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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Inferior Five #3 [1967] (Random Comics Theatre)

Random Comics Theatre

Inferior Five #3 [1967]

The Inferior Five were DC's attempt at a super-hero parody book in the 1960s, starting with three issues of SHOWCASE and then getting their own book for ten issues (with two more reprint issues a few years later). It featured a team of reluctant second-generation heroes who fell far short of the example set by their super-hero parents. I found their origin story reprinted in an early 1980s digest quite amusing, so I picked up a handful of the original issues when I got a chance. The team was created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Joe Orlando. Bridwell continued to write it, but by this time the artist was Mike Sekowsky, with inks by Mike Esposito.

"Darwin of the Apes" is the 24-page story of the issue, which features the team sent to Africa to find the long-missing Dr. Livingroom. Their guide is a hardly-at-all disguised version of Tarzan, named Darwin, now living a civilized life but happy to return to his jungle roots. The trail leads them to one of the many lost cities full of sexy women that riddle Africa. It's a pretty decent story, with some clever jokes, though more than a few groaners and a disappointing ending. I think the issues I've read that parody other super-heroes are a bit better, but this is a nice change of pace. The art is really good, with Sekowsky doing a good job on the goofy animals and sexy women.

Also of interest in this issue is a full page extra letter page with a long poem, "Saga of the Inferior Five", based on "Casey at the Bat", sent in by reader Bill Mantlo, long before his pro comics debut.

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