Thursday, September 6, 2018


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

In real life, the long-running DC Comics title Detective Comics was published in the 100-Page Super Spectacular format from its 438th issue (December/January 1973/1974) through its 445th issue (February-March 1975). The book that gave us those DC initials then reverted to standard format, though we've already conjured a 100-Page FAKE! version of 'Tec # 446, and we continue now with the very next issue, Detective Comics # 447.

This issue presented the fourth chapter of writer Len Wein's "Bat-Murderer" serial, a storyline I dismissed when I was 14 but which seems much, much more palatable to me now. Chapter Four brought in Steve Ditko's character The Creeper, and it woulda been very cool indeed to see artist Jim Aparo's rendition of this weird hero alongside The Batman. But Aparo was MIA this issue, the art chores handled instead by Ernie Chua and Dick Giordano. If memory serves, I don't think Aparo had drawn The Creeper in any setting up to this point, so that was a missed opportunity here. (Aparo did eventually draw The Creeper in a team-up appearance with Batman in The Brave And The Bold, and on some covers of World's Finest Comics.) The back-up strip was Robin the Teen Wonder, written by Bob Rozakis and very ably rendered by Martinez and Mazzaroli, about whom I know nuthin'. Good stuff, though, and I would have loved to see this art team do more Batman work.

In choosing the reprints to expand Detective # 447 into a 100-Page FAKE!, I knew I wanted to use work by Ditko and something by Aparo. I didn't have scans of any of Ditko's DC work (other than The Creeper's debut in Showcase # 73, a story which had already been reprinted in a previous issue), so I turned instead to Ditko's work at Charlton Comics. Our 100-Page FAKES! edition of The Phantom # 67 established that--in this fanciful alternate reality of the Boppinverse--DC purchased Charlton's 1960s Action Heroes in the '70s rather than the '80s, and took control of Charlton's license of King Features Syndicate's popular hero The Phantom at the same time. This ripple in the time/space continuum allows us to reprise a full-length adventure of Ditko's character The Question, and it gives us a Phantom story Aparo did for Charlton.

(Using The Phantom here is, I think, the single least plausible gimmick I've attempted so far in the long and storied history of 100-Page FAKES! DC got the Charlton Action Heroes line in the '70s? Fine. E-Man, too? Awrighty. And licensed The Phantom...?! Okay, disbelief suspended sufficiently. But there's no way in hell DC would have been willing to pay an additional licensing fee to King Features just to toss a Phantom reprint into the back of an issue of Detective Comics. I tell myself that DC's imaginary 1975 contract with King Features allowed unlimited use of the character, which is the only way The Ghost Who Walks could wind up supporting Batman in an issue of Detective Comics. I guess it's no more fanciful than using The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, and Dick Tracy in our 100-Page FAKE! version of Justice, Inc # 1. Just keep telling yourself: It's only a comic book. It's only a comic book. It's only....)

A two-page Aquagirl short-short serves up added Aparo appeal, and Golden Age stories starring Robin (when he was still just a Boy Wonder) and that pliable protector Plastic Man round things out. That left just enough room for one more short story, so we turned to former Detective Comics backup star John Jones, Manhunter From Mars to complete our package.

The Batman in "Enter The Creeper," Detective Comics # 447 (May 1975)
The Question (untitled), Mysterious Suspense # 1 (October 1968)
Plastic Man in "United Crooks Of America," Police Comics # 7 (February 1942)
Robin the Boy Wonder in "The Batman's Utility Belt!," Star Spangled Comics # 89 (February 1949)
The Phantom in "The Cliff Kingdom," The Phantom # 34 (October 1969)
John Jones, Manhunter From Mars in "The Thirty Fathom Sleuth," Detective Comics # 242 (April 1957)
Aquagirl in "The Cave Of Death!," Aquaman # 56 (March-April 1971)
Robin the Teen Wonder in "The Puzzle Of The Pyramids," Detective Comics # 447 (May 1975)

The Phantom and his associates are copyright King Features Syndicate, and everyone else is copyright DC Comics Inc. We'll finish the "Bat-Murderer" saga in a near-future 100-Page FAKE! The Question and Plastic Man stories are public domain, but the rest can only be shown here in representative sample pages; I share the whole thing with my paid subscribers. Is Batman a murderer? SPOILER ALERT: No! What're you, nuts? But the delight is in the details, so please enjoy the faux 100-page edition of Detective Comics # 447.


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