New Reviews of Old Comics
Here’s the thing about rooting through the bargain bins; sometimes you find treasures, sometimes you find crap, but mostly it’s mixture of the two. Take this little gem for example. How can you not love that cover? Superboy and Superman flying toward a space-age looking city inside of crater with a weird looking spaceship flying at them; the bold writing enticing readers to pull it from the spinner rack and plunk their dime down onto the pharmacy counter; the giant Comics Code Authority stamp of approval. Ah! It just rings of something special, not to mention a steal at $1. You know the old saying “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is”? Well, that applies to this copy of Adventure Comics #216.
Superboy leads off the first of three stories with “The Wizard City” a typical-for-the-times un-credited tale. A missing professor has made the headlines so young high school reporter Clark Kent shows up to interview the family for his school newspaper and winds up telling the professor’s little red-headed son named Jimmy that his pal Superman will find Jimmy’s daddy. Red-headed kid…Jimmy…hmmm, could it be a young Jimmy Olsen? Anyway, Superboy is off to Africa, flying past airplanes until he finds a village of medieval humans chasing the lost professor. Of course Superboy saves him, but doesn’t give the knights on horseback a beat down. Once safe the professor explains he was looking for the Wizard City, a city made of gems, for which he has a map, so the professor and Superboy check it out. When they find Wizard City Superboy becomes inexplicably weak. The professor’s partner, Vedders, who discovered the city before them explains that Wizard City is from Krypton, breaking away as the planet was destroyed, thus made from Kryptonite. Not long after this little soliloquy, Superman emerges from the rocks, much to Vedders’ surprise. That’s not a typo, I meant SuperMAN, not SuperBOY. How could that have happened? Although SuperMAN says it was a side-effect of the massive Kryptonite dose, the next page tells us it was a clever ruse by Superboy, and that’s where the story ends. Not because it was poorly written, but because the NEXT FEW PAGES ARE MISSING!!!! This is where the “too good to be true” comes in. I was actually enjoying this story and now I’ll never know how it ends. I was hoping for a confirmation that the professor is Jimmy Olsen’s dad. Oh well.
Next up is a six page Aquaman story called “The Invasion of the Sea-Men” which sounds really disgusting when you say it out loud. You know some joker writer was laughing hysterically when he wrote this. More than half of pages 5 & 6 are ripped off and missing so I didn’t even bother reading the whole thing because I was annoyed. The gist is aliens (the Sea-Men) from outer space land in the ocean with crazy weapons to beat back powerful sea creatures like a whale and octopus, so Aquaman makes a goldfish act like a king and scare them off. In hindsight, maybe I should be happy so of this story is missing.
Green Arrow and his boy sidekick Speedy wrap up this issue’s thrilling tales with “The World’s Most Dangerous Game.” An old nemesis named Joe Conroy challenges Green Arrow to a showdown on the Crow Indian reservation. Of course the battling bowman can’t turn down a challenge, so they show up and find out they’ve been duped into breaking Crow law which forbids the use of bow and arrow on their lands. As punishment they must run the Archery Gauntlet using only traditional bow and arrows. Without the use of their modern trick arrows Green Arrow and Speedy seemed doomed, right? How can they survive without Smoke Arrows or Boxing Glove Arrows? Nah. They manage to conquer the Archery Gauntlet and capture Joe Conroy in less than two pages. Piece of cake. Is it just me or does something seem wrong that the punishment for breaking the no bow & arrow law is to run through an Archery Gauntlet? To perform that punishment they would have to break the law again, so this could be some never ending cycle; certainly longer than a six page story.
Even with the missing pages and tattered cover, Adventure Comics #216 is everything I love about comics; escapist fun. Sure, I love reading Dark Knight, Watchmen and other gritty, mature titles that push the envelope of what we generally expect from comics. Still, I think there is something to be said for these stories that have inspired some of the folks producing the cutting edge work, and not because they are old and collectible. There is nothing about this particular copy that could even remotely be described as collectible, yet there the work these writers and artists put into the comic still comes through as an enjoyable read.