Saturday, January 1, 2011

Groove's Faves: 100-Page Super Spectacular DC-14 and a Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Groove-ophiles! It doesn't seem that long ago that we were here welcoming in 2010, but sure 'nuff it's been a whole year. 2011. Wow. When I was but a Li'l Groove we thought we'd have flying cars by now. Or at least cars as cool as the Batmobile. That reminds me of a fave comic bought, believe it or not, on New Years Day 1973...

When I was but a Young Groove, the family usually spent New Years Day just hanging out at the house, enjoying each other, our Christmas gifts, and some quality time in front of the TV. On New Years Day 1973, though, Dear Ol' Dad decided to get out of the house for a few minutes and asked me if I'd like to tag along. Of course I would! I knew that a trip anywhere with DoD would mean I had a chance at a spinner-rack and a new comic. Sure 'nuff, he turned me loose at that magical merry-go-round of four color ecstasy, knowing full well I'd find something. And I did. Not just any old comic, mind ya, but DC's 100-Page Super Spectacular (DC-14) featuring Batman! DoD forked over a pair of quarters for that squarebound pile of nostalgic newsprint without batting an eyelash. Wotta guy!

It was an extra-special purchase for another reason, too--DC's 100-Page Super Specs had returned, baby! Back in the summer of 72 DC had quit making the Super Specs and replaced them with reprint mags like Secret Origins, Wanted, Johnny Thunder, Legion of Super-Heroes, Doom Patrol, and more. Those were great, and Young Groove snapped 'em up, but nothing could beat those 100-Page Super Spectaculars. They were missed. DC, bless 'em, heard fandom's cry and released this baby the day after Christmas, 1972. For more info on the return of the Super-Specs, as well as how editor-par-excellence E. Nelson Bridwell handled filling 100 pages with Gold and Silver Age classics, here are the letters pages for this ish. (And as an added bonus dig master letterhack Ricard H. Morrissey's "review" of Batman: From the 30s to the 70s--another classic Ol' Groove's gotta tackle one'a these days...)


I was glad the Specs were back, and let me tell ya, Groove-ophiles, I was in comicbook heaven. I had never seen an actual Bob Kane Batman tale before, so when I glommed his art on the two part Monk storyline (written by the great Gardner Fox making his Batman debut!), well, I flipped. Though I had really dug the art of Irv Novick, Bob Brown, and especially Neal Adams, this version of The Batman, with those long ears and the cape looking like batwings at every turn, was the ultimate version for me. (I think that's why I cottoned to Marshall Rogers' version so much.)

The Atom tale rocked me, too. Another classic written by Fox, this time the art was by Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. Not only did I get to read the first adventure of the Atom in costume, but it was his classic battle with the other "tiny titan" Kulan Dar!

T'was the Atom's first time traveling via telephone, as well, complete with "scientific explanation". Can he pull that trick with a cell phone, I wonder?

The Blackhawk story was cool, too. "The Treasure of Ghanpat!" had slick art by Reed Crandall and Charles Cuidera, plenty of action, and really far-out airplanes. I always dug airplanes.

Speaking of airplanes, the Wonder Woman tale put her invisible plane to good use, and the H.G. Peters art was nifty in a weird kinda way, but WW creator William Marston's stories always left me cold. This one involving riding around on saddled kangaroos was the only disappointment in an otherwise perfect ish.

I always thought Doll Man had a dumb name and a dumb costume (sorry, but it's true), but danged if he didn't have fun adventures and great art (Reed Crandall? Bill Quackenbush?). Just take this1950 tale, f'rinstance. It was a hoot. And any superhero that has a dog--especially one named Elmo!-- for a sidekick was always cool with Young Groove.

After Batman, for some reason Wildcat was always my fave Golden Age DC hero. Was it the all-black costume? The wildcat mask? The motorcycle? The fact that he was a boxer? His sidekick/manager Stretch Skinner (introduced in this Bill Finger/Irwin Hasen classic)? Maybe it was all of the above.

Finally, "The Batmobile of 1950!" was the kind of story that really fired up Young Groove's imagination. All the stuff Batman could cram into that super-car just blew my mind! And as a fan of Speed Racer, watching the Batmobile leap across a crumbling bridge made me cheer. Joe Samachson, Dick Sprang, and Charles Paris could do no wrong in my eyes!

Yeah, it was a great New Years Day. I still have that tattered, coverless mag and great memories to go with it. Thanks again, Dear Ol' Dad! (Special thanks to The Old Warrior for the excellent scans on his truly far-out blog, DC 100-Page Super Spectacular Comic Book Downloads.)

12 comments:

  1. I agree on how Doll Man is a dumb name. My 7-year old daughter was watching the Batman: Brave and the Bold Freedom Fighters episode with me and when Doll Man appeared, she couldn't stop laughing!

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  2. All I can think is, looking at what's waiting for Wildcat when he reaches the bottom of that banister, I just hope he's not planning on having any children.

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  3. oh, wow, man! I love this comic! love it, I say! I still have my battered, dog-eared old copy from back in the day, and wouldn't part with it for the world. it's a thing of beauty to behold, it is.

    happy new year to you, Groove, mate! you have a great one!

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  4. Reno--it's a wonder they haven't updated his name to Action Figure Man!

    Steve--I see what you mean, but somehow Wildcat managed to produce one young'n--that he knows of...

    Joe--You and me both, mate! May 2011 be your best year ever!

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  5. those were absolutely the best days. PERIOD ...they knew how to make comics then oh yeah

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  6. Finding one of those 100-Page Super Spectaculars on the spinner rack was truly a cause for celebration. Especially one with the Blackhawks and Wildcat. Thanks for the memory.

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  7. I can't even tell you how good it is to see you reprint Rich Morrissey's LoC and Nelson Bridwell's reply. I promise you not a week goes by that I don't think about each of those two gentlemen. They were friends outside comics and had many traits in common, and I miss them both. I'm glad other people remember them too.

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  8. I had this comic as a kid but, like many others, it was lost/traded/stolen and it took me many, many years to find another copy. As Joe rightly says, it's a thing of beauty, especially that wonderful cover - Nick Cardy?

    Have a great New Year O Groovy One!

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  9. I absolutely LOVED the 100-pagers. I was just getting started reading comic books when these started coming out. One of my first ones was the issue with the first JLA/JSA team-up and I read it until it started coming apart. I never was able to find the Batman issue you featured today, but thanks to the Warrior, I did get to read it at last.

    Darpy

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  10. T'was, indeed, a Nick Cardy cover. Can't believe I didn't mention that. One of his best! And that's saying a lot!!

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  11. DC, Dollman doesn't belong in "greatest" anything! But, WOW, that Bob Kane Batman is music for the eyes.
    Rich Buckler, hope you enjoyed your saturday off! But now we want more!! :-)

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  12. Plans are afoot for Rich to return next Saturday, Matthew. The holidays and a bout with the flu have kept The Swash on the sidelines, but he's rarin' to go, now!

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