Wednesday, January 16, 2008

You've Been Warned: DC Super-Stars #9

Generally, I have a great deal of patience for DC reprints. Quite often, the haphazard way in which they are organized and presented is quite charming. Want to thrown a Captain Triumph reprint into a Superman 100-Pager? Sure, why not? You think Ibis, the Invincible is a good fit for Detective Comics? Who am I to argue? The sheer randomness of it all is quite startling, and it’s begs the question of who was behind the wheel. I can live with that though – as it is obvious that DC just wanted to stuff as many stories into a book as possible. At the very least, the reader never knew exactly what he or she was going to get.

It’s a whole other story when DC tries to put together a ‘Themed’ reprint collection, as the are normally only held together by the loosest of threads. “The Man Behind the Gun” is perhaps the lamest of all of this type of books cranked out by DC in the 70s. It main flaw is that it is attempting to say something about the power of the gun for both good and evil and is using a very weak selection of random stories to get the point across. At least with Super-Heroes vs. Super Gorillas, we weren’t expected to do any thinking. The editorial stance by DC (Jack Harris, specifically I guess) is beyond loony. It’s hard to read a text article that delves into the history of gunpowder after reading a story about a Luthor-invented Super-Gun.

The fairly impressive and sinister cover belies the silliness inside. We start with the aforementioned Superman tale from 1961. Wouldn’t a Batman tale involving a gun have been far more appropriate? Next we have a Nighthawk story with lovely Ruben Moreira artwork. Not only is it a fairly weak story, but this one was reprinted 4 years earlier in Johnny Thunder #1. Reprinting reprints? That’s lame even for DC in the 70s. Next up is a standard issue war story involving courageous gunners on a damage boat (boy – we are including all type of guns here, aren’t we?). It’s nothing exciting, but the Andru and Esposito art is certainly dynamic. When I first saw this cover – I thought the book would be mainly gangster stories, but there is only one, from a post-Code issue of Gangbusters. It’s a so-so story sadly missing the moralizing that tends to make crime comics fun. The GCD says this was drawn by Gene Colan, but it tastes more like Ralph Mayo to me. Finally, we are left with a fairly solid sci-fi story from an early issue of Mystery in Space about a very destructive ray-gun. If this story were actually written in the 70s, the potential dangers of such a gun would have been explored. Instead, it is just used to kill Plutonians and the like.

All in all – it a weak collection of reprints ostensibly linked together because of the presence of firearms. It gave me a headache, and everything after the cool cover was a real letdown. Avoid.


benday-dot said...

Well, here is one of those comics I've always wondered about. I'd come across this cover now and again (usually while playing your cover contest!)and I'd always kind of filed it away in the back of my mind. You are right Scott... no doubt about it: that is a very fine cover. It's just the type of semi-obscure DC book which in a moment of weekness I'd love to sneak into my collection. And yet the question always remains:what do we have here... little known gem or justifiably little discussed dog! Thanks for taking the bullet for me on this one Scott and giving me the inside story! Craig.

Red Oak Kid said...

Hey you knuckleheads, whadda you expect?

The cover is signed by Ernie Chua and Vince Colletta.

Did you really think there would be something good inside?

Scott M said...

We are Canadian - polite and optimistic to a fault.

Red Oak Kid said...

Hmmmm. DC and Marvel must have made a bundle taking the dimes and quarters of trusting Canadian kids.

Suburban American kids learned quickly not to trust a comic book by it's cover.

Mickey Coalwell said...

So true, ROK. I've left more DC comics at the altar than a soap opera lothario. Promising contours, but a quick peek under the sheets confirms it's just Uncle Mort's hairy old ass. (Is that a gross metaphor, or what??) Michi

T Guy said...

This is what happens when someone other than E. Nelson Bridwell selects your reprints for you (for it was he who masterminded DC's 100-pagers, IIRR, and introduced me to such obscurities as Ibis and Captain Triumph).

This collection may e'en have been modelled on the superb collection 'STOP! In the name of the law' in an issue of DC Special, which I suspect was headd up by, as they say in management, ENB.