The Brave and the Bold #105 - Mister Miracle #12 - Teen Titans #43

The selection of titles contained in one of DC's SUPER PACs could be anything from a logically consistent bundle of comic books to a completely random mixed bag, although most at least had a tendency towards a certain uniformity of content. The first Super Pac produced for 1973 (coded "A-1", where "A" indicates the first release group and "1" stands for January) is one of these, having a clear superhero theme and in addition also featuring a common denominator in that all titles collected feature a "team effort": Brave and the Bold was Batman's team-up title, Teen Titans a straightforward superhero group book, and the adventures of Mister Miracle regularly involved partners such as Big Barda.

The comic book titles packaged in the 1973 A-1 Super Pac even have another point in common - they were all bi-monthly titles, i.e. not the strongest selling titles for DC at the time. They were, however, regulars in the comic packs, and Batman's team-up series Brave and the Bold was just as regularly placed in the bag so it was visible, forming a strong selling point - in this case Brave and the Bold #105 utilized Batman's iconic value (and hence selling power even to non-regular comic book buyers) to the maximum with its splashy cover - whilst the juvenile team book Teen Titans was the other book which could clearly be seen. Jack Kirby's Fourth World title Mister Miracle, however, was sandwiched in between - and only visible with a little bit of twisting and juggling in the bag of the outward facing comic books. Clearly, it was regarded as the least attractive title of the three and therefore stuck in the middle, mostly hidden.

All three issues have a publication date in the indicia of January/February but as DC would in such cases commonly use the second month for cover date (making the comic appear new for an additional month on the shelves or in the spinner rack) all three books in this January Super Pac are labelled FEB.

This specific Super Pac is an excellent example of just how well the packaging could keep its contents in surprisingly excellent condition if stored with a reasonable amount of care, i.e. away from prolongued exposure to light and heat.

Even though the plastic bag showed noticeable signs of storage wear - including some distinct yellowing - the individual comic books all proved to be in great shape when the Super Pac was opened in December 2013, a good 40 years after it had been packed and sealed: pristine covers with perfect gloss and shine and white to off-white pages throughout all of the books, which in addition were perfectly flat and tight (without any spine stress), with no creases and sharp edges.





The Brave and the Bold #105


"Play Now... Die Later"

Story - Bob Haney
Art - Jim Aparo
Inks - Jim Aparo
Colours - unknown
Lettering - Jim Aparo
Editor - Murray Boltinoff
Cover - Jim Aparo

With all 24 pages of story in this comic book dedicated to the Batman team-up with Wonder Woman, Brave and the Bold #105 is clearly the most attractive issue contained in this Super Pac for today's informed comics reader and collector, but it seems likely this was just as much the case (or in fact even more so) for buyers at the time, regardless of whether they bought comic books regularly or (more likely) not.

When two rival Hispanic groups take their violent conflict to thre streets of Gotham City, Batman enlists the aid of Wonder Woman to help him find the cause by infiltrating one of the factions. They soon find out that it is the civil war raging in the small nation of San Sebastian spilling over into Gotham. After having enough information to determine who is good (the revolutionaries) and who is bad (the corrupt leaders of San Sebastian), Batman and Wonder Woman bring down a plot which involved smuggling parts for fighter jets into the country to help the dictatorship. After defeating the mastermind behind the operation, Batman turns over the parts to the rebels.
A swift and entertaining tale served up by seasoned Brave and the Bold team Haney and Aparo, this team-up has the added curiosity factor that Wonder Woman was "depowered" between September 1968 (Wonder Woman #178) and November 1972 (Wonder Woman #203), during which time she was simply Diana Prince, adventurer extraordinary. And just as she was being returned to star-spangled hot pants and golden lasso in her own mag, she teamed up with Batman for a last outing in civilian clothes.

Not that DC continuity mattered in any way to "Zaney" Bob Haney (1926 - 2004) - he simply wrote the Darknight Detective's team-up adventures the way he felt like doing, sometimes in outright contradiction to established DC Universe and even core Batman conventionalities. So much so that Haney's Brave and the Bold Batman would be deemed to not be the Batman from Earth-One (i.e. within Silver and Bronze Age continuity) but rather a Batman living in an alternate reality: "Earth-B" - a term coined by Bob Rozakis (Eury, 2013), a fan turned pro who, incidentally, had a letter published in this issue.

You could hardly ask for more - plus you got two more comics to go in this Super Pac.




Mister Miracle #12


"Mystivac !"

Story - Jack Kirby
Art - Jack Kirby
Inks - Mike Royer
Colours - unknown
Lettering - Mike Royer
Editor - Jack Kirby
Cover - Jack Kirby, Mike Royer

Mister Miracle was the longest lasting of Jack Kirby's short-lived "Fourth World" tetralogy, and for a reason. Although the origin story of Scott Free was just as convoluted as all the "Fourth World" fare (Free hails from the planet Apokolips but escapes to Earth and assumes the identity of his deceased friend Thaddeus Brown, an escape artist whose stage name was Mister Miracle), but his adventures were by far the most traditionally super-heroesque amongst the Fourth World titles and provided readers with straightforward reading pleasure.

In that respect, Mister Miracle #12 is a bit of a hidden gem in this Super Pac as Mister Miracle is challenged to a death-duel against Mystivac, a mysterious robot who has already given him a hypnotically induced subconscious death wish. However, aided by his wife Big Barda, the escape artist knocks out Mystivac and learns his opponent's secret: he is actually an alien.

What may sound a bit lame and somewhat cheesy in plain text synopsis actually makes for a well paced and entertaining read spread out over 22 pages. It's a self-contained comic book adventure (as the cover splash is eager to point out too, though this effect was, of course, lost to buyers of this Super Pac) which is highly entertaining - typically Kirbyesque but in palatable doses even for those who don't care too much about Kirby's storytelling or, for that matter, artistic style. And from today's perspective, Mister Miracle #12 is a real gem of an early 1970s comic book to have in pretty much mint condition anyway. Plus I feel certain that had I been given this Super Pac at the time I would have been thrilled by this example of the "surprise comic book in the middle".




Teen Titans #43

January/February 1973

"Inherit the Howling Night !"

Story - Bob Haney
Art - Art Saaf
Inks - Nick Cardy
Colours - unknown
Lettering - Ben Oda
Editor - Murray Boltinoff
Cover - Nick Kardy

In the 16 pages main feature the Titans - i.e. Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Speedy and Lilith- defeat a group of so-called Moonling demons that have terrorized a family on a remote estate. This is followed by an 8 page second feature ("Please, Tell Me My Name !" scripted by Bob Haney, pencilled and inked by Ernie Chan and lettered by an unknown using the obvious pseudonym of Joe Letterese) in which Lilith continues her search for her parents and clears an innocent woman of murder just days before her execution.

First published in January/February 1966, this is actually the final installment of the series which was cancelled after this issue (after a hiatus of almost four years the series would be relaunched in November 1976, continuing the numbering). This makes Teen Titans #43 a special curiosity from a DC publishing history perspective, although in terms of content the cancellation seems hardly surprising as this is by far the weakest comic book in the 1973 A-1 Super Pac. The story kicks off in mid-action (which was probably okay for younger readers at the time who could do without the logics of a plot build-up) and demands nothing but complete suspension of disbelief. Highly fabricated and with logical loopholes galore, it's an all together forgettable read. The artwork is solid but just as uncaptivating as the story. Here, the backup (which has its share of illogical plot elements too) differs as Ernie Chan ("Chua" in the credits and the editorial notes - which by the way fail to mention this being the last issue, so they probably didn't see it coming yet) delivers one of his earliest artwork for DC Comics; he would later help shape the visuals of Batman during the mid 1970s.

Originally, the concept of the Teen Titans series revolved around the protagonists helping fellow teenagers from around the world, and author Bob Haney tried to link up to hip youth culture by calling the Teen Titans the "Cool Quartet", the "Fab Foursome" or the "Whiz Kids" (as per this issue's cover). This didn't go down well with some observers who felt it was "strained" (Daniels, 1995) - and possibly just not in line with DC's rather more conservative house style and tone compared to main competitor Marvel's hip lingo and ramblings. Whatever, Teen Titans never enjoyed more than modest success on the salesfront, and the only reason imaginable why it was inserted into this Super Pac as one of the two visible comic books would seem to lie with Robin, who would bring up images of Batman even amongst unseasoned buyers.




DANIELS Les (1995) DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes, Bulfinch

EURY Michael (2013) "The Batman of Earth-B", in Back Issue #66 (August 2013), TwoMorrows Publishing


first posted on the web 11 December 2013
revised and reposted 16 April 2014
minor update 28 June 2023

Text is (c) 2013-2014 A. Wymann
The illustrations presented here are copyright material.
Their reproduction in this non-commercial context is considered to be fair use