Thursday, December 09, 2010
As the 1960s wore on, the superhero craze showed no signs of abating. DC, the only comic publishing company that had never ceased publishing superhero comics, nearly doubled their output of the men in capes and cowls from about 25% of their books in the 1950s to about 45% in the 1960s. Marvel, which had no superhero titles from about 1955-1961, suddenly was swarming with amazingly-powered characters.
And then came Batmania, and it seemed like nothing sold except superhero titles. So Dell, which had only made a few half-hearted attempts at the genre, leapt in with this rather lame effort. Even the comic's title seems generic: Superheroes. "A Fantastic Transformation into Reality?" And the Fab 4 were the Beatles.
We quickly learn that four "teeners" are able to control a quartet of super-powered androids. One guy can receive radio waves; a very useful ability. Of course, you could just bring along a portable radio instead. Another guy has built-in radar, which proves handy considering that the story is about a bomber plane from SAC (Strategic Air Command) being hijacked by hypnotic command. Polymer Polly can fly and create strands of polymer from her body, while Crispy can shoot cold rays from his fingers.
The androids use their combined skills to find the bomber and render harmless the atomic bomb it had dropped:
In part II (pay no attention to that "The End" caption above), we learn that some hip couple were behind the hypnotism that took control of the SAC bomber. Since their plot has been ruined, they decide to get even with the Fab 4. And they quote a lot of 1960s music lines in the process:
This part also explains the "fantastic transformation into reality" bit. You see, the kids send their minds into the androids. The androids come to the old abandoned opera house where the kids hang out. The hip couple send a bomb there. And the bomb implodes:
As a result, the kids now have the powers that they formerly had to use the androids in order to possess. It's ginch-tastic!
A week later, the teeners have had some time to test and expand their powers. The radio-wave guy (called El by his buddies) has figured out where the hypnotic wave came from. And so the laser/radar guy:
When they get to the theatre, the Mod (our villain) and his gal are giving a concert:
Yeah, I could criticize that song for not rhyming, but it's not like the other publishers of the time did teen exploitation any better--the Kryptonian Krawl, anyone? Anyway, the kids (including the heroes) are all hypnotized to attack the Peace Ministers' Conference. Fortunately, the hypno-wave doesn't work if one is shoved (which seldom happens at a riot):
The Fab 4 quell the mob, and eventually catch the Mod and his girlfriend.
Comments: Painful. About the only thing positive in this effort is the artwork (credited in the book to Sal Trapani, but actually penciled by Bill Fraccio and inked by Trapani per Martin O'Hearn in the comments). The script glosses over all sorts of plot-holes, then maddeningly screeches to a halt so the kids don't walk out of Polly's house dressed in their uniforms. Never mind that earlier it's Tom's house. The story tries too hard by half to be relevant to kids of the time--why Tom even produces a comics fanzine--but fails miserably. It is plain to see why this was the last outing for the Fab 4.