Tales from the Calendar: Adventure Comics 207

Each month I'll be writing about the comic behind the cover featured that month in the 2018 Vintage DC Comics Calendar from Asgard Press.  This month, it's Adventure Comics 207, a cover drawn by two Superman legends, Curt Swan and Ray Burnley, which is featured in the calendar's 2017 wrap up page.

As some background, Adventure 207 is cover dated December, 1954.  It hit the newsstand October 28, 1954.  As was the case with all of DC's non-specific titles, Adventure was an anthology.  At this point in time, the title was featuring Superboy and a rotation of Aquaman, Green Arrow, and Johnny Quick.  This particular issue was the final Golden Age appearance of Johnny Quick, with Aquaman and Green Arrow manning the backup spots for the next sixty-two issues until Green Arrow moved to World's Finest and was replaced by Congorilla in Adventure starting with issue 270, cover date March, 1960.  Aquaman continued as a backup until issue 285 (June, 1961), when he and Congorilla were pushed out by Tales of the Bizarro World, after which he moved to become a backup in Detective Comics.

That whole "Superman is a dick" thing
started at a young age.
The featured story was a lighthearted Superboy tale typical of the era, written by William Woolfolk, the "Shakespeare of Comics" who replaced Eisner on The Spirit and also coined the exclamation, "Holy Moley!" for Captain Marvel.  Art for the story was done by John Sikela, a Battle of the Bulge veteran who was the Superboy artist throughout the 1950s.  A frail young man named Timothy Marker helps Superboy on a case, so Superboy naturally does him a solid by secretly helping him become a star at the boy's favorite sport, football.  High jinks ensue.

Casual fans may not be familiar with Johnny Quick, one of the few major DC speedsters not to appear yet on the Flash tv series.  However, they may have seen his speed formula, 3X2(9YZ)4A.  Saying this equation would empower Johnny with super speed, as well as an ability to fly.  A news reel cameraman named Johnny Chambers in his civilian disguise, he was aided in his adventures by his assistant, Tubby Watts.  Tubby, like all good Golden Age sidekicks, tended to get himself into hot water requiring Johnny to super speed him out of the fix.  This last adventure, "The Courtship of Tubby Watts", was no different, as Tubby, courting the daughter of the owner of the city's nicest restaurant, except she instead has eyes for Johnny.  High jinks ensue.

Oddly, Johnny didn't go on
to star in DC's romance line.
This would be Johnny's last appearance until Flash Spectacular in 1978.  The identity of its writer is lost to the mists of time, but we know that the artwork is by Ralph Mayo, who drew many Johnny Quick adventures, as well as stories featuring the Black Terror for Standard Comics.

I'd imagine every comic fan is at least somewhat familiar with Green Arrow.  This particular story, "Green Arrow in Wonderland", features Green Arrow and Speedy chasing some armed robbers into a theater where Speedy (in his civilian guise of Roy Harper) is set to play the Frog Footman in a charity production of "Alice in Wonderland".  The crooks set off tear gas (because what armed robbers don't carry tear gas), causing the heroes to pass out, only to wake up in Wonderland itself.  The duo is befriended by Mr. Bee (who did not appear in the Carroll books, as far as I know), who helps them escape when the crooks turn the Red Queen against them.  GA and Speedy overcome the crooks, preventing them from robbing the royal jewels.  The heroes pass out again, only to wake up back in the theater with their captured villains.  The story leaves it to the reader to decide if it was an hallucination or whether the heroes truly did travel to Wonderland.

If Morrison's first name was
Grant, this would make a lot
more sense.
The Golden Age Green Arrow originally had dark arrow (and Speedy was blond), but by this point in time, they had switched to their blond/redhead combo they'd maintain through the rest of their published history.  This story, however, does see GA briefly return to the red cap that he sometimes wore during his Golden Age adventures.  The writer of this Golden Age acid trip is unknown, but the artist was George Papp, the co-creator of Green Arrow.

Adventure Comics 207 also had a short comedy strip called Varsity Vic written and drawn by Henry Boltinoff.  Varsity Vic was a typical humor piece centered around a college student and his associates.  The few examples of the strip I've seen do not rate highly on the humor meter.  Boltinoff (who did a bunch of these types of gag strips for DC) created Vic in 1949, and the character appeared a whopping 147 times, as late as 1969.

This needs to be reprinted.
In addition to these stories, the issue also featured a reprint of a public service announcement starring Superboy.  "Know Your Country", written by Jack Schiff (co-creator of the Golden Age Starman) and drawn by Win Mortimer (co-creator of Batman's Batboat), who saves a Scandinavian girl's dinner party by proclaiming himself the Guest of Honor.  Superboy ends his classmates' delicious lesson in multiculturalism by saying, "no single land, race, or nationality can claim this country as its own.  America is a blend of cultures from many lands!  Never forget that!"  One wonders what Superboy would think of 2017 America.

Adventure Comics would continue to feature Superboy until he was overtaken as the feature by his teammates in the Legion of Super-Heroes.  The LSH would eventually be displaced by Supergirl until 1972, when the format changed to feature fantasy and supernatural adventure stories, including the exploits of the pirate Captain Fear, Black Orchid, and the Spectre.  Several short runs of superheroes followed before the title became a true anthology once more with its conversion to a Dollar Comic giant featuring characters like Aquaman, Deadman, the Flash, and the Justice Society of America.  It would change formats a couple more times, first as a regular-sized title featuring a space-based Starman, Plastic Man, and Dial "H" for Hero, then as a reprint digest focused mainly on the Legion again.  It finally died as an ongoing title in 1983, but has been briefly resurrected in various formats over the years.

That's it for this month's calendar page.  I'll be back next month with a write-up on the January page.

JL Franke is a fan of both hard science fiction and hard fantasy.  He has been collecting comics for over 40 years and has been an on-and-off active member of online fandom for 25.  Those interested can find other writings at his personal blog, NerdlyManor.com.  When not geeking out, you may find him at a baseball park or cheering on his favorite college and pro football teams.  In his spare time, he is chief scientist for a research and development laboratory somewhere in the Washington, DC greater metropolitan area.

Tales from the Calendar: Adventure Comics 207 Tales from the Calendar: Adventure Comics 207 Reviewed by JL Franke on Monday, December 04, 2017 Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.