Friday, September 7, 2007

The Justice Society in Australian Adventure Comics

All Star Adventure Comic ceased publication at the end of 1975, along with other long-running K.G. Murray titles such as Tip Top Comic Monthly, All Favourites Comic and Wonder Comic Monthly. They were replaced in 1976 by new titles based on their lead features, such as Superboy, Batman and Wonder Woman, all under a new Planet Comics logo. Continuity between the new and old titles was maintained by both the mix of contents, and the continuation of the previous series numbering.

However, Australian comics stands were soon carrying another ‘All Star’ title – the revived US All-Star Comics. This series was restarted with a cover date of January-February 1976, and picked up the numbering from its Golden Age incarnation. It also once again featured the Justice Society of America.

These stories were not reprinted by K.G. Murray, but I have it on good authority (the peerless memory of Mark Cannon!) that the series was distributed in Australia for much of its run – certainly after #67, cover-dated September-October 1977 (ok, so it’s possible that Australian stands didn’t actually carry an “All Star” comic in 1976, but it’s still an irresistibly neatly dovetailing coincidence that the end of All Star Adventure Comic circa December 1975 was followed by the revived All-Star Comics #58 coverdated January-February 1976 - right!?)

After the “DC Explosion” imploded, the Justice Society stories were relocated to Adventure Comics, in which they appeared for 6 issues between #’s 461-466, all cover-dated 1979. I understand (again courtesy of Mark) that these issues were not distributed in Australia, but each of these stories were reprinted in the K.G. Murray incarnation of Adventure Comics.

This is how they slice up:

Prologue/Only Legends Live Forever (Part 1)
Adventure Comics #461
Adventure Comics #2

Only Legends Live Forever (Part 2)
Adventure Comics #462
Adventure Comics #2

The Night of the Soul Thief!
Adventure Comics #463
Adventure Comics #2

To Everything There is a Season…
Adventure Comics #464
Adventure Comics #4

Countdown to Disaster
Adventure Comics #465
Adventure Comics #6

The Defeat of the Justice Society!
Adventure Comics 466
Adventure Comics #7

In other words, the 6 US Adventure Comics stories appeared in 4 Australian issues.

It’s a shame that the famous cover to Adventure Comics #462 was not reprinted. It’s understandable that the cover to Adventure Comics #461 was given the nod, especially as it heralds the new JSA series and also reflects the variety of contents in the issue and series. I note that the cover to Adventure Comics #462 is also left out of the recent Justice Society Vol. 2 TPB (for some reason the All-Star Comics covers are reprinted, but the Adventure Comics covers are omitted!)

As you can see above Adventure Comics #2 is a bumper JSA issue, carrying three of the JSA stories, including both parts of the death of E2 Batman storyline, but note that a couple of the splash pages are omitted. Again, I’m sure this was done to give the impression of a single uninterrupted long story, but I would have preferred to see the splash pages instead of two full-page advertisements for stamps making up the page count.

I have yet to fully review the contents of the other Adventure Comics issues, but I’m beginning to believe there was no #5 published. I’ve checked with a few collectors, and no one can recall ever having seen a copy. And given that all the relevant Justice Society stories are accounted for…

Admittedly it’s a bit more difficult to make a call on this one than it is for Super Heroes Album #18 because of the sheer variety of the contents in the 6 known issues – considering they feature everything from The Flash, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern from the US Adventure Comics issues, to reprints from series such as The Shadow, Detective Comics, Strange Adventures and Batman Family, it is difficult to gauge what could be deemed as ‘missing’… In fact, #7 includes a reprint of “A-Man--The Hero with Animal Powers” originally from Strange Adventures #190, July 1966 and later reprinted in Adventure Comics #415, February 1972, but given both of these US prints had Australian counterparts in (All Star Adventure Comic #44, April 1967 and World's Finest Comic Monthly #93, January 1973 respectively), it suggests that filler material was being brought in to fill page counts… So all things considered, let’s just say I’ll be pleasantly surprised to find #5 turning up.


Anonymous said...

I hate to question Mark Cannon's memory, but I'm going to have to differ a bit on his recollections!

The most significant difference is that I bought at least two of the Adventure Comic JSA issues when they first came out--459 and 460-- but didn't see the full run. Distribution of Adventure Comics stopped at about that time, and I also don't remember the subequent Starman/Plastic Man issues. Some of the previous Aquaman and Superboy issues of Adventure Comic were also available where I grew up.

In relation to All-Star, I agree that at least some of them were available. I don't recall seeing the earlier logo (pre-issue 66) until much later, but I also didn't see the early post-67 issues. He might be right with 67, but the first I recall with certainty is issue 70.

Of cause, just because I didn't see them doesn't mean they weren't available in other parts of Australia.


mcannon said...

Hi James

Hey, I’m not infallible – I‘m always happy to have my memory queried! But I think I can cover off these points.

On the first point, I don’t think we’re in disagreement. I also bought at least one of those large-size issues of Adventure Comics locally #459, the first large sized one. However, the ones that I was referring to in my original comments to Spiros were the issues that actually featured the JSA (#461-66), which I never saw locally. I recall waiting for the issue featuring the “Death of Bruce Wayne” story to turn up in the shops.. and waiting…and waiting… I think DC did one of its periodic disappearing acts at that time, with some books which had been distributed here suddenly no longer turning up in newsagents (“Justice League” appeared and disappeared in the way several times in the 1970s – very frustrating!). So basically, we're on the same wavelength here.

On the point of the 1970s revival of All-Star Comics, though, I believe that #67 was definitely the first issue I bought locally. I can even remember the specific day and circumstances in which I purchased it here in Canberra (I subjected Spiros to a long, tedious anecdote on this, the poor bloke!) and also recall buying #68 at Central Railway Station in Sydney, so I’m satisfied that the book was distributed in Australia form #67 onwards. As you note, however, just because you didn’t see #67-69 doesn’t mean they weren’t avaiable in parts of Australia. Distribution of American comics was very spotty then – you’d rarely see more than one or two copies of any particular issue in a shop, and often newsagents didn’t receive all of that week’s titles anyway, so you’d race around as many outlets as you could, hoping you’d found everything that was available (ah, memories…). So I’d say it was just that I was lucky and you were unlucky.

I definitely didn’t see any of the issues of the 1970s revival of all-Star before #67 on sale in Australia, though – I ended up buying all of them up to #66 from a dealer in the USA circa 1985.

All the best


Anonymous said...

Always pleasing if we can both be right ;-p.

BTW, I've just noticed that the two almost-confirmed as probably-missing issues, Adventure Comics 5 and Super Heroes Album 18 came out almost at the same time. If my dating estimates are right, the former might have been about June-July 1980, while the latter could have been August-October 1980.

Does this mean anything? I don't know...

Change of staff or record keeping so that someone lost track of the numbering?

Two issues that were partially prepared and not completed for some reason?

Two issues that were distributed, but extremely poorly and are now virtually unavailable? (Anything else hard to find at this time?)

Loss of interest by Murray, a few months before they sold out to the Federal Publishing Company?


spiros xenos said...

James, I expect you’re correct that the missing/misnumbered issues reflects some lapse in recordkeeping or changes editorially at K.G. Murray.

I haven’t yet followed up any other such suspected misnumbered issues from this particular period (eg is there a Super Action Album #18…?) but note other confusing changes in this period such as Super Adventure Album ending with #14 and continuing as Super Action Album with #15, shortly to evolve into a Super Action Album 1980 one-shot and Superman Presents Action Album, morphing further into Federal Comics’ Super Action (and Super Heroes follows a similarly staccato trajectory). It’s quite dizzying keeping track of some titles and features with numerous variations on a theme.