Sunday, May 24, 2009

Episode #75: "Action Comics" #75 & "Superman" #75!

This special episode of Superman Fan Podcast features the 75th issues of Action Comics and the original Superman title. After this episode, every 25th episode will look at the next milestone. For instance episode #100 will feature Action Comics #100 and Superman #100, and so on. Since I didn't think of this earlier, this episode will highlight the basic story information about issues #'s 1, 25 and 50 of both titles. Thanks to the web sites and for being valuable resources.

Podcast Note: Episode #74 was late being uploaded to the original host sight because of technical problems with the web site itself. I finally got the episode uploaded earlier this week. That episode is also avialable at the gcast feed, at: , and at the internet archive at . Just do a search for Superman Fan Podcast audio files. The episodes will not be in order on the latter two sites because, instead of being listed in chronological order, they are listed, at least on the gcast site, in the order in which they were uploaded. I will keep you posted about the mypodcast site. Meanwhile new episodes will continue to be uploaded to the other two web sites on schedule. Now back to our regularly scheduled podcast.

First of all, let's look at the earlier milestone issues of these titles. Action Comics #1, the June 1938 issue, first appeared on newsstands around May 3, 1938. The original editor was Vincent A. Sullivan. The issue contained 64 pages and sold for a dime. While it was by far not the first comic book published, it was the first big hit, and established American comic books' long connection with the super hero genre, which dominates the American comic book industry today. Most of these early stories were untitled, and according to, were given names for the archive collection.

The first story, Superman, Champion Of The Opressed, a thirteen page story, oddly did not include the first four pages of the original story Siegel and Shuster had done. It did establish the foundation of Superman mythos. After a brief introduction about an orpahn from a dying planet rocketed to Earth, it jumped into the middle of the story, with Superman bringing a murderess to the Governer's mansion with proof of her guilt in the killing of a Jack Kennedy. The Governer issued a stay of execution for the woman who had been convicted of the crime. Superman then stoped a wife beater. Clark reported for work at the Daily Star newspaper (the original name of the Daily Planet newspaper) and asks Lois for a date. On the date Lois was kidnapped. Superman rescued her and left the kidnapper for the police.

The next story was the untitled six page story The A - G Gang starring the character Chuck Dason, a western adventure created by writer and artist Homer Fleming.

Zatara starred in the only titled story in this issue, The Mystery Of The Freight Train Robberies, an occult story done by Zatara creator and writer and artist Fred Guardineer.

A two page text piece, included so that comic books could qualify for better postage rates, titled South Sea Strategy, an adventure story written by Captain Frank Thomas was next.

Stick Mitt Stimson, a four page crime story created by writer and artist Russell Cole.

Marco Polo, in an untitled four page story, appeared in a period story created by writer/artist Sven Elven.

Pep Morgan, The Light-Heavyweight Championship (untitled), a four page adventure story created by writer/artist Fred Guardineer.

Scoop Canlon, The International Jewel Thief, (untitled) a six page adventure story by writer/artist William (Bill) Ely.

Tex Thompson, Murder In England, (untitled), a twelve page adventure story by writer/artist Bernard Bailey.

The Superman story was reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archive vol. I, and Superman Chronicles vol. I. The other stories were collected in a reprint of Action Comics #1, Milennium Edition: Action Comics #1, February 2000.

Superman #1, cover date simply 1939, was published on May 18, 1939. Vincent Sullivan was also the editor on this title originally, which also contained 64 pages for ten cents. The first story contained a reprint of the first Superman story from Action #1, with the missing pages from its beginning included. All of the stories in this first issue were originally untitled but were named when collected into the archive edition.

Superman, Champion Of the Opressed was 18 pages with the missing pages from Action #1 included. It showed how Clark Kent was hired by editor George Taylor at the Daily Star. Superman overheard editor Taylor receiving a phone call from someone with a tip about a mob at the jail. Superman then stopped an attempted lynching and got a tip himself from the intended victim about the real murderer of the crime he and another woman were convicted for, night club singer Bea Carroll. Superman confronted her, and then the issue reprinted the rest of the story from Action #1.

In War In San Monte, untitled, a 13 page story, Clark is shown working for the Evening News paper. Superman took a weapons manufacturer who had been selling to both sides, and forced him to enlist in the army along with a disguised Superman. After facing battle the businessman learned his lesson. Superman then got both generals together, who realized that they had been manipulated and agreed to peace terms. Superman also saved Lois from a firing squad for being falsely accused of being a spy.

Superman Battles Death Underground, untitled, a 13 page story, again with another crooked businessman, this time a mine owner who cut corners on mine safety equipment. After a mine accident victim gave Clark a tip about unsafe working conditions, Superman caused a cave in that trapped the mine owner and his party guests. The owner decided to have a party in the mine to show how safe his mine was. After everyone passed out, Superman cleared a way to safety and the owner reformed.

In the 13 page untitled story Superman: Gridiron Hero, Superman foiled a crooked college football coach who hired ringers for his team to defeated his biggest rival. Superman kidnapped a benchwarmer on the other team who he resembled and earns a spot on the starting lineup. The disguised Superman then singlehandedly wins the game himself. He let the real player into the game at the end so that he could take all the glory for winning the game (so I guess all was forgiven).

Action Comics #25, June 1940 issue, published around April 23, 1940, also had 64 pages for a dime. Whitney Ellsworth was the editor by this point.

The first untitled Superman story was Amnesiac Robbers, written by Jerry Siegel, with art by Paul Cassidy. In this 13 page story, Bank messengers developed amnesia, and the money they were transferring was missing. The culprit eventually turned out to be a hypnotist who hypnotized the bank employees to do his dirty work.

The next story was Enemy Sub starring Pep Morgan, in a six page adventure story drawn by Fred Guardineer.

The Black Pirate starred in the four page period story Captured By Captain Ruff, drawn by Sheldon Moldoff.

The Three Aces appeared in the six page adventure story The Living Statues, written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Chad Grothkopf.

Next was the ten page Tex Thompson adventure story The Kidnapping, written and drawn by Bernard Bailey.

Gardner Fox wrote the two page text only adventure story Message To The Major.

Sheldon Moldoff drew the six page Clip Carson adventure Calero The Rebel Leader.

Zatara starred in the final story of the issue, the eleven page occult story The One Man Crime Wave, written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Fred Guardineer.

The Superman story from this issue was reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archive vol. II, and Superman Chronicles vol. III. There is no reprint information available about the other stories from this issue.

Superman #25, the November/December 1943 issue, was published around September 3, 1943. It contained 56 pages and sold for 10 cents. The editor for this issue was Jack Schiff, and the cover artist was Jack Burnley. The cover showed a boy at a drawing board creating pictures of Superman, with the real deal autographing them and several happy boys behind them with their own autographed Superman drawings. All of the stories in this issue were each twelve pages long.

In the story The Man Superman Refused To Help a Major was implicated as a member of an organization of American Nazi sympathizers. Superman believed the evidence until the major was kidnapped by some of the real members of the organization. Superman rescued him and gathered evidence to clear his name.

I Sustain The Wings was written by Mort Weisinger, a name that would loom large over Superman comics in later years (which was how Mort liked it). Fred Ray drew the story about Clark enlisting as a cadet in the the Army Air Forces Technical Training Command. (During WWII the Air Force was part of the Army. It became its own separate branch of the military around 1948.)

King Of The Comic Books was written by Jerry Siegel, pencilled by Joe Shuster and inked by Ira Yarbrough. Clark and Lois planned a newspaper story about the comic book Geezer, which angered the Nazi's because of how it lampooned them. Superman would rescue creator Henry Jones from an assassination attempt. (Alter Ego issue #79 contained an article about the legend that Superman comic books were banned by Adolph Hitler because he was created by Jews. The article dispels that urban myth and gives some historical context. It should still be available from publisher .)

The story Hi-Jack -- Jackal Of Crime was written by Bill Finger, pencilled by Ed Dobrotka and inked by George Russos. Superman was challenged and outwitted twice by the mysterious thief Hi-Jack. The Man of Steel is challenged a third time over the silver in the vault of banker Jack Jackson. The silver would apparently be robbed but Superman would eventually expose Mr. Jackson as the thief Hi-Jack, who was then arrested.

These stories were reprinted in The Superman Archives vol. VII.

Action Comics #50, the July 1942 issue, was published around May 19, 1942, containing 64 pages for a dime. Whitney Ellsworth was still the editor. All of the stories in this issue were untitled except for the last story which starred Zatara.

The Superman story was the thirteen page The Professional Baseball Player written by Jerry Siegel, pencilled by Leo Nowak and inked by Ed Dobrotka. While traveling, Clark and Lois discovered a very talented baseball player, Stan Doborak, in a small town. Clark convinced Stan to travel to Florida and try out for the Metropolis Ravens during spring training. Stan was turned down by the manager because Clark had somehow angered him. Superman got Stan his chance to make the team, which he did. However, Stan's girlfriend Mabel secretly worked for a gambling racket, (and I assume she tempted Stan to throw games). But Superman exposed both Mabel and the racket, and Stan was able to continue his pro career unhindered.

Next was a one page feature Supermen Of The U. S. Army, a true story which featured Major H. J. Trapnell, possibly created by writer and artist Cliff Young (records aren't complete about creator credits in this era).

Three Aces starred in The Island Where Time Stood Still, a six page adventure story drawn by Louis Caseneuve.

Mr. America was featured in the eight page super hero story Blackmail, written by Ken L. fitch and drawn by Bernard Bailey.

Congo Bill starred in the six page adventure story The Man Of A Thousand Lives, created by writer and artist Fred Ray.

Eric Carter wrote the two page text adventure story Sky Challenge.

Zatara was featured in the last and only originally titled story of this issue, The Case Of The Man Who Could Not Die. This occult story was written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Joseph Sulman.

The Superman story from this issue was reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archive vol. III. There is no reprint information about the other stories from this issue.

Superman #50, the January / February 1948 issue appeared on the newsstands around November 7, 1947 and contained 48 pages for ten cents. The editor was Jack Schiff. Wayne Boring drew the cover, which was inked by Stan Kaye and showed a boy and girl watching Superman standing in the middle of a lion cage while a lion tried to bite his arm.

The first story of the issue was the twelve page story The Task That Stumped Superman, written by Edmund Hamilton, pencilled by J. Winslow Mortimer and inked by George Roussos. Promoter Jasper Hawk staged a contest to find a task that Superman couldn't do. Superman realized that Hawk's scheme was to use the contest to have Superman improve his own property. Superman accomplished each task in a way that Hawk didn't profit. Hawk kidnapped Lois when she discovered his scheme. Superman rescued Lois and Hawk was arrested. Lois won the contest by asking Superman to reveal his secret identity. (It always came to that with Lois, didn't it.)

Next was the twelve page story The Slogans That Came Too True, written by Don Cameron, pencilled by J. Winslow Mortimer and inked by Stan Kaye. The Prankster commited a series of crimes based on exaggerated advertising slogans. Superman is forced to let the crooks go in order to protect innocent bystanders. To trap the Prankster Superman created his own ad. Prankster pulled a robbery based on Superman's ad. Prankster threatened Lois, but Superman rescued Lois and defeated the Prankster.

The third story was The Hunters' Club, a twelve page story written by Edmund Hamilton, drawn by J. Winslow Mortimer and inked by Stan Kaye. Three older sportsmen petitioned to join the exclusive Hunters' Club. After being rejected because of their age they decide to prove themselves by hunting big game. Superman helped them capture three rare animals, a brontosaurus, a mastadon and a sea serpent. When the elder sportsmen return with their catches, club members suspected a hoax and released the beasts. Superman stops a stamped, and after the beasts are recaptured, the three sportsmen are admitted into the club.

There was no reprint information available about the stories in this issue. The Superman Archives and Chronicles have not collected the stories from this issue as of the posting of this episode.

Action Comics #75, August 1944, was published around June 20, 1944. The issue contained 48 pages for a dime. The editor was Jack Schiff, and the cover was pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by George Roussos. It depicted a giant turtle beating Superman to the finish line.

Aesop's Modern Fables was the twelve page Superman story for this issue, drawn by Ira Yarbrough. After the petty crook Johnny Aesop escaped from prison , he began sending clues to crimes, disguised as fables, to the Daily Planet. Superman foiled Aesop's crimes but he kidnapped Lois. Superman learned that Aesop was an honest citizen until he suffered a head injury. After Superman rescued Lois he releived the pressure of Aesop's brain, which resulted in his immediate reformation. (Who knew Superman was a brain surgeon?) Superman put in a good word for Aesop with the court, and Aesop was released. This story was reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archive vol. V.

The next story starred Hayfoot Henry in the five page story The Baseball Barrage, a humorous detective story written by Alvin Schwartz and drawn by Stan Kaye.

Vigilante starred in the ten page western story Blunderbuss Booty, drawn by Mort Meskin.

The next story was the ten page jungle story Frame In Full starring Congo Bill drawn by Edwin J. Smalle, Jr.

Zatara starred in the eight page occult story The Sting Of Death, written by Gardner Fox and drawn by William F. White.

There was no reprint information available for these last four stories.

Superman #75, the March/April 1952 issue, was published around January 4, 1952, and contained 48 pages for a ten cent cover price. The three stories in this issue were each twelve pages long. There was not much story or reprint information available at or

The Prankster's Star Pupil was written by Edmund Hamilton, pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye.

Superman -- Thrill Salesman was written by Edmund Hamilton and drawn by Al Plastino.

The Man Who Stole Memories was written by William Woolfolk and drawn by Al Plastino. In this story Lois suffered amnesia. That was the extent of the story information I could find about this issue.

Next episode: Birthday wishes for artist Wayne Boring!

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at . Send e-mail to . The theme music is Plans In Motion composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the royalty free music library found at the web site .

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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, May 21, 2009

Episode #74: Happy Birthday, Gardner Fox!

Note: The basic information was gathered from the Wikipedia page on Gardner Fox, as well as the geocities web page listed below. The information about the Gardner Fox stories in the titles featured in this episode were corroborated by the website . Reprint information, as always, was provided by .

Last episode featured the comic book writer who ended DC Comics' multiverse. This week features the writer who created the multiverse. Gardner Fox, full name Gardner Francis Cooper Fox, was born on May 20, 1911 in Brooklyn, New York, and died on December 24, 1986. He was a prolific writer of comic books, short stories and novels in a variety of genres. He earned a law degree from St. John's College and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1935. Fox began his comic book writing career in 1937 and worked in the comics industry steadily until the end of the 1960's. During this time he also wrote short stories and novels in a variety of genre's, which he did full time after the end of his comic book writing career, and under a number of pseudonyms. This episode will concentrate on his super hero genre stories. While Gardner Fox wrote for a variety of comic book publishers, he is most famously known for his career with DC Comics, for whom he is credited with writing 1,500 stories (according to ). Throughout most of his tenure at DC, Fox would usually have four stories published each month. Some credit him with about 4,000 comic book scripts in total. Whatever the total, Gardner Fox was a very prolific writer by any definition. At the end of this episode I will include links to web sites that list his many publications.

Fox did not write many stories for Superman or the Superman family directly, except for the many stories involving the Justice Society of America and the later Justice League of America. He did write one Superboy script, for Superboy #20, the June/July 1952 issue, published around April 2, 1952. The title was edited by Jack Schiff, pencilled by John Sikela and inked by Ed Dobrokta. Some criminals stole several dragon teeth from a private collection and publicly plant the teeth in the ground. The teeth grow onto soldiers who then attempt to rob a bank. They are stopped by Superboy, who took them to prison. When two groups of these soldiers are in prison, they work together and break out crime boss Big Boy Talbot. Superboy surmises that the teeth growing into soldiers was a hoax and follows the gang to their secret hideout. He captured them as they attempted to recover their hidden loot and returned them to prison, we assume this time for good. It wasn't the greatest golden or silver age story, but involving a Superman story merited mention here.

Gardner Fox wrote for both companies that would eventually combine to become the DC Comics we know today, National Comics and All-American Comics. His first stories predate the first publication of both Superman and Batman. His first DC story was for Detective Comics #4, the July 1937 issue, published around May 25, 1937. It featured the character on the cover, Speed Saunders. Craig Flessel drew both the cover and the story featuring the character, titled The Mystery Of San Jose Island. Saunders was an adventurer and detective. The editor was Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, who founded what would become DC Comics a few years earlier. Most comics at this time contained about 64 pages, like this Detective Comics and sold for a dime. The characters who also appeared in this issue were:

Cosmo The Phantom Of Disguise

Buck Marshall

Bruce Nelson

Bart Regan, Spy a Siegel and Shuster character

Mr. Chang

Slam Bradley another Siegel and Shuster character.

Speed Saunders and Slam Bradley both premiered in Detective Comics #1, the March 1937 issue, which was published around February 25, 1937. The original wirter of Speed Saunders in Detective #1 was credited as E. C. Stoner, who some conjecture was another name Fox wrote under. But lack of creator credits in this embryonic era of the comic book industry probably makes this improbable to confirm. Gardner Fox would also write stories for characters Steve Malone and Bruce Nelson, who would also appear in Adventure Comics.

Fox also wrote Zatara stories, aobut a magician similar to Lee Falk's Mandrake the Magician, who was the father of present DC character Zatana, for Action Comics. Zatara was created by writer and artist Fred Guardineer and premiered in Action Comics #1 in one of the features behind the main Superman story. Gardner Fox's first Zatara story appeared in Action Comics #8, The Indian Prince, the January 1939 issue, published around December 6, 1938.

Gardner Fox did not just write stories using characters created by others, which he always did very well, but also created his own characters in the golden age, some of whom he would write for again for their silver age incarnations. His first creation was Sandman, Wesley Dodd, with artist Bert Christman. The Sandman's original costume was a suit and tie with a cloak, and a gas mask worn under his fedora to hide his identity and protect himself from the sleeping gas he would use on the villains. Sandman first appeared in New York World's Fair Comics, 1939, published on April 30, 1939, in a Fox / Christman story. Zatara also appeared in this issue in a story created by Fox and creator Guardineer. New York World's Fair Comics would become the precursor to the monthly World's Finest Comics which would run from the golden age to the 1980's. Sandman's first monthly appearance would be in Adventure Comics #40, July 1939, published around June 15, 1939 in a story written by Fox and drawn by Christman. The editor was Vin Sullivan. These stories were reprinted in DC Comics Rarities and Golden Age Sandman Archives each comprised of one volume.

The next highlight of Gardner Fox's career was not on his own creation, but another character, in this case Batman. After Batman co-creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger (whatever DC Comics may say officially about Bob Kane being his sole creator) and early artist Jerry Robinson, Fox made some important additions to Batman lore. In Detective Comics #29, July 1939, published around June 15, 1939, Fox wrote the untitled story The Batman Meets Doctor Death, with art credited to Bob Kane. In the story, Batman was first shown using "choking gas capsules" from his utility belt. Fox also made some other major contriboutions to Batman lore in Detective Comics #31, September 1939, published around August 10, 1939. In the untitled story Batman Vs. The Vampire, Batman first used a batarang and a bat autogyro, an early version of the Batplane. (An autogyro was an actual flying machine that was a plane with what we would now call helicopter baldes on top of it. It was an early design in the development of the helicopter.) This second story was reprinted in the trade paperback The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told. Both stories have been reprinted in the Batman Archives and the Batman Chronicles, both comprising seven volumes.

During the rest of the golden age, Gardner co-created many other characters that are part of DC continuity even today.

The next Fox co-creation was The Flash, with artist Harry Lampert, in Flash Comics #1, January 1940, published on November 10, 1939. The editor was M. C. Gaines, founder of Educational Comics (EC), and father of Bill Gaines, who changed the company to Entertaining Comics and would publish Mad, co-founded with Harvey Kurtzman. The first cover to Flash Comics was drawn by Sheldon Moldoff. The original Flash was Jay Garrick, whose costume resembled the Greek god Mercury. The golden age Flash stories were reprinted in the two volumes of The Golden Age Flash Archives.

Hawkman also premiered in Flash Comics #1, created by Fox and artist Dennis Neville. Carter Hall was the reincarnation of Egyptian Prince Khufu, and Hawkgirl, Shiera Samders, was the reincarnation of Egyptian Princess Shiera. These stories were reprinted in the one volume of The Golden Age Hawkman Archives.

Dr. Fate, Kent Nelson began his career in More Fun Comics #55, May 1940, published around April 2, 1940. Fox created him with artist Howard Sherman. Whitney Ellsworth was the editor. You can read these stories in the one volume of The Golden Age Dr. Fate Archives.

Starman, Ted Knight began in Adventure Comics #61, April 1941, published on March 5, 1941. Fox's co-creator on Starman was artist Jack Burnley. These stories were reprinted in both volumes of The Golden Age Starman Archives.

Gardner Fox's biggest contribution during the golden age of comic books was the introduction of the Justice Society of America in All-Star Comics #3, Winter 1941 issue, published around November 22, 1940. In the first issue Fox worked with artists Everett E. Hubbard, Sheldon Moldoff, Bernard Bailey, Sheldon Mayer, Chad Grothkopf, Howard Sherman, Ben Fluton and Mart Nodell. The roster in the first issue was Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Atom, Sandman, Hourman, Spectre, Dr. Fate and Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt. The membership changed to feature heroes that did not have their own title. When they did earn their own title the became "honorary" members. The earliest issues had an introductory story showing all of the heroes together, with each character then recounting their individual adventures that somehow tied together in some way. Later issues had stories with the heroes working together. The last JSA issue was All-Star Comics #57, February/March 1951, published around December 20, 1950.

In the 1950's Gardner Fox played an equally large role in the silver age, writing a lot of stories for DC editor Julius Schwartz. Fox wrote stories for Schwartz's science fiction anthology titles Strange Adventures and Mystery In Space. Schwartz described working with Fox in his autobiography Man Of Two Worlds: My Life In Science Fiction And Comics. Julius said that Gardner would go to his office on plotting days, usually Monday, at 10:00 a.m. sharp. They would hash out the very detailed plot through the afternoon, breaking for lunch. Then Fox would leave for home to write the story. Julius said that Gardner would never miss a deadline, a reputation shared by my favorite comic book artist, Curt Swan.

Gardner Fox wrote two stories for the first issue of Strange Adventures, August/September 1950, published around June 30, 1950, The Second Deluge, pencilled by Jim Mooney and inked by Sy Barry (who would have a long career on The Phantom comic strip), and Destination Moon, drawn by Curt Swan and inked by John Fischetti. This story was an adaption of the science fiction movie by the same name, according to . There is one volume of the reprint edition Showcase Presents: Strange Adventures.

Fox also contributed two stories for Mystery In Space #1, the April/May 1951 issue, published around February 9, 1951. The first was The Mind Robbers, pencilled by Howard Purcell and inked by Joe Giella, and Spores From Space drawn by Frank Frazetta, who was credited with eighteen stories for DC Comics on .

A sicence fiction hero, Adam Strange, premiered in Showcase #17, November/December 1958, published around September 23, 1958. The Gardner Fox story was pencilled by Mike Sekowski and inked by Fraank Giacola and Joe Giella. Adam Strange would become a regular feature in Mystery In Space #53, August 1959, published around June 4, 1959. This Fox story was pencilled by Carmine Infantino and inked by Bernard Sachs. Adam Strange stories have been collected in the three volumes of The Adam Strange Archives and one volume of Showcase Presents: Adam Strange.

A new team up of the DC Comics super heroes premiered in The Brave And The Bold #28, February/March 1960, published on December 29, 1959, featuring the Justice League of America. The heroes featured were Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow and Aquaman, with the annoying teen sidekick Snapper Carr. Starro The Conquerer was written by Fox, pencilled by Mike Sekowski and inked by Murphy Anderson. The JLA received their own title with Justice League Of America #1, October/November 1960, published on August 25, 1960. The issue itself was not numbered, and the iconic cover was drawn by Murphy Anderson. It featured the villain Despero playing the Flash in chess, with the chess pieces being duplicates of the JLA. Green Lantern was disappearing as the Flash moved his piece. Mike Sekowski drew the Fox written story, which was inked by Bernard Sachs.

Julius Schwartz recounted a story about the origin of Superman's and Batman's involvement with the Justice League, in his book. Jack Schiff and Mort Weisinger, editors of Batman and Superman respectively, did not want them used in the JLA title. They thought their characters would be overexposed. One day Schwartz went to the publisher (Jack Liebowitz?) to ask permission to use Superman and Batman on JLA covers. When the publisher asked Schwartz why he wasn't using them already, Julius answered that Weisinger and Schiff didn't want them in the JLA. The publisher was furious and said to tell them that Superman and Batman belong to DC Comics, not Mort Weisinger and Jack Schiff!

Fox's first silver age Flash story was in Flash #117, December 1960, published on October 20, 1960. The Madcap Inventors Of Central City was pencilled by Carmine Infantino and inked by Joe Giella. The multiverse first appeared in Flash #123, September 1961, published on July 20, 1961. Flash Of Two Worlds, teaming the Barry Allen Flash with Fox's co-creation Jay Garrick Flash was drawn by the Infantino - Giella team. The multiverse would grow to become the foundation of the DC Universe until the mini-series Crisis On Infinite Earths.

Gardner Fox was also involved with Julius Schwartz's silver age resurection of super heroes. He introduced the silver age Hawkman in The Brave And The Bold #34, February/March 1961, published on December 29, 1960, with cover and story drawn by the great Joe Kubert. In keeping with the science fiction interest of issue editor Julius Schwartz, the silver age Hawkman was from the planet Thanagar. His Thangarian name wsa Katar Hol, Carter Hall on Earth, with his wife Shayera Thal, Shiera Hall on Earth. Hawkman received his own title with the April/May 1964 issue, published on February 20, 1964, in two stories written by Fox and illustrated by Murphy Anderson. His first series lasted 27 issues. There are two volumes each of the reprint editions The Silver Age Hawkman Archives and Showcase Presents:Hawkman.

The silver age Atom was also more of a science fiction character than his golden age predecessor. Ray Palmer, the silver age Atom, was a physicist who could shrink to almost any size with the help of the white dwarf star fragment in his special belt. He premiered in Showcase #34 September/October 1961, published around July 27, 1961. He received his own title with the June/July 1962 issue, published on April 24, 1962, written by Fox and art by penciller Gil Kane and inker Murphy Anderson. With issue #39 it became Atom & Hawkman. The Atom stories have been reprinted in the two volumes of both The Atom Archives and Showcase Presents: The Atom.

Gardner Fox returned to Batman in 1964 with Batman #165, August 1964, published around June 4, 1964. The Man Who Quit The Human Race was pencilled by Sheldon Modoff and inked by Joe Giella. Continuing his reputation of resurrecting golden age characters for the silver age, Fox brought back two minor golden age Batman villains and made them permanent fixtures of Batman's modern rogues gallery.

The first Batman villain Fox reintroduced was the Riddler. He had made only two golden age appearances. the first was in Detective Comics #140, October 1948, published around August 20, 1948. The Riddler, Edward Nigma, was created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang. J. Winslow Mortimer drew the cover. The Riddler was written by Finger, drawn by Sprang and inked by Charles Paris. Riddler's second and last golden age appearance was in Detective Comics #142, December 1948, published around October 22, 1948. The cover and story for Crimes Puzzle were drawn by Dick Sprang and inked by Charles Paris.

Fox brought back Edward Nigma in Batman #171, May 1965, published on March 4, 1965, again under the editorship of Julius Schwartz. The cover was pencilled by Carmine Infantino and inked by Joe Giella. Sheldon Moldoff drew The Remarkable Ruse Of The Riddler which was inked by Giella.

Scarecrow, Dr. Jonathan Crane premiered in World's Finest Comics #3, Fall 1941, published around August 15, 1941, edited by Whitney Ellsworth. The cover artist was Fred Ray. It showed Batman at bat, Robin as the catcher and Superman as the umpire. Scarecrow appeared in the eleventh and final story The Riddle Of The Human Scarecrow, created by writer Bill Finger and credited artist Bob Kane. The story was inked by Jerry Robinson. Crane's second and last golden age appearance was in Detective Comics #73, March 1943, published around January 26, 1943. The cover pencils were credited to Bob Kane and inked by Jerry Robinson. The Scarecrow Returns was written by Don Cameron, pencilled by credited artist Bob Kane and inked by Jerry Robinson.

The silver age Scarecrow first appeared in Batman #189, February 1967, published on December 6, 1966 and edited by Julius Schwartz. The cover and story for Fright Of The Scarecrow were pencilled by Carmine Infantino and inked by Joe Giella.

These silver age stories have been collected in the two volumes of Batman: The Dynamic Duo Archives and the four volumes of Showcase Presents: Batman.

Gardner Fox's last regular DC stories were two for Green Lantern #67, March 1969, Green Lantern Does His Ring Thing and The First Green Lantern. He wrote an Adam Strange story for Strange Adventures #226, September/October 1970 The Magic Maker Of Rann and The Day The Earth Screams in Justice League Of America #97, March 1972. Back in 1968, Fox, along with other long time creators including Bill Finger, Arnold Drake and John Broome asked DC for better benefits. They were turned down. Work slowly dried up for them. They felt DC cut them off because of their request. DC editors, including Julius Schwartz, denied it of course. They claimed the older talent weren't as sharp as they had been, and the younger upcoming talent were better. DC at that time wasn't known for the greatest treatment of their talent, but it's probably impossible to confirm which was the case. I do find it hard to believe, just by the later production of Fox alone, that some or most of the older writers couldn't adapt to the changing style of comic book stories. Gardner Fox, with his 1,500 DC stories, is second to Robert Kanigher's 2,645 writer credits.

Fox would do some stories for other comic book publishers, including Marvel, Warren's Creepy and Eerie and Eclipse. He concentrated on his variety of novels and short stories in a variety of genres and under a number of pseudonyms.

He donated a large portion of his personal papers to the University of Oregon, which served as the foundation of their Gardner Fox Collection. Fox belonged to a number of literary organizations. His favorite pro sports teams were the Mets and the Jets, and he had season tickets to St. John's games.

Gardner Fox died on Christmas Eve in 1986. He was survived by his wife Lynda, children Jeffrey and Lynda and four grandchildren.

In 2007 he was one of two recepients of the Bill Finger Award for comic book writing.

The Justice League animated sereis dedicated the two-part episode Legends to Gardner Fox. Three DC characters carry Gardner's name: the Atomic Knight Gardner Gayle, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, and Watchmen character Nelson Gardner, aka Captain Metroplois, was named after DC editor and writer E. Nelson Bridwell and Gardner Fox.

For more about Gardner Fox's comic book career:

To learn more about Gardner Fox's novels:

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Episode #73: Happy Birthday, Marv Wolfman!

Thanks to the web sites , , and for being valuable resources for this episode.

Marv Wolfman was born on May 13, 1946, which in 2009 makes him 63 years old. Many happy returns of the day to you, Marv! He is known for his very long and prolific career in comic books, as well as TV and animation. Marv worked for a variety of comic book publishers beyond DC and Marvel, from Warren's horror titles to Disney's Duck Tales. He attended the New York School Of Art and Design. Before he began his professional writing career, Marv was active in fandom, publishing his own fanzines. A young Stephen King published first published his story In A Half World Of Terror in Wolfman's horror fanzine Stories Of Suspense #2, 1965.

Marv began his comic book career at DC Comics in 1968, writing for a variety of titles. His first Superman story appeared in Superman #248, February 1972, published on December 16, 1971 and cover priced 25 cents (ah, the good old days!). He wrote the back story All In The Mind for the feature World Of Krypton, drawn by Dave Cockrum. This story was reprinted in the trade paperback Superman: The World Of Krypton trade paperback. In House Of Mystery #83, an anthology title, the nost Abel mentioned that the next story was told to him by "a wandering wolfman". DC editors thought that the Comcis Code barred any mention of a wolfman, but it was eventually allowed if Marv's name was listed as a writer's credit. DC's mystery titles up to that point did not have creator credits. After that DC's mystery titles carried creator credits. To read about this story go to the link below to the Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed column at the web site Comic Book Resources.

In 1974 Marv began working for Marvel under then Editor In Chief Roy Thomas. After Roy left Marvel, Wolfman would eventually become one of a number of rotating editors in chief until Jim Shooter took over. Marv stepped down as EIC because the job left little time for his own writing career. Among the characters he created or co-created at Marvel were: Blade The Vampire Hunter (which became the first Marvel character to be a hit as a movie), Hannibal King for Tomb Of Dracula, Bullseye (originally a Daredevil villain), Nova and Black Cat, among others. His most famous work for Marvel was as writer of Tomb Of Dracula, drawn by the great Gene Colan and inked by Tom Palmer, among others.

Marv returned to DC Comics in 1980 after a dispute with Marvel EIC Jim Shooter. At DC he rejuvinated an old 1960's title, Teen Titans, which teamed all of DC's teen sidekicks. Marv worked with artist George Perez. This is the other regular monthly title Marv Wolfman is known for. For The New Teen Titans Marv and George added such characters as Cyborg (seen in the Smallville TV series), Jericho, Starfire and Raven. They also added such Titan villains as Slade Wilson: Deathstroke The Terminator, Trigon, Brother Blood, The Hive, Mammoth, Gizmo, Thunder & Lightning, and others. Marv and George also created Dick Grayson's Nightwing identity, after Dick quit the Robin mantle. Marv also created Tim Drake, the third Robin.

Among Marv's most notable Superman stories was If Superman Didn't Exist drawn by Gil Kane and published in Action Comics #554, April 1984, published on January 26, 1984. The story was edited by Julius Schwartz, lettered by Ben Oda and colored by Anthony Tollin. This story, which was a tribute to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, was about an alien armada that changed Earth history, causing Superman to disappear and thus eliminating the heroic ideal from the human psyche. 20th century Earth was full of primitive villages that were vulnerable to the aliens attack. Two young boys named Jerry and Joe recreated Superman and weakened the aliens power (you'll have to read the story to find out how). The aliens fired on the villagers, with Jerry and Joe in front and now dressed like Superman, but Superman reappears for real to shield the villagers from the energy weapon. Superman defeated the aliens and forced them to restore history. This story was reprinted in the trade paperback Superman In The Eighties.

In 1985 DC Comics celebrated their 50th anniversary. Over the decades DC had bought characters from out of business comic book publishers. After the multiverse was first created in Flash comics, these various groups of characters were each given their own Earth, including the golden age heroes, who were given Earth-2. By 1985 DC editors felt that the multiverse had become unweildly and sought to streamline the DC Universe continuity. Marv reteamed with artist George Perez on the twelve issue mini-series Crisis On Infinite Earths, which condensed the multiverse into one streamlined universe. Crisis was also known for the deaths of the silver age Supergirl, in issue 7, and the Barry Allen Flash in #8.

DC took the opportunity to update their top characters. Batman was clanged the least. HIs origin was updated in the Frank Miller and Dave Mazzuchelli four issue mini-series Batman: Year One in 1988. Wonder Woman and Superman were changed the most and reappeared, starting from the beginning, in 1986. The new Wonder Woman title was done by George Perez and John Byrne restarted Superman in the mini-series Man Of Steel and a new Superman #1. Adventures Of Superman continued the numbering of the original Superman title. Marv Wolfman wrote the first Adventures story in issue 424, the January 1987 issue, and continued through issue 435, December 1987.

Marv also created the post-crisis Superman characters Cat Grant (who has returned in recent Superman stories), Professor Hamilton and the Milton Fine Brainiac. His biggest influence on the current Superman continuity was in revisioning Lex Luthor as the corporate magnate, instead of a criminal genius bent on revenge against Superman for a lab accident in his youth. Marv gave Lex a new motivation against Superman, to prove that he was once again the top dog in Metropolis by trying to eliminate the Man of Steel.

Marv's most recent DC work was for Nightwing in 2007. That year he also published the nonfiction book Homeland, The Illustrated History Of The State Of Israel with Mario Ruiz and William J. Rubin, published by Nachson Press. He also wrote two novelizations, Superman Returns in 2006 and his own comic book seres Crisis On Infinite Earths in 2005.

His first wife was Michelle Wolfman, who had a long career as a comic book colorist. They had a daughter, Jessica Morgan.

Marv's current wife is Noel Watkins. She is an alumni of Texas A & M University and was a member of the student organization Cephid Variable, a club for campus s/f, fantasy and horror fans, which sponsors the s/f convention AggieCon every year for forty years. She is a Senior Producer for Blizzard Entertainment, where she served as an Associate Producer for the movie Tinkerbell. She is also a dollmaker who owns the web site . Her blog, Wolfmanor Wisdom & Whimsies is at . She is also a member of several doll maker clubs.

Marv would return in the June 2001 issues of the Superman titles for the four part story Infestation. His last Superman story was in Superman: Our Worlds At War Secret Files #1, August 2001 with the story Superman: The Eighth Day.

To read some of Marv Wolfman's best comic book work, look for Essential Tomb Of Dracula in four volumes. DC's Crisis On Infinite Earths is collected in trade paperback and Absolute editions. The earliest post-crisis Superman stories have been collected in the six volumes of the trade paperback Superman: The Man Of Steel.

Additional internet resources:

Marv Wolfman interview:

Another Marv Wolfman podcast interview:

For the story about the "wandering wolfman" go to: for a detailed look at Crisis On Infinite Earths.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at . Send e-mail to . The theme music is Plans In Motion composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the royalty 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 the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Episode #72: Superman In Exile, Part II & Free Comic Book Day!

This episode will feature the next three issues of the Superman In Exile storyline: Adventures Of Superman #451, Superman #29 and Adventures Of Superman #452. (Action Comics at this time, in 1989, was a weekly anthology title.) These issues and the rest of the story were collected in the trade paperback Superman: Exile, which I believe is still in print from DC Comics. Check your favorite on line vendor or local comic book store. Part III of this feature might not be posted until September. In May and June there are a lot of comic book talent associated with Superman celebrating birthdays in the next two months, and I'm planning something special for the 75th episode. Also, during July and August the featured episodes will be on Superman's "imaginary stories", and I'll title those episodes An Imaginary Summer.

On this past Saturday, May 2, 2009, for Free Comic Book Day, I went to my local comic book store, Acme Comics . I got there at 10:15 a. m., fifteen minutes after opening, and the parking lot was full. People were digging through the $1.00 comics boxes outside the front of the store. Inside, the store was even more crowded, with lots of kids, which was great to see. The FCBD titles I got were Inpact University, vol. 5, Blackest Night #0 (DC), and Love And Rockets. After doing research for episode #68 on Mr. Mxyzptlk, I also found two Mxy stories from Acme's back issue bins that day, Superman issue #'s 349 and 407. For more details on my Free Comic Book Day and reviews of these and my regular titles I picked up that day, go to Issue #52 of my blog, My Pull List . And now back to our regulary scheduled podcast.

The first issue for this episode is Adventures Of Superman #451, the February 1989 issue, published on January 3, 1989. Mike Carlin, now DC Executive Editor, was the editor of the Superman titles back then, and Renee' Witterstatter served as the assistant editor. The almost totaly black and white cover, showing the front page of the Daily Planet sporting the banner headline Where Is Superman? was drawn by Jerry Ordway. The picture of Superman was even credited to Jerry Ordway, Daily Planet photographer. The front page also had a sidebar headline Charred remains thought to be those of missing Planet reporter, and showed a picture of Clark Kent. The story was written ad drawn by Jerry Ordway, lettered by Albert Tobias DeGuzman and colored by Glenn Whitmore.

This issue is a special one to me because it was the first Superman title I saw when I first began collecting comic books as an adult. I started collecting the Superman titles first, of course, in the middle of this very storyline. This issue had been out about a week at least, and it was my first exposure to the art of Jerry Ordway, which I liked instantly. The comic store I first went to was only a few blocks from my work in Leesburg, Florida and was run by a guy named Todd with his brother and mom. They closed a few years later. I don't clearly remember the exact reason why, but I think it might have had something to do with them no longer meeting Diamond's minimum retailer purchase minimum. My son and I still have fond memories of their store, even if it was in an old storefront.

The story Dangerous Ground opened with Superman teleporting into another part of outer space. The area he appeared in was unusual because of the amount of debris floating in the area. Superman flew by the skeleton of some alien creature, which was covered in slime. Everything seemed to float toward a distant light (sun?).

In Metropolis Inspector Henderson went to Clark's apartment at 344 Clinton to be briefed by the investigating detectives about the crime scene. Henderson interviewed the lady across the hall who assumed she saw Clark enter his apartment. The Inspector was able to determine that she did not actually see his face. She did hear a sound like a bug zapper after ?Clark? entered his apartment. Other detectives found out by other residents that the lights dimmed around the time of death, or that their alarm clock radios were blinking when they awoke the next morning. Henderson determined that hi-tech weapons were used.

Behind the media throng at the building's entrance Amanda McCoy stood, the only one who knew that the dead man was not Clark Kent, but the P. I. Matthew Stockton she had hired to keep Clark under surveillance. Morgan Edge watched the GBS coverage in his office while he lit a cigar with a burning picture of Clark Kent, because as head of Intergang he was the one who ordered the hit on Clark.

Superman used his heat vision to scare the weird space creatures off of him. The other creatures that had smothered him enveloped the one that had been slightly injured by his heat vision, devouring it. Superman did a super spin to shake the slime off of him before it ate into his breathing apparatus. He then hit some invisible barrier. When he used his x-ray vision the barrier spasmed. Superman could see stars on the other side of this barrier, and he realized he was inside some type of giant space faring creature.

In the LexCorp building Luthor was content once again as the top dog in Metropolis. He ordered an employee to bring Jose Delgado to him. As noted in episode #69, Jose had received a microchip implant to regain his ability to walk after being crippled by a super villain he fought as Gangbuster. Luthor used the microchip to control his physical movements. Delgado was dressed in a suit of LexCorp armor, and Luthor sent him on an errand. After Jose left, Luthor was informed that Clark Kent had been murdered. Shocked, Luthor ordered a search for the murderers, to repay the Late Kent for saving Luthor from an assassination attempt.

As Superman floated closer to the large light, smaller globs of light hit his arm, numbing it. He began to suspect that the light was an incinerator and not an exit out of whatever he was in.

Toby Raines of the Metropolis Star newspaper called the Kent farm near Smallville for any comments about the death of their son. Pa Kent responded that his son was in hiding, which made Raines wonder who exactly was killed in Clark's apartment.

Jose Delgado went to Professor Hamilton's lab to attack him, while under Luthor's control. The Professor is not unable to defend himself. He activated a force field around Jose, cutting off the signal that controlled his body and enabled him to walk. Hamilton pirated a TV signal through WLEX's antenna to thank Luthor for his benevolence in restoring Jose's ability to walk, as part of a stalling tactic while he removed an explosive from Jose's armored suit.

At the end of the issue Superman teleported out of whatever space creature he was in, to another part of space.

Superman #29, the March 1989 issue, was published on January 24, 1989. The cover was pencilled by Kerry Gammil and inked by Dennis Janke. The story, If This Be My Destiny was written and pencilled by Dan Jurgens, inked by Brett Breeding, lettered by John Costanza and colored by Glenn Whitmore.

The story opened with an alien spacecraft, with severa hull breaches, crash landed on an asteroid. Superman sealed the hull breaches, helped with basic repairs and used his heat vision to restart its power core. He lifted the ship off the asteroid and threw it toward its homeworld.

In Metropolis Lois convinced Inspector Henderson to allow her to walk through Clark's apartment. After looking at the scattered mementos in the wrecked apartment she shed tears for Clark, in the first genuine signs of affection for him. Back at the Daily Planet offices she asked Perry to send her on an out of town assignment. She didn't care where. Perry sent her to Trudeau, South Dakota.

Superman found another alien planet. It had many citites, but seemed to be abandoned. He thought that perhaps this might be the perfect world for him to live without fear of endangering anyone.

In Trudeau, Lois interviewed Gen. Ripley. He informed Lois that the city was evacuated because a train wreck released a deadly toxin. Lois snuck away from the press truck to walk around the abandoned town. She saw the words Are You Ready For Union? painted on a window. Lois climbed down a hole in a street into the sewer system to find piles of a gravel like substance that she discovered to be finely ground human remains.

On his planet Superman found similar piles of remains and knew why the planet was now uninhabited. He recognized it as the work of the "Word Bringer", who had taken every life in Trudeau, South Dakota. Superman used his microscopic vision to find the energy trail of a spaceship and followed it.

Lois was discovered by Gen. Ripley, who she eventually got the true story about Trudeau out of him. The General informed Lois that the alien called the Word Bringer had removed the brains of every citizen of Trudeau and linked them together into some form of living union. He then combined their flesh into some type of monster that attacked Superman. He knocked out the alien, but the combined minds of Trudeau knocked out Superman and used his body to drain the fluid that kept them alive, so that they could rest in peace. Superman was unable to catch the Word Bringer and the government had created the fiction of the chemical leak in order to not panic the general public about alien body snatching.

Superman caught up to the Word Bringer's miles long ship and entered it, discovering a huge chamber filled with all shapes and sizes of brains floating in fluid filled chambers.

Adventures Of Superman #452, the March 1989 issue, was published on January 31, 1989. The cover, titled Brain Dead, was drawn by Jerry Ordway. The story, Hell Bound, was written and pencilled by Dan Jurgens, inked by Dennis Janke, lettered by John Costanza and colored by Glenn Whitmore.

The story picked up from the conclusion of Superman #29, with Superman standing inside the huge chamber filled with all shapes and sizes of alien brains. Superman confronted the Word Bringer but was knocked out by a psychic blast from the Union.

Lois called Perry from outside Trudeau, but Perry killed her story idea about the true story of the fate of Trudeau's citizens. He did not consider Gen. Ripley (aptly named after the bizarre incident in Trudeau) a reliable source, especially the part about Superman pulling the plug on the people of Trudeau. Perry ordered Lois to return to Metropolis.

Back in Metropolis Luthor discovered the bad part of no more Superman in Metropolis: no more challenges. He began thinking about creating new challenges for himself as the panel showed the Star Labs building in front of the LexCorp building. This plot will begin in Superman #30. Cat Grant and her son Adam spend time at Morgan Edge's mansion.

Superman awoke from the attack to again search the immense ship for the Word Bringer. He finds him in a lab, and the alien releases Eon, who was a conduit for the Union's power. Eon knocked Superman through the ship into space. Superman battled Eon unitl he was knocked back into the ship. Superman burst through one of the containers of a giant alien brain. Forgetting his battle with Eon for the moment, Superman fashioned a crude chamber for the brain and refilled it with as much brain fluid as he could, to no avail. After giving Superman a mental picture of its original appearance on its homeworld, the brain died. Superman confronted the Union over Trudeau. The Union asked Superman why he would help one of them if he was against the Union as a whole. Superman, of course, responded that life was valid no matter what it took. He was not against the Union, just its methods. The Union revealed to Superman that the Trudeau Union did not use his unconscious body to kill them, only to subdue him, They used their own mental powers to commit suicide and die peacefully rather than live as disembodied brains. A little bit of guilt was lifted off of Superman's shoulders.

He was stilled faced with the difficult decision on how to serve justice on the Word Bringer. Would he be forced to make the same decision as he did in the Pocket Universe? Sensing his burden the Union propose a solution. Instead of serving the Word Bringer, the Union would use Eon to monitor the Word Bringer. They would no longer forcefully add to their Union, but only ask beings close to death, and add only those willing to join to their Union. Superman agreed with the warning: Mess up, and he would be back. Superman then flew into space, alone once again.

Next episode: Marv Wolfman!

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

The theme to 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 the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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