BHOC: FOUR STAR SPECTACULAR #3

Bought this issue of FOUR-STAR SPECTACULAR at my regular 7-11 (to which I still could not journey myself; I needed to wait for some adult to be going there in order to get comics.) The attraction here, apart from it being another big reprint collection, was the Green Lantern story, the Emerald Crusader having become my second-favorite hero besides the Flash.

FOUR-STAR SPECTACULAR remained a mixed bag all the way through its short run, at least to me. Pretty much everything in this issue faded in memory until I pulled it out to look at it for this write-up. The cover I remember, with its big meatball-creature threatening Superboy and Supergirl, and Green Lantern being sucked into his power battery. But the specific stories, nothing.

The Wonder Woman story that opened the issue was a pretty but typically silly affair from the creative team of Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru. Kanigher’s writing style can best be described as “stream of consciousness.” He was a good writer but often showcased a disdain for the medium in which he was working, causing him to not give the work a ton of focus. This story, for example, concerns a bet made between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor that if Trevor needs her help three times in the space fo 24 hours, she’ll agree to marry him. A bit of a sucker’s bet, that. But it all works out in the end.

Next up is this single Superboy’s Workshop craft page from the 1940s, which I remember mostly because the tumbling clown was so creepy-looking. I had learned my lesson from those 3-D dioramas on the backs of the Treasury Editions that I didn’t have the skill to pull something like this off, let alone cutting up one of my comics for.

Next came a story from the later days of editor Mort Weisenger’s stewardship of the Superman line of titles featuring a seemingly-impossible meeting between Supergirl and Superboy–impossible because Superboy had grown to manhood by the time that Supergirl arrived on Earth. But we learn that, when investigating a strange crystal asteroid, Superboy was knocked unconscious by a probe from Argo City sent by Supergirl’s father Zor-El.

Brought back to Argo City by the probe, Superboy has amnesia (and no powers within its Kryptonlike environment. So Zor-El and Allura give him the name of their dead nephew, Kal-El, what irony! He spends most of his time frolicking through Argo City with Kara, his cousin, not realizing that they are related. But when Argo City violates the airspace of the strange meatball-creature from the cover, it demands the sacrifice of a single person to allow the City-Ship to pass. Superboy pushes his way past Zor-El to be that sacrifice–and once outside of Argo City, his powers and memories return and he makes short work of the creature, but has forgotten his stopover in Argo City. Strangely, this was ostensibly a Supergirl story, but Kara doesn’t really do much of anything noteworthy in it.

Finally came the highlight for me, the Green Lantern story, illustrated by his originating artist, Gil Kane. As promised by the cover, it opens with GL recharging his Power Ring and being mysteriously drawn into the Power Battery itself and transported to an unknown part of space. It turns out this is the work of Energiman, a super hero from another galaxy who requires the Emerald Crusader’s assistance.

Energiman is part of a whole team of alien super heroes, a fact that excited my interest, even though they were pretty uninspired creations. Energiman is, in fact, dead, the victim of the evil alien Vant Orl, but his powers work the same frequency as the Power Ring, and with his last breath he begs GL’s assistance to overcome the creature that has decimated his teammates and ravaged his world. Despite Vant Orl sapping his willpower, Green lantern powers through to victory, and in the aftermath pledges that he’ll petition the Guardians of the Universe to appoint a Green Lantern to this space-sector to take Energiman’s place.

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