August 3, 2017

DC Silver Age - February and March 1956

February 1956

Detective Comics (1937) 230 - "The Sleuth Without a Clue" (No writer listed, Joe Certa)

I started a sentence in which I referred to Martian Manhunter as a superhero and then I questioned whether he really qualifies as such at this point. On the one hand, he's a hero and he has what are, when compared to an average human, super-powers. On the other hand, apropos to this title, these are detective stories where the sleuth happens to be an alien in disguise. I see elements of crime and science fiction. I believe it will be sometime before J'onn J'onzz dons a superhero costume. I suppose it doesn't matter so much; honestly, I just don't have a lot to say about this tale. J'onzz loses his powers for a bit and has to solve a case without relying on them. 3/5

Also in this issue: "The Mad Hatter of Gotham City" (Batman) and "The Man of a Hundred Hoaxes" (Roy Raymond)

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen (1955) 12 - "Jimmy Olsen, Prince of Clowns," "The Secret of Dinosaur Island," "The Invisible Jimmy Olsen" (Otto Binder, Curt Swan, Ray Burnley)

In the first yarn, Jimmy substitutes for the son in a father-son clown act when the son injures himself. The wrinkle: this is supposed to be the son's debut and the father tries to sabotage him since he thinks his son stinks at clowning and should pursue another career! Only he's attempting to ruin Jimmy's performance instead and Mr. Olsen has a powerful friend to prevent him from failing. In the end, it turns out the son is a good clown after all. Later, on an island where dinosaurs exist, the best part of the story is Superman hiding inside of a robot with "THIS ROBOT IS TRAINED TO SMASH YOUR CAMERA" written on its chest. Finally... yup, Jimmy is invisible. Well, not just invisible, but stuck in the 4th dimension! 3/5 

March 1956

Detective Comics (1937) 231 -  "The Thief Who Had Super-Powers" (No writer listed, Joe Certa) 

Yup, there's a thief who has super-powers. They didn't screw about with the titles back in the day. Initially J'onn suspects said thief is an illusionist, but he turns out to be another martian. The Manhunter finds himself tempted once more with an opportunity to return home: the thief has a belt that was holding him in exile in space but could be used to travel to Mars. That would leave the thief free to terrorize Earth, though, so J'onn does the heroic thing and uses the belt to send the thief back into exile. 3/5 

Also in this issue: "Batman, Junior" and "The Mystery of the Brain Exchanger" (Roy Raymond) 

World's Finest Comics (1941) 82 - "The Three Super Musketeers" (Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang, Stan Kaye) 

We know there was a French prisoner in the late 17th Century; we know that he was held for over thirty years; we know that his face was covered to hide his identity. What we don't seem to know for certain is who he was and that has fascinated people ever since. He's become known as the Man in the Iron Mask, but his mask was probably velvet not iron. Lots of people have speculated as to this man's identity including Edmond Hamilton. Actually, Hamilton doesn't so much speculate as just invent someone for the purpose of his story, I think. He's not doing history, he's writing a silly comic story. And it's pretty silly. It seems a Dr. Nichols regularly sends Batman and Robin into the past to solve mysteries. Kind of cheating, if you ask me, but anyway... Superman finds out about this and wants to come along. And then he proceeds to hog most of the action for himself as he and the Dynamic Duo parade around in musketeer hats over their regular superhero duds. Did I mention it's silly? Still, I was entertained, even if Hamilton doesn't have much to say about the actual mystery of this Iron... Man. 3/5

Also in this issue: "The Indian Fortune Teller" (Tomahawk) and "The Pictures of Peril" (Green Arrow) 

My thanks to the site Mike's Amazing World of Comics without which this project would not be possible.

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