With issue 503 (Sept 83), Adventure Comics comes to an end. As a reprint digest, there was little to note about its passing. The front and back covers of the issue did include virtually every character that had a series during the long duration of the comic, though of course many of the obscure serials from its early days were not represented.
Adventure Comics would return in a few variations over the years, all of which I hope to cover in this blog. There was a one-shot issue, part of the Justice Society Returns mini-series, an 80-Page Giant issue, and a one-shot special before the series got fully revived in the millenium. This second run would begin its numbering with 1, but eventually it would jump to make its numbering include these 503 issues from the first run.
And so ends my first “page” on this blog. Tomorrow I will begin with stories from New Fun Comics, which became More Fun Comics, the first book DC released, and the one I really ought to have begun this blog with.
With the conclusion of the Challengers of the Unknown story in Adventure 497 (March 1983), the book becomes entirely reprints. This made for a very disappointing 500th issue later in the year. Such a missed opportunity.
Nor is this final chapter of the Challengers origin anything particularly special. Bob Rozakis and Alex Toth wind things up adequately, but there is nothing in the five-part tale that makes one glad it was printed.
They figure out that none of them was the intended victim, that is was a man named Johnny Green, a friend of Red Ryan, who was also supposed to be on the flight. Johnny was owed money by the casino owner Red was in debt to, and the bomb was planted so he could avoid paying off the man.
The fight in the casino is the best scene, but even still, the solution is wholly unsatisfying, with none of the team being the inadvertent cause of the crash.
The Challengers of the Unknown next appear three years down the road in an issue of DC Comics Presents. A couple of year after that they get a decent mini-series of their ownn.
The Challengers of the Unknown story has its penultimate chapter in Adventure 496 (Feb 83), by Bob Rozakis, Alex Toth and Frank Giacoia.
Investingating Professor Haley’s story, they discover that the dead uncle is really still alive. He had faked his death, but then dies anyway.
Red Ryan gets confronted by a casino owner he is in debt to. The man is accused of plotting the murder, but defends himself by pointing out that with Red dead, he would never get the money he is owed.
The story concludes next issue.
The Challengers of the Unknown story in Adventure 495 (Jan 83), by Bob Rozakis, Alex Toth and Frank Giacoia, has better art than the previous chapters, but not much of a story.
After dismissing Rocky’s gambling enemies as suspects last issue, they discuss possible enemies of the other three men. Ace Morgan wound up earning the ire of some Inuit after discovering gold on their land, and Red Ryan ran afoul of Central American revolutionaries.
Professor Haley talks of being disinherited by his uncle before his death, in favour of his cousin, and the story has so little to it that it almost begs to be the important one.
Adventure 494 (Dec 82) continues the origin of the Challengers of the Unknown, with a focus on the boxer, Rocky Davis, in this Bob Rozakis/George Tuska story.
Rocky is the first to suspect he was meant to be the victim, and he recounts the events of his last fight, when he wound up drugged while in the ring.
Despite this, he managed to win, causing huge losses for the gamblers who had arranged the doping and bet against him.
Rocky leads the group to the gamblers, and a good rough house fight ensues. Rocky gets shot, but the bullet bounces off his belt buckle. Although behind the drugging, it becomes clear the gamblers were not behind the bombing.
The story continues next issue.
The Challengers of the Unknown begin their run in Adventure 492 (Oct 82), making them the last original series featured in this comic.
The story, written byBob Rozakis, with art by George Tuska, is a 5-part retelling of their origin. The Challs had last appeared teaming with Superman and Batman in the pages of World’s Finest Comics the previous year, but the last time they had their own series was the brief revival of their comic in the mid-70s.
Red Ryan, Professor Haley, Ace Morgan and Rocky Davis were all heroes in their respective fields, flying out to California for the taping of a tv program about them. Ace was the pilot on the flight as well. The place gets caught in a storm and crash lands.
Best page in the story.
The four men survive, and feel that they have cheated death, and are “living on borrowed time,” and at this point, in most tellings of the tale, they simply form a team called the Challengers of the Unknown in order to spend this extra time having wild adventures. But in this version, they discover there was a bomb aboard the place, so the crash was intentional, and set out to discover who tried to kill them.
The Shazam story by E Nelson Bridwell and Don Newton ends in Adventure 492 (Oct 82). Master Man has called up evil gods from a variety of pantheons : the Egyptian Set, Slavic Cernobog, Aztec Tezcatlipoca and Persian Ahriaman. The evil gods and the Marvel Family go one on one.
Kid Eternity decides to fight his own fight, rather than calling up someone to do it for him, and lures Ahriman to the Big Bang, while Mary Marvel simply blows out the fires of the Aztec god.
Captains Marvel, the original and junior versions, prefer physical combat with their adversaries.
After wiping out Ahriman, Kid Eternity takes on Master Man, and Satan is so displeased by the failures of everyone fighting for him that he wipes them all out himself.
While the Marvels all next appear a couple years down the road in a DC Comics Presents Annual, these are the final appearances of all the villains, except for Ibac, who returns in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Kid Eternity has to wait for the mini-series by Grant Morrison for his return.
The next Shazam series, which features only Billy Batson as Captain Marvel, is a 1987 mini-series.
After a gap of six months, Adventure Comics returns with issue 491 (Sept 82), but now it’s a small, digest sized book. It’s 100 pages long, but virtually all of that consists of reprints. The only new work in the issue is the Shazam story, continued from the series in World’s Finest Comics, which also recently underwent a format change.
E Nelson Bridwell, Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte helpm the tale as Satan assembles a crew to take out the Marvel Family, which now includes Kid Eternity, revealed to be the long-lost brother of Captain Marvel, Jr back in World’s Finest. Ibac and Sabbac are joined by newer villain Darkling, as well as Master Man, Kid Eternity’s old enemy.
They take the Marvels by surprise while they are in their normal human form, binding and gagging them.
It’s Kid Eternity who saves the day, getting loose of his gag and calling up Zeus. Smart move, as Zeus is able to send the magic lightning bolts that transform Billy Batson, Mary Batson and Freddy Freeman into Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr.
Together the four heroes take down Ibac, Sabbac and Darkling, but Master Man has called up four evil gods of his own.
The story concludes next issue.
Dial “H” for Hero ends its run in Adventure with issue 490 (Feb 82) in a full-length story by E Nelson Bridwell and Bob Rozakis, with art by Carmine Infantino and Howard Bender.
It`s more cosmic in scope than most of their tales, and Bender makes the art better than most of the other issues as well.
But despite some nice visuals, it`s still a typical Dial `H`story, with Chris and Vicki becoming a variety of one-shot heroes to defeat a line-up of one-shot villains.
At least the house does get furnished, on the very last page. In kind of dull, run-of-the-mill furniture.
Chris King and Vicki Grant appear next in the DC Comics Presents team-up with Superman that pits them against the Master, and then a month or so later begin a back-up series in New Adventures of Superboy.
A full-length story, a George Perez cover, but there still isn’t that much to say about Adventure 485 (Sept 81).
Marv Wolfman and Cramine Infantino have the Master send out the “Evil Eight” to take down Chris King and Vickie Grant, but they fail pretty dismally.
The Master is still not shown clearly, but we do learn that he is aware of the HERO Dials, the source of the kids’ powers, and has been hunting for them a while. He also claims to have murdered the man who invented the Dials.
The Master returns in a year, in the DC Comics Presents that teams Superman with Chris and Vickie.