BHOC: DC SPECIAL #19

I remained a sucker for oversized reprint comic books, and so DC SPECIAL became, for a time, a go-to title for me. Each issue was built loosely around a theme, and each featured several older super hero stories. I’m pretty sure that it was the Green Lantern tale in this one that led me to pick it up, though the Superman lead didn’t hurt at all.

That Superman story is another winner from the young Jim Shooter, only perhaps 14 years old when he first wrote this tale for editor Mort Weisenger in which the Superman Revenge Squad (a cadre of space-pirates and villains who had been thwarted by Superman in the past and have banded together to destroy him) resurrected Eterno, an unstoppable robot built by a pre-human race civilization that had been trapped deep within the Earth. The Revenge Squad intends to pit this irresistable force against the Man of Steel.

What follows is a very Marvel-style throwdown between Superman and Eterno, who brawl through the streets of Metropolis in the manner of the Hulk and the Thing, with neither combatant able to get the upper hand. It’s an incredible amount of physical action for a Superman story of this vintage. Finally, it’s the Revene Squad that makes a mistake, revealing to Eterno that they’re the ones pulling his strings. The vengeful automaton turns on them, and the two evil forces are wiped out by one another.

This was followed up by a Green lantern story with some very nice artwork by Gil Kane. It’s a rare DC story from this era that Kane inked himself, in his thin-lined marker style, but it really works here. As Hal Jordan, Green Lantern is working as an Insurance Investigator, but when he looks into damage that may have been caused by a meteorite falling to Earth, he finds instead a colossal alien figure who is literally sucking down all of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

After attepting to defeat his colossal enemy from within (and thus justifying the image of GL trapped within the monster’s yellow eye) the Emerald Crusader uses his Power Ring to grow himself to the size of the giant so that he can go all Jack Kirby on his ass. It’s a short race to the finish line of the story from that point on–the second story in a row to feature Marvel-style punch-’em-ups.

The third story was a generic science-fiction yarn about a rampaging giant from outer space who turns out to be just a little alien kid–but not before the military defenders of Earth kill him. It’s a pretty affecting little story–but to me, as a kid, it was filler, despite some very nice Gil Kane artwork on it.

Finally, the issue closes with a Wonder Woman story written by the particularly-absurd Bob Kanigher. Kanigher didn’t plot a Wonder Woman story so much as write it stream-of-consciousness, where events would just careen forward and happen, almost without rhyme or reason. (His war comics work, which he seemed to care about more, was more carefully constructed, typically.)

In this particular story, a brutish alien gladiator is awarded ownership of the Earth for winning a competition, and he captures Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, making them charms for his girlfriend (again, pretty much to justify the cover image rather than for any reason that made real sense.) But the Amazon turns the tables by challenging the giant to another competition, and then must best him in game after game to win out, despite the disadvantage of her relatively-minute size.

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