DC put a huge push behind the roll-out of their Dollar Comics line of titles, but for the most part they weren’t very appealing to me. And the reason for that is that none of them were really very good. Oh, they were all adequate, competent comic books. But each one contained a ton of material that I was indifferent towards, and didn’t carry a feature or two that i simply had to read. As such, I (and I imagine a lot of other readers) largely gave them a pass. They were a good idea, and it might have worked with other titles or other talent. In any event, I did buy this issue of SUPERMAN FAMILY for reasons that I will reveal shortly.
The good part about the format was that, like the 100-Page Super-Spectaculars that I had loved growing up, each Dollar Comic was fat-packed with stories, a half-dozen of them on average. This issue opens on a Jimmy Olsen tale written by a young Tom DeFalco in his pre-Marvel/post-Archie days. It’s a boiler plate tale in which Olsen investigates reports of an old woman who can control insects and her hateful neighbors who want to drive her out of the community because she’s so weird. I’m not sure what you’d need to do in order to get me to fully invest in a Jimmy Olsen story, but this one slid off of me like teflon.
Now, the story I picked up this issue of SUPERMAN FAMILY to read was this one, a Superman adventure by Gerry Conway and Curt Swan, the first of two parts, which teamed up the familiar Earth-1 Superman with his older Earth-2 counterpart. I was already a sucker for the Earth-2 concept, so it was easy to draw me in with those original super heroes in any story. In this one, the Jimmy Olsen of Earth-2 needs an organ donor, and not finding one on his Earth, the Superman of Earth-2 realizes that he could get one from the Jimmy of Earth-1. Unfortunately, on Earth-1 professor Potter is messing around with the JLA’s interdimensional transporter, resulting in not Superman-2 but a giant beast-man called Krogg coming through the dimensional barrier. Krogg proceeds to kick the hell out of Superman–but just as things look worse, the Earth-2 Superman makes his way across the breach and issues challenge! To Be Continued!
This is followed up by a forgettable Lois Lane story. In it, Lois’s friend Melba disappears while on assignment investigating the dictatorship of Oranga, where President-for-Life Ada Baba is creating a totalitarian regime. Lois and Superman infiltrate Oranga to rescue Melba and liberate the country, but Baba is able to mesmerize Superman with a Kryptonite pendant, forcing Lois and Melba to take maters into their own hands. The whole thing is pretty simplistic and just a shade racist, sadly–it doesn’t age well.
Next up is another weird and silly entry in the ongoing Krypto series. At this point, Krypto had been adopted by private detective Ed Lacy, using the cover name Jocko. Together, Krypto and Ed had little adventures. In this one, Ed has Krypto performing in a movie shoot, but there’s a bad guy trying to kill Ed in revenge for having been sent to prison. Also, the movie producers want Krypto to wear this big, oversized Superman-style cape, which he’s not down with. It all plays out much as you’d expect. The bad guy is caught, nobody is hurt, everything resets to status quo by the end.
This is followed by an adventure of Nightwing and Flamebird. Not the hero who was once Robin–this Nightwing and Flamebird are the Batman and Robin of the bottle city of Kandor, using high-tech gadgets to fight crime and lawlessness within that tiny city. For all that it’s a bit of a weird idea, it’s played completely straight here, and the artwork by Ken Landgraf is among the most modern-feeling in the issue. Nightwing and Flamebird are pulled into a timeless limbo by a being called the Overseer, who needs their help to free his land from the sorcerer Blaz the Unconquerable. And they do!
The final tale in the issue is a Supergirl adventure illustrated by Alan Weiss. Weiss’s interpretation of Supergirl continued to be influenced by Farrah Fawcett-Majors, so she was sporting crazy-big hair and a crazy-wide smile. It seems to be the second half of a two-parter, in which Supergirl’s adoptive father Fred Danvers is struck down by a trio of villains, and she spends the episode attempting to save his life. And it’s not just his life that’s at stake, because Fred is the only one who knows how to bring Supergirl’s actual Kryptonian parents out of the interdimensional Survival Zone where they were trapped. But it all works out in the end, and nobody gets all that upset about any of it. It’s one of those stories that DC often did where plot was stronger than characterization/emotion, the antithesis of the Marvel output of the era, which often had threadbare-to-no plots but characterization and emotion up the wahzoo.