Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Classics - Action Comics #217

   Wrapping up our Classic / Action Comics reviews (at least for now), here's one of the oldest comics in my collection.

   From the long-ago days of 1956, it's an issue I picked up courtesy of a friend - yep, it's so old it pre-dates me (well, almost).

   I have to admit that I never had much interest in the comics that pre-date my own "era" - which is really a shame from a financial standpoint, because comics from the '40s and '50s command high prices these days - and they were available for a song in the '60s.

   The main reason I didn't care about those comics is because I had no connection to them, and most seem positively crude by comparison to the comics i was reading.

   That's not really true of this issue, which contains three stories. They're all uncredited, of course. (I'll look to the Grand Comics Database for more info.)

   The Superman story features art by Al Plastino, and it's solid, dependable and true to the DC style at the time. It's the typical silly story where a baby is left at Clark Kent's door - a Super-Baby! So Superman has to deal with the usual mishaps while trying to solve the mystery behind the baby's powers (and of course, the baby talks in the usual "Me am a baby" jargon DC loves).

   The second story is Congo Bill, and the art is credited to Ed Smaile. It's quite good - more expressive and textured than most of DC's output. The story is a bit silly, as Bill seems to perform amazing feats of strength - but it's all movie trickery.

   The final story stars the futuristic Tommy Tomorrow, with art by the always-excellent Jim Mooney, with a story by the great Otto Binder. It's pretty thin stuff, as a villain tries to trap Tommy - but a silly mistake gives him away.

   It's all light-hearted and frothy stuff, but that's typical for the time period. Remember, these comics were aimed at young readers, and frankly, they would work just fine for kids today - the stories are timeless and fun.

   The more jaded readers might find it all too silly for their purposes - but comics were designed for a young audience at the time. That's probably one reason why I never worked hard at tracking them down - by the time I got interested, comics were starting to grow up. But I'm still enough of a kid at heart to appreciate the craftsmanship that went into these issues.

   (Before someone gets cheesed, I should add that every age has some excellent comics to brag about - no era has a corner on greatness.)

   I don't put much work into pursuing the comics from an earlier age, but when I find them, I admit - they're fun - and they make me feel young again.

Grade: B-


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