Monday, February 13, 2017

The Secret Society of Super-Villains, Volume 1 (1977: A Madman Turns 40: 2017- Day 44)

For today's A Madman Turns 40, I'm reviewing a collection of comics from my favorite year.

   The series in question is DC Comics' The Secret Society of Super-Villains. The series ran from 1976-78 and the volume I read contained a majority of it's issues published in 1977.

    So just what is the Secret Society of Super-Villains?

    A mysterious benefactor summons a group of villains to San Francisco in order to finally rid the world of the Justice League. Soon the bonds of teamwork begin to crumble as power struggles and egos arise as the group is directed to steal a myriad of mystical devices and items. Added to the mix is that one of the teammates is secretly a good guy- but who is the traitor?
Series Creator, Gerry Conway. 
    Then around about issue 5, the focus of the comic shifts dramatically. Writer, Gerry Conway suddenly left the title. Replacement writers added Jack Kirby creation Funky Flashman to the mix having him attempt trying to market the team to high bidders. But there is a major fly in his ointment. Earlier, the Secret Society manipulated a time-displaced mutant hero called Captain Atom. When the Society restructures, Atom vows to bring in the villains whom he once called friends to justice. While a host of awesome superheroes assist Captain Comet in his quest, none of them could ever save this series from an imminent demise.

     I knew from the get-go reading issue #1 that this series was doomed. When the SSOSV is first introduced, Catwoman is listed as a member. NOT ONCE DOES SHE MAKE AN APPEARANCE IN THIS BOOK!  Obviously, you can tell with flaws such as that, this series was rushed out. A special feature at the end of this volume shows writer and creator Gerry Conway's original vision for the series. But then-publisher Carmine Infantino had a different idea and ordered his revision expedited to print. 
Then DC Comics publisher, Carmine Infantino.
   A quick rush through publishing caused massive story problems and sloppy artwork. Along with continuity errors, this series also lacks vision. That's in very large part to the revolving door of writers and artists desperately attached to and dropped from the series. With so many different cooks placed in the DC Kitchen, there were so many different versions of this team changing ranks quicker that the Justice League during a recruitment drive. It's nearly impossible for the reader to form any sort of lasting bond with the characters. 

    Oddly enough, despite my displeasure with this series, I actually want to read volume 2 to see how things unfold. Yet, I doubt I'll ever get my hands on the complete story as it was spread out over several other unrelated series and the current editors of DC didn't think to include those stories in this volume! That made me so mad that I was almost willing to forgive the other oversights I found in throughout the editing of these late 70s stories. ALMOST...

     A few weeks ago, I discussed the great blizzard of New England. I mentioned how blizzards in both 77 and 78 caused massive production delays in publications such as comic books. This was one such series that suffered from the crippling snow storms. Rushed stories, a lack of being able to keep a definite creative staff attached to the project, mixed with oft delayed distribution lead to the Secret Society becoming a victim of 1978's DC Implosion. 

Cover to SSOSV Volume 2.
    Again, I doubt that if I get my hands on volume 2, I'll never get the full story. Issues #16 and 17 never saw mass print. But facsimiles of those issues are included in the second volume of SSOSV. However, the planned final issue that was supposed to wrap everything up (issue #18) never saw print in any form. 
     Man, was the winter of my favorite year brutal to DC Comics...

     Rating: 5 out of 10 stars.

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