Posts tagged ‘Seven Soldiers of Victory’

Detective 59 – the Penguin returns, Wing gets a costume, Steve Malone ends, and Slam Bradley gets an agency

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Robin is really happy to not be involved in the action on the cover of Detective 59 (Jan. 42).  Perhaps he was tired from the events of the Batman story in the issue.

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The Penguin returns in this story by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson.  The story picks up immediately after the conclusion of last issue’s tale, as the Penguin meets the various other companions of the boxcar he escaped town in.

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When he realizes that so many of them have rewards out for their capture, he devises a scheme to turn them in, collect the reward, and then have other members of the group break them out of jail.

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Batman gets onto his scheme and breaks it up.  He uses a crime file in this story, very rudimentary, though of course snazzy for the era.  Batman also relies on the normal radio for news alerts.

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In this instalment of the Crimson Avenger Wing suddenly gets a costume as well, if not a codename.  His outfit matches the Crimson Avenger’s though with the colour scheme reversed, much like the way Kid Flash’s reversed the Flash’s colour scheme.  As his crest he has something stylized, which for many years I thought might be a “7”, or perhaps a question mark.  Now I realize it is a letter, probably Chinese.  I wonder what it means?

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Crimson Avenger and Wing started appearing in Leading Comics as part of the Seven Soldiers of Victory at this time.  His team would never get mentioned in the pages of his own series.  Odd, considering that Batman was mentioned in this strip, along with the Joker and the Penguin.

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As well as a costume, Wing seems to have changed his body, as well as his ability to speak English.  He is shorter and thinner than he used to be, and his face now an Asian caricature.

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In his final story Steve is called to the home of a wealthy retired judge with a gambling son and a niece begging for money for her husband.  When the judge is killed, Steve figures out that its the jewelled-earring wearing nurse who was the killer, not the money hungry youths.

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Steve Malone’s series ends at this point, and his character is never seen again, but after such a high-profile career I would expect that Steve went into politics and had a long and lucrative tenure in Washington D.C.

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Howard Sherman has been doing the art on Slam Bradley’s series for a while now.  The stories have been decent, but none had anything that made them stand out.  Slam continues to frequently take on manly jobs as he solves crimes with Shorty providing comic relief.

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In this story, we are told, for the first time, that Slam and Shorty work for the Wide-Awake Detective Agency.  It is never given that name again, though.

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The story involves a casino that has its winning patrons robbed on the way home.  Slam is hired by one of the victims, and infiltrates the casino, causing a big ruckus and bringing down the house.

 

 

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Adventure 443 – Aquaman vs the Fisherman, and Seven Soldiers of Victory ends

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Aquaman did not have many recurring villains in his own comic, but Adventure 443  (Feb 76) brings back the Fisherman, a third-rater at best.  Still, the story, by Paul Levitz and David Michelinie, with art by Jim Aparo, is pretty good.

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Aquaman intercepts some people hunting a dolphin, but discovers that they are French police, and the dolphin is being used for heroin smuggling.  Following the animal, Aquaman discovers the Fisherman is running the operation.  This was the first appearance of the character since the 60s, and though he captures Aquaman, another long-unseen character frees him.

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Topo had not been used in an Aquaman story since issue 36 of his old book, but becomes a regular supporting character again with this issue.

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The kicker to the story comes only on its last page, as Aquaman is dethroned by vote of the council, and the mysterious Karshon becomes the new King of Atlantis.

 

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The conclusion of the Seven Soldiers of Victory saga, with art by Dick Dillin, is a bit of a let-down.  The team reconvenes, and Willie the Wisher sends a battery of beasts against them.

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They defeat the creatures, and make Willie feel bad for his actions simply by talking about it.  Willie makes himself disappear.  Well, that was easy.

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In the end we discover that the events were all made into a film, but no one believes it because no one remembers Willie – even though all the activity occurred not on Earth, but in the Land of Magic.  So why would anyone on Earth be aware of it anyway?

Still, most of  the original tales of the Seven Soldiers of Victory were similarly pretty weak, so this is simply on par with their published adventures.

As a team, the group never appears again, except in flashbacks, or in All-Star Squadron issues, set in the 1940s.  The story clearly takes place before the events in Justice League of America 100-102, as Wing is still alive.

Adventure 442 – Aquaman has issues with NATO, and the Vigilante chapter of Seven Soldiers of Victory

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Paul Levitz and Jim Aparo craft the Aquaman story in Adventure 442 (Dec 75), pitting him against General Morgan of NATO when terrorists take over a ship of nuclear waste.

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General Morgan tries to blow up the ship, which would then sink towards Atlantis, potentially wiping out the city.  His reasons are not evil, letting some die to save many more, but Aquaman has no intention of sitting back and letting this happen.  He manages to take out the NATO missile sent at the ship, and then boards it an takes down the terrorists as well.

But this is not an entirely happy ending, as Aquaman is still furious about the situation, and intends to seek out Morgan.

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A different plot thread also begins in this issue, of the Atlanteans dissatisfaction with Aquaman as their king.  In the late 60s there was a small plot about civil unrest in Atlantis, but this run in Adventure would really play that up.

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The Vigilante chapter of the Seven Soldiers of Victory epic is one of the more enjoyable.  Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Mike Royer handle the art, as Vigilante winds up a giant in a land of battling gnomes.

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For reasons that are never made clear, beyond “magic,” Vigilante gains the ability to shape shift, and turns himself into a giant insect to terrify the gnomes into submission.  Their war is over the proper phrasing of a sentence, and he brings peace by getting the rival armies to sing it as a round.

Adventure 441 – Aquaman begins, for the third time, and the Star-Spangled Kid chapter of the SSoV

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After the success of his back-up series, Aquaman returns to become the lead feature in Adventure 441 (Oct 75).  Paul Levitz and David Michelinie are credited as writers, and Jim Aparo, who did superb work on Aquaman’s own book in the late 60’s, does the art.

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Captain Demo makes a mysterious threat, and in response Aquaman turns over the city of Atlantis to the one-armed pirate.  Mera actually gets to do something, instead of just standing around being wifely, but her attack on Demo is thwarted when Aquaman attacks her to defend him.

Vulko gets the just-standing-around role in her place.

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Aquaman shows his true colours towards the end, using a clam to block the radio signals in Captain Demo’s fake hand, preventing him from destroying Atlantis (his threat, now finally revealed).

An adequate tale, nothing really special, but this run in Adventure would climax with one of the most powerful Aquaman stories ever told.

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The Star=Spangled Kid chapter of the Seven Soldiers of Victory saga has art by Ernie Chan, though it looks nothing like his usual work.  It does, however, highly resemble the art on the Kid’s strip from the 1940s.  Which is to say, horrible.

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The Star-Spangled Kid and Stripsey wind up in a place with talking animals who behave like street toughs (or “dead end kids”, as the title reflects).  The heroes convince the furniture to stand up to the brats, in a scene that feels like it’s straight out of a Disney cartoon.

 

Adventure 440 – The Spectre ends, and the Crimson Avenger chapter of Seven Soldiers of Victory

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Mike Fleisher and Jim Aparo bring their run on the Spectre to a suitably unhappy ending with Adventure 440 (Aug 75).

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As with the 1940’s origin story from More Fun Comics, Jim Corrigan gets set up by a stool pigeon named Louie, and murdered by the mob.  His corpse is dropped off with Gwen Sterling, in a grisly sequence.

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The voice that give him his powers restores him to his undead life, and turns him back into the Spectre.

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He exacts his vengeance on his killers in horrific fashion, as is his wont.

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And though Gwen gets to find out that he is back, he leaves her.  Downer, but great.

This series would remain popular over the years, and would be collected in the 80s in a mini-series called Wrath of the Spectre.  The final issue of that would include three new stories by Fleisher and Aparo, which would also bring Earl Crawford back.

The Spectre would continue to make guest appearances across the DC Universe.  His next solo series would be a brief run in the early 80s in the comic Ghosts.

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Mike Grell takes the art for the Crimson Avenger chapter of the Seven Soldiers of Victory serial, as he and Wing wind up at a royal banquet.

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It’s a story mildly reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, with fluids that make the Crimson Avenger and Wing grow and shrink.

Adventure 439 – The Spectre gets engaged, and the Green Arrow chapter of SSoV

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Adventure 438 (June 1975) begins a 2-part story that concludes the Spectre’s run.  It is based, oddly enough, on the 2-part origin story of the Spectre in More Fun Comics, but Mike Fleisher puts a different spin on the tale, with art by Jim Aparo.

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After rescuing Gwen Sterling yet again, Jim bemoans his fate, to be a living dead man, and the voice that empowered the Spectre (God?) decides to fulfill his wishes, and brings him back to life, although Jim does not realize this.

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The following day, he pursues a gunman with no thought to his own safety, but gets shot and wounded in the process, to his great surprise, and delight.

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Realizing that he has gained his life back, he proposes to Gwen.  But the story ends with a note of danger, as the mobster “Ducky” plans vengeance.

The story concludes next issue.

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Lee Elias returns to draw the Green Arrow chapter of the Seven Soldiers of Victory tale. A great choice, as he has no problem duplicating the look he gave the character back in the day.

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The story is a fairly silly one, enlivened by the art.  Two crescent moons, the waxing and the waning, get into a fight at Father Time’s Inn, due to an eclipse that prevented one from being seen, and the fight threatens to draw in other heavenly bodies, until Green Arrow proposes that the two crescents merge and substitute for a full moon.

Adventure 438 – The Spectre and a human museum, and the Seven Soldiers of Victory begin

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Adventure 438 (April 1975) has the shortest Spectre story of the run, a mere 10 pages, because of the extended length of the back-up feature.  As a result, the story by Mike Fleisher is very simple, but the art by Ernie Chan and Jim Aparo makes it rewarding anyway.

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The tale deals with another madman, who is having people kidnapped and killed to be put in his personal museum.

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Corrigan is put on the case, tracks him down, and as the Spectre frees some gorillas from their exhibit to kill him.

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The Seven Soldiers of Victory begin a serialized story in this issue.  The story itself was written in the 1940s for their run in Leading Comics, but never published, or even drawn.  It follows the standard format of SSoV tales, with the entire team together for the first and last chapter, and five middle chapters featuring the team members in Individual action.

As this is the first time I am writing about the team, I will point out the curious fact that there are not seven members in the Seven Soldiers of Victory.  Shining Knight, Green Arrow, Vigilante, Crimson Avenger and Star-Spangled Kid are the heroes.  Sidekicks Speedy and Stripsey are counted to make up seven, but Wing is not.  Only white people count, maybe?

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The first chapter, with art by Dick Dillin, introduces the villain, who is really more of a trickster than a bad guy, Willie the Wisher, whose wishes become reality, hence his name.  He wishes the team off to the Land of Magic.

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The Shining Knight’s chapter follows immediately, with art by Howard Chaykin, which really manages to capture the look of Frank Frazetta’s work on the Knight.

He is menaced by a duplicate of himself, which emerges from a mirror.  He defeats his double, but winds up captured by a wizard and bound, back in the room he began in.

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This time, knowing the mirror will produce a duplicate, he uses the other knight’s sword to undo his bonds before he emerges, giving him the upper hand.

 

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