Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Classics - The Brave and the Bold #31

I can't be sure, but I think this is the comic book that first got me hooked on reading comics.

I learned to read at a very young age, thanks to my Mom and my brothers helping me along (I was reading comic books before I started Kindergarten), and comics were always around - but the only ones I remember from a young age were Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny comics.

One summer my cousin Jonathan's family visited, and he let me read one of his adventure comics - and I was hooked. Memory can be a tricky thing, of course - and I have no idea if I was looking at a brand new comic book or one he's bought some time before.

I just remember that it starred Cave Carson, and that there was a giant lava creature. Cave didn't have the most enduring career in comics - he appeared in a grand total of eight comics in the '60s - five times in The Brave and the Bold, and three times in Showcase. (He's had quite a few guest appearances since then, but he never had his own comic.)

Several years ago I tracked down this issue at a comics convention, and it does seem to match my memory of that pivotal comic. It carries a cover date of August-September 1960, which matches the time frame about right - I would have been about five years old.

What I didn't realize is that (according to Wikipedia) this issue was the first appearance of my old pal Cave, and this issue was reportedly created by writer France Herron and artist Bruno Premiani (there are no credits listed).

What really amazes me is how well this issue holds up after (gulp) 50 years.

Oh sure, the story is improbable - it follows the underground adventures of Cave and his friends Christie Madison (a geologist) and Bulldozer Smith (a former sandhog, whatever that is). Using their vehicle, the Mighty Mole, they explore the subterranean world, encountering strange monsters, including dinosaurs, menacing plants, lava creatures and a magnetic monster!

But if you're willing to accept the premise (and I've seen movies with lots shakier ground to stand on), the story is a fun ride as the team races from one danger (and narrow escape) to the next, all beautifully illustrated by the masterful Premiani.

There are no superheroics on display, but there was plenty of action and the promise of more amazing worlds to discover. After reading this again, I can see why I was hooked!

So thanks, Cave, for getting me off on the right foot!

Grade: A

(By the way, a sandhog is an urban miner - a construction worker who works underground on a variety of excavation projects. Thanks again, Wikipedia!)


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