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Leading Comics #7, the summer 1943 issue, by Joe Samachson (writer) and Pierce Rice (artist) was a loving homage or rip-off (depending of how you look at it) of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Although the SSOV are relatively depowered compared to their competitors, the JSA, they actually performed pretty well in a semi-fantasy setting. (Which will come as no surprise to those who read the "lost" SSOV about Willie Wisher, which was serialized with modern art in the back pages of ADVENTURE in the seventies.) This story is a LITTLE more realistic than that, but not by much. 18 pages out of 54.


As far as I can tell, despite an assertion several decades later in STARS AND S.T.R.I.P.E that the Shining Knight was their leader, the Seven Soldiers of Victory were like the early Gardner Fox Justice League--with no real leader. However, in this one Green Arrow is at least the most vocal one.


As always, the emphasis in the Seven Soldiers was on skill, not power. If the Justice Society was the Superman of super-teams, the the SSOV was the Batman of super-teams.



Apologies for Wing's cliched, racist-charactatured dialogue.

Before you say a warm Antartic land full of strange creatures and strange cultures is ridiculous, let me just mention one thing: the Savage Land. And the Savage Land has DINOSAURS, to boot!

Radioactive minerals, huh? That might explain the giants, dwarves, and odd animals they will encounter. Mutations, most likely.

The next two pages I've reproduced a little larger than normal. This issue of Leading Comics had a 54-page story rather than a 56-page story like previous issues, and these pages look like they might have originally been four pages, but when they got orders to cut two pages, just combined four pages into two, with small panels. Rice does some nice illustrations, though, so I'm enlarging them a little so you can read without discomfort and also admire the illustrations. (Yes, those buildings with eyes are creepy.)



What a stage magician was doing exploring Antarctica I'll never know. Obviously this "Wizard" was inspired by the equally-fraudulent Wizard of the Oz books.

The Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesey encountered first a group of dwarves, and then some brutish "giants" some nine to twelve feet tall. They couldn't talk them into joining the Wisstark forces, but the Kid did lead them to a hill that was a natural outcropping of free sulphur. The Kid set fire to it, and...


The Green Arrow and Speedy infiltrate Stanovia, the city of the three "wizards". They are captured after one of the Wizards pushed them back with "magic"--actually, more a hypnotic command. The three Wizards' "magic" actually seemed more like illusions and hypnotism. Arrow and Speedy escape the pit they were imprisoned in, and then proceed to spy on the three Wizards.


As they make their escape, one of the Wizards becomes dozens of small ones, an illusion that nevertheless saves him from being hit by the archers' arrows.

Meanwhile, some Stanovian agents infiltrate Wisstark--but are "invisible" in a hypnotic "clouding men's minds" sense, to steal back their air-ship--the same one that brought the Seven Soldiers to Antarctica and Wisstark, the one that looks like a giant flying Contac capsule. The Crimson Avenger and Wing try to stop them, but...


The Crimson Avenger uses his crimson smoke capsules to make Wing and himself "invisible" too--or at least unseeable--and the smoke also stains the invisible spies, rendering them light crimson, at least, and they bring the airship back to Wisstark.

Some more spies invade Wisstark, including one that is hypno-illusioned into a double of the "fake" Wizard of Wisstark, the American former stage magician. Vigilante has to find out which one is which..


Vigilante also uses mirrors to "duplicate" himself, as well as using the Wisstark's stage-magician Wizard's trick doors in the walls. (I have no idea why the stage-migician-"Wizard" has less hair now. Maybe he was originally wearing a toupee?)

The Shining Knight goes in search of an army--and encounters a strange animal that leaves no doubt of in whose literary debt this story is.


Although...are flying apes more ridiculous than a flying HORSE...?

The "soldiers" the Knight has to recruit wear wooden "armor" and have wooden "swords", and the Knight agrees to a hand-to-hand combat with their general to see who can lead them. The Knight wins, and later they fight giant, floating Wizards of Stanovia--who turn out to be illusions that dissolve.

The Soldiers then confer, pooling what they know...



The soldiers in green below with the silly hats holding what looks like green beach balls as weapons are the Stanovian soldiers.



Then we find why the Kid filmed those giants running from the flaming sulphur hill...casting an "illusion" of his own.



Luckily, the Knight was suspicious...


Those who live by illusion die by illusion, I guess...

A nice little whimsical story. We never saw Wisstark and Stanovia again. Where's Roy Thomas and All-Star Squadron when we need them?

NEXT SATURDAY: the return of a villain who first appeared in the first SSOV story...and also a return to the time-travel motif that we first saw in the Dr. Doome story. Only instead of villains from the past, it's the Soldiers who do the time-travelling...foreshadowing what Len Wein would do to them in JLA #100-102.

Date: 2015-10-11 02:08 pm (UTC)
jkcarrier: me, at my old office (Default)
From: [personal profile] jkcarrier
"I have no idea why the stage-migician-"Wizard" has less hair now."

It looks like the artist got confused and mixed up the wizard from Wisstark with the ones from Stanovia. I'll cut him some slack, though...if he really had to crank out 54 (or 56!) pages in a month, it's a wonder he could remember his own name, let alone keep all the characters straight.

Those soldiers' uniforms are amazing -- one side wearing birdhouse roofs and sandwich boards, the other side in cornettes and carrying beach balls. Probably just as well Roy Thomas never brought them back...I can picture poor Jerry Ordway throwing up his hands in despair at trying to make these guys not look ludicrous.

I like Sir Justin's bit at the end: "Golly, I can't tell which ones are real and which ones aren't, so I guess I won't bother trying to rescue any of them. Sucks to be you."

Snark aside, this is a very clever and fun story. Even the bits lifted from Baum aren't overwhelming, it's still pretty original. I dig the idea that the wizards on both sides are fakes, but think the other side's magician is the real thing.

One of the nice things about the Soldiers being all non-powered is that the writers don't have to resort to contrivances to keep one character from overshadowing the others (see: every Superman/Batman team-up ever). Everyone gets to be equally cool. (Except Wing, who's just embarrassing. I can kind of understand caricaturing Japanese soldiers as part of wartime propaganda, but why treat one of your good guys this way? Just for a laugh? It's infuriating.)

Date: 2015-10-11 04:18 pm (UTC)
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
From: [personal profile] skjam
We're going to have one of the most frustrating Wing moments next issue.

Date: 2015-10-11 08:21 pm (UTC)
jkcarrier: me, at my old office (Default)
From: [personal profile] jkcarrier
I appreciate that, and I'm definitely not criticizing you for posting the stories. I think it's good to acknowledge that this kind of thing was going on in our popular culture, rather than trying to sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened. It's just so aggravating. If it was just a matter of the creators going, "Grr, we hate Asians, so we're going to portray them as insultingly as possible" would still be awful, but at least it would make sense. But as you say, in most aspects Wing comes off as just as brave, tough, clever, etc. as the other heroes. And yet he *still* has to be drawn with gigantic buck teeth and talk like a fortune cookie, just because That's The Way We Do It (see also: Ebony White in "The Spirit"). I guess it just goes to show how deeply-ingrained those cultural biases are, and how much trouble we've had getting past them as a society.

Date: 2015-10-11 04:35 pm (UTC)
bradygirl_12: (jla (fourth of july))
From: [personal profile] bradygirl_12
Very nice story! :) Clever and original, and the art is good, despite the mix-up with 'Our' Wizards (hair one minute, hairless the next). I agree that the artist got mixed up, poor guy! But he did really good work.

These stories never fail to entertain. Can't wait for next weekend! :)

Date: 2015-10-11 04:45 pm (UTC)
randyripoff: (Black Lightning)
From: [personal profile] randyripoff
In case it hasn't been said, I've been enjoying these posts. Thank you for sharing.

Date: 2015-10-11 05:21 pm (UTC)
ozaline: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ozaline
The eyes on the houses remind me of 1940's Wonder City of Oz.

Date: 2015-10-11 07:13 pm (UTC)
ozaline: Ozma from Skottie Young and Eric Shanower's Ozma of Oz comic adaptation (Ozma)
From: [personal profile] ozaline
Oh yes indeed, I don't know if the glass plane is a reference to 1939's Ozoplanning With the Wizard of Oz (note the book that came out the same year as the '39 movie has the movie's title contained in it, clever that), since I've not read it and the illustrations I've seen of the Ozoplane are later ones, like this cover.

Hoping to get the rest of the famous 40, soon so maybe I'll be able to judge soon.

Date: 2015-10-11 08:23 pm (UTC)
jkcarrier: me, at my old office (Default)
From: [personal profile] jkcarrier
"Ozoplaining" sounds like it should be the Baumian equivalent of "mansplaining": "Well, if you'd spent as much time in Winkie Country as I have, you'd understand..." ;-)


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