Adventure 418 – Supergirl meets Johnny Double,Black Canary begins, and an unpublished Dr Mid-Nite story
Supergirl plunges into Chinatown intrigue in Adventure 418 (April 1972). The story, by Len Wein, with art by Jose Delbo and Bob Oskner, also introduces her to Johnny Double, DC’s underdog private detective, who was currently also appearing in Wonder Woman’s comic.
Nasty hires Johnny Double, claiming that Linda is trying to kill her, but hoping that Johnny will instead find some evidence to prove Linda is Supergirl.
Instead, Johnny and Supergirl get enmeshed in a plot by Batman villain Dr Tzin-Tzin to take over the gangs in Chinatown. Supergirl briefly falls for Tzin-Tzin’s illusion casting powers, but remembers hearing of them from Batman.
Johnny calls Nasty out on her lies about Linda trying to kill her. There is some flirtation between Johnny and Linda, but he is busy with Wonder Woman, and nothing more comes of it.
Black Canary gets her first solo story since the golden age in this two-parter, written by Denny O’Neil, with superb art by Alex Toth.
The story is fairly simple. Black Canary applies for a job as a judo instructor for an organization called the Women’s Protective League. She is surprised to discover that the women she is training are already fairly skilled, and even more surprised when she discovers gunmen in the centre. It turns out the gunmen are in league with the feminists (isn’t that always the case?), and Canary gets captured.
This issue also includes an unpublished Dr Mid-Nite story, which I believe was not published because it’s incredibly stupid and awful. So much so that I am going to cover it in detail.
The story begins by introducing an echo-flashlight, a kind of sonar gun for blind people to navigate with, which Dr McNider (Dr Mid-Nite in his secret identity) has invented. Money is being raised to help mass produce this device, and criminals plan to rob the event.
Dr McNider is on his way there, but hoods are waiting to ambush him. By sitting on a telephone pole. Because that’s a place no one will ever notice, or find suspicious.
McNider dives into a bush, and emerges in his Dr Mid-Nite costume in the next panel. Now let’s consider this. Take a look at how much clothing he needs to remove and get into, all the while in the bush. He must be in there at least 5 minutes, possibly more. And all this time the criminals just wait patiently, one must assume.
But wait, there’s more! As he jumps out of the bush, the bad guy says “Dr. Mid-Nite! Wh-where’s Dr McNider?”
OK, so for at least 5 minutes McNider has been in that bush, changing clothes. That would cause the bush to move and rustle. Jump in a bush yourself and change clothes, I’ll bet it attracts attention.
But the bad guys, who have waited and waited, ignoring the sound and movement from the bush, cannot figure out where Dr McNider went, or how Dr Mid-Nite got into the bush in the first place. Even in a universe where Lois Lane cannot recognize Superman when he puts glasses on, this strains all credulity.
Dr Mid-Nite then trounces these incompetents, until a man riding a pennyfarthing bike rides up and bumps into him with it. There may be some other, American, term for this kind of bicycle, I only know the term “pennyfarthing” for it from the 60s tv show “The Prisoner.”
But anyway, let’s examine this scene. Those bikes did not go particularly quickly, and being hit by one is far more likely to cause the driver of the bike to fall to the ground, rather than render the person being hit unconscious, but that’s what happens in this scene. Nice top hat, by the way, Mr bad guy.
The criminals then decide to kill Dr Mid-Nite. So they shoot him. No, that would be silly. They choose a much more certain mode of murder.
They tie him to the bike and let it drift away. By some as yet unknown force of nature, the bike continues moving, rather than simply falling over on it’s side. I realize most of you reading this have never driven this type of bicycle, but take my word for it, it was no more capable of self-balance and propulsion than any other non-motorized bicycle.
Of course Dr Mid-Nite escapes from this “death trap.” A five year old could probably escape from it.
He defeats the amazingly inept bad guys, and then the story ends with a plea to the reader to help contribute to the funding for the echo-flashlight. So really, this entire story is an ad for the flashlight.
I can fully understand why this story was never published in the golden age. I have a harder time understanding why it was published in 1972.