Wednesday, April 24, 2019

100-Page FAKES! presents: WORLD'S FINEST COMICS # 245

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

This is the first time in the long and storied history of 100-Page FAKES! that I feel like I'm doing you a disservice. Nonetheless, let's see how this all plays out.

By the time World's Finest Comics # 245 hit stores in 1977, Jenette Kahn had been DC Comics' publisher for about a year. Her predecessor, Carmine Infantino, had been keenly interested in exploiting the company's vast archive of old comics stories, often flooding the market with reprints. In those days long before comic book publishers paid royalties to creators for the re-use of their work, reprints required no payments to the original writers or artists; they were a cheap supply of product to fuel Infantino's attempts at grabbing back retail space and market share in a shrinking industry. That plan was what gave birth to the original 100-Page Super Spectaculars in the first place.

Kahn was having none of that. She wanted to emphasize new, to create excitement and draw readers with the allure of fresh content. The Super Specs had already disappeared while Infantino was still at DC's helm, but frequent reprints remained a part of his template. Under Kahn, reprints would only be used sparingly, and only to showcase exceptional and acclaimed material from DC's past. 

And Kahn was absolutely right.

I loved the cavalcade of old comics that appeared in the Super Specs, in DC Special, in Wanted and Secret Origins, and as back-ups in regular titles. But this was not the future of comics, nor an effective way for a comics publisher to remain viable in the moment. As much as I adored reading Golden Age Kid Eternity stories, the few kids still buying comics weren't likely to fork over their quarters to grab that stuff when they could spend less and get current comic-book pizzazz from any random Marvel Comics title.

Like Infantino, Kahn was also interested in finding ways for DC's offerings to survive in the tailspin of late-'70s comics retail. DC's Dollar Books grew out of this: 80-page packages pushing new rather than old. The venerable Superman-Batman team-up title World's Finest Comics was one of the first of these Dollar Books, and it wasn't a bad value. It cost ten cents more than three 30-cent regular books, and it contained the editorial equivalent of one extra story for your extra dime. The initial Dollar Book World's Finest line-up retained the Superman-Batman lead feature, and added The Green Arrow, The Black Canary, The Vigilante, and Wonder Woman (the latter starring in new adventures set during World War II, tying into the '40s milieu of the WW TV series starring Lynda Carter). WFC became a Dollar Book with its 244th issue.

Man, this is a lot of preamble for a freakin' 100-Page FAKE!

Nonetheless! Our most recent faux Super Spec was Adventure Comics # 451, which concluded The Martian Manhunter's brief Adventure run with a cliffhanger to be resolved in World's Finest Comics # 245. I am far too obsessive to leave both of my 100-Page FAKES! fans dangling like that, so we're forced to turn our dim widdle Boppin' spotlight on this issue of World's Finest Comics.

To make this into a 100-Page FAKE!, we have to throw out all of the then-new material that originally supported the lead story. We replaced Green Arrow with a landmark 1969 story from The Brave And The Bold, teaming Green Arrow with Batman and introducing artist Neal Adams' iconic redesign of The Emerald Archer's look. We go back to 1948 for The Black Canary, go to a 1972 Vigilante appearance, and conclude with a 1948 Wonder Woman story. That still leaves room for The Marvel Family, who would eventually star in new adventures of real-world issues of the dollar-sized World's Finest Comics. Any excuse to bring in Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Junior, and Mary Marvel is awright by me. SHAZAM!

Superman, The Batman, and The Manhunter From Mars in "Today Mars, Tomorrow...The Universe," World's Finest Comics # 245 (June-July 1977)
The Batman and The Green Arrow in "The Senator's Been Shot!," The Brave And The Bold # 85 (August-September 1969)
The Black Canary in "The Huntress Of The Highway!," Flash Comics # 92 (February 1948)
The Vigilante in "Snow-White Death!," Adventure Comics # 426 (December-January 1972-1973)
"The Marvel Family And The Hoax City," The Marvel Family # 45 (March 1950)
Wonder Woman in "The Swinging Scimitar!," Sensation Comics # 80 (August 1948)

All characters are copyright DC Comics Inc., and can only be shown in sample pages. My paid subscribers see the whole thing.

But what of those Green Arrow, Black Canary, Vigilante, and Wonder Woman stories that appeared in the actual World's Finest Comics # 245? It's gonna take two more 100-Page FAKES! to deal with those. We'll return in the near future with Wonder Woman and The Vigilante starring in a phony 100-page edition of Sensation Comics. Just because Jenette Kahn was right doesn't mean we can't pretend otherwise.


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