Review: DC Special Series #1

DC Special Series #1 cover
Cover by Neal Adams

DC Special Series #1
Published and © by DC, September 1977

Title: “How to Prevent a Flash”
Synopsis: A thrice-in-a-lifetime accident unleashes Ms. Flash on an unsuspecting world – much to the Flash’s chagrin!

Writer: Cary Bates
Penciler: Irv Novick
Inker: Frank McLaughlin

Review: This promising anthology kicks off with a stinker. Cary Bates’ story is built around massive coincidence and poor science, strangling any suspension of disbelief. The jarring, twist ending also doesn’t help. The art from Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin is workmanlike, but does little to elevate this subpar tale.


Title: “He Who Slaughters!”
Synopsis: An ancient warrior mistakes Green Lantern as his enemy. Will he recognize his error before it’s too late?

Writer: Denny O’Neil
Artist: Joe Staton

Review: Batteries running low, the antagonist has enough power to imprison Oa, combat Green Lanterns and collapse a black hole. What?


Title: “A King Without a Sea!”
Synopsis: An Iranian oilman becomes a human sunburst and seeks to rekindle the Persian Empire by making an example of Aquaman.

Writer: Gerry Conway
Penciler: Dick Dillin
Inker: Jack Abel

Review: The silly just keeps coming: Stranded in a desert, Aquaman’s first concern, of course, is to … start a fire?


Title: “The Telephone Tangle”
Synopsis: The Atom goes back in time to investigate a mix-up involving Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone prototype.

Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Penciler: Steve Stiles
Inker: Bob McLeod

Review: This illogical time-travel tale offers poor characterization and more silly science, while the art fails to differentiate present and past. 


Title: “The Dead on Arrival Conspiracy”}
Synopsis: A thwarted robbery and mysterious letter take Batman to the Swiss Alps to battle Kobra.

Writer: Martin Pasco
Penciler: Michael Netzer (as Michael Nasser)
Inker: Joe Rubinstein

Review: This Batman-vs.-Kobra story is just alright, but above-average Michael Netzer art provides a saving grace for this otherwise awful anthology.

Grade (for the entire issue): C

Second opinion: “This is a good selection of new stories.” – Martin Lock, Comics Unlimited #46, August 1977 … “(The Kobra finale) gave us as near a classic as can be reasonably expected.” – Alan Brightmore, Comics Unlimited #51, October-November 1979 … “The best tale of a nice bunch was the Batman story … which concluded plot lines from the Kobra book.” – Frank Plowright, FantaCo’s Chronicle’s Series Annual #1, 1983 … “Honesty in calling it Two Star Superhero Average probably wouldn’t have helped sales.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition)

Cool factor: Neal Adams cover? Michael Netzer Batman? This one should have been a contender.
Not-so-cool factor: Too many stories undermined by silly science and logic flaws.

Notable: This issue also has a contents page illustrated by Jim Aparo. … According the the “Five Star Super-Staffers” intro essay, the Batman story is a reworking of the never-published Kobra #8. … First Green Lantern story by future regular artist Joe Staton.

Character quotable: “What really bugs you is super-speed competition from a woman!” – Ms. Flash, mistaken

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Sequential Reaction (Vol. 1) on Jan. 29, 2016.

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