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  #91  
Old 02-21-2019, 06:28 AM
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Action Comics #5

Written by Jerry Seigel, Drawn by Joe Shuster


Back to some truly classic Superman. How classic? This one feels, in many ways, like the most generic premise for a classic Superman adventure, minus any gangster: a damn is going to burst and only Superman can save the day. I will say, in its defense, this is the first time we see Superman not battle a villain but dealing with a force of nature. And with Superman much weaker than he would become, this is a bit of a big deal. Also, this is the first time he saves a train with his bare hands, which is an iconic act of heroism for Supes. Let's begin!


I like that font. It's not the more famous version, but I still like it.


We start with the situation that will be central to the story: a damn is on the verge of collapsing and people are leaving town before the worst happens. I'm also glad the comic took the time to show us telegraph lines. That was essential. This feels like a Mark Trail that couldn't be bothered to draw the animals.

The story is supposed to go to reporter Clark Kent, but Lois, feeling envious of Kent's great story, decides to steal it from him by telling him a lie and going off to get the story for herself. And her lie?


"A FLUFF PIECE! HOT DOG! THIS IS WHAT I GOT INTO THIS INDUSTRY FOR!"

Clark seems genuinely excited about this. Like, way too excited. If this is Clark playing the rube again for Lois' benefit, he is leaning too far into it. Lois rushes to Valleyho (tee hee), while Clark heads to the hospital. When he finds out he's been had, he returns to work with an awful surprise.


I really with Superman's line in the second panel was "Now to get that LAST PAYCHECK!" Also, you have been fired. I mean, I guess maybe you can do things freelance, but I feel like the presumption is "If I can get the story, I can get my job back", which seems a bit presumptive. But maybe that's how the job market worked in the late 30's.

Anyway, Superman uses his super speed to catch up with and outrun the train. On his way to Valleyho, he discovers...


And, for the first time, Superman uses his super strength and endurance to rescue a train.


Classic.

When Lois arrives in town, she's the only one willing to stay for a story when it looks like the damn dam is about to give. Meanwhile, Superman tries to hold it together for as long as he can.


Superman finally lets it go, but as he's about to leave, Superman encounter's Lois getting caught in the flood.


Wow, if I could parse what was going on in panel 42, I bet I'd be impressed by the art. Is that supposed to be the beach? The sky? I have no idea.

Anyway Superman rescues her...


And based on this picture, runs up and down the beach at least once. I'm also not sure what "He catches up with it's beginning..." (like, he returns to it's source, maybe?) but he does outrace the flood, which is good. Lois and grateful and expresses it with a kiss.


I love that I feel like there's a multitude of ways to read "Lady! ------ Please!" Like "yes, please" but weird or "Lady, please, you're embarrassing yourself" or "Lady, please, are you serious?" Nonetheless, even Superman is impressed with Lois' pucker handling skills. The two pitch a little woo (Superman says "I've got to bring you back to safety... where I'll be safe from you" and Lois remembers how Superman used to scare her but now she loves him. Lois asks him not to go, but Superman suggests that they'll meet again.

Back at the office, the tone between the two becomes quite different.


Wow! On both ends. First of all, Clark ends with a total Milhouse move. "I wasn't happy with how you betrayed me-- STILL LIKE ME!" Look, I get it. You want water to be under the bridge. But she also got you fired in an act of selfishness. So maybe at least hash it out a little before "duh, I still likes you, do you like me?"

Lois, meanwhile, is absolutely awful to Clark. Is he acting a little spineless? Sure. Are you understandably upset that your reporting skills are being overlooked for some goober? Fine. But you fucking got him fired and are not the least bit remorseful in potentially ruining a man's livelihood for your own gain. You are being the bad guy, here. It's one thing to scoop Clark. That's the game. But that assignment was specifically given to Clark by a clearly unstable boss. You don't have to accept Clark's "like" but even an inkling of remorse for nearly ruining him would be just great. I mean Lady! -------- Please!

Next time: A soldier in the army gets Superman's powers.

Until next time...

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  #92  
Old 02-21-2019, 07:44 AM
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Default A super-man is a clumsy portmanteau

I’m reading Lois’ last line in Paul F. Thompkins’-as-The Smooth Criminals voice.

And you can’t stop me!
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  #93  
Old 04-04-2019, 04:36 PM
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Wanted Comics #18

Written by writer unknown, Drawn by Jerry Robinson


It's April and you don't know what that means! So I'll break it down for you: a couple months ago I picked up Reefer Madness, a collection of old school anti-weed comics. So I figured with 420 just around the corner, I should discuss some of these comics? The significance of 420? That's my birthday!

First up is a tale from Wanted Comics #18, drawn by comic book legend Jerry Robinson.


Our comic begins in Anytown USA. The comic actually, after a fashion, USES THIS CLICHE! BECAUSE THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU! Assuming YOU are a pudgy aging tabacco store shopkeep. Said shopkeep is being pitched a new cigarette by some shady looking fellows. The keep, referred to as "Pop" by the gangsters, so I'll do the same, is shocked by the 50 cent per cigarette price tag but decides to try selling them.

As an aside, the goons reveal they are trying to make Pop's a fall guy in case he is caught with the "special" cigarettes and use old timey slang like "What a blind he makes!" (I think I get this one) and "The boss sure knows his oats!" (no idea. Are "his oats" aging shopkeeps?

Anyway, His Oats Pops soon gets his first customer.


"Jonesing for pot" is going to be a recurring theme here and this guy is not trying to hide it. I figure if Pop's had a few days of this he should be at least mildly suspicious. At least he should think "Man, this new cigarette is really popular with edgy, intense people."

He certainly notices that they sell well, though, and makes a mental note to order more. Meanwhile, the police shoot a criminal pulling a gun and find marihuana rolled up to be smoked like a cigarette on his person and conclude that the drug trade has moved to town.

The next day, the officer who was present for the shooting enters the smoke shop just as it is opening. Pop mentions he's heard about the shooting and mentions the man shot was buying a cigarette in his shop that very day. A very expensive cigarette. The cop immediately catches on and realizes that Pops is the big break in the case.


I mean, you've been in the tabacco business a long time but it doesn't mean you are good at it if you can't figure this one out. I mean, at the very least, you should be weary about stinky unusual "tabacco", right?

The cop reveals that Pop's has been unknowingly selling pot with each doobie being "deadlier than a bullet", which is true if you mean by putting them in your mouth and you have a marijuana allergy. Pop's is immediately penitent and wants to be taken to jail in a scene where Jerry Robinson either consciously or unconsciously makes the Pop helping the police look like the tragic Faustian moment of the comic.


Days pass and the criminals notice the police vigil but after it ends, the criminals come back. The approach pops, who doesn't exactly play it cool, spilling cigars everywhere.


The cops move in for the arrest, which quickly turns into a bloodbath in the old man's shop.


This comic seems less like an anti-drug screed and more like a grim warning about the pervasiveness guns and police recklessness.

Anyway, Pops is taken hostage but he's not afraid to fight back... I think?


Based on the caption, it seems like Pop's did something. I think Robinson wants us to see this as the old man elbowing the crook but it really looks like his elbow is stationary and the criminal just had a fortune and unexplained arm spasm or something.

Anyway, the crook is tackled by the cop and Pop's is congratulated for helping the cops.


"If this helps the kids enjoy Europe '72 just a little less, than it was worth nearly dying for."

And so we exit Pops, the only sympathetic character in the comic. And there's 2 and a half pages left, so lets try to get this over with, even though it feels like it should have ended with this very panel.

The rest is pretty dull. The perp talks, we get some exposition from the bad guy to his croney about their plan (sell marajuana), berates his croney for thinking of smoking it ("It will make you Goofy-weak upstairs!"). Then the cops raid the villains.


And things go badly for the villains.



Wait, I don't know much about police procedure, but shouldn't you save all the drugs for evidence? I could be wrong, does anyone know if this tracks?

The cop gives a speech about the evils of weed and that's the end really. Frankly, while its all silly, it was much more interesting when it was about Pop. Once the well-intentioned but naive tobacconist exits the story, any sembelence of being interesting is lost. Even the art feels a lot duller, with Pop somehow being the visual highlight of the comic, as he isn't "guy in suit barely distinguishable from other guy in suit.

Next time: Jack Kirby does drugs... related comics.

Until next time...


Last edited by Johnny Unusual; 04-05-2019 at 10:07 AM.
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  #94  
Old 04-05-2019, 06:22 AM
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Kind of feel like every single character in this comic stood around saying “Damn, what a waste” afterward.
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  #95  
Old 04-05-2019, 04:09 PM
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Headline Comics #24

Written by writer unknown, Drawn by Jack Kirby


Jack Kirby is a comic book legend. His unique style helped define the look of Marvel in it's inception and then he went onto make some truly idiosyncratic and sometimes brilliant works in the 70s. But while this is Kirby at peak Kirby, this was also in the latter half of his career. Early on, he co-created Captain America and was a long time artist for the major companies. Which means he was wasn't just drawing superhero books, but also whatever was popular in the era. Following World War II, superheroes fell out of favour so in the mid to late 40's, the hot thing was crime books. The really popular ones were the very violent ones like Crime Does Not Pay and prior to some HUAC nonsense, there wasn't a lot of holding back, with lots of sex and murder. After parent complaints and other stuff, the genre continued in a less exploitative and duller fashion, though there was still a high (often bloodless) body count.

This particular work isn't particularly scandalous (by the era's standards) but it is super melodramatic and over the top, which definitely plays to Kirby's strengths. Let's check out Kirby's foray into the "pot scare" genre.


It claims to be a vivid illustration of why "crime never pays" but it seems more like a vivid illustration of "how to strangle." Also, apparently there is a credited writer: "Red Hot Blaze", who presumably performs nightly at Hunk-O-Mania.

We begin with Red Hot talking to a young man (who either works there or maybe wandered in from the streets...


"Because this cabinet transforms into a rail gun."

I don't think I like how "catching crooks" is basically shooting them to death to these people. Anyway, Red Hot begins his story, describing firemen taking on a blaze in an apartment building... where they find one of the victims... was dead before the fire!


Then, because he's a sick fuck, Red Hot decides to show him the pictures.




Red Hot explains hot the murder was similar to a previous murder, thereby validating his claim that the cabinet is a sacred and holy weapon in the war against crime.


Also, they turn blue because... Kree? Man, Kirby was ahead of the game by over a decade.

Soon a third victim is found and we get to see a fourth.



The police end up trackin the criminal to his home and he tries to make an escape.


But thankfully Super Nintendo Fallon is a crack shot with a potted plant.

Here's a dramatization of that event.



JK, the actual hit is far gnarlier.


That's right, Fallon exploded his goddamned head! What the Hell was in that flower pot? Is Fallon as shocked by this as I am? Like he looks at his hands and screams "WHAT AM I? WHAT HAVE I BECOME?!"

BTW, so far there's a far better case for flora-based pottery than your cabinet, Red Hot. Just saying.

Anyway, the criminal somehow survives complete cranial collapse and is identified as "Limey" Wilson, a marijuana addict! The man is so strung out on the reefer, that he probably sees arresting officer like this.


Anyway, the cops try to pressure "Limey" by agreeing to some sort of suicide pact for their lungs.


The smoke gets to "Limey", who can't help craving the jazz cigarettes, to the point where he becomes one of the creepy hobophobic char men from the last season of Twin Peaks.


Why did the colorist think that randomly making characters was a good move. It's not an overly stylized piece for it too make sense and it doesn't track as "character in shadow". It just looks weird.

Anyway, "Limey" confesses and our story ends with Red Hot staring down the young man, speechifying and, based on the picture, threatening him.

"If you commit a crime, you will discover the true horrors of my cabinet. My cabinet is capable of things you cannot even imagine."

And that's it. This isn't Kirby's best but the art isn't too bad and feels better than a lot of stuff on the stands. It's also the best looking thinking in the collection I got it from. There are some good choices that work, like the murder from the killer's point of view and the moody shading on the splash page. Oh, and the head explosions. And notice the weird shape of the panel as "Limey" tries to escape where it looks like a keyhole? I don't know what he did it, but I like it.

Next time: Monkey on her back.

Until next time...

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  #96  
Old 04-12-2019, 10:51 AM
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Youthful Hearts #1

Written by writer unknown, Drawn by Edwin Goldfarb and Bob Baer


Warning, neither of these celebrities appear in this story. Instead, it is a brief tale of a girl whose sister is addicted to drugs.


Sadly, the monkey in the title never actually appears in the story. And as metaphor's for the horror of drug addiction go, he's way to cute. Like, definitely not among the top echelon of cute monkeys but too cute for the purpose of his existence.

The comic opens with a young girl being taken into the police. She didn't commit a crime but she does have a story to tell.


"So... you don't like Frankie Laine?"

Also does this count as his one appearance in the book?

Also, based on the pennant in her room "Go Tat!" Maybe she's really into tattoos.

Little sister wants to study but big sis wants her to have a little fun.

At the party.


I must remind you, she hasn't done any weed yet.

Also, this is me all the time, pretty much.

Anyway, Mary (that's the little sister) enjoys some booze but when she's offered marijauna, she's shocked. As is her party animal (by this book's standards) sister .


Please let's start calling them that. All the time.

Anyway, Mary decides she doesn't want to party anymore and some time later, Mary finds her sister acting strange.


"Bracy's"? I know that Macy's might be litigious, but can't you come up with a better fake story name? This is like latter day Simpsons when the parody names of business are basically ShmcDonald's.

Anyway, Mary discovers her sister is into a more serious drug... granted, it's unnamed, but seeing as she's injecting it into herself, its probably heroine. Yeah, from here on in, its more about hard drugs that those sweet, sweet goofer sticks.


Also, it makes her kind of a two face or something? I think this color decision is less weird than the Jack Kirby story, but it is still weird.

Anyway, she explains her origin story. First she did pot, then she did harder stuff. It's all pretty simple.


I feel like with different word balloons, this is a romantic dinner where the maitre' D is having a romantic couple try the special house soup. Yum yum.

Things get worse for her sister, to the point where, for her sister's sake, Mary decides to make a drug delivery on her sister's behalf. Her sister is so broken up about it that she becomes the 3-D Man.




But Mary is caught as she was in the beginning of the story. She and the police visit Mary's sister just as she is trying to commit suicide and I don't think it is what was intended by the artist, but her dress is REALLY riding up on her.


Our story ends with the criminals being arrested off-camera and Mary's sister going to get rehabilitated to cure her of her drug addiction and inability to pronounce the letter E.


That's pretty much it. This one is a snooze and barely any weed. The dramatic shading doesn't quite work but at least someone is going for it and trying to make it look like Suspiria or something.

Next time: Do you like Dick Tracy? Too bad, we only got Kerry Drake.

Until next time...

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  #97  
Old 04-12-2019, 11:57 AM
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Didn’t think I’d find a euphemism for the devils weed that I liked more than “Jazz Cigarette”, but here we are.

Goofer Sticks.

Beautiful.

Beautiful and true
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  #98  
Old 04-22-2019, 04:12 PM
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Default I was originally planning to post this on April 20th, but I spaced

Kerry Drake Detective Files #10

Written by Allen Saunders, Drawn by Alfred Andriola


I have no idea who the malapropism guy is on the cover, but he doesn't lookanything like Kerry's sidekick in the book. He's just trying extra hard to get noticed, I guess.

I had never heard of the character of Kerry Drake before but he is somehow an even more square version of Dick Tracy. It all feels like a "less than" version all around, like a Dick Tracy you bought at the dollar store. And I was never a Tracy fan to begin with.

The comic actually began, sort of, as Dan Dunn, a comic often derided as a pale imitation of Tracy but with more violence. But after an argument with his publishers, the creator of Dan Dunn stormed out and Kerry Drake was commissioned in its place. Neither Dunn nor Drake were nearly as popular as Tracy, though Kerry writer Saunders argued that Dunn did some pioneering in crime comics, though didn't state in what way. The strip did last into the early 80s with Andriola taking full creative control after Saunders left. The strip ended with Andriola's death.

It should be noted, however, that Andriola had ghost writers and artists and eventually wasn't even working on his own script (which was parodied in an issue of Creepy where a "comic creator" is haunted by three ghosts... a ghost writer, a ghost penciller and a ghost inker.

Anyway, the comic was simple. Cop fights weird-looking crooks (a la Dick Tracy's "the villains are fugly" philosophy). While Dunn was more violence focused, Drake's style was old fashioned detective work, finding clues and using up-to-date crime fighting tools and police science to help.

So lets take a look and see what kind of book Kerry Drake is.


Man, Drake does not like those cigarettes. Anyway, we begin with a young girl named Cricket who goes from being scared and not wanting to be alone to wanting to get out of the house to party in three panels. I mean, I guess she wouldn't be alone at a party but it does seem like a pretty sudden change, seeing how haughty she acts by panel three.

Cricket is partying with a boy when he decides to excuse himself to get cigs from his car. When he gets there he finds him missing but is offered "special" cigarettes by a man with a LOT of body hair. The boy soon is overcome with the Goofer Stick's evil and goes mad.


Curly starts driving like mad and crashes his car. When the police come to investigate, she starts to see a bunch of circles around his head, which indicate... coasters, maybe?


Curly then turns on the cops, who have to wrestle him to the ground. At the station, Drake searches Curly's good and tries his special cigarettes...


Which causes him to see... his own sidekick, who is already in the room (this is a pretty disappointing illusion, in my opinion) and...


...Weed has never looked more fun. Kerry Drake is clearly riding on a cloud of sheer joy. There is nothing false about that exhilaration. He seems like the kind of guy who things oatmeal and brown sugar is too flavourful in the eyes of god so maybe he REALLY needed this.

I WISH I could enjoy anything as much as Kerry Drake is in this panel. How is this panel not a pot meme everywhere. If I sold weed, I'd by the rights to use this image on my product. It's the best advertising since an old lady didn't know where beef was.

Drake then IMMEDIATELY sobers up and is like "yep, icky illegal weed. It's terrible *aside, to pot* I'll see you in the evidence locker later.", then announces that he will catch the crooks. The crooks in question? The morbidly obese Meatball (who I think is supposed to be an even fatter Sidney Greenstreet) and his partner, the bodily hirsute Mossy Green.


Meanwhile, Kerry decides to follow Curly in order to find out his he knows where to get some weed. Curly tries to steal from a bar owner for drug money when a shot rings out.


Curly is dead at the bar owners hands and Kerry finds that the bar is where the dope is dealt. Though not by name, the barkeep points towards "the guy with the funny hair". Seems like that's a weird way to describe body hair. Not inaccurate but it does seem like he's burying the lead.

Meanwhile, Meatball begins talking about his wife and Mossy exhibits some jealousy.


Bugler? Not bungler? Or is Meatball being a bugler a part of his character that I should be aware of. Like, he plays the bugle to make ends meet until the drugs take off. Or maybe vice versa.

Anyway, Kerry's out of leads so he decides to buy flowers for Curly's funeral. Is that normal police procedure? I mean, its a bit thoughtful, but also a little weird, I think? Also, I feel like in the timeline of the comic that the murder was a few hours ago. That seems a little too soon). Anyway, Kerry lucks out and he just HAPPENS to visit the flower shop that is the cover for Mossy and Meatball's operation.

It's at that point we are shocked to learn Meatball's wife is...


Someone I've never heard of. Presumably someone who is a recurring character in the comic and based on her name is some sort of love interest or something. And the way she appears through the book, we also learn that she's a femme fatale type, and has married Meatball for his money
However...


OK, first, not cool, Drake. You don't know Meatball's a baddie yet, so maybe calling him a "repulsive walrus", even in your thoughts, is kind of a shitty judgment call. At least get to learn he's a criminal first.

Anyway, though Cozy like's Meatball's money, she's into Mossy's bod. Later, Kerry gets wise and finds marijuana Cozy was supposed to deliver, then begins snooping around the flower shop. There, he runs into Mossy, who immediately declares war on Drake's crotch.


OK, maybe its just his hip. It's hard to tell. Still looks funny though.

Anyway, during the scuffle, Meatball knocks out Drake from behind and then discuss how to dispose of the body. Mossy suspects correctly that Cozy tipped off Drake (which she did accidentally) saying that their "high water handshake" didn't fool them. I wonder if Meatball pretends to understand half of what Mossy says.

Anyway, when Cozy arrives, she admits she knew Drake from a previous run in with the law and Meatball and Mossy decide to let Drake live, considering they aren't sure if he has shared any intel with other cops yet. Instead the new plan is to pretend "oops, thought you were an intruder", send him on his way and burn up all the evidence.

Drake manages to drive to the office and falls unconscious again from the previous beating.


Meanwhile, with Mossy and Meatball about to close up shop for good, Meatball catches Mossy with his wife and begins talking ominously.


Man, it looks like a buff hairy Norman Osborn decided to try on the Hulk's pants. And is ROCKING THEM!

Anyway, his errand doesn't involve killing anyone but instead allowing himself for a little insurance, as he takes all the ill-gotten money from the bank and is checking it as baggage for an upcoming train ride out of town.


Meanwhile, Drake doesn't seem to find the weed as far as Mossy can tell... but he does find some roots, which he takes with him. And when Meatball returns.


Apparently, there was a "short while later" between the two word balloons, based on the arrow protruding from the caption. So I guess Meatball maybe stood perfectly still for a few minutes until his synapses finally fired and gave a response. Anyway, the two crooks disagree about what to do next. Mossy thinks they should start over, believing Drake found no clues while Meatball decides to be cautious, promising to pay Mossy for his work and hightail it out of town.

When Meatball steps out, Mossy and Cozy talk and quickly decide to get rid of Meatball and take all the profits. Meanwhile...


And that's enough evidence to take these guys in. Meanwhile again....


The arrow to the nicotine poison was unnecessary, as the comic had pointed it out very explicitly earlier in the page but I'm more confused by Mossy's syntax in that last sentence. I get what's going on via context but "He'll never think but what it's liquor" isn't even gangster talk anymore. This is what happens when you are typing one sentence and you hear someone else talking and start writing what they are saying.

Anyway, Meatball isn't fooled and soon hold's the couple at gunpoint. Luckily for Meatball, Mossy is fantastically stupid and trips and falls into a soil sterilizer.


Just then, the police burst in and it seems like the jig is up for Meatball... except he still might have the final laugh on Mossy.




I like how the last page of the comic needed to be titled apparently. Also, that's a pretty weak final panel for the comic. Who is that guy? "We're headin' for the hoosegow." doesn't exactly do the best job putting a button on everything. It's really more like "OK, we're done, the creators can finally head to the bar, now."

And that's Kerry Drake. It did not convince me that it is anything more than a cheap Dick Tracy knock off, but at least its lead is less interesting. That feels like an accomplishment.

And that's it for my weed comics rundown for this year. What I feel I've learned it that these comics make much more convincing cases for gun control than drug control (a theme that will recurring next year around this time, if I remember to keep this up) as a lot of the "addicts" go gun crazy and the police and criminals are both really trigger happy.

Thanks for reading and we'll get back to superhero comics soon.

Next time: I finally get around to that Super Private story.

Until next time...

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  #99  
Old 04-22-2019, 04:26 PM
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I guess the real lesson is less that crime doesn’t pay, or that The Devils Goofer Stick will turn you into someone for cops to shoot, but instead that associating with the drug trade obliterates the language centres of your brain.
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  #100  
Old 05-01-2019, 10:27 AM
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Superman #122

Written by Otto Binder, Drawn by Wayne Boring


There's actually a really fun "Superman Joins the Army" story that I'll get to eventually, but in the meanwhile we have this story. This story is one in a long line where "_______ gets Superman's powers" and in this case its some army guy we've never seen before.


Our story opens on Private Jones, a regular "dogface" (that's really not very nice) who suddenly wakes up in the barracks floating to the ceiling. He's shocked... then immediately challenges every other soldier in a race to the showers.


And the dialogue doesn't imply that he just forgot in the grogginess of wake up time that he had powers, he just apparently adjusted REALLY FAST. Only "moments" of processing time, then "WEE! I'M AWESOME!" And don't get me wrong, if I could fly, I'd be giddy with delight too, but this seems like we skipped a few step. Even in the showers he tests his invulnerability... which he has no reason to believe he has at this point.

Anyway, after Jones heats up his soup with his x-ray vision, he realizes he has all of Superman's powers. Superman, meanwhile, is spying and thinking about how it all began... with undignified headware.


OK, first of all, it doesn't seem like this test needed Superman to perform it. The only reason is that maybe the powerful radio waves tend to melt human brains and they want to see if it works before they fix the brain problem.

Second, I LOVE Superman just looking like classic Superman while wearing the stupidest hat in the Silver Age of Comics (and that is saying a LOT). It's not just the shape, its that it looks like it is for... a bigger head. This looks like someone stuck stuff to Dark Helmet's helmet and gave it to Superman and said "Here, Superman, try this on. It's for *snicker* science. *giggle* (to friend) Oh my God, he's doing it."

Moments later, lightning hits Superman (which seems to happen a lot, compared to most people) causing a Superman-shaped aura to fly towards a random soldier at a nearby army fort. Superman, knowing the science of exploding radio hats, realizes that this young man will have all the same super powers as he does by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Jones is having a ball using his powers to flash up the menial labour he's been tasked with, almost endangering Jimmy Olsen with a garbage can. Jimmy Olsen, I should note, is a "cub reporter" who, for some reason, has access to the paper's own helicopter known as "The Flying Newsroom". Which is a bit weird, but not as much as the idea that Olsen should be allowed anywhere near it. I mean, he's a good kid but the guy is a misadventure magnet. He's always being transformed or cursed or just being manipulated by the most powerful man on Earth. Also, should a... I'm going to say 19 year old (at best) be in charge of the helicopter with NO SUPERVISION. Even if Jimmy doesn't have his reputation, it just seems like a bad idea. For example, the thing that's about to happen.


Superman saves Jimmy and then shows him the soldier. Jimmy, feeling that the man is misusing his powers, decides to use his green Kryptonite to rid him of his powers. I should point out that while he is doing this, Jones is holding a tank over his head. Also, Green K doesn't take powers, it just slowly kills Superman so... Maybe don't?


"I mean, I'm pretty sure his powers won't come out if he's dead, right?"

Superman stops him by just chucking his Green K into a nearby pond (pretty sure that wasn't your property Superman. Jerk.) and explains he won't let Jimmy poison a soldier because 1) its a deeply irresponsible idea 2) its a Jimmy Olsen idea and 3) he has other reasons to let him keep his power... international spies!


Superman is great at many things but apparently hiding isn't one of them. Anyway, Clark Kent is given a new assignment as a temporary GI to cover the story (was... that necessary?), making it more of a challenge for Superman who now must cover his identity and stop Jones from doing anything to irresponsible.



And for some reason, they decide to have the two take part in a potato peeling competition or something.


Its probably just the angle but he looks surprisingly crestfallen. Like it is the greatest humiliation he must take on for a greater good. This is what it looks like when a hero falls.

Anyway, Jones is promoted to Sergeant so that the title of the story is accurate, though he new position seems mostly about astounding feats, such as being hit with a bazooka. Superman stops some shrapnel that deflected off Jones from hitting a munitions dump (seems like Jones takes less responsibility for that issue than the army itself) and Superman can't wait to remove this guy's powers... but not yet.

Jones next assignment is making a foxhole by himself...


But Jones bungles against and ends up digging up... HOT LAVA?!? Wait, what? OK, either his foxhole is a deathpit, which is a bigger issue than the lava, or there was just some underground magma REALLY close to the surface, which really isn't Jones' fault so much as it is a freak geological occurrence.


Anyway, Superman saves the day again and does it a bit later when he accidentally endangers a tank.

Its at this point that the foreign spies think it is simply Superman in disguise. Superman decides to change their minds by popping up to have a "for funsies" cannon fight with Jones.


The spies are convinced the soldier is for real and report that the U. S. of A! ain't nothin' to mess with and Superman reveals that this was a plan (obviously) to trick foreign powers into thinking they might be messing with a Superman army or something.

Superman then goes to Jones barracks and poisons him to death.


I mean, remove his powers, because I guess Superman writers only have a vague idea of how the comics mythology works. The comic ends with Jones lamenting his demotion to private and Clark Kent winking at the audience.

I will say, on the usual "web of lies" scale of Silver Age Superman, this is relatively physically and emotionally harmless. Considering Jones almost killed a few people, that should give you an idea about the Silver Age.

Next time: Wonder Woman foils a spy...

Until next time...

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  #101  
Old 05-02-2019, 02:35 AM
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On the one hand, Jimmy Olsen May be a teenager given permission to fly a helicopter, but he also lives in the one city where you have a 100% chance of being rescued from helicopter disasters by a flying man who probably always smells like fresh apple pie.

On the other hand, every Helicopter in Metropolis also has a 100% crash rate every time it leaves the ground, Jimmy Olsen or no.

In conclusion, Perry White did the right thing in assigning a cub reporter to the helicopter patrol
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  #102  
Old 05-03-2019, 11:05 AM
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Sensation Comics #3

Written by William Moulton Marston (as Charles Moulton, Drawn by Harry G. Peter


It's Wonder Woman again. This time Wonder Woman changes jobs. These early stories are always a weird mix of "girl power" and "girl stereotypes" informed by both contemporary culture and William Moulton Marston's whole... thing with his approach to women's issues. Sometimes very cringeworthy, sometimes surprisingly feminist, it is an interesting mix. This one doesn't do too badly on the feminist front... except it begins with Wonder Woman throwing away her nursing career to work for her would-be boyfriend.

Lets check out "A Spy in the Office".


The issue begins with Diana Prince (secretly Wonder Woman) crying that he'll never see Steve Trevor again now that he's getting out of the hospital. This seems like an over reaction, but its not unthinkable considering that Trevor does a lot of spy stuff. But demanding to be Steve's secretary (which she does) is a bit much and she basically states that she's probably a much better secretary than whoever his current one is. Steve says no but suggests she try out as his chief's secretary. She does so and does a stellar job.


"Oh, I was hoping you didn't notice I gave up and kept saying et cetera."

After impressing the colonel, she gets the job but something about Diana makes Steve's secretary Lila suspicious.


Meanwhile, rumors swirl that there's a spy somewhere in the office. Lila voices her suspicions of Diana but Trevor won't here it. Shortly after, Diana, based on her nursing history, is ordered to give a health check of the secretarial pool. When Diana is checking Lila's blood pressure, she notices it spike dramatically when another girl enters and asks her about a man looking for an envelope.

Diana is skilled in many ways but either not in spycraft or she just don't care as she loudly announces her intentions to check out the envelope in question. That's when Lila suddenly attacks.


Diana finds a letter containing orders to stop Steve Trevor from delivering some secret plans out of town. Lila explains she just found the letter and that she can explain everything after work before Trevor leaves. But later that day there's a tip off that Steve will be targeted... that came in moments after he left. Even more so, a woman's voice from the tip off claimed that a secretary is a spy... which makes Diana a suspect when the letter is found on her.


Diana refused to finger Lila until she gets to the bottom of things so she lets the men confine her to a room, then escape it as Wonder Woman and tracks down Lila to get an explanation.


That looks hard on the back. In private, Lila reveals she isn't a spy... her little sister is. Turns out her boyfriend was a Nazi who has been getting info out of her and has her under her sway. Lila stole one of her sister's letters to her boytoy and was keeping it on her person while trying to convince her to turn herself in.

With the confusion mostly cleared up (Lila still doesn't like Diana Prince), Lila points Wonder Woman in the direction of the spy, as Lila's sister may have, by now, directly delivered her message to the Nazi spy Gross. Gross has a speed boat in the river and Wonder Woman catches up to it.


Gross tries to off her but Wonder Woman easily defeats him and presses him, literally with her butt, for the skinny.


So Trevor is now in danger again and Wonder Woman wants to stop the Nazis AND stop Eve from getting to Steve. She can't be in two places at once! How can she win? Well, Wonder Woman has back up... Etta Candy and her band of feisty college students! Turns out Wonder Woman has a new trick since we last met. Telepathy... or specifically a machine that responds to psychic distress calls directly from Diana. Cut to Etta and co looking at the psychic phone, doubting it's ability when they get their first distress call.


Unfortunately the girls can't stop Steve from meeting the Nazi agents (who he gets in a big fight with) but they do catch Eve who almost escapes with his plans and immediately begin blind folding her and tying her up. Etta then bribes a bystander with candy.


"That didn't really answer my question about the severity of-- oh, hey, Charleston Chew! Yum, the candy that's a chore to eat."

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman finds the enemy base where the now captured Steve Trevor is about to be crushed with an anchor and saves the day just in time.


Good thing he didn't finish talking or the men who can see what is happening who are working very hard to hold back a giant anchor might let go. That's how dedicated they are to following orders to the letter.

Anyway, Wonder Woman picks up the anchor and cleans house and probably kills a few dudes with that big anchor.


The day is saved! Meanwhile, back at college.


Oh, dear. I swear, I keep thinking "man, it is taking a while for this comic to get into full kinky mode" and then this happens. It's like Moulton stuffed an entire comic's worth of kink into a single panel. Later, Wonder Woman admonishes the girls for torturing Eve but Eve states that it wasn't really torture and made her see the error of her ways. The rehabilitative power of spankings and bondage will be a recurring theme in this series, I assure you. With all of that taken care of and Trevor showered with complements and... telegrams, I think (it isn't clear), Diana can't help thinking about being envious of herself. Oh, Diana.

Next time: The strange secret of Bronze Man!

Until next time...

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  #103  
Old 05-09-2019, 10:07 AM
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Blue Bettle #44

Credited to "Alec Hope" but this is likely a "House name".


Don't worry about the cover. I'm not covering a Blue Beetle adventure in this one. Instead, this is a "Bronze Man" adventure. Who is Bronze Man? Well, his origin is that he's a POW named Major Randy Ronald believed dead and who returns to society to fight crime in a metal mask. But there is something very unusual about this hero. Though he appeared in the book "Super Weird Heroes", which I am using, the editor of the book posits a compelling and somewhat plausible theory for why this somewhat unusual character is the way he is. He's far from the strangest character in terms of skill and abilities or, mostly, even costume. There's something else going on here. Let's see if you can spot it in "Statue of Doom"!


OK, here's the first thing you might have noticed... that mask doesn't look remotely "Bronze". And yes, this is the mask. If anything, it is fishbelly white and sure doesn't look like a mask. If you are asking "is this BEFORE he put on the mask", no it is not. This is his mask.

Our story begins with our hero stepping out of a train to stretch his legs only to get a shock... a statue of himself from when he was a soldier in town. Curious, Randy asks a boy about the statue.


Turns out that Randy saved the life of a man who became a judge (or it's just a name, like Reinhold) and he returned the favour with a big statue and naming his son after him. I like how basically this kids expositional monologue is basically interrupted by a thought balloon. It feels like Randy just started tuning out the kid at one point. Also, based on the next panel, just walked away as he was talking maybe.

Randy comes into listen in on his old friend who is, in fact, a judge. While he's busy being tough on crime (more or less saying "Because that's what we fought for", Randy overhears someone else in the court room talking about plans for the judge. Randy, suspecting some criminal problems, decides to stay in town to see if anything happens. He meets Randy Jr. (do people call their children Jr. after somebody else? That doesn't feel right.) and asks him to show him the sights but as soon as Randy Sr. (OK, this is getting weird. Maybe Judge Smith knew Randy had an affair with his wife and, following his death, was cool with it) sees Jr. hop in a car from his hotel room. Suspecting criminal intervention, Randy becomes Prez, the First Teen President!


Wait, that's Bronze Man. Anyway, here's the second thing you might have noticed: we never see the title character's face, except when it is masked. Panels are framed over his shoulder or in other ways where his face is obscured. This is because (while it is never mentioned in this issue), Randy was apparently horribly disfigured. Still, I'm curious as to why he doesn't let people know he is alive. Neither "Super Weird Heroes" nor wikipedia is helping on that front.

It is actually a compelling aspect to the character. Not so much the "lets not see his face" gimmick but there's potentially emotionally engaging stuff to have this guy enter into the lives of friends and family unrecognized and acting as their guardian angel. But overall it is mostly a generic hero tale with a gimmick.

Anyway, Bronze Man finds out that Jr. is being kidnapped and while he makes a valiant rescue attempt, he nonetheless ends up in dire straits... so to speak as he is in a river about to hit a waterfall.


I feel like the art in this book is serviceable but this is the first thing I can compliment. While in most of the pages the "mask" basically looks just like a face, but here it looks inhuman and pained. It could be an accident but I'm going to give "Alec Hope" props for his unsettling look. This is more like Michael Myers mask than a regular face. Similarly (though this is a little more "silly weird") is his weird "face" (I'm using a lot of quotation marks today) when he grabs onto a "ledge"-- sorry, ledge, to survive a fall from a waterfall.


It's kind of like a traditional Japanese mask or something. Also, "rocky projection" is a weird term to use. Anyway, Bronze Man finds out that the crooks have a secret lair behind the waterfall and rushes in to rescue Jr.


This line actually makes some sense in context but I like it out of context better. Also, now that his face is paler and his shirt is more orange, Bronze Man looks less like Prez and more like Brother Power.


Anyway, Bronze Man escapes with Jr. but not before learning that the crooks plan to kill Judge Smith during a public speech and the two rush to the scene. When they get there, Judge Smith is... just looking very angry. Weirdly so. Like when you take a picture of someone at an inopportune time and it makes a regular looking dude look kind of unfortunate. Anyway, the bomb is in the statue.


Also "Destroy these hoodlums" is some strong language. Like, you are going to literally destroy them? I feel like the Judge might be more of a populist strong man using his friend as a political tool than a crusader for justice. But whatever, Bronze Man still needs to save his life. Anyway, Bronze Man grabs that statue (that... seems like it might be a light, not well held to the ground. Feels like this wasn't tax money well spent) and leaps over a cliff into a river with it (wait, I thought the statue was somewhere in town. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the geography of this town.)


The day is saved. The issue ends with Bronze Man deciding to visit the rest of his squadron incognito, which is actually a pretty good, if limited, premise for the series, though if it is like this adventure, probably fairly generic.

Anyway, that's the story. But the editor of "Super Weird Heroes" posits a potential theory: that Bronze Man was intended to be a black superhero. Though "Alec Hope" drew this story, the actual character was created by A.C. Hollingsworth, a black comic creator. Perhaps his original intent was to have a black lead hero and knowing that a black lead was a hard sell, he wanted to obscure his real face so that he could be of any race... but that clearly isn't the case with the finished product, as we see he has very white skin. Worth noting: no one in this comic ever comments on the title characters disfiguration, which is polite but it does make you wonder if that was something slapped on after the fact and never really incorporated into the narrative.

Also worth noting: Bronze was a term (if it still is, I am ignorant of it) used to describe black skin in that era, which also makes the theory more interesting. But of course, this is all just speculation. There's no solid evidence if the initial intent in any way deviated from the final product.

The idea of a man coming back from war and wanting to fight for his country in which he is an outcast is a great idea but this comic never really gets into the dramatic potential. Whether he is black or disfigured, Randy never seems like an outcast and all he seems to be fighting for is some generic status quo. It isn't a particularly bad comic, but it really isn't good either. It seems that if they treated it less as "conventional hero" and more on the "outsider" angle, they really would have had something unique for the time.

But I guess we can never really know.

Next time: Conqueror from 8 Million B.C.!

Until next time...

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  #104  
Old 05-15-2019, 10:09 AM
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Showcase #13

Written by Robert Kanigher and Drawn by Carmine Infantino


This one is a fun one. It toys with the idea that a superhero with super speed has no reason to be limited to one city or even one nation. Its funny because while he certainly gets around in team books and team up stories, I feel like there are far fewer Flash International stories than ones taking place in Keystone or Central City. At least from my Flash reading experience. But here is a global collection of adventures that is something of a delight. So brace yourself for "Around the World in 80 Minutes".


The adventure begins with Iris, who had just been reading "Around the World in 80 Days", wonders how long it takes now. Allen answers 90 minutes by Earth orbiting satellite. Then Iris wonders how long it would take the Flash and then just asks the perpetually late Barry to be on time for their date tomorrow.

Later that evening, Barry is testing out a special watch he's been working on for months that can receive police and emergency signals from around the world (I couldn't begin to guess how it filters out pretty much any other signal) so he help people around the world.


Thew next day, Barry looks like he's going to be Early for his date but an emergency comes up. Now the Flash has only 80 minutes to stop the villain and get to that date!


And before he leaves, Barry gives his girlfriend a super speed kiss on the cheek.


C'mon, Flash, that might be a little chaste peck for your GF, but you really got to ask permission first.

Anyway, Flash heads to France to stop a villain name Le Chat Noir from dropping an A-Bomb from the Eiffel Tower.


Flash is so threatened (and maybe incompetant?) that he backs off the building with an innocent. But falling is no threat to the Flash.


And then catches the Black Cat in a whirlwind and disarms him.


And the day is saved. Immediately, the woman he saved smooches him on the cheek but the Flash needs to get to get home in time for his date. On the way, though, he learns of a new crisis in English: a criminal named the Claw has kidnapped a princess and are hiding out on top of a pyramid because the Claw forgot helicopters exist, I guess.


Maybe this just shows how ignorant I am of Egypt and its languages but... isn't "El" as "The" Spanish? Or maybe all of these people happen to be in Egypt and just speak Spanish. Either way, it is weird that they limit it to "the" in this scene.

Anyway, the Flash tries to run up the pyramid, only to find out that El Claw greased it up, making it impossible to scale on foot. So the Flash does what he does best: run around it. So much so that it creates a hurricane that breaks the pyramid to bits. This seems unwise, but you can't argue with results as he catches the Princess and the villains are dashed to the ground and lets just nicely assume they landed safely as opposed to having broken bones and crushed with rocks by the Flash's actions


The Princess tries to mack on the Flash but he's got a pyramid to fix and a date to get to.


Next, the Flash has to save a look out station from an avalanche.


Flash saves the day by creating so much friction that it turns a tidal wave to steam. Then in this cold place, Flash finds himself in the warm embrace of a parka-wearing Tibetan woman who calls him a Scarlet Whirlwind. But Flash just wants to get him to his girlfriend. On his way home across the pacific, Flash finds that he must battle a pirate sub to save a ship carrying gold bullion.

The Flash pulls the classic trick of getting their heat-seeking missile to blow themselves up.


But as fast as he is, he himself almost is done for (I really like this image, BTW)


Luckily, he's rescued by a sexy sailor, who gives him another kiss and also casually reveals it is Tuesday. (It's actually not quite as awkward as it sounds, as she is estimating how many days it will take them to get to San Francisco, presumably to estimate how much wooing time there would be between point A and point B.

Flash is SHOCKED! He somehow lost an entire day and is super late for his date. But when he arrives back in town he appears in time for Iris to note he is on time. Much like the original Around the World in 80 Days, the final reveal involves the International Date Line! Flash gets a happy ending and a nice date with his girl.


This was a fun story. It contains a bunch of mini-adventures and a fun little hook: Flash is catnip to the ladies but the real struggle in the issue is to not let down his girl. And there's some good Infantino art this issue, too. It's good at breaking from the "Flash vs. one villain threatening the city" formula and is a lighter tale. When Superman does light-hearted in this period (which is almost exclusively what happens), it is a bit more like a fairy tale with a horrible web of lies but this feels a bit different in a way I enjoy.

Next time: The Legion of Super-Heroes again (though I forget which one.

Until next time...

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  #105  
Old 05-15-2019, 10:23 AM
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La Chat Noire looks like a villain from an Alan Moore Swamp Thing.

Or else like Alan Moore
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  #106  
Old 05-17-2019, 11:28 AM
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Adventure Comics #282

Written by Otto Binder and Drawn by George Papp


Before the Legion of Super-Heroes got their own feature, the Legion made recurring appearances in the Superman family of books (mostly Superboy). It feels like every new appearance had the goal of introducing them to a member of the Superman family who has yet to meet them. Last time it was teenage heartthrob Lex Luthor and this time it is Lana Lang! Lana Lang, if you don't remember, is Superboy as Lois Lane is to Superman. And this being the Silver Age, everyone is kind of awful. But here, I feel like Lana makes a move that puts her into the top spot (for now) of the worst of the Superman cast: threatening a superhero's mother and father. And for what? Find out in "Lana Lang and the Legion of Super-Heroes"!


OK, a couple things to start with. First, hey, it's a new Legionnaire. His name is Star Boy and I'll let the comic explain his deal but needless to say, he's one of the famous Legion members and we'll see a lot of him as we move on.

The other thing is the title is a damned lie, I'll just let you know right now. The Legion appears in exactly ONE PANEL in flashback. The only member we spend a lot of time with is Star Boy, as this is basically a showcase for him. I mean, you expect these kinds of lies from everyone in the DC Universe during the Silver Age but I expected better of you, DC Editorial.

Anyway, our story begins at a Smallville hospital.


It's nice that Superboy is willing to do good deeds for the hospital. But some people my be in critical condition and I don't think an ultra-natural entity with a scythe is something everyone wants to see right now.

Meanwhile, Lana Lang, Superboy fangirl #1, is taking pictures and pining that she show's no interest in his and goes to cry in her Superboy-covered room.


I must apologize to Superboy for being weirded out for his Lex Luthor hair trophy. Though it doesn't involve collectiong something that came off someone's body, this feels a lot scarier. I mean, this is no "shrine" and teens often go through kind of a fixation phase but this is someone who knows Superboy personally. This is a good (?) friend, not a distant admirer. It's a weird look, Lana.

Anyway, she is aware of the optics, as she suddenly closes her blinds when she worries what next door neighbor Clark Kent would think.

After watching a movie where a woman says "oh, I'll date someone else and make a boy jealous", Lana decides to do just that (we never find out if it works for the movie woman) but is stumped over who could make the Boy of Steel jealous.

Well, it's unlikely twist of fate time. I mean really unlikely because the first twist is Clark Kent being turned into a peg in a game of horse shoes.


Things get weirder from there. Superboy goes to investigate and after stopping a dam from overflowing, he finds himself emerging from the water in a solid block of ice. Then he sees a bunch of words flying overhead setting up a meeting.

Superboy attends and meets another costumed lad who says he did all of that stuff (except the dam overflowing) to get his attention, instead of, say, some less convoluted method like a letter addressed to Clark Kent or even just the words (which were apparently made of clay) without trying to humiliate Superboy with power pranks.

Luckily Superboy takes no umbrage and is more curious about this new figure.


Thom Kallor then reveals to Superboy his history: in the future, Thom is riding his "spacemobile" (no really, that's what they call it) in space when he's nearly his by a comet. Because all comets are magic or something, Thom returns home only to find he has super powers. His folks decide he should fight crime and make him a costume and now (now... in the future, anyway) Thom is Star Boy, defender of Xanthu!


Nice to have supportive parents (assuming Thom has a say in all this).

Anyway, Thom was even inducted into the Legion of Super-Heroes. Now, I think it isn't established till later but the Legion has some bullshit rule about not allowing anyone with the same powers on the team but I feel like Star Boy has so MANY powers (flight, strength, heat vision) that they can just tick off his least impressive one like... talks to cars, and then refer to that as his "power" and treat the others as incidental. I mean, it doesn't hurt to have a few extra Superboys on the team.

Anyway, Star Boy says that he's back in time for serious business... Star Boy is after a couple crooks and while he has one on hand, the other is hiding in an underground maze of tubes made of copper and wouldn't you know it, Star Boy's x-ray vision doesn't work on copper. See, can't have too many Superboys. Superboy decides to make a quick trip to let his parents know he is going to the future.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Lana Lang has overheard the entire convo and presents Star Boy with an ultimatum.


Wow. Lana. You are the worst. Look, this criminal is clearly caught but you are indirectly threatening his family. I mean, that's the old cliche: if a superhero's identity is revealed, any villain who knows it goes after your loved ones. And you are doing it in the hopes of making someone jealous. I mean, I wouldn't call this a NEW low in Super-stories of the era, but this is pretty damned bad.

Anyway, Star Boy reluctantly agrees to the demands of the... I'm just going to say straight up villain but Superboy overhears THAT conversation. Rather than sayin a goddamned thing, he decides not to because... he's just as bad? Seriously, there is no reason you can't fuck up Lana's plan RIGHT NOW by saying "I know what you are trying to do, this is not a healthy way to try to get me to like you" but instead he just... doesn't. Because then there wouldn't be a story, I guess. Or at least a very short one. Instead, Lana has Star Boy go to town to do some super-deeds that even Superboy can't do, like jumpstarting a car with his eyes.

The three then decide to head to the future to capture that crook and Star Boy tells Superboy the reason Lana is coming along.


Jeez, Star Boy is a real "Keanu Reeves in Dracula" here, isn't he. I'm impressed we aren't hearing some Robert Durst-like guilt-belches as he tries to convince Superboy of his newfound love.

Anyway the three head back in the time saucer which, apparently, spins like a top (seems like a design flaw) and head for the future. And the first thing they do is capture that criminal.


So I guess between The Flash and this issues two criminals, all crooks in the future look like off-brand Lex Luthors? But Luthor doesn't have any kids... THAT HE KNOWS OF! OMG! That dude's really spread around his crime sperm.

Anyway, with the villain defeated, the comic just... goes on for pages with Lana trying to make Superboy jealous and Superboy, instead of helping Star Boy, just jerks Lana around and pretends to be oblivious and indifferent to their relationship. Step one: pretend you are admiring a bridge instead of Lana's new Star Boy-made dress.


"Giving me a tumble"? Whoa, Lana, I think you are both a little too young for that. Anyway, she gets Star Boy to make a Super-Jewel out of rocks. Instead of saying "this farce has gone on too long and is just embarrassing to all of us, Superboy is then all like "Why would Star Boy like you when all these Xanthu girls are so pretty?" Lana's been awful and all, but that's still not cool. Anyway, Lana says it's because to Star Boy, Lana is foreign and exotic. So Superboy then starts dating a Xanthu girl on a flying boat to turn the tables.


This comic feels like it should be over by now. It is not. It just keeps going.

Anyway, Superboy's new girlfriend asks for her to bring him a parakat because in the world of Silver Age comics, girls just want a guy for the sole purpose of being given stuff. Not knowing what one is, Superboy hunts for one and finds it in the mountains. It's like a tiger-parrot thing and Superboy can probably just safely capture this wild animal with his God-like powe-- nope, he's just beating the shit out of it, because fuck you nature.


He then teaches it to compliment his girlfriend to further humiliate a wild animal for kick and then concludes with humiliating his friend because everyone in the Silver Age is awful.


Lana gives up and confesses the truth and asks "You must despise me, don't you." But Superboy has been about as bad so he doesn't and "admires" her for "telling the truth". Speaking of, Superboy reveals his unnecessary ploy and that his pretend girlfriend was Star Boy's real girlfriend (who, along with Star Boy, should have been asking "maybe just confront her directly, please?").

The two Smallvillians (oh, that's a telling name for those folks, isn't it? IT LOOKS LIKE SMALL VILLAINS!) return home with the status quo re-established: that everyone is a lying jerk.


The end. As mentioned, Star Boy becomes a prominent Legion member and even becomes Star Man for a while in regular continuity. We'll see more of these guys later, though they still aren't ready for prime time yet, it is clear by now these guys who are here to stay.

Next time: Six issues in and Superman is already confronting Supermania in "The Man Who Sold Superman!"

Until next time...

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  #107  
Old 05-23-2019, 09:46 AM
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Action Comics #6

Written by Jerry Siegel and Drawn by Joe Shuster


There are lots of stories of comic books and major characters starting out as forgotten till reinvention, like the X-Men. Superman is not one of those stories. Though the exact sales figures remain a mystery (they were originally kept secret to deny competitors, though I have no idea what advantage that would be), Superman was an overnight success. In his wake, new comic companies opened up and though Superman was basically just an extension of the "mystery men" of pulp novels (like the Shadow, Doc Savage and even DC's own Crimson Avenger, who actually pre-dated Superman and may retroactively be considered their first costumed superhero), he is credited for single-handedly creating the superhero. Of course, there are many factors that went into the rise of the superhero (again, most notably, various pulp heroes that extend back to "the Scarlet Pimpernel") but Superman's success sure formed in people's minds what a superhero was.

Soon, everyone was trying to make the next Superman. Batman, who would premiere a year later, was created based on the idea of having another Superman, despite his Zorro/Shadow inspirations. How big a deal Superman was cannot be overstated.

And reading those early stories, it is easy to see why. The book is, in many ways, rough around the edges. Obviously, the stories are very simple and straightforward. But while in the recent incarnations he's a sort of figure of almost divine purity and humble humanity, in his early appearances he is bold, brash and rough and tumble. He has a good heart but he's a really tough guy as well and though he won't kill anyone, he doesn't hold back his colossal (though at the time relatively modest) strength.

Another interesting aspect to the character: Superman is such a new concept, everyone seems to think they can take him. Bad guys simply cannot believe he lives up to his new legend and it's fun to see them realize how WAY out of their depth they are. With his Superman fighting not only criminals but societal corruption, it must have been a joy to see someone walk all over those bullies.

So, yeah, Superman is a big deal. And when a character like that is a big deal, the question becomes... how can we make more profit?

DC first trademarked the Superman crest a scant few months after his introduction. A year later, the first merch came out: a wooden toy and a Supermen of America Club button. And the year after that the Superman radio show came out. Superman wasn't just a fad, he very quickly became a true American icon. And even before a lot of these things happened, the writing was on the wall: Superman is a big deal and everyone wants a piece of that Pie of Steel.

And it looks like Jerry and Joe decided there was a story in it. It's... "The Man Who Sold Superman".


I do have mixed feelings about Shuster's art. It is often kind of scribbly and messy in a way that does it no favours. And look, scribbly and messy CAN WORK as a choice but was this also a choice?


Yeesh. But at the same time, it is dynamic in a way I quite like and his facial expressions, especially people looking surprised can be quite good. Its not perfect but it does have an idiosyncratic personality to it I like. More than the Silver Age artists, who are good and more polished but feel like they are part of a house style that can often look a bit generic. I mean no ill will between greats like Wayne Boring, Al Plastino and the legendary Curt Swan, but with the toned down stories comes some toned down art that feels like the artists aren't being used to the best of their abilities, despite the often ludicrous premise of the stories.

BTW, I'm sure there are people with better eyes for art than I do, so I'm interested to hear any counter arguments. These are just my gut reactions and I would love to hear fans of those artists point out why they are stronger than I am giving them credit for in those stories.

Anyway, our story begins with our audience being reminded that Clark Kent is Superman and that Superman is becoming increasingly famous for his heroic deeds and fantastic strength.

So it comes as some surprise to Clark Kent when he meets... Superman's personal manager.


Superman doesn't already like the sound of this and the implications of this make him crush an ashtray in anger. And it seems like he might be right to be upset as Nick Williams as he has been making money off of his good name.


And it doesn't stop with blimps (does anything stop with blimps?)


I got to say, Nick Williams is a sleazy dude but... that's a pretty good add. The steam or whatever coming from the tires looks really good.

Clark Kent immediately challenges Nick to prove that Superman is working with him and Nick states Clark can have a meeting with him. And soon, word gets around.


Fun fact, this weird youth was retroactively decided to be the first appearance of Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen, for now just some weird blonde loudmouth. When Lois hears through him about Clark's meeting with Superman, well, she sure as Hell isn't going to pass that up. So Lois offers Clark a date and worms her way into his assignment... though Clark isn't easily fooled.


It's weird that despite Clark looking downright nasty here, this seems so much nicer than the Silver Age lies. I mean, dating someone under false pretenses isn't that nice but it's so much better than trying to convince someone that they are insane and/or unloved.

Anyway, we actually spend a decent amount of time on their date. Granted, it's three pages but for an old comic in the days before "decompressed storytelling", that's a fair amount of real estate. Oh, and hey, Clark is rocking a top hat.


I guess people just used to... wear those. Not just ducks, either.

Anyway, the book then dedicates an entire page to a Superman song (not by the Crash Test Dummies).


This is a weird little vignette and I have two reads on it. One, it is an example to Clark and the audience that Superman have become a phenomenon. But also, maybe in this story in which the image of Superman is being sold for profit... Siegel and Shuster are trying to get a Superman album made? It feels sort of like a page of advertising Superman as a caped Casanova in the middle of a Superman story. And it doesn't really effect the plot.

Oh, wait, no, the song puts Clark Kent to sleep.


No, wait, Lois drugged Clark Kent. Man, forget what I said about their lies being relatively charming. Between this and the football story, our heroes are very willing to just drug innocent people. At least Lois didn't keep him locked up in his own apartment to steal his identity. But lets roll back a page because before this happens, he learn just how phony Superman's manager is.


No surprise, his Superman is a big fake and his plan involves some stage tricks. And sure enough, when Lois takes Clark's place, they try to show her their amazing Superman... apparently unaware that she's met Superman and knows he isn't a big doofus.


Lois immediately sees through the tricks with ease, in particular that the "desk" was made of cardboard and a "steel rod" he bent was made of aluminum. Well with his tricks exposed, Nick confesses and promises to return his money to his clients JK he decides on murder. Fake Superman is initially horrified but one panel later jumps on board to the murder plan.


I mean, even if you say that, the police are probably STILL going to look into it. This whole venture seems ill-advised. That said, if you think a cardboard desk is going to fool ANYONE, than they aren't the sharpest tools. Anyway, Lois is plummeting to her death but as you can imagine, Superman pops in to save the day.


Superman then confronts the crooks and it goes about as well for them as you might expect.


Superman has Lois take the criminals into custody but when they try to deny the attempted murder of Lois.


And our story ends with the two men being thrown into the toilet, I guess.

The end. But there's also some advertisement that you can read about Superman each month!


This picture looks weird. What does it remind me of?


Yeah, that seems about right. Oh, and here's an educational segment!


I have no issue with step one but step two seems like you are just trying to damage your wrists under their own power. Also, step three implies your job is to use your newfound fantastic power to be a jerk.

And that's the end of another adventure. Part of me wonders if the creators response to Supermania might also be them realizing how little a piece of pie they will be getting for their popular new creation and seeing in the hand of greedy con men (the publishers). Or maybe it was just intended as a fun response to their newfound popularity. Either way, it is an interesting early snapshot in the evolution of the character both in terms of him being a big name within his own series and the response to the character outside of it.

Next time: He's a Brainiac, Brainiac, that's on the floor, and he's conquering like he's never conquered before!

Until next time...

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Old 05-24-2019, 02:20 PM
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Nobody likes a bragger, Star Boy.

Also, is it not a planet presently? Those take, like... a really long time to build
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