Adventure Comics #204

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September 1954
Editor: Mort Weisinger
Cover: Win Mortimer (Pencils and Inks)

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1. The Super Brat of Smallville!

Script: Otto Binder
Pencils: John Sikela
Inks: John Sikela

Bradley Ashton is a rich orphan with a pet cheetah who has just moved to Superboy’s hometown of Smallville. Unfortunately, his penchant for cruel practical jokes is causing headaches for the Boy of Steel. 

Before long, Superboy’s had enough and confronts Ashton’s guardian and lawyer Jonas Fitch of “Fitch, Fitch, Fitch, and Fitch, Brilliant Law Firm”. Fitch, however, has made sure Ashton’s pranks are fully legal and he’s been paid handsomely by the little monster to let the boy do whatever he wants. 

The mischief continues. First, swarms of insects are released at a picnic—which Superboy handles by smearing himself with sticky sweet jams and jellies to lure the pests away.  

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Is it just me, or does Superboy seem to be enjoying this? I almost get the feeling he was just waiting for an opportunity to smear Smuckers all over his body. 

Later, Ashton mixes up the labels on all the cans at the general store, causing Lana Lang much turmoil…

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…and the citizens of Smallville show they can really be jerks. 

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Finally, Superboy gets the upperhand by tricking Ashton into believing one of his jokes has gone awry and killed his pet. Dang, Superboy! You don’t mess around. Ashton swears to never play another practical joke, and keeps the promise even when Superboy reveals the cheetah is still alive. 

Superboy then charges admission to people who want to come into Ashton’s joke workshop and destroy it—all proceeds going to charity of course. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind, I guess. 

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2. The Lagoon of Doom!

Script: Jack Miller
Pencils: Ramona Fradon
Inks: Ramona Fradon

Ramona Fradon, the first female artist at DC, began drawing Aquaman in 1951 and would draw most of his adventures for the next 12 years or so. Although Fradon had been on the feature for three years by the time she drew this Aquaman story, her style still hadn’t fully developed. She would soon become much better, and her style more recognizable.   

This story involves some men draining a lagoon for mysterious reasons and endangering all the fish that live there. Aquaman scans the bottom of the lagoon to see what they’re after but only comes up with a bunch of junk. Surprisingly, he seems unfazed by all the pollution he’s collected.

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At the end it’s revealed they were trying to extract a heavy concentration of gold from the water but Aquaman thwarted their plans. No laws were actually broken since the men owned the lagoon, but there were fish in danger—and that’s bad. However, it’s apparently okay to throw your trash in the ocean if you want. 

3. Johnny Quick, King of Comedy!

Script: Unknown
Penicls: Ralph Mayo
Inks: Ralph Mayo

Johnny Quick, secretly newsreel photographer Johnny Chambers, triggers his powers of superspeed by reciting a mathematical formula. Johnny debuted in 1941, the year after a much more popular character with similar powers: the original version of The Flash. The Flash last appeared in 1951 but Johnny limped along, almost unnoticed, for a few more years.

Here we see Johnny Chambers imitating his alter ego Johnny Quick as part of a comedy skit at the Newsreel Cameramen’s Ball. Some bank robbers try to retrieve their loot from the stage during the performance and Johnny must apprehend them while making it all look like part of the act. 

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He succeeds, of course, but this story falls flat. The artist never seems comfortable with a script trying this hard to be funny. And we never really see Johnny in his costume, only a oversized cheap imitation. Johnny Quick is clearly running out of steam and would only appear twice more before disappearing for a good 20 years.

4. The Amazing Arrowthon!

Script: Unknown
Penicls: George Papp
Inks: George Papp

Green Arrow debuted, along with Aquaman, in More Fun Comics #73, November 1941. Although he was patterned after Robin Hood, he was in many ways a copycat of Batman. Batman was a millionaire playboy. Green Arrow was a millionaire playboy. Robin was Batman’s adopted sidekick. Speedy was Green Arrow’s. Batman had the Bat-Cave, Bat-Mobile, Bat-Plane, and Bat-Signal. Green Arrow had “Arrow” counterparts for each. Even his signature trick arrows were a mimic of all the gadgets in Batman’s utility belt.

Despite his unoriginal premise, Green Arrow was one of the handful of characters who were published uninterrupted from the 1940s to the 1960s. He usually appeared as a back-up feature in DC anthology titles like Adventure Comics or World’s Finest. Sometimes, this resulted in him starring in two different stories published in the same month—one of the very few characters at the time besides Superman and Batman to do so. 

First up this month, Green Arrow and Speedy appear on a televised 24-hour “Arrowthon”. Those that call in a pledge can request an arrow-related stunt to be performed “live” on television. Some wise-guy criminal calls in a ten thousand dollar pledge if GA will shoot an arrow off the head of millionaire Oliver Queen. This is impossible since Green Arrow is Oliver Queen, which the villain suspects.

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Green Arrow solves the problem by borrowing a hollow wax likeness of himself from a museum and placing Speedy inside to shoot the apple from his head. Since this is a comic book, the wax dummy fooled everyone and Green Arrow’s secret identity is safe. Or maybe Green Arrow got delirious from performing on TV for 24 hours straight with no sleep. 

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