About Me

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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Friday, March 10, 2017

COMIC BOOK RETROVIEW: DC 100-Page Super Spectaculars, Part Two

Continuing a look back at DC Comics' 100-Page Super Spectaculars in the 1970s. Our story began here.





My second Super Spec was also the second one devoted to superheroes: 100-Page Super Spectacular # 7, alias Superman # 245. My most cherished memory of this issue was the first DC appearance of Kid Eternity, a 1940s hero I hadn't previously known, but who became an immediate favorite. Otherwise, this Super Spec was a little bit of a letdown after the previous issue's superhero extravaganza. The first big difference between the two was one I'd need to get used to in the 100-pagers; whereas my first Super Spec promised "World's Greatest Super-Heroes!," with no specific starring character, this one--and all subsequent superhero Super Specs--had the name of a headliner above all others: in this case, Superman. There would be no more superhero free-for-alls in the Super-Specs; there would be a bona fide star--Superman, Batman, Supergirl, The Flash, Superboy--to open and close the issue, with the supporting acts filling the space in between. I preferred the grab-bag format, but what can a poor boy do? (This sleepy North Syracuse town was just no place for a variety-lovin' fan, yeah. But I digress....)




I still enjoyed the rest of that issue. I would have also preferred more material from the '40s rather than the '50s and '60s--I was already becoming an avowed Golden Age fan--but I couldn't deny the Silver Age brilliance of the opening Superman story, 1964's three-part "The Team Of Luthor And Brainiac!" The final story in this issue, "The Prankster's Greatest Role!," was emblematic of Superman's often delightfully goofy exploits in the '50s. In between, we were treated to The Atom's first encounter with the time thief Chronos, the origin of the Native American superhero Super-Chief, another Silver Age Hawkman adventure (marking the Winged Wonder's second appearance in the two consecutive superhero Super Specs), and one other Golden Age story, starring Air Wave. A nice collection, a fun comic book, but--other than Kid Eternity--not as flat-out great for me as the previous Super Spec.



Some time passed before I found the next Super Spectacular. I'm not sure now if I saw a later issue or two before stumbling across a coverless copy of the eighth Super Spec at the tiny McMahon's grocery story across from Sweetheart Corner in North Syracuse. But I snapped it up immediately when I saw it. And it was the best one yet.

I didn't see the cover until years later. But this was still enough to hook me, then and there.
This was Batman # 238, and it struck a superb balance between Golden Age and Silver Age material. The Batman stories that bookended the issue were both terrific tales from the '50s. The '60s were well represented by the origin of The Doom Patrol, a Legion Of Super-Heroes adventure, and an Aquaman short. And the 1940s? Well...! There was a previously unpublished Golden Age Atom story, Sargon the Sorcerer, and--best of all!--PLASTIC MAN! Ol' Plas was one of my favorites, especially since I discovered the sheer wonder of the 1940s stories by Plastic Man's creator, Jack Cole. I'd learned about Plas in the '40s via DC Special # 15, an all-Plas reprint book in 1971. This Super Spec included a direct sequel to one of the stories in that DC Special, and I felt like I'd uncovered buried treasure. Yo-ho-HO!





If you were never a kid who collected comics, then I can never make you understand the pure, sublime bliss of reading this comic book the first time. Or the second. Or the twenty-third. I loved this book. I still do.



The next Super Spec was also a coverless purchase for me, some time after the fact: Our Army At War # 242, starring Sgt. Rock and the battle-happy joes of Easy Company. Although superheroes were my main comics interest, I frequently purchased war, Western, humor, and mystery books. I don't think I have this issue anymore--I'm tempted to run into the garage and check my one remaining battered box of coverless comic books, just to see if this somehow survived the purge, but I'm positive it didn't. Too bad! I remember liking it a lot.

I was getting a whole bunch of my comic books without covers at this time. They were basically contraband--books that had been stripped, reported as unsold and destroyed, then put back on sale at a hefty discount--but I didn't know any better. I was getting comic books cheaply! My coverless streak continued with the subsequent Super Spec, and we'll talk about that one when Comic Book Retroview returns.

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Supergirl uncovered! Wait--that doesn't sound quite right....