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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Super Friends #40 - Jan. 1981

Comics Weekend "Menace of the Mixed-Up Senses" by E. Nelson Bridwell, Ramona Fradon, and Kim DeMulder.

As I've mentioned before, I buy these issues of Super Friends on eBay based almost entirely on cost: I find the cheapest ones I can find, eager to see how much Aqua-content each of them has.

But this one I bought partially because of the cover: sure, it looks like it focuses on Wonder Woman, but I simply love the composition of it so much it made me want to get it. I love the tilted angle--combine that with the unusual situation (a pre-Maxwell Lord-murdering-Wonder Woman being arrested?) and it makes for a wonderfully compelling image. Ramona Fradon don't make no junk.

So imagine my delight when, upon opening the book, to see that it kicks off with four straight pages of Aquaman action!:
...before we follow the thoughts of our bad guy, I just want to mention how personally satisfying I found Aquaman ordering Superman around in the above pages to be. I bet Arthur really enjoyed that.

Okay, anyway, we see that our bad guy is your typical super-genius who's not great with people: as an experiment, he uses his monocle on his elderly father, causing his brain to "see" an image of his dead wife. The father subsequently dies of the shock, and our erstwhile bad guy realizes how powerful his invention is.

After more experiments messing with people's heads, The Monocle--as he christens himself--decides to try it out on the Super Friends. Now, having seen that it works on The Man of Steel, The Monocle moves onto Batman and Robin, where he embarrasses the Dynamic Duo by making them cause a scene downtown.

He then turns to Wonder Woman, who thinks she's stopping a runaway truck, but in reality is attacking an armored bank truck, full of cash. The Wonder Twins, watching nearby, can't understand what she's doing. Afterward, they all return to The Hall of Justice:
On the news, The Monocle sees that Wonder Woman is being arrested for "robbing" that armored truck. The Monocle, not knowing when he's ahead, shows up to watch Diana get carted off to the hoosegow.

The Wonder Twins, not victims of the Monocle's, er, monocle, spy him nearby and apprehend him. As he comes to his senses, the other Super Friends tackle him and find his powerful weapon:
...the end!

Kind of a weird ending, and if you want to read it as such, a little darker than your typical Super Friends story. The Monocle is just nuts, all his plans leading to nothing, really, and at the end of the story he's laughing maniacally to himself. I see a stint in Arkham Asylum in his future.

I first thought this Monocle guy was perhaps the same--or some Super Friends version of--another supervillain called The Monocle, who appeared in the JLA/JSA crossover in Justice League of America #s 195-197. But after doing a little research, I see that it isn't--this is just a one-off bad guy, who as far as I know was never seen again.

Fun Fact: This issue is inked by long time comic pro Kim DeMulder, who was one of my instructors at the Joe Kubert School. Kim was an easygoing, fun guy, and I distinctly remember him going over my (and others') inking homework and counting the number of protruding female nipples I left off from the original pencil pages. True story!

There's a wonderful little surprise waiting for us Aqua-Fans on the letters page of this issue, a missive from future F.O.A.M. member Russell Burbage:
...I love that Russell was defending Aquaman--in print and directly to DC--as far as back as 1981. Now that's a Friend Of AquaMan!


Russell said...

This is one of my favorite SF issues, and not just because they printed a letter from me in the letters' page. Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Rob!

I have a fun fact of my own about this: my penmanship must have been bad or something on my original letter because they got my address wrong!! :-)

Aaron said...

I'm also collecting Super Friends as I find them cheap, the art and storytelling are so clear and great. That cover made me think of WW #260 where she's also being led away in handcuffs. Wondie's really had a troubled past.

David J. Cutler said...

Whenever I read old letters columns I'm always taken back by how well-spoken and thought out the correspondence was. By the time I was reading comics (1990 on) they gave the impression the comic-reading population was pretty remedial. (Not even getting into the current state of message boards and comment threads--present locations accepted).

Bribaby said...

That was fun to read. You go, young Russell, back in 1981! So well thought out and clearly stated; a point system was even used! I don't think I could have written as articulate an l.o.c., and I was 14 when this hit the stands.

Saranga said...

I love Diana's reaction to Batman's plan.