Markley’s Fevered Brain: DC SA

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

I have been a huge fan of DC Comics material as far back as I can remember. The material they have been doing over the last five years to me has been more miss than hit, and I know I am in the minority here. I do enjoy a number of modern books, but they do not bring me the joy the books did in the Sixties. Certainly a large part of this is I was a kid at the time and the idea of GIs vs. dinosaurs was amazing. Or Batman teaming with a different hero every month was spectacular. And the idea of Superman and Batman sharing an adventure every issue blew my mind. I am fortunate that DC, along with all of the New 52 and Rebirths, have taken Marvel’s lead and are reprinting oversized, mostly 300 plus pages, full color collections of their vast library. They have spotlighted a number of their classic heroes in both Golden Age collections (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) as well as the Silver Age of such stalwarts as Green Lantern, Flash, and Justice League of America, Teen Titans, and Supergirl. Today I am going to look at three Silver Age collections of books that still give me the thrill I had as a kid when I first read many of these stories. Admittedly, 50 years later the thrill is more nostalgic, but I still enjoy these stories even though they are done in a much simpler style of storytelling than modern comics, or even most of what Marvel was doing at the same time. These are collections where you can read a story or two and put the book down and have read a complete story, with no cliff hangers or unresolved sub-plots, no baffling page layouts, just straight forward fun stories. The three books collects stories from the mid-1950s, the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, and the late 1960s. All three volumes share a way of storytelling that is lost today, yet each clearly reflects the evolving changes in DC’s way of storytelling over time. I would recommend these three books as a great way to clean your pallet, to go back to a simpler time of comics and just simply enjoy. All of these collections were first issued as hardcover omnibuses by DC, in a larger format and with more pages. The paperback versions generally have fewer pages but are far cheaper than the original hardcovers, usually about 20% the price.

Suicide Squad: The Silver Age

Suicide Squad: The Silver Age


Suicide Squad: The Silver Age tpb is probably not what you would expect based on the title. The current incarnation of the Suicide Squad (which was inspired by the excellent run by John Ostrander which has been collected into five trades so far) is villains trying for redemption, but the original Suicide Squad (or Task Force X as it was called) were men and woman facing the unknown in basic adventure tales, with an occasional monster thrown in. Their first six appearances were in the pages of The Brave and the Bold #25-27 and #37-39. They then returned in the pages of Star Spangled War Stories replacing Millie Marie (a French resistance fighter), and the Suicide Squad became stories of brave military soldiers, mostly Army, fighting dinosaurs. A greater combination was never put together to capture the imagination of a kid. And it caught mine and led to a lifelong love of DC war books. The Suicide Squad that appeared in The Brave and the Bold was a rehash of the typical adventure story of the time. It was a group of four people, led by Rick Flagg and his girlfriend, Karen Grace, along with Dr. Hugh Evens and Jess Bright. They went on adventures where no one else would. It was the type of stories you would find in Challengers of the Unknown or any number of the short stories in the pages of My Greatest Adventure, Marvel’s Tales of Suspense, or any number of other publishers in the late Fifties. It was also the basis for the concept of the Fantastic Four, except Stan Lee and Jack Kirby gave them super powers. These stories were written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Ross Andru. They are fun adventures tales, really not much different from Cave Carson, Sea Devils, or any other of the four person group comics of the time period. In between the two Brave and the Bold series, Kanigher and Andru introduced a new series in the pages of Star Spangled War Stories #90 (May 1960) where there is an island in the south pacific where dinosaurs never died and brave American GIs have to fight these monsters to the death to protect the rest of the world. This series was called the War that Time Forgot and carried on the concept of Task Force X/Suicide Squad including stories featuring Rick Flagg and crew. These stories were set in World War 2 and ran for a number of years, through Star Spangled #137 (in 1968), where the dinos got booted for Enemy Ace (one of DCs greatest war books). There were only three issues in this run where the War that Time Forgot did not appear. There is a basic formula to most of these stories but they are so much fun and the art by Ross Andru and Mike Eposito is great. Not only do you get war stories, you get almost every kind of dinosaur you can imagine. These stories would generally have new characters each issue although some would appear in multiple issues. Overall, this is a great collection for the price and considering how hard the originals are to get, this is a bargain. Plus all of these stories are in full color (they were previously available in black and white in a Showcase collection). I would highly recommend this book just as an outright fun romp and read.

Batman in The Brave in the Bold: The Bronze Age Vol. 1

Batman in The Brave in the Bold: The Bronze Age Vol. 1


Continuing on the theme of The Brave and the Bold, DC also recently released Batman in The Brave in the Bold: The Bronze Age Vol. 1. The Brave and the Bold has an interesting history as the first 24 issues were stories about the brave and the bold, with such characters as the Viking Prince (a great series by Joe Kubert that was collected into a beautiful full color hardcover), Silent Knight, Robin Hood, and other such tales. With issue #25 it became a showcase title where DC would try out new ideas for short runs and see if they had any popularity. This started with Task Force X (The Suicide Squad’s original name) and included all sorts of stories featuring everything from the first appearances of the Justice League of America (issues #28-30), Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad (#54) which would return in issue #60 as the Teen Titans, and many more. With issue #50, the title became a book where two or more heroes would team up. Every issue was something different, be it the Flash and the Martian Manhunter to the afore mentioned Teen Titans, to Starman and Black Canary. The exception to this was the story introducing Metamorpho which was in issue #57. With issue #74, the book became a Batman team up book with Batman teaming up with a different character every issue. This was due to the massive popularity of the Batman TV show at the time and DC wanted to expand their line of Batman titles. This turned out to be a stroke of good fortune as this led to Neal Adams run on the book which would introduce the modern Batman look (these were Adams’ first Batman stories) as well as the modern look of Green Arrow, with goatee, in the pages of Brave and the Bold #85. Adams was followed up by Jim Aparo who had the longest run on the book, and I would argue the best run, doing issues #98 through #200 with only a few fill in artists. Almost all of the stories were written by Bob Haney although there were exceptions, of note were four issues that were written by Alan Brennert, which to me stand out as some of the best Batman stories ever written. (Available in the Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert hardcover along with the rest of Brennert’s astounding Batman stories). This specific collection of The Brave and the Bold collects all of the stories from The Brave and the Bold #74 (where Batman became the permanent lead) though issue #109. In addition to Bob Haney’s scripts (which did not necessarily fit into the guest stars continuity or DCs continuity for that matter) the art is by Neal Adams and Jim Aparo for the most part. Plus, you have quest stars such as Deadman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Creeper, Sgt. Rock, and many, many more. Almost all of these are standalone stories so you can read one and feel as if you got the whole story, not just the first chapter. Going back and rereading these stories for the first time in 40 years made me realize how good these stories were and what a great time it was for comics. These are not the soap opera of Marvel or the all-ages of DC at the time, but a unique type of story that holds up after all these years. Well worth your money and time.

Batman & Superman in World’s Finest Comics: The Silver Age Vol. 1

Batman & Superman in World’s Finest Comics: The Silver Age Vol. 1


Batman & Superman in World’s Finest Comics: The Silver Age Vol. 1 reprints Superman #76 (the first team-up of Superman and Batman) and World’s Finest Comics #71-94. Actually, the title is deceptive as Robin also appears in almost every story. DC chose to start with #71 because prior to that, World’s Finest featured Superman and Batman but in individual stories, not with them teaming up to stop a space menace, or one of their rogues gallery, or some new villain that was created that month. Most of the stories are from the 1950s and read like a 1950s DC superhero book. Solid standalone stories, which at times were silly, but were always entertaining. Most of these stories were written by Edward Hamilton, a well-known science fiction writer, who wrote tons of DC stories in the Fifties and Sixties, and were drawn by Curt Swan or Dick Sprang. As was common in DC at this time period, there are also a number of Imaginary Stories, which were basically What If? tales that were plopped into the monthly book so the heroes and the creators could add variety to the stories. These are not the Batman and Superman stories you will find in the current runs of these books, and they are nothing close to Tom King’ recent homage to the Superman/Batman team up, but they are warm, simple, and charming stories featuring DCs two biggest heroes working together to save the world. As with the Suicide Squad and the Brave and the Bold collections, this is a light book in that there is no drama or doom and gloom. You will just be entertained and left smiling. Plus you get to see lots of Curt Swan Superman, a forgotten master.

This wraps it up for this month. I have raved about Marvel’s Epic Collections in the past so I thought it was time DC got some of the attention as they too have a rich history of comic stories that are finally be collected and released in a fairly affordable format and provide hours of great reading. Have you read any of these collections? Which ones did you enjoy? Have you read Suicide Squad or Brave and the Bold or World’s Finest? What are your favorite DC classic characters or storylines? I want to know! I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. Everything I have written here is my opinion and does not reflect the thoughts or opinions of Westfield Comics or their employees, or the other bloggers on this website. I look forward to hearing from you and as always…

Thank you.

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  1. Jim Burdo Says:

    It’s Mlle. Marie, short for mademoiselle.