Thursday, March 19, 2009
Before the discovery of the Phantom Zone, by none other than Jor-El, Krypton apparently incarcerated their criminals by putting them into suspended animation, placing special crystals on their forheads to slowly wipe out their criminal tendencies from their brains, and launched them in satellites to orbit Krypton while unconscious. This was portrayed in part three of the story The Girl Of Steel in Superman #123, August 1958, published around June 17, 1958. The story was written by Otto Binder, pencilled by Dick Sprang and inked by Stan Kaye. This type of imprisonment was shown in the last chapter titled Superman's Return To Krypton.
Since Krypton's destruction the Phantom Zone prisoners focused most of their attention on Earth because that was where most of the Kryptonian survivors could be found. After Superman rescued the miniaturized city of Kandor, the city annually convened a Phantom Zone Parole Board to consider requests of prisoners to be released from the zone. Kandor and Superman could communicate with the Phantom Zone inhabitants through a zone-o-phone invented by Superman. He could also see into the Zone with a Phantom Zone viewer to periodically verify that all prisoners were accounted for. This was briefly shown in Superman #168, August 1963 on sale on June 20, 1963, in the story Wonder Man, The New Hero Of Metropolis, written by Edmund Hamilton, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. IV.
There were two innocent Phantom Zone inhabitants who were eventually released. One was Quex-Ul, who was wrongly convicted of killing a herd of Rondors, whose horns had healing properties and were revered and protected on Krypton. The real criminal hypnotized Quex-Ul to take the blame. He was sentenced to 25 Sun Cycles (years?). Superman travels through time to observe what really happened on Krypton. Upon his release Quex-Ul wants to take his revenge on Superman, the son of the discoverer of the Phantom Zone. After Supergirl convinces quex-Ul that Superman had found proof of his innocence, Quex-Ul saves Superman from a gold kryptonite trap he had set underwater. Exposed to the rays, Quex-Ul loses his powers and almost drowns. Superman saves him but discovers that Quex-Ul suffered amnesia. To help him out Superman takes Quex-Ul to Perry White, who agrees to hire him for the Daily Planet's production department. He would be known as Charlie Kweskill. In the four issue miniseries Phantom Zone, Jan.-April 1982, Charlie regains his memories. He and Superman wind up becoming trapped in the Phantom Zone while some prisoners have escaped. At the end of the series Charlie (Quex-Ul) sacrifices his life to save Superman once again, this time paying the ultimate price. This mini-series was written by Steve Gerber and pencilled by Gene Colan. Steve Gerber established that there was a back exit to the Zone, and terrible beasts lived in the Zone.
Fans of the Legion of Super-Heroes are familiar with the second innocent inhabitant of the Phantom Zone. Mon-El was the only one who was sent to the Zone to save his life. He first appeared in Superboy #89, June 1961, on sale April 6, 1961. The cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. Superboy's Big Brother was written by Robert Bernstein and drawn by George Papp. this story was reprinted in Legion Of Super-Heroes vol. I and Showcase Presents: Legion Of Super-Heroes vol. I. Mon-El landedear Smallville and was found by Superboy. He suffered amnesia, and when Superboy found a Krypton map in the rocket, he assumes the stranger is another Kryptonian survivor. Superboy names him Mon-El, Mon because he landed on Earth on a Monday and -El for the -El family from Krypton. He moves in with Clark and the Kents and takes the name Bob Cobb to protect his alien identity. At first Superboy is thrilled to have a super powered "brother". He becomes suspicious of Mon-El when he discovers that Mon-El shows no weakness to kryptonite. To trip up Mon-El Superboy creates fake kryptonite using lead. Exposed to the fake-k Mon-El becomes very weak and regains his memories. He is from the planet Daxam, a planet whose people have super powers similar to Superboy. He traveled to Krypton and was given the Krypton map by Jor-El. Mon-El informs Superboy that there is no cure for lead poisioning for a Daxamite. To save Mon-El's life Superboy sends him to the Phantom Zone. The Legion of Super-Heroes retreive Mon-El from the Zone 1,000 years later. They invent a temporary antidote until Brainiac 5 invents a permanent serum.
In a story in Action Comics Annual #10, titled Who Is Clark Kent's Big Brother the silver age Mon-El origin was represented in modern Superman continuity, complete with Mon-El having to be sent to the Phantom Zone to save his life.
Post-crisis, the Phantom Zone returned when Superman returned from space with the Eradicator, a Kryptonian artifact. He eventually disposed of it in the arctic. It built what eventually became Superman's Fortress of Solitude. It retreived materials and equipment from a Phantom Zone that it had created a portal to. The traditional silver age Phantom Zone returned with the Superman: Last Son story from Action Comics #844-846, 851 and Action Comics Annual #11, along with General Zod. In Action Comics 874 and Superman #685, April 2009, the Phantom Zone mysteriously disappeared. At the last moment Superman pulled Mon-El out of the zone before it disappears. In earlier stories Gen. Zod had been released by Kandor, but were the rest of the prisoners released as well? That is a plot point for future Superman stories.
In another story in Action Comics Annual #10, The Criminals Of Krypton, the story of General Zod, Ursa and Non being banished to the Phantom Zone and why was told, and the Science Council was painted in a sinsiter light as well.
In the mini-series Phantom Zone a number of Phantom Zone criminals are referred to.
Gra-Mo and his assistants were the last to be imprisoned in the previously referred to satellites after using their thought control devices, originally invented to control androids for menial tasks, use them to gain control of the robot police and send them on a murderous spree of mayhem.
Jax-Ur (originally referred to back in Action Comics #284) was the only Phantom Zone prisoner sentenced for eternity. He was sentenced for a renegade experient gone wrong. A nuclear missle he defended for obital defense missed its target asteroid and destroyed the populated Krypton moon Wegthor.
Va-Kox, a biochemist, created an evolution altering formula that mutated marine species of the Great krypton Lake into huge monsters. His sentence was for 50 sun cycles, the amount of time it would take for the pollution the formula created to clear from the lake.
Faora Hu-Ul, a farmer, hated all men and was sentenced to 300 sun cycles for torturing and murdering 23 Kryptonian men. Hers was the second longest sentence given.
General Dru-Zod was sentenced to 40 sun cycles for his attempted overthrow of the Kryptonian government with an army of Bizarro-like soldiers. His first appearance was in flashback in the Phantom Superboy story of Adventure Comics #283.
Kru-El, Jor-El's cousin and Superman's uncle, had to serve 35 sun cycles for creating and using forbidden weapons.
When the combined psychic power of the Phantom Zone prisoners almost made Jor-El use the Phantom Zone projector to release them as he slept, only to be stopped when Lara woke him from his trance, the Science council ordered the Phantom Zone projector be launched into deep space. Just over a week later, Krypton would explode.
Post-crisis, General Zod, Zaora and Quex-Ul appeared in the Supergirl Saga which appeared in Superman #21, Adventure Of Superman #444 and Superman #22. The three were Phantom Zone prisoners in a "pocket universe" set free by a good Lex Luthor. He was duped into believing Gen. Zod was related to the late Superboy of that world and released the three of them. This story will be the subject of a future episode.
Superman Fan Podcast can be found at http://supermanfanpodcast.mypodcast.com/ . Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at http://mypulllist.blogspot.com/ . Send e-mail about this blog to email@example.com .
Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.
Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
According to http://supermanica.com/ , Perry's background has been inconsistent. In one story he started out running a shoe shine stand in 1920's Chicago. That story appeared in Superman #142, January 1961 issue, first on sale November 30, 1060. It was titled Superman Meets Al Capone, written by Otto Binder, pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye. Perry's father was named Josiah White. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. II.
In one panel at the beginning of The Three Tough Teenagers, Perry mentions that as a boy he attended P. S. 84 in Metropolis. This story appeared in Superman #151, February 1962, approximately on sale December 19, 1961. It was written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Al Plastino. Showcase Presents: Superman vol. III reprinted the story.
Perry White the boy lived at one point with his grandfather, steamboat captain Josiah White, in the story Luthor - Super Hero from Superman #168, April 1964, published around February 6, 1964. The story was written by Edmund Hamilton and Leo Dorfman, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. I could find no reprint information for this story. A note on the Metropolis Mailbag letter column in this issue at http://dcindexes.com mentioned that instead of letters, the column reprinted a N.Y. Times article on a Superman story that would co-star then President Kennedy. After his assassination that story was pulled out of respect for the late President. A reproduction of the original cover was also featured in the letter column. That story would be published in issue #170, supposedly at the request of President Johnson.
Perry's wife Alice first appeared in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #42, Jan. 1960, published on November 19, 1959, although her first name was not given in the story. Perry White, Cub Reporter was written by Robert Bernstein, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by John Forte. In the story Perry and Jimmy switch jobs for the Boss-For-A-Day program. Jimmy sends Perry on a series of physically demanding asignments for a man of Perry's age. The next day Jimmy expects to be fired, but Perry has found out that the reason for the tough assignments was because Perry's wife wanted Jimmy's help in getting Perry to lose weight. Jimmy succeeded in making Perry lose twenty pounds (but it's a wonder Perry didn't have a heart attack, today).
Perry and Alice had three sons in the silver age, Will (with red hair), Perry, Jr. and Hank. Will White appeared in Superman #72, Sept./Oct. 1951 issue, on sale around July 6, 1951. The story, The Private Life Of Perry White was written by Edmund Hamilton and drawn by Al Plastino. Will applies for the job of cub reporter on the Daily Planet staff as Will Whitman, as part of an agreement with his father Perry not to use his father's name to influence getting the job. Another part of the agreement was to sccop a major story in 24 hours. Will earns the job by uncovering the information Superman needs to capture a group of protection racketeers. I could find no reprint information on this story.
Perry, Jr. was not as humble. He appeared in Superman #108, Sept. 1956, published around July 26, 1956 in the story Perry White, Jr. - Demon Reporter. It was written by Alvin Schwartz, pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye. When Peryr, Jr. started as a reporter he thought he could teach the veteran staff of Clark, Lois and Jimmy how to be journalists. Circumstances lead Perry, Jr. to suspect Clark is secretly the criminal Mr. Wheels. Clark can't refute the assumption without threatening his real secret identity. Superman eventually brings about the arrest of Mr. Wheels and his gang by the Metropolis Police, and Perry, Jr. learns that he doesn't know everything after all. The only reprint I could find of this story was in Superman Family #175, Feb./March 1976, on sale around November 6, 1975, so you might find it in the back issue bin of your local comic book shop.
In the early 1980's there were some stories that explored Perry White, Sr.'s career as a reporter. Two stories involved Superboy. In issue #12 of The New Adventures Of Superboy, the December 1980 issue, on sale on September 25, 1980, Perry scoops the story of Superboy's Kryptonian origin in the story titled The Day of the Alien Scoop. In the second story of Superman #366, Dec. 1981, on sale Sept. 10, 1981, Perry White's Superboy Scoop, Perry scoops the story of Superboy moving to Metropolis. Clark Kent is understandably concerned that people, especially in Smallville, might find both Clark Kent and Superboy moving to Metropolis more than a coincidence.
Perry White was mistakenly assumed to be Superman's secret identity in Action Comics #302, July 1963, published on May 29, 1963. Curt Swan and Stan Kaye created the cover featuring the story The Amazing Confession of Super-Perry White. The writer of this story is unknown but the artist was Al Plastino.
There have been a number of stories where Perry White wears a disguise. One example was Mental Man, who appeared in Action Comics #196, Sept. 1954, published around July 29, 1954. I could find no details about this story, or repring information at dcindexes.com or comics.org.
Perry appeared as Masterman in Action Comics #278, July 1961, published May 31, 1961. The cover, featuring this story, was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kay. the Super Powers Of Perry White was written by Jerry Coleman, with art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye. Perry gained super powers after eating a piece of fruit from a tree in his yard, not realizing the tree was actually an alien plant intelligence. It gained control of Perry through the fruit. this story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. III.
Perry became Anti-Superman in World's Finest Comics #159, Aug. 1966 issue, published on June 9, 1966. The cover featuring the story The Cape & Cowl Crooks was done by the story's crative team of penciller Curt Swan and inker Stan Kaye. It was written by Edmund Hamilton. Commissioner Gordon became Anti-Batman as well when he and Perry are accidentally exposed to a gas in Superman's Fortress Of Solitude that temporarily turns both of them evil. superman is able to expose them to the antidote when he and Batman deduce who the Anti- villains are. This story was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #227, Jan./Feb. 1975, published around October 17, 1974.
Professor Von Schultz was the identity Perry took on in Superman#157, Aug. 1966, on sale on June 9, 1966, in the story The Super Genie Of Metropolis. It wasthe second story of the issue, written by Robert Bernstein with art by Al Plastino. Perry was posing as an archaeologist,working in cooperation with Superman and the FBI to trap a foreign spy.
Probably the biggest change to the Daily Planet came during the 1970's, during the tenure of Superman editor Julius Schwartz. Galaxy Communications president Morgan Edge (who first appeared in Superman #241, Aug. 1971, published on June 15, 1971 and reprinted in Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore) buys the Daily Planet and eventually makes Clark Kent a TV news reporter.
According to Wikipedia, in the last months of the original continuity before the two part story Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, a continuing plotline in Superman stories seemed to imply that Perry was beginning to show early signs of Alzheimer's disease. In Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, originally published in Superman #423, released on June 12, 1986, and Action Comics #583, published on June 26, 1986, both cover dated Sept. 1986, Perry and Alice are having marital problems, possibly separated and contemplating divorce. while Superman's "final" battle rages outside the Fortress Of Solitude, inside Perry and Alice rethink their reelationship and make up.
The post-crisis Perry White grew up in Suicide Slum in Metropolis, and was a boyhood friend of Lex Luthor. As a youth Perry got a job at the Daily Planet as a copy boy, eventually working up to the job of Editor-In-Chief. In World Of Metropolis #1, August 1988, published on April 12, 1988, Perry White returned from an extended period overseas as a foreign correspondent. Not only does he find that Lex Luthor plans to close the Daily Planet in favor of an internet news business, but that his friend seduced his fiance Alice Spencer. Perry pull strings until an international cartel buys the Daily Planet from Luthor. Their only stipulation in the deal is to make Perry the E-I-C, which was not Perry's goial when trying to find a buyer. Perry and Alice work through the pain of their situation and decide to marry.
They have only one child, a son named Jerry. As a teen he is a troubled youth who eventually dies from a gunshot wound in Adventures Of Superman #470, Sept. 1990, published on July 31, 1990. Perry learns that Lex Luthor was actually Jerry's father. Perry takes a leave of absence from the Daily Planet. Later, he and Alice take care of an African-American orphan named Keith Roberts whose mother died of Aids. They eventually adopt him, giving him the name of Keith Robert White.
Later Perry undergoes chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer, taking another leave of absence and placing Clark Kent in charge.
Some time after Perry's return, the current owner and publisher Franklin Stern sells the Daily Planet to Luthor, who shuts down the newspaper and hires Lois, Jimmy and a few others for LexCom. Perry begins teaching journalism at the University of Metropolis. Eventually, after Lois makes a secret deal with Luthor, he sells the Daily Planet to Bruce Wayne for $1.00, and the newspaper resumes publication again, rehiring all of the old staff, including Perry White.
In Superman: The 10 Cent Adventure, Perry White confronts Clark about his passport Perry found in a storeroom. Clark begs off claiming he and Jimmy are late for an assignment and he'll get back to him, but never does about this subject. Bruce Wayne, in volume I of the Batman story Hush tells Clark that Perry White is too good of a reporter not to know that Clark Kent is Superman, but pretends not to know, reminding Bruce of Commissioner Gordon. Does Perry White know or suspect that Clark Kent is Superman? The world may never know.
Superman Fan Podcast can be found at http://supermanfanpodcast.mypodcast.com/ . The host web site is back on line. I will be reposting the first thirty episodes which were lost in their recent shut down as soon as possible. Send e-mail about this podcast to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.
Thanks for your patience and for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
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In recent years, and particularly in recent months of Superman titles, a lot of the silver age heritage of Superman has returned to modern continuity. When DC Comics restarted Superman continuity in 1986, much of the silver age Superman continuity was stripped away. At the time it was felt that much of it had made Superman behind the times if not outdated. They were considered barnacles on the character, weighing Superman down and making it harder to create stories that were more relevant to the then current times.
John Byrne returned Superman , for the most part, back to his Siegel and Shuster roots. He was once again the sole survivor of Krypton's destruction. Superman would appear as an adult, as in the first Action Comics stories, with no apprenticeship as Superboy. There was also no bottle city of Kandor, no Krypto, and no Supergirl, at least not from Krypton. Also missing were the Phantom Zone, and after a brief appearance in the Man of Steel mini-series, no Bizarro, at least for a while.
In this episode we review the original appearances of many of the members of the silver age Superman's world. The silver age world of Superman was developed under the strict guidance of editor Mort Weisinger.
As mentioned in the previous episode Superboy first appeared in More Fun Comics #101, Jan./Feb. 1945 issue, published approximately on November 21, 1944. The unnamed origin of Superboy story was produced by Superman's creators, Siegel and Shuster. The only reprint I could find of this issue was in DC's Millineum Edition #44, November 2000 issue. Superboy gained his own title with Superboy #1, the March/April 1949While Superboy first appeared during the peak of the golden age of comics he would enjoy his peak of popularity during the silver age, especially as a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
No boy should be without his favorite pet, and Superboy's pet first appeared in Adventure Comics #210, the March 1955 issue, first on sale on January 27, 1955. The story The Super Dog From Krypton was written by Otto Binder, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by John Fischetti. This story has been reprinted in the trade paperback Superman In The Fifties.
The bottle city of Kandor first appeared in Action Comics #242, July 1958 issue, firt published on May 29 1958. This story also contained the first appearance of the arch-villain Brainiac. The Super Duel In Space was written by Otto Binder and drawn by Al Plastino. This story has been reprinted in a number of editions, Superman In The Fifties, Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow Archives vol. I, Superman: The Bottle City Of Kandor and Superman vs. Brainiac. Brainiac was the subject of SFP episode #21, http://supermanfanpodcast.blogspot.com/2008/06/episode-21-brainiac.html .
Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl, first appeared in Action Comics #252, Maay 1959, first appearing on newsstands on March 31, 1959. She was featured in this podcast on episode #38 http://supermanfanpodcast.blogspot.com/2008/09/episode-38-happy-birthday-kara-zor-el.html . The Supergirl From Krypton was written by Otto Binder and drawn by Al Plastino. This story would reappear in Supergirl Archives vol. I, Superman In The Fifties, Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I and Showcase Presents: Supergirl vol. I.
Supergirl herself had a number of pets. The first was Beppo the Super Monkey, who first appeared in Superboy #76, October 1959, first published on August 20, 1959. The Super Monkey From Krypton was written by Otto Binder and drawn by George Papp. Beppo was a Kryptonian animal that was apparently a lab specimen of Jor-El's, who used him to test a prototype of Kal-El's rocket. Apparently Beppo stowed away on the infant's rocket, and also gained super powers when the rocket landed on Earth. This story was reprinted in DC Goes Ape vol. I.
Comet the Super Horse was another of Supergirl's pets, but was not Kryptonian. He was originally a centaur in ancient Egypt. Circe gave him a potion to make him completely human, but she made a mistake and the potion instead made him completely horse. To make amends Circe gave him powers, including immoprtality. When a comet passed through the solar system he could temporarily change into a human. As a human he briefly dated Supergirl and Lois Lane, such was the sometimes bizarre nature of silver age stories. His story was first told in Action Comics #292, Sept. 1962, on sale around July 26, 1962. The story was written by Leo Dorfman and drawn by Jim Mooney. comet the horse had a comet shaped mark on his back. Because he was not Kryptonian he was immune to the harmful effects of kryptonite. this story was reprinted in Showcase Presents:Supergirl vol. II.
The Phantom Zone first appeared in Adventure Comics #283, April 1961. The Phantom Superboy was written by Robert Bernstein and drawn by George Papp. The Phantom Zone was not a region of Krypton, but was another dimension discovered by none other than Jor-El. Kryptonian authorities would use the zone as a place to incarcerate convicted criminals for the duration of their sentences. But these details would be developed in later stories. In this story, Lana Lang's archaelogist father gave Superboy a box of what he somehow recognized as Kryptonian weapons. When Superboy examined them alone, he accidentally activated one of the weapons and was sent into the Phantom Zone, a place where he existed as a ghost. Through a typically silver age plot twist Superboy managed to return to Earth at the end of the story. Unfortunately I was unable to find any reprint information on this story.
No mention of the silver age Superman would be complete without mentioning the multi-colored hues of kryptonite. Kryptonite was first discussed on this podcast in episode #28, The K-Metal From Krypton http://supermanfanpodcast.blogspot.com/2008/07/episode-28-k-metal-from-krypton.html . This episode detailed the development of kryptonite, from Jerry Siegel's rejected k-metal story to kryptonite's first appearance in the Superman radio show. It first appeared in comic books in Superman #61, Nov./Dec. 1949, published around September 7, 1949, in the story Superman Returns To Krypton. This story was reprinted in The Greatest Golden Age Stories Ever Told and Superman In The Forites. To review the various forms of silver age kryptonite quickly: green k kills, gold k permanently removes a kryptonians super powers, red k causes strange temporary transformations, blue only harms Bizarros, white only harms any form of plant life from any planet, and jewel k was used by Phantom Zone crominals to psychically control people. X-kryptonite ws accidentally created by Supergirl when she researched for an antidote to kryptonite poisoning. the accident gave her pet cat Streaky super powers. In Action Comics Annual #10, March 2007 issue, on sale January 31, 2007, in the story The Deadliest Forms Of Kryptonite, Earth scientists, including Luthor experimented on green kryptonite, creating the various forms mentioned here. They have been used in recent issues of the New Krypton stories in the Superman titles.
After reading Geoff Johns' excellent updates of these silver age creations, I can only conclude that it was these creations from that era that weighed the Superman titles down. Between Mort Weisinger and Julius Schwartz, the two men edited the superman titles for forty years. While there are many excellent stories Superman fans can enjoy, it is also clear, as the 1960's developed, that the events of the time that found their way into the superman stories were seen through the prism of men in their fifties. that perspective sometimes made DC's efforts at "relevancy" as the trend was called in the late '60's, fall flat (the excellent Green Lantern / Green Arrowstories notwithstanding). With the combination of an older audiance and younger editors and creators, these silver age leftovers have been dusted off and given new life. They have been what has made Superman stories as good as they have been in 2008 and now into 2009. Every month I look forward to seeing what the crew of Superman writers and artists will create next.
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My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at http://mypulllist.blogspot.com/ . Send e-mail about this blog to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.
Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
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