§ April 18th, 2005 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

These mini-comics (measuring about 2 3/4 inches wide by 4 1/4 inches tall) were originally packaged with the Super Powers action figures and candy packages of the early-mid 1980s. I acquired a big pile of the comics in a collection a while back, so I was able to get my hands on these without having to accumulate a bunch of action figures at the same time. They’re about 16 pages long, no more than two or three panels per page.

Some of the minis, like the ones above, feature abbreviated origins of the characters or, in the case of the Justice League, feature the formation of the team. With only 16 pages (including cover and an ad page) there’s not a lot of room, but the JLA comic features an important lesson for children everywhere:

The “Yellow Tornado” doesn’t really have a ring to it, does it? But why wouldn’t he be an American? Wasn’t he built in America? (Or doesn’t the America of Earth-2 count?)

Not just the big names were featured…the comics introduced kids to some of the lesser lights of the DC Universe as well, in those pre-Justice League Unlimited days:

Villains were spotlighted as well:

Dig that karate chop Brainiac is delivering on Batman, there. Also, at first glance, it looks like Lex Luthor isn’t even on the cover of his own comic…but if you squint just right:

And sure, Darkseid is a natural for a DC toy line like this, but the very idea of trying to sum up Jack Kirby’s other Fourth World characters in 16-page mini-comics…well, that’s a little mind-boggling:

All things considered, they didn’t do a bad job, though DeSaad had to be toned down a bit, as you might imagine. That said, DeSaad has the greatest line of dialogue out of all these minis: “Eh? Your arrow — it’s short-circuiting my vibro-hoses!”

That arrow was shot by Green Arrow, which brings me to the appeal of some of these minis: the odd pairing of heroes and/or villains in the books. The later minis primarily had Fourth World villains as foils for the heroes, so you had Green Arrow fighting DeSaad, as I mentioned, or Red Tornado and Aquaman versus Mantis, of all things. The Joker mini has Batman and Aquaman teaming up, an Aquaman mini has him joining forces with the Flash against the Penguin, and one of the Hawkman minis has him teaming with Green Lantern against Lex Luthor.

Given the nature of these minis, as pack-in supplements secondary to the toys themselves, that they’re entertaining at all is something of a miracle. Simplistic, sure, but fun as well. Similar mini-comics packaged with the new Justice League Unlimited toys, detailing some of the background characters that haven’t yet been featured leads in the cartoon but have been made into action figures (like the Steve Ditko Starman, for example) wouldn’t be a bad idea, I think.

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