Monday, January 29, 2024

Journey Into Strange Tales Issue 104: Atlas/ Marvel Horror & Science Fiction Comics!


The Marvel/Atlas 
Horror Comics
Part 89
October 1955 Part II
by Peter Enfantino
and Jack Seabrook

Mystic #40
Cover by Sol Brodsky

"The One Who Was Nowhere!" (a: Bill Everett) 
"The Impossible Man" (a: Manny Stallman)  
"The Dreadful Decision!" (a: Paul Reinman)  ★1/2
"A Million Years" (a: Vic Carrabotta)  
"The Homeless Ones!" (a: Bob Forgione & Jack Abel) ★1/2

With the help of a mysterious female voice, Ken Clark is able to escape a prison camp and make it back to the States in one piece. The voice haunts him every minute of every day and he hopes she'll come to him again. Ken almost gets hit by a train when he's approaching a railroad crossing and the voice again comes to his rescue.

Bedazzled, Ken visits his old friend, Professor Thomas Barrett, who is lecturing at the University auditorium. While entering the building, Ken gets a strong vision in his head of a pretty woman about to be run down in the street. His brain waves
call out a warning to her. Later, while Ken is chatting with Professor Barrett, a pretty young woman comes into the room and is introduced as Barrett's niece, Myra. When Myra speaks, Ken recognizes her voice immediately and the young lady explains to the men that she had almost been run over by a car but escaped thanks to a faceless voice. Once the eerie situation is explained, Myra and Ken realize they were made for each other and embrace.

Poor Bill Everett had to go from the triumphs of the pre-code to the doldrums of post-. The art is literally the only thing to recommend the oddly-titled "The One Who Was Nowhere," but it's some really good Everett. Though Myra only makes a cameo, she's one of the most beautiful comic book females I've ever seen. No, I'm not joking. 

Kenneth Shaw can't wait to get done with his boring job every day so he can hop in his dream convertible and drive home. Trouble is, only Kenneth can see the car! The local traffic cop, Officer O'Grady, pulls "The Impossible Man" over for a ticket, warning our hero that he won't be made a fool of by a dope who drives around in nothing

Kenneth explains that, ever since he was a child, he wanted a beautiful red convertible and he's sure that anyone who wishes hard enough has their dream come true. O'Grady admits that when he was a kid, he wanted to be a cop with a red, shiny motorcycle, gives Kenneth one more stern warning, and gets back on his invisible hog. A cute little fantasy with a nice little smile-inducing climax.

In the year 3628, scientists on Earth make a cold-blooded decision to abandon a space station in outer space that houses two thousand people. The decision is debated but the act is followed through. Almost immediately, Earth begins moving away from the sun. One big brain theorizes that this disaster is keyed in to the merciless destruction of the satellite but another disagrees and believes it is nothing more than coincidence. We discover the latter is correct when our focus shifts to a faraway planet and two scientists who debate the merits of abandoning their satellite (Earth) after monitoring her for millions of years.

Though the science is a bit suspect (our final look at the two Earth professors shows them bundled up in parkas when they should be long dead), the fiction is admittedly engaging. "The Dreadful Decision!" describes the inhuman discarding of two thousand lives in as subtle of a way as possible in order to forego the axe of the CCA, but it's still a chilling scene.

"A Million Years" is another dumb rip-off of Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder," wherein a scientist and his dopey assistant aim their time machine for prehistoric times and accidentally bring back the first uranium ore. This, of course, puts a halt to all A-Bomb testing, since the world's supply of the precious metal suddenly disappears. Anti-war stories are a-okay with me as long as they display a little logic along with the propaganda. Here, writer Paul S. Newman must have forgotten that, if Professor Cross and his aide, Lennie Small, had hijacked the only ore on the planet, scientists in 1955 would not be experimenting with the stuff when it disappears! Oh, these stories make my head hurt. 

Young Basil suffers from a malady modern science cannot cure but the local gypsies, friends of Basil, bring him a "bird of spring" to keep with him in his room. Immediately, the boy recovers and his father, a very important man, has to admit these filthy gypsies might be good for something. "The Homeless Ones!" comes across as a Hallmark Movie of the Week at times; it's sappy, preachy, and sugary. But its message is a good one and the Forgione/Abel art is very good as well. If I didn't know better, I'd say young Steve Ditko might have gotten a bit of influence from these guys.-Peter

Spellbound #24
Cover by Joe Maneely & Carl Burgos (?)

"The Frightened Man" (a: Paul Reinman) 
"Thelma!" (a: John Romita) ★1/2
"Eye Over the City" (a: Bill Benulis) 
"Where Did Danny Go?" (a: Bob Forgione & Jack Abel) 
"The Long Night" (a: John Tartaglione) ★1/2

At the beginning of the 17th Century, Stefan pays an artist to paint a portrait of him that, the artist insists, will enable Stefan to stay young forever. The artist explains that the portrait will grow old while Stefan stays young. Hmmmmm....Stefan jumps at the chance and takes the painting back to his place, hanging it on a wall in an upstairs room. He locks the room and orders the servants not to enter. 

Five decades pass, Stefan is 70, and the portrait grows ugly and grey while its subject remains a strapping lad in his twenties. Stefan meets a beautiful woman named Theresa and invites her and her family over to see his mansion, with an eye to proposing at a later date. The house is a hit but when the group come to the "door which shall not be opened," Theresa's father insists on seeing the inside of this forbidden room. When Stefan refuses, the man insists that Theresa will not marry him until the entire estate is investigated.

In a panic, Stefan revisits the artist who painted his portrait and begs him to paint a younger version over the old, decrepit man. The painter complies and finishes just as Stefan is opening the forbidden door and letting his future in-laws have a look. The painting is a hit until Stefan turns and they get a look at his wrinkled visage. Hmmmmm....

Once again, the bullpen relies on the youth of their audience while ripping off classics. This time, obviously, a pinch of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is thrown into the ink of "The Frightened Man." I can overlook the plagiarism by pulpster Carl Wessler, as thievery was commonplace in 1950s horror comics. What makes me laugh is 1/ the father's insistence that he see this room, one which Stefan has told him has nothing interesting within, and 2/ Stefan's terror at having the portrait gazed upon without thinking maybe he could move the thing out of the room before they show up the second time.

Leslie's doll, "Thelma," can talk to her. No, really, she can. When Leslie's mother gets sick and the little girl has no one to talk to her, Thelma is a regular chatterbox... box scores on the Yankee games, vegan recipes, how to land a non-JD boyfriend, the works. But when Leslie tries to get the rag doll to talk in front of her mom, the toy clams up. The doll explains to Leslie that it only talks to kids who are lonely and, in fact, once Leslie's mom is well, Thelma hits the road and finds another lonely kid. 

I found this disposable little yarn to be quite charming and void of the usual maudlin sentimentality. Leslie arrives at the conclusion that she no longer needs Thelma now that her mummy is all better. Of course, mom will miss her alcoholic lunches and the mailman's "delivery," but she had the brat in the first place, right?

Police officer Jack Rogers has an "Eye Over the City" with his elaborate monitoring system; there's a camera on every corner and Rogers keeps his attention on the screens 24/7. But the grind is getting too much for him and he tells his C.O. that after this next assignment he'll be resigning.

The chief's not happy, but he agrees with Rogers' wishes once the younger cop gets a camera up on Maple and 10th, a corner frequented by a "big bookie." Rogers installs the cameras and then hurries back to headquarters, where a strange scene plays out on his screen: a vision of the future, complete with flying cars and spectacular architecture. While mesmerized by the science-fictional vision, Jack overhears two pedestrians drop his name and sees a newspaper with a decades-older picture of him on the front page, a headline declaring him a hero. The screen crackles out, and suddenly Maple Street and 10th are back in 1955. Rogers notifies the patrol car and they bust the bookie. When the chief comes around with Jack's resignation papers, tomorrow's savior politely declines.

An intriguing and beautifully-drawn science fiction yarn reminiscent of Philip K. Dick's "The Minority Report" (which wouldn't be published until the following year), "Eye Over the City" predicts the coming of CCTV in a very odd way. Though I assume the year is 1955, the set-up looks like the future. Could this be an alternate present? In any event, the plot is clever and (again) Benulis dazzles.

Tina, the world's tiniest woman, dumps her beau, Joe, for new little guy on the block, Danny, but the romance is short-lived when Heaven calls Cupid (Danny) back from Earth. "Where Did Danny Go?" is a complicated and goofy little romance/fantasy; I had to read it a couple times to figure out exactly what was going on.

In the finale, "The Long Night," the world is on the brink of war when suddenly, everything goes dark. There is no electricity. The sun refuses to rise (anywhere around the world, evidently). Earth's super powers must learn to cooperate with each other in order to survive. When a "Peace Council" is assembled, the electricity comes on and the sun rises. Not a bad anti-war yarn; obviously not written by Stan, since the Russkies don't look for any way possible to break the peace treaty and kill the American dogs. At one point, a European ship comes into an American harbor (ostensibly New York), and the captain tells of journeying across "the dark sea." I think this was the most eerie aspect of the tale, considering what it would take to steer a ship across thousands of miles of nothing but pitch. Overall, one of the better Atlas comics published post-code so far.-Peter

Strange Stories of Suspense #5
Cover by Joe Maneely

"The Little Black Box!" (a: Dick Ayers & Ernie Bache) 
"The Prisoner!" (a: Art Peddy) 
"Uncle Ed and the Men from Space" (a: John Forte) ★1/2
"Magic Words!" (a: Russ Heath) 
"Man of Mystery" (a: Syd Shores) 

Strange Stories of Suspense, the 19th title in the Atlas horror/science fiction group, began its publication life as Rugged Action, a variety title featuring adventure and war strips. It's odd that Goodman should add new SF/horror titles to his catalogue when the genre was dying out thanks to indifference and the CCA. SSoS would last twelve issues before succumbing to the Atlas implosion of late 1957.

After a lifetime of greed and stabbing his business partners in the back, Cavendish is always looking over his shoulder for the payback. One day, a nicely-wrapped package arrives at his door and Cavendish is at a loss for words as to who would be nice enough to send him a present. Then, of course, his past flashes through his mind and he expects the worst. After several panels of angst, Cavendish finally opens the parcel and discovers "The Little Black Box!" When he lifts the lid, he's relieved to find... cookies from his mother! Suddenly, the evil seeps from his body and he orders his butler to send a $1,000 check to the town charity fund. Just like that? Sheesh, this new era certainly eliminates most of the juicier outcomes. Pre-code, one of Cavendish's partners would have killed himself and then risen from the grave to dole out some real justice. Cavendish gets off pretty easily for all the pain he's been responsible for.

A genie is "The Prisoner!" within Aladdin's lamp, buried deep under the desert sands. When he hears digging above him, he rejoices and, once the lamp is rubbed, the genie is free. His new master immediately wishes for "weapons more powerful than the United States so that we communists can rule the world!" Having heard enough, the genie heads back into the bottle. Back to the red-baiting we enjoyed so much in the pre-code era (here I thought that Stan might have had to sign a peace treaty with the stinkin' commies when the CCA lowered the boom), here hilariously so. The man who finds the lamp claims to be an archeologist but, obviously, dictator looks more impressive on a business card. Incidentally, the art on this and the first story are awful.

Little Jimmy loves to hear Uncle Ed tell all about his hunting excursions, trapping lions, chasing bears, and pert near any other wildlife invented. Uncle Ed promises he'll take Jimmy on one of the hunts some day and sure enough, when Jimmy turns 18, the trek is a go. A couple of Uncle Ed's buddies go as well and they're quick to explain to Jimmy that Ed's their best pal but he's also full of blueberry muffins. The guy's never caught a cold, let alone a giraffe.

Suddenly, a flying saucer lands nearby and aliens resembling "living vegetables" (Ed's description but, to me, they look more like walking bowel movements) exit the craft and approach the cabin. The aliens order the men to come out peacefully or they will blast them with their death-rays. When the four walk outside, the creatures level more threats but Ed, sensing a bluff, decks one of them with a killer left. The aliens admit they're actually cowards and run for their ship, never to return. One of Ed's friends sighs and tells Ed he just saved Earth with his greatest bluff! With another barely literate script and amateurish artwork, "Uncle Ed and the Men from Space" is instantly forgettable. How about that startling alien design? Though Uncle Ed's boasts are pretty outlandish, we never do find out how much (if anything) of what he's telling his nephew is true and his two friends are just the kind of guys you want to hang out with. 

Poor Lenny keeps striking out with the dames. He can't get up the nerve to ask any of them for a date; he's convinced they're turned off by his looks (think, oh I don't know, Jerry Lewis). A gypsy sells Lenny a magic potion she guarantees will get Lenny all the tail he desires. All he has to do is rub a little on his cheek and... voila! Sure enough, the next day, the dames are all over the dope and Lenny has the night life he always dreamed of. Then the potion runs out. What now? "Magic Words" isn't great but compared to the first three stories in this issue, it's Hemingway. I wasn't surprised by the twist at the climax, but at least the (uncredited) writer attempted something new. The Heath art is uncharacteristically tame, but then the artist has nothing to work with but talking heads.

"Gimmick" Garson has invented a little mechanical "Man of Mystery" who robs diamond stores and brings the booty back to him. The little metal man attempts to turn himself into the police time and again but is foiled by his creator. Finally, a very smart beat cop figures out that "Gimmick" is behind the thefts and shuts down his life of crime. A charming little fantasy with some eye-catching Syd Shores graphics. I'd compare this to the 1960s DC superhero scripts we're surveying every other week: goofy criminals (the egghead behind the little metal man sure doesn't look like a "Gimmick" Garson), science fictional elements, and happy endings. I was beginning to wonder if this new title was going to be the dumping ground for sub-par material. It still could be, but at least "Man of Mystery" breaks up the monotony. -Peter

Strange Tales #39
Cover by Carl Burgos

"Karnoff's Plan!" (a: Bill Everett) 
"Blind Spot!" (a: Sid Greene) ★1/2
"The Secret of the Ship" (a: Kurt Schaffenberger) ★1/2
"The Man Mountain!" (a: Norman Maurer) 
"Five Who Volunteered" (a: Joe Sinnott) ★1/2

Each night, a different city building crashes to the ground. What is the cause? It's all the work of Prof. Karnoff, a poor but brilliant scientist whose landlady bugs him for the overdue rent money, unaware of "Karnoff's Plan!" to rule the world. Two years ago, he was shunned by others in the scientific community when he proposed harnessing the secrets of science and using them to gain power. He has since discovered that an application of atomic energy to metal makes it as soft as modeling clay.

Karnoff made a small statue of himself and realized that, when he touched it, he felt the touch on his body. He then began to make models of buildings and smash them, certain that his ability to wreak havoc would lead to domination. He returns home after destroying another building to discover that his landlady has sold all of his possessions to the junkman because the professor had not paid his rent. Realizing that the small statue of himself creates imminent danger for him, Karnoff rushes off into the night and is never seen again. Presumably, the junkman crushed the statue and the same fate befell the professor.

The twist ending is usually what makes or breaks these short tales, and this is a good one. The GCD speculates that Bill Everett may have written this story as well as drawn it; whatever the case, the writer must have thought up the finale and worked backwards from there to set it up. Everett's drawings of the professor are a hoot and make the story entertaining.

If the large bald head of an alien from another planet doesn't make Earth people look at him askance, then the series of unsightly bumps on one side of his pate certainly do. The alien wanders through a city, disappointed in the "Blind Spot!" in human perceptions that prevent them from seeing beyond outward appearances to the beauty inside. About to return to his home planet, where he will report that the people of Earth are not ready to explore outer space, he sees a beautiful blonde crossing the street in front of an onrushing car and races to save her. She is grateful and praises him for his true beauty. Dazzled, he changes his mind about humans and returns to his planet, planning to report that humans can explore space after all. On Earth, the blind girl picks up the cane that she dropped and wishes that she could have seen her rescuer.

It was pretty clear that the woman was blind, so the ending was no big surprise. Sid Greene draws a lovely young woman, though it's hard to believe that beautiful girls used to walk the city streets wearing dresses and gloves.

Young Peter likes to sail his model ships to while away the time, but it causes him to be late for his paper route. His father is a sea captain who is laid up in bed for the time being, so Peter's earnings are important to the family's survival. One day, he sends his ship, the Wanderer, off on an imaginary voyage to the Aru islands to trade with the natives for pearls. He's late to work once too often and gets fired, but his ship mysteriously returns with black pearls worth $5000. The family is saved!

Peter helpfully pointed out that "The Secret of the Ship" is Kurt Schaffenberger's first work for the Atlas horror titles; I associate his art with DC comics like Lois Lane and Shazam!, so it's interesting to see him draw something different years earlier. The art is certainly smooth, but the story is a dud.

In days of old, not all giants were bad. Take, for instance, "The Man Mountain!" He helped peasants who had problems. In fact, when an old woman who had adopted 57 orphaned children lost her home in a flood, he built her a new one out of one of his enormous shoes. And that's how the old woman who lived in a shoe came to be. Norman Mauer's art is nothing special, but I'm not sure Neal Adams could have made this four-pager worth reading. Next issue: the true story of what happened to Little Bo Peep's sheep.

This week on the popular TV program, The Joke's On You, "Five Who Volunteered" to fly to Venus will get a surprise when they discover that the spaceship doesn't fly. The host is taken aback when he finds himself on the second planet from the sun, surrounded by five green Venusians who had been visiting Earth in disguise.

Did anyone who read this story have any doubt about what was going on? It read like a knockoff of any number of EC stories where obnoxious TV hosts get their comeuppance. Fortunately, Joe Sinnott does a terrific job with the art, and the Venusians in the last panel look like prototypes for the ugly characters on "Eye of the Beholder" from The Twilight Zone.-Jack

Uncanny Tales #36
Cover by Carl Burgos

"The Nameless One!" (a: Bob Powell) ★1/2
"The Parrot!" (a: Bill Everett) ★1/2
"The Model!" (a: Paul Reinman) 
"The Sorcerers!" (a: Jack Katz & Christopher Rule) ★1/2
"Escape!" (a: Vic Carrabotta) 

Serving a life sentence and anxious to escape prison, Nick Nolan slips away from a road gang and makes his way to the house of a professor who has invented a machine that allows a person to travel anywhere on Earth by radio. The transporter is built into a vest, so Nick puts it on and turns the dial to Africa just as the prison guards arrive.

In Africa, Nick finds himself confronted by hungry lions, so he moves the dial to England and finds himself in a python's cage at a zoo. On to Paris, where Nick falls off the top of the Eiffel Tower, then to Niagara, where he's about to go over the falls in a boat. Nick's final destination is his old prison cell, the safest place of all. Who is "The Nameless One," the professor who invented the machine? Just call him Fate.

I'm always happy to see a new story drawn by Bob Powell, but this one only has a few panels that are above average. The story is predictable and the twist ending falls flat.

Crowds pack the tent at the carnival to see Jim Hall exhibit Marvelo the Wonder Bird, the largest parrot in captivity and the smartest bird in the world. What no one knows is that "The Parrot!" is really Tiny Samson, a midget in a bird suit. Jim's landlady, Mrs. Jones, asks him who's been smoking cigars in his room, but he gives her the brush-off. Tiny worries that Jim will run off with all of the profits, so he calls the cops anonymously to report Jim for carrying stolen goods. After Hall has been taken to the police station, Mrs. Jones feels sorry for Marvelo and turns the bird loose, tossing him out of the window. Unfortunately, Tiny can't fly, and ends up in jail for fraud with a broken arm.

I think this is the first time I've given three and a half stars to an Atlas story. Had it been pre-code, Tiny would have been smashed on the pavement and the story would've rated four stars, but the last panel, showing him in jail, knocked off half a star for me. Everett's art is as good as I've seen and the carnival setting is always welcome. This story could fit comfortably in a pulp mag, illos and all. By the way, compare Tiny's face and expression to that of the landlady in "Karnoff's Plan," above. They look quite similar.

Photographer Ed Wood (!) is having trouble selling his pictures, so he hires a new model, a woman with haunting eyes who says she helped another needy artist once and it resulted in his best work. The model is a hit and her face is everywhere, but when Ed follows her against her instructions, she disappears. An art critic finally points out that the same gal was the model for the Mona Lisa.

For the umpteenth time, I saw the ending a mile away. For four pages, "The Model!" seemed long and tedious. Reinman seems incapable (in this story, at least) of drawing a woman with a magnetic look on her face. That really hurts a story like this one, which depends on the looks of the lady.

King Harlow needs a new sorcerer and promises his beautiful daughter Roseanne and a pile of gold to either Golvany or Edwin, "The Sorcerers" who compete for the honor. Though Golvany conjures up various wonders, Edwin wins out by summoning up thunder and lightning and making off to a faraway kingdom with Roseanne and the gold.

What the Heck?
Christopher Rule is a new name to me, but he seems to have drawn plenty of comics for Marvel starting in the late forties, including plenty of romance titles. I admit I was somewhat befuddled by the conclusion to this story--I think Edwin snuck out with Roseanne under cover of lightning. I guess he was the better sorcerer after all.

Alan Garr is a scientist who lives in a future where everyone is underground and war rages constantly. He invents a belt that will transport him to the past, where he hopes to "Escape!" from his work on weapons of war. He lands on the surface on a sunny day, only to discover that he's being inducted into the Army right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor!

This one is too dull even to be predictable. Most interesting to me are some of the panels that look like Don Heck gave Vic Carrabotta a helping hand. Believe me, it was much needed.-Jack

Next Week...
Could This Be the
Bottom of the Barrel?

Thursday, January 25, 2024

The Hitchcock Project-Richard Fielder, Part Two-To Catch a Butterfly [8.19]

by Jack Seabrook

Conflicts between fathers and sons are nothing new, going back at least as far as Oedipus, the mythical king of Ancient Thebes. In his second and last teleplay for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Richard Fielder updates the struggle to 1963 and, in a gripping episode, demonstrates how past and present acts of violence shake the foundations of an outwardly serene suburban neighborhood.

"To Catch a Butterfly" is an original teleplay, not based on any short story or novel, which aired on CBS on Friday, February 1, 1963. Fielder wrote a draft of the teleplay as early as February 1961, well before the Alfred Hitchcock TV show had expanded to hour length; this first version, titled "Can't Catch A Butterfly," may have been written for one of the other anthology shows to which Fielder contributed scripts around this time, such as Alcoa Premiere. By the time it aired, two years later, the title had been changed.

Bradford Dillman as Bill Nelson
As the show begins, Bill and Janet Nelson have just moved to a home in the suburbs. A young, childless couple, they are not prepared for Eddie Stander, the little boy who lives next door. Bill first meets Eddie when he finds the boy teasing Charlie, the Nelsons' dog ("'can't catch a butterfly,'" taunts Eddie). Eddie's father, a brash salesman named Jack, defends his son after Bill finds Eddie seemingly mistreating the dog inside his father's garage. Bill begins to suspect that Eddie may be more than just a mischievous child.

When Bill catches Eddie searching through the glove compartment in his car and chases him home, Eddie drops several sheets of paper. Picking them up, Bill sees that they are covered with disturbing drawings, but when Bill confronts the boy in the garage and threatens to tell his father, the child responds: "'You say one word to him, I'll kill your dog.'" When Bill speaks to Jack, the boy's father denies that Eddie did anything wrong and reveals that, when Eddie was four years old, "'that kid got his in a way he'll never forget'" and has never since lied to his father. The next day, when Bill's house is empty, Eddie breaks in and murders the dog.

Diana Hyland as Janet Nelson
Bill calls the police but, when Jack claims that Bill has been "slapping [Eddie] around,'" Bill drops the charges. The next day, Bill is called away from home to play golf with his boss. He fears for Janet's safety, but she insists she'll be fine and locks the doors after her husband leaves, unaware that Eddie is already in the house. From upstairs, she hears a sound in the basement and investigates, only to see that Bill's power drill is on and running, lying on the workbench. She walks down the stairs to the basement and trips and falls over a wire that Eddie has strung across the bottom step; while she lies on the floor, her hand stuck between two wooden balusters, Eddie picks up the power drill and advances toward her. The electric cord pulls out of the wall right before he reaches her and she screams, at which point Eddie drops the drill and looks at his own hand, grabbing his wrist with a horrified look on his face.

Edward Asner as Jack Stander
That night, Bill returns home and confronts Jack in the garage, only to learn what happened when Eddie was four: his father caught him in a lie and slapped him across his face as hard as he could. When the child fought back, Jack dragged Eddie across the kitchen and forced his son's hand into a pot of boiling water. Jack insists that Eddie has not told a lie since that day. Meanwhile, Eddie takes a gas can from a shelf and lights the garage on fire before trying to prevent the adults from escaping. They emerge and chase the boy upstairs to his room. In the hall, the final confrontation takes place, ending when Eddie's mother and a policeman appear in order to take the boy away. Bill consoles Eddie and urges Jack to help his son.

"To Catch a Butterfly" is harrowing and Fielder does a brilliant job of developing the main characters and contrasting personalities and parenting styles between Bill Nelson and Jack Stander. Bill reveals that, when he was twelve years old, his father disappeared and was never heard from again except for a single Christmas card. All Bill has left of his absent father is a shamrock pin that he wore on his honeymoon; it represents a happy memory and, at the end of the episode, Bill gives it to Eddie. Bill had told Janet that he hoped to give the pin to his own son someday and, in giving it to Eddie, Bill symbolically adopts the troubled boy.

Mickey Sholdar as Eddie
From the start of the show, Bill reacts to aggressive behavior with patience and kindness. He is friendly to a brusque moving man and gives him a tip, he is kind to Eddie after he finds the boy teasing his dog and, when Janet tells Bill that he let the movers "'walk all over'" him, he refuses to take the bait. Bill is a good man, but his encounters with Jack and Eddie make him doubt himself. Partway through the show, he confesses to Janet that he is having a crisis of confidence and is "'scared of my own shadow.'" In the final confrontation with Jack in the garage, Bill is more forceful and, in response, Jack nearly breaks down in tears. Yet in the end, when Eddie is about to be taken away by the police, Bill is gentle with the boy, giving hope that his kindness might succeed in helping the child heal from trauma.

In contrast to Bill Nelson is Jack Stander. On more than one occasion, Jack presents the image of a macho man, telling Bill that Janet is "'a real knockout'" and later inviting the Nelsons to come over and play a game of spin the bottle. Jack offhandedly admits to Bill early on that his family has moved three times in five years; we never learn whether this is because of Jack's job or because of trouble caused by Eddie. Either way, the child is growing up in an unstable environment. Each time Bill confronts Jack with Eddie's misdeeds, the man angrily denies any fault on the part of his son, either blaming another boy (for the disturbing drawings) or claiming that Bill is lying. When Eddie sets the garage on fire in Jack's presence, the father can no longer ignore the proof of his son's guilt.

June Dayton as Barbara Stander
Jack is not a one-note character, however, as is shown when he confesses what he did to his son when the boy was four years old. He has fooled himself into thinking that the act of violence cured the boy of lying, but as he continues to talk, nearly crying as he insists that if he can "'keep him in line'" and "'keep it hushed up'" then "'he'll grow out of it,'" it becomes apparent that Jack Stander is a man without the tools to deal with a difficult parenting situation that he was instrumental in creating. Perhaps he was bullied as a child by his own father and had no other role model to follow when dealing with Eddie; whatever the case, his approach to relationships with both his neighbors and his family members seems doomed to fail.

Most interesting is the character of Eddie. The actor playing him was thirteen years old, about the same age as Bill Nelson was when his father disappeared, and the parallel between Bill and Eddie is clear. Bill suffered trauma on the cusp of adolescence but grew up to be a gentle man; what will the traumatic events portrayed in this episode do to Eddie? Bill's kind speech to the boy at the end, when he gives him the treasured shamrock pin, provides hope for a similar trajectory into maturity, yet Eddie suffered unthinkable trauma when he was just four years old, and it is this event that is identified as the source of his present, horrific behavior.

Than Wyenn as Dr. Burns
From the first time Bill speaks to Jack, Stander refers to his son in terms that are less than human. "'He usually snaps to when he hears his master's voice,'" says Jack, "'I mean, that kid is really trained.'" "His master's voice" is a term that refers to the trademark of the RCA Victor company that showed a dog listening to a phonograph. When Janet sees Eddie outside the screen door looking in, she tells him, "'Don't you think you should knock instead of scratching like a dog?'" Eddie replies, "'I am a dog,'" which suggests that he has internalized the characterization of himself as less than human. The dog metaphor continues when Bill tells Janet, referring to his boss, that "'I won't snap at every little bone that guy tosses our way'"; in a sense, Bill and Eddie are different versions of the same little boy whose father mistreated them. When Eddie teases, mistreats, and finally kills Bill's dog, perhaps he is destroying a representation of himself. In the final scene, when Eddie is about to be taken away by the police, he runs to Bill and clings to him rather than to his father. Does Eddie sense a kindred soul or is he just gravitating toward the man less likely to do him harm?

And what of the women? Eddie's mother, Barbara, is not seen often, but she seems nervous when she comes to the door to speak to Bill, who is looking for Eddie. Has she seen this sequence of events play out before? Does she fear that Eddie's behavior will necessitate another move? At the end, it is Barbara who brings the police to "'take my baby,'" a step that Jack has resisted. She holds the boy and says that she loves him, but she has never been strong enough to protect her son from her husband.

Clegg Hoyt as the moving man
Much stronger is Janet Nelson, who supports and encourages her husband throughout the ordeal. Frustrated with the movers, she snaps at Bill, but his patient response allows her to realize her bad mood and apologize. Janet uses self-deprecating humor to deal with situations throughout the episode and, when Bill doubts himself, she tells him that "'You don't know who you are or what you can do until you try.'" In a happy moment she suggests, "'Let's have a baby'" and, when Bill is discouraged by his inability to get through to Eddie, she tells him, "'You're a wonderful husband and you are going to be a wonderful father.'" Janet and Bill are well-matched; each combines traits of sensitivity and strength that allow them to be what the other needs at any given time.

Authority outside the two families comes in two forms in "To Catch a Butterfly." There are the police, who respond when Bill reports that Eddie killed his dog and who finally come in the end to take Eddie away. They represent the harsh, black and white approach to justice favored by Jack Stander. Representing a different type of authority is the doctor who emerges from Janet's room when Bill comes home after she has fallen down the stairs. He tells Bill that Eddie needs psychiatric help and says that he will report the boy to the authorities. His approach is more like that of Bill, who begins to realize that Eddie needs therapy after he sees the disturbing drawings. In the end, a mixture of both types of authority is necessary to deal with the child: the police handle the immediate need to calm the situation and remove Eddie from his home, while the medical professionals will address the cause of his mental illness and deal with his long-term needs.

John Newton as the policeman
"To Catch a Butterfly" is a fascinating look at parenting styles in America in the 1950s and 1960s. Eddie was four years old in the 1950s, when his father took the adage "spare the rod and spoil the child" to horrifying extremes. By 1963, when the episode aired, new ideas were taking hold, and corporal punishment was no longer seen as the only way for a father to discipline a son. The portrait of the horror behind a calm suburban front in this episode prefigures similar commentary in films like Risky Business and American Beauty; Eddie's extreme behavior shows just how damaging parental violence can be.

The year 1963 was a particularly violent one in American life. In the months that followed the airing of this episode, racial tensions led to the murder of Medgar Evers and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham; the year ended with the assassination of President Kennedy. In retrospect, it is not surprising that the seemingly idyllic Eisenhower years gave way to the upheaval of the decade that followed, and the events portrayed in "To Catch a Butterfly" can be read as a metaphor for what was going on in the country as a whole.

John Pickard and Andy Romano
In addition to a great teleplay, "To Catch a Butterfly" features outstanding direction by David Lowell Rich (1920-2001), who elicits strong performances from the lead actors and keeps the action moving relentlessly toward the climax. The scene in the basement, where Eddie menaces Janet with a power drill, is a classic scene of horror and it demonstrates that TV shows were not afraid to frighten their audiences in the early 1960s. Rich directed many TV shows from 1950 to 1987, as well as a number of films. He won an Emmy in 1978. This was one of two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour that he directed.

Bradford Dillman (1930-2018) gives a sensitive performance as Bill Nelson. Dillman began acting on stage, in film, and on TV in the 1950s. He was on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour twice ("Isabel" was the other episode) and Night Gallery once and continued acting until 1995. In 1997, he published an autobiography entitled Are You Anybody?: An Actor's Life. In 1963, he married model Suzy Parker, one of the most famous and beautiful models in America at that time.

The role of Janet Nelson is played by Diana Hyland (1936-1977). Born Diana Gentner, Hyland appeared mainly on TV from 1955 to 1977. She was in one other episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, "Beyond the Sea of Death," she was on The Twilight Zone, and she was a regular on Peyton Place from 1968 to 1969. Hyland was romantically involved with John Travolta after they met while filming a TV movie; she was 40 and he was 22. She died of breast cancer at age 41.

Edward Asner (1929-2021) plays Jack Stander as a man who is gruff on the surface but who reveals unexpected depth when challenged. This was Asner's only appearance on the Hitchcock TV show, but he had a long career on TV and in film from 1957 to his death in 2021, winning seven Emmy Awards along the way. Asner is best known for his portrayal of Lou Grant, first on The Mary Tyler Moore Show  (1970-1977) and then on Lou Grant (1977-1982); Jack Stander can be seen as an early version of Grant, albeit a more violent one.

The difficult role of Eddie is played by Mickey Sholdar (1949- ), whose career was mostly on television from 1960 to 1975. He was best known as a regular on The Famer's Daughter (1963-1966). He did not appear in any other episodes of the Hitchcock TV show.

In smaller roles:
  • June Dayton (1923-1994) as Barbara Stander. She was born Mary Jane Wetzel in Dayton, Ohio, and took the city's name as her stage name. She appeared mainly on TV from 1950 to 1986 and this was her only role on the Hitchcock TV show.
  • Than Wyenn (1919-2015) as Dr. Burns; his screen career lasted from 1949 to 1985 and included three episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, including "Triumph," and appearances on The Twilight Zone, Thriller, and Night Gallery.
  • Clegg Hoyt (1910-1967) as the moving man who accepts a tip from Bill; he was on screen from 1955-1967 and he was in six episodes of the Hitchcock series, including "The Day of the Bullet." He was also on The Twilight Zone, Thriller, and Star Trek.
  • John Newton (1925-2012) as the policeman who comes to the door after Bill's dog has been killed; his screen career lasted from 1957 to 2000 and he also appeared on The Twilight Zone (twice) and The Outer Limits, though this was his only role on the Hitchcock TV show.
  • Andy Romano (1936-2022) as the second fireman; he was on screen from 1961 to 2003, including an appearance on Batman and parts in eight episodes of the Hitchcock show, including "The Black Curtain."
  • John Pickard (1913-1993) as the first fireman; he played many small parts in films and on TV in a career that lasted from 1941 to 1987. This was his only appearance on the Hitchcock TV show.
Watch "To Catch a Butterfly" online here.

Richard Fielder's two teleplays for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour are both strong episodes. "Night of the Owl" is a successful adaptation of a novel that makes significant changes to the climax, while "To Catch a Butterfly" is a thrilling original script. Both episodes examine relationships between fathers and children: in "Night of the Owl," a father goes to great lengths to try to protect his daughter from the  knowledge of the truth about her birth parents, while "To Catch a Butterfly" examines the damage that overly harsh punishment by a father can cause to a son. It's too bad Fielder didn't write more scripts for the series!


"Archives West Finding Aid." Richard Fielder Papers - Archives West, Accessed 15 Jan. 2024.

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


"To Catch a Butterfly."  The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, season 1, episode 19, CBS, 1 February 1963.


Listen to Al Sjoerdsma discuss "The End of Indian Summer" here!

In two weeks: Our series on Irving Elman concludes with a look at "Murder Me Twice," starring Phyllis Thaxter!

Monday, January 22, 2024

Batman in the 1960s Issue 14: March/ April 1962


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

Detective Comics #301

"The Condemned Batman"
Story by Bill Finger
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris

"The Mystery of the Martian Marauders"
Story by Jack Miler (?)
Art by Joe Certa

While putting the kibosh on a heist at a Gotham synthetic gem company, Batman is exposed to deadly Zzzzz-zzzz rays, transforming him into a Scarlet Knight (emitting thousands of degrees of heat) and making it impossible for him to breathe oxygen. Something must be done or the Caped Crusader's fighting days are over, not to mention the impossibility of eating food.

After consulting a Gotham synthetic gem factory worker and his aides, Batman learns that he'll have to breathe deadly methane gas and remain inside an impervious glass bubble for the rest of his life. Holy absence of a restroom, Batman!

Our hero gives the Boy Wonder a very specific set of instructions for building a see-through plastic "bubble" vehicle in order for Batman to continue his crime-fighting while searching for an answer to his problem. 

The vehicle, with octopus-like hands, is given a test run and works fantastically but, miles away in the hideout of evil genius "Brains" Belden and his henchmen, plans are being drawn up to destroy Batman's lifeline.

Belden's thugs attempt to crack the crime fighter's plastic bubble with liquid oxygen but Robin nixes the assault with a well-placed fire hydrant. Turns out the attack was just a way to draw the police attention away from a police caravan miles away, the armored car carrying millions in cash from Gotham Bank to its new facility. Belden and a couple of his hoods are disguised as security guards and steal the truck. They head for the highway over the dam with Batman in hot pursuit. Belden had planned for just such an occasion and puts into effect "Plan B": the release of millions of gallons of water onto the highway.

With no thought for his own safety, Batman hops out of his plastic capsule and, with the tremendous heat of his body, melts the wires controlling the water facility. Disaster postponed! Robin apprehends Belden and his boys. The electricity also counteracts Batman's condition and the hero takes in a well-deserved breath of fresh air. 

Once again, we get a disastrous event in the life of Gotham's favorite son and, once again, it all works out somehow in the end. We also get more amateurish art from Shelly and Paris. The villains in this strip are interchangeable not just because they do the same things and are thwarted in the same fashion but because they all have the same crappy line work. Put a space suit on "Brains" Belden and he's one of Shelly's awful space invaders. 

I love when Bats has to come up with these elaborate gizmos that actually do the job! And then after the adventure is over and he doubts he'll ever have to use a methane-gas plastic bubble vehicle again, does he scrap the parts and put them in the yard behind the Bat-Cave? "The Condemned Batman" follows by only a few months the very memorable "The Villain of 100 Elements," wherein Batman turned different colors.

After a band of Martian hooligans arrives in town and makes a general mess of things, J'onn J'onzz must activate Professor Erdel's Mars teleporter (the device that brought J'onn to Earth in the first place) to return home and get to the bottom of "The Mystery of the Martian Marauders." Turns out, Dr. Erdel has had one of his periodic lapses into amnesia and gone bad, traveling to Mars to commit robberies of his own (bringing a huge crate full of matches in order to keep at bay the Martian Militia). With a little trickery of his own (dressing as a giant Martian butterfly--please don't ask me to elaborate), J'onn nabs Erdel and takes him home. Like clockwork, the mad scientist comes out of his amnesia coma and a happy ending is assured for all.

I kind of lost track of exactly what this adventure was all about somewhere around panel six. The Martian knuckleheads (literally) knock off a grocer and burrow into a hardware store but the motive is only hinted at. Then we learn that between the time the Martians rob the hardware store and J'onn visits Erdel's pad, the nutty egghead has rebuilt his teleporter (ostensibly with hammer, nails, and bananas) and jaunted off to the red planet (which leads to the question--why is J'onn green?). If the dopey Erdel has amnesia, how does he remember how to build his machine? Never mind... you're right. -Peter

Jack-Why wouldn't they at least lock the door that gives access to a room where such dangerous rays are found? Once again, Batman, acting through Robin, displays an astonishing ability to create a new gizmo in record time--this time, it's a custom-made hovercraft for the overheated Caped Crusader. In the end, a big jolt of electricity returns Batman to normal, much like a knock on the head can return someone's memory after another knock took it away.

I thought the J'onn J'onzz story benefited from the extra length, which gave the story more room to develop. It's funny that everyone on Mars dresses just like the Martian Manhunter and all the men are bald. The only way to tell them apart is by body type. Oh, and J'onn's Mom has white hair.

Batman #146

"Batman and Robin's Magical Powers"
Story by Jerry Coleman
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris

"The Secret of the Leopard Boy"
Story by Bill Finger
Art by Sheldon Moldoff

"The Deadly Curse of Korabo"
Story by Arnold Drake
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris

Driving through Gotham, Batman and Robin see an advertising figure gone berserk and threatening a man dressed as a magician! Batman knocks down the walking tree that is wearing a sandwich board and, in gratitude, the magician, whose name is Antura, speaks a magic spell that grants magical powers to the Dynamic Duo. Little do any of the participants know that the real magic is supplied by that invisible imp from another dimension, Bat-Mite!

"Batman and Robin's Magical Powers" get their first test when they use the Batmobile to fly to a crime scene, then use two spare tires to fly out over the harbor and apprehend a trio of crooks. The next day, Bruce Wayne reads an article in the paper explaining that Antura gave Batman and Robin magical powers. Fearing that this publicity will lead crooks to target the magician, the Dynamic Duo rush to his apartment, which they find empty. Antura left a clue to his location, though, and Bat-Mite races there magically, beating Batman and Robin.

The crooks enter a room where giant kitchen utensils are on exhibit, and they make a huge frying pan into a flying conveyance for themselves just as the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder arrive, riding on a magical door. Batman realizes that Bat-Mite must be behind all of the action and commands him to appear, which he does. Bat-Mite turns off all of the magic and the crooks are quicky captured. Antura admits that he's glad he doesn't really have magical powers.

Jerry Coleman fills in for Bill Finger on this entertaining story, which features two favorite Batman items: Bat-Mite and giant household objects. In the first scene, Batman and Robin encounter the strangely aggressive tree, but this is never explained. Is it a man in a tree suit? Did Bat-Mite make it act this way? Note that the theater marquee says that the movie of the year is "The Metallic Martian Forest." Peter, have you seen that one?

Batman and Robin have just trailed Smiley Fenton and his gang to the jungle when the Bat-Plane's engine is damaged by gunfire and they are forced to land. They observe the gang tangling with a boy in a leopard skin tunic and wonder what is "The Secret of the Leopard Boy?" It turns out he's the son of a reformed crook named Joe Taylor, whose plane crashed in the jungle a decade before. The four year old boy was the only survivor and he was raised by a leopard. He hid the fortune in diamonds that was on the plane and now Smiley Fenton wants to find them. The gangsters capture Batman, Robin, and Leopard Boy, but an elephant comes to the rescue. The gangsters are defeated and the boy is returned to his mother, trading a leopard skin tunic for a striped shirt.

Why DC chose to create Leopard Boy in this story is anyone's guess. Moldoff is credited as sole artist in the GCD and the art is not his best. The story is predictable and far-fetched.

Climbing adventurer Keith Larsen summons Batman and Robin and, as they drive up in the Batmobile, they observe a giant golden hand reaching out of a cloud and grabbing Larsen's colleague, Mr. Chambers. Larsen blames "The Deadly Curse of Korabo" and explains that his team reached the summit of Mt. Rahachi first, beating a team led by Cliff Amory to find and steal the golden Hand of Korabo, placed atop the mountain by natives to guard them and bearing a curse on the man who removes it.

Amory, Larsen's rival, was found dead at the bottom of the cliff, and Larsen attributed his demise to the curse. Another climber was later killed in a mine disaster, leaving only Larsen, Dunne, and Hampden as survivors of the team. That night, the giant golden hand enters Larsen's bedroom to menace him. Batman suspects a trick and rushes outside, only to see the hand make off with Hampden. Batman and Robin search nearby and locate Dunne; they chase him onto a wooden bridge and the hand smashes it, causing him to fall to his death. Later that day, the Dynamic Duo guard Larsen during a ride on his boat, when the hand emerges from the water and drags the Caped Crusader to his doom!

Later, Larsen goes for a swim and, when he emerges, two giant golden hands come after him! It turns out the entire series of events was a big hoax perpetrated by Batman and the other members of Larsen's team, all of whom faked their deaths. Larsen admits having killed Amory and taken credit for finding the hand first.

I love giant hand stories! Writer Arnold Drake must have had a peek at Batman #130, which also featured a giant hand, although that one was green, not gold. This is such a nutty story that I enjoyed it, especially the last pages where all of the trouble everyone went to to make and use the giant hand is explained. Perhaps some of today's police or detectives could learn a thing or two from the 1960s-era Batman about catching crooks by going to great expense and creating wacky gizmos!-Jack

Peter- Jack, I never saw "The Metallic Martian Forest," but I can say without pause that it was better than this issue's Bat-Mite calamity. Bat-Mite has long outstayed his welcome as far as I'm concerned. The Tarzan rip-off was slightly better. I was hoping Leopard Boy would pull out his spear and threaten to run the Dark Knight through when told he was going back to civilization. That Batman... what a mind for data. "Oh yeah, now I remember! The Skylark was the name of the plane..." Sheesh. Making fun of Moldy's art now is like shooting ducks in a barrel, but Shelly's work here really does scrape the bottom of the... 

Best of the bunch this issue has to be "The Deadly Curse of Korabo" for its elaborate set-ups. Why go for the simple bust when you can complicate things to the nth degree? Even Bats gets into the act by putting Duane into harm's way on the bridge. So what if there's a casualty?

Detective Comics #302

"The Bronze Menace"
Story by Bill Finger
Art by Sheldon Moldoff

"The Crime King of Mount Olympus"
Story by Jack Miller (?)
Art by Joe Certa

Batman and Robin arrive at the Gotham Auto Wreckers on a tip that missing mobster Lefty Borgas has made the dump his new hideout. To their surprise, they are attacked by Lefty's henchmen. The boys make quick work of the stodgy thugs but, when questioned, Lefty's goons admit that they have no idea where their boss is. Hmmmm. Lefty is not the first Gotham criminal to disappear into thin air!

After depositing the criminals at the office of Commissioner Gordon, the Caped Crusaders get an alert that art thieves have struck at Gotham Museum. When they get there, they meet up with Batwoman and are introduced to egomaniacal artist, Vulcan, who works strictly in bronzes and who has been the target of several thefts. He demands that the police and the heroes stop this rampage at once, since the publicity is killing his career. Easier said than done!

The next night, acting on a hunch, Batwoman steals into the palace of eccentric international art collector, Jahmad Arval, and witnesses a thief making off with a big bundle. Batwoman attempts to stop the robbery, but the thief has too many assistants and she's overpowered. Just as it looks as though our favorite female flying rat might be in big trouble, the Batmobile turns the corner (Gotham is, after all, a very small city) and the boys hop out, freeing Kathy and chasing away the bad guys. One of the thugs runs back into Arval's pad and Batman follows. When he captures the well-dressed criminal, he discovers it's the missing Lefty Borgas! What is to be made of this reappearance?

Batman remembers that he and Dick are supposed to attend an art exhibition of Vulcan sculptures and they hoof it over in their civvies. It's then that the magical detective brain of Batman puts two and two together and comes up with... Vulcan! Bruce Wayne inspects the bronze statues displayed and realizes that they look just like the missing criminals. Turns out Vulcan has stolen a gizmo from scientist Henry Winns: a suspended animation machine that Vulcan has been using to freeze top criminals, paint them bronze, sell them to museums, and then sit back and cash in when the robbers are reanimated within the buildings. The stolen goods are then divvied up between crazy artist and dangerous criminal. With the help of Batwoman, Batman and Robin gain access to the machine and freeze Vulcan and his thugs. The terrific trio sigh and look forward to their next team-up!

None of this claptrap makes much sense. Why would Gotham's Most Wanted Criminals agree to such an iffy proposition? If anything, I'd send one of my cronies in instead. I'm not one for going the Goldfinger route. I've heard that's dangerous. I'm confused by the final panels where Batwoman zaps Vulcan and boys with the Suspendo-Rama and they turn into bronze statues. I thought Vulcan explained that he had to paint his subjects after freezing them. The whole thing is pretty dumb (a suspended animation machine and Batman knew nothing of it?) and the art is, as usual, mediocre, but it's entertaining in a mind-numbing fashion.

J'onn J'onzz must fight his most powerful adversary ever: a lunatic who thinks he's Zeus and rides a golden chariot through the city while pulling heists. J'onn attempts to put the robed crazy behind bars but, before he can, Policewoman Diane Meade manages to get herself kidnapped again. Zeus keeps her behind flaming torches and explains to the Martian Manhunter that he will release the gorgeous cop only after J'onn does several "Herculean tasks" for him. J'onn does the man's bidding and then gets the drop on him, releasing Policewoman Diane Meade and slapping the cuffs on the loon.

Another goofy fantasy seemingly written without an outline or any idea how to end it, "The Crime King of Mount Olympus" is a great example of why these early 1960s DC strips are so popular with fans who care not a whit about plot or logic. We're never even told who this guy is; has he escaped from a mental institution? He certainly speaks like he's tipping over the edge. Building a vast fortress on an "uninhabited island" costs a lot of money, as do mechanical three-headed dogs and winged horses. Where did he get the dough? Why go to all this elaboration when a bazooka and a bank will do? Despite all this, I have to agree with Jack that jettisoning one of the back-ups and lengthening the remainder gives the script more room to breathe. I'm just waiting for a good script now.-Peter

Jack-Yet another giant item makes an appearance in Gotham City! Who is the architect who designs these things, and who builds them? I was glad to see another story with Batwoman, but she didn't add much this time around. I couldn't understand why she was conducting a parallel investigation rather than collaborating with the Dynamic Duo. The story is dull and plodding and Moldoff did not put much effort into the art.

As you note, the J'onn J'onzz story features another villain with an overly elaborate scheme. What I'd like to know is what police force would send a policewoman up alone in a helicopter after a gang of crooks, especially when they're riding flying horses? Zeus is clearly nuts. Once again, some of the panels have a Sekowsky look to them. I wonder if the king of heavy black lines wandered by Joe Certa's drawing board.

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