Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Hitchcock Project-Andrew Solt, Part Two-The Legacy [1.35]

Leora Dana as Irene Cole
by Jack Seabrook

"The Legacy" is based on a short story by Gina Kaus called "Sonderbares Liebesdrama" (roughly translated as "Strange Love Drama") that was first published in the German Vogue on November 7, 1928. It was later translated into English and collected in Return to Reality and Other Stories, a 1935 book of short fiction by Kaus, where the title was changed to "The Legacy."

The story is narrated in the first person by someone who is never given a name or a gender, though I think it is a woman. She tells of meeting the Tilgners at a summer hotel; he is young and handsome, while she seems older, more like a mother figure than a wife. He seems to be unfaithful to her and she seems to tolerate it, admitting to the narrator that his behavior is hurtful but insisting that he will always come back to her after an affair. When handsome Conte Albin Rossi arrives at the hotel and begins to pay attention to Frau Tilgner, her husband ignores it. Everyone notices as the Conte's attentions become increasingly more passionate, and Frau Tilgner is agitated by his attention.

"The Legacy" was
first published here
The narrator suggests to Frau Tilgner that she tell Conte Rossi to prove his sincerity by leaving and not endangering her marriage. When the woman tells the young Conte this, he threatens to commit suicide. That night, he shoots and kills himself. After the funeral, the narrator receives a visit from Rossi's sister, who reveals that he was an unlucky gambler who had ruined himself financially. He planned to commit suicide and staged an affair with Frau Tilgner so that his children would not know the real reason for his death.

The next day, the narrator travels by train to tell Frau Tilgner the truth and relieve her conscience, yet when she arrives at the hotel where the Tilgners are staying, she sees them walking, arm in arm. Herr Tilgner is now paying attention to his wife as never before. The narrator observes that Frau Tilgner has changed and is now "a woman who had been loved;" the experience with Rossi has made her more desirable to her husband. The narrator leaves without telling Frau Tilgner the truth and wonders if Rossi had "intended to make his inevitable death a gift to this good woman," asking, "Could I have offended against his legacy?"

Jacques Bergerac as Prince Burhan
"The Legacy" is not a crime story, but rather a love story with a twist: the narrator observes that the tragedy of Rossi's suicide has resulted in a positive change in Frau Tilgner's relationship with her husband, so she decides to leave the couple to think what she knows is untrue.

Gina Kaus (1893-1985) was born Regina Wiener in Vienna, Austria. Her first novel was published in the 1920s and she was active in literary circles in Vienna and Berlin. She moved to Paris in 1938 and began writing screenplays; in September 1939, she moved to New York, and soon to Hollywood. She began writing screenplays there in 1942 and various TV show episodes and films were also adapted from her works. This was the only Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode in which she was involved.

The screen credit for the TV version of "The Legacy" credits the teleplay to Gina Kaus and Andrew Solt and says that it is based on a story by Kaus, so perhaps Kaus wrote an initial draft of the teleplay and Solt revised it. The TV show is faithful to the short story for the most part, with some notable changes. It begins with voiceover narration by a man who is soon identified as Randy Burnside, "'the famous English author.'" The setting has been moved to Palm Beach, Florida, and a pair of characters named Cecilia Smithson and Colonel Blair have been added. They are aging gossips, and their function is to provide dialogue to replace some of the short story's narration.

Ralph Clanton as Randy Burnside
The Tilgners are now Howard and Irene Cole; Howard is a Texas oil man, who flirts openly with a beautiful, blonde film actress named Donna Dew, while Irene is heir to the Ruggles bottle cap empire, said to be wealthier than her husband. Burnside, the narrator, is at the hotel to gather material for a book about Prince Burhan, as Rossi has been renamed; the prince is said to be from India, where he was deposed in riots two years ago (there were riots in Pakistan in 1953, but none in India). Burhan drives race cars and is going to drive at Sebring Raceway, which is a couple of hours from Palm Beach, and which opened in 1950. Burhan is played by French actor Jacques Bergerac, whose accent sounds anything but Indian and who is made up with heavy, bronze makeup that fails to make his Gallic features look like those of an Indian prince.

Enid Markey as Cecilia Smithson
The TV show proceeds along the same lines as the short story, with dialogue mostly replacing narration. Instead of shooting himself at the hotel, Burhan is killed in a "mysterious car crash" that is reported in a banner headline on the front page of a newspaper. He is said to have driven his race car on a highway in the middle of the night, and when Burnside relates that the prince had threatened to kill himself the day before, everyone assumes that this is what happened.

Unlike the story, where Rossi's sister arrives at the hotel and tells the narrator the truth, in the TV show, three months pass between Burhan's death and Burnside's discovery. The writer returns to the Palm Beach resort and chats with Henri, who appeared in earlier scenes as a waiter. Henri tells Burnside that Burhan killed himself because he was broke; he lost all his money gambling and was after Irene's fortune. In the TV version, Burhan did not commit suicide after all--Henri explains that the mechanic had disconnected the brakes on his race car, not anticipating that the prince would take it out for a drive at night. In the final scene, Burnside goes to New York City to tell Irene, but chooses not to when he sees the change in her. There is even a suggestion that Irene is now the one to flirt with young men, since she mentions a young actor and asks someone to give him a break.

Alan Hewitt as
Howard Cole
The episode ends with Burnside explaining, in voiceover narration, that Burhan had given the Coles "'a precious legacy--who was I to rob them of it?'" He then looks at the camera, addresses the viewer, and asks, "'Would you have?'" The final address to the viewer by a character in the story is rare on the Hitchcock TV show.

"The Legacy" is a successful adaptation that adds new characters and uses dialogue in place of the short story's narration. The conte's suicide becomes an accident in the TV show, perhaps to placate the censors, and Burhan's motive is money, not a desire to cover up the real motive for killing himself: since he doesn't commit suicide, and never planned to, it could not be his motive for wooing Irene.

This episode is directed by James Neilson (1909-1979), who had directed thirty-three episodes of Janet Dean, Registered Nurse in the 1954-1955 television season; that show's producer was Joan Harrison, who was the associate producer of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and who probably brought Neilson along with her to her new assignment. This was the first of twelve episodes he would direct for the Hitchcock series, including Henry Slesar's "On the Nose." Neilsen worked mostly in television from 1953 to 1973 and also made movies in the late 1950s and the 1960s, often for Disney.

Walter Kingsford as
Colonel Blair
Leora Dana (1923-1983) plays Irene Cole. Her career on stage and screen lasted from the late 1940s to the mid-1980s. She won a Tony Award in 1973, appeared three times on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "John Brown's Body," and was in the 1957 film, 3:10 to Yuma.

Prince Burhan is played by the French actor Jacques Bergerac (1927-2014), who was recruited by M-G-M when he was a 25-year-old law student in Paris. He was on screen from 1954 to 1969 and appeared in Gigi (1958) as well as three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (all written by Andrew Solt) and episodes of Batman. After retiring from acting, he became an executive at Revlon.

Ralph Clanton (1914-2002) plays Randy Burnside; his screen career lasted from 1949 to 1983 and included seven episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (including "Dip in the Pool") and three episodes of Thriller.

In smaller roles:
  • Enid Markey (1894-1981) as Cecilia Smithson; she was on stage and vaudeville before embarking on a film career in 1911. She played Jane in the first film version of Tarzan of the Apes (1918) and stopped making movies in 1920, choosing instead to become a Broadway actress. She returned to the screen in 1945 and continued to act on stage and screen until 1967.
  • Alan Hewitt (1915-1986) as Howard Cole; he was on Broadway from 1935 to 1957 and on screen from 1954 to 1978. He was in three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "Invitation to an Accident." He also played Detective Bill Brennan on 28 episodes of My Favorite Martian.
  • Walter Kingsford (1881-1958) as Colonel Blair; born Walter Pearce in England, he appeared on the London stage and then on Broadway from 1912 to 1946. His screen career lasted from 1922 to 1958, and he was in five episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "John Brown's Body."
  • Roxanne Arlen (1931-1989) as Donna Dew; she was born in Detroit and later was crowned "Miss Detroit." Arlen was on screen for about fifteen years from the early 1950s until the late 1960s. There is an entertaining overview of her life and career here.
Roxanne Arlen as
Donna Dew
  • Rudolph Anders (1895-1987) as Henri, the waiter; he was born in Germany, and he emigrated to the U.S. in 1934. He was on screen from 1930 to 1976 and this was his only appearance on the Hitchcock show.
Rudolph Anders

"The Legacy" aired on CBS on Sunday, May 27, 1956. Watch it online here. Order the DVD here. Thanks to Al Sjoerdsma for a copy of the short story!

*   *   *   *   *

Andrew Solt Overview:

Andrew Solt is credited as teleplay writer on three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The first was "Safe Conduct," which he wrote as an original teleplay. It is set in Europe and co-stars Jacques Bergerac. The episode is an exciting drama that deals with topical, political themes. The second was "The Legacy," which is set in a U.S. resort. Solt receives co-credit for the teleplay with Gina Kaus, who also wrote the 1928 short story that served as the basis for the TV show. Once again, Jacques Bergerac co-stars, this time as an Indian prince. The only topical, political reference is that he is said to have been deposed in riots two years ago. Finally, Solt is credited with the original story idea for "The Return of the Hero," which stars Jacques Bergerac as an injured war veteran. This episode is set in France and also concerns topical, political issues.

Solt's episodes are unusual in that they do not focus on crime or murder, but rather on relationships between people from various countries, set against the backdrop of political upheaval. It's unusual that Jacques Bergerac appeared in all three episodes, since they were the only episodes of the series in which he was featured. He played a soccer player from the Soviet bloc, a deposed Indian prince, and an injured French soldier. Not surprisingly, he is most believable as the latter.


Collection, G. V. (n.d.). German Vogue Collection: Cover, William Bolin II: Limited edition. LUMAS.

Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. OTR Pub., 2001.

Hofeneder, Veronika. Der produktive Kosmos de Gina Kaus: Schriftstellerin-Padagogin-Revolutionarin. Hildesheim: Olms, 2013. 36.

Kaus, Gina. "The Legacy." Return to Reality and Other Stories. London: Cassell and Co., 1935. 100-112.

"The Legacy."  Alfred Hitchcock Presents, season 1, episode 35, CBS, 27 May 1956.




Listen to Al Sjoerdsma discuss "The Legacy" here!

Listen to Annie and Kathryn discuss "The Legacy" here!

In two weeks: Our series on Thomas Grant begins with a look at "I Can Take Care of Myself," starring Myron McCormick and Linda Lawson!

Monday, November 27, 2023

Journey Into Strange Tales: Our 100th Issue! Atlas/ Marvel Horror


The Marvel/Atlas 
Horror Comics
Part 85
August 1955 
by Peter Enfantino
and Jack Seabrook

Astonishing #40
Cover by Carl Burgos

"The Deep Freeze" (a: Mac L. Pakula) ★★
"The Merry-Go-Round" (a: Art Peddy) ★
"Anything Can Happen!" (a: Dick Ayers & Ernie Bache) ★★
"Xplam for Sale!" (a: Mort Lawrence) ★★
"Fair Exchange" (a: Bob Powell) ★★1/2

The 40th issue of Astonishing opens with the silly comedy, "The Deep Freeze," wherein meek Chauncey Little stumbles upon a business specializing in suspended animation. When he raises a ruckus with the manager and destroys the refrigeration unit, the manager reverts back to his true self, a Neanderthal Man. Yep, exactly what I was thinking. Huh? Though the humor did nothing for me, I did like the striking Mac Pakula visuals.

Jerry and Marjorie have been saving every penny for the past three years in order to get married and rent a nice apartment, and the day finally arrives when the goal has been reached. Unfortunately, that night, the store belonging to Jerry's dad is damaged in a terrible fire and the lovebirds' savings will just about pay for the repairs. Marjorie sighs and hands over the dough, but she's not a happy camper. A couple of weeks later, the couple are at the fair, and Marjorie begs Jerry for a spin on "The Merry-Go-Round." While on the ride, Jerry reaches for a brass ring and hands it to Marjorie, proclaiming it the diamond ring he can't afford. Magically, it becomes just that as one of the attraction's cherubs above smiles.

Two scientists debate the existence of parallel universes; one holds that, somewhere millions of light years away, two scientists, maybe slightly different in appearance, are debating just the same topic. The other scientist scoffs at his friend's beliefs that, on these other worlds, dinosaurs walk the same ground as man. "Millions of light years away," two dinosaurs in a laboratory debate the exact same theory. "Anything Can Happen!" is cute, soft sci-fi with a predictable but satisfying conclusion. Is it my imagination, or is the Ayers/Bache art pretty good?

Jason Fassett, local TV reporter, tries to give away five dollar bills on a street corner for a story he's working on, but he gets no takers. Astonished, he goes into a local cafe for a cup of coffee, and he's approached by a vagrant. The old man explains to Jason that "people don’t want something for nothing, they want nothing for something." To demonstrate, the old man takes his empty boxes to the same corner Jason struck out on and cries out "Xplam for Sale!" When the first customer exclaims that the box is empty, the vagrant agrees and tells the man that the box will obey its owner's command.

The old man sells out of merchandise quickly, and Jason is astounded. The old man explains that he saved the last box of Xplam for Jason, and then walks away. Jason laughs and wishes for a seven-course meal. One appears! You can almost see the gears turning behind the scenes, trying to come up with a way to fill all these funny books with scary stories that aren’t allowed to… you know, scare you. I have to say that, so far, the majority of the fantasy stories in the post-code era fall into the "charming" category and "Xplam for Sale!" certainly wears that label proudly.

As is the norm, Stan leaves the best for last. Spacemen from Earth land on an alien world in another galaxy and are immediately greeted by ape-like beings, who land nearby in a rocket ship. The friendly creatures insist on showing the trio of earthlings around their craft, and the boys from Earth notice a plethora of uranium within the ship's walls. Light bulbs shine over the heads of the spacemen when they simultaneously realize what this world might be worth if it's full of the essential element. When they reciprocate with a tour of their own ship, the boys notice that the chimps are very much taken with the hydroponic tomato garden. A quick deal is made: tomatoes for mining rights to the planet. The astronauts blast off, happy with the bargain they've stumbled into, and the apes fly away to their own planet, wondering why their new friends want to mine a barren rock.

That final panel of "Fair Exchange" rated a big smile from this hardened horror comic reader, as did Bob Powell’s striking art. Had this been six months prior, I have no doubt these astronauts would be mocking (if not murdering) their future business partners, but both parties leave the table satisfied (for now).-Peter

Journey Into Unknown Worlds #36
Cover by Carl Burgos

"The Giants" (a: Paul Reinman) ★★
"Calculated Risk" (a: Mac Pakula) ★★
"Down to the Sea!" (a: Jack Katz) ★★
"Flying Saucer!" (a: Manny Stallman) ★★
"The Wonder Maker!" (a: Sid Greene) ★★

Two scientists stumble onto evidence that a giant race of men existed eons ago but was wiped out by a landslide. One of the scientists wishes he could jump in a time machine and go back to the moment the catastrophe occurred. Moments later, the egghead's brain magically zips him back to the dawn of man and he sees a group of "The Giants" approaching.

Fearful for his life, the dopey genius fires off a gun, setting off (yep!) a landslide that buries the gargantuan cavemen. "Oops," exclaims the professor, as his mind zips back into the present, "I don't think I'll be telling my colleagues about my magical experience!" A bit of a cross-pollination of two sub-genres, time traveling and prehistoric ancestors, "The Giants" is harmless but inane. The scientists simply discuss the idea of brain-wave time-travel and it happens, just like that! At least we have the reliable Paul Reinman around to visualize the hilarious results.

Mac Pakula's art is the only thing to recommend "Calculated Risk," about a government problem-solver held in a room under MP guard, who just wants to go out in the garden to get some air. It's clear, from the beginning, that our protagonist is actually a robot.

Ever since he was a child, John Bryce has found himself drawn to the sea. Throughout his life, John finds himself drifting from job to job, first as cabin boy and, eventually, as captain of his own ship. In all that time, Bryce finds himself at the mercy of the sea's anger but continually emerges from the waves unharmed. What's his secret? Well, we never do find out but "Down to the Sea!" succeeds, thanks to some gritty but effective art and a story that never becomes maudlin. This guy just really likes the water for some reason!

"Flying Saucer!" is an odd but effective short-short about UFOs landing all around the world and the panic that ensues. The narrator is an alien who's trying to calm Earth's population so that the upcoming visit from his world's emissaries won't escalate the terror. The climax is vague, and we never know whether this alien is calming our world for a friendly visit or... Seeing as how the CCA strictly forbade anything but a happy ending, I'm thrilled with the murkiness.

Inventor Alfred Jones keeps hitting on the perfect invention, but he needs capital to keep his workshop running. First, he invents a chip that will allow a car to run without fuel, but his next brainstorm will require a whole lot of cash, so he sells out to the first car company that knocks on his door. Then there's the light bulb that runs without electricity, and then the business suit that never wears out... the hits just keep on coming, and so do the checks. At long last, Alfred is set to build his dream gadget, a rocket to Mars, but the debt he incurs is astounding. So, naturally, he accepts a check from a Martian who wants the vehicle demolished, but how is Alfred supposed to get to the Bank of Mars to cash it? "The Wonder Maker!" is gloriously silly and clever but could have used better art. Alfred whines about his inability to cash the check, but never comments on the fact that Mars has the same monetary system as Earth.-Peter

Marvel Tales #137
Cover by Sol Brodsky

"Lost... One Robot" (a: Bob Forgione & Jack Abel) ★★1/2
"The Door That Wouldn't Stay Shut!" (a: Bob Powell) 
"King of the World" (a: Mort Drucker) ★★
"He Came from Nowhere" (a: John Forte) ★1/2
"A Jinn Named Joe!" (a: John Tartaglione) ★★

Roger Farnol is the world's most brilliant man, but with knowledge comes loneliness. He has no friends, since there's no one who can talk to Roger on his level and... hey, forget about females, right? Tired of living a solitary existence, Roger builds himself a companion and, for a brief while, finds happiness.

But then, as is an egghead's wont, Roger begins to fret. His robot needs no sleep and spends the time studying his maker's vast library of big-brain material. Roger becomes jealous of the fact that he will no longer be the world's smartest guy. He plans to destroy the robot, but Roger's tinker-toy has already graduated to the level of mind-reader! What's a brilliant scientist to do? Well, the answer is a bit schmaltzy, but up until that point "Lost... One Robot" is a clever think-piece; Roger, like everyone else in his species, just can't be happy. There's always another solution just around the next test tube. The Forgione/Abel work is very good; in spots it brings to mind early Ditko.

Joe Burke's been bitching to his landlord to replace his front door for four months now, and he finally gets his wish when the apartment building's caretaker installs the new portal. But, minutes after the old man leaves, Burke discovers he's the owner of "The Door That Wouldn't Stay Shut!" Four pages about a door that loves to stay ajar, and a twist climax that'll have you groaning out loud. Yeccch. That sentiment goes for the Powell artwork, as well. As the decade wore on, Powell's graphics looked more and more plain, and drifted away from the artist's unique, early style due, I'm sure, mostly to the code's declawing of the horror artists.

Mort Drucker's art perfectly balances a very good strip in "King of the World." Ben and Lynn Marks are two orphans who grow up to be brilliant young men, pledging to do great things for mankind. Lynn treks down a different road, however, when he becomes obsessed with becoming "King of the World" and spends his entire life perfecting a formula that can derive "atomic energy from any common element. " Problem is, Lynn has run out of years. Luckily, Ben is working on a formula to reverse the aging process, and Lynn heads down to his brother's lab. When he gets there and explains his conundrum to Ben, Lynn doesn't like what the fellow scientist has to say and grabs the beaker of liquid, downing it in one shot.

Lynn begins de-aging immediately and, when he reaches early adulthood, he tells Ben to hit the brakes. Ben sadly tells his brother that the formula wasn't exactly ready to test yet, and sighs as his brother becomes a toddler. As mentioned, the art is very nice, with a kind of detail that has been missing lately in the Atlas comics. The script is a good one as well, despite being yet another rip-off of Benjamin Button, and avoids the maudlin nonsense that ruined the climax of "Lost... One Robot!"

Destitute, Jonathan Lea comes across a hungry stray dog in a snowstorm and feeds the mongrel. Afterwards, luck befalls the man and we're left wondering if the guy who wrote drivel like "He Came From Nowhere" went on to do all those Hallmark Movies of the Week. Stan again saves the best for last, though...

Rupert Daley finds himself just getting by in the world; his job's a dead end and his girl's pressuring him to make something of himself and marry her. One morning, Rupert unwittingly unleashes "A Jinn Named Joe!" from inside his shaving cream, and his whole life changes. Joe takes it upon himself to improve every aspect of Rupert's life, beginning with his job. Suddenly, Rupert's boss is commending his employee for brilliant new breakthroughs in office management and promotes him.
Unfortunately, with great success comes little spare time for Rupert's fiance, Claire, and it's not long before she dumps him. Even worse, Rupert's friends at work consider him a rat for the changes he's wrought. This Jinn thing might not be so great after all! A thoroughly charming fantasy that provides neither a happy nor a sad ending (not that downbeat climaxes were allowed in late 1955 comics), and a protagonist who only wants what we all want. The Tartaglione graphics are the best of the issue, a comedic gold mine.-Peter

Mystery Tales #32
Cover by Carl Burgos

"The Bridge to Nowhere" (a: Sid Greene) 
"The Strange Seeds" (a: Pete Tumlinson) ★1/2
"The Unhappy Lions!" (a: Paul Reinman) 
"The Stranger!" (a: Ed Winiarski) 
"Factory in the Sky!" (a: Mort Lawrence) ★1/2

Two cops are surprised when a man in a sedan speeds past the toll booth on a bridge that is encased in dense fog. Less than a minute later, a detective pulls up and tells them that the driver is a wanted man! A roadblock is set up at the other end, but the car and its driver, Lefty Salter, never arrive. It seems that Lefty was known for always getting away, and this time he's driving forever on "The Bridge to Nowhere," unable to reach the other end.

Have I mentioned before how Atlas stories often have an intriguing premise but can't stick the finish? This one is no exception. Sid Greene's art is pleasantly pulpy and it's too bad the story, like the bridge, goes nowhere.

"The Strange Seeds" travel through outer space and land on a farm on Earth, but they find the planet too hostile to remain, and they head back into space. A young farm boy named Kim is unknowingly responsible for the destruction of the alien visitors, but he's just doing his daily chores. This is the same plot as "To Touch the Stars" in Mystic 38 (July 1955), except that this time it's a boy instead of a dog saving us all from invaders.

The man who washes two stone lions in front of the municipal hall every morning notices that they've changed their positions overnight. His boss, Mr. Evans, doesn't believe him. In the days that follow, the lions turn around, leave their pedestals, and finally turn up in the lions cage at the zoo. When they growl at approaching policeman, the decision is made to leave them there. "The Unhappy Lions" did not like being planted by a sidewalk and prefer to be with real lions. End of story. Hardly "A Mystery Tale to Hold You Breathless!"

Everyone in town rushes to Hank's farm just outside of town when a giant spaceship crash lands. A giant man emerges and expresses surprise at all of the tiny humans he finds. They tell the visitor that he'll have to remain a prisoner in a valley where he can't do any harm, since his ship is too big and complicated for them to fix. "The Stranger" gazes off into space and announces that he comes from a planet called--wait for it--Earth!

All of the bad writing and mediocre art in these post-code Atlas comics is teaching me something! I am learning that many of the plots of episodes of The Twilight Zone were not original, since they had been previously presented as comic book stories. Now, I don't think for a minute that the Atlas tales were original; they must have been borrowed from science fiction stories published years before. But at least it's interesting to me, who is not terribly familiar with all of the sci fi tropes of the first half of the 20th century, that those Serling shows were probably already quite familiar to fans of the genre by the time they aired.

Joe Nelson went to work for Crenshaw Manufacturing at age 12, straight out of the orphanage, and was a devoted employee for the next 48 years. He never took a vacation, and he became Harry Crenshaw's right-hand man. When Harry died of a heart attack, Joe stayed on, but the new owner, Harry's son, did not appreciate Joe's contributions. Joe agrees to leave and boards the train to go home, but the factory building uproots itself and follows its most devoted employee. Young Crenshaw begs Joe to come back, and he does; the "Factory in the Sky!" follows him back to its original location.

My favorite Atlas post-code stories seem to be the most tender ones, and this one, where Joe's devotion to his job reminds me of my decade-plus devotion to this blog, struck a chord with me. The art is fair at best, with some panels looking as if Mort Lawrence didn't bother to tighten up his pencils, yet the moderate pace of the storytelling and the way Joe's kindness is rewarded seemed like a satisfying way to end a disappointing issue.-Jack

Strange Tales #37
Cover by Sol Brodsky & Carl Burgos (?)

"A Stroke of the Pen" (a: Jack Katz & Mort Lawrence (?)) ★1/2
"The Richest Man in the World!" (a: Mort Lawrence) 
"Too Many Robots" (a: Vic Carrabotta) ★1/2
"Out of the Storm!" (a: Dick Ayers) 
"Don't Think So Loud!" (a: Art Peddy) 

Everett Corliss is a miser who spends plenty of money collecting old American relics, but who throws requests from charities in the trash. Imagine his surprise when he wakes up one morning to find a horde of reporters on his doorstep, asking him about the $1,000,000 donation he made to the Society for Liberty and Freedom for the Oppressed! Only Corliss knows that he didn't write the check--the quill pen that had belonged to a signer of the Declaration of Independence did it for him after he had gone to bed!

Jack Katz does a nice job of depicting Corliss, with an elongated head and a receding hairline, surrounded by stacks of papers and Americana. There's no character development in a four-page story, but "A Stroke of the Pen" does manage to depict a greedy man and how he sweats when confronted with unexpected generosity.

Jim Holden's plane conks out at 10,000 feet, forcing him to parachute to safety. He lands in the middle of Times Square, but everything is different. People walk on air, wear hat brims with no hats, and stuff money into his pockets. Jim soon learns that people in this parallel dimension become rich by giving money away! The pilot decides that he'll collect all the cash he can, load it on a plane, and fly back to his dimension, where he'll be "The Richest Man in the World!" Everything goes according to plan, but when he gets back and the money is inspected, everything on it is printed backwards and it's worthless!

I knew that there would be some sort of glitch, but I did not predict that one! That doesn't mean it's particularly meaningful, but at least I read the story in suspense, wondering what would go wrong for Jim. That's slightly better than many Atlas post-code stories.

Robots have taken the place of humans in tedious and dangerous jobs, and humans have reaped the benefits. When a populist revolt begins to build against the robots, a wise man named Charley Brown reminds everyone how beneficial robots are to humans. Everyone calms down and Charley walks off; no one realizes that he is a robot. In a random final panel, a man and woman walk out of a movie theater after having seen "Too Many Robots," the film that was just depicted in the prior four pages.

That ending came out of nowhere and was completely superfluous. I doubt anyone reading this story did not pick up on the fact that Charley was a robot. The art by Vic Carrabotta is not bad and, save for one panel where a character looks off, it's above average for mid-1955 Atlas.

After forty years, an Eskimo named John Oogluma is told that his services are no longer needed. He has been delivering supplies to people at a remote trading post, using his sled and dog team, but now a plane is taking their place. He moves in with his close friend Chester Martin, who runs the trading post, and both men look forward to letters from Tommy, who is the son of Chester but whom John essentially adopted and taught.

As time passes, John grows depressed. He sells off his dog team and later hears that they were killed in a fire at the kennel. A light shines when Tommy writes that he plans to visit, but darkness falls when the plane he is on crashes in a bad winter storm. Chester hears on the radio that Tommy survived but is lost in the driving snow, so he dresses to head out and look for his son, but Chester hears the sound of dogs barking and, "Out of the Storm," Tommy arrives, explaining that he was rescued by a sled and dog team that came from nowhere. John is convinced that his old team rescued the young man.

That's a lot of story to pack into five pages, but Dick Ayers does a good job with the illustrations, and the busy captions and word balloons succeed in conveying real emotions and relief when Tommy is saved. The only "strange" aspect of this tale is the miracle of the young man's rescue by the dogs that the reader knows are dead; however, the love shown by the two men for the son they share is enough to make the story meaningful and enjoyable.

Mark Dawes is a successful businessman and a cheapskate who bullies everyone he meets, yet thinks they all secretly admire him. To his surprise, he suddenly develops the ability to read minds, and wishes "Don't Think So Loud" when he discovers what others really think of him. Chastened by the experience, Mark begins to be nice and generous. He loses the ability to read minds but gains the respect of those around him. In a spaceship hovering above the Earth, purple aliens compliment themselves on the way they were able to effect a change in Mark Dawes and think that the same process might work with other humans--after all, it worked on their planet!

Another half-decent story takes a right-turn at the end! The last three panels on page five bring in the aliens to explain why Mark got and lost his mind-reading ability. Presumably, this is an effort to make this more of a "strange tale," but all it did for me was to weaken the effect of a morality play.-Jack

Uncanny Tales #34
Cover by Carl Burgos

"Look to the Sky!" (a: Jack Katz) 
"The Man Who Can Do Anything!" (a: Bob Powell) ★1/2
"The Seven Years!" (a: Ed Winiarski) 
"The Thing in the Box" (a: Robert Q. Sale) 
"He Saved the World!" (a: John Forte) 

Across the globe, loudspeakers carry a message from outer space: visitors are coming and will soon land at Yankee Stadium in New York City! Representatives of the government and the military wait breathlessly in the House That Ruth Built and "Look to the Sky," but when the aliens report that their ship has been struck by a meteor that caused them to crash land, no one can find them. Sadly, their breathing chamber is shattered, and the Earth's atmosphere is fatal to the tiny visitors, whose ship is so small that  it nestles in a man's footprint on the ground.

Big humans, tiny aliens? Check out "The Stranger," from this month's issue of Mystery Tales. Maybe the editors at Atlas thought no one would buy both comics and notice that the same story was being told again?

Marvin Robbins is an ordinary guy who looks a bit worn out, so his druggist gives him some pep pills. After taking two of them, Marvin becomes "The Man Who Can Do Anything!" He stops a speeding car with his bare hands, runs super-fast, and catches a falling steel girder before it harms anybody. A theatrical agent named Gordon wants to sign Marvin to a contract and make him famous, but Marvin wants no part of it. He goes home and washes the rest of the pills down the drain. The next day, he's back to his old self, a man no one notices--and Marvin likes it that way.

The highlight of this story is the art by Bob Powell, who draws dull Marvin much differently than super-Marvin. Why, Marvin becomes like Superman! Powell knows how to draw super heroes, and it shows.

Gus Moran and his pretty wife Maggie live on love with their two little boys until Gus accidentally drops and breaks a mirror. Instead of "The Seven Years!" of bad luck that this should bring, Gus hits it big with an invention he calls the Handi-Dandi All-Purpose Household Friend. The years pass and Gus grows fat and wealthy, but his happy little home is happy no more. Thinking that the broken mirror set his family on a path to unhappiness, Gus breaks another mirror and is on the road to joy once again after his broker calls to say his biggest investments are failing.

Money can't buy happiness! How original. The Winiarski art is as tired as the script. Oddly enough, Maggie remains a smokin' young blonde over the years, while Gus turns into a fat slob.

In a jungle, Dr. Arnt finds traces of an ancient civilization that was as advanced as the civilization of today! He is shocked to discover that the people were all monkeys, who used primitive humans to build cities. Dr. Arnt finds a box that contains the secret to the end of the advanced monkey race. He takes the box to a lab, where a scientist runs tests and tells Dr. Arnt that "The Thing in the Box" is uranium, which humans will be much more careful with.

Robert Q. Sale and Ed Winiarksi can fight it out for worst art in this issue. The prize for worst story probably goes to this one, though it made me wonder how far back the idea of an advanced monkey civilization went in the years prior to Planet of the Apes.

One morning, John Foster is outside, chopping wood, while his small son plays in the sandbox, nearby. John notices several large cocoons hanging from a tree and sees one split open. From inside the cocoon, a thick, gray, formless ooze emerges and begins to transform itself into various things: a tree limb, a toy shovel, a squirrel. John concludes that the ooze is an alien life form bent on destruction, so when it forms itself into a tree, he chops it down. He burns the tree in a fire, along with many of the cocoons; the rest float away into space.

On their space ship, the cocoons lament the fact that humans are so hostile and untrusting that they could not join the rest of the races in the galaxy in peace and harmony. On Earth, John tells his son that "He Saved the World!"

Despite the wooden art by John Forte, this last story in the issue contains some welcome irony at the end. The cocoons telepathically announcing that they meant well and humans blew it is something we've seen before, but the final panel, where John tells his son that he (John) is a hero, takes the story one step further and doesn't hammer the point home with the reader, who has to draw their own conclusions.-Jack

Next Week...
The Dynamic Duo vs.
Reptilicus (?)

Monday, November 20, 2023

Batman in the 1960s Issue 10: July/ August 1961


The Caped Crusader in the 1960s
by Jack Seabrook
& Peter Enfantino

Detective Comics #293

"Prisoners of the Dark World"
Story by Bill Finger (?)
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris

"The Sensational Sea Scoops"
Story by Jack Miller (?)
Art by Nick Cardy

"The Girl-Hero Contest"
Story by Jack Miller (?)
Art by Joe Certa

A small ferry glides across the waters of Gotham Bay, heading for the city. On board are eight individuals: the hard-working captain and his equally hard-working bosun; shy and unassuming Nancy Wicks (who contemplates suicide because no man will pay attention to her); ex-pugilist Tiger Wilson (yes, that's his birth name, and he's contemplating suicide as well, since boxing is all he knows); rich and selfish C. C. Cayle (who couldn't give a rat's ass about what other people say about him); mobster Eddie Stark (who's heading to mob-infested Gotham, where prison sentences are the lowest in the nation); and Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson (who have eyes on the well-disguised Stark). Eight individuals who will be catapulted into a nightmare they will not soon forget. Well, nine, actually, if you count me.

Maybe Wertham was right?
Out of nowhere, a tumultuous electrical storm envelops the vessel and, when the seas have calmed, the occupants of the boat realize they're not in Gotham anymore. All around them are huge, alien landscapes. The castaways realize this will be more than just a three-hour tour, so they go ashore. When there's a bit of a kerfuffle involving Eddie Stark and his heater, Bruce and Dick jump into their unis and remind the hood who's boss. Vowing he'll never go back to jail, Stark runs off into the jungle. Almost immediately, the remaining seven are set upon by grotesque mockeries of nature, giant pink creatures with no opposable thumbs, eerily reminiscent of just about every alien creature Batman has fought in the last 19 months. The natives can communicate telepathically and very quickly take our heroes and their new friends captive.

They are taken to a great YELLOW city called Ylla (get it?), where they are brought before the Ylln chief, who promises that the "Prisoners of the Dark World" will be held in a cell until he can figure out what to do with them. Suddenly, they hear a great racket, and they all race outside to witness a horrifying sight... the lizard-like, armor-shelled Gruggs are attacking the palace. The Chief explains that these Gruggs live only to destroy Ylla, but at least he's invented a gizmo called a Tele-Dome, which grants the user the power to control minds. With this weapon, Ylla will be safe.

On that note, Eddie Stark rematerializes, grabs the Tele-Dome, and runs off, intent on returning to our dimension (?) and ruling the world (or maybe just robbing a few textile mills). Extracting a promise from the chief that, if he and Robin can nab Stark and retrieve the secret weapon, they'll be set free, Batman heads out after the villainous thug. Meanwhile, Eddie has mastered the alien contraption in just a few minutes (even the foreign language written on the controls) and orders the lizards to capture Batman and tie him to a post while he hoofs it to the dimensional storm. Robin arrives just in time to free his boss and they, yet again, head out after Stark. While heading back to Ylla, Batman stumbles across some huge pods that, when broken open, cause riotous sneezing. Voila... another secret weapon!

The Gruggs prove to be clumsy sneezers and bump into Stark, who drops the Tele-Dome and receives a right hook from the Caped Crusader. With his weapon returned, the Chief grants Batman and the rest of the outsiders passage back to Gotham. All involved in the journey seem to breathe wonderful new air: Mr. Cayle vows to give all his money to charity and live like a pauper; Nancy agrees to marry Tiger, even though he's already a pauper; and the captain smiles and exclaims that he can retire happy now that he's seen some excitement. Only Eddie Stark, who's facing two to three weeks' hard labor in Gotham Jail, returns a somber man.

It was all a matter of filling up panels, but even an eight-year-old (the target audience for "Prisoners of the Dark World") must have wondered how stupid the other passengers on that ferry were not to have noticed that the handsome rich guy and his boy toy disappeared and Batman and Robin seemed to materialize out of thin air! Equally silly is the fact that Eddie can work the Tele-Dome without having been given any instruction by the chief who, by the way, had just finished making the darn thing! Moldoff's alien designs run the gamut from one-eyed green squid things, to pink big-domes with no hands, and then back again. The action scenes are just about the stiffest I've seen; it looks like Moldoff used action figures as models. Makes you appreciate Frank Robbins.

I know it's asking a lot, but I would like to have seen more character development from Bill Finger (?). I'm sure Tiger Wilson refused to take a fall in that fight against Sugar Lump Leonard, and he's on the run from Eddie's boss, who's also looking for his mistress, Nancy Wicks, who's ready to turn state's evidence on her beau. It's all right there between the lines.

In his premiere adventure in the pages of Detective Comics, Aquaman becomes a newspaper reporter when his friend, ace journalist Ken Wall, is shot down by an "attack plane" piloted by the Phantom Sea Raider. Determined to get the news out until Ken comes out of his weeks-long coma, the sea hero reports on any goings-on and, with the help of Aqualad and his ocean friends, puts the seaweed cuffs on the Phantom. Like the Martian Manhunter, the Aquaman strip lacks anything resembling danger or intrigue. He's got octopi delivering copies of the Maritime News! At least the Nick Cardy art for "The Sensational Sea Scoops" is good, certainly better than that of Moldoff and Paris, so it's easy on the eyes even while being too easy on the brain. The Aquaman and Aqualad strip will only last seven issues and then it will be shuffled over to World's Finest.

"What is this fresh hell?" queries J'Onn J'Onzz, as he must bear witness to two young hellcats, Detectives Sally Winters and Diane Meade, vie for Sexiest Cop on the Beat the Gold Medal for Bravery, an award selected by JJ's alter ego, John Jones. The friendly rivalry soon turns deadly when Sally traps Diane and some orphans in a burning building and then becomes a target for the blaze herself. Luckily, J'Onn remembers that the local mattress factory is nearby, and he builds the softest stairway ever created. Everyone is saved and, in a rare moment of levity, Diane and Sally tie for the Most Selfish Big-Busted Cop Medal for Bravery Award. "The Girl-Hero Contest" is more twaddle from a DC Comics stuck in a rut, with the CCA preventing any real danger to intrude on the pre-teen proceedings. The highlight is Sally blocking an elevator, so Diane won't take any credit for saving some kids from a horrible death, only to find that Diane has taken the fire escape up! Deliriously funny and a too-short break from the inanity of the script.-Peter

Jack-I liked the script for "Prisoners of the Dark World" and wished that it had better art. The opening, where each cast member is introduced and the ship runs into trouble, seemed like the setup for an Agatha Christie novel, until everyone suddenly popped into another dimension! There's enough story here to fill an entire issue. Art is not the problem with the Aquaman story, and I'm happy to see work by Nick Cardy, an artist I really like. The problem here is the script, and I can only take so many exclamations like "'Great Goldfish!'" Those are some intrepid policewomen in the J'Onn J'Onzz story; maybe the editor should change the last series in each issue of Detective to focus on them rather than the ever-spinning and hiding Martian Manhunter.

Batman #141

"The Crimes of the Clockmaster"
Story by Jerry Coleman
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris

"The Race of Death"
Story by Bill Finger
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris

"Batwoman's Junior Partner"
Story by Bill Finger
Art by Sheldon Moldoff

While tidying up the crime files in the Batcave, the Dynamic Duo are summoned to Police Headquarters by the Bat-Signal. They find a Crime Clock with a note explaining that, every 24 hours, the clock will reveal a clue to a crime about to be committed by the Clockmaster! Several hours later, the Crime Clock chimes, and a model of a building emerges. Batman catches on right away, and they drive to Davy Jones' Locker, a night club atop an edifice. Two crooks are robbing the swells, but when Batman and Robin make the scene, the bad guys leap out of a window and onto a giant golf club that swings them over to a waiting helicopter. Batman and Robin catch up to them and subdue them before they can leave. In his lair, the Clockmaster tells a hood that things will go better with his next crime.

The next night, when the Crime Clock chimes, it reveals a skull and a block with the Letters T and P on it. Batman quickly deduces that "skull" + "PT" = "sculpt," so it's off to the National Sculpting Exhibit, where Batman and Robin catch two more robbers who are trying to escape by boat. In his lair, the Clockmaster is nonplussed. One more day passes and, that night, the Crime Clock reveals an oven. Robin figures that the clue points to the Gotham Baking Co., and Batman replies, "'I guess so,'" which is hardly a ringing endorsement. The Clockmaster is actually at the Gems in the News exhibit, waiting for sleeping gas to be released so he can pilfer the valuable gems. On his own, Robin apprehends two baddies at the Gotham Baking Co., while Batman surprises the Clockmaster by turning up at the gem show and ruining his evil plan.

What happened? Batman figured out that the clue could have two meanings--he read the stove to mean "Hot Rocks" and rushed to the gem show. The Clockmaster denies intending to give himself away, but, back in the Batcave, the Boy Wonder queries whether the crook "'unconsciously gave himself away,'" to which the Caped Crusader replies, "'Who can tell? A twisted criminal mind like his is capable of anything!'"

I got a big kick out of "The Crimes of the Clockmaster," which features a villain who is more than just another thug out to rob a bank. He resembles the Kingpin, who would later bedevil Spider-Man; the Clockmaster has a head like an egg, completely bald, and wears no uniform, but he does have a tie with a clock in it. The giant, swinging golf club that the first set of crooks use in their attempt to escape is part of an ad and makes me wonder just how many oversized objects littered the streets and buildings of Gotham City in the early '60s. This is a rare Batman story by Jerry Coleman, who usually wrote for Superman.

It's time for Gotham City's Seth Baylor Cross-Country Race, commemorating the man who delivered a message long ago to save Gotham Fort from the Indians! Batman and Robin enter the race because they learned of a murder plot. The first part of the race is on horseback and, when a rattlesnake threatens one rider's horse, the Dynamic Duo intervene to save the rider from being carried over a cliff. Next comes a treacherous climb up a rocky cliff, and this time the Duo barely avoid being crushed in a rock slide.

How will "The Race of Death" end? An archery exhibition nearly goes awry, but for quick thinking by Batman, and it's followed by a canoe race down a raging river. Two men are dumped into the rapids when their vessel capsizes, and Batman and Robin must work together to save one man from going over the falls. His partner manages to swim to safety. Batman notices that his footprints have unusual depth and deduces that he's guilty of attempted murder. He put weights in his shoes so that he'd sink to the bottom, where he had a rope ready to pull himself to safety. Whew!

I'm afraid this one is a dud. The motive for the attempted murder is explained quickly in a panel on the final page, where the intended victim tells the unsuccessful murderer that he forced the near-victim to falsify his books, in order to swindle his own corporation. He wanted to get rid of his accountant to eliminate a witness. The story is an excuse to depict various near-death experiences, but none is very exciting, and all are avoided with relative ease.

Batman and Robin discover the Moth trying to rob the payroll from the Gotham Chemical Plant and get unexpected aid from Batwoman and Bat-Girl, who happened to be in the neighborhood. Bat-Girl subdues the Moth with a judo flip and gives a blushing Boy Wonder a peck on the cheek. Bat-Girl's reappearance captures the attention of the news media, and kids form Robin and Bat-Girl fan clubs. Days later, the Moth breaks out of prison, and Batman, Robin, and Batwoman agree that she must be protected from the vengeance of the Moth.

Bat-Girl misinterprets this protective instinct for jealousy on Robin's part. Batman figures out that the Moth must be hiding out at the Gotham Science Exposition and, to keep Bat-Girl out of harm's way, Robin squires her to a dance being held by their new fan clubs. Batman and Batwoman confront the Moth at the exposition and are overcome by knockout gas and tied to a satellite that is loaded with explosives--when a timer goes off, they'll be blown right out of this world!

Of course, it's up to Robin and Bat-Girl to save the day, which they do. The Moth is captured and, this time, both members of the Dynamic Duo receive kisses from Bat-Girl and Batwoman! As Batwoman says, "'Perhaps Bat-Girl's direct approach is the best way for a gal to get her guy!"

Assuming this is Earth-Two Batman, Batwoman's approach worked, because they later got married. This story is exactly what I want from our journey with Batman through the '60s! A crazy, costumed villain who traps Batman in a device certain to cause his death! Goofy hijinks with Batwoman and Bat-Girl! A blushing Boy Wonder! It's a lot of fun and I hope Bat-Girl returns before Bat-Mite.-Jack

I liked the trick ending of "The Crimes of the Clockmaster" but didn't necessarily understand the guy's plan. This Clock-Villain should not be mistaken for the Clock-King, who went on to much fame but not much fortune in the '66 series. In "The Race of Death," the Commish almost seems to be breaking the fourth wall when he explains to us why Batman and Robin have entered the competition. Mitchell Long is the spitting image of Eddie Stark from "Prisoners of the Dark World." Lyons's last minute exclamation that Warner forced him to cook the company's books is a howler. I would definitely enter a dangerous, life-threatening competition with the guy who'd profit from my death. The best is saved for last. "Batwoman's Junior Partner" is nine pages of dopey romance and sloppy action scenes, but it certainly tickled my funny bone. I love the Moth's simplistic yet stylish outfit. Hard to believe the same Batman who's blushing in that final panel will sleep with Talia in the next decade.

Detective Comics #294

"The Villain of 100 Elements"
Story by Bill Finger
Art by Sheldon Moldoff

"The Fantastic Fish That Defeated Aquaman"
Story by Jack Miller (?)
Art by Nick Cardy

"The Martian Weakling"
Story by Arnold Drake (?)
Art by Joe Certa

While working on a contraption that can "alter the molecular structure of elements," Professor Higgins discovers there's been a leak in the machine and his assistant, John Dolan, has been zapped with elemental, structure-altering wavelengths. Dolan has become an Elemental Man! Quickly (as in one-panel quick), the egghead creates a belt that enables Dolan to control the ever-changing particles of the assistant's dangerous new body. Since the gizmo was never created to expose humans to its energy, the exposure has caused Dolan's brain to turn criminal, so he clocks his boss on the head with a beaker and heads out into the world to find some henchmen.

Batman and Robin arrive at the Professor's lab and receive the skinny on the new, tenth-tier, one-time-only Gotham villain before heading out into the wild to track him down. Meanwhile, Dolan has indeed found the right guys (ad in the paper? hung out in front of Gotham jail? who knows?) to create an unbeatable criminal force. Rather than, say, take over the U.N. and force nations to bow before his unstoppable might, the Elemental Man decides to take baby steps and rob a local beauty contest. EM transforms the (very small) swimming pool into a gaseous (but not fatal) distraction while the henchmen nab the loot. That's when the Dynamic Duo arrive!

Unfortunately, EM turns into iron and clobbers Batman, escaping (ostensibly without the cash) in the process. Batman sighs and tells Robin this might just be the "most dangerous, most bizarre villain we've ever fought," forgetting all the outer space creatures who've landed in Gotham lately. With the help of Professor Higgins, the boys lay a trap for EM, with the big brain creating out of thin air a new machine that will sap EM of his power. Alas, the plan does not go as hoped, when the tin can explodes and zaps Batman with a "mild dose" of the same rays that created the Elemental Man! Bats immediately turns copper. Knowing that the Dark Knight's brain could go criminal at any moment, Commissioner Gordon has no choice but to snap the cuffs on our red hero and take him off to Gotham Jail.

But no cell can hold a man who can transform into mercury and, before you know it, Bats is out on the street searching for EM. But there's a twist... our hero is looking to join Elemental in a life of crime. Why compete against each other, when two bodies of rock-hard iron are better than one? The two meet up in an art gallery, where EM is getting ready to fill his van with Warhols and Eisners, and Bats offers up his services. After all, he's the protector of Gotham, so he knows where all the good stuff is hidden. EM agrees, just moments before Robin arrives to take down his old boss. The kid goes down with one well-placed right hook, and Bats and EM escape to the roof. While Bats gives EM a hand onto the roof, Professor Higgins throws a switch on his rebuilt Power Drain Espresso Machine and the particle-changing powers are lifted from both Dolan and the Caped Crusader. Dolan returns to his life as an assistant and Professor Higgins ponders what city-destroying invention he should create next.

"The Villain of 100 Elements" is sheer energetic lunacy; almost the equivalent of six cups of coffee downed one after the other. I love how Prof. Higgins is working on a very dangerous experiment in his home, right in the heart of Gotham. The egghead keeps creating new appliances that just miss the mark on what they're supposed to do (well, except for Dolan's utility belt, which the nutty professor creates in just under three minutes from pieces pulled off of old inventions); by the climax, I'm shouting at Batman not to trust the latest Drain Machine Higgins is offering up. Bats is lucky his and Dolan's brains weren't switched ("Hey!" says Bill Finger, "Let's save that idea for the next issue!"). 

Aquaman and Aqualad are startled to see their old enemy, Harry Black, commanding an army of alien sea creatures. Black uses the beasts to pirate cargo ships, but Aquaman is too smart for him and, in the end, puts the kibosh on Black's faux fish. Was I the only one who knew that "The Fantastic Fish That Defeated Aquaman" were really robots? I mean, anyone looking at them (except for those who were in the strip) could tell these things were giant tin cans. The Aquaboys note that they've tackled Harry before, but the GCD insists that this is his intro (and, doubtless, outro as well).

The Martian Manhunter chases a trio of crooks into a cave during a raging storm. A loud clap of thunder and the quartet are traveling into another dimension. When they land, they discover that the trio have super powers, and J'Onn J'Onzz can barely stand on his own two feet. Suddenly, from out of the jungle, comes a roaring, rhino monster. Can "The Martian Weakling" recover his powers in time to rescue the thieves and himself from a fate worse than death? What do you think? The art seems to be getting steadily worse, but it's not like Ruben Moreira could save inane scripts like this. These poor DC characters run the risk of teleporting into other worlds/dimensions every time they step outdoors.-Peter

Jack-I liked the last bit of "The Villain of 100 Elements," where the stooges are so enraptured by the events unfolding before their eyes that they "'forgot to scram'" and are easily caught! The Aquaman story is over in the blink of an eye, but I'm not sure how many more exclamations of "Suffering sardines!" and "Jumping jellyfish!" I can take. At least we get some decent panels in the J'onn J'onzz story, depicting the trip back and forth between dimensions.

Next Week...
Our 100th Issue!