As a mythology loving kid, I was thrilled to encounter DC’s Captain Action as a kid — what could be cooler than a superhero who got powers from magic coins left behind by the gods of myth? Solar powers from Shamash, lightning from Thor, speed from Mercury, fighting skills from Ares, wind control by Aeolus, all pitted against his archfoe Krellik, who gained evil magic from the Slavic dark god Chernobog. I’d had the collected CAPTAIN ACTION CLASSIC on my Amazon wishlist but while on vacation I discovered it on my library’s Hoopla digital service and so read it for free.
The first two issues, by Jim Shooter, Wally Wood and Gil Kane (cover to the left by Irv Novick) were as enjoyable as I remember, though with their illogical moments (Krellik has a perfect shot to take out his archfoe and gain all the magical coins, but decides to make him suffer instead). But the third issue, with Gil Kane writing as well as drawing, is just as disappointing as I remember. Captain Action loses most of his coins, vastly reducing the mythological fun, and we get long-winded speechifying from his archfoe Dr. Evil (Captain Action was an action figure line so the use of the line’s Dr. Evil was not optional — however they could have written him better. The remaining Gil Kane issues aren’t much better but the art is certainly awesome. Just look at Kane’s cover below.The Lone Pine Club were the cast of a long-running British children’s series by Malcolm Saville; so long-running, in fact, that I have Mum’s copy of the first book, MYSTERY AT WITCHEND, but I was buying new books in the series as a tween. This has the Morton family (Mom, older kid David, identical twins Dicky and Mary) relocating to Shropshire during the war where the three siblings and a couple of locals — most notably the tomboyish Petronella — form the club to have fun in the outdoors. But wouldn’t you know it, there are German sleeper agents in the neighborhood plotting to sabotage the local reservoir, though in contrast to so many Boys And Girls Own adventures the kids don’t stop the Germans, they just get caught up in the adult investigation.
Unlike some of my childhood reading, the book has aged fine, but it doesn’t work for me. It’s less the kids vs. spies stuff I remembered and more about them coming together, bonding and having fun together in the Shropshire wilderness. I can see why that appealed to me as a shy, introverted kid but it doesn’t have the same appeal now. I may ry a couple more to see if things pick up though.
PERILOUS DREAMS by Andre Norton is a collection of four stories linked by the Hive of Dreamers, psis who can draw their clients into dreams of sex, adventure or whatever. In the first two (one of which I also read in Norton’s High Sorcery), the dreamer Tamisen draws her new client into an alternate timeline of their world, figuring it’ll be something different from his past dream experiences. Unfortunately it turns out that a)his treacherous brother is rigging the dream to get rid of him; b)Tamisen can’t disengage; and c)she may have trapped them in a real alternate timeline.
The stories were enjoyable but the repeated emphasis that the dreamers, contrary to everything they believe, can alter reality, did make me wish one of the stories had dealt with that and what it signified. That aside, this was a fun one.