Thursday, April 30, 2009

Episode #71: Superman In Exile, Part I, Free Comic Book Day And The State Of Superman Comics!

Pardon the long title, but I have a lot to cram into this episode. First of all is the beginning of our look at the Superman In Exile storyline from 1989, which lasted for fifteen issues of Superman, Adventures Of Superman and a few issues of Action Comics. I'm not sure how many episodes it will take; I might be able to combine a few issues into one episode. These will not be done in consecutive episodes, because in June will be a month of episodes on various comic book creators who have June birthdays, and July and August will be a number of episodes titled, "An Imaginary Summer", on various "imagingary" Superman stories.

The Exile stories were collected in the trade paperback Superman: Exile, still in print by DC Comics, and can be ordered by an on line vendor or your local comic book shop. For a complete checklist of these stories go to the previous blog entry titled Superman Fan Podcast Special Blog: Superman In Exile Checklist! That way you can enjoy these stories for yourself before you listen to this episode, because these episodes will explore the plot in detail.

If you are listening to this episode before Saturday, May 2, 2009, that is Free Comic Book Day. Visit a local comic book store to see the specially marked free comics available from various publishers. For a complete list of the titles with the Free Comic Book Day banner go to . Bookmark this web site because next year it will have the 2010 FCBD date and list of free titles. The free titles change from year to year among the various publishers who participate.

Two local comic book stores that will have special promotions on Saturday close to my Eustis, Florida home. Action Games and Comics in Clermont, Florida will have master comic book artist George Perez from 1:00 p. m. to 5:00 p. m. Perez sketches will cost $50.00. The store address is 782 W. Montrose St., Clermont. Its my space page is .

My comic book store, Acme Comics of Longwood, , will have Christian Slade, writer and artist of Korgi, published by Top Shelf Productions, and Art Baltazar, co-writer and artist of his own titles Patrick The Wolf Boy and Gorilla, Gorilla, as well as DC's Tiny Titans. They will also have balloon art and super hero face painting for children, as well as in store sales on comic book back issues and other titles.

At the end of this episode, for Free Comic Book Day, I will give my State Of Superman Comics opinions, and thoughts about how Superman fans who come from the various movies, cartoons and TV shows can introduce themselves to comic books, even if they aren't interested in super hero comics.

Superman In Exile began with Superman #28, Feb. 1989, published on Dec. 20, 1989. The cover, titled Superman In Space, was pencilled by Kerry Gammil and inked by Dennis Janke. The story was written by Roger Stern, pencilled by Kerry Gammil, inked by Brett Breeding, lettered by John Costanza and colored by Glenn Whitmore. Renee' Witterstatter was the assistant editor on the Superman titles, which were edited by Mike Carlin, now DC Comics' Executive Editor.

On the splash page Superman stood on a small asteroid, taking one last look at Earth. As he reminisced about how he got there we got a review of the events that led to Superman's self imposed exile. Superman felt he had no choice but to execute a trio of kryptonian criminals who had destroyed all life on the Earth of a pocket universe. After a psychic attack by the Milton Fine Brainiac Superman had developed another personality. When he fell asleeep the dark side of his personality would don another Gangbuster costume and combat crime in a more ruthless manner. The Guardian ripped open this new Gangbuster's costume, revealing the truth to Superman. Feeling he had become a danger to Earth, Superman took one last look at Earth, before putting on his breathing mask and activating the teleporter.

If Superman had left Earth, what about Clark Kent? That question was answered in the next scene when Perry White received a package from Clark Kent mailed from Kansas. Clark had gone into hiding with this first report of his Intergang expose', which Perry understood once he began reading the article. He then ordered a special editon with Clark's Intergang story being the top headline.

Superman made his first hyperjump in this issue, appearing above an alien planet, but a little too close. He was immediately pulled into the planet's atmosphere before he could react, and it took most of his power to keep from crashing into the surface. At first Superman thought he had returned to the barren Earth of the Pocket Universe, but it was just another lifeless planet with an unfriendly atmosphere for humans, complete with pools of mercury.

At the Galaxy Communications headquarters in Metropolis, Galaxy President Morgan Edge read Clark's Intergang expose' with interest, being the secret leader of Intergang. To solve his problem Edge orders a hit taken out on Clark Kent. At the LexCorp building Luthor held the Milton Fine Brainiac, having Dr. Kelly keep him in a drug induced coma. Brainiac becomes conscious long enough to inform Luthor that Superman had left Earth because he could no longer feel his mind.

Superman was still struggling to control the teleporter because he found himself too close to a star. He had to accelerate himself fast enough to escape the star's gravity, and teleported himself away on the hope of absorbing his momentum.

In another part of Metropolis Amanda McCoy was in the offices of down on his luck Private Detective Matthew Stockton. She had hired him to spy on Clark Kent, keeping the reasons to herself. She had first appeared in Superman #2, published in 1986. She led a Luthor project to gather information on all of Superman's known acquaintances in an effort to discover his secret identity. All of the information was fed into a computer, which output the conclusion that Clark Kent was Superman. It made sense to McCoy, for one reason because Clark had never taken a sick day from work at the Daily Planet. Luthor flatly rejected that conclusion. He could not see how anyone as strong as Superman would fein to live as a mere mortal. That Luthor vanity thwarted himself again. After McCoy left his office Stockton began looking for his best set of lock picks.

Superman was finally beginning to learn how to control his teleporter, so that he appeared near a planet, but not so close that he would be imediately yanked into its atmosphere. He found a lush planet filled with alien flora and fauna. Before he could begin to enjoy this new world he saw an alien ship in a crash dive after losing power. Superman rescued the ship and landed it on a clear area outside an alien city, much like his Earth premiere in the Man Of Steel mini-series. Just like on Earth Superman was swamped by alien well wishers. Afraid he would become a threat on this world as he had become on Earth, Superman flew into space hoping to find a habitable planet where he could live alone.

An Intergang hit squad broke into Clark's apartment at 344 Clinton Street, as the story noted, at the same time Stockton broke into the front door. A neighbor across the hall saw a hat and coat and assumed it was Clark unlocking the door to his apartment. As Stockton began searching through Clark's still trashed apartment, Intergang assumed Stockton was Clark Kent and killed him.

In the Superman In Exile episode part II: Adventures Of Superman #451: Dangerous Ground!

Beginning with this episode, on the week of Free Coic Book Day each year, I will give my thoughts on the state of Superman comics, either as the topic of an entire episode or as merely a segment. This year it will be just a segment. This year of 2009 has continued to be the best era of Superman stories, begun last year, in a long time. With the conclusion of All-Star Superman, Superman: The World Of New Krypton has become the top Superman title for me. The establishment of what Kryptonian civilization was like as shown in Kandor is a bonus to the Superman action, as he keeps an eye on Allura and General Zod. Action Comics and Superman continue to be great titles, even though Superman no longer appears there during the New Krypton story. Last year, when news of the present storyline was first released by DC Comics, I was going to drop Action Comics until Superman returned. But when I heard that Nightwing and Flamebird would star in Action, there was no way I was going to drop this title after having read the silver age Superman and Jimmy Olsen versions of Nightwing and Flamebird. And Superman, which had been the weaker title, has gotten better with the Guardian and Mon'El stories.

Upcoming stories look promising, like the apparent Superman on trial, over what will probably be an inevitable conflict with General Zod. I'm also looking forward to Geoff Johns and Gary Frank on the mini-series Superman: Secret Origins, which is expected to introduce, if the proposed cover art is to be believed, a Clark Kent Superboy, and thus return him to the status of inspiriation for the Legion of Super-Heroes. Johns is also expected to write the new Adventure Comics, which I think will restart the LSH. check and other comic book news web sites for updates.

For Superman fans who come from the various Superman movies, cartoons and TV shows, and who may be interested in exploring comics, I want to conclude this episode with some suggestions on how to begin finding comic book titles that fit your taste. Of course I would recommend Superman comics to Superman fans of TV or movies. The current titles are excellent, and there are many reprint editions available at a wide price range to fit any budget. You can find a list of reprint editions at at their graphic novel page. These editions run from recent stories to golden and silver age stories, so that you can explore every era of Superman stories.

If super hero comic books do not appeal to you, despite being a Superman fan, there are a variety of comic book publishers that publish a wide range of genres. Google "comic book publishers" and you can find them and look at their web sites and find the many titles they publish. There you should be able to find some titles that fit your areas of interest. Next I would suggest visiting a comic book store in your area, if it's convenient. I realize that not everyone lives in an area that is near a comic book store. In that case publisher web sites would be a great resource to find a title. Some post at least samples if not full stories on their web sites. If you can visit a comic store, ask a clerk for assistant. The good stores will take the time to help you. If not, go to another store. There are more great stores than bad ones. Start with your interests in movies and books, and a great clerk will be able to find titles that fit your interest. And you will have a copy you can actually hold in your hands to look at the title and decide if it is interesting enough to buy.

If you are worried about starting to buy a title and decide you don't like it after a few issues or volumes, relax. Just like movies or books, even in a series, you might like some better than others. With comics it's the same. You'll find titles you follow with each new issue or volume, and others that you'll like some storylines but then lose interest with new storylines. If monthly issues don't interest you, there are many graphic novels out there to fit your taste. So go to your comic book store and start having fun!

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at . Send e-mail to .

My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at . Send e-mail about this blog to .

The cover art for Superman #28 used here for educational purposes within the "fair use" provision of the U. S. Code: Title 17, Sec. 107. Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Superman Fan Podcast Special Blog: Superman In Exile Checklist!

Beginning with Superman Fan Podcast episode #71, and for however many episodes it might take, the feature will be the Superman In Exile storyline which ran in the various Superman titles in 1989. I was inspired to look back at this story when DC Comics, during the 2008 convention season, began releasing plot points about Superman leaving Earth, which would culminate in the ongoing New Krypton storyline. While both plots are completely different from each other I thought this would be a great opportunity to flash back to the earlier story. This blog post will list each issue from this story, in case you would like to read it before listening to the podcast episodes featuring them. The story was collected by DC Comics in a trade paperback titled Superman: Exile, published on June 1, 1988. This edition is still in print by DC Comics. You should be able to order it from an on line vendor, or from your local comic book shop.

This checklist will include title and issue number and date, publication date, story title and creator credits.

The editor of the Superman titles during this time was Mike Carlin, and Renee' Witterstatter served as assistant editor.

Superman #28, February 1989, December 20, 1988 Superman In Exile
Cover: Penciller: Kerry Gammil, Inker: Dennis Janke
Story: Writer: Roger Stern, Penciller: Kerry Gammil, Inker: Brett Breeding, Letterer: John Costanza, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Adventures Of Superman #451, February 1989, January 3, 1989 Dangerous Ground
Cover: Jerry Ordway
Story: Writer/Artist: Jerry Ordway, Letterer: Albert Tobias DeGuzman, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Superman #29, March 1989, January 24, 1989 If This Be My Destiny
Cover: Penciller: Kerry Gammil, Inker: Dennis Janke
Story: Writer/Penciller: Dan Jurgens, Inker: Brett Breeding, Letterer: John Costanza, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Adventures Of Superman #452, March 1989, January 31, 1989 Hell Beyond
Cover: Jerry Ordway
Story: Writer/Penciller: Dan Jurgens, Inker: Dennis Janke, Letterer: John Costanza, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Superman #30, April 1989, February 21, 1989. Alone
Cover: Penciller: Kerry Gammil, Inker: Dennis Janke
Story: Writer: Roger Stern, Penicller: Kerry Gammil, Inker: Dennis Janke, Letterer: John Costanza, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Adventures Of Superman #453, April 1989, February 28, 1989 Apparitions
Cover: Jerry Ordway
Story: Writer/Artist: Jerry Ordway, Letterer: Albert Tobias DeGuzman, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Superman #31, May 1989, March 21, 1989 As Good As His Word
Cover: Penciller: Kerry Gammil, Inker: Dennis Janke
Story: Writer: Roger Stern, Plotter: Tom Robert Peyer, Penciller: Paris Cullins, Inker: Dennis Janke, Letterer: John Costanza, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Adventures Of Superman #454 May 1989, March 28, 1989 Wayfarer
Cover: Jerry Ordway
Story: Writer/Artist: Jerry Ordway, Letterer: Albert Tobias DeGuzman, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Action Comics Annual #2, 1989, April 11, 1989 Memories Of Krypton Past
Cover: Penciller: George Perez, Inker: Jerry Ordway
Story: Writer/Penciller: Jerry Ordway, Inker: John Statema, Writer/Inker: George Perez, Penciller: Mike Mignola, Writer: Roger Stern, Penciller: Curt Swan, Inker: Brett Breeding, Letterer: Bill Oakley, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Superman #32, June 1989, April 18, 1989 Gladiator
Cover: Penciller: Kerry Gammil, Inker: Dennis Janke
Story: Writer: Roger Stern, Penciller: Kerry Gammil, Inker: Dennis Janke, Letterer: John Costanza, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Adventures Of Superman #455, June 1989, April 25, 1989 Heritage
Cover: Jerry Ordway
Story: Writer: Jerry Ordway, Penciller:Dan Jurgens, Inker: Art Thibert, Letterer: Albert Tobias DeGuzman, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Superman #33, July 1989, May 25, 1989 Two Destinies
Cover: Penciller: Kerry Gammil, Inker: Dennis Janke
Story: Writer: Roger Stern, Penciller: Kerry Gammil, Inker: Dennis Janke, Letterer: John Costanza, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Adventures Of Superman #456, July 1989, June 1, 1989 Redemption
Cover: Jerry Ordway
Plotter: Jerry Ordway, Scripter/Penciller: Dan Jurgens, Inker: Art Thibert, Letterer: Albert Tobias DeGuzman,Colorist: Glenn Whitmore

Action Comics #643, July 1989, June 8, 1989 Superman On Earth
Cover: George Perez (after the cover of Superman #1, 1939)
Writer/Penciller: George Perez, Inker: Brett Breeding, Letterer: Bill Oakley, Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
NOTE: With this issue Action Comics returned to monthly publication after almost nine months of weekly publication of 42 issues.

I hope this checklist helps you to enjoy the Superman In Exile story from 1989. Just like the current New Krypton story, this older one was a great story about Superman out of his normal element as protector of Metropolis and the Earth. And with Superman gone, there were still lots of things happening back in Metropolis. This was an older Superman story that holds up today.

I don't know if it will take fifteen episodes or less to cover this story, depending on wheter or not I can cover one or two issues per episode. Also, I may take a break for an episode or two if another timely subject of interest presents itself. Thanks for your interest in Superman comics and Superman Fan Podcast.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at . Send e-mail to .

The theme for the podcast is Plans In Motion composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the royalty free music library of the web site .

My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at . Send e-mail about this blog to .

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.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Episode #70: Happy Birthday, Mort Weisinger!

To read more about Mort Weisinger, here are a few books, most still in print, about his life and career in comic books:

Man Of Two Worlds: My Life In Science Fiction And Comics by Julius Schwartz with Brian M. Thomsen, published by Harper Collins in 2000. This book, by Mort's life long best friend, is currently out of print, but can be found at various on line vendors. I found my copy through a vendor selling through

Men Of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters And The Birth Of the Comic Book by Gerard Jones, published by Basic Books in 2004.

Superman: The Complete History by Les Daniels, published by Chronicle Books in 1998.

Curt Swan: A Life In Comics by Eddy Zeno, published by Vanguard Productions in 2002.

Also, here are a few on line articles about Mort Weisinger you might find interesting:

And an interview with Mort Weisinger:

Mort was born Mortimer Weisinger on April 25, 1915, and in 2009 his birthday falls on Saturday. He died on May 7, 1978 at the age of 63, about a month before I graduated from high school. Mort was born in the Washington Heights area of New York City and grew up in the Bronx. His father worked in the garment industry, something in common with many of the early comic book pioneers, along with having a Jewish heritage, as detailed in Gerard Jones book Men Of Tomorrow.

His early interest in science fiction ws inspired by the August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories, which also had a similar effect on other comic book pioneers, such as Julius Schwartz, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and future science fiction editor Forrest J. Ackerman (who died earlier in 2009). Mort, along with Julius and Forrest, founded one of the first science fiction fan magazines, or fanzines, titled The Time Traveler. Julius Schwartz was listed in the credits as Managing Editor, Mort as Associate Editor and Forrest Ackerman as Contributing Editor. According to Julius Schwartz' autobiography the magazine consisted of six mimeographed pages and premiered on January 9, 1932. The contents included a biography of an early science fiction writer Capt. S. P. Meek, a brief interview with someone named Bob Olsen, a list of science fiction films by Forrest J. Ackerman, the first installment of The History Of Science Fiction by Mort, a contest, an article about the details of Otis Adelbert Kline's story The Planet Of Peril, an article describing a visit to the offices of the magazine Weird Tales by letter writer Jack Darrow and news items about science fiction writers and future stories.

One of their subscribers was Jerome Siegel of Cleveland. He was inspired to publish his own fanzine with his best friend Joe Shuster titled Science Fiction, which was published in January 1933. Jerry wrote the stories under a number of pseudonyms combining various realitives names, with Joe supplying the art. One of the stories would be titled The Reign Of The Superman, an early attempt in the development of their most famous character. This early story portrayed Superman as a bald villain, a concept that would also find a home in the final published Superman concept.

Mort attended New York University and edited the college newspaper and magazine, but left before earning enough credits to graduate. In 1934 Julius and Mort used their familiarity with science fiction writers and magazines to found the first literary agency specializing in the science fiction and fantasy genre, Solar Sales Service. They charged a 10% commission, 15% for British sales. Their first client was Edmund Hamilton's 7,000 word story Master Of The Genes, which was bought by Wonder Stories for $35.00, or 1/2 cent per word. Hamilton even clipped a dollar bill to the manuscript for Julius and Mort's reading fee. They would split a $3.50 commission. Their business became a quick success when they proved they could get stories published and keep writers earning a living by writing science fiction.

Weisinger would leave the agency in Julius' hands when he became editor of Standard Magazine's Thrilling Wonder Stories. The old Wonder Stories editor Hugo Gernsback had sold the out of business magazine to Standard. Mort inquired who the editor of the retitled magazine would be. When he was told by Standard that it would be the old editor of Wonder Stories, Mort asked why they thought the old editor would make the new magazine a success when his old one failed. When asked who he thought would be a better choice Mort recommended himself and was hired. Weisinger was never afraid to climb over people's back to get where he wanted in life. Mort would edit a range of pulp magazines, not limited to the science fiction genre.

Seeing the end of the pulps coming, Mort would be hired by National Comics, later DC, in 1941. During WWII he would serve in Special Services, writing scripts for a U. S. Army radio show in New York City. In 1943 he married Thelma Rudnick. They would have two children, Joyce and Hendrie. Julius Schwartz would join Mort at National in 1944 after the science fiction market dried up. He was classified 4-F, unfit for duty because of his bad eyesight. Mort returned to National Comics in 1946 after his military discharge and would take over as editor of the Superman titles. He would eventually wrest control of Superman from Siegel and Shuster, a process that had already begun. National Comics had hired writers to produce scripts directly for them, esoecially during Jerry's military service, bypassing Siegel and Shuster's Cleveland studio, as the demand for Superman stories increased.

The Weisinger era of Superman stories would become known for the development of a large supporting cast and a complex world. Superman had become powerful beyond belief, and so developing stories that expanded the details about Superman's world and of his home planet Krypton became common. It was easier than trying to create a new way to challenge Superman, which was harder and harder to do. Part of this problem was solved by the creation of the various forms of kryptonite, especially red kryptonite. Red k was used almost as often as green kryptonite in stories because red k would never affect Superman the same way twice and the effects were temporary. Superman would be challenged but would not be in serious danger in stories increasingly aimed at young children because of National's conservative editorial policy. This era of Superman stories is among the most popular of silver age readers, including myself.

The flip side of Weisinger's guidance were a lot of silly stories, many of which involving red k, of strange transformations of Superman or some members of his supporting cast, and of the tradition of Lois constantly trying to discover Superman's identity, which had begun in the earliest Superman stories. Mort claimed to talk to neighborhood children about what they wanted to see in Superman stories, and used their ideas to create new Superman stories. Of course Mort wouldn't give anyone else credit for these plots. He also unknowingly, for a while, employed an underage teen, Jim Shooter, to write some of the most popular stories of the Legion Of Super-Heroes. Mort was known to reuse stories from time to time. Wikipedia gave an example of a 1950's story about Superman meeting an alien that he thought might be his brother, which was modified to become a 1960's story involving Superboy's first meeting with Mon-El.

Weisinger was known to have a dark side, which was all too evident to the writers and artists who worked for him. Gerard Jones in his book Men Of Tomorrow tells of writers bringing Mort story ideas. Mort would reject them and give his own. The next writer would present his ideas, which Mort rejected and then give the idea from the first writer as if it were his originally. Mort would later tell his publisher that he had to constantly give his writers story ideas. Jones told another story where Mort once told Jerry Siegel, after skimming a new script, that he needed to use the tiolet and asked if he could take the script with him to use for toilet paper. Curt Swan left the comic book industry for a number of months because the stress of dealing with Mort gave him stomach problems. Curt returned because the money was better in comics, and solved his stomach problems by learning to stand up to Mort. Jim Shooter told a story of witnessing Mort berate and torture his assistant editor E. Nelson Bridwell, who we highlighted in episode #57. These anecdotes can be found in the on line articles listed at the beginning of this episode. Mort's son Hendrie was quoted in The Comics Journal #287, Dec. 3, 2007, that once a year he could skip school and go to DC's offices with a friend. There they would look at comic book pages, watch his dad berate a writer or artist, and then his dad would take he and his friend to a Yankee game. What Weisingers found entertaining.

Julius Schwartz wrote in his autobiography that one time Mort made him mad with another of his tall tales and he told Mort that he would engraved on his tombstone, "Here Lies Mort Weisinger - As Usual."

An attorney and comic book fan who appeared on the Comic Geek Speak podcast episode #411: Superman On Trial said that Mort's treatment of his employees and creators probably would not be legal today.

Gerard Jones also chronicled that Mort claimed to have an inferiority complex toward Superman and needed regular sessions with a psychiatrist. It could be true or it could be another tall tale. In either case it is another example of Mort's conceit.

Mort was not only involved with the Superman character for National (DC). Early in his comic book career he co-created several characters as a writer, two of which are around today. He first created Johnny Quick with artist Chad Grothkopf, who premiered in More Fun Comcis #71, the September 1941 issue, which was published around July 24, 1941. Johnny Quick gained super speed by reciting the formula, or magic word "3X2(9Yx)4A". Two more Weisinger co-creations would appear in More Fun Comics #73, the November 1941 issue, published around September 25, 1941. Aquaman was co-created with artist Paul Norris, and Green Arrow, with his sidekick Speedy was co-created with artist George Papp.

Mort Weisinger lived in Great Neck, New York when he died on May 7, 1978. He was an important figure in the history of Superman comic books, who too often was a real life villain to the many creators who worked for him.

Next episode: Superman In Exile, Part I!

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at . Send e-mail to .

The theme music for this podcast is Plans In Motion composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the royalty free music library found at .

My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at . Send e-mail about this blog to .

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Episode #69: Superman Goes Gangbusters!

This episode is the second and final prequel to our look at the Superman In Exile storyline from the early 1990's, which will begin in the next few episodes. To listen to the other prequel episode go to episode #66: Superman In The Pocket Universe!

Gangbuster, the super hero identity of Jose Delgado, was a supporting character in Superman stories for a while in the late 1980's to the early 1990's. He appeared in the various Superman titles beginning with Adventures of Superman #428, the May 1987 issue. Delgado/Gangbuster was involved in various plotlines until Adventures of Superman #500, the early June 1993 issue. If you are interested in learning about all of Jose Delgado's aka Gangbuster's appearances go to the web site and do a character search for Jose Delgado. That list served as a guide for me to go through my Superman comics collection to find out about Jose's career as a Metropolis crime fighter. Gangbuster's connection to the Superman In Exile story will be made apparent later.

Jose Delgado was a high school teacher and former boxer who tried to mentor Jerry White, Perry's son, during his troubled high school years. He was born and grew up in Metropolis' Suicide Slums. Jose first appeared as Gangbuster in Adventures Of Superman #434, the Nov. 1987 issue, to help stop increased gang activiity in the area. Lex Luthor was secretly arming street gangs through mobster Jay Falk. Gangbuster helped Superman foil the plot. During this issue Luthor mentioned a "Project Synapse". More about this project would be revealed in later issues.

During this time Jose began having a relationship with Lois Lane. At first she was only interested in him as a story about his efforts to help the youth in Suicide Slum. When an armored individual attacked the movie theater they were at, Jose slipped away from Lois, changed into Gangbuster and attempted to stop the attacker who would come to be known as Combattor. Jose was severely injured in the battle. Combattor was finally stopped by Superman and died at the scene, as if his body was burned out by his increased powers. It turned out that the individual known as Combattor was the end result of a secret Luthor project, Synapse, to create a superman who would do his bidding. It was a success, but at a terrible price for the test subject. After only a short time his body would burn out and he would die, as Combattor did.

Jose was taken to the hospital, where doctors told him his spinal cord was severed and he would never walk again. His relationship with Lois deepened after she helped him settle back into his apartment upon his release from the hospital. Jose would soon be contacted by a company called Advanced Resesrch Laboratories to see if he might be a good candidate as a test subject for an experimental spinal injury treatment. When he met their representatives, including Dr Happersen, who had been revealed as a scientist working for Luthor (but not to Jose), at their offices Jose learned that the treatment was a computer microchip that would connect the severed neveres of his spinal cord and allow him to walk again. Lois became concerned when she learned that A. R. L. was a wholly owned subsidiary of LexCorp. (Of course, what isn't a wholly owned subsidiary of LexCorp in Metropolis?) Jose dismissed her concerns. His whole attention was focused on walking again.

Around this time Gangbuster began appearing again, but Inspector Hendersom of the Metropolis P. D. did not believe it was Jose, in his present condition. He had figured out Gangbuster's true identity, but it was unclear if he had informed anyone else on the police force. The Inspector did question Jose for any information about this new copycat Gangbuster, but Jose had no idea who it was. The police did mount an undercover sting to net this new Gangbuster, but he proved too agile and fast for them, escaping over a dead end alley.

Jose would have the experimental surgery, and he revealed to Lois he could walk again, although very haltingly at first until the microchip could be fine tuned to his nervous system. Lois's concern about A. R. L. would be a contentious point between them.

The Guardian became involved in the search for this new Gangbuster. He found Gangbuster, but the battle knocked him into the river where Superman rescued him. Guardian would later find Gangbuster again, and this time, during the battle, Guardian slashed the front of Gangbuster's costume, revealing a shocking secret to the Guardian at the end of Superman #27, the Jan. 1989 issue. On the opening page of Adventures Of Superman #450, the Jan. 1989 issue, this new Gangbuster was revealed to be none other than Superman. The stress and guilt from his actions in the Pocket Universe, combined with the after effects of the psychic attacks during recent battles with the Milton Fine Brainiac, caused Superman to develop another personality. When he fell asleep he would don his Gangbuster outfit and battle criminals in a rougher manner than Superman would. Afraid he had become a threat to the city he had sworn to protect, Superman gathered a breathing apparatus and a teleporter from Emil Hamilton and S.T.A.R. Labs. After saying goodbye to his parents and Lana, Superman left Earth. Our look at Superman's exile will begin in the next few episodes.

The disagreement between Lois and Jose over ARL came to a head just before his next appointment with them. Lois was still concerned about what their price would be for their benevolence to Jose. He would find her fears well founded. At their offices Jose was met by Luthor himself, who demanded that Jose don a suit of LexCorp armor. When Jose refused Luthor signalled Happersen who activated a machine which gave Luthor control over Jose's physical movements through the implanted chip. Jose put on the armor against his will and Luthor sent him to pay a "visit" to Prof. Emil Hamilton. The suit came equipped with a holographic projector that would show Jose walking down the street wearing a simple LexCorp Security uniform.

Jose attacked Prof. Hamilton at his home lab, but Emil was more than a match for Luthor. He lured Jose into a certain area and activated a force field, which cut off the signal from Luthor and Jose's ability to walk. Prof. Hamilton was able to remove the explosive charge from Jose's suit (Luhor is nothing if not thorugh), and Jose used this armored suit as his new high tech Ganbuster costume.

Jose put his new armor to the test against Turmoil, an Intergang weapon controlled by Morgan Edge. He used Turmoil to go after the Daily Planet reproters who were writing exposes on him. Jose was seriously injured in his battle with Turmoil, and he and Lois were trapped in a collapsed building. Superman had returned from his exile at this point and destroyed Turmoil. He was able to follow some invisible trail to Morgan Edge, who had a heart attack and was later arrested after he left the hospital.

Delgado was not as seriously injured as he was in the fight against Combattor. He only needed a week in the hospital to recover, and was not handicapped in any way from his latest injuries. However, once he left the hospital he realized that Lois still had feelings for Superman and so he ended his relationship with her. His reward for his battle against Turmoil was to become unemployed and evicted from his apartment. He did find a new job as a bodyguard for Cat Grant, hired by her ex-husband to protect her and their son Adam. The reason for this was because it had been revealed that Cat was the Daily Planet's hidden informer in their stories about Morgan Edge. Edge's involvement with Intergang produced two Intergang operatives, Shockwave and Chiller, who knocked out Jose. Chiller used his chameleon powers to change into a double of Jose Delgado and then kidnap Cat Grant for Intergang.

Jose as Gangbuster joined Superman and Batman, who together found Intergang's secret base where they held Cat. The trio of heroes were able to stop Intergang from brainwashing Cat Grant and making her an unreliable witness for Morgan Edge's trial. Jose and Cat would later develop a romantic relationship for a short time. In the title The Legacy Of Superman in 1993, Inspector Henderson would issue an ultimatum to Jose. He confirmed that he knew that Jose was Gangbuster, and gave him a bus ticket out of town. The inspector warned Jose that if he didn't leave town the D. A. would file criminal charges, and Jose would be buried in multiple lawsuits.

In Adventures Of Superman #500, the early June 1993 issue, Gangbuster discovered a drug deal in progress. When he pounced on the dealers he found that the police, in hiding, had the suspects surrounded. When the police attempted to arrest Gangbuster, not for any involvement in the drug deal but for his past actions, Gangbuster was able to escape but took a bullet in his right arm. He dove into Hob's Bay and evaded capture. Jose was able to surface farther down on the docks and apparently went to the bus station to begin a new life in another city.

Jose would not appear for many years, until the pages of Trinity #1, the latest weekly title from DC Comics from 2008-2009. He apparently returned as Gangbuster after the kidnapping of Tarot, the character that Jose had been trying to protect. I didn't read Trinity so I have no information avialable other than what was listed on the web site . If you are interested in these latest Gangbuster stories, I'm sure back issues are available, and DC Comics will eventually collect Trinity into trade paperbacks. Check their web site at , as well as the blog and podcast , hosted by Chris Marshall.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at . Send e-mail to .

The theme music for this podcast is Plans In Motion composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the royalty free music library available at the web site .

My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at . Send e-mail about this blog to .

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Episode #68:Happy Birthday, Mr. Mxyzptlk!

Mr. Mxyzptlk's birthday is traditionally on April 1, according to , an appropriate day for him as much as Bizarro, or other jesters among Superman's villains such as Toyman or the Prankster. Of all of Superman's enemies, Mxy (as I'll call him for short) was more mischevious than evil. He has always been a prankster, from the golden age to today, although his appearance has changed over the years, as well as the spelling of his name. Also, even though he has not been an evil nemesis for Superman, he has probably been the most powerful Superman antagonist, since his abilities border on magic in Superman's world.

Mxy made his first appearance in the last story of Superman #30, The Mysterious Mxyztplk, the Sept./Oct. 1944 issue, published around July 5, 1944. He was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and this first story was inked by Ira Yarbrough, under the editorship of Jack Schiff. All of the basics of a Mxy story for decades to come were established in this first story, from the purple derby, to the almost magical pranks he would pull, to his return to his 5th Dimension home after he was tricked into saying his name backwards, Klptzyxm. In his first appearance the bald, impish figure was dressed in a purple suit to match his derby. He gets Superman's attention when he causes mayhem at a Metropolis City Council meeting being covered by Clark Kent and Lois Lane. When Superman appeared, Mxy jumped out of the window to escape the Man of Steel. Superman thought the man had committed suicide until he saw him floating away. When Superman flew after him, Mxy introduced himself and told where he came from. The imp came from the 5th Dimension, and since he comes from a higher dimension he was not bound by our laws of nature and his abilities seemed like magic to us. Mxy described himself as a court jester who peeked into the secret files of one of his world's most brilliant scholars. There He learned two magic words, one that would transport him to our world, which was never given that I'm aware of, and the other, saying his own name backwards, that would return him to his own dimension. During their conversation Superman tricks Mxy into saying his name backwards, in a clumsy way when read today, and the imp vanishes. The ways that Superman would trick the imp to return to his dimension would become much cleverer in future stories. This story was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told HC & TPB and vol. 2.

Also in future stories, the spelling of Mxy's name would change slightly. The t and p would switch, and his name would be Mxyzptlk, instead of the original Mxyztplk afterwards. His attire would change sometime in the 1950's, and I could not pinpoint when or what issue the costume or spelling change occurred. Mxy's costume would be changed to a sleeveless orange futuristic suit with purple trim and boots, as well as the trademark purple derby. He would appear for the rest of the silver age and pre-crisis stories in this costume, as well as a fringe of white hair around a bald pate.

Future stories would explore Mxy's home world of Zrfff. It would first be named in the story Dimensions Of Danger, in Superman #33, March/April 1945, on sale around Jan. 5, 1945, and the story The Mxyztplk-Suzie Alliance in #40, May/June 1948, published around March 8, 1946. Zrfff was ruled by King Brpxz in the first story and Bprxz in the latter. As mentioned in his first appearance, Mxy was the king's court jester. Mxy had a girlfriend, named Gzptlsnz. (Apparently one thinkg that does not exist in the 5th Dimension are vowels for names.) All citizens of Zrfff had the same abilities as Mxy, and looked down on the inhabitants of Earth as primitives. In issue #33's story Lois said Mxy's name backwards and was transported to Zrfff. Superman followed her the same way. they were treated at first as zoo animals until Superman discovered the word that gave him the same abilities as Mxy. Then he turned the tables on Mxy, giving him a taste of his own medicine. To get rid of Superman and Lois, Mxy revealed the word that would return them to Earth. I could find no reprint information on the first story, but the latter story would be reprinted in the Superman In The Forties trade paperback.

In the story Mr. Mxyztplk Seeks A Wife, the first story of Superman #51, the March/April 1948 issue, published around Jan. 7, 1948, Mxy's King, not Brpxz, of the kingdom called Topsy Turvy World instead of Zrfff in this story (continuity not being invented in comics yet), comanded Mxy to marry his daughter, who was too ugly for Mxy. He lied to the king and said he was engaged to Lois Lane. The king gave Mxy a week to marry Lois, or else he would have to marry the ugly princess. Lois agreed to the proposal, if Mxy could prove he was a better reporter than she was. Of course Lois counted on Superman's help to beat Mxy so she wouldn't have to marry him. Because of his magical abilities Mxy defeated both Lois and Superman. Lois agreed to honor the bargain, but during the marriage ceremony Superman tricked Mxy into saying his name backwards and returnig to his world and the doom of the ugly princess. I have not read this story so I don't know how exactly Superman tricked Mxy. I wonder if Superman had Mxy say his name backwards during his vows, such as "I, Klptzyxm, take thee, Lois...". This story was written by Alvin Schwartz and drawn by J. Winslow Mortimer, whom Curt Swan would later replace as Superman artist in the 1950's. I could find no reprint information about this story.

Lois was not the only Superman supporting character that Mxy would cause trouble for. In Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #52, April 1961, published around February 16, 1961, Mxy would fall in love with Lucy Lane in the story Jimmy Olsen, Wolf-Man, The story was written by Jerry Siegel, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. When Lucy rejected Mxy because she already had a boyfriend in Jimmy Olsen, Mxy uses the Wolf-Man potion and his magic on Jimmy to once again transform him into a teen wolf man. to change Jimmy back to normal, Superman had Supergirl, disguised as Miss X, kiss Jimmy, as she did the first time he became Wolf Man. Because of Mxy's magic this didn't work. Superman then has Lois and Lucy Lane, Lori Lemaris and Lana Lang kiss Jimmy. This didn't work either, but Jimmy was one happy wolf man. Mxy's girlfriendMiss Gzptlsnz appeared and kissed Jimmy, curing him. She then tricked Mxy into returning to Zrfff, where she explained that her magic cured Jimmy. By this did she mean it wasn't the kiss itself? That's the kind of thing that will keep Earth scientists awake at night trying to find the answer. I could find no current reprint edtion for this story. It was reprinted in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #122, the Aug./Sept. 1969 issue, published on June 19, 1969.

Superman would once again get a little back on Mxy in Action Comics #273, Feb. 1961, published on Dec. 29, 1960. In the issue's first story, The World of Mr. Mxyzptlk, written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Al Plastino, Mxy's interference forced Sueprman to cancel an appearance at a Smallville orphanage. After he tricked Mxy into saying his name backwards and returning to Zrfff, Sueprman followed him to Zrfff and interfered with Mxy's campaign for Mayor. Mxy got Superman to say his name backwards, "Samrepus", which did not make him return to Earth. After Mxy lost the election Superman said, "Le-Lak", which was Kal-El backwards, out of Mxy's hearing, so Mxy never discovered the name that would send Superman back to Earth. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. II.

Mxy made his first appearance in a Superboy story in Superboy #83, the Sept. 1960 issue, published around July 7, 1960.While Curt Swan and Stan Kaye created the cover featuring this story, which was written by Jerry Siegel, the story was drawn by George Papp. A Kryptonite Boy and Dog chased Superboy and Krypto across the Earth, changing everything they touch into kryptonite. A younger Mxy, with red hair instead of gray, and more of it, appeared and transported the two villains into the 5th Dimension and changed everything that had been transformed into kryptonite back to normal. Mxy revealed his motive was that he wanted to pester Superboy, which he could not do if he were dead or exiled. I'm sure Superboy would come to thank Mxy for small favors. I could find no current reprint editions for this story. Mxy would appear in a number of Superboy stories.

The Legion of Super-Heroes would meet a 30th century descendant in Adventure Comics #310, the July 1963 issue, published around May 29, 1963. In The Doom Of The Super-Heroes, written by Edmund Hamilton and drawn by John Forte, a villain called Mask Man killed the Legion except for Superboy. When Superboy discovered that Mak Man was a descendant of Mr. Mxyzptlk and made him say his name backwards, the Legion members came back to life and only Superboy remembered the Legion's last stand. This story was reprinted in the Legion Of Super-Heroes Archive vol. 2 HC, and Showcase Presents: Legion Of Super-Heroes vol. I TPB.

A more friendly descendant of Mxy would appear in Adventure Comics #355, April 1967, on sale February 26, 1967. The story The War Of The Legions was written by Jim Shooter, drawn by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. The Legion was defeated by the Legion of Super Villains but was saved by two aromored individuals who defeated the evil Legion. they would be revealed as the 30th century descendants of Lex Luthor and Mr. Mxyzptlk, who were good guys. A grateful Legion would induct them as their newest members, but were never seen again in another Legion story. This story has been reprinted in the Legion Of Super-Heroes Archive vol. VI hardcover.

A Bizarro Mxyzptlk would appear in Adventure Comics #286, July 1961, published on May 31, 1961. The cover featuring this story was drawn by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. Bizarro, Private Detective was written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by John Forte. Bizarro #1's son palyed around with the duplicating ray. When he aimed it in space the ray hit Mxy, creating Bizarro Kltpzyxm, who refused to say his name forward to escape. Doing everything opposite from Mxy as any good Bizarro would Kltpzyxm instead took his punishment willingly. This story was reprinted in the trade paperback Superman: Escape From Bizarro World.

The most unusual Mxy story appeared in Superman #349, the July 1980 issue, published April 7, 1980, under the editorship of Julius Schwartz. The cover for The Turnabout Trap was drawn by Ross Andru and inked by Dick Giordano. The story was written by Martin Pasko, pencilled by Curt Swan, inked by Frank Chiaramonte, lettered by Ben Oda and colored by Adrienne Roy. In this story Clark Kent returns to the Daily Planet and finds that the genders of the staff have been switched, and their names accordingly. The kent reporter is Claire Kent, and Superwoman is a separate person. Apparently Mxy did not know Clark's secret identity, with all of his 5-D magic. Clark guesses that Mxy is behind everything when he discovers the reports about Mxy are about a male, not a female imp from the 5th dimension. After he tricks Mxy into saying his name backwards and everything returning to normal, Clark finds a Louise Lane at the Daily Planet offices. But instead of being Lois as a man, it is her cousin instead. I could find no reprint information about this story, but a web site has the enitre story on line at . It's worth it.

Mxy's last pre-crisis appearance was in Action Comics #583, September 1986, published on June 26, 1986, part two of the story Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?. written by Alan Moore, with cover and story pencilled by Curt Swan. Murphy Anderson inked the cover while Kurt Schaffenberger inked the story. At the end of the battle, after some thought, Superman realizesd that Mxyzptlk was behind everything because he was the only villain that had not yet appeared. Mxy revealed himself, looking a lot more sinister than he had ever before. Mxy revealed that he had been mischievious long enough and had decided to become evil, starting with Superman's death. Superman carried Lois to the Phantom Zone room, where he activated the Phantom Zone Projector at Mxy, at the same time Mxy said his name backwards to return to the 5th dimension. Mxy is torn in half, between dimensions, and killed. For breaking his vow to never kill, Superman walks into the gold kryptonite room in the Fortress of Solitude, permanently removing his super powers.

Mxy's first post-crisis appearance was in Superman #11, Nov. 1987, published on Aug. 11, 1987, under the editorship of Mike Carlin. The cover and story to The Name Game was created by John Byrne. In the story a Ben DeRoy takes Lois to lunch, even though she had never met him before. Strange things happen around them, such as, an annoying cigar smoker's hand bursts into flame, Ben and Lois walk on air down the street during a rainstorm but don't get wet. When Ben tires of Lois and fancies a department store mannequin, they switch places. The mannequin comes alive and Lois takes her place and is transformed into one herself. When Superman investigates DeRoy reveals his true form and, after transforming Superman into weird copies of himself (similar to some silver age stories) he types his name on a giant typewriter as Mr. Mxyzptlk. Mxy challenges Superman to make him say his name backwards. After some more Mxy weirdness Superman challenges Mxy to type his name again because he didn't believe that was his name. When Mxy types his name, instead of Mxyzptlk it came out Kltpzyxm. Superman had switched the keys so that the M typed the K and so on. Mxy honored his bargain and disappeared, and everything returned to normal.

Mxy next appeared in Superman#31, May 1989, published on March 21, 1989,during the SupermanIn Exile storyline. This time he dealt with Lex Luthor, who in some ways was more effective than Superman in dealing with Mxy because he refused to play by Mxy's rules. After an issue of typical Mxy craziness Luthor and Mxy signed a contract stating that Luthor would not attack Mxy during the life of the contract. After Mxy signed it, Luthor hit him with every weapon at LexCorp's disposal. When a very singed Mxy confronted Luthor, he simply answered that he lied. Mxy was so outraged that he returned to his dimension. And so Mxy learned to lie.

That would come into play the next time that Mxy returned, in Adventures Of Superman #463, Feb. 1990. Mxy corners Superman and Wally West Flash to race around the world on a course created by him, with lots of suprises during the race. Mxy had said that he would return to his dimension if Superman won, but when Flash barely won, Mxy revealed he had lied. He thought that Superman was a sure bet, so he would leave if the Flash won, and so he did. This story was reprinted in the trade paperback Superman Vs. The Flash, which has an Alex Ross cover.

Mxy would return in Superman #49, part one of the five part Krisis Of The Krimson Kryptonite story. This time Mxy would work with Lex Luthor. He gave Luthor a red rock, callling it red kryptonite. This version of red k would remove Superman's powers, and the only deal was that Luthor could not tell Superman. The story continued in Adventures Of Superman #472, Starman #28, Action Comics #659 and Superman #50. Luthor unwittingly broke the bargain when he told Clark Kent about it during an interview. After being thrown out of LexCorp, Clark's poowers returned. Mxy returned, inside the red k, changing it to look like his face, and challenged Superman to hit Luthor. When Superman refused, Mxy made it easy on him by growing a Luthor skin cell on the rock into a fat giant. superman obliged and Mxy returned to an unnamed but obvious world of the Fantastic Four. This story was reprinted in the trade paperback Krisis Of The Krimson Kryptonite, which is out of print.

The next time Mxy retuned, he decided he would die. In Superman: Man Of Steel #75, titled The Death Of Mr Mxyzptlk, Mxy creates a double of Doomsday, called Bada Bing Bada Boomsday (years before the HBO series Sopranos). He removes his own powers and helps Superman in the fight. After his death Mxy meets the Supreme Being, a caricature of DC Editor Mike Carlin, who sends him back. I could find no reprint information about this story.

As mentioned last episode, Mxy visited the Joker in Arkham Asylum in the Emperor Joker storyline told in Superman #160-161, Adventures Of Superman #582-583, Superman: Man Of Steel 104-105, Action Comics #769-770 and Emperor Joker #1. The Joker tricks Mxy out of most of his poers and creates his own Bizarro World. Mxy would eventualy recover his pwers and retreive a few inhabitants of Joker's world, including the latest version of Bizarro Superman. This story was reprinted in the trade paperback Emperor Joker.

In Adventures Of Superman #646, Jan. 2006, in the aftermath of the Days Of Vengence storyline where magic was removed from Earth, Clark Kent finds a dazed and confused Mxy living on the street like a homeless person. As his memories return Mxy helped Superman find the villain Ruin. Mxy would sacrifice himself by blocking a kryptonite spear with his own body. With what seemed his last breath Mxy said his name backwards and vanished, to the 5th Dimension?

In Action Comics Annual #10, in the story Superman's Top 10 Most Wanted, Mxy is listed as having last appeared on Earth 190 days ago, but no one knows why he hadn't appeared at his normal interval of 90 days.

In Countdown #31, while walking in Zrfff with his girlfriend Gsptlsnx, an unknown person abducts Mxy and vanishes. In issue #23 it is revealed his kidnapper was Superboy Prime, who trapped Mxy in the Source Wall and tortured him in an attempt to restore his home of Earth Prime. Another prisoner, the Earth 3 version of Zatana, used magic to return Mxy to Zrfff. Mxy told Gsptlsnx that he would never go back and that the 5th Dimension needed to be sealed immedialtely. Could this be why Mxy had not been seen on Earth, as referred to in Action Comics Annual #10.

An interesting version of Mxy appeared in All-Star Superman #6, March 2007. One of the future Supermen was Klyzyzk Klzntplkz, the son of Superman Pruple and Quinto-Queen Gzntplzk of Zrfff in the 67th century.

Mxy has appeared in various Superman cartoons on TV, but the only onel I'll mention was in Superman: The Animated Series during the 1990's. He was voice by Gilbert Gottfreid. If there was anyone who was perfect to portray Mxy, it was Gilbert Gottfreid.

The next episode of the Superman Fan Podcast is another prequel to the Superman In Exile storyline, titled Superman Goes Gangbusters!

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at . Send e-mail to .

The theme music for this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the royalty free music library found at the web site .

My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at . Send e-mail about this blog to .

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.

Thanks for listening to this episode of Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Episode #67 Parts I & II: April Fool's, Bizarro!

Bizarro is one of the Superman characters most appropriate for an April Fool's Day episode. He first appeared in Superboy #68, October 1958 issue, published around August 21, 1958. The cover, featuring the Bizarro story, was drawn by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. Otto Binder wrote the first Bizarro story, The Boy Of Steel Versus The Thing Of Steel, which was drawn by George Papp. A Professor Dalton demonstrated his newest invention, a duplicating machine, which could duplicate any solid object. It was not perfected yet, as any duplicate was an inert imitation of the real object. Prof. Dalton accidentally exposed Superboy to the duplicating ray when he tripped over the machine and knocked it over. The machine exploded when it hit the floor, and Superboy shielded Prof. Dalton with his own body. A lifeless, supposedly, copy of Superboy lay on the ground next to them. After dispoosing of the pieces of the destroyed machine, Superboy planned to also dispose of the lifeless copy of himself, only to find thatit had disappeared. It wandered the streets of Smallville, scaring the people with its crude features. Bizarro's only friend was a blind girl named Melissa. Superboy and Bizarro battle each other until Superboy discovered Bizarro's only weakness was the proximity of the metallic scraps of the duplicating machine that created him. At the conclusion of the story Superboy flew toward Bizarro with a piece of the duplicating machine. Bizarro flew toward Superboy in a collision course and disintegrated when the two collided. Something about the shockwave restored Melissa's sight. This story was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told (1987).

The adult Bizarro first appeared in Action Comics #254, the July 1959 issue, published around May 28, 1959. The cover of the story The Battle With Bizarro was also pencilled by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye. Otto Binder also wrote this story, illustrated this time by Al Plastino. Lex Luthor found the old plans from Professor Dalton's duplicating machine and built his own device. Disguising his identity, Luthor was able to contact Superman, who came to his lab. Luthor used the device on Superman, creating a Bizarro Superman. His intention was to use Bizarro as a super powered henchman. Bizarro had other ideas , imprisoning Luthor himself. This adult Bizarro also created terror among Metropolis' citizens with his crude appearance. Bizarro fell in love with Lois Lane, who rejected him. Bizarro used the duplicating machine on himself, creating a handsome version of himself who was as dumb as himself. Lois was tricked for a short time by this handsome imposter. The story ended with Bizarro using kryptonite to keep the real Superman at bay while the handsome imposter wooed Lois. This story was reprinted in the trade paperbacks Superman In The Fifties and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I, and the hardcover edition Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow Archive vol. II.

The story continued in Action Comics #255, August 1959, published on June 30o, 1959. The Bride Of Bizarro was also created by the team of writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino. Lois eventually realized the Superman who wooed her was a fake when his lack of intelligence became apparent, and refused his proposal. Bizarro and the handsome Bizarro battled until the handsome Bizarro was destroyed. The original Bizarro battled Superman to impress Lois. To stop the battle between two evenly matched opponents, Lois used the duplicating machine on herself to create a Bizarro Lois. The Bizarro couple feel in love and left Earth to find a place to live where they would not be feared. This story was reprinted in Superman In The Fifties and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I.

Action Comics #263 continued the saga of the Bizarro couple. The cover featuring the story The World Of Bizarros was also drawn by the team of Curt Swan and Stan Kaye. Once again Otto Binder wrote the story, but this time the art was done by penciller Wayne Boring and inker Stan Kaye. Bizarro Superman and Bizarro Lois found an uninhabited planet with the ruins of a civilization. He used the abandoned technology to create his own duplicating machine, with which he repopulated the world with Bizarro Supermen and Loises. In time Superman discovered the planet, which the inhabitants called Htrae, which is Earth spelled backwards. In fact, the inhabitants did everything backwards, such as serving dessert first, lumps of coal were more valuable than diamonds, they watched the negatives of films, their welcome mats said "scram", their cars had square wheels, and they filled their tubs with dirt for baths. When Superman repaired some rundown homes, he was arrested for breaking the Bizarro Code. It stated, "Us do opposite of all earthly things. Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!" Superman was jailed with Bizarros who were imprisoned for thinking and speaking as normal Earthlings, even though they had the same crude facial features as other Bizarros. Bizarro Lois #1, who would be on the jury at Superman's trial, said she could convince the jury to find Superman not guilty if he married her. Superman of course refused, and he was found guilty at his trial. His punishment was to be physically changed into a Bizarro himself, even though he would still think and talk as normal. This story concluded at this point, and was also reprinted in the trade paperback Showcase Presents: Superman vol. II.

Superman's tale on Bizarro World continued in Action Comics #264, May 1960, published on May 31, 1960. The story The Superman Bizarro was once again written by Otto Binder and drawn by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye. In a dream Superman was transformed into a Bizarro and returned to Earth. He wore a disguise to hide his transformation, which was destroyed when he saved a town from an malfunctioning jet, which exploded as Superman carried it at a high altitude. Everyone was afraid of him and thought he had killed the real Superman and was jailed until he could produce the real Superman. After he awoke Superman was taken from his cell to receive his punishment. At the last moment Superman convinced the judge to grant him a repreive so that he could prove his innocence. Superman built a small rocket carrying a satellite, which, once in orbit, returned a picture of a round Bizarro world. When shown proof that they were breaking their own code by living on a round world, the judge released Superman and tore up the anti-perfection law. Not being one to just leave the Bizarros behind, Superman constructed a giant scoop and terraformed the Bizarro World into a cubed shape. This story appeared in the reprint edition Showcase Presents: Superman vol. II.

Since the saga of Bizarro Superman seemed to follow the plot of a Frankenstein movie, after Bizarro Superman and Bride of Bizarro, the next story would have to be The Son Of Bizarro. It appeared in Superman #140, October 1960, published on August 4, 1960. The cover illustrating the story was drawn by the team of Curt Swan and Stan Kaye. The story was once again created by writer Otto Binder and the art team of Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye. Bizarro Superman #1 and Bizarro Lois #1 had a child, but unfortunately for them, he looked like a normal human baby. They tried to keep him secret, but when the citizens of Bizarro World found out, they demanded the baby be destroyed. Bizarro Superman #1 secretly built a satellite and hid his son in orbit, and told the citizens of Bizarro World that the child flew into outer space, which appeased them. But when Bizarro Superman flew into space to retreive his son the satellite had vanished. It had wandered into space and landed on Earth. The boy was found by a couple and turned in to Midvale Orphanage, home of Linda Lee, secretly Supergirl. She recognized the baby's powers and contacted Superman. He built a robot couple who adopted the boy and returned him to the Fortress of Solitude. Superman and Supergirl became foster parents. While doing some chemistry homework for her Linda Lee identity, Supergirl's project exploded. The boy was close by, and when Supergirl checked on him, he had transformed into a Bizarro. Supergirl felt responsible. The baby accidentally exposed Supergirl to the duplicating machine, creating a Bizarro Supergirl. Bizarro Superman #1 discovered his son was on Earth, but Bizarro Supergirl refused to give him the boy. Bizarro returned to Bizarro World and raised an army to invade Earth and retreive his son. To stop the invasion Superman donned a lead suit of armor and used the duplication machine on green kryptonite, creating blue kryptonite. He duplicated enough blue k to keep the Bizarro army at bay. He also used a small piece of blue k on Bizarro Supergirl so he could retreive the boy from her and return him to his parents. All of them discovered another Bizarro couple who lived alone because their baby also appeared normal. In front of everyone this infant suddenly transformed into a Bizarro baby, teaching everyone that Bizarro babies are born looking like normal Earth babies, but in time change to their "normal" Bizarro appearance. At the end of the story Supergirl dies when she accidentally comes too near blue k in space. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. II, Showcase Presents: Supergirl vol. I trade paperbacks and the hardcover Superman: Escape From Bizarro World.

Bizarro Superman and Bizarro World would appear in many light hearted story, supplying many humorous Superman stories during the silver age. Bizarro Superman #1 would make his final pre-crisis appearance in Superman #423, September 1986, published on June 12, 1986. This issue contained part one of the story Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow. At the beginning of the story Superman was returning from a deep space mission for the U. S. government. He returned to Metropolis to find much death and destruction caused by the previously harmless Bizarro Superman #1. When Superman confronted Bizarro, he told Superman that he realized that he was not Superman's perfect imperfect duplicate and decided to remedy the situation. Since Superman came to Earth in a rocket after Krypton exploded by accident, Bizarro came to Earth after destroying Bizarro World on purpose. While Superman never killed, Bizarro killed many people. And since Superman was alive, then Bizarro must be dead. Then Bizarro collapsed because of the piece of blue kryptonite in his hand. Bizarros's last words were, "Hello, Superman, hello." Both parts of the story were reprinted in the trade paperback Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, which is out of print, but the hardcover version is scheduled to be published on Wednesday, July 8, 2009. It was also reprinted in the trade paperback DC Universe: The Stories Of Alan Moore.

The first post-crisis Bizarro Superman appeared in Man Of Steel #5, the mini-series that restarted Superman from the beginning. Issue #5 was published on September 11, 1986. The cover, story and art were created by John Byrne, inked by Dick Giordano, lettered by John Costanza, colored by Tom Ziuko and edited by Andy Helfer. The story, titled The Mirror, Crack'd carried the note "With special acknowledgement to the work of Otto Binder." This story follows elements of the original Superboy story, except the blind girl in this story was Lois Lane's sister Lucy, who was a flight attendant who had been blinded by some unknown chemical during a highjacking attempt. Lex Luthor used a flunkie in a LexCorp battle suit to lure Superman to his Hong Kong headquarters. A Chineses scientist named Dr. Teng used hidden equipment to scan Superman's body down to the DNA level. He used the information gathered to insert into a "bio-matrix" in order to create a Superman clone under Luthor's control. Dr. Teng's analysis of the information gathered led him to theorize that Superman probably came from an alien world. He feared that fact would cause the clone to be unstable. His fears were realized when the Superman clone collapsed moments after emerging from its womb. Luthor ordered the failure disposed of. His employees did not dispose of it well enough, because the bizzare creature flew to Metropolis, where it eventually battled Superman. when he analyzed the dust from Bizarro on his knuckles from his punches, with his microscopic vision, Superman learned that the cells imitated life but were not organic. So Superman and Bizarro flew at top speed toward each other on a collision course. bizarro disintegrated into dust in the impact, and somehow Lucy's sight was restored because of it. This story is available in the Man Of Steel mini-series.

The next post-crisis Bizarro appeared in the storyline Bizarro's World, told in the issues Superman #87, Adventures Of Superman #510, Action Comics #697, the March 1994 issues, and Superman"The Man Of Tomorrow #32 and Superman #88, the April 1994 issues. In these issues Luthor used his top scientist, Dr. Happersen, to recreate Dr. Teng's work to create another Superman clone. This time the purpose was to use it as a test subject to find a cure for a clone disease that afflicted Luthor's own cloned body (the subject of a later episode). This Bizarro escaped and kidnapped Lois, creating his own Bizarro World in an abandoned warehouse. There he purposefully exposed Lois to danger in order to rescue her. Superman rescued her and battled Bizarro, who was eventually recaptured by Luthor's security forces to continue the experiments. superman and Lois attempted to rescue Bizarro from Luthor. While they foiled Luthor, Bizarro died in Lois's arms. This storyline was collected in the trade paperback Bizarro's World.

The current Bizarro, as far as I know, made his first appearance in Superman #160. The Joker stole most of Mr. Mxyzptlk's powers and created a Bizarro Superman and a cubed Bizarro World to live on. The planet boasted a Joker's face on each side. Mxyzptlk rescued Bizarro from that world after he regained his powers from the Joker. On Earth, Bizarro was invited to join the Secret Society Of Super Villains. He challenged Zoom to a race in a funhouse mirror version of the Superman / Flash races. The villains weren't sure which result would convince Bizarro to join their Society, not understanding Bizarro logic. When Zoom became irritated at Bizarro's jagged path and insulted and threatened him, Bizarro agreed to join. Zoom had made a Bizarro friend for life. The trade paperback Emperor Joker collected Superman #160 and #161, Adventures Of Superman #582 and #583, Superman: Man Of Steel #104 and #105, Action Comics #769 and #770 and Emperor Joker #1.

This Bizarro next appeared in Action Comics #855-#857, co-written by Goeff Johns and Richard Donner and art by Eric Powell. Bizarro kidnapped Jonathan Kent and, in a spaceship, took him to a Bizarro World he had created out of asteroids orbiting a blue star. There he imprisoned Pa Kent in a Bizarro version of Superman's Fortress of Solitude, to serve the same purpose to him as Jor-El's memories serve Superman in his Fortress of Solitude. The blue sun had given Bizarro what could only be called Bizarro vision. When he zapped himself or another living creature with the Bizarro vision, Bizarros would emerge from their bodies. He had used his vision power on himself to populate Bizarro World, but they all feared him. Superman foolowed in his own spacecraft and, after battling Bizarro, freed Pa Kent. Pa found that the blue sun gave him super powers, including invulnerability, which came in handy later in the story. When Superman began to repair some of the ruins the people of Bizarro World lived in, Bizarro stopped him, making Bizarro a hero to the people of Bizarro World. In gratitude Bizarro gave Pa Kent a crude Superman costume he had made, and allowed Superman and Pa Kent to return to Earth. This story was reprinted in the Escape From Bizarro World trade paperback and hardcover.

Bizarro returned in Superman #682, issue #6 of the current New Krypton storyline. Clark and Ma Kent find him at Pa Kent's grave. Bizarro's only words are, "Me am happy." He then flies away. Later in the issue Kryptonians would kidnap all of Superman's rogues, including Bizarro, and banish them to the Phantom Zone. In issue #683 Superman would retreive his enemies from the Phantom Zone, to be held at Belle Reeve prison. Bizarro, however, had escaped and has not yet appeared again.

There have been other versions of Bizarro, too many to be mentioned here. I do want to mention several Bizarros from the mini-series All-Star Superman. In issue #4, Bizarro clones were workers at P.R.O.J.E.C.T., an organization similar to Project Cadmus that explored human DNA. In issues #7 and #8, a Bizarro World that had risen from the Underverse, a dimension that exists in extreme gravity, invaded Earth. Bizarros came to Earth like an infection, converting anyone they touched into another Bizarro. When Superman traveled to this Bizarro World to stop this invasion he met Zibarro, a one in a billion Bizarro who thought and acted like a normal human. He had no super powers but did write poetry. He sacrificed his own chances of escaping Bizarro World to help Superman return to Earth before Bizarro World sank back into the Underverse. Superman promised somehow to return to the Bizarro Workd to retreive Zibarro one day. In the Fortress Of Solitude Superman preserved some of Zibarro's poetry.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at . Send e-mail to .

The theme of Superman Fan Podcast is Plans In Motion composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the royaltry free music library found at .

My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at . Send e-mail about this blog to .

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Episode #66: Superman In The Pocket Universe!

Note: The new theme music, Plans In Motion, was composed by Kevin Macleod, part of the royalty music library found at .

The Pocket Universe was a concept established in a number of various DC titles before the post-crisis Superman ventured into it. None of the issues mentioned here were collected in any edition that I could find.

It all began in Cosmic Boy, a four issue mini-series cover dated December 1986 - March 1987, and published from September to December 1986. Cosmic Boy and his girlfriend Night Girl used one of the Legion's time bubbles to travel to "our" then current time of the mid-1980's. They were surprised to find that the news items did not match what 30th century history had chronicled. Eventually they discovered that the Time Trapper was responsible and used the time bubble to travel to the Trapper's citadel at the end of time to battle him.

The Legion next battled the Time Trapper in a story that crossed over the Legion title and the two Superman titles writer and artist John Byrne worked on, Superman and Action Comics. The first three issues of the story were cover dated August 1987, Legion Of Super-Heroes #37, published on May 5, 1987, Superman #8, published on May 12, 1987, and Action Comics #591, published on May 26, 1987. The story concluded in Legion Of Super-Heroes #38, cover dated September 1987 and published on June 9, 1987. The Time Trapper had forced Superboy to become a pawn and attack the Legion. The Legion traveled back in time, but landed in the time of the adult Superman. Superboy trapped both the Legion and Superman, but Superman was able to break free of Superboy's trap and stop him. Superman deduces that Superboy had left an "out" so that the Legion and Superman could escape and eventually regroup with Superboy to confront the Time Trapper as a unified group. The Legion leaves Superman in his own time because his future life is necessary for the Legion to be established in the future. In LSH #38 the climatic battle takes place, with Superboy sacrificing his life to save his Earth, dying in the process.

In the development of the story the Legion discover that the Superboy they visited in the past was not "their" past, but a Superboy living in a "pocket universe" created by the Time Trapper with a stolen second of time. Part of this devleopment was mesh the post-crisis Superman continuity without a Superboy with Legion continuity inspired by the legacy of Superboy. Later DC would attempt to use Mon-El, in his 20th century life, as a replacement for Superboy under the name Valor. With the upcoming mini-series Superman: Secret Origins Geoff Johns and Gary Frank will apparently restore a teen Clark Kent as Superboy in Earth-1 continuity.

The main Superman story involving the Pocket Universe, which would culminate in The Supergirl Saga, began with a two page sub-plot at the end of Superman #16, the April 1988 issue which appeared on December of 1987. A crew from an Antarctic base investigated a heat source in the Antarctic wilderness where there should not be any heat sources. What they found is an unconscious blonde woman dressed in a Supergirl costume, in a pool of melted ice.

In Adventures Of Superman #440, the crew returned to base and examined the alive but still unconscious Supergirl. They figured out that the depth of the ice where they found her meant that she had been buried under the ice for several hundred years. She awakened in Adventures Of Superman #441. The now red haired Supergirl, still disoriented, flew away, knowing somehow that she had to get to Smallville, in Superman #19.

Supergirl reached Lana's farm in Superman #20. When Lana brought the Kents over to meet her, Supergirl was shocked to see the Kents alive. She thought they had already died. At the end of the issue a once again red haired Supergirl followed Superman as he headed toward Metropolis.

The Supergirl Saga was told in Superman #21, published on May 24, 1988, and Adventures Of Superman #444, released on May 31, 1988, both cover dated September 1988, and Superman #22, the October 1988 issue published on June 21, 1988. In Superman #21, Supergirl reveals herself to Superman for the first time. She does not claim to be from Krypton, as her silver age version was, and claims her super powers were given to her by Lex Luthor. Her powers were different from her silver age version. She had a chameleon power, able to change her appearance to resemble anyone (she changes to a twin of Lana Lang). She can generate psycho-kinetic blasts and make herself invisible, even to Superman's super senses. Her memories are still spotty. For instance, she thinks that Metropolis had been one of the first cities destroyed in some battle. When Superman introduces Supergirl to Lex Luthor, she realizes that he is not "her" Lex. Her memories are now clear, and she activates a dimensional teleporter with a touch of her belt buckle. Once on her Earth she introduces Superman to her Lex Luthor, a younger in shape Luthor with a full head of red hair.

Adventures Of Superman #444, with cover and story drawn by Jerry Ordway, opened with Superman grieving at the headstone of Jonathan and Martha Kent, even though they were not his parents. At this point both of his parents were still alive. Pa Kent would pass away at the end of 2008's Brainiac story in Action Comics. This issue was mostly a flashback, revealing why the pocket universe Earth needed Superman. Luthor told Superman how he first came to Smallville at the conclusion of Jonathan Kent's funeral. The parents of this universe's Superboy died of a broken heart after their son did at the end of the LSH mentioned earlier. Luthor had hoped to discuss with Superboy a possible antidote to kryptonite poisoning. He met Lana Lang and Pete Ross, who revealed Superboy's secret identity to Luthor, now that the Kents had all died. They drove to the Kent home, where Luthor discovered, in a secret room, a device that could peer into another dimension. At the other end of the connection, someone who introduced himself as Kal-El's uncle, instructed Luthor on assembling a device that could retreive him and his two friends from a "survivor zone". Once free they destroyed a device and then Superboy's basement lab. They reveal themselves as General Zod, Zaora and Quex-Ul, Kryptonian prisoners of the Phantom Zone, now self-appointed rulers of Earth. Luthor dedicates his considerable intellect to the human resistance. Eventually the three Kryptonians burrowed to Earth's core, allowing seawater to reach the molten core and exploded in steam, stripping the atmosphere from Earth. Only the Smallville base, constructed by Luthor and protected by a force shield, survived the devastation. Luthor would be joined by the familiar names of Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen and Bruce Wayne in the resistance, and by the end of the issue, Superman also.

Superman #22, titled The Price, concluded this story, and John Byrne's tenure on the Superman's titles as well. The final battle on this almost lifeless Earth took place. The Smallville base was destroyed, and Wayne, Queen and Jordan as well. Supergirl seems to have been killed when hit by the twin beams of heat vision of General Zod and Zaora. Luthor cryptically told Superman that the "protomatter" would eventually regenerate itself. He also sent Superman on a desperate mission in a clever way. Superman was intercepted by Quex-Ul who seemed to be stronger than Superman, as was Superboy. It seemed the Kryptonians of the pocket universe were more powerful than Superman. He escapes the attack by burrowing inderground until he reached the ruins of Superboy's lab. Again he was attacked by Quex-Ul, until Superman found what he was looking for, the pocket universe version of gold kryptonite, which he was immune to as well as the other versions of the mineral. Quex-Ul was rendered powerless and Superman used the rubble to construct a prison cell. Superman carried the improvised prison to General Zod and Zaora, as well as the gold kryptonite. Once all of the prisoners were inside, Superman looked for Luthor, who was slowly dying in his wrecked warship. Superman asked Luthor why he didn't use the gold kryptonite at the beginning of the war. Before he answered Luthor revealed that Lana/Supergirl was an artificial life form, modeled after the late Lana Lang, who was an early casualty. She would survive and regenerate, and Luthor asked Superman to take care of her. Then he confessed that his folly was that he wanted the Kryptonian despots to be defeated by the Luthor intellect. Evil or hero, it seemed that the Luthor vanity would always lead to his downfall. Returning to his prisoners, Superman wondered what he would do with them, since they were this world's only survivors. They promise to find a way to regain their super powers and find a way to his Earth. They left Superman no choice, it seemed, but to execute them for their crimes by using the pocket universe version of kryptonite. Superman then buried them on this now lifeless world.

Superman returned to his dimension and world, along with the regenerating matrix, who he named Mae. He brought her to the Kent farm, taking a few minutes to fly alone and gather his thoughts. Looking down on the people below, Superman wondered what they would think of him if they knew what he had just done.

The consequences of his actions would weigh heavy on Superman and eventually lead to his self-imposed exile from Earth. That story is now collected in the edition Superman In Exile, and will be the subject of future episodes of the Superman Fan Podcast.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at . Send e-mail to .

My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book reviw blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at . Send e-mail about this blog to .

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.

Superman WebRing

Superman WebRing The Superman WebRing
This site is a member of the best
Superman websites on the Internet!
Previous SiteList SitesRandom SiteJoin RingNext Site
SiteRing by



Total Pageviews