A Tribute to the of

Reprints rock! And I don’t say that simply because I got to author a piece in BACK ISSUE #81 about them. Whether it’s an 80-page giant, 100-page Super Spectacular, DC Special or any other configuration, to include the wonderful Famous First Editions, I love ‘em all.

So, I was at my local comic shop recently, looking for the latest Bane Conquest (which wasn’t on the rack) and decided to peruse the discount long boxes. They’ve got one wall with many of them and you can get six for $20.00 according to the hand-lettered sign. As I was poking around, I stumbled across a copy of Detective Comics #440, DC Special #19 containing a collection of stories about giants and an unfamiliar title, the Super DC Giant. All were in reader to better shape, so I dropped a ten-spot and happily made my way home. At first glance, each has good stuff to offer (and God bless the efforts of E. Nelson Bridwell, who was the go-to guy for selecting reprint stories), but I was particularly intrigued with Super DC Giant #27 from Summer of 1976 featuring “Strange Flying Saucers Adventures” and a cover by Ernie Chan. Also, according to the Grand Comic Database, the logo was by Gaspar Saladino. At first it reminded me a lot of John Workman’s Swamp Thing logo, but the identification is credited to Todd Klein, who definitely knows his stuff.

Julie Schwartz is our editor with Nelson as Associate Editor and Bob Rozakis as Assistant Editor and the reprints are all culled from classic issues of Strange Adventures, the first (and the story I’ve chosen to review here) is from issue #114 with a publication date of March, 1960. “Secret of the Flying Buzzsaw!” is scripted by Gardner Fox with art by the great Russ Heath. The original cover was by Gil Kane and Joe Giella and Julie was the editor back then as well.

The splash page sets the stage as an astronaut on a lunar landscape is struggling mightily to get to his Graviton, a spherical contraption with a transparent surface and futuristic machinery inside. He is apparently on a white dwarf star, whose tremendous gravity is impeding his progress and of course it’s about to explode.

Just as a quick side note, Russ Heath’s art is a bit reminiscent of some of Wally Wood’s fantastic work on his science fiction stories.

As we turn the page, a fleet of flying saucers have descended upon New York City and are busily driving metal piles into the earth. One, the “flying Buzzsaw” from the title, neatly slices off a large section of a skyscraper as part of their efforts. Fortunately, it’s a holiday and the building is empty, but they are getting plenty of attention and soon the Air Force is attacking, but their weaponry simply bounces off the other-worldly craft.

One of the aliens, watching from his saucer, wonders why Soloran hasn’t fulfilled his task of warning the earthlings of their mission and that they’re trying to help avert disaster. The answer to his rhetorical question lies in the western desert where Soloran’s craft has crash-landed and he’s just now regaining consciousness.

Switching scenes, Rick Jordan and his wife are hurtling along a desert highway in a convertible when they discover a figure crying for help. It turns out to be Soloran. They take him to Rick’s laboratory and he telepathically communicates the news that a white dwarf star is flying into the solar system right toward the Earth.

Soloran then goes into flashback mode as he explains that his people originally came from Aradia, a planet in this very solar system millions of years ago that was prosperous, but was also in the pathway of the white dwarf, which shattered the planet. Fortunately, many of them were able to escape via their flying saucers, but there were no habitable worlds, so they had to travel out of our solar system. All that remains of their world is the asteroid belt and they’ve come to try and save the Earth from the same dwarf star danger by building a repeller beam.

Jordan leaps to his ham radio to alert the populace. Soloran explains that they’ve carefully calculated the placement of the repeller and the beam is designed to strike the white dwarf and alter its trajectory.

Soon the apparatus is completed, but an alien ship that has been tracking the star out in space reports that it’s moving more slowly than anticipated. The plan won’t work now and they speculate that the white dwarf will flatten everything in its pathway on the Earth by virtue of its pressure wave, while the massive gravitational pull will suck everything else into the void of space. It ain’t looking pretty, folks.

Rick Jordan, unwilling to give up, proposes that he can do something. He believes he can bomb blast the white dwarf from one of their ships. The aliens explain the folly of his notion, describing the gravity is 3,400,000 times that of the Earth and no one could place a bomb charge on its surface.

Jordan replies that his creation, the Graviton, could allow the mission to work as he could reduce gravity to zero, emerge long enough to place the bomb and get out of danger. Soon, the mission begins five billion miles from Earth, where Rick, in a specially pressurized space suit, is lowered in the Graviton to the white dwarf star.

Once on the surface and still temporarily under the influence of the zero gravity from the Graviton, Rick Jordan places the titanium bomb, but his respite is brief and he fights mightily to get back to the Graviton before the destructive explosion. Straining with every fiber of his being, Rick Jordan at last makes it back inside the Graviton and it is lifted from the surface of the white dwarf star by the waiting alien vessel. Triumphantly, he observes the destruction of the threat to his home world and returns the conquering hero. Not a bad little adventure for only 9 pages and Russ Heath’s art was beautifully suited to the task. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a Russ heath science fiction story before, but this was a real treat. Good ol’ Gardner Fox, along with the ever science-minded Julie Schwartz was another ace in the hole. I give this story a solid 8 on the 10-point rating scale. Science-Fiction and comics is a pretty great combination and the Strange Adventures title did them right. I’m looking forward to delving into this issue further and don’t be surprised if it’s used again for another feature here at the Silver Lantern.

The webmaster and I appreciate your spending time with us and hope you’ve enjoyed your visit. Be sure to let us know your thoughts at: professor_the@hotmail.com. We’ll be glad to get back to you.

We’ll have another story to explore right at this very URL on the 15th of the month.

See you then and…

Long live the Silver Age!

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