BHOC: DC SPECIAL #21

The next book I picked up at the 7-1 was the final super hero issue of DC SPECIAL for the time being–with the following release, the book began reprinting Three Musketeers stories and the like, which didn’t interest me. I feel like I’m harping on him and his work, but it’s unavoidable given that he was doing pretty much all of the covers for the super hero line at this point: Ernie Chua/Chan’s cover for this issue is pretty weak stuff. 

The first story in this oversized issue was a pretty good Superman adventure in which the Man of Steel has to contend with a plague of super-insects and creatures from space–creatures that are even more powerful than he is, are impervious to Kryptonite, and cannot (for some reason never quite explained) be projected into the Phantom Zone.

Turns out that it’s the work of a band of death-obsessed aliens from a Red Sun world that’s even larger than Krypton and has even greater gravity–so that the super-creatures are even more powerful than Superman on Earth. Superman finds their ark and uses it to get to the alien world, just in time for the Death-Aliens to explain their plan to him before they destroy their own planet as their finishing touch. Superman escapes–and the fragments of the giant world that are drawn back to Earth in his wake prove to be just as fatal to the colossal creatures as Kryptonite is to him! Lucky break!

Next up is a relatively early and completely ridiculous Green Lantern story. It’s a Leap Year, the one instance where its proper for a young lady to propose marriage to a man. So Carol Ferris intends to corner Green Lantern. In order to get out of this conundrum, GL creates a huge menace with his Power Ring that he must dash off to combat despite Carol’s question. But when klutzy GL gets knocked unconscious by a child’s radio-controlled airplane, the creature he created runs wild!

GL’s Menace has the rudimentary thought processes of a child, but that doesn’t prevent it from causing mayhem. The military is called out to stop the creature, but their weapons are useless against its Power-Beam-created hide. Eventually, Hal wakes up, races to the scene and disintegrates the creature with his Power Ring before Coast City can be nuked. And then, he gets lucky in that the members of the Green lantern Fan Club, all of whom are women, accost him, each one asking him to marry them. This gives GL the cloud cover to declare that, since he can’t marry all of them, he’ll marry none. And so, Hal Jordan’s bachelorhood is saved!

Next up is a beautifully-drawn installment of the War That Time Forgot, illustrated by Russ Heath. I didn’t care much for war stories, though, so this tale of a Cop-turned-G.I. and the criminal who escaped from him, now also a G.I., being trapped on the mysterious island of dinosaurs as they fight World War Ii didn’t do much for me. I was surprised years later to discover that the War That Time Forgot was a series–I just assumed that this tale was a one-off.

Finally, the issue closes with a key Marvel Family story, the one in which the Rock of Eternity, Shazam’s home-away-from-home is introduced! When Billy Batson finds a crook peddling the Book of Shazam at an old bookshop, he and Mary and Freddy Freeman attempt to return it to the Old Wizard. But when he doesn’t appear in his usual spot, they use the book to learn about the Rock of Eternity, which sits atop the crossroads of time, and from which every point in time and space is accessible.

Turns out that Shazam had built the Rock to entomb the personification of Evil, who can split himself into three forms: Sin, Wickedness and Terror. The three-in-one demon escapes captivity and steals Pandora’s Box from Shazam, requiring the Marvel Family to split up and hunt him down across all of time and space. They naturally succeed in detaining him, and by story’s end he is once again buried under the colossal Eternity Rock.

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