A figure in the shadows says, “This is your ultimate assignment, Secret Society – destroy the Freedom Fighters!” Being blasted by Mirror Master and Chronos (with Copperhead standing by, ready to pounce) are all seven of the FFers: Human Bomb, Doll Man, Uncle Sam, Firebrand, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Black Condor. Yes, it’s SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS #16, with a cover by Alex Saviuk and Dick Giordano.

“Murder Times Seven” (scripted by yours truly, with art by Dick Ayers and Mike Vosburg) opens with the Silver Ghost, perpetual foe of the Freedom Fighters, hiring the SSoSV to kill his enemies. Paying the tab by turning a desk to solid silver, Ghost tells Mirror Master and Copperhead that he wants them to recruit Chronos, Killer Moth, Quakemaster and Sizematic for the job. When Mirror Master points out that “some of your xchoices are strictly second-rate,” Silver Ghost replies that they are HIS choices and he’s the one footing the bill.

We switch to Provincetown, Massachusetts and Kane’s Kolossal Circus, where the Freedom Fighters have taken up residence and new identities as “Travelin’ Sam’s Six Man (and One Girl) Show.” Darrel Dane gets a phone call from girlfriend / newswoman Martha Roberts, advising him that the Silver Ghost has been spotted in Metropolis, Central City, Sun City, and Coast City.

Uncle Sam decides the team should split up to investigate. He and Doll Man will go to Sun City, while Phantom Lady and Black Condor fly out to Central City. The Ray does not like this plan… seems he wants to spend more time with the FFers distaff member. When she rebuffs him, he storms out, saying he’ll handle Metropolis himself!

Shortly, in the sky above Superman’s home town, The Ray spots the Silver Ghost flying right towards him. However, his target turns out to be Quakemaster riding on the back of Killer Moth, disguised thanks to KM’s “illusion gimmick.” The hero is zapped a number of times by Quakemaster and crashes to the streets below. When Killer Moth remarks that non one could survive such a fall, Quakemaster replies, “I know – but maybe we’d better check the body just in case.” (It’s a good idea, especially since we already know that The Ray was to turn up alive in his own solo series in BLACK LIGHTNING, as I described in a previous column.)

We switch scenes to Earth-2, where The Wizard is currently carrying out his war of the worlds against the Justice Society. So far, The Atom and Dr Mid-Nite have been defeated.

The Wizard’s plan is to begin with the “so-called second-stringers” who so often come through when the big guns are defeated. “I am eliminating these back-up heroes first – and negating any last minute rescue for the more powerful Justice Society members.” Thus, he tells Star Sapphire, Professor Zoom and the Floronic Man, his next target is Mr. Terrific.

We’re treated to a brief recap of Mr. Terrific’s origin and then we find him on a softball field, feeling his age but dressed in his heroic identity. “Don’t know what possessed me to put on my costume and come here,” he thinks. (One presumes The Wizard had something to do with it.) Blockbuster has been recruited to handle this hero, but since he only wants to kill Batman, the Wizard must create an illusion to make Mr. T appear to be the Caped Crusader. Blockbuster tosses the hero around like a rag doll and with Mr. Terrific’s defeat, we switch back to Earth-1.

Killer Moth and Quakemaster can find no trace of a splattered Ray on the streets of Metropolis, but give up their search when Moth says the hero was “a being composed entirely of light energy. It’s quite possible that the impact witht he ground coompletely disintegrated his form and scatter The Ray like a million fireflies.”

Deciding this must be the case, they head back to tell the Silver Ghost they’ve succeeded. But, “many hours later,” we find the battered hero crawling out from a pile of newspapers in the alley. Seems he spotted them at the last second during his fall and they cushioned his landing. (A footnote advises readers to next seek The Ray in BLACK LIGHTNING #11. Amusingly, that story had The Ray falling into Metropolis Harbor rather than onto a pile of newspapers.)

Moth and Quakemaster arrive at SSoSV headquarters with news of their victory as the Silver Ghost is watching a TV monitor. On it, Uncle Sam and Doll Man seem to be chasing the Silver Ghost. This time, it is Copperhead and Sizematic pulling off the illusion and the confrontation is the cliffhanger for this issue.

Next time, it’s SSoSV #17…

If you found a pair of monogrammed cufflinks with the initials “J.S.” at a comic convention, you’d be hard-pressed to identify the correct owner. Can you name all the “J.S.”es described?

1. Cleveland teens who together created an American icon.
2. He’s best known for his work on Little Lulu.
3. His work on Nick Fury drew much attention then…and in a recent TPB.
4. His revival of The Flash spawned the Silver Age.
5. He began writing Legion stories as a kid and was eventually Marvel’s e-i-c.
6. Co-creator of E-Man with Nicola Cuti.
7. His tenure as Bat-editor included bizarre transformations and alien visitors.
8. Co-creator of BLACK MAGIC, YOUNG ROMANCE and the Boy Commandos.
9. Longtime inker of Kirby on Fantastic Four and Thor.
10. DC colorist whose favorite color seemed to be green.
11. His war-book work is highly regarded…and his sister’s in the biz too.
12. The creator of Bone
13. He created the epic battle between Thanos and Captain Marvel

And while we’re on the subject of “J.S.” – a Happy 85th Birthday to Julius Schwartz this week!


Solicited in the month’s DIAMOND PREVIEWS for an August on-sale is STRANGE PIRATE TALES #1, a 48-page anthology that is the first book published by Big Hairy Ape Comics. Written and drawn by Steve Mannion, a former DC production bullpen artist, it features the seafaring tales of Brownhole Jones, Steampipe Johnny and Sea Goin’ Lil.

Mannion’s got a style reminiscent of the old MAD comics – there’s definite influence of Wally Wood, Will Elder, and Joe Orlando in there — complete with innovative layouts, exaggerated anatomy, and extra bits going on all around the page. In fact, there are some pages where I felt like I was reading a MAD parody of the old EC PIRACY book.

In the promo material, BHA Publisher Andy Marinkovich says he can’t understand why Mannion isn’t drawing regularly for one of the big publishers. (He did a three-issue series, Christina Winters: Agent Of Death, for Eros Comics in the mid-90s and some pages for DC’s Big Books series.) I have to agree; his art is just plain fun to look at.

If there’s anything lacking here, one could argue in favor of Mannion handing over scripting chores to a stronger writer. The stories are fine, but some snappier dialogue would push STRANGE PIRATE TALES from a good read to a must read.

This is the first in a trilogy of anthologies from Big Hairy Ape. STRANGE FAIRY TALES and STRANGE BATTLE TALES, both also by Mannion, will follow in September and October. I’m looking forward to seeing them.

[SPECIAL OFFER: Order a copy of STRANGE PIRATE TALES from the SBC Store this week and take an extra 10% off the price! Don’t just sit there! Do it now!!]

Does your non-comics trivia (the Fun Facts) still exist? One of my friends keeps pestering me to send it to him.
? Mark Muller [m.muller@gplus.com.au]

Mark’s referring to BobRo’s Fun Facts to Know & Tell, a feature of my weekly chatroom that I used to post on a couple of comics discussion lists. On many occasions, the Fun Facts tied into the Trivia Theme for the week. For Mark and all others who enjoy it, I’m adding Fun Facts to this column every week, starting right now…

1. Pablo Picasso’s “Blue Period” was so named by his friend, poet Jaime Sabartes.
2. Jacqueline Susann’s “Valley of the Dolls” was the best-selling novel of 1966.
3. Jack Spratt could eat no fat; his wife could eat no lean. Both eventually died of malnutrition.

[By having his letter used here, Mark gets the chance to take an extra 10% off anything he orders here at SBC this week. YOU can take advantage of that bonus too. Send your questions using that convenient little box in the column on the left right now!]

That’ll do it until next time. See ya back here in seven…


1. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
2. John Stanley
3. Jim Steranko
4. Julius Schwartz
5. Jim Shooter
6. Joe Staton
7. Jack Schiff
8. Joe Simon
9. Joe Sinnott
10. Jerry Serpe
11. John Severin
12. Jeff Smith
13. Jim Starlin

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


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


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