Sunday, March 01, 2009

Single Issue Review: My Greatest Adventure #74

(Cover art by Gene Colan)

DC had quite a few different lines of books in the early 1960s--Superhero, War, Romance, Science Fiction. It also featured what I call "Adventure" books, like Challengers of the Unknown, and My Greatest Adventure. The gimmick with MGA is that the stories were all written in the first person, as if the man (mostly) who had the adventure was telling it to us.

In the first story, We Were Challenged by the River Spirit, a guide leads an expedition of vacationers up the Zambezi in Africa. Shenzi, a river spirit seems to show an inordinate interest in Lita, a young heiress. Shenzi is explained to us here:

But is Shenzi really after Lita, or is it her scheming cousin, who would inherit her dough if she perished?

Comments: Beautiful art by Paul Parker according to the GCD. Vibrant colors, excellent details, and careful shading make this otherwise predictable story a standout.

The second story, I Climbed the Tower of Terror, is drawn by comics legend Mort Meskin. A steeplejack, working on a high-rise is startled when a cloud hits his building and he realizes it's solid, so he climbs onto it and is trapped when it floats away from the building. A short while later, a plane carrying a pilot, his girlfriend and a crooked banker who's trying to escape the law for 72 hours crash into the same cloud. The pilot is severely injured and needs medical attention quickly, but the banker is inclined to wait out his 72 hours and he's got a gun. It turns out they're stranded on the island of Hirandi, which had previously been in the Persian Gulf. A native explains:

The steeplejack has an idea how to get them down, but it requires the banker's gun. He creates a makeshift grappling hook and sticks it into the gun (yeah) and shoots it at the top of the tower. He climbs to the top and smashes the statue. The island lands (somewhere in France apparently fairly gently), and the authorities arrive to arrest, not the crooked banker but:

Comments: So-so story and Meskin mailed this one in. Cute twist at the end, so that the steelworker gets the girl.

The last story is the cover tale, Doom Was My Inheritance and is drawn by Gene Colan. A young man named Adam Lake is searching for his long-lost father. He finds Simon Horst, an old explorer friend of his father, who has become wealthy from an emerald mine. Simon makes a strange offer:

But the old man has set traps for Adam along the way as we saw on the cover. The girl decides to accompany him, but strangely this does not make Simon cease trying to kill them. The plot follows the "three-act play" format, with the jaguar, whirlpool and maze traps as shown on the cover. In the end, Adam finds his father, who was cheated out of the emerald mine by Simon, and the father defeats Simon to prove he was the better man. Adam gets both his dad back and a new girlfriend, even if he doesn't yet get half the emerald mine.

Comments: Solid story with the distinctive Colan touch. As always I'm mesmerized by his ability to get facial expressions so right they have a photographic quality about them despite little apparent effort as here:

It almost looks like he's cheating with Photoshop there, but of course this was in 1962.

Overall comments: This issue was fine artistically, but only the last story really holds together well and even that has some holes.

Oddity: Check out one of the endorsers of the American Specialty Company Christmas card ads:

Kevorkian? That's a distinctive enough name, and according to this website he was related:

My friend Kitty died on SuperBowl Sunday. Kitty was at his home in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in bed, watching the television when he died. It is still too soon to know the cause of death-- most likely a cardio-vascular event. Kitty was 54.

Kitty was his gay name. "When we all got gay names, I took mine from Kitty Carlisle." His born name was Harry Kevorkian. He grew up in Michigan. His uncle is Dr. Jack Kevorkian; because of Jack's efforts in behalf of assisted suicide he became a man of considerable notoriety and was imprisoned. Back in the 90s, I once asked Kitty if his uncle's notoriety had changed his life in any way. "Well, Mitzel," Kitty sniffed, "I no longer have to spell my name when I make restaurant reservations." Kitty loved good food and fancy restaurants.

Died at 54 in 2002, that would make him 14 at the time this comic came out; sounds like the same guy to me.