BHOC: ACTION COMICS #434

In the era when I first grew up reading comics, they were still pretty ubiquitous. Pretty much any kid between the ages of 6-9 was likely to have a few, and to read them semi-regularly. This tapered off into nothing as I got older and as the tastes of kids changed, and as comics became less easy to find. All of this is to say that I had a neighbor, Johnny Rantinella, who often got comics, and who I would sometimes trade with. I know, for example, that he had JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #110 with a lead story in which Santa Claus is murdered (it’s just a stand-in) and which contained my first glimpse of the Justice Society of America. But he never let that particular comic go, at least not to me.

But at some point, he did trade me this one. I’m not certain for what–it might have been a war comic or a weird comic (genres I had very little interest in, though I do remember being fascinated by the ads for STRANGE SPORTS STORIES and CHAMPIONSHIP SPORTS, despite the fact that I wasn’t at all interested in sports for the most part.)

It’s the first part of te two-part story I’d already read the conclusion of in ACTION #435 some months earlier, so there wasn’t really much to it. I already knew that teh villains were Dr. Xadu and Zena, and that they’d be hypnotizing Superman into trying to destroy the world. The usual slick Curt Swan artwork was buried here beneath that crude, serviceable inking of Vinnie Colletta–long before becoming aware of his history with Jack Kirby’s work, I didn’t like his stuff.

It was still kind of fun to see Clark Kent cry out in pain as he breaks a tooth eating sinister candy planted by Dr Xadu. Likewise, I could relate to him having to go to see the dentist, as my teeth were already crummy enough that I’d ended up there myself. Also nice is that Lois immediately dopes out what is going on, but gets hypnotized into forgetting it for her troubles.

But very little of the issue involved Superman. He’s in action in the opening, where he takes on a tank disguised as a sanitation truck, but that’s about it. This is the Clark Kent show all the way through from that point on. Nothing wrong with that per se, but as a kid I’d have preferred more Superman.

And the cliffhanger is solid enough, if understated. As I’d already read the follow-up earlier, there wasn’t much of a hook here for me. A pleasant enough issue, but nothing noteworthy.

The back-up was a fun Green Arrow story guest-starring Zatanna, in which the Maid of Magic accidentally took on the persona of Black canary after mystically channeling her martial arts prowess. The adventure is pedestrian, but the interactions between Ollie, Dinah and Zatanna are pretty great here.

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