Captain Nice #1, November 1967

“Fowl Play”

The first tale in this issue sees Captain Nice take on the master criminal known as the Rooster! He plunders by night and, as the sun rises, he crows “with pride over his evil doings!” Carter Nash takes a swig of his potion and transforms into Captain Nice, that “super-powerful champion of justice”, and sets out to take the Rooster down. Unfortunately, his efforts are foiled by various cases of mistaken identity: once he even manages to apprehend an actual chicken! He eventually catches the evil-doer by hoisting a large searchlight into the sky. Mistaking this for the sun, the Rooster starts to crow—thus giving his position away to the waiting police.

“The Big Flood”

The upstate dam fractures, threatening to flood Bigtown! Captain Nice flies to the scene and sticks his finger in the crack, but just makes the whole dam wall collapse. He outflies the water and digs a large trench to divert the flow into a nearby valley. Bigtown is safe—unfortunately the small village of Peapatch, situated in the valley, is now completely flooded. Nice zooms in, but the residents aren’t too concerned: after all, now they all own lakefront property!

 “Good Deed Indeed”

Carter Nash spends a day as Captain Nice doing good deeds about town. Sadly, his actions merely result in a series of wild disasters with criminal escaping justice and a leopard escaping the zoo!

“Think Mink”

The glamorous cat burglar Slymme Fatale arrives in Bigtown and purloins the mink coat belonging to Mrs Vanders. Captain Nice appears, but can’t bring himself to fight a girl. Slymme takes quite a shine to out hero, but Nice is oblivious to her charms: “I always thought girls were just soft, round boys!” he exclaims. He manages to return the coat to Mrs Vanders, but Slymme slips away into the night after felling the good Captioin with a spray of… perfume. “She isn’t the first female to render a man powerless with her perfume!” concedes Sgt Candy Kane.

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Following the success the Batman tv show on the ABC from January 1966, the other two networks quickly put similar shows into production to cash in. Mister Terrific (CBS) and Captain Nice (NBC) debuted as mid-season replacements in January 1967, both erred rather more on the side of standard sit-com fare than did the camp Batman, and both shows went off the air after just half a season. Mister Terrific didn’t get his own comic—well not the TV version anyway!—so we’re looking at Gold Key’s singular effort at adapting a comics-influenced concept back into comics. They didn’t do a particularly good job.

The photographic covers are probably the best thing about this, featuring nice shots of star William Daniels in the silly costume. The interior covers have more photos, this time in black and white, of the star in both hero and secret identity guise of Carter Nash (note the initials), and a single image of Carter’s mom.

Beyond the covers we have a quartet of poorly-written stories, struggling to be funny, and weak art by John Certa. I’ve only seen the pilot episode of the show itself, so I can’t really compare how close the comic comes to capturing the flavour of its parent, but I suspect it’s not far off. Buck Henry created the whole thing in rather a rush, and no one seems particularly enthusiastic. The Sgt Candy Kane character is particularly painful, lusting forlornly after the oblivious Nash.

The one fairly good thing to appear in the comic is Slymme Fatale, a rather obvious Catwoman knock-off, but for all that she works pretty well—though quite what she saw in Nice is anyone’s guess! Had the comic gone on for more than this one issue, I daresay she’d have made a reappearance or two. Mind you, she still wasn’t a patch on Julie Newmar—but who is?!

Captain Nice #1

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