It was time for a new issue of SUPERMAN FAMILY to drop, and so I dutifully purchased this Dollar Comic from the 7-11 that week. SUPERMAN FAMILY was a bit of an inertial pick-up from me–I wasn’t particularly or especially drawn to any of its myriad of strips, and yet I liked Superman and his world in general, and that was enough to carry me through more often than not. This issue folds new adventures of Superboy into the package, the Boy of Steel having given up his home in ADVENTURE COMICS not all that long before.
Page count reductions and a reluctance to increase the cover price on the Dollar Comics was forcing DC to adjust the package a bit. So starting with this issue, the letters pages took up the inside covers of the book. With seven features for your buck, you were still getting a lot of entertainment value. The opening Superboy adventure was written by Tom DeFalco, most recently of Archie Comics, and Joe Staton, whose cartoony style was a good fit for the feature. It’s a pot-boiler concerning a robotic craft that a colleague of Jor-El’s sent out into space to find a new world for the doomed Kryptonians to emigrate to. Despite the fact that Krypton is long destroyed, the probe is still carrying out its mission to locate and secure such a world. After being stymied in a few different ways to deal with it, Superboy is able to lure it into a solar system with a red sun, and to use a Superboy robot to destroy it.
The following Jimmy Olsen adventure is also written by DeFalco, and drawn by SUPERMAN FAMILY mainstay Kurt Schaffenberger. It guest-stars the Newsboy Loegion–DeFalco related years afterwards that editor E. Nelson Bridwell had a bunch of continuity points that he wanted to clean up, and that his deal with Nelson was that he’d do Jimmy Olsen in that fashion if he coudl approach his other assignments more universally. This particular tale kicks off a running quest for the Newsboy Legion’s mentor, the Guardian, who has disappeared. In the interim, Mal of the Teen Titans had adopted the Guardian’s guise, and so Jimmy and the Newsboys head out to question Mal about where he got his gear. They show up just as obscure Teen Titans enemy the Flamesplasher Twins show up looking for payback, and everybody kind of fights everybody. In the end, Mal tells Jimmy that he got the Guardian outfit out of Speedy’s locker at Teen Titans headquarters (why he was prowling around in Speedy’s locker in the first place is sloshed over) which sends them in the Boy Bowman’s direction for their next story.
Next came a Krypto adventure that continued to pair the pooch hero with private detective Ed Lacy, who is searching for his nephew, who is on the run from a murder charge. When they’re caught up in traffic outside of Chicago, Krypto flies ahead and his timely arrival saves Lacy’s nephew Tommy from being killed by a gunman dispatched to get rid of him. It’s a fine-though-somewhat-silly little story of the sort that you just don’t see anymore. Bob Toomey wrote it and Juan Ortiz was the artist. This whole series was a bit of a weird thing to publish even at the time.
After that was a Supergirl story that was the high point of the issue for me. Not because of the Maid of Steel per se, though I had nothing against her, but rather because writer Gerry Conway and artist Arvell Jones teamed her up in this first chapter of a three-part tale with the new Doom Patrol who had been introduced a year or two earlier in SHOWCASE. I really liked that group, so I was happy to see them turn up again. In this adventure, the Patrol and Supergirl both independently come up against villains with weapons that affect gravity in opposite ways and who are clearly connected in some manner. But exactly what it’s all about would have to wait for the next chapter.
Tom DeFalco was back in the writer’s chair for the next story, a Lois Lane adventure in which she works to track down a stolen baby. It’s a fine outing for Lois, who is depicted as capable and competent as she goes undercover with her goofball friend, the Human Cannonball, to investigate and bring down a black market adoption ring. The Human Cannonball was a special favorite of mine, a bit of a good-natured doofus who hung around Lois because he figured she could give his aspiring super hero career good press the way she did for Superman. He never really caught on, and once DeFalco left the Lois strip, so did he.
After that, there was a Superman story by Gerry Conway and Kurt Schaffenberger. It sees Clark Kent summoned by a character introduced in a couple of old Superboy stories, Clark’s Uncle Silas. The wealthy old man is nearing his demise, and so he wants Clark to inherit all of his wealth. Clark’s cousin Jillian doesn’t seem to have any problem with this, as she doesn’t believe in inherited wealth. But one person who does is Silas’ manservant Hansom, who tries to put both Clark and Jillian out of the way so that he can secure the inheritance. Bad move, dude. Everything comes out well in the end, Hansom is caught and Jillian is going to use her Uncle’s money to set u a charitable foundation.
Finally, the issue wraps up with a story set within the world of the Bottle City of Kandor, starring that city’s Batman-inspired caped crusaders, Nightwing and Flamebird. So it’s a sort of Batman-lite adventure in which Kandor’s dynamic duo solve a baffling murder mystery. It’s sort of a weird thing to read, in that all of the details concern Kandor’s society, which while similar to civilization on Earth, is also different in many ways. So there’s really no way that a reader can make heads or tails of the murder investigation, they just need to get on board with whatever facts the story puts forward to them.