Calnan, and Bob Smith bring us the WF debut of Vigilante with "Explosion in a Small Town!", a fast-paced nicely done filler...


And finally, Denny O'Neil, Jose Delbo, and Vinnie Colletta give us a WW II Wonder Woman adventure called "Jeopardy--Times Two!" Teen Groove dug the fact that some of the cast of the Wonder Woman TV show popped up in this story. The story's fun--not a thriller, by any stretch, but hey, we dug watching WW toss Nazis around back in the Groovy Age, didn't we?


World's Finest in the Dollar Format would prove to be pretty successful. Keeping roughly the same format (though its page count had dwindled to 52 by the end) along with Batman/Superman, and Green Arrow/Black Canary (while Vigilante, Wonder Woman, the Creeper, Shazam!, Hawkman, Black Lightning, Aquaman, and many others would wander in and out of its pages), it lasted until 1982. WF's success inspired DC to try a Superman-less Dollar Comic one-shot, Five-Star Superhero Spectacular, which led to the transformation of more of their mags into Dollar Comics, most notably Adventure and Detective. One of the first and one of the last of DC's ambitious Dollar Comics line, Ol' Groove thinks WF truly was the world's finest!

6 comments:

  1. Loved the DC dollar comics of the late 70s, esp. World's Finest, but also Adventure. This issue in particular was a favorite, precisely becuase of that awesome back-to-back Black Canary/Green Arrow story. I also really enjoyed the subsequently-added Shazam! feature drawn by Don Newton...

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  2. The Nasser/Austin art was a treat (but, really, anyone/Austin was a treat around this time). That duo came to this series from a run of J'onn J'onzz back-up features in Adventure Comics #449-451.

    Andrew
    ComicsBronzeAge.com

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  3. Wow. Again you’ve brought back a part of my past I had almost completely forgotten about - in this case DC’s Dollar Comics.

    I remember being very disappointed when DC stopped publishing their “100 page Super Spectaculars” in ’75. I had high hopes for the Dollar Comics when I saw the house ads for them towards the end of ’76, especially because Neal Adams did the covers. This issue of “World’s Finest” was the first Dollar Comic I remember buying. I remember I was mildly disappointed because it didn’t contain any reprints. Weird, huh? One of the things I loved about the 100 pagers was the reprints, and I was hoping for more. However, once I got used to all new material I usually enjoyed the ones I bought, although they did put a crimp in buying other comics because of the extra sixty-five cents.

    Anyway, thanks again for bringing back some good memories.

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  4. Both the Martian Manhunter back-ups and the Dollar Comics version of Adventure will show up here eventually. Adventure is my favorite DC comic of the Groovy Age just for the simple fact that it offered such variety--and usually high caliber variety at that!

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  5. That NASSER/AUSTIN green arrow/black canary treat is what blew me away in regards to that issue of WORLD'S FINEST.As a youth at that time I'd pour over those beautifully illustrated pages,not only entranced by nasser's pencils,but also amazed at the sleekness,the crispness of austin's inks,surpassing even what was accomplished with MARSHALL ROGERS.Thanks o'groovy one.

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  6. me gusto este comic ,espero poder escanear ,los mios para compartirlos con su pagina decomics, es un milagro prodigioso ,existan ustedes...

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