Continuing the review of CCC #2, we next come to SHADE THE CHANGING MAN #9… and I have a confession to make. Back in 1978, one of my duties as Assistant Production Manager was proofreading all the books, which, frankly, is not a bad deal for a comics fan. However, of all the titles DC published, the one I always dreaded was SHADE. Twenty-two years later, I couldn’t tell you what exactly about the book I didn’t like, but every time an issue showed up, I’d put off reading it for as long as I could.

Anyway, #9 features Shade in “The Deadly Ally” by Steve Ditko and Michael Fleisher and it opens with the hero heading off to battle Doctor Z.Z. and save Earth and the Meta-Zone. The hero battles Klugs, then gets sucked into a corner of the Zero-Zone where he is subdued by Zekie and forced to join the slave-troops.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Doctor Z.Z.’s agents have disguised as regular folks and are infiltrating something or other. One of Z.Z.’s trusted allies is Wizor, who is actually plotting to overthrow the madman. Wizor is awaiting the arrival of an N-Agent who is two weeks late and who, we find out in a flashback, has been killed by Lt. Emp, who is actually Kempo. Who is Kempo? I don’t know, but a footnote tells us to see SHADE #1.

Shade escapes with a former enemy named Xexlo and eventually defeats Zekie, amidst lots of Ditko’s phantasmagoric art. And when the hero finally arrives on Earth? He floats past the Occult Research Center and notes that the lights are on. “But what’s going on inside? What’s happening with Wizor and Dr. Z.Z.?” he muses. We won’t find out, however; as Shade floats off into the night, he thinks, “Odds are, I’ll find out tomorrow, because that’s when I intend to begin my reconnaissance for my mission.” (Whatever mission all this infiltration has to do with can’t be that critical if it can wait till tomorrow!)

The backup tale in the issue is The Odd Man in “The Pharaoh and the Mummies” written and drawn by Ditko. The Odd Man is on the trail of a killer who dresses as a Pharaoh and mummifies his victims in plastic. The Pharaoh is gathering “Nile Gems” for his queen, the reincarnation of “the first Nile Queen” (Cleopatra, one presumes), but the Odd Man intervenes. After the Pharaoh accidentally mummifies the Queen, he does himself in the same way…in the last (very narrow) panel while the Odd Man shouts, “No! NO! Too late!” Sure looks like Ditko ran out of room at the bottom of page 8 and needed to end the story quickly.

Next up is SHOWCASE #105, starring Deadman in “Requiem for a Deadman” by Len Wein and Gerry Conway, with art by Jim Aparo. This story eventually appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #464, though a two page sequence in which Deadman saves a boy chasing his cat on a building ledge has been excised.

Paul Levitz’s text page in the issue includes some comments about upcoming issues. The Creeper was scheduled for #106 (see next week’s installment), followed by three issues of The Deserter (one of which was in CCC#1, as noted a few columns ago), and then a triple-dip of World of Krypton. WoK instead holds the distinction of being the first comic book miniseries when it came out in 1979.

Next week, we’ll pick up on more of CCC #2, including The Vixen (She’s a Lady Fox!)

1. Batman couldn’t stop this foe, but Bruce Wayne could; who is he?
2. You’d expect him to use birds, but what other weapon does The Penguin employ?
3. Nowadays direct distribution is a fixture, but when Phil Seuling started it, what was his company’s name?
4. Evil brother of Arthur Curry; by what villainous identity is he known?
5. Villain for Marvel, hero for DC, and harbinger of sleep for children everywhere; who?
6. In one version of history, who was “The Seventh Superhero” to join the Legion?
7. Linus never goes anywhere without what bit of security?
8. Scribbly was a comic artist, just like his creator; who was that artist?
9. He traveled through the Zero-Zone from the Meta-Zone to get to Earth; who is he?
10. Ultimately, whose goal was to be reunited with Shalla Bal?
11. This Jones went to Mars in a Burroughs-like novel and a Marvel comic; name him.
12. Eventually, what hero’s son ended up living with his aunt and uncle in Dallas and adopting his father’s identity?

DC’s current “stunt,” publishing a set of “long-lost” Silver Age books centered on a plot in which the villains take over the JLA members bodies, has some good material and some so-so material, despite the fact (or because of it) that some of those involved were not even BORN during the Silver Age.

The covers provide the best art of the series, not too surprising since they got Silver Age mainstays like Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Nick Cardy, et al to do the pencils. The TEEN TITANS, DIAL H FOR HERO, FLASH, GREEN LANTERN, and BRAVE & BOLD ones really looked like they fit somewhere in my collection of Silver Age books. Unfortunately, the interior art, in part because DC went with today’s computer color palette and shading, does not work as well. (Also, some of the artists involved will never be Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson, Dick Dillin or Bruno Premiani.) The books that went with the “TV cartoon” look (a la SUPERMAN ADVENTURES) seem out of place.

As far as writing and Silver Age storytelling sensibilities, TEEN TITANS gets my vote for the best. Marv Wolfman delivers a plot that would have made it way back when. Bob Haney, the only real Silver Age writer involved, turned in a nice BRAVE & BOLD story, though I wondered at times whether he was writing it straight or as a pastiche of what he did for so many years. I also liked the way Kurt Busiek worked a Green Lantern/ Sonar tale into the middle of his story. And Brian Augustyn’s pair of Flash stories – one of which pays no attention at all to the continuity of the stunt — made for a book that was actually typical of the period.

In the “Hello, Mr. Editor, are you paying attention?” Department: In FLASH, Iris and Barry are going to see a “Martin Rickey” concert. While this type of gag was often used in the books, this particular one makes the story present-day rather than however many years ago it’s supposed to be. Much more in place was the bit in CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN in which Prof makes mention of the Internet as a number of government and university computers linked by phone lines. [Frankly, if the Silver Age had actually taken place in 1987, this series would probably be perfect. But Black Canary replacing Wonder Woman in the JLA, Lex Luthor as a business tycoon, and the other bits of post-Crisis business that retconnned DC history are enough to annoy readers who grew up in the REAL Silver Age.]

One other “Hello, Mr. Editor, are you paying attention?” Department (though I’m sure there are more): Blackhawk picks up his new fellow 7 Soldiers “ten miles north of the Calvin City Airport” with a minimal amount of time before the Zeta Beam is going to strike the Earth. “And soon…high above the southern tip of South America…” Does anyone own a map? Does anyone know how fast a plane (particularly that one Blackhawk was piloting) can fly?

The 80-PAGE GIANT SILVER AGE was fun. The plot was brought to an logical conclusion, with a clever Silver Age-ish twist. And the collection of “reprints” in the back, including a Batman story that was originally done for Kellogg’s Pop Tarts or some similar project, gave the book an feeling of “reality.”

All in all, a good try, but if you’re pressed for funds I’d single out the 80-PAGE GIANT as the must-buy, with TEEN TITANS and DIAL H FOR HERO next on the list.

And with that, I’ll see you next week…

“By Nevil Shute”? Why, it’s the start of summer and we’re “On the Beach.”
1. Blockbuster
2. Umbrellas
3. Seagate Distributors
4. Ocean Master
5. Sandman
6. Sun Boy
7. Blanket
8. Shelly Mayer
9. Shade the Changing Man
10. Silver Surfer
11. Gullivar Jones
12. Air Wave

For more trivia, check out the daily Anything Goes Trivia.

Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.


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