In “Doctor Vundabar and His Murder Machine” Kirby has a lot of fun with his new Big Barda character this issue after her debut the previous issue, as she exercises out in the yard for the opening splash, shows off her strength as Scott takes delivery of a Civil War cannon for his act. While Scott and Oberon practice the act, Barda enjoys the scenery like nothing she’s seen on Apokolips but gets attacked by Virman Vundabar’s men.
And yes, Kirby even makes a point about how the name “Virman Vundabar” is goofy, so don’t bug me about it. It’s Granny’s sense of humour. She named “Scott Free”, after all.
Scott flies off to the rescue, and winds up in the car wash of doom. God, just those bizarre connections that Kirby could make work. Great scene with Scott, having escaped, standing behind the gloating villains not aware he’s there.
Letter column plugs the next issue with Funky Flashman, who “doesn’t know the meaning of the words ‘Fair Play’ or, if he does, he’s never bothered to practice it”. Ouch. I’ll have to get to that issue soon.
Also in this issue, the first chapter of the “Young Scott Free” story that leads into the classic “Himon” in #9. A great story as you get a look at Granny Goodness and her treatment of her “orphans” and their indoctrination and Scott’s early defiance, leading to his first encounter with Metron.
Mike Royer inks the 22-page lead story, his first issue of this title. It’s kind of notable because this is the issue where he changed Barda’s face on the first go-round, prompting Kirby to take the original heads from the photocopies of the pencils so they could be restored, so the copies of these pencils have those faces removed and Royer was much more faithful after that. Colletta inks the back-up and Royer inks the cover, with some touch-up by Neal Adams to make the weapons look more obvious (the original version appears in COMIC BOOK ARTIST SPECIAL EDITION #1).
The S&K reprint for this issue is “The Invasion of America”, a Boy Commandos story from DETECTIVE #76 (1943), previously covered from another reprint. A fun story, I especially like the scene with the kids coming into New York harbour, talking about how the role of their own countries in New York history.