BHOC: SUPERMAN #272

I know that I owned this SUPERMAN 100-Page Super-Spectacular–my second book in this beloved format–but i remember relatively little about it beyond that. I’d imagine that this is because I didn’t have it for very long, for reasons that will become apparent in a few entries.

I’ve always loved this format–the size and heft of it, the variety of different stories packed within. As a kid, I never minded the reprints–these were all new stories to me. And, if we’re being completely honest, it was usually the stories that had been crafted in the 1960s that I enjoyed the most anyway.

The issue opens with a reprint of the second appearance of Mr. Mxyztplk. It’s a silly golden age story, but especially if you haven’t already read a bunch of Mxyztplk stories, it’s pretty fun. The reproduction on it is a bit rough, though–with many of these golden age stories, DC was having to have modern artists trace the originals, and in slightly better cases heavily touch up inferior reproduction materials.

The second story is 60s vintage, a Jimmy Olsen tale in which the gases contained in a mysterious old chest make Jimmy hallucinate that it is Pandora’s Box of demons, which causes all sorts of problems for himself and Superman. The third story is another golden age tale, this one featuring the recurring pair of Hocus and Pocus, magicians at large, This story I can recall bits of, in particular the fact that Superman needs to perform all of the magic for the hapless magicians. There’s a bit in this story that I didn’t quite buy even at six, in which Superman is ale to simultaneously carry Hocus and Pocus across the city while himself remaining invisible by vibrating beyond the speed the human eye can see. Certainly Hocus and Pocus would at least feel something, right?

The most memorable story in this issue is the next tale, a Green Lantern adventure drawn by the excellent Gil Kane. This was the second entry in the round-robin Zatanna’s Quest series, which ran through assorted issues of Julie Schwartz’s super hero comics in the 1960s. Zatanna was on a quest to locate her missing father, Zatara, who had been a hero in the golden age. To do so, she enlisted in turn the aid of a different super hero each time out–and this go, Green Lantern was the man of the moment.

Next up is another golden age story, in which Lois Lane imagines that the great champion who saved a medieval town from a ruthless wizard was actually the Man of Steel. It’s a fun trifle, though again the art is a little bit rough.

Finally, there’s a two-parter in which the sorceress Circe forces Superman to stand on his head for most of the story. This is, of course, all a hoax, as Circe is actually Saturn Woman of the Adult Legion of Super Heroes, and Superman needed to remain inverted for his super-powers to work because of a ray turned on him by the Superman Revenge Squad. The whole affair was to convince the SRS that their ray had had no effect on Superman whatsoever. A long way to go for such a simple matter? Clearly you are not familiar with Silver Age Superman stories!

The issue also included a number of other fun features, such as this two-page sequence where different DC artists reinterpreted Superman and Clark Kent for the 1970s.

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