Adventure Comics #244 (January, 1958)
“The Poorest Family in Smallville”
“A Medal for Roy”
“The Man Who Mastered the Air”
“The Copy Cat Creature”
Script – Alvin Schwartz, George Kashan & Robert Bernstein
Art – John Sikela, George Papp & Ramona Fradon
Edits – Whitney Ellsworth, Jack Schiff & Mort Weisinger
Cover Price: $0.10
Today we’re going way back to the past… sixty years, in fact!
We’ll take a look at a trio of tales from the very infancy of the Silver Age… if we’re counting Showcase #4 as it’s beginning (and we are), covering three (well, four) heroes that actually survived the bridge between the Golden and Silver Ages!
It’s sure to be a good… if not a bit overwritten… time! But, if you’re reading this blog, you already know a thing or two about “overwritten”!
We open with Ma and Pa Kent returning home to Smallville after going on vacation. They arrive to find that their Kent General Store… has burned to the ground! Whuh-oh. The friendly Milkman lumbers by and tells them that the fire started with a strange green flame. Well, sez the Kents, least we still have a home to return to. Welllll… ya see, that burned down too. Well, further sez the Kents, at least we’re up to date on our insurance. Wellllll… maybe not so much.
Later, the people of Smallville gather around the grieving Kents, and as a show of good-neighborliness, they offer them the $20,000 they’d collected! By the way, that’s $176,227.97 in 2018 monies. The Kents, proud as they are (and, uh, also the parents of Superboy) pass on the money. News of said act travels far and wide, even reaching Metropolis… where the editor of NOW Magazine insists his reporters follow up with the fam.
Elsewhere, Superboy is helping out on a secret government mission. When he learns the news of the fire, he returns home to check in. He suggests he just whip up a new house and shop… but, ya know… then everyone will know that Clark Kent is Superboy (somehow)… perhaps worse yet, everyone in town will expect Superboy to attend to all of their tragedies (which, I thought he already did?). Clark figures one way he can help is squeezing a piece of coal into a diamond that Ma and Pa can sell to raise the money for rebuilding. A Smallville jeweler takes one look at the rock (which is massive, by the way) and dismisses it as glass.
And so, the Kents fly off to Metropolis to try selling it there (using “advance money” Pa was given in order to buy food). One look at the rock… and the hoity-toity Metropolis jeweler calls the cops… because something this large was surely stolen!
Back in Smallville, Superboy reclaims the camera, which somehow survived the inferno, from the shop to see what might’ve caused the fire. Turns out, the green flame was his doing… sorta. Ya see, he brought some glowing green rocks back from outer space… and left them in the store and the house for “safe keeping”. Being in Earth’s atmosphere caused them to ignite… bada bing, bada boom… both the store and the Kent house burned to the ground.
After explaining the situation to his folks, they’re pretty understanding, by the way… more understanding than I’d be… anyhoo, Lana Lang arrives to offer Clark a job repairing her roof. It’ll give him a few bucks to pitch in for repairs on his own house. He tires of this pretty quick, and performs some super-ventriloquism to make it seem like Superboy knows of a better paying gig.
That “better paying gig”… well, howsabout digging deep into the Earth, tapping the vein of an oil reserve, and making it look as though the Kent’s sprung a gusher?! Only… Superboy’s super-trajectory is two feet off… leaving the gusher on Neighbor Smith’s property. Whoops.
Pa takes it all in stride, and decides to head off fishing… after all, the Kents gotta eat… and they spent all of their food money on that fabulous trip to Metropolis. Superboy hatches another plan… he’ll make it seem as though Pa “caught” a treasure chest, chock full of diamonds and pearls. Only, he hooks the loot to the wrong hook. Whoops.
But wait, there’s more. Later, Superboy sees a high-speed chase. The police are in hot pursuit of a low-flying plane full’a bank robbers. He overhears that there’s a $10,000 reward for nabbin’ these guys, and comes up with a plan to make it seem as though his Ma and Pa caught the baddies.
Now, if you’ve read more than a handful of comics in your day, it should come as no surprise to you that this whole “bank robber” thing is… just a movie being filmed. Whoops.
We wrap up with the “movie people” buying the footage of the Kent General Store going up in flames for $50,000! They’re filming a flick called “Invasion From Space”, and would have had to pay $75,000 to “stage” the fire… so, this is one heckuva bargain!
That’s the end of the Superboy feature… but we’re not done yet! Next up, Green Arrow… featuring Speedy! We open with one of those “spoilery” panels that shows us where we’re headed. In it, Roy Harper is receiving a medal from the President of the United States (would’ve been Eisenhower at this point). Somehow, he (Roy/Speedy, that is) is also 200 miles away identifying a crook. But how?!
The story proper begins with Green Arrow and Speedy chasing down all-around bad dude Clyde Roker. Out of “sheer coincidence” Roker attempts to flee to and hide out in the same building where Ollie and Roy live as civilians! Roy rushes inside before they break in… however, the baddies see him duck into the Queen/Harper apartment… they shoot the lock off the door and… are surprised to see… not Speedy, but another redheaded kid. Roy takes advantage of their momentary discombobulation and kayos ’em both.
That night, news of Roy Harper’s bravery is all over the television. Ya see, it’s believed that Roy saved Speedy’s life. As Ollie and Roy watch the evening report, they receive a phone call… from the President of the United States! Ike asks Roy to head to D.C. to receive a medal the following morning. Roy faints.
A bit later, as the Arrows get ready to go out on their nightly patrol… Ollie posits a question. How can Roy Harper be in Washington accepting a medal, at the same time Speedy needs to be down at the Precinct to point Clyde Roker out of a police lineup?! Ruh-roh.
While going about their “rounds”, Speedy suggests they whip up a Roy Harper robot to accept the medal… ya know, overnight. Ollie thumbs his nose at the suggestion. Also, on this page we get three “trick arrows”, a Police Siren Arrow, a Searchlight Arrow, and a Harpoon Arrow.
Moments later, they come across an apartment fire. Here we see a Fire-Extinguisher Arrow and a Rope Ladder Arrow (I’ll include images of all the trick arrows down below). Toward the end of their patrol, the Arrows are attacked by some of Roker’s men… they are no match for a Buzzsaw and Scissor Arrow. Ollie and Roy tie the baddies up… and call it a night.
The next morning, Roy Harper is in Washington, D.C. being pinned by the Commander-in-Chief. Also, at the local Precinct… Speedy’s there! Turns out, Clyde Roker comes clean before the whole Police Lineup thing… which is exactly what Roy hoped would happen. Ya see, this way, any ol’ kid could dress up like Speedy… and not be lying when they identified Roker in the lineup. Any ol’ kid… even perhaps the President of the United States’ son!
It’s pretty hinky, ain’t it? Ya see, the night before, Speedy dialed up Ike and explained everything to him. The Prez was totally okay with having his son step in and “play” Speedy. Now, Eisenhower’s grandson Dwight David would have been about 10 years old at this point… so, it’s a pretty even trade I guess. Worth noting, the disguise even fools Ollie!
Time to take a break with a text piece! Which means, go refresh your beverage and we’ll just pretend we read this.
Onto our last story… featuring Aquaman, as he explores a “remote part” of his watery domain. He comes across a creature embedded in the ice. It’s like a mix of a dragon and a cat.
The iceberg cracks, and the creature is freed. Lucky for everyone, it appears to be friendly. Aquaman names it Myron… okay. Together they patrol the seas looking for those in aid. They come across a ship that has spotted a swarm of locusts that will surely destroy the nearby farmers’ crops. Aquaman commands some flying fish to pop out of the drink and gobble up the critters. Seeing this, Myron decides to copy the behavior… he leaps out of the water, and takes a big ol’ bite out of a passing plane!
After rescuing the pilot of the plane (by creating a “net” of octopuses… which is somehow softer than a water landing), Aquaman lectures his prehistoric pal about not doing stupid things. Myron sheds a single tear. Later, there’s a fire in a small forest! Aquaman calls for swordfish to cut down the trees. Seeing this, Myron gets an idea and takes another big ol’ bite, this time out of a nearby lighthouse!
This is an old-fashioned lighthouse… no bulb in this thing, only flame. And now, the flame is in the water… and Aquaman has to summon several whales to put it out with their blowholes. We jump ahead a few days, to Aquaman and Myron happening across a stuck-ship. Aquaman calls for some dolphins to act as a tow service. Myron sees this, and decides to do ’em one better by towing a giant pirate-looking ship… which makes waves, and tips the other boat over.
Aquaman creates a “line” out of eels, and saves the boaters. Imagine grabbing a hold of that? Eesh. After that, it’s time for yet another lecture for Myron. Aquaman decides that he’s just too much of a menace to remain.
He tricks Myron into ducking into a waterfall at the South Pole… then has a platoon of blowfish breathe freezing cold water at him… leaving him, once more, frozen in an iceberg. Well, that ended on a kinda somber note, didn’t it?
Boy, you sure got your dime’s worth sixty years ago, didn’tcha?
Okay, so where to begin… I guess Superboy is as good as any! Now, books of this vintage are a pretty new and novel thing to me… it’s not often I travel further back than the early Bronze Age, so I’m not sure if Superboy being depicted as such a spectacular goofball was “the norm” or not. But here… wow, dude can’t win for losin’!
I guess we’ve all had one’a “those” days… where absolutely nothing goes the right way. For me, it usually begins with me spilling coffee in my lap or something. At that point, I know I may as well just tap out and try again the next day. For Superboy, though, it starts with him inadvertently burning down both his home and parents’ General Store. I’ve said it a few times already, but… whoops.
I appreciate his well-meaning attempts to make things right… it’s very much what you’d expect a kid (with super-powers) to do. It’s just that he failed so spectacularly throughout… it was quite a thing. I mean, let’s just look at the diamond he created from the coal… c’mon dude… a little critical thinking, please. You maybe make it the size that might fit in an engagement ring… you don’t just hand off a diamond the size of a softball. What jeweler A) would, and B) could pay for something that insanely large?! I mean, Clark’s heart was in the right place… but you’d at least think that his folks would be like “Ehh, maybe couldja chip a piece of this off?”
Another thing I didn’t quite understand… why couldn’t Superboy help rebuild the Kents’ home? I mean, everybody knows that Superboy lives in Smallville… and I’d assume that he’d help any other family in a similar situation… so, wouldn’t it maybe stand out as strange that he doesn’t help Ma and Pa?! Yeah, I’ve reached that point where I’m thinking too hard.
Time to move along to the Green Arrow story. Really not much to this one… a little switcheroo action with Speedy and the Grandson-of-Ike. This is a Presidential appearance I don’t much mind… just a faceless dude pinning a medal on a brave kid’s chest. Could do with more like this. Thought it was neat that he revealed his secret identity to Eisenhower… even going so far as to say “If you can’t trust the President… whom can you trust?”
The final story was a hoot… but, ya know… I can’t help but feel horrible for poor Myron. Gotta wonder if there might’a been another “Myron” in the comics biz who might’ve been seen as a “copy cat”. Dunno, maybe I’m thinking too hard again.
Thought this was a fun one… a neat little story, worth being told. Really though, kiiiiiinda heartbreaking in the end… you just imagine that happy-go-lucky cat-dragon staring out of that waterfall to see Aquaman command the blowfish to “lock ‘im up”. How confused he must’ve been. How betrayed he must’ve felt. Poor Myron.
Worth noting, the art throughout this issue was pretty great! I’ll go the obvious route and call out Ramona Fradon’s (artist on Aquaman) as being some of the best of the time. You really get quite the package here for ten-cents (adjusted for inflation… are you ready for this… 88-cents). Tell ya what, I wouldn’t mind paying three-times that for this much content today. Too bad that ship has already long left the port.
Overall… not “must reading” by any stretch, but a really good time. If you were to happen across this one on the cheap, I’d tell ya not to hesitate… after all, you’d be getting the first (and only) appearance of Myron!