Retro Review returns with the September 1967 issue of Sugar & Spike from D.C. Comics. As always with this comic book series, cartoonist Sheldon Mayer does it all, well at least, he writes and draws the thing! He did the cover as well. This issue is billed as one of the Summer Vacation Issues and would have been on the newsstands during the summer months of 1967, also known as the Summer of Love!
This issue features a full length, twenty page story entitled; “Bernie The Brain!” It opens with Sugar and Spike at the beach but by the end of the splash page it promises to be the zaniest, most exciting adventure of Sugar & Spike’s young lives! Wow, quite a promise. So why is this day so different that any other day in the lives of this twosome? It’s so different, because this is the day that Sugar & Spike meet Bernie the Brain!
Mayer introduces his readers to a new character, another baby, of course, named Bernie. We first “meet” Bernie when he is discovered hidden in a small portable computer, built by his grandfather, who is trying to sell his computer to a large corporation. Bernie answers all the questions put to him and faster than the corporation’s room-sized computer. But is discovered when the corporate officers offer to buy the portable computer and he exclaims; ” No! No! Don’t Sell Me Grampa!” Discovering he is not like other babies, Bernie flees the offices and begins searching for normal babies so he can learn to be exactly like them!
You see where this is going don’t you? Yep, Bernie ends up on a bus heading to the beach, where he discovers Sugar & Spike. He discovers other babies talk “baby talk” not English. After a mishap with a couple of ice creames on a stick, Sugar & Spike run from their angry parents and end up lost. Enter Bernie who offers to help them with his handy “pocket peoples locater”. Hey he’s still learning baby talk, so cut him some slack! When Sugar’s dad shows up to take Sugar & Spike back, Bernie frees them with another gadget, a giggle gun, of all things. But a detective observes the gadget in action and identifies Bernie, but the “bad guys” overhear his transmission to his boss and decide to grab Bernie before anyone else does.
Bernie makes Spike a gift of his gadget and that’s when the “bad guys” swoop in and grab Spike, thinking he’s Bernie, due the the gadget he’s holding! The “bad guys” take Spike back to their leader, the Octopus (possibley a nod to Will Einser’s The Spirit). Of course Spike is no Bernie and havoc abounds as Spike uses the giggle gun on the “bad guys” before they manage to take it away from him. He is then put into a cage with a gorilla named, Gorgeous George! Will this be the end of Spike?
In the meantime, Bernie and Sugar search for Spike, only to be grabbed by the “good guys”, the detective and his boss! Back to Spike, he discovers that Gorgeous George can speak with him, as he’s … wait for it … a baby gorilla! George protects Spike from the Octopus and his henchmen and ends up beating them up, leaving Spike to receive the credit for taking down the Octopus and his gang. Bernie is reunited with his granddad and shows off his new ability to speak baby talk, which fools everyone into thinking he is no longer a genius.
And thus ends the story which introduced Bernie the Brain to Sugar & Spike’s readers. Bernie will go on to guest star in many future Sugar & Spike adventures, but issue #72 was his introduction and what an introduction it was! I give it four (4) Legion Flight Rings out of five (5). Sugar & Spike truly was a comic for all ages and if you’ve not discovered these pint-sized characters, I urge you to search them out. In fact, this spring D. C. Comics will make it easy for you, as they will publish the first Sugar & Spike Archive hardcover. My collection only begins with issue # 50 or so, therefore, I’ve already have given BTTP my order and I’m looking forward to reading the first adventures of Sugar & Spike in a couple of months!