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Superman in the 70s - DC Comics Message Boards
Author Topic:   Superman in the 70s
India Ink
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posted January 22, 2002 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
I don't mind that you ripped the story apart Aldous. Because you did so in the spirit of those lettercolumns of old, when LoCers did indeed rip stories apart (and E.N.B. never hesitated to print these contrary reviews so long as they were well written).

It's when people write from the perspective of the present to rip apart stories of old because they don't fit present standards--that's when I get annoyed. It's very hard to deal with that kind of attitude.

Not having read the story for a few months, I'm not exactly prepared to give a page by page, panel by panel analysis. But I will briefly share a few personal recollections as to why the story is a favourite.

I remember (I can almost physically transport myself to that space in time, in my body at that time) when I saw that cover for 244. I was going through puberty (the ads showing a shameless Vampirella made me freak out--I was always afraid my mother would see them!), so that cover was immensely provocative. Maybe not by today's standards--but by thirteen years old 1971 standards. I couldn't buy it! Not at Ryan's drugs--not with Mrs. Ryan at the counter staring down her glasses at me.

I got it a few months later second hand at the second hand books and comics store over on Rupert--back when a young understanding fellow owned and ran the store (before a capitalistic couple took it over, and armed with an Overstreet Price Guide began charging Mint prices for every second hand comic in the store. I remember this young fellow let me have JLofA no. 52 and Swamp Thing no. 1 for ten cents--both in excellent condition.)

I read it then as a sex story. And I read it today as a sex story foremost. (Just as I regard some of those Star Trek episodes with body switching or body manipulation as primarily sex stories).

Next I like the figures. I think Anderson's inking of Swan is at his very best here. Yeah, there aren't many backgrounds (but I love those space backgrounds, and I love the experimental use of photographic images--at a time when it was very difficult to do this kind of stuff in a regular comic book). And mainly at that age I was most concerned with seeing Superman drawn really well which he was here. Plus it made for a sharp contrast with the Sandman Saga earthbound imagery.

I like the idea of there being these legendary Starry Eyed Sirens of Space. I like all that space lore. I like stories that point toward other things outside the main frame of the story, even if those things are never explored. And I like this whole other life of Superman's that he had in the sixties and seventies--as a resident of the cosmos. He knows about Starry Eyed Sirens. He has travelled the universe and picked up all kinds of scraps of information of cosmic import. We hardly ever see this stuff--mostly we see Superman at the beginning of some story returning from a mission in space. But we know it's there, this other existence that the Man of Tomorrow has--separate from his life in Metropolis and on Earth--so this tale allows us to see that Superman.

I think a lot of the unresolved things would have been resolved in a future story if there was a will to resolve them. I'm happy with the unresolved bits because I made up my own stories about what happened. My theory in my teens was that this could have resulted in a time loop that actually accounts for the myriad of parallel universes. The cloned off Superman and his mate go off and found a new civilization on Krypton, which generates a new parallel timeline, with another Superman meeting up with them, and another parallel timeline and so on.

Another possibility is that this couple formed a civilization on another planet--the one that Kryp came from. Meanwhile Tonn was from Daxam. The Kryp and Tonn story isn't literally true but it's a myth that points to a reality--of how Krypton was formed from two separate civilizations from different planets coming together on this new planet.

In terms of what I've said of late on this thread, though, the "Starry Eyed" story is an important example because it shows another false start. During the early days of Schwartz on Superman there seem to have been several false starts. First they try going with the Sandman Saga Superman, then they drop that, and they introduce this Bates version in "Starry Eyed," and then there's the Maggin philosophical Superman. But none of these ideas were followed up on to any great extent. And it's tempting to speculate why--this isn't a fault of O'Neil, Bates, or Maggin--it's an editorial decision. "Starry Eyed" shows us one path that could have been followed (a more cosmic, space spanning model), but in the end I think Schwartz decided to go with a different (Earth oriented, supporting cast oriented) direction--one that is exemplified by Len Wein in the earlier stories, and one which was picked up by Bates and Maggin.

Ultimately I can't argue against the well-reasoned criticisms of "The Starry Eyed Siren of Space," I can only say that I like it because I liked it.

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India Ink
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posted January 22, 2002 04:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
Good Grief! Nine pages. I really have to start being more brief.

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BuddyBlank
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posted January 22, 2002 06:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BuddyBlank
quote:
Originally posted by India Ink:

In terms of what I've said of late on this thread, though, the "Starry Eyed" story is an important example because it shows another false start. During the early days of Schwartz on Superman there seem to have been several false starts. First they try going with the Sandman Saga Superman, then they drop that, and they introduce this Bates version in "Starry Eyed," and then there's the Maggin philosophical Superman. But none of these ideas were followed up on to any great extent. And it's tempting to speculate why--this isn't a fault of O'Neil, Bates, or Maggin--it's an editorial decision. "Starry Eyed" shows us one path that could have been followed (a more cosmic, space spanning model), but in the end I think Schwartz decided to go with a different (Earth oriented, supporting cast oriented) direction--one that is exemplified by Len Wein in the earlier stories, and one which was picked up by Bates and Maggin.

As you note, there certainly were some aborted revampings of Superman when Schwartz started out - but I don't know that they are necessarily "false starts". I think the Sand Saga may have been O'Neil's idea, the "Starry Eyed" was Bates' idea, and what you call the philosophical Superman was certainly Maggin's idea. But from what I've heard about Schwartz, he basically just let his writers do what they want, and then nixed anything he didn't like. So what you're calling "false starts" were really just different writers trying to accomplish different things with the character.

But, yes, once a direction was decided on, everyone pretty much followed it. Of course, with Julie at the helm, it was impossible not to follow it...

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India Ink
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posted January 22, 2002 07:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
Yeah, maybe my choice of words was misleading.

It's more like they tried one direction, but then changed direction when they saw that another direction might actually prove more popular.

And it might not have had anything to do with Superman directly.

For instance they tried relevancy over at GL/GA and that didn't get the sales they wanted. So GL was canned. Julie wouldn't want the same thing to happen to Superman, so he aborted that direction. Kirby's cosmic style books were taken off the stands. So Julie didn't go in that direction too far. Wein proved popular with his Gardner Fox style JLA, so Schwartz pushed Superman into a new kind of Fox/Broome direction. By 1974, people wanted to forget reality and lose themselves in feel good superhero/supervillain stories.

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Aldous
Member
posted January 22, 2002 11:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
quote:
I remember (I can almost physically transport myself to that space in time, in my body at that time) when I saw that cover for 244. I was going through puberty (the ads showing a shameless Vampirella made me freak out--I was always afraid my mother would see them!), so that cover was immensely provocative. Maybe not by today's standards--but by thirteen years old 1971 standards. I couldn't buy it! Not at Ryan's drugs--not with Mrs. Ryan at the counter staring down her glasses at me.

I got it a few months later second hand at the second hand books and comics store over on Rupert--back when a young understanding fellow owned and ran the store (before a capitalistic couple took it over, and armed with an Overstreet Price Guide began charging Mint prices for every second hand comic in the store. I remember this young fellow let me have JLofA no. 52 and Swamp Thing no. 1 for ten cents--both in excellent condition.) -- India Ink


This is cool. I like hearing stuff like this. Thank you for sharing it.

quote:
I read it then as a sex story. And I read it today as a sex story foremost. (Just as I regard some of those Star Trek episodes with body switching or body manipulation as primarily sex stories). -- India Ink

Well, yes... I agree.

quote:
I can only say that I like it because I liked it. -- India Ink

I'm glad you said this. It is a lot of fun to critique or review comics, and it's fun to have discussions about the pros and cons of certain comics, but... when it all comes down to it, I like it because I liked it.

quote:
Good Grief! Nine pages. I really have to start being more brief. -- India Ink

Let's not be hasty.....

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Osgood Peabody
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posted January 23, 2002 07:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Osgood Peabody   Click Here to Email Osgood Peabody
I haven't seen this thread in a while - wow!

India Ink, keep up the good work - I'm enjoying this.

"Starry-Eyed Siren of Space" was among the first Supermans I bought off the stands, so it's difficult for me to be objective about it. However, I think it suffers from its juxtaposition with the end of one of the great sagas in Superman's history.

For all we know, it may have been intended for Action Comics, where Bates was the semi-regular writer at the time, but Schwartz needed to plug it in because O'Neil couldn't come up with something. I have no evidence to support this, just a hunch - because let's face it, after "The Ultimate Battle", O'Neil seems to have lost his creative way with Superman. If you were disappointed with "Siren", what was your reaction to his "Electronic Ghost"? Or the Billy Anders/lynx story? Talk about false starts!

As India Ink said, '72 - '73 was an era of retrenchment through the whole line, as the "Big Changes" were undone, one by one, or in the case of Superman, left unfulfilled.

I've got to run - but will comment further when I've more time.

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BuddyBlank
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posted January 23, 2002 10:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BuddyBlank
I'm still catching up on this thread, so I don't know whether or not this has already been covered (apologies if it has):

Here are a few stories from the 1970s that, IMHO, should absolutely be reprinted in color TPBs:

Jack Kirby's run on Jimmy Olsen - a lot of fun, with fantastic Kirby art, these stories are long overdue for contemporary computer coloring. This run is one of the key stories that led to the Superman we have today - not just his personality, but the introduction of Morgan Edge, Intergang, Darkseid, the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion, and some of the best Olsen stories ever.

Who Took the Super Out of Superman!? - from Superman #296 to 299, this also is one of the key stories that led to today's Superman. Not only is the story itself a Bates/Maggin masterpiece, but the introduction of a steamy romantic angle to Lois and Clark's relationship laid the groundwork for the later Lois and Clark show, and for the current marriage between the couple (as noted by Jeph's "Beef Bourginon" reference, which was also introduced in this story) Check out www.superman.nu/tales2/whotook/about.html for more info on this fantastic story.

Jim Starlin's Mongul stories - Mongul is still a key character in the mythos, and these stories (which introduced him) show why. Plus, I'd like to finally read them

Off to read more back pages on the thread...

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Osgood Peabody
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posted January 23, 2002 09:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Osgood Peabody   Click Here to Email Osgood Peabody
OK - back again.

The "Siren" story, while a confusing read for an 11-year old, nonetheless had some compelling moments for me. The opening page, showing a super-nova gradually creeping up on Superman, was pretty cool. The other page that stayed with me was the one where the alien is reading his mind and you see 4 panels representing war, disease, poverty and pollution - again a visually striking image.

Nonetheless, I concede it's not Bates at his best. I would offer up "Attack of the Micro-Murderer", from Action 403, as a great early Bates story, one of my favorites from the Swanderson era.

But it leads to my other point - those stories over in Action Comics during 1971 - may as well have taken place on a parallel earth. Absolutely no mention was made of the sand creature, the unpredictable loss of super-powers, etc. Maybe one of the things that turned O'Neil off writing Superman was that he couldn't completely control his destiny, as opposed to say, Green Lantern or Green Arrow.

At the time, Superman appeared in 5 different comics under 4 different editors! It was clearly a daunting task to make permanent changes that would be consistently applied by all of the various creative teams.

By the way, one other key story in the Big Change era took place over in World's Finest, my second-favorite comic at the time (#1 being JLA). In issue 202 (May 1971), in a story called "Vengeance of the Tomb-Thing", it is revealed that Superman's robots are all malfunctioning due to pollution in the earth's atmosphere (!!), thereby relegating another Weisinger standby to the scrap heap.

Yet even in this story, written by O'Neil, and edited by Schwartz, nary a reference is made to the Sand Creature. While in the same month, over in Superman, he's struggling to stay airborne! It seems that this schizophrenia extended even to the same creative team!

Even at that early stage, there appeared to be some hesitancy to expand on the "de-powered" theme.

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Aldous
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posted January 24, 2002 04:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
quote:
By the way, one other key story in the Big Change era took place over in World's Finest, my second-favorite comic at the time (#1 being JLA). In issue 202 (May 1971), in a story called "Vengeance of the Tomb-Thing", it is revealed that Superman's robots are all malfunctioning due to pollution in the earth's atmosphere (!!), thereby relegating another Weisinger standby to the scrap heap.
-- Osgood Peabody

Y'know, this should be kind of worrying. If pollution in the atmosphere is screwing up Superman's super-powerful robots, what's it doing to the rest of us??

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India Ink
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posted January 24, 2002 07:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
My socially conscious teachers of the late sixties and early seventies had me deeply concerned about the environment. So when I read that story, with Superman having to retire his robots because of pollution, I felt like "Oh man, this poor planet of ours is really on the skids now--even Superman's robots are feeling the effect!" Which was O'Neil's point of course!

I wasn't too bugged about that lack of linkage in the various Superman books. They seemed linked enough for me, at that time. And I do think that Schwartz allowed some linkage between WF, the self-titled Superman book, and JLofA. I remember one JLofA story by O'Neil that has Superman feeling the effects of his diminished powers.

But in subsequent extended storylines (what some would call "story arcs") Schwartz would put an editorial note at the beginning stating that the story took place after events in other DC books.

Without checking, I'm not sure if Schwartz employed this editorial warning when O'Neil did the extended Bruce Wayne death (tied in with Batman's search for Ra's al Ghul)--I think he might have. The first time I remember remarking it was during the Bat-Murderer storyline in Detective. And I'm fairly certain it was used for "Who Took the Super out of Superman?" among other arcs.

With Bat-Murderer I was suckered by this advisory. I thought it meant that the story I was reading signalled the beginning of a change in Batman--something that would eventually effect all the other titles. But when the status quo was restored with the final issue of the Bat-Murderer storyline, I then understood that it was just a way of covering their butts. By saying the events of the storyline took place after everything else going on in other DC books, they didn't have to deal with pesky letterhacks asking why the story in that month's Justice League of America didn't reflect the events in that month's Detective Comics.

So whenever I saw one of those editorial pronouncements, it made me kinda mad because it was a cagey way of saying "hey, in the end, this storyline won't really matter, because, in the end, the status quo will be restored." On the other hand, this might have been a preferable state of affairs. I'm not sure I needed the events in Justice League of America to reflect the events in The Flash when Barry Allen was on trial for murder. Things got carried too far for my taste--preventing good writers from telling imaginative stories because they couldn't use character B in light of events going on in title X. That certainly was the case when Kurt Busiek got the chance to do a JLA/JSA crossover, only to find that he couldn't really use the JLA or JSA owing to ongoing storylines.

So bringing this all back to the Saga, it may be that Schwartz never actually intended for the events to have any longlasting consequence. It might even be the case that reader confusion, resulted in Schwartz formulating this warning for future extended storylines, just to escape the pickle he got in over the Sandman Saga.

But the lack of such qualifications probably made for a better experience. I think it's precisely because it seemed like the Saga would have consequences that readers still remember it to this day as one of the great storylines. It would still have been pretty great, but if Schwartz, O'Neil and Bridwell had given qualifying statements in the letter column or editorial notes, the magnitude of the tale would not have seemed so important.

The same thing, sort of, with GL/GA. When those two lit out on the open road, there was no telling if they would return or how they would return. When the travels just ended, rather anti-climactic in nature, it felt like some promise was never fullfilled.

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Osgood Peabody
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posted January 24, 2002 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Osgood Peabody   Click Here to Email Osgood Peabody
Yeah - I do remember those little "editorial notes" at the beginning of a multi-part saga for either Superman or Batman. You may be right - the Bat-Murderer serial may have been the first to use that device.

For me, though, the Sandman Saga seems to remain apart from all those other multi-part stories - I guess because like any good saga (Aquaman's quest for Mera comes to mind), it's the stories within the epic that really made it memorable. It didn't feel self-contained. It took tantalizingly long to develop. In fact, you could argue that aside from the trilogy of tales that ended it, the episodes weren't even sequential.

The other thing that makes it stand apart is the build-up that preceeded it. The 2-page house ads - 1971 - the year of Superman! The restructuring of all the Superman mags after Weisinger left. New creative teams coming on board. All of these combined to give you this feeling that change was truly in the air.

I guess that's why a lot of us did feel a bit cheated when they didn't follow through.

But it was great while it lasted.

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India Ink
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posted January 24, 2002 08:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
Yesterday I wrote down a bunch of names on a piece of paper (Hamilton, Weisinger, Schiff, Boltinoff, Bates, Haney, Kanigher, Mayer, Schwartz, Orlando, Wein, Maggin) and then I drew lines indicating connections between these various names.

It doesn't seem possible to draw diagrams on the message boards, but the point of my diagram was to indicate some guesses (pure conjecture) as to what alliances, friendships, lines of communication could have existed at DC between various editors (and the writers who worked for them).

Based on my very limited knowledge, I'd guess that Weisinger had good relations with Schiff and Boltinoff (and Hamilton worked for both Schiff and Weisinger). Boltinoff likely got along with Weisinger, Schiff, and Kanigher (Bates worked for both Weisinger and Boltinoff, in turn; while Haney worked for both Kanigher and Boltinoff). Schiff could talk to Weisinger, Boltinoff, or Kanigher. (Schiff and Boltinoff are in the middle of this paradigm with Weisinger and Kanigher at the outer ends--I don't see either outside man having much to do with the other). Kanigher likely had some good verbal bouts with Schiff and Boltinoff, but he probably also jousted with Sheldon Mayer and Julie Schwartz--afterall, Mayer brought both Kanigher and Schwartz along into the DC comic biz, and Kanigher and Schwartz shared the same office space for some time. Julie probably enjoyed the banter with Kanigher (who he used as a writer from time to time, when he was stuck), he got along with Mayer, and he probably was a friendly face for new guy Joe Orlando. Orlando seems to have gotten along with Mayer and Schwartz (Orlando used Mayer as a writer, Schwartz and Orlando shared writers like Len Wein). Elliot Maggin seems to have been Julie's fair haired boy, not having too many dealings with other editors.

All of which leads me to wonder about Cary Bates. In the seventies I just accepted Bates as one of Schwartz's most important writers. But upon reflection (in fact as I've been contributing to this thread), it does actually seem a curious state of affairs that Bates should end up so closely identified with the Schwartz books in the seventies. Bates started out with Weisinger (no mean feat--given that Roy Thomas only lasted about a week with Weisinger--it's curious that Bates, Shooter, and Bridwell had the gumption to stick it out with Mort, whom from all accounts seems to have been a pretty hard-nosed fellow). After Weisinger retired, Bates continued to write the same style of stories for Boltinoff--in Action and in Superboy.

Meanwhile, the Schwartz approach was to throw off the old and embrace the new. He had his own writers, like O'Neil and Friedrich. It doesn't make sense that Julie would go to one of the leftovers from the Weisinger regime. It's even possible that Schwartz might have resented guys like Schiff and Weisinger who limited his use of Superman and Batman in the early days of the JLofA (again, I remind you, this is just conjecture--and I could be totally wrong).

Schwartz did use Swan (with long time Schwartz artist Murphy Anderson), but Julie claims to have never really known too much about art. He relied on guys like Mayer and Infantino for opinions on whether an artist was good enough. It's likely that Infantino was the one who made the Swan and Anderson team the definitive artists for Superman.

Wanting to shape his own vision of Superman, Schwartz would have used writers who could deliver the kind of original material he demanded ("B.O." Schwartz they called him--"B.O" stands for "Be Original).

So how did Bates get his foot in the door?

It may be that Schwartz was stuck for a story to put in 244, so he got an evergreen from Bates--as Osgood Peabody has suggested.

In this regard, "Starry Eyed Siren" might have been an audition piece from Bates. And one wonders if it did the trick. Schwartz continued to audition other writers. It's only when Bates starts coming up with different kinds of stories--stories that diverge from the Weisinger formula, stories in the tradition of Broome and Fox--that Bates then becomes the main writer for both Superman and Flash. Meanwhile, over in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Bates continues to write in a style better suited to Boltinoff or Weisinger.

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India Ink
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posted January 24, 2002 08:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
quote:
Originally posted by India Ink:

24) #432 (Feb. '74) "Target of the Toy-Men!" story: Bates, 13 pages.
--You have to realize that in the sixties all the reprint 80 page giants published stories from mainly the fifties and the sixties--so most readers (myself being one) were limited to this contained view of the DC world. But in the early seventies, this policy was reversed (apparently the policy had been maintained because the forties golden age material was viewed as inferior in quality), and we now got to see a great deal of raw (and sometimes quality) material from the golden age. A reprint in one of those 100 page Super-Spectaculars (for 50c) was an eye-opener--it featured the golden-age Toy-Man. All we readers knew of the Toy-Man was the rather conventional cousin to the Prankster with his shortish hair, green suits, and ties. But this reprint showed a long-haired smock-wearing bohemian Toy-Man.

In Action 432, the original Toy-Man is in retirement, but returns when a new upstart Toy-Man tries to steal his thunder--and our original has the smock and the long hair (although his locks have turned white by now). This trend of bringing villains back to their raw roots would continue through the seventies, with the Toy-Man being one of the best examples.

Unfortunately this issue also marks the end of the Swanderson run.


I'll be getting back to talking about a few more reprints that stick out in my memory from the seventies (possibly in a few days from now), but for now I just wanted to clear up some things in relation to what I said back on page 3 about "Target of the Toy-Men" as quoted above.

I misremembered here. The actual story I was thinking of that possibly inspired the return of the Toy-Man (or Toyman) was "The Toyman's Castle" which originally appeared in Superman no. 47 (July-August, 1947, 12 pages). This was not reprinted in a Super-Spec, but rather in DC Special no. 14, Sept.-Oct. '71. This was the 64 page collection, headlined as "WANTED! the World's Most Dangerous Villains," which spun off into the shortlived reprint comic (WANTED!...).

I remember being stunned by this Toyman story, because with his antiquated clothes, long hair, round spectacles, he was actually in the mood of the early seventies--a time when we hankered after old fashioned styles and made them a part of our new (admittedly bad) taste.

The wonder is that more wasn't done with Toyman in the seventies. In this '47 tale he's not quite as vicious as the Joker (but then neither was the Joker by 1947), but he does put Lois in a trap which if effective could have hacked her to pieces.

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India Ink
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posted January 24, 2002 09:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
Actually I may have exposed a fatal bit of ignorance in my post on the editors. Giving it some more thought it occurs to me that Bates might have written some Flash stories for Schwartz in the late sixties, which would blow my theories all to heck. It's times like these I miss Rich Morrissey.

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Osgood Peabody
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posted January 24, 2002 10:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Osgood Peabody   Click Here to Email Osgood Peabody
Yes, if I'm not mistaken, one of his early stories (maybe even his very first) was "The Flash - Fact or Fiction?" in Flash 179 (May 1968), in which the Flash winds up meeting none other than Julie Schwartz himself!

Coincidentally, this story is reviewed by the Silver Age Sage this month - check it out to get the full scoop:
http://members.tripod.com/~Red1962/sas.html

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Aldous
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posted January 26, 2002 05:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
We haven't talked about another power-siphoning episode in the life of Superman. This was around the time of the "Sandman Saga."

"Kneel To Your Conqueror, Superman" is a great little tale that I've loved since I was a young kid. As with Superman #233 it dates back to my earliest memories of having comic books.

The story originally appeared in 1971 in Action Comics #404. (I have it as a reprint, part of a collection of DC comics of the time, in an Australian reprint edition.)

Brilliant art by Swan and Anderson, and a crisp, compact story by Leo Dorfman.

Clark is sent by Edge to tape a video special about an institute of top scientists. Crossing a mountain range in his mobile TV van on his way to the institute, Clark is caught in a powerful earthquake. His super-vision reveals that the epicentre of the quake is directly under the scientific institute, threating to topple the complex off the side of its mountain home.

Clark switches to Superman and does some nifty (and beautifully-drawn) repairs to some unstable underground caverns, then flies up to the institute to calm what he thinks will be scientific staff in a panic.

But the staff of the institute are perfectly calm. The earthquake was halted by Superman at precisely the moment predicted by Rufus Caesar, the greatest mathematical genius in the country, top advisor and strategist for the Pentagon and space administration, among others.

Superman joins Caesar at Caesar's own estate where the scientific mastermind reveals he is fanatically obsessed with Superman. Superman is his idol, and Caesar has a Superman souvenir collection containing various extraordinary items, including the damaged head of a salvaged Superman robot.

Superman asks, "And what's this empty platform for?"

Caesar: "I've reserved it for the most valuable trophy in my collection. I hope to get it someday soon."

Superman is flattered by all this hero-worship from such a brilliant scientist. He is handed damaged optical lenses from the salavaged head of the Superman robot.

Caesar: "If you glance through them with your x-ray vision, you might recharge their vision powers!"

Superman: "I'd be happy to try."

Superman fits the optical lenses headpiece over his head and activates his x-ray vision.

(I'll continue this.....)

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Aldous
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posted January 26, 2002 06:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
More of "Kneel To Your Conqueror, Superman."

He is suddenly in agony and literally frozen to the spot, the optics headpiece having been rigged by Caesar to amplify Superman's own vision power into a paralysing force.

Caesar then attaches scientific devices to the Man of Steel, designed to siphon off Superman's powers (much like what was happening to Superman in the "Sandman Saga," but this time, rather than it all being due to an act of fate and nature, the power-drain would be deliberate and calculated).

Seated at another device, Caesar (to the protests of his manservant) begins to deliberately siphon the powers of Superman into himself.

Firstly, with Superman fighting the drain mentally, Caesar absorbs the Man of Steel's super-strength. The mad genius goes from being a scrawny, skinny little man to one "pulsing with super-strength!" He squeezes lumps of coal into diamonds to test his super-grip.

As he had told Superman: "This transvector...will siphon off your powers and feed them into my own body. I want to be a hero like you... someone all Earth admires... a super being..."

Against Superman's helpless rage, he then drains the hero's vision powers.

Superman: "Everything's going... black..."

With telescopic vision, Caesar sees a damaged cable car in imminent danger of falling, taking the passengers to their deaths. Superman is beside himself with worry, but as Caesar says, "Worried, eh, Superman? No need to! As an old fan of yours, I know exactly what to do!"

He absorbs flying power next and goes sailing around the room, euphoric. Then, intending to smash through the wall to fly to the rescue of the cable car, Caesar nearly kills himself in a devastating collision with the wall of the room.

As his constantly disapproving manservant says, "Master... you were too hasty! You forgot... you haven't acquired invulnerability yet!"

Caesar, nursing an injured head, decides to absorb all of Superman's remaining super-powers without delay. But first he dresses himself in a superhero costume of his own design, based partly on the garb of Superman and partly on the dress of an ancient Roman Caesar.

Caesar: "...I am about to become...emperor over all the Earth!"

He says to the helpless Superman, "With my brain and your powers, people will be idolizing me as they did you! The whole world will be shouting... HAIL CAESAR!"

Superman (thinking): "I did this! By allowing people to hero-worship me, I inspired him to become an egotistical, power-hungry maniac!"

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Aldous
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posted January 26, 2002 10:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
"Conqueror" cont'd...

Now Caesar attempts to drain all of Superman's remaining powers - but it appears Superman, by using all his will power to try and stop the siphoning, is interfering with the power drain.

Caesar: "Ah... you're fighting me, Superman! But not even your superb mentality can stop the siphon effect of my transvector completely! I can feel your powers ebbing... slowly into me!"

Superman: "Then I do have some control over the power flow!"

With the transvector mechanism shaking and humming, Superman takes the opposite tack - he relaxes, and lets his power flow freely and mightily through the machine into Caesar.

Caesar's body begins to shake and swell, literally ballooning with the intake of super power. "My body... can't take this ghastly pressure!" The power flow into Caesar reaches a critical point. "My molecular structure can't adjust quickly enough!"

He barks at his manservant to throw the cut-off switch, but in the panic the manservant messes with the wrong switch which activates the "reversal relays." The power begins to flow rapidly back into Superman.

Breaking free of the paralysis, Superman rips himself from the mechanism and speeds off to save the cable car.

When Superman returns to apprehend Caesar, it turns out that the power drain back into the Man of Steel took Caesar's own brain and life energies with it, leaving Caesar a wasted, mindless vegetable.

Much later, Clark and Morgan Edge are discussing the video feature Clark made about the scientists, which included the sorry story of Caesar. As Clark is leaving the office, Edge ponders Superman's triumph over Caesar: "Yes, [Clark's] pal, Superman, may be smart enough to stop ordinary criminals... but when the time comes, he'll be no match for me.

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Jon-El
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posted January 27, 2002 04:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jon-El   Click Here to Email Jon-El
I haven't read this complete thread but I got out some of my old comics last night. I found an issue of Action (Whatever happened to Superman is the title on the cover) and on the first page Superman is putting out a fire in two Metropolis towers! Very eerie.

On a lighter note I read the excellent two-parter from Action 495 & 496 dealing with this ancient warrier from the planet Krypton.

MAN I LOVE GOING THRU THESE COMICS!

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India Ink
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posted January 27, 2002 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
Oh I well remember that story from Action 404, Aldous. In fact, it seems like a lot of people were either siphoning off Superman's power or becoming a Superman duplicate around that time--meanwhile all those Superman duplicate robots were in retirement. There seems to be a theme here, but I'm not quite sure what it is.

And I own reprints of a couple Sandman Saga stories, but they're in FRENCH--anyone trying to find cheap copies of the Saga might want to move to another country!

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India Ink
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posted January 28, 2002 05:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
Kurt Schaffenberger never had a bad day.

Most artists have had those days when they weren't on their game, but Schaffenberger? Never!

Even a bad inking job could hardly dim the obvious talent of the penciller. And the best inker for Kurt was himself--although Dave Hunt and Dan Adkins served Kurt's pencils well.

I''ve been going through my Superman Family stack and it's almost impossible to find a single issue that doesn't have one good Schaffenberger art job--either in the form of a reprint or a new story.

For awhile there, in issues 172 through 180, Schaffenberger was the regular artist on the round-robin of new material stories that led off the book (alternating between Jimmy, Lois, and Supergirl). When the title went to all new material with issue 182, Kurt handled a number of different features, often doing two stories per ish.

In no. 189, Kurt pencilled the first three stories in the issue, 34 pages, doing full art on the first page frontispiece--which has the Superman Family gang gathered around a big cake wishing Superman "Happy Birthday! From the Superman Family" (as then editor ENB notes, Superman "first appeared in Action Comics # 1, June, 1938" and this was the May-June, 1978 issue of Superman Family)--and then Kurt does full art on the Jimmy story that follows, 13 pages.

Oh yeah, Kurt also did the "Superman Family Circle" masthead for the lettercolumn.

With issue 195, May-June, 1979, Schwartz takes the editor's chair away from ENB, but this is also the first issue of Superman Family to spotlight "Mr. & Mrs. Superman", by ENB and Schaffenberger, the delightful series about the young marrieds on Earth 2, which would run for the remainder of the family title's life (the last issue being no. 222, September, 1982).

On this series, rather than simply conforming to the continuity of Earth 2 or the 1940s, Bridwell and Schaffenberger were able to revisit those stories that were important in their own lives--if not actually using 50s and 60s tales (which according to strict comic geek math should be Silver Age, and on Earth 1) then at least giving their stories that same flavour. This was indeed the same Lois that Schaffenberger had illustrated so lovingly in the 50s and 60s.

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Aldous
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posted February 05, 2002 04:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aldous
Superman #246. "Danger--Monster At Work." Writer, Len Wein.

Someone elsewhere on the boards said Clark was a wimp till Dean Cain's version. I'll come back to this.

I've always been a really big fan of Len Wein. An awful lot of stories of his are favourites of mine, including a great saga in The Amazing Spider-Man - and definitely including his work on Superman (amongst other things).

In this issue, Len Wein tells a neat little story about some weird algae that wanders outside its brief...

The "super-menace" part of the tale is almost a throwaway incident. Where Len Wein really lays down some depth is when he introduces Clark's neighbours. This is not the first story to investigate the people down the hall, but it is a welcome update.

(I think all the neighbours in this story appeared here for the first time. On the 5th page of the story, Clark passes Xavier's door - "Strange--he's my next-door neighbour--but in all the time he's been a tenant, we've never met!")

Mrs Goldstein along the hall tries to play matchmaker between Clark (whom she adores) and her neice, Esther.

Then Clark (a distinctly un-wimpy Clark) drops in on a sort of "Neighbourhood Watch" meeting in the Lewis apartment.

Not only is Clark un-wimpy, he is downright manly and assertive. He disagrees with the position his collective neighbours are taking on an issue, and he stands up to all of them, coming off as a sort of parent-figure.

At the conclusion of the story, Clark's position is proved to be right, and he leaves his slightly wiser neighbours with a scathing remark.

I watched some of the classic Superman (George Reeves) TV episodes as a very young kid, and although I was too small to remember it very well now (certain scenes play at the edges of my memory like a fading dream), I have the impression that Reeves' Kent was much more like the manly Wein version than the wimpy style.

Like I said above, Len Wein lays down a bit of depth in this story, and fleshes out a bit of Clark's private life (ie. the part of his life when he's not "working," whether as Clark Kent the newsman or Superman the superhero).

Good job, Len.

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Osgood Peabody
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posted February 05, 2002 09:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Osgood Peabody   Click Here to Email Osgood Peabody
Len Wein wrote some fine Superman stories during this era. Here's a few others that come to mind:

"The Island that Invaded the Earth" Superman #251 (May 1972) - Superman must figure out why a newborn island in the South Pacific is causing Earth's weather to go haywire. Very offbeat menace - surprise ending - and beautiful Swanderson artwork!

"A Matter of Light and Death" World's Finest #207 (November 1971) - Superman and Batman match wits with Dr. Light. Loved the intro. with a group of thugs meeting a shadowy figure in a musty gym to discuss putting a contract out on Superman. Turn the page, and the ringleader turns out to be Clark Kent! It seems Clark's been having mysterious "black-outs", and so he consults the Batman to shadow him (nice touch!). The natural interplay between the World's Finest Duo really made this story.

"Peril of the Planet-Smashers" World's Finest #208 (December 1971) Superman and Dr. Fate team up to battle a magical menace to Earth-2. In this tale, Superman literally moves the continents of the planet in order to combat the alien's magic (no Quarmmian power drain here!), although to be fair, he does break a sweat. Another interesting touch - at the end of this story, Dr. Fate offers to remove the Man of Steel's vulnerability to magic - and Superman refuses!


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India Ink
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posted February 07, 2002 07:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
For more on Kurt, via AWODDC & Alan Asherman, visit the Backdoor to the 70s thread on Other Superman Topics...
http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/files/Forum89/HTML/001224.html

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India Ink
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posted February 07, 2002 07:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for India Ink
In regards to Len Wein, it's a funny thing. He was more or less one of my favourite writers at DC. I liked his Swamp Thing a lot. I liked his JLofA grudgingly (because he had replaced my favourite writer at the time--Mike Friedrich). And generally I counted on him to do some nice character driven tales in various Schwartz edited books.

Yet when I came around to do my little SWANDERSON review, some months ago, I was actually surprised to discover the quantity of tales he had done for Superman, post-O'Neil.

For some reason, my patchwork memory had completely dropped Wein out of the picture--assuming that we went straight from O'Neil to Bates/Maggin.

So upon rediscovering Wein, I also discovered that he had actually written a lot of really good stories. And the kind of stories that would indeed characterize Superman for the rest of the 70s, after Len himself had moved on to other things.

Bates and Maggin would come around to writing the kind of ensemble cast stories that Len had originally set up.

Another aspect of this is humanity. Wein invested all of his characters with humanity. Villains just as much as heroes.

And it's the underlying humanity of all the characters (even Lex) that unites them in these ensemble cast tales.

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