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Old 01-12-2018, 03:08 PM
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Default Let's Read: Johnny Unusual's Old Timey Comic Book Thread

Action Comics #1-2

Comics. They are the world's greatest art form, after butter sculptures, and is deserving of your respect. But they might not get it, so lets read and occasionally mock the early years of the medium. My intent is to cover some issues of Golden and Silver Age comics and maybe, on occasion, some Bronze Age books and mostly crack jokes about wonky art, questionable storytelling and the pure loopiness of those particular eras.

So lets start at what many people call the very beginning of the Golden Age of Comics and Action Comics #1 (and #2, which is, pretty loosely, part 2 of 2).

Keep in mind, I do it out of love. I actually really like the first entry both despite and because of it's failings. I mean, also because of it's successes. There's a good reason it is the most expensive comic of all times and is credited with starting the superhero genre (seeds planted by pulp novels).

I don't need to introduce Superman to you. Though I'm going to, because I'm talking about these issues and they do. Things to note: the basic story is heavily borrowed from a novel called Gladiator. It also is about a superhuman looking to do good in the world. However, Gladiator is about a guy trying to find his place in the world and it ends with the hero, unable to decide what to do with his powers, asking God for guidance, only to be struck dead by lightning.

Superman occasionally has had similar crises, but mostly he is a dude who knows exactly what he wants to do; help people and inspire them to be better. But what about methods? Well, as we are going to see here, the way to making the world a better place involves a lot of bullying.


In the first page, we are quickly told Superman's origin. Some of the more famous details are actually left out: the planet isn't named, his parents (both biological and adoptive) are never mentioned and apparently "attendents" were the first people privy to the child's powers. But yeah, he was still rocketed from a dying world and brought to our own.


Sure, he could be holding a recliner, but he could also be raising the roof and a chair falls on him.

We also see examples of him using his powers (in public as Clark, no less), and are told that he decided to take the identity of Superman to help him champion the oppressed. Then, in case we are skeptical of the premise of the comic, two panels are used to tell us how awesome ants and grasshoppers are. IT COULD HAPPEN, PEOPLE!

Then the story begins...


Oops, cropped too much. But a Superman is travelling with a tied up and gagged lady. We are told if Superman fails, an innocent life is forfeit. Perhaps this woman, as Superman will through her to the ground in anger if he doesn't win.

Anyway, Superman leaves the lady outside and busts into a nearby house. Turns out, it belongs to the governor. The governors attendant refuses to let Superman see the governor, but Supes is having none of it and bullies his way upstairs. But soon, the attendant reveals one more obstacle.


I ain't gonna lie, I like this moment.

Anyway, Supes reveals he needs the governors help to save an innocent woman from the electric chair. The attendant, fearing for his master, shoots Superman, but it isn't effective and in the last few minutes to midnight, the governor relents and makes the call to save a life.


And Evelyn is saved, apparently by someone with the same haircut. Anyway, let go of Mike Pence, lady, you're free now!

Anyway, Superman retreats, leaving a note that says the real killer is tied up outside. The next day, Clark Kent sees the news of his actions and is happy to note he is not mentioned, a far cry from the man who will regularly entertain orphans and put the superperlative "super" on every goddamned verb he's capable of (we'll get to that in future entries.)

However, not long after, the governor discusses it with people and is glad that Superman seems to have taken the cause of law and justice. The next day, Clark Kent is called into the office of the unnamed editor of the paper. He poses a question to Clark.


This... this seems like an overreaction, Clark. He didn't say "I saw a man rip apart a steel door." If I asked someone "Have you ever heard of Incredikid?" I wouldn't automatically that this name lives up to the full potential of someone named Incredikid. I would assume it is a movie or something. What I'm saying is Clark doesn't have the strongest poker... voice.

Anyway, the editor gives more info and Clark vows that he'll be the one to cover the story. Clark gets a tip of a wife beating and manages to get there while it is still in progress. As Superman, he turns the tables on the domestic abuser, saying "You aren't fighting a woman now!" Causal sexism aside, it is a moment where we can really cheer for Superman for beating up a bully who represents a real world problem. The jerk tries to knife Supes, but we all know that wouldn't work. By this point, the jerk looks like a meth addict.


The man faints and Supes turns back into Clark and says Superman beat the guy up when the cops arrive.

Later, at work, Clark asks Lois out and she accepts, but basically overtly saying "I'm throwing you a bone, here." Out on the date, Clark asks her about why she avoids him while dancing and her response is "I scribble sob stories all day. Don't ask me to dish out another." Ouch.

Anyway, turns out Lois has turned the eye of a criminal, Butch Matson. He and his entourage start harrassing Lois, but she slaps him. Though Clark acts like a wimp, he whispers "Good for you, Lois." when the slap happens. Deciding to stay in character, Clark decides to continue his loser act.


I really hope he said this with a muffled voice.

Lois leaves and Butch chases down her taxi and kidnaps her. Then Superman steps in to save the day. Not knowing who he is, the crooks try to run him down.


Superman then picks up the car, shakes the people out like a box of toys (including Lois) and...


Supes then picks up Butch and hangs him by his clothes from a telephone pole, waiting until he gives up before letting him down.

Superman then turns his attention to Lois.



Get out of her personal bubble, Clark.

Superman takes Lois home and tells her not to print any of this. But she's a reporter, so she tries to tell her story, only not to be believed. Meanwhile, Clark is in hot water with Lois for his cowardice.

It is becoming apparent that the first Superman story isn't so much a story so much as an introduction by way of...



So next, Kent is sent to South America to cover a foreign war in the hopes of "stirring up some news" (wait, that sounds like it is already news. Also, I don't like the idea of someone "stirring up news", mostly because I envision it in the way William Randolph Hearst "stirred up news".

Anyway, Clark makes a stop off in Washington DC first. There, he spies on Senator Burrows and...


And uh...

...dear God. I think we are supposed to assume that's Clark Kent and not some hideous alien desperately trying to fit in and failing.

Anyway, the last son of R'lyeh learns that the Senator is talking to an unscrupulous lobbyist and tries to do something about it. He overhears the horrible truth, that the evil senator is trying to get America embroiled IN A WAR WITH EUROPE! Which is a bad thing in 1938 apparently.

To be fair, we later find out this is for a stupid made-up war and not the Hitler one, but we'll get back to that later.


So Supes picks the guy up and starts jumping around the city (he can't fly yet), scaring the living daylights out of the guy.


After jumping over a bunch of telephone poles, he jumps from one building to another... and misses!

To be continued.

Right now.

Last edited by Johnny Unusual; 01-12-2018 at 07:35 PM.
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Old 01-12-2018, 03:09 PM
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When we last left our hero


But Superman just lands on his feet and the impact doesn't liquify Greer's spine because Superman is great.

Greer spills the beans that Norville, a munitions magnate, is trying to get America involved in a war so he can profit from it. After Superman leaves, Greer warns Norville and Norville sets up a trap. Unfortunately, Superman is Superman so the trap of "guys with guns" is less than effective.


Yep, Superman straight up threatens to murder some guys, but instead they are just humiliated as Supes wraps their guns around their necks. Superman then tells Norville to get on a certain boat bound for the South American war zone mentioned last issue or he will "tear out your heart with my bare hands". This is probably an empty threat, but it certainly effectively paints a picture. The next day, he does, while Clark Kent and Lois Lane board the same boat.


Supes pays Norville another visit. Fearing for his safety, Norville has more goons try to kill Superman. They think their successful when Superman falls off the boat...


Making what I'm sure is a "Dw'oh, w'oh, w'oh" sound right before he falls. When the goons ask for their pay Norville welches on his deal because Norville is stupid. Sure enough, when the boat reaches it's destination the goons try to get him. However, he is rescued by Superman, who has swum the rest of the way to South America. Superman reveals that he saved Norville so he could join the army and experience war firsthand before going through with his plot.


Yep, Superman is coming along for the ride too, as a soldier.

I'm glad the last picture had a caption. I mean, I might have been able to guess it from context, but that's a messy picture. Anyway, Norville starts to experience war and does not like it.

Later, Superman just walks into the tent of one of the armies, takes a picture and walks out, then sends it to the paper.



Yep, we have put the Norville on the back burner again for more "a bunch of stuff that happens."



The next thing that happens is Lois is framed for espionage by a foreigner. Superman wastes no time in coming to Lois' rescue.


He never really clears Lois' name, but he does stop to pick up a torturer to throw him the length of a football field and talk to Lois about their future together.


I know that's supposed to read as mysterious, but I like to read it as indifference.

Superman then takes time to fight a crazy pilot.


Though with the colouring, it looks like it's Bizarro coming to say "Goodbye" to an oncoming plane.

Back with Norville, he admits defeat and goes home vowing never to produce munitions again, meaning he will become very unpopular in a few years.

It's at this point, Superman decides to just end the war by kidnapping the two leaders and telling them to fight to the death.


But then they are all like "Hey, I have no problem with this guy." Superman tells them that they are just being used to support munitions sales and tells them to shake on peace, the most binding treaty their is. Back in the good ol' U.S. of A.


Wow, Clark is surprisingly off model here. I mean, he's not an agent of the old ones now, but still, weird.

So that was the first two Superman stories. What did we learn? Well, to sell this thing, it seems the writers decided to go with a bunch of different little threads. Which actually kind of works for this, since this is a guy who is fighting a bunch of social problems right now instead of one big bad guy and we see how he is making an impact in Yet To Be Named City. And it is fun to see Supes stick it to the jerks.

But the art is still pretty rough. To an extent, the sketchy style is definitely part of the charm. But also.


But as sloppy as it could be, it's not a bad place for the superhero genre to begin.

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Old 01-12-2018, 03:24 PM
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I kind of completely love Sarcastic 30s Superman.

Not as much as I do Lovable Dork Superman, but he's up there.
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Old 01-12-2018, 07:29 PM
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I think a big reason for the "things that happened" structure is because this was all stitched together from a comic strip they'd been shopping around.

And why is the Pope officiating at a random American execution?
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Old 01-12-2018, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Scott View Post
And why is the Pope officiating at a random American execution?
"Tonight's special guest executioner..."
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Old 01-15-2018, 05:41 PM
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Actually, I quite like this soft watercolour look.

And it has the advantage of not being tediously familiar. Or wannabe digital photography.
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Old 01-30-2018, 10:47 AM
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Default Showcase #4

Showcase #4

Written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Carmine Infantino.

Now that we've had a trip to the comic that many people feel kicked off the Golden Age of Comics, lets get to the comic that is credited to kicking off the Silver Age. Prior to the Silver Age (I don't know quite what you'd call it since according to wikipedia there's a five year gap between the Golden and Silver Ages), superheroes fell out of favor, with other genres such as war, westerns and (most influentially) horror comics taking their places. During this time, Marvel wasn't "Marvel" yet (I think it was "Atlas" at the time) and instead of dealing in superheroes, their most popular fare was monster books.

DC Comics was still dealing in superheroes (as well as Western, Sci-Fi and War books) but a lot of their most iconic characters had basically fallen to the wayside. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman hung in there, but many Golden Age favourites like The Flash, Green Lantern and the Atom fell away. Under editor Julius Schwartz, DC decided to bring back some of their Golden Age characters in hip, new ways. The first was making a new Flash. While some characters bare little-to-know resemblance to their namesakes (the Atom went from a short boxer to a scientist with shrinking powers), this Flash keeps relatively close to the classic character (exposure to chemicals give man superpowers).

So without further ado, the beginning of the Silver Age.



That is a pretty striking cover. I'm sure smarter comic fans can convey its virtues, but it is cool. After all, Flash is a character in a medium where time stands still, sort of, as a series of images. Film, however, is a series of still images so fast that it creates the illusion of movement. This is a picture that makes a subtle promise that this comic is going to give us an illusion, too. And it kind of delivers.

Before we actually get into it, I got to give this issue props. It''s a genuinely good introduction to the character and makes what is actually kind of boring origin on paper (er, prose paper) work on paper (comic book paper). I will also say I think Stan Lee's first Spider-Man story might have taken a bit from this, many the part where the characters are trying to do ordinary, everyday stuff only to find out they have kick-ass superpowers.

However, then it finishes up with a nonsensical battle of wits between Flash and a particularly lame villain.

But let's begin with our splash page!



It's a pretty great splash, featuring the character leaping out of the page of his own comic... which, based on what we will see, does contain all of the scenes from this issue, but in non-chronilogical order. If anything, the comic within a comic is more experimental than the comic itself.

The first few panels are pretty cool, two, building up the suspense for the reveal of the character. If this was a TV show, this would be a solid cold opening.



I also want to draw your attention on the layouts in this issue. Compared to a lot of the Golden Age stuff I've been reading (and even the Silver Age stuff, like Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes) and there's a lot of "moment-to-moment" panel transitions. It's pretty standard comic book stuff, but I find a lot of the transitions of those times where action-to-action or subject-to-subject. (demonstrated below).



We'll get to more of that later.

Man, I was really expecting these articles to bascially be an excuse for me to snark off. I'm actually doing something kind of academic here. Too bad people elsewhere have probably done this a lot better.

Anyway, good splash, good intro. My only complaint: this would actually work better BEFORE the splash page. Even though we see the Flash on the cover, I still feel like it would enhance the excitment about whatever this thing is and anticipation about seeing the Flash.

Anyway, the narrator takes us back in time to the night of a thunderstorm, where police scientist Barry Allen is reading an old issue of Flash Comics and commenting on how great it is. I also like that we don't see Barry in this initial panel. There's something about the image that is a bit striking (and sort of reminds me of many panels of Alan Moore books, particularly Watchmen). Again, I know that's sort of like watching a film and being impressed by an over the camera shot or something, but it is stuff I don't see a lot of in the books I read from this time period and, therefore, feels like a classic story with a tinge of modern age style, which definitely elevates it and makes it much more stylish.

OK, OK, enough fawning over a comic for using pretty basic techniques. Back to the story.

Anyway, Barry, now in view, is wondering aloud what it would be like to be fast like the Flash.

He goes back to work, adjusting a shelf that contains "every chemical known to science". See, it's lines like this that make me want to do this. If factually accurate to the comic, that's crazy! I mean, I am not an expert of chemicals, but I am doubtful that there's enough room on that shelf for EVERY chemical. And if there was, Allen then says that this is sufficient to perform "any experiment", which is also probably not true. I'm sure that some experiments require a lot of one specific kind of chemical.

There, got to mock an old comic a bit.

Not that it matters, since a second later, this happens.



Barry is surprised but even more surprising is that Barry is not only unharmed but the lightning seemed to do no damage. It just spilled "certain chemicals" on him. Barry probably should find out which chemicals, you know, in case some of them are corrosive or toxic or anything, but instead he decides to call it a night.

Allen tries to catch a cab only to find this happening...



Soon he finds himself outrunning the cab, much to his shock. Barry stops and assumes he's imagining that, perhaps due to exposure to the chemicals. And as anyone would if they believed they were hallucinating due to exposure to unknown chemicals, Barry decides to get dinner.

In another moment that would clearly be an inspiration to Spider-Man (the movie this time) a waitress is walking by Barry and then spills the food. Barry is shocked to find that the food is seemingly floating in mid-air.



I do kind of want to make fun of Barry's weird looking facial expression except for a) I can't articulate why I find it weird and b) under the circumstances, who wouldn't have a crazy ass facial expression in the face of the craziest thing ever. Barry uses the time to scoop up all the food and put it neatly back where it belongs.

Again, Barry thinks that he's hallucinating after (in Barry's words) "that lightning bolt tossed me around like a salad in a dressing of chemicals" (wonderful metaphor Barry) and again decides not to do a damned thing about it and go home.

The next morning, Barry chalks everythng up to hallucination again, re-iterating the point for the third time, then goes off to meet his date, Iris West, who complains that he is always so slow. Suddenly, time seems to slow down again, but this time during a much more dire scenario.



Again, I really am liking these moment to moment transitions. The shot incresingly tightening in on the scene gives a nice moment of tension. Anyway, Barry shoves Iris out of the way of the bullet just in time.



OK, we aren't given to any other signs of commotion, so I just like to assume this cop accidentally fired a bullet, almost hit someone and than ran over to his would-be accidental victims to try to see if they buy his "the Turtle Man did it!" excuse. "I mean, he totally got away, but he was all like 'I'm the Turtle Man! Pew pew!'"

Barry, meanwhile, comes to the conclusion that his accident has changed his molecular structure and made him the fastest man alive. Looking at his old Flash comic, he immediately decides to become a superhero. Using his technical knowhow, he is able to keep tabs on the police though a police radio in his lab and has created an expandable costume that he keeps in a compartment in a ring.

Hearing about a bank robbery, Barry dresses in his costume and runs down the side of the building and breaks the sound barrier on the city streets, presumably to the chagrin to anyone near glass at the time.

Barry arrives at the bank and to his surprise...



Oh, no, the va-- wait, I'm not sure I'm following what is happening. He's saying the vault is empty, but it clearly isn't... but he's also saying nothing's been touched? I am already confused by this series of statements. Is it me? Am I just not putting something together that should be obvious?

Maybe he meant that the shelves are emptied but nothings been touched? If so, that's a confusing way to put it.

Flash wonders why the Turtle Man started the robbery and didn't finish it (which I guess is what is happening) and deduces that it is a two stage plan and that he'd come back and finish it when everyone was off guard. Hours later, Flash returns to the scene of the crime and catches sight of what he believes to be the Turtle Man's shadow, he rams into it at top speed only to realize it is a painting, Wile E. Coyote-style.



Turns out the Turtle Man was hiding somewhere in the vault, I guess, and was able to move all the money by [scene redacted].

The Flash follows him into the sewers and...



Wow, not even two hands. Just one hand. He might actually be going in circles. Anyway, Flash tries to use a nearby speedboat, only to find it sabotaged by the Turtle Man. Wait, why even have a speedboat there to begin with, Turtle Man? Maybe have no boat? Seems like a lot of work to annoy your opponent and give yourself maybe a little time. Even if you stole that boat, that was too much work for very little payoff.

Flash follows the Turtle Man on foot, only to accidentally trigger is stupid masterstroke.



Wow, that plan seemed to rely a lot on the Flash (a man you've only heard about a few hours prior) chasing you in a very specific way. Otherwise, he could, you know, call police boats. Or where you also expecting them to follow exactly behind you? Also, what if the Flash follows you to where you land? Or what if you want to change course? There's a lot of holes in this plan.

And The Flash exploits one while the Turtle Man is gloating about how slow he is. The Flash, instead of following him, merely runs around him at super speed (for the first time!) and spins the boat until the Turtle Man flies off.

Also, can I point out that being slow is never really an advantage for him? It's a trait, but his real advantage seems to be that he plans ahead (with nonsense).

Anyway, Flash delivers him to the police and is surrounded by impressed reporters.

"You sure captured that character in a flash."
"What did you say your name was?"



I can only imagine this line delivered with the same tone as...



In the last panel, Iris wishes she could meet a man like the Flash and Barry gives one of those "maybe he's closer than you think"-type responses. No winking to the audience, though. As we will see in future installments, that's really more of a Silver Age Superman deal.

And speaking of, that's how the Silver Age began. It's actually a pretty strong beginning. Superman began the Golden Age with a lot of energy and excitment, but also some really wonky art. The Flash seems a lot more (pun intended) sure-footed and crafted, despite the lame first villain. It also certainly re-energized the superhero genre for the next generation (though that credit, understandably, often goes to Marvel Comics).

I will say, an issue with a lot of these characters, the Flash doesn't have all that much of a personality, but it still works, because he is also our audience identification character and we get to have all the fun through his point of view of learning about his amazing powers and not going to the doctor when doused with electrified hallucingenic chemicals. I think a lot of these characters have a "default" personality at this point but it still is a lot of fun. The new Flash costume is also a step up from the previous, which I kind of like but looks a bit clunkier.



You are running around all the time. Shouldn't you have a strap for your little helmet?

Next time, I'll probably stick around in the Silver Age, though I haven't decided if I want to do the first appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes or an early Silver Age Superman. Either way, expect lies, overly complex pranks and hoaxes and downright gaslighting. Until then...

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Old 01-30-2018, 11:06 AM
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I’m genuinely impressed; except for Super/Batman Stories my exposure to Silver Age DC Stories have been uniformly terrible. And, frankly I’m not sure if those were good books so much as they were “memorably insane”. But no, this is extremely well composed, despite starring possibly the weakest Rogue of all.

It also seems like The Turtle is one of those villains that took a few appearances before anyone figured out how to make them remotely threatening.
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Old 02-22-2018, 10:43 AM
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Action Comics #241

Written by Jerry Coleman and drawn by Wayne Boring.

While the Silver Age began with the Flash, there were many superhero books that were just chugging along despite the waning popularity of superheroes. Frankly, while it is easy to point out the line between Golden and Silver Age versions of different characters, it's a bit harder with guys who have always been there, since, as far as I know, their changes have been gradual rather than radical. So I'll trust DC Showcase reprints when they suggest this is the start of the Silver Age for Superman. It does add a huge element to the mythos. I don't know if they went with this choice with the color reprints of the Silver Age books they've been doing recently but I got this for cheap, so I won't be picking those more expensive collections up.

Anyway, if the Golden Age of Superman oscillates between bullying bullies to right social injustices and fighting crazy-ass supervillains, the Silver Age presents Superman AS the status quo, as opposed to being... opposed to it (or at least the less favourable aspects). Superman still fights evil from time to time, it suddenly it seems he is spending a LOT of time covering his ass or "teaching" Lois "a lesson" for her curiosity. I'll get into this in later installments and my feelings about it, but I will say that for the most part, there wasn't a lot of work for Superman to do in the 50's and 60's so Supes and company basically had a lot of leisure time for elaborate gag and games. It's sort of like when you watch an office comedy and realize "wait, do these people actually work or do they come to work mostly to hang out?"

Anyway, if this be the start of Superman's Silver Age, it starts off with the introduction of Superman's secret hideout The Fortress of Solitude!


The Fortress is actually a pretty cool setting, as far as superhero HQs go. It's a lot like the Bat-Cave, but crazier, and the Batcave already has a giant penny and a t-rex in it. But while the Batcave is largely a place for crime-fighting work, the Fortress of Solitude is, well, Superman's man-cave. Sure there are trophies and other things in the Bat-Cave. Both of them use them for similar things. Not only are they both work stations, but they are also often temples, places to remember why they do this, what they've lost, what they are fighting for, etc. But the Fortress feels a lot more like a place where Superman can let his hair down. Yes, he does a lot of work there, but some of them are more personal projects. He does experiments, plays around, keeps things maintained.

In many incarnations, Batman's kind of nuts and the Bat-Cave is a place where he can wallow in being Batman. But the Fortress usually feels like an emotionally healthy place for Supes. The Batcave might be more iconic, but I think the Fortress of Solitude is the best superhero HQ, with the possible exception of Xavier's School, mostly because the X-Men sometimes play baseball and Supes' place, by design, is for more solo activities. I don't even like baseball very much but if superheroes are playing I'm down. Hell, I'd even watch cricket if Doom Patrol or the New Warriors were playing.

Anyhoo, this is our introduction to the Fortress of Solitude.


Worth noting, all of the Superman comics of the era (and probably most DC Comics) had a splash/introductory page that featured an event from the middle of the action. This is a relatively sedate version of that. None the less, I love this image for many reasons.

First of all, Superman's posture and his collection of bottles and vials makes me think he's in the middle of some heavy loneliness drinking.

Second, Superman really is a tease isn't he? Think about it: why write an English introduction to a Kryptonese diary? If bad guys invade your secret sanctuary (which is the name of a different superhero HQ), they might not be interested in decoding your diary unless you have that introduction and the words "My Diary" in English. That said, if it's just some misleading bullshit, that's a solid ruse.

But yes, the intro promises us an introduction to Superman's Fortress of Solitude.

When we begin our story, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are wishing they could have a pearl necklace and a sports car, respectively. Clark Kent knows, however, that they will one day get their wish. At the end of the day, Clark changes into Superman and dives into the ocean to collect a pearl from the bottom of the sea. Superman then flies to the arctic and we see a big arrow. Superman comments that to passerbys overhead that this luminous arrow looks like it is there to guide planes (is that a thing?) but it is in fact a giant key that only Superman can lift to open up he secret base.


He then hangs up his key on a giant key-holder. Superman then narrates to himself about his rooms dedicated to his closest friends.


I actually like this. It's really sweet that Superman cares enough to dedicate parts of his fortress to his loved ones and that he's using his amazing powers to make gifts. That said... I guess I was hoping for something a little more profound than their greatest gift would be whatever materialistic random thought they had that day. If Perry White was all like "man, I wish we had a new garage door opener", would you give the newsman that, instead of, say... wait, I thought of the perfect gift! All of Superman's friends are news people. Why not give each of them the scoop of a lifetime and leave to them the greatest secrets of Superman? That seems like it would be a great gift for these people.

I mean, they are amazing gifts but I feel that while they all had effort put into them, only the gift for Batman seems true to that character. Also, why wait until you're dead? Just give Batman a super-computer. It would be really helpful for fighting crime. Think of some other gift for Batman, like giving him all of your remaining resources.

Look, it is clear Superman put a lot of thought and love into his gifts, but he is making some mistakes is all I'm saying.

Superman also creates a Clark Kent room. He claims it is in case some stranger does find their way inside to throw them off their trail, but I like to think that it is because Superman truly treasures the humble identity and life of Clark Kent. Which is also touching, except when we get deeper into the Silver Age, he might like this life to a maniacal degree.

Anyhoo, Superman relaxes by painting a martian landscape by looking at Mars directly (turns out there are arms growing out of the ground, something I realizes I forgot to scan. Too late now. Then he experiments with Kryptonite and leaves for the day. The next day, a scientist gives Superman a super-hard metal to test the strength of and Superman takes to to the Fortress of Solitude, only to arrive to see an ominous message carved into the wall, telling Superman to solve the puzzle of who can enter and exit without Superman noticing.


Looks like Luthor had a Joker/Toyman phase.

Anyhoo, Superman checks his rooms which include alien crystals (which might have summoned an alien being), his alien zoo (hmm, are one of these alien animals smarter than they appear?), and an armory of weapons he collected from villains (hmm, did one of these weapons Trojan horse a threat?) but has no answers. Deciding he needs more clues, Superman decides to let the intruder do his thing in the hopes that he'll provide more clues.

So Superman decides to punch a hole through the supposedly invincible metal and write in his diary. Then, in a moment of paranoia, he decides to melt the entrance to his home so no one will get in or out.

Then Superman decides to go about his business of saving people.


Hey, you know what the world doesn't need? You fucking up their infrastructure to put out a fire. This is a terrible idea, Superman? I feel like you could come up with other ideas that don't involve destroying the roads and pipes. Also, I can't help but "later" is "whenever Superman gets around to it."

Superman returns to his home, only to discover someone else finished his Martian landscape picture, but with a strange style that doesn't look like Mars.

Then Superman plays chess with a giant robot.


Superman eventually beats the mechanical representation of a pop-eyed duck, never once thinking "hey, I think I could have made both of these things in reasonable sizes".

Then Superman experiments with x-ray glasses that can see through lead, only to find another message... that the mystery intruder will reveal himself in 24 hours. Superman is now getting increasingly worried and dreams about a burning goblin man.


Superman is clearly getting increasingly agitated, which makes his standard rescue of a sea vessel shakier than usual. When Superman returns to the Fortress, he gets one more omnious message. Superman thinks he's licked when he gets one more clue to the mystery.


In shadow, the mystery intruder is gloating with glee that Superman hasn't solved the mystery until a sudden cave in occurs and he sees that Superman can't help, as there was a rock of kryptonite impairing Superman.

The figure reveals himself to be... Batman, who is struggling to find a way to protect Superman from the effect of the kryptonite, but Supes tells him it's no use. Batman begins to sit and mope while Superman asks Batman to explain what's going on in his final moments.

Batman begins to explain...


And Superman decides to rub a little more salt in Batman's emotional wound. Rightly, considering Batman's psychological torture of Superman. I mean, for whatever reason Batman has decided to play this game, it resulted in giving nightmares to his powerful friend, who in turn, risks making some bad called in an agitated state. This is NOT COOL, BATMAN! If I snuck into JBear's house and started carving these messages everywhere, he'd call the cops, and rightly so. Have you ever tried getting the cops to come to the frozen arctic? It's probably hard.

Batman reveals that he cut a secret compartment out of the key to the Fortress and hid inside.


Also, the "prank" involves having his loved ones help Batman hide in his house and write vaguely threatening messages. Cool.

Batman then used the giant lead penny to hide from Superman and melted the Batman wax dummy to replace him with a Batman flesh dummy. Batman's stupid for being cruel to his friend, is what I'm saying.

That's when Superman starts laughing at Batman and reveals that Superman has been pranking Batman and that the green stone isn't kryptonite. Also, we see that Superman can also dish out the emotional cruelty.

Superman reveals that he figured out the mystery but still doesn't know WHY Batman has been going all of this. Batman reveals it was a gift for Superman to celebrate his anniversary for arriving on Earth. I want to say that this means I'd never tell Batman about ANY giftable occassion, but then I realized I can't keep this shit from Batman. He'd make his business to know.

Anyway, this leads to one of the greatest moments in the history of DC Comics.


I kind of want to leave the image without comment, but I can't, so I'll just say what everyone is thinking: Batman does his gift shopping in full costume. And he didn't even know what he wanted, so he was just fucking browsing for a good long while.

The more I think about it, the greater it is. And the extras in the background both have very understated expressions. The lady is kind of surprised and the guy is a little interested. Guess what, if Batman is in your store, staring at a bunch of puzzles, then getting visibly excited, my thought process would be "Wow, Batman, that's so... wait, why is he looking at... OH, SHIT, THE PUZZLES ARE ATTACHED TO RIDDLER'S BOMBS OR SOME SHIT! I'M GETTING THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!" If Batman is somewhere, it is usually because a Supervillain is about, so, I dunno, maybe don't just wander into stores in full costume and walk around.

Also, though he probably didn't buy anything, Batman proves himself suseptible to a good, modest marketing campaign. Thank god for all of us that the Joker didn't realize this and write "kryptonite" or "killing yourself" on that sign.

Also, do you know what makes a terrible gift? Scrawling threats on your friends walls. Just a fuckin' heads up, Caped Crusader. See, this is actually a good reason to have Robin around. So he can say "This isn't normal, Batman. Normal people don't like this."

Anyway, it ends with the two friends sharing a laugh about their shared cruelty and then Batman invites Superman to the Batcave for a giant cake.


So many questions once more. I assume Batman made the candles himself, but what about the giant cake knife. Or did he say "hey, Superman, don't forget to bring your giant cake knife." Also, how old is that cake that's been sitting in a dank Bat-Cave. He says he baked it himself so... Batman has been gone for days. That giant cake is probably a little bit stale. Or did Batman bring Superman over and Superman had to wait for hours puttering around the cave until the cake was ready?

Anyway, that's the end of this adventure (?). But it really is the beginning. I don't know if this is definitively the start of Superman's Silver Age adventures, but it is where we have a big milestone and that's good enough for me. The Fortress is a pretty good part of the Superman mythos. Superman actually has had bases before, like the Secret Citadel, but there's something about the Fortress that works best. Next time out, I'll be looking at another Clark Kent adventure of the Silver Age, this one of the most iconic and equally filled with lies and tricks.

Until then.


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  #10  
Old 02-22-2018, 11:15 AM
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There is nothin in the whole wide world I love more than Silver Age Super/Batman stories.

This one is comparatively sedate.
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  #11  
Old 02-22-2018, 11:25 AM
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I just want to know how Batman explained his absence.

"Alfred, I'm going to the Arctic to play a birthday prank on Superman. If you start work on that giant cake now, it should be ready by the time I get back."

"Very good, Master Bruce. What should I say if anyone calls?"

"You'll think of something."

"And the Bat Signal?"

"You'll think of something."

** 1 day later, the phone rings **

"I'm sorry, Miss Vale, but Master Bruce is in the Arctic playing a birthday prank on Superman."

"Another business trip, huh? Just have him give me a call when he gets back."

** the next evening, the Bat Signal lights up **

"...and that's all we got, Batman. By the way, what's with the accent?"

"I'm... undercover on another case. Must stay in character."
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  #12  
Old 02-22-2018, 11:41 AM
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Probably accurate EXCEPT Batman claims he baked the cake himself.
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Old 02-22-2018, 12:26 PM
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Oh, you're right. Hm.

Well, he says he baked it himself, but he didn't say anything about the frosting.
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  #14  
Old 03-09-2018, 10:59 AM
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Adventure Comics #247

Written by Otto Binder and drawn by Al Plastino.

Now we get to another significant first appearance in the DC Universe (I promise this won't all be first appearances), the Legion of Super-Heroes. All major superheroes and teams seem to have large fanbases, but there's something about the Legion that garnered a seemingly extra-fanaticalbase. I like the Legion, though I'm not exactly sure what it is about the Legion that had so many fans. But every time Legion continuity changes, they seem pretty upset. I could be wrong, but as someone who, until recently, hasn't read many Legion stories, that was always my takeaway.

Personally, I'm much more of a Legion of Substitute Heroes fans, which I'll get to some day. Seriously, they are so great. Especially Night Girl. Who should be headlining her own movie. WITH the beehive hairdo.

But let's get onto this classic tale with a classic cover.


This is a slightly misleading cover, as we shall see. If anything, it isn't that Superboy's powers are ordinary that are the problem, it's that 1) he proves that he underestimates the powers of the Legion and in particular, their ability to use their imagination to use them in unique ways. And 2)... we'll I wouldn't want to spoil the twist at the end of this one. I'll give you a clue, like all Super-stories of the 60's, this involves a horrible web of lies.


Please note, this scene never actually occurs in this story.

The issue begins with a boy saying to young Clark Kent "Hello, Superboy!" Clark, cool as a microwaved cucumber left out in the sun, responds. "You... er... think I'm Superboy? That is a good one! Ha, ha!" Mr. Smooth. I cannot read that word balloon without it being in a robot voice. Later, Clark Kent changes into Superboy and sees two more teens addressing him as Clark Kent. Clark is understandably worried, but his fears are relieved, strangely enough, by a bombshell.

Also, HOLY SHIT! Then again, but this time, time travelers stopping by in small time America may be a weekly occurrence for Clark, just like alien invaders.

But hey, turns out Superboy has some friends from the future. But they didn't just travel in time to give him a gentle ribbing. They want to make Superman an honorary member of their super-hero club (with patches that say "Super-Hero Club" on their clothes) and give him a trip to the 30th century to do so.



I see when you time travel, the years are in the Schoolhouse Rock font.

Anyway, the Legion shows him around the future where he gets to see robots doing community service, Smallville now a metropolis (with his childhood preserved as a heritage site), a space sightseeing cruises and an ice cream shop with alien flavours. Superboy states that the flavours are "out of this world" and presumably we are spared weak laughs from the Legion as they try to humour a long dead relic.

Superman is modest about it, but happily joined them in their time bubble to take a trip to the future. But the Legion REALLY decides to stroke Superboy's ego by taking him to a classroom where HE is the lesson. The teacher uses a Superboy robot to demonstrate Superboy's fantastic powers. But then something happens.



Wait, how bad are things that the students need a visual simulation of melting metal with x-ray vision or otherwise they'd fall behind. This should be a treat for the students, but if I say "he can melt metal with his mind" and the kids can't wrap their heads around that without seeing at least a realistic simulation IN PERSON, there is something terribly wrong. Or maybe the teacher is also trying to humour Superboy. And if so, Superboy is totally buying into it.

The Legion then invites Superboy to their clubhouse, which is shaped like an upsidedown rocket. The Legion then tells that Superboy must be tested and Superboy thinks that it should be easy. Each member also has a plaque that names their powers: Lightning Boy has Super-Lightning, Saturn Girl has Super-Thought Casting and Cosmic Boy has Super-Magnetism. I don't think the super-adjective is necessary, but whatever you need to make yourselves feel good about yourself.

The first challenge is to recover the Statue of the Unknown Spaceman from the bottom of the sea but must compete with Saturn Girl. Superboy is confident of his victory, believing the challenge a mismatch for Saturn Girl's telepathy powers. But when the race begins...


I'm sure that's not so impressive with 1000 years of inflation but I think it is still supposed to be a big deal that the million dollar robot is escaping. How did the school afford this? Is that why the teacher was so adamant that a live demonstration was necessary? The school needed to justify spending millions of dollars on a robot. Or did they borrow it. In which case, someone who lent it out probably should have been watching that robot.

Superboy gets his robot doppelganger to follow him as part of his plan: lead him to the science class, where the science teacher can figure something out. Superboy's plan to have someone else solve the problem works. This is a plan I wouldn't mind so much if he wasn't SO certain that the teacher'd figure it out when he brought a RAMPAGING ROBOT WITH ALL OF THE POWERS OF SUPERBOY INTO HIS CLASS ROOM. There's no shame in asking for help Superboy, but maybe do it in a way where you don't expose kids to a mad robot who, in theory and melt metal with his eyes. No permission slip in the world protect the school from this one.


Meanwhile, Saturn Girl proves that her powers ARE useful in this scenario by telling a sea monster to lift up the statue for her. Superboy loses the first match , Cosmic Boy trash talks him about "the great Superboy" losing to a girl (not cool, Cosmic Boy) but refuses to make excuses.

The next match involves a race against Cosmic Boy to put out a forest fire. Superboy believes the challenge and powers are a mismatch again... but once again, Superboy finds himself sidelined when he spots a falling satellite and fearing it could do some damage when it re-enters orbit to he catches it. After noticing it is a satellite (or "basketball" as this kind of satellite was once nicknamed) from his time, Superboy decides to throw it away in the most Superboy way possible.


Get some perspective Superboy. Yes, it is probably useless, but that's an important historical artifact. But whatever, throw a piece of Earth's history into a volcano because of a pun.

Anyway, Supes arrives to see that Cosmic Boy put out the fire by launching metal meteors into a nearby lake. A novel solution, if you choose to ignore the ecological damage to the lake. Once again, Superboy refuses to make excuses.


In the last contest, a much more low-stakes one, Lightning Boy and Superboy race to warn the crew a spaceship that's leaking fuel, is out of contact range and will get stalled in the middle of space at some point in the journey. This time, Superboy is sidelined when an invisible eagle escapes from the zoo. Superboy decides to rescue the eagle rather than save the crew from an expensive inconvenience and uses a glacier to make the eagle frost up so it is visible (this is probably bad for the eagle's health, but whatever). Anyway, Lightning Boy wins by writing a huge message in lightning and Superboy has lost the last competition.


Superboy grins and bares it (though is brought to literal tears when he thinks no one is looking), but as he is about to leave, the Legion reveals... that he DID pass the initiation. It was all part of an elaborate initiation prank. Though the crises were real, the Legion created the sidelining crises themselves. Saturn Girl used her mind to make an expensive god-bot to out of control, Cosmic Boy used his magnetism to summon the satellite (intentionally giving it a harmless trajectory) and Lightning Boy freed the bird, knowing that Saturn Girl could always call it back. In all honesty, only the satellite plan seems genuinely harmless, as the bird could have gotten seriously hurt and Saturn Girl's plan... is just terrible.


The Legion's prank is a little mean, but I do like that Superboy is being rewarded for being a stand-up guy. However, Superboy gets some low-level revenge by stopping a crisis in an elaborate way where he uses his powers to replicate the Legion's powers (the mind reading replication is pretty lame, wherein Superboy says "I bet you are wondering why I didn't just use my super strength?". The Legion is impressed and Superboy returns to his own time to tell Pa Kent.


Superboy's expression seems less like "look what I did, Daddy" and more like "See, you old bastard, someone DOES appreciate me. I'm not a fuck up anymore so stick that in your pipe and smoke it." Also, Pa Kent is either asleep or dead.

And that's the first appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes. By Legion standards the lies and manipulation are... kind of harmless. And I like that we see that the Legion uses their powers with creativity rather than mere force. And it's one of the better Otto Binder stories, as his works on the characters are pretty... hit and miss.

Next time, I finally get around to fighting for your rights in satin tights. Until then.



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  #15  
Old 03-09-2018, 12:32 PM
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Saturn Girl releasing a rampaging Kryptonian Android in order to win a foot race is positively benign by LoSH prank standards.

My, how far they’ve come.
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  #16  
Old 03-09-2018, 12:40 PM
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Well, to be pedantic, they were both flying, so it wasn't a "foot" race. I mostly mention that because that was back in the day when the Legion members wore cumbersome jet packs. Later, they worse cumbersome cummerbunds before finally getting the Legion Flight Rings, which are pretty cool.

But, yes, all of the harm they did was all very cute compared to what comes next. But personally, the colateral damage and ridiculous risks never bother me as the manipulation that is basically all to serve whatever the "shocking" cover of the month was. For those who don't realize, a lot of the time editor Julius Shwartz would come up with cover ideas, then have stories written AROUND them. Most of them for Superman and the LoSH involved someone turning evil so the writers had to bend over backwards to reveal why a character had turned evil or, more often, pretended to turn jerk for exceedingly convoluted reasons.
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  #17  
Old 03-13-2018, 10:30 AM
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All-Star Comics #8

Written by William Moulton Marston and drawn by Harry G. Peter.

This time I'm looking at Wonder Woman. Having read the first year (and change) of Wonder Woman stories is interesting. Is it kinky? Yes. Yes it is. Sometimes bizarrely so. But sort of that bizarre charming where you are like "Oh, the writer found a mostly kid-friendly way to boldly explore his kinks". Which is a weird way to do it.

It is also a feminist work from a man who, as I understand it, had a complicated relationship with the opposite sex. It's a weird mix of leering at women who are tied up and also promoting the idea that women have a strength that men do not. It presents bondage as a force of control by evil and a force of redemption in the hands of the good. It... it gets pretty fucking racist some times (there are, to my memory, no black characters who aren't maids or conceirges who only get lines to set up a punchlined or get scared of something). It has Etta Candy, the butt of fat jokes, but also get things done and is a brash and proud American woman who, when she isn't eating candy, really gets shit done.

But most of that isn't here in this first episode. It is largely successful in presenting a superheroine proud of her feminity yet is also a powerhouse. So let's find out how it all began in...


As you may have noticed, WW doesn't make it on the cover in her first appearance, as the headliner is the Justice Society of America, which Wonder Woman ends up joining... as a secretary. Really. Sigh. But don't worry, because in her first story, Wonder Woman gets to prove her worth.


A pretty dynamic intro. Always nice to have one of these where, all these years later, it still feels like the right foot to get off on.

We begin on a mysterious island, where a plane crashes into it. Two women, one Princess Diana, rescue the plane's pilot, a blond man. Diana carries the man to safety and through the island's community, which looks like ancient Greece. All the women on the island are shocked to see a man there.

The doctor proclaims that the man will be out for a while. The Queen (Hippolyte) arrives to say that morally they must save him but to protect the island's secrets he must be blindfolded for the duration for his stay. The princess spends a lot of time nursing the unconscious man, so much so that the doctor (who looks like if Chris Claremont was coming up with costume ideas in the 1940's) suggests that she stop hanging around.




We are then given two pages of prose explaining what exactly is going on.

Long story short, the ladies are the ancient amazons of Amazonia. Way back when, they ruled their own kingdom when Hercules, mocked for not being able to conquer these ladies, tries to do just that. He loses, but later manages to get his hands on Hippolyte's magic girdle. The women are then put into slavery until Aphrodite has mercy on them. Getting back the girdle, Hippolyte won the day, but now the women must leave Greece to found their own land and always wear bracelets to remind them of how they were once chained.

To this end, they got to keep their island man-free, which is why everyone is all a tizzy about the whole "man" thing. She then points to the Magic Sphere, an artifact that allows the women of Paradise Island to keep up to date on the outside world and bring in all the good stuff into their already advanced culture and sciences.

It's an amazing device. It is, also, not a sphere.


Anyway, they use the device peer into the past to figure out what Steve Trevor's whole deal was.

And his deal is that he's a U.S. Army Intelligence Officer who decided to single-handedly stop a spy ring. He soon gets the drop on a couple of spies.


Maybe it's just me, but the way the artist drew Steve, I keep imagining different voices coming out of his mouth. All very silly. Like, I could totally see him talking like Elvis, Sylvestor Stallone and that one guy from the Simpsons who only appears in one episode and says...


Anyway, the ratzi spies turn the table, knock Trevor unconscious and leave Steve trapped in a robot controlled bomber... which is about to drop bombs on an American base. Trevor wakes up in time to take control of the plane (seems like the Nazis should have done something about that steering stick) and tries to use the plane to shoot a larger enemy spy plane (probably would have taken out the bullets too).


Trevor chases the plane until he ran out of gas and crashed his plane, because he is dumb. And now everyone is all caught up.


Hippolyte calls up Aphrodite and Athena for advice and they warn her that this whole World War II thing is serious business and that they should help. They also talk about how great America is, which makes me think that they are getting product placement bucks from America. "The last citadel of democracy and of equal rights for women", they call it. I mean, I feel like it wasn't the LAST, right? What about Canada? Did Canada have that stuff? I mean, I feel we at least had a little.

Anyhoo, Hippolyte then holds a tournament among the amazons to determine who will bring back Steve Trevor to America and fight the Axis. However, Hippolyte forbids her daughter from entering the contest. The contest begins and a mystery contestant wins the first contest: a footrace with a deer.


Who could she be? Hippolyte? That doctor lady? Unconscious Steve Trevor? Someone we've never met before? The mind reels. Also, the drawing of Diana's legs looks weird in that first panel, right? The way her legs are coming out of her little skirt looks odd to me. Maybe that's just me. What do you think: odd or am I just learing at superheroine thighs in arguably the LEAST overtly kinky issue?


Maybe both?

Anyways you guys, the contest ends with a game of "bullets and bracelets" in which the ladies shoot at each other and block bullets with their bracelets. The wounded party will be the winner. And EVERYBODY seems to be NUTS about bullets and bracelets and start chanting the game's name. This should end very, very tragically most of the time but because this is a comic it doesn't and the mystery player wins. And it turns out to be-- HOLY SHIT! Diana! I totally didn't blah blah sarcastic blah.


Anyhoo, Hippolyte gives a grand speech about her duties and gives Diana a costume to which Diana responds "It's lovely", which might be genuine but also might be read as "trying to spare the Queen Mum's feelings."

And that's the first appearance of Wonder Woman. What can I say? I think it did a good job interoducing the character, though aside from winning the contest, Diana doesn't get to have much of a character yet (though that is quickly rectified in the next chapter, where she and the audience get to have a lot of fun) but I feel that the world is successfully built a bit more, though the philosophy of the series (weird as it often is) doesn't get fleshed out till a bit later, so, yeah, a solid introduction.

Oh, also much of the book follows Watchmen's nine panel style, except for the introductory page, the text pages, the contest and the last page. I don't know if that means anything or is interesting but... that is a thing I noticed.

While I look forward to the next Wonder Woman adventure (which is notably more substantial), next time I'll be looking at Barry Allen's sophomore adventure AND his first time travel story (which is a big deal, considering that Barry's "enemies and friends" from the future list rivals pretty much any other individual hero).

Until then...


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  #18  
Old 03-13-2018, 01:07 PM
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Steve Trevor gets some points in my book because he’s the answer to the question of “What if Lois Lane was a dude, and also thick as a brick.”

My favorite Steve Trevor moment ever was in the Brave and the Bood cartoon where he and Batman were in a death trap, and Steve is completely unfazed because he has a trick up his sleeve. And that trick turns out to be patiently waiting for Diana to show up and save his life. And he acts like this was a very clever plan on his part.

He’s the Blurst.
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Old 03-13-2018, 06:52 PM
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I appreciate how they used the theme song from the 1970s TV series.
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  #20  
Old 03-13-2018, 07:52 PM
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Not to give away too much of Golden Age Wonder Woman (though it might be a while before I get this far) but Baroness Paula von Gunther is a great villainess who needs to be brought back as often as possible. WW has a perfectly Lex Luthor-level foil has gets to have an honest-to-goodness character arc. IN THE GOLDEN AGE.
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  #21  
Old 03-16-2018, 10:24 AM
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Showcase #4

Written by John Broome and drawn by Carmine Infantino

That's right, returning to Showcase #4 with the second Flash story. It is also the first time we have a time travelling villain and the first time super speed = BS powers that make no sense.


After the intro page that introduces us to this intro's conflict, we start with a man having a shave and staring into the mirror with the eyes of an adoring madman.


Henry Brown isn't the only man having trouble, as random stuff seems to be disappearing all over town! However, the mystery thief makes the mistake of taking something from Barry Allen, unaware that he's the Scarlet Speedster himself, the Flash. It doesn't take Flash long to track him down only to find that the mystery man has a cane that shoots smoke rings.


The escaped villain then starts thinking about his backstory story to himself.


Holy shit, that's some stone cold justice for an incorrigible thief. What other kind of justice do they have there?

"For the crime of selling pirated copies of Dreamcatcher, he shall trap you in the space between universes, where you will live for eternity in a state of eternal undeath."

That's pretty fucking brutal, people of the future. Now to be fair, Mazdan did just try to murder a man with rings of heat but that is not the crime the future people seem to be interested in bringing up. Also, when I think "incorrible" I think a "send him to his room" kind of punishment, not "die of starvation in the wastes that we create" kind of punishment. Also, maybe I don't know your whole story, but I have a feeling you have time to try to prevent the wastelands of the 50th century. I mean, MAYBE your attitude is "Earth is just a place and we are moving on." but I feel like people who see the future shouldn't just be resigned to the end of life on Earth. Well, the capsule is sent through time but due to some kind of accident, Mazdan was sent to our time instead.


Mazdan needs gold for his machine to return to the future because science but really, he might want to just stay in the past. Seems you already beat the law. You can go ahead and basically just make everyone in the future not exist easily enough. But, hey, it's your life, Mazdan. Anyway, he begins robbing a bank and once again runs afoul of the Flash. The Flash defeats Mazdan literally by jumping through his hoops and sends him to jail. But Mazdan isn't licked yet, thanks to him sneaking a special device on his person.


It also helps that the light in that room seems to be shooting a laser, but I'll put that down to artistic license. So anyway, Mazdan escapes but luckily the Flash has an previously unmentioned super-power: seeing heat.


That's too far a stretch Flash. Moving at super speed doesn't make you feel heat better. But it works, I guess and he tracks down Mazdan, who reveals his backstory and that his escape attempt would have basically destroyed everything within 10 miles. Jeez, THAT'S the crime someone should be punished so harshly for!


Flash takes the news rather well, probably because the villain is essentially defeated and rather than going on about the morality of mass murder, he basically says "Well, I like them." The thing is handled in a rather gentlmanly manner. The Flash reveals he can send Mazdan home without killing a lot of people: by running and vibrating, which he claims will project both of their bodies into the future. The Flash uses a racetrack to pick up some speed and sure enough it works, instead of, say, the Flash liquifying a time travelling criminal in his hands. Maybe that was his initial plan. "Oh, yeah, I can send you to the future. You betcha. Hehehe.

Anyway, the Flash overcomes the time barrier, which is basically a big cloud.


I... I can't parse the logic here. Maybe this comic is too smart for me. Like, he was literally facing away from the barrier, or does he mean you don't see any barrier when you travel back in time or... Maybe I'm dumb, but this is a weird comment. Anyway, Flash breaks through the barrier Mazdan first, with a loud crack emiting from his lower half. Again, I wonder if the Flash was just trying to murder Mazdan without him having a chance to onject.

Anyhoo, Flash brings still alive and able to walk Mazdan to the future authorities and he seems pretty OK with them sending him right back into his terrible fate of living through a dead Earth. Flash goes back in time and we leave with this coda.


"That's quite the leap Barry. And not very satisfying. Seriously, I'm still worried about that guy. It doesn't seem like the Flash was able to close this case or surely he would have gone to the authorities and given them some indication that there are no more worries. But more than that, why would you assume he's serving time... somewhere? Stop looking at that beaker and TALK TO ME!"

And that's the end of the Barry's sophomore adventure. I like Mazdan's look (though it is more appropriate for the Joker or Lex Luthor, particularly since he is wearing their covers) and he's got a potentially interesting backstory but the art from panel to panel looks a lot more generic this time around. Also, I'm routing more for Mazdan than the faceless future law that has a particularly nasty fate for him. Still, it was a fun breezy read despite some powers that don't really make sense. Next time out, we'll get to the Legion's second outing with Superboy in an adventure dubbed "Prisoner of the Super-Heroes!"

Until next time.

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  #22  
Old 03-16-2018, 12:23 PM
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Carmine Infantino was so dope
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  #23  
Old 03-16-2018, 02:11 PM
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Yup. This one wasn't quite as dynamic as the very strong first Flash story but I really like Mazdan's design. I'll concede that in theory, it's kind of generic, but Infantino gives him some personality in his body language. He never comes across as evil, more cold and dangerously amoral and despite his attempt at mass murder, I'm rooting for him, in a way. Less the murder and more the showing up the future jerks. Seriously, what a bunch of jerks.

Also, I decided to check: Mazdan only makes 5 appearances across DC history. Damned shame.
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  #24  
Old 03-16-2018, 03:51 PM
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This is just one Lion-headed Superman away from being the Silver Age-iest thing ever.
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  #25  
Old 03-16-2018, 07:20 PM
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Clearly, Carmine Infantino believed that scrolls were due for a comeback in the future.
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  #26  
Old 03-18-2018, 01:16 PM
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Meanwhile, because I am a certain kind of comics fan, I was wondering why Grant Morrison was in a Flash comic from the fifties.
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  #27  
Old 03-18-2018, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Healy View Post
Meanwhile, because I am a certain kind of comics fan, I was wondering why Grant Morrison was in a Flash comic from the fifties.
And now I can't see anything else.
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  #28  
Old 03-24-2018, 11:18 AM
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Okay, so I opened to a random page in The Essential Superman Enclopedia, and found the write-up on Mars (as in the planet). And it said, among other things; the following;

Quote:
Superman journeyed to Mars to help actor-director Orsen Welles smash a plot by the Martian dictator Martler to "blitzkreig the Solar System" and conquer the Earth (Superman [first series] #62, January-February 1950)
Martler, incidentally, is so named because he was the Martian Hitler.

So... plainly I think one of us has to move Heaven and Earth to read this comic book.
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  #29  
Old 04-16-2018, 10:30 AM
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Adveture Comics #267

Written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by George Papp.

We are back with the second Legion of Super-Heroes story. It should be noted that a legion is supposed to be a great number but we only have three members on the team so (at least that we see). But we will also see a legion of superheroes that isn't THE Legion of Super-Heroes. Also, how come I've never heard of this before and also reveals a new location that amazingly only appears here when it should have been a major part of the Superboy/man mythos. We are in for a wild ride this time out in a mind boggling adventure of assholery we could only call...


Yep, last time was just an impish (if irresponsible) prank but this time we this is no joke. So let's dig in.


I love that Smallville is a place where people are so used to dragon attacks that instead of marveling at such a fantastic creature, they'd just as soon give shit to the most powerful child on Earth.

Our story for really reals begins with a plane about to crash, Superboy is about to save it when suddenly Cosmic Boy appears and curtly tells Superboy that he's got this.


Also, I always assumed that Cosmic Boy was just generally magnetic, rather than specifically having to use "magnetic eyes", which sounds like the worst power to have, especially if you are concerned about random metal objects flying into your eyes. Anyway, Superboy is curious as to why Cosmic Boy is acting kind of dickish when a couple of guys in suits give Superboy shit, claiming he's just envious of Cosmic Boy. Superboy decides not to talk back, at the risk of looking childish.

He then is present when a two-story tall robot bursts through the wall of a building where a science exposition is being held. And I guess I just have to accept that Smallville just has impressive enough science exhibitions where people just bring their giant robots. Superboy is about to disable it when...


Lightning Lad (nee "Boy" until this appearance) destroys the brain of a pretty friendly looking robot. I mean, the robot was actively causing damage and just because someone gave it a friendly face doesn't mean that it's friendly, but still, it does make look Lightning Lad look like a jerk. Also, make it look sadder and this is always how I visualized Marvin the Paranoid Android. You know, what, you can even keep it kind of happy, because that seems like the kind of cruel joke the universe would play on Marvin.

Anyway, back to Lightning Lad looking like a jerk, it turns out he is also ACTING like one by ignoring Superboy. A passerby comments to someone else that they prefer Lightning Lad to Superboy. Superboy is growing concerned that the people of Smallville are continuing to think less of him.

As you might expect from the established pattern, Saturn Girl arrives to deal with another problem: a prisoner stealing a detective's gun. But Saturn Girl's got it covered.


Saturn Girl's power seems like a fun one to have. I mean, if I was her and I came across a bank robbery, I'd make them think their guns are cobras, then that their shoes are cobras. Then I'd let them get away in sock foot to their hide out and follow them and when they finally think they got the money, guess what, you're dollar sign bags are full of cobras. And when they turn themselves in, the cops... nope, not cobras, just regular cops. They go through the court system and then go to jail. Then after however long it is, I make them think their toilets are cobras.

I might be a sadist.

Anyway, Superboy congratulates Saturn Girl on beating the crook and he's all like "Keep your opinions to your self," which is Silver Age comics for "Up yours, fuckface." From then on, Smallville is outright JEERING Superboy because other people showed up to help. I'm not sure I understand the standards in this town. Even Pa Kent complains about his son "whining". Superboy is sad because "nobody likes me anymore", so he tries to solve the problem as we all would: by digging tunnels under the town in order to win back everyone's love. He claims that "this will make a great tourist attraction" (more than the giant robot and friendly all-powerful child?), but I think he really means "I hate you all and will create many, many sinkholes."

But Superboy's digging awakens a dragon because why not. Superboy claims the dragon is "attacking", which is a bit of a jump since what it seems to be doing is walking while stooped over. But then the Legion rushes in to save the day.


Holy shit, Lightning Lad's an asshole. I imagine him doing this kind of shit all the time. "Ha! Ha! This squirrel doesn't like being set on fire". Saturn Girl basically solves the whole thing because she's great while Lightning Lad is abusing a cryptid and laughing about it. The Legion is celebrated and Superboy is jeered even harder, this time much more understandably since it involves digging tunnels under a small farming community. Even Krypto suddenly moves to the side of the Legion. Superboy is later told by he Mayor of Smallville that he isn't needed anymore and is Dad comes out and says "I wish we never adopted you!"

That's some harsh stuff. Poor Superboy is so broken that he essentially decides to leave the planet. "I'll always treasure... certain memories." Says Superboy in what I think is supposed to be sad but actually sounds like he's trying to talk himself into the idea that he liked ANYTHING about humanity. And so Superboy decides to leave the Earth.

And THE VERY NEXT PANEL, things go nuts.


Wow, I got whiplash from that change in plot. So Superboy discovers a migration of super-people and decides to follow it. The all end up on a planet with a city named after Superboy ("Superboy City", which is my 14th favourite David Bowie song, probably) filled with statues of Superboy.


Yep, he's on Superboy Planet and decides to follow these guys to "the council". And it turns out the Council is the Legion of Super-Heroes, who immediately declare him "guilty" have Superboy shoved into a kryptonite-lined cage. They put just enough Kryptonite in the cage to weaken him without killing him. Then they realize: "Oh, yeah, we should probably tell you why we decided to put you in a cage forever."


I feel like the Legion should probably be following some sort of due process, but whatever. The Legion explains that they created Superboy Planet in his honor, by banding the superheroes of many worlds together to create it. The Legion are clearly not particularly concerned with the sanctity of the time stream if they are willing just to go back in time to create a new planet and tell everyone about it.

Anyway, the whole thing was going to be a pleasant surprise for Superboy but then the Legion learned something terrible from their "Futurescope".


The Legion reveals in the futurescope that in five years, Superboy will destroy an aircraft carrier, an airstrip and a factory, meaning he will become a super-outlaw. So instead of trying to talk present day Superboy out of it or at least going to period of time where he does all that shit to punish him, they dismantled the life of an innocent teen that they look to as a hero and trapped him forever in a poison cage. You know, heroism.

Oh, and as you might have guessed, Saturn Girl used her telepathy to turn Superboy's friends against him. So there's another terrible thing the Legion did in the name of their needlessly circuitous plan. I mean, the Legion is friends with Superboy. They could have easily said "Hey, come over to this planet for a minute." and he'd be all like "Kay." and do that, because Superboy is friendly and dependable. But no, you decided to do the jerkiest things by hurting as many people as possible.

So Superboy is doomed to be trapped forever. Except that a few days later, one of the Superboy trophies explodes, "launching an atomic chain reaction" because... I guess one of the aliens who helped design the city was all like "So we want trophies that have the potential to destroy all life on this planet, right?" and no one took the time to tell him that this was a terrible idea. Even worse, the explosions, while freeing Superboy, unleashed the "element sigellian", which will kill everyone who isn't Superboy with radiation poisoning.

But Superboy knows how to fight radiation poisoning... by yelling at it!


The Legion and the Superboy Planet residents just up and decide that Superboy is a good guy again and let him go, probably because they realized the logic for imprisoning him was fucking bullshit. It's at this point that Saturn Girl gets a completely convenient psychic message that she doesn't quite understand, about the U.S. President releasing Superboy from his "security oath". Superboy then reveals all the stuff they accused him of doing was for the benefit of disposing of a dangerous poison gas and that it happened in the present, not the past.

Cosmic Boy checks the futurescope and indeed it turns out there was a flaw. Oopsie, Superboy, the Legion tried to destroy you because they were too lazy to bother double checking pretty much anything an jumped to the conclusion that your greatest hero turned bad. I mean, never be afraid to turn on your heroes in the name of something better but... you know, verify some shit first. And maybe don't try to do any Minority Report bullshit. Anyhoo, some superheroes bring some surprise guests to meet Superboy...


Yep, Ma and Pa Kent in space suits, which is kind of delightful. Also, Krypto... wait is he disguised as one of those super-heroes? Is he the lady?

Well, whatever. The Legion and the residents of Superboy Planet cheer Superboy for solving all the problems they created and the story is over.

Well, I went into detail on the stupidity of the Legion, but I also got to mention that as far as I know Superboy Planet is completely forgotten from then on. Like, NO writer decided to revisit a planet in honour of Kal-El founded by a coalition of intergalactic superheroes formed by teenagers from the future? You'd think Grant Morrison would have at least revisited the idea a few times.

For example, here are some story titles and tell me that you don't want to read them

"The Rise and Fall of Superboy Planet"
"A Murder on Superboy Planet"
"Despair is Illegal on Superboy Planet"
"Crisis on Superboy Planet"
"Superboy Planet V. Supergirl Planet"

The last one isn't a war, it's an intergalactic court case.

Frankly, I think there's an untapped well of potential and hopefully someone will smarten up and revisit it. My only complain is it feels like SO much Super-mythos in the 60's was all about trying to massage Superman's ego, what with putting the prefix/adjective "super" in front of every skill, power and occurrence, which is weird since he's supposed to be humble. Still, I would be happy to revisit the Super-Planet.

Until next time!

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  #30  
Old 04-16-2018, 10:47 AM
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LoSH is rapidly becoming my favorite Silver Age DC comic.

Or at least my favorite Superman-related one. Brave & The Bold is quite he bar to clear.
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