The Dr. Fate story in More Fun 75 (Jan 42) is by the original team, Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman, but little of the original feel of the series remains.
It does open as a typical story. Inza needs Dr. Fate’s help with a friend imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Dr. Fate uses his crystal ball to learn of Inza’s need, but from there on this is pure down to earth stuff.
Fate tracks the gang, beating up all the members along the way. The story is nothing but a loose frame work on which to hang scenes of Dr. Fate hitting people.
Nor does the mastermind require anything magical to take him down. Dr. Fate flies, but shows off no other degree of special powers.
Green Arrow gets his first recurring villain in this issue, who goes by the name of Professor Merlin, but also calls himself simply Merlin.
He runs a crime college, sending his “students” out to steal cars.
His men capture Green Arrow and Speedy, but Professor Merlin is impressed by the archer, and asks if they can join forces. Pretty foolish, really. Of course Green Arrow agrees, but simply sets him up and takes him down.
Merlin does manage to escape, vowing revenge. And he returns, the following month, in Leading Comics 1, the first story of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, to fight Green Arrow.
Aquaman’s story has him aiding some south seas islanders whose home has been conquered by Black Jack.
The area is rich in pearls, but Black Jack also has designs on Loana, the girl friend of Keiko. Keiko is the guy Aquaman rescued from the giant clam, and learns all the backstory from.
Interestingly, to get to Black Jack, Aquaman has to fight and kill a shark. He does not even attempt to mentally control the creature. Of course he succeeds, and frees the island from Black Jack’s control, although the villain returns a couple months down the road.
Johnny Quick faces a mass murderer in this story, with great art by Jerry Robinson and Mort Meskin. Mr. Zero has a skeletal face and head, and a tendency to kill of even his own henchmen.
Johnny Chambers and Tubby Watts are filming at a baseball game when one of Mr. Zero’s men kills a guy, getting Johnny onto the track of these guys. This brief scene pretty much establishes the way they will often be introduced into the story, the matching green suits. Tubby’s hair has changed colour from dark brown to red, and his face altered slightly as well, into what would become his standard appearance.
Lots of speed action, but still a costume that lacks a defining symbol.
Some more big changes occur in this story by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey. Percival Popp is still trying to worm his way into Jim Corrigan’s life.
The Spectre finally gets fed up with it, and takes Percival off to a different planet to threaten him, but that does no good. Percival decides to hone in on Clarice Winston in an attempt to get closer to Jim.
Clarice winds up in a coma, Percival thinks it has to do with a statue, but the Spectre realizes Percival is going to be diving near his corpse, still sitting on the bottom of the harbour.
The Spectre goes to the Voice, who returns Jim’s body to life, with the Spectre now residing inside it. He saves the day, and Percival’s life, and ends cuddling with Clarice.
It’s questionable whether Jim Corrigan really returned to life, or the body was simply freed from cement, and the Spectre force allowed to possess it, and have it act independently. This story was completely ignored in the Ostrander/Mandrake series, in which the body is still encased in cement in the harbour.