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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.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

100-Page FAKES! presents: RIMA THE JUNGLE GIRL # 1

100-Page FAKES! imagines mid-1970s DC 100-Page Super Spectaculars that never were...but should have been!



Awright! I enjoyed slapping together my two previous ersatz DC 100-Page Super Spectaculars so much that I've decided to make these 100-Page fakes a regular feature on Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do). As always, copyright concerns will prevent us from posting these phony funnybooks in their entirety, but I'll continue to share them privately with this blog's patrons.

In the real world, it's unlikely that DC would have considered making Rima The Jungle Girl into a 100-page title. The character first appeared in the 1904 novel Green Mansions: A Romance Of The Tropical Forest, written by W. H. Hudson. Audrey Hepburn starred as Rima in a Green Mansions movie in 1959. Our Rima was hardly a household name when DC launched its Rima The Jungle Girl title in 1974, and the book was cancelled after its seventh issue in 1975. Whatever hope of tapping into a wider comics audience inspired publisher Carmine Infantino to green-light Rima, it's doubtful he would have been willing to risk scaring that potential audience away with a higher-priced Super Spectacular.

Here in the Boppinverse, the real world need not concern us. So let's imagine Rima The Jungle Girl # 1 as a 100-Page Super Spectacular. The package is bookended by the two then-new tales from that first issue: Part 1 of Rima's origin story (continued in Rima # 2), with simply gorgeous artwork by Nestor Redondo and a story by--one presumes--DC stalwart Robert Kanigher, and a four-page introduction of Space Voyagers, a back-up serial credited to writer Jack Oleck and artist Alex Niño. Y'know, I read the Rima comics when they were new, and I have absolutely no recollection of Space Voyagers. I was 14, so maybe I was just infatuated with the pretty jungle girl.

But here's the thing about Rima: although she was strikingly beautiful in Redondo's depiction, there was really never any hint of cheesecake in the art and approach, never any apparent attempt at overt sexiness. You were slightly more likely to see such sultry earthiness in Marvel's jungle or fantasy titles (Shanna The She-Devil, Conan The Barbarian), and significantly more likely to see it in Warren's Vampirella. In contrast, Rima The Jungle Girl was more...chaste, maybe? She was a romantic figure, but not a sex symbol.

If DC had gone the Super Spectacular route with Rima, I imagine the reprints would have been culled from the same high adventure vault raided for the Tarzan 100-pages ( Congorilla, even reprints of Bomba The Jungle Boy, re-titled Simba The Jungle Boy to avoid licensing fees). I'm ignoring that likelihood here. Instead, we've filled the book with the vintage exploits of various female lead characters from the '40s and the '60s. You've got your Black Canary, your Supergirl, your Phantom Lady. You have the lone original appearance of the aquatic heroine Dolphin. You have a classic team-up of Mary Marvel and Bulletgirl.

And then there's Lady Danger. I don't think I had even heard of this character until last week, when I was looking for inspiration in an old issue of Sensation Comics (starring Wonder Woman). I was struck by the Lady Danger back-up, a stirring tale starring a no-nonsense woman (a newspaper reporter, like Lois Lane or Brenda Starr) who relied on no one and took crap from no one. Lady Danger had to be in our 100-Page Rima.

Not counting cover, contents page, text pages, and ads, a Super Spectacular runs about 83 pages of comics. Here's where each of these stories appeared:

Rima the Jungle Girl in "Spirit Of The Woods" and Space Voyagers in "Four Tombs!" are from the genuine Rima the Jungle Girl # 1 (April-May 1974)
The Black Canary in "Crime On Her Hands!" from Flash Comics # 104 (February 1949)
Dolphin in "The Fantasy At 14 Fathoms!" from Showcase # 79 (December 1968)
Mary Marvel and Bulletgirl in "Mary Marvel And The Riddles Of Death!" from Mary Marvel # 8 (December 1946)
Supergirl in "The Brain-Stealers!" from Action Comics # 354 (September 1967)
Phantom Lady (untitled) from Police Comics # 23 (October 1943)
Lady Danger in "The Case Of The Conscientious Shoplifter!" from Sensation Comics # 86 (February 1949)

Although Rima's DC comic book only lasted seven issues, she did appear with members of The Justice League Of America in a handful of episodes of the TV cartoon Super Friends, and also in (I think) an issue of the Super Friends comic book. In my mind, she would have been one of the guest stars in my own fantasy '70s run of the Batman team-up book The Brave And The Bold. Rima was briefly revived as part of DC's forgettable series The First Wave in 2010, co-starring Batman, Doc Savage, The Avenger, Will Eisner's The Spirit, and The Blackhawks in what should have been a pulp fantasy come true. Pfui. Let's go back to the '70s for the real Rima.

All characters, stories, and art copyright DC Comics Inc. Again, copyright restrictions prompt us to only post a representative sample; the Mary Marvel/Bulletgirl, Phantom Lady, and (presumably) Lady Danger stories are now in the public domain, so those should be okay here. As always, patrons get to see the whole thing. It's time for jungle action! And it's time for Rima The Jungle Girl.

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