Friday, June 26, 2009

Episode #80: An Imaginary Summer, 2009, Part I!

As I noted way back in episode #1, DC's "imaginary stories" are among my favorite Superman stories. Begining with this episode I begin a summer series featuring Superman's imaginary stories. I plan on making it an annual feature each summer. In this episode I'll share a brief history of DC's imaginary stories.

This is an imaginary story ... aren't they all?, said Alan Moore in the introduction to part I of his classic Superman story, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?, which began in Superman #423, September 1986. Imaginary stories in comic books are stories that take a character and do things to a character that would not be usually done in normal continuity. In the silver age, especially with Superman, such stories would involve killing him, or marrying him to one of the women in his life. Marvel also did these types of stories in their title What If ... ? Other comic book publishers probably did similar stories but I'm not as familiar with them.

The easiest way to read a good sample of DC's imaginary stories is with the trade paperback DC's Greatest Imaginary Stories, published on September 1, 2005. It contains eleven stories involving a variety of DC characters.

The first story in the collection was not originally a DC character, Captain Marvel. He was published by Fawcett, and DC bought the character after the company won its lawsuit against Fawcett over coyright infringement on Superman. The eleven story Captain Marvel And The Atomic War orginally appeared as the cover story of Captain Marvel Adventures #66, October 1946, published around October 7, 1946. It was presented as a TV show by Billy Batson on station WHIZ. For a lighthearted character such as Captain Marvel, this was a very heavy story simulating his failed attempt to stop a nuclear war. (The web site has information on all of the Fawcett titles, as well as other publishers DC bought out over the years. Just click on the publisher and pick to one you wish to search. Information is also available at and .)

DC did not begin publishing imaginary stories labeled as such. The second story in this collection was one example. The Second Life Of Batman was originally published as the second story of Batman #127, October 1959, which appeared on the newsstands on August 20, 1959. The cover ws pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kay, illustrating the story The Hammer Of Thor. This story was written by Bill Finger, pencilled by Dick Sprang and inked by Charles Paris. It told an alternate origin of Bruce Wayne as Batman, who appropriated the costume from a gang that used it as their disguise.

A similar Superman story was Superman's Other Life, in Superman #132, October 1959, published on August 6, 1959. The story, written by Bill Finger, pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye, told an alternate history where Superman became a hero on his home world of Krypton. While it was not reprinted in the Imaginary Stories trade paperback, it was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. II and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I.

The first official DC "imaginary story" was Mr. And Mrs. Clark (Superman) Kent, the third story of Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #19, August 1960, published on June 28, 1960. Written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger, the story told the advantages, and trials, of Lois Kent, as her husband also doubled as Superman. This is the third story of TGISET.

The fourth story in the collection was The Death Of Superman, from Superman #149, November 1961, published around September 14, 1961, which sported a pink cover for such a somber story. The Jerry Siegel story, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Sheldon Moldoff, of course involved Lex Luthor. This story was also reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. III. This is one of my favorite stories I featured way back in episode #1.

Next was an imaginary story featuring Jimmy Olsen, Jimmy Olsen Marries Supergirl, the first story of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #57, December 1961, published around October 5, 1961. It told the story about Jimmy marrying Linda Lee Danvers without knowing she is also Supergirl, who flirts with Jimmy while in costume.

After that was The Origin Of Flash's Masked Identity from The Flash #128, May 1962. The story, written by John Broome, pencilled by Carmine Infantino and inked by Joe Giella, told why wearing a mask was important to protecting the Flash's civilan identity.

The next story in the collection was Batman's New Secret Identity from Batman #151, November 1962. The story was written by Bill Finger, pencilled by Bob Kane, inked by Charles Paris and lettered by Ira Schnapp. It told a possible story about how Bruce Wayne could continue being Batman after his secret identity was exposed.

A similar Superman story not included in the collection but about the same subject was Why Superman Needs A Secret Identity from Action Comics #305, October 1963, published around August 29, 1963. The story was written by Leo Dorfman, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. It was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. IV.

Another silver age Superman story was next in The Amazing Story Of Superman-Red And Superman-Blue from Superman #162, July 1963, published on May 2, 1963. Written by Leo Dorfman, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein, it told about an accident that split Superman into twin versions of himself and proved that two heads were better than one. This story was also reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. IV.

Next was The Three Wives Of Superman, from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #51, August 1964, published around June 25, 1964. This was not a polygamist story, nor a Superman version of Henry VIII. It was a tragic story of Superman marrying the three great loves of his life and their demises.

After that story was one I had heard about and wanted to read, but was not able to until this edition was published. The Fantastic Story Of Superman's Sons first appeared in Superman #166, January 1964, published on November 7, 1963. I believe I have mentioned this story before. What was a clever story point was that Superman's wife was never revealed. She was portrayed in shadow in a way that fit the surroundings she appeared in the panels.

The final story in the trade paperback was also one of my favorites I mentioned back in episode #1, Superman And Batman -- Brothers from World's Finest Comics #172, December 1967, published on October 26, 1967. The story was written by a teen aged Jim Shooter, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. It told an alternate history where Bruce Wayne was adopted by the Kents after his parents were murdered, and how Bruce and Clark's crime fighting careers would develop.

The last official imaginary story was Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, which was orginally published in Superman#423, published on June 12, 1986, and Action Comics #583, published on June 26, 1986, both issues cover dated September 1986. It told a possible final Superman story.

That was not the end of the imaginary story in DC Comics. In the 1990's DC began publishing alternate histories of their characters under the Elseworlds logo. Gotham By Gaslight is considered the first Elseworlds story, even though it did not carry the Elseworld's logo, It was written by Brian Augusyn, drawn by Mike Mignola and edited by Mark Waid.

The first story to carry the Elseworlds logo was Batman: Holy Terror, published in 1991, which told the story about a Bruce Wayne who was a priest in the Anglican Church, in a Gotham City that was still part of an America that had never split from the British Empire as a separate country.

While not part of the Elseworlds titles, the Annuals of the various DC titles in 1991 told possible futures of the DC heroes. They were tie-ins to DC's event for that year, Armageddon 2001. Waverider had travelled back in time to find and kill the DC hero who would destroy the other DC hereos and become a world dictator. By invisibly touching each hero, he could see their future. While the event series wasn't that good, the Annuals were the best part of the whole event. I particularly enjoyed the Superman Annuals.

Superman Annual #3, 1991, published on April 9, 1991, told the story of Execution 2001, where Intergang exploded a nuclear bomb that destroyed Metropolis, including Clark Kent's friends at the Daily Planet. Superman disarms the world's armies. But when he accidentally, and unknowingly, kills some U. S. soldiers, the President asked Batman to stop Superman.

Action Comics Annual #3, 1991, published on July 9, 1991, was titled Executive Action. Superman runs for president. I covered this story back in episode #47.

Adventures of Superman Annual #3, published on August 20, 1991, was titled Beyond The Reach Of Time. Clark Kent married Lois, who would die because of some complications during pregnancy. Superman left Earth in grief and would eventually marry Maxima, a warrior princess of another planet.

Some of the Superman Elseworlds titles were:

Superman: Speeding Bullets, 1993, Kal-El's rocket landed near Gotham City, and he was raised by the Waynes.

Elseworlds Finest: Supergirl And Batgirl, 1994, Bruce Wayne serves as the "Alfred" character to the Barbara Gordon Batgirl. The story also revealed waht happened to baby Kal-El's rocket.

Also in 1994, the DC Annuals carried the Elseworlds banner. The first Superman 1994 Elseworlds Annual was Superman: The Man Of Steel #3, published on March 29, 1994. Earth was ruled by 100,000 survivors of Krypton.

Superman Annual #6, pulished on May 10, 1994, was titled The Feral Man Of Steel. It was a combination of a Tarzan and Mowgli version of Superman who was raised in a jungle by the animals.

The Adventures Of Superman Annual #6, titled The Longest Night told the first part of the story of the DC hereos failing to defeat an alien invasion of Earth.

Superboy Annual #1, published on July 5, 1994, titled Men Of Steel concluded the story begun in the Adventures Of Superman Annual. The remaining heroes finally defeat the alien occupiers.

Other Superman Elseworlds stories included:

Superman: Kal, 1995, showed Superman coming to Earth in the chivalric era, before the mythical time of King Arthur.

Superman: At Earth's End, 1995, told a Kamandi type apocalyptic story.

Superman's Metropolis, 1996, told the story of Superman in the Metropolis of the classic silent science fiction film.

Kingdom Come, 1996, was about the children and grandchildren of DC's heroes in an apocalyptic world.

Superman And Wonder Woman: Whom Gods Destroy, 1997, told the story about a world where Nazi Germany had defeated western Europe.

Superman: The Dark Side, 1998, was about Kal-El's rocket landing on Apokolips and being raised by Darkseid.

Superman: Distant Fires, 1998, was about Superman in a post-nuclear holocaust Earth.

JLA: The Nail, 1998, told about the consequences of the Kents not finding Kal-El's rocket.

Superman And Batman: Generations, 1999, was about Superman and Batman's relationship over the decades, beginning in 1939, and continuing over the next six decades.

Superman: War Of The Worlds, 1999, portrayed Superman much as he originally appeared in 1938, in a comic book version of Orson Welles' adaption of H. G. Wells War Of The Worlds where the invasion happens in Metropolis.

Superman: A Nation Divided, 1999, tells the story of Superman during Civil War era America. This is one of the few Superman Elseworlds stories I have not read.

Superman And Batman: Generations 2, 2001-2002, filled in the story of Superman And Batman: Generations, advancing the story this time at eleven year intervals and including other DC heroes.

Superman: Red Son, 2003, was about Ka-El's rocket landing in the Stalinist Soviet Union. This is another story I have yet to read that I look forward to. The action figures that have been created from this story are great too.

Superman And Batman: Generations 3, 2003-2004, expanded the story from the previous two series to include the offspring and descendants of Superman and Batman.

Doing research for this episode has made me want to dig these stories out and read them again. Isn't that what great comic books are supposed to do?

Next episode will be about the 1940's Superman cartoons and the Fleischer Studios that produced them. After that, the rest of the summer will be spent taking a closer look at some of these imaginary stories -- aren't they all?

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

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.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Episode #79: Happy Birthday, Clark Kent!

I was surprised to find during my research for episode #7, Happy Birthday, Superman!, that Clark Kent has a birthday on June 18. That is the day that is traditionally accepted in Superman lore as the day baby Kal-El's rocket landed on Earth. So his "Earth Day" is recognized as Clark Kent's birthday. As mentioned in episode #7, Superman's accepted birthday is February 29. Clark Kent's middle name is sometimes given as Jerome and other times as Joseph, after either of Superman's creators. His first name Clark came from his mother's maiden name, Martha Clark, as told in the ten page story The Origin Of Superman in Superman #53, July/August 1948, published on May 5, 1948. It was reprinted in the trade paperbacks Superman In The Forties and The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told.

Batman found a unique way to celebrate the day that Superman landed on Earth in the story The Key To Fort Superman, from Action Comics #241, the June 1958 issue, published on April 29, 1958. Some comics gave the date as June 1o, but the June 18th date has become the traditional date.

In the 1940's radio show's first origin, Superman landed on Earth as an adult. Later references in the radio episodes matched the origin from the comic books, having him land on Earth as an infant.

Clark Kent spent his pre-school years on the Kent farm. His parents sold the farm and moved into Smallville when he began elementary school. They operated a genreal store. These were some of the details from the twelve page story The Origin Of Superman in Superman #146, July 1961, published on May 4, 1961. The story was written by Otto Binder and drawn by Al Plastino, and has been reprinted in Superman In The Sixties and Showcast Presents: Superman vol. III.

In the Jerry Siegel penned thirteen page story That Old Class Of Superboy's Clark attended Metropolis High School. The John Sikela and George Roussos drawn story was the third story in Superman #46, May/June 1947, published on March 2, 1947. Clark's high school nickname was "specs" and was known as his class's quietest student. The web site noted that this issue was the first mention of Superboy in a Superman comic book, and is considered the first Earth-1 Superboy story. I could find no reprint information for this story.

Jor-El's Last Will, a twelve page story from World's Finest Comics #69, March/April 1954, published on January 28, 1954, depicted Clark attending Smallville High School, which makes more sense than the previously mentioned story. No reprint information was available for this story.

Several stories depicted Clark attending Metropolis University. It was unclear to me if Clark went to college before or after the death of his parents. The whole story about their last days was told in The Last Days of Ma And Pa Kent, the first story of Superman #161, May, 1963, published around March 21, 1963, written by Leo Dorfman and illustrated by Al Plastino. Details about this story were discussed in episode #37: Happy Birthday, Jonathan Kent. This story was reprinted in Superman In The Sixties and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. IV.

Clark Kent's College Days, the ten page second story in Superman #125, November 1958, published around September 18, 1958, was written by Jerry Coleman and illustrated by Al Plastino, about a college professor who suspected that Clark Kent was Superboy. This story was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow Archive vol. I and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I. The Girl From Superman's Past, the ten page third story in Superman #129, May 1959, published around March 19, 1959, told the story of Clark's brief college romance with the mermaid Lori Lemaris. Bill Finger wrote this story, which was illustrated by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye. It was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Superman: the Man Of Tomorrow Archive vol. I and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I. Some details about Clark's college life these stories show are that he was a member of the cheerleading squad and belonged to a fraternity. He also took a wide variety of courses, from biology to astronomy, art and music.

After college Clark Kent became a newspaper reporter at the Daily Planet newspaper (the Daily Star during the golden age). In Superman #1, Clark got his job at the Daily Star by phoning in a story to the Star editor about Supeman stopping a lynch mob at the local jail.This story was reprinted in Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. I and Superman Chronicles vol. I. Superman #133, November 1958, published on September 17, 1959, told another story titled How Perry White Hired Clark Kent, a nine page story written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Al Plastino. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I.

Until the Man Of Steel mini-series reboot, Clark Kent had a meek, mild-mannered, some might say weak, personality that was as much a part of his disguise as his glasses. He lived at 344 Clinton Street, Apartment 3-D (after the 1950's 3-D Superman comic book). Clark became a TV reporter after Morgan Edge, president of Galaxy Broadcasting, bought the Daily Planet newspaper and moved Clark to TV news. He would be joined on the TV newscast by sports reporter and Kent practical joker Steve Lombard and co-anchor Lana Lang. This was part of the changes new editor Julius Schwartz made to Superman when he took over for the retired Mort Weisinger. Schwartz' first issue as editor was Superman #233, January 1971, published on November 5, 1970. The story, Superman Breaks Loose, was written by Dennis O'Neil, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Murphy Anderson. It was reprinted in Superman From The Thirties To The Seventies, Superman In The Seventies, Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. II and Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore.

Clark would be challenged more when he had to become Superman, having to do his super deeds during a film segment or commercial break, and then return to the news set as Clark Kent.

Superman's, aka Clark Kent's physical measurements were given in Action Comics #297, February 1963, published on December 27, 1962, in the story The Man Who Betrayed Superman. His features were listed as black hair, blue eyes, 6' 2" tall, 44" chest and 34" waist. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman Vol. IV.

Clark Kent would "die" in Superman #423, part I of the story Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, September 1986, published on June 12, 1986. The story was written by Alan Moore, pecilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Perez. Clark's secret identity would be exposed when Lana opened a box, filled with Superman action figures, that had been mailed to the studio. When Lana activated one of them, they flew out of the box and zapped Clark with laser beams, leaving his Clark Kent clothes in shreds and revealing the Superman costume underneath. With his identity exposed Superman discarded his Clark Kent disguise. This had been part of a scheme by the duo of Toyman and the Prankster.

The Earth-2 Clark Kent was raised by John and Mary Kent. They died around 1938, before his debut as Superman. Clark worked as a reporter at the Daily Star newspaper for editor George Taylor. The Earth-2 Clark would marry Lois Lane in Action Comics #484, June 1978 issue, published on March 27, 1978. This first Clark and Lois wedding story was written by Cary Bates, pencilled by Curt Swan, inked by Joe Giella, lettered by Ben Oda and colored by Tatjana Wood. This story was reprinted in Superman In The Seventies.

Earth-2 Clark would succeed George Taylor as Editor-In-Chief of the Daily Star in the pages of Superman Family #196, July/August 1979 in the fifth story, Editor Of The Star. The eight page story was written by Cary Bates, pencilled by Kurt Schaffenberger, inked by Joe Giella, lettered by Todd Klein and colored by Adrienne Roy. Editor Taylor created a challenge between Clark and fellow Star reporter Perry White, which Kent won.

The Earth 2-Clark Kent / Superman would disappear to neverland at the end of Crisis On Infinite Earths in 1986 and would die at the end of Infinite Crisis in 2006.

The modern, post-crisis Clark Kent came to Earth not as a toddler, but as a fetus in the beginning of Man Of Steel #1, 1986. Jor-El installed a star drive on the birthing matrix of his son Kal-El, which would shield him from interstellar radiation. The matrix opened when the Kents found it on Earth, so you could say that Superman was technically born on Earth. As noted in episode #47, Superman For President, he could possibly run for President of the United States if he wanted to.

Unlike his pre-crisis golden and silver age version, the modern Clark Kent grew up on the Kent farm throughout high school, and was the star player on the school football team. After Pa Kent told him the truth about how he had been found, Clark traveled the world. This pre-Superman era for Clark would not be detailed until the 2003-2004 mini-series Superman: Birthright, written by Mark Waid, pencilled by Leinil Francis Yu and inked by Gerry Alanguilan. In the World of Metropolis #3, 1988, Clark would end his travels in Metropolis, where he enrolled in Metropolis University and worked as a cook in a diner. He was able to cook a little faster by secretly using his heat vision on the grille.

Clar Kent would get his job on the Daily Planet by walking off the street with the first interview with Superman, much to Lois Lane's envy for many years. He would briefly leave the Daily Planet to serve as Editor-In-Chief of the Metropolis magazine Newstime, before returning to the Planet to resume his job as reporter. Not only was Clark an award winning journalist, but he wrote at least two novels, The Janus Contract and Under A Yellow Sun. The latter was published as a graphic novel by DC Comics in 1994. Clark would marry Lois in the pages of Superman: The Wedding Album, December 1996, published on October 9, 1996. They presently live at 1938 Sullivan Place, after early DC editor Vin Sullivan, who was partly responsible for bringing Superman to DC Comics.

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

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.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Episode #78: A Julius Schwartz Birthday Surprise: "Superman" #411!

For his 70th birthday in 1985, DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz recieved an unusual birthday present. He became a main character in an issue of one of the comic book titles he edited, Superman #411. And it was a total surprise to him! His birthday was June 19, 1915, and he would pass away on February 8, 2004.

How this particular birthday surprise happened was that DC writer Elliot S! Maggin approached DC Executive Vice-President Paul Levitz with the idea of doing a special Superman issue that would feature Julius Schwartz as a character, and doing it behind his back as a birthday surprise. Elliot and artist Curt Swan worked in advance so that production chief Bob Rozakis could slip the story into the production schedule. It would replace the story Julius would be working on, which would be postponed for an issue. Except for a few close calls, everyone involved was able to keep "Julie", as he was affectionately called, from discovering the subterfuge.

Julius Schwartz wrote about the surprise in his autobiography Man Of Two Worlds: My Life In Science Fiction And Comics written with Brian M. Thomsen and published by Harper Entertainment in 2000. The book may not be in print anymore, but check your local used book store or favorite internet vendor.

Julius Schwartz' premiere in a comic book story occurred in Superman #411, cover dated September 1985. The issue was published on June 13, 1985. I could find no art credit for the cover at , or . The story was written by Elliot S! Maggin, pencilled by Curt Swan, inked by Murphy Anderson, lettered by John Costanza and colored by Gene D'Angelo. Under the creator credits was the folowing tag: Aided and abetted by Dick Giordano, Paul Levitz, Bob Rozakis. This story appeared in the middle of a Lex Luthor trilogy begun in the previous issue, #410, August 1985, May 9, 1985. The cover, by Klaus Jansen, illustrated the story Clark Kent -- Fired! The story was written by Cary Bates, pencilled by Curt Swan, inked by Al Williamson, lettered by Gaspar Saladino and colored by Gene D'Angelo.

Julius Schwartz was introduced on the splash page, standing on a steet corner in Metropolis as Superman flew overhead, as a homeless street person. He was later thrown out of a soup kitchen for causing a disturbance and would make his way to the Galaxy Broadcasting building. After leaving a note with Perry White's secretary, Julius went to the roof and jumped off. As he expected, Superman saved him. To thank Superman for his good deed Julius corrected Superman's dialogue. After Superman left Schwartz on the sidewalk and flew away Julius said, "That man has to do something about his dialogue!"

Perry and Alice saw their old friend Julius Schwartz being interviewed on TV and drive around Metropolis to search for him. Superman spotted them during his patrol, and then stopped a car that ran a red light. After Perry overheard Superman's parting remark to the driver he told the Man Of Steel, "Supes, old friend, somebody's going to have to do something about your dialogue!" Perry and Alice ask Superman for help in finding their old friend Julius Schwartz. A mysterious figure kidnapped Julius and took him to an abandoned warehouse, where he was revealed to be someone who is robotic on the right side of his body, head to toe.

While riding in the back seat of the White's car, Superman listened to Perry talk about his old friend. Some of the details parallel the real Julius Schwartz career in science fiction and comic books. Perry and Julius were friends with real science fiction writers of the early 20th century, before their success, including Ray Bradbury, who was Superman's favorite as a boy. Julius would become an agent for science fiction writers, and had a knack for story ideas and plot devices when they wrote themselves into a corner and didn't know how to write themselves out.

Perry and Julius would also self publish their own magazine, Incredible Stories. Schwartz also created a few comic book super heroes (something the real Julius Schwartz did not do). His first creation was Ultra-Man, who came from another planet, could lift a car, leap an eighth of a mile, and nothing short of a bursting shell could penetrate his skin. This copied the original description of Superman's powers from Superman #1. Schwartz published Ultra-Man in comic book stories but they were not a success after the appearance of Superman in Metropolis. He would try again with Night Wizard, but Batman appeared, and Madame Miracle before Wonder Woman appeared and finally Jet Jordan with the Flash. None of these characters would succeed.

The captured Julius Schwartz asked his kidnapper what his name was. When he said it was Olaf, Schwartz said that he thought it was a lousy name. Acting like an editor he suggests others that would be better, like Robotman, Metallo or Captain Danger. Olaf had one question for Julius, about the quickest way to get his own hydrogen bomb, and Schwartz began to describe everything he would need.

After having Alice drop him off, Superman resumed his patol over Metropolis, and was worried about Perry's memory. He had begun to have short term memory problems even as he remembered details from decades past (as mentioned in episode #64).

Olaf was able to illicitly procure all the equipment he needed overnight. He called his superiors to report that the information processing machine was assembled and connected to the mind for which it had been built.

During his search for Julius Schwartz Superman stopped a gang dealing in stolen hospital equipment. In the gang's hideout Superman found a gieger counter that was turned on and detecting a radioactive source in the area. Superman left the crooks for the police as he said, "Excuse me, I've got to see a man about a source!"

A police officer said, "That guy's got to do something aobut his dialogue!"

The geiger counter led Superman to the abandoned warehouse Olaf held Schwartz in. Olaf's robot limbs are an equal to Superman until he chopped Olaf's robot leg off. Olaf's mysterious superiors teleported him away for repairs. Julius asked Superman to get him out of the contraption, which he did. Superman realized too late that the equipment contained Schwartz' life support, but it was no big deal to Julius. He told Superman he had found a way out of his miserable life, and asked Superman to take him to Earth-Prime. In the pre-crisis DC continuity, Earth-Prime is our real world, where Superman is a character in a comic book. Superman wrapped Julius Schwartz in his indestructible cape and carried him through the multiverse to Earth Prime.

The pair appeared over 5th Avenue, where a police officer said, "Are they makin' another one o' those movies already?"

In an eighth floor conference room in a 5th Avenue building, DC staffers were celebrating the birthday of the real Julius Schwartz. I'm sure that the faces portrayed in the scene were real DC staffers, but I don't know who most of them were. Publisher Jenette Kahn toasted Julius, " I'd like to propose a toast to the silliest, grouchiest, youngest seventy year old any of us --"

She was interrupted by Superman and the Earth-1 Julius Schwartz. The two Julie's fall into each other's arms and called each other their imagination. The real Julius told his Earth-1 counterpart that the years had not been kind to him. The Earth-1 Julius replied that the rest of the years would do well by both of them, and disappeared into the Earth-Prime Julius Schwartz. He was faint for a moment, and Superman asked if he was alright. Schwartz replied that he's fine, and that Superman should see what he had in store for him. Maybe he had some ideas about how to improve Superman's dialogue. The two men shook hands, Superman greeted Curt Swan and a few other DC staffers and returned to Earth-1.

Julius Schwartz then said, "Hey, where's the party? A guy doesn't turn 70 every day!" and then handed out pieces of birthday cake.

In the epilogue Clark Kent returned to his apartment at 344 Clinton Street with a package he had bought at the same flea market he had purchased the Mort Weisinger bust. He unwrapped a bust of Julius Schwartz and placed it next to Mort.

On the inside back cover was a guest Meanwhile ... column written by Rick Stasi from Kansas City where he wished DC Comics a happy 50th birthday with some reminisces about growing up reading comic books.

Curt Swan's panel layout was very dynamic, compared to silver age Superman stories, with several pages with page high vertical panels. Another story point I enjoyed was everyone commenting about how Superman needed to improve his dialogue.

According to Julius Schwartz' autobiography, on the day Superman #411 was published, he was called into a special meeting in the conference room by publisher Jenette Kahn's administrative assistant. He wondered what the latest office crisis was about when he walked into a conference room with champagne on ice and Jenette holding the first copy of #411. When he sees his own picture on the cover he blurted out, "My God! How could you do this to me? I was right in the middle of a three-part story about Luthor!" Everyone laughed, including Julius. He looked through the issue to find that not only was he on the cover, but he was a main character of the story as well including parts of his long career in scince fiction and comic books. (I'm sure he enjoyed being portrayed as a street bum.) Other birthday festivities included the reading of birthday wishes from friends, including a telegram from Harlan Ellison, and phone conversations by Ray Bradbury and Alan Moore. Schwartz remarked in his book that this was a major highlight of his fifty plus years in the comic book industry.

In the back of the issue was a preview of the cover that Julius Schwartz thought was the cover for issue #411, with a note by Bob Rozakis explaining the birthday surprise to readers. That cover would appear on Superman #412, October 1985, July 11, 1985, showing Superman slamming his fist through the chest plate of Luthor's battle suit. The Klaus Jansen cover illustrated the story titled Luthor -- Today You Die! done by the same creative team from issue #410. The conclusion of the trilogy appeared in #413, November 1985, August 8, 1985, titled Superman -- Your World Is Mine! created by the same creative team again.

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

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. The image from the cover of Superman #411 is used for educational purposes within the fair use provision of U. S. Code: Title 17, Sec. 107.

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Episode #77: Happy Birthday, Neal Adams!

Neal Adams was born on June 12, 1941 at Governor's Island, Manhatten, New York City. He attended the High School of Industrial Art in Manhatten. He is most famous for his work for DC Comics in the early 1970's, doing covers and stories for a variety of characters. His most famous work was done with writer Dennis O'Neil, on both Green Lantern/Green Arrow and for changing Batman from the campy tone of the late 1960's to a return to his dark almost noir roots.

Adams read comic books from childhood, which inspired him to develop his own talent with an eye on working in the industry. He was initally rejected by DC Comics in 1959 after being told that there was no room in the industry for anyone new. Neal would freelance on Archie comics and Dell's Bat Masterson western comics, doing pencils and backgrounds. He would also branch out by doing advertising art, storyboards and comic strips. Adams worked on a variety of comic strips, Peter Scratch, Rip Kirby and The Heart Of Juliet Jones. He bacame the principal artist for the Ben Casey comic strip, based on the popular medical TV show of the early 1960's. The strip ran from 1962 - 1965.

Neal returned to comics by working for editor Archie Goodwin at Warren Publishing's Creepy and Eerie using a variety of illustration techniques on the stories he drew. He was successful with his second attempt at working at DC Comics. His early DC work was on DC's war titles, inspired by Joe Kubert and Russ Heath. Then he followed Carmine Infantino on Deadman, drawing one of his earliest DC covers for Strange Adventures #207, December 1967. That cover showed some of his talent for innovative design and composition, showing a bewildered Deadman in front of a background filled with faces staring at him. Neal Adams was a freelancer, but apparently made himself welcome enough to do a lot of his work at the DC offices. He drew stories for a variety of genres at DC, including humor (Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope), war, science fiction and super heroes. Adams quickly became DC's top cover artist, credited with 492 covers from 1969 - 1977, and 105 stories as penciller, inker, artist and sometimes writer.

His first covers were for The Adventures of Bob Hope #106, August/September 1967, and for Jerry Lewis #102, September/October 1967. His first Superman family cover was for Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #79, November 1967, the same cover date as his first Action Comics cover, #356. Other notable firsts for Adams cover were Superboy #143, December 1967 and Superman #204, February 1968.

The first Neal Adams cover I was exposed to was for Superman #240, July 1971, published on May 13, 1971. Adams inked this cover over Carmine Infantino's pencils. An anquished Superman stood in front of an angry crowd. He held a Daily Planet nespaper with the banner headline Superman Fails. This cover was for the story To Save A Superman, written by Denny O'Neil, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Dick Giordano, about a weakened Superman and efforts to restore his powers.

Another early cover was for 100 Page Super Spectacular #6, 1971, published on July 15, 1971. Neal Adams pencilled and inked this wrap around cover. On the front were the Earth-One heroes, with the spotlight on Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, and on the back were the Earth-Two heroes, including some duplicates of such Earth -One heroes such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, as well as Robin, Atom and the Flash. This reprint collection was edited by E. Nelson Bridwell (subject of episode #57) included the first JLA/JSA crossover, titled a Crisis story no less. The other reprints were of golden age characters Spectre, Johnny Quick, Vigilante, Wildcat and the silver age Hawkman.

His last regular covers were for World's Finest Comics #246, August/September 1977, Superman #317, November 1977 and Action Comics #488, July 1978.

Neal Adams' first DC story as artist was It's My Turn To Die, a nine page backup story in Our Army At War #182, July 1967, written by Howard Liss.

His first Superman story was The Superman - Batman Revenge Squad in World's Finest Comics #175, May 1968, a 17 page story written by Leo Dorfman.

Neal's first Superman issue was #249, March 1972, as inker on the seven page story The Origin Of Terra-Man, written by Cary Bates and pencilled by Dick Dillon.

His first Superman issue as penciller was #254, July 1972, on the second story, the seven page The Baby Who Walked Through Walls, written by Lein Wein. Adams also inked this story.

Neal's first issue of Action Comics was the six page Human Target story The Short Walk To Disaster Contract, which was inked by Dick Giordano.
His progressive and innovative art style was a reflection of his progressive views about the business side of comic books as well. As we'll see later in this episode, he worked for improved pay, benefit and working conditions for creators.
Neal Adams also worked for Marvel. At his request Stan Lee put Neal on one of their then lowest selling titles, X-Men (hard to believe, huh). Even though the title would eventually be cancelled, Adams drew a short but memorable run on the title from issues 54 - 66, written by Roy Thomas. These X-Men stories were reprinted in Marvel Essentials: Classic X-Men vol. III and Marvel Masterworks: X-Men vol. VI. Neal also drew part of a classic Avengers story The Kree/Skrull War in Avengers #'s 93-96, in a story that ran from issues 89-97 and was also written by Roy Thomas. This story was reprinted in the trade paperback Avengers: The Kree/Skrull War.

His most famous collaboration was with writer Dennis O'Neil. They simultaneously teamed up on three titles, Green Lantern/Green Arrow and the Batman titles Detective Comics and Batman. With the GL/GA title they created a short but memorable run of "relevant" stories about the issues of the time, from race relations to drug abuse, when Green Arrow partner Speedy fought a heroin addiction. On the Batman titles they returned the Caped Crusader to his dark noir roots from the campy style used during the run of the Batman TV show. These stories were reprinted in the two volumes of Green Lantern / Green Arrow and the three volumes of Batman Illustrated By Neal Adams.

An unusual team-up with Superman was the oversized All-New Collectors' Edition C-56, 1978, published on December 12, 1977, titled Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali. Neal Adams drew both the cover and the story. The cover featured Muhammad Ali and Superman as opponents in a boxing ring. In the crowd Adams drew DC staffers and characters, as well as famous celebrities of the era. The story was not as successful as hoped because of the delays getting the story approved by all of the parties involved, including Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. By the time this story appeared on the newsstands Ali had been defeated by Leon Holmes, whom Ali would defeat in a rematch and reclaim his heavyweight championship title.

The story detailed a planned alien invasion of Earth. The leader of the alien armada challenged Earth to produce its greatest champion, to battle his own champion. Superman and Muhammad Ali emerged as the two most likely candidates. Superman and Ali squared off on the planet of a red sun to even the odds and Ali won. He then squared off with the alien champion, barely defeating him. Superman, in a disguise, snuck into the command ship of the alien armada and sabotaged the fleet. The alien leader broke the agreement and planned on invading Earth anyway. His defeated champion led a revolt and took control of the fleet and made peace with Earth. The story ended with Ali knowing Superman's secret identity.

Neal Adams would branch out of comic books to work in animatics, book covers (like editions of Tarzan reprints), theatrical production and stage design. He served as art director, costume designer and poster illustrator on a science fiction stage play Warp, written by Bury St. Edmund and Stuart Gordon. Adams founded Continuity Associates to supply movies with storyboards. Continuity Comics grew out of it, publishing a variety of comic books sporadically from 1984 - 1994. The original characters published included Armor, a highly trained warrior, Crazyman, whose powers came from his lunacy and rage, Megalith, Toyboy, Skeleton Warriors, CyberRad, Bucky O'Hare and Ms. Mystic. A group of inkers who worked for Continuity Comics called themselves the Crusty Bunkers. Many of them would establish long careers in comics, including Superman inker Terry Austin.

Adams influence on the comic book industry would be felt even after he mostly left the industry. During the production of Superman: The Movie he and golden age Batman artist Jerry Robinson spearheaded an industry effort to force DC Comics to give Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster some type of compensation and creator credit on Superman stories. Neal Adams also campaigned for industry practices that were radical at the time but are standard for much of the industry. While he failed in an effort to unionize comic book talent, Neal pushed for the return of art pages to the artists and sales and reprint royalties.

In recent years Neal Adams became involved in a different campaign to return art to its creator outside the comic book industry. He was involved, along with Joe Kubert and Stan Lee, in a so far unsuccessful effort to force the Auschwitz - Birkenau Museum in Poland to return Holocaust art to painter and concentration camp survivor Dina Gottliebova Babbitt. In a story written by Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute For Holocaust Studies, Adams drew and Kubert inked the art, about Dina's family being spared as a condition for her agreeing to be an artist for Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele. In addition to chronicling Mengele's horrific experiments, she painted family members of the camp guards and inmates. After the war she moved to the U. S. and became an animator at a number of studios, including Jay Ward Productions, Warner Brothers and MGM. She worked on such characters as Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, Speedy Gonzalez and Cap'n Crunch. The Auswitz museum bought her paintings from two benefactors they refuse to identify, and spent years searching for the artist who simply signed the name Dina. When they determined that Mrs. Babbitt was the artist, they refused to compensate or return her paintings, because of the historical significance of the paintings.

Next episode: A special birthday tribute to Julius Schwartz by DC Comics in Superman #411!

Some links of interest about Neal Adams:

Episode #325 of Fanboy Radio at

About Dina Gottliebova Babbitt:

About Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali:

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at , , and most podcast aggregaters. Send e-mail to . The theme for this podcast is Plans In Motion composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the roylaty free music library of .

My Pull List is my spoiler free comic 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, June 2, 2009

Episode #76: Happy Birthday, Wayne Boring!

PODCAST NOTE: I was finally able to upload episode #75 on Tuesday morning on the web site. If you subscribe to the Superman Fan Podcast feed, and the latest episode seems to be late, you may want to check the gcast feed at The link to the Superman Fan Podcast gcast feed is . Episodes are also available on the internet archive at .

While researching this episode I was surprised to find a web site dedicated to the late Superman artist Wayne Boring, . It contains a brief biography as well as a number of great links. One link is the reprint (with permission) of an interview with Wayne Boring, published in the now defunct magazine Amazing Heroes issue #41, from February 15, 1984, done by Richard Plachter. Then there are several art biographies, complete with art samples, from, the blog Cartoonist Greats at ,, Comic Art & Graffix Gallery artist bio, and a link to a sample of Wayne Boring Superman art at the Heritage Auctions web site. Links to these sights are at the bottom of the Wayne Boring web site. As far as I can tell it is not affiliated with his family but is produced by a fan of his art.This web site, along with the wikipedia page on Wayne Boring, and and provided the bulk of the information in this episode.

Wayne Boring was born on June 5, 1905, a fellow Minnesotan with another Superman artist, Curt Swan. Boring died in February 1987 of a heart attack in Pompano Beach, Florida. As Curt Swan was the definitive Superman artist from the 1960's through the mid-1980's, Wayne Boring was the definitive Superman artist of the 1950's, with his depiction of a big, barrel chested Man of Steel. In fact, Boring's career bridged the Siegel and Shuster era and Swan's own.
He attended the Minnesota School of Art and studied anatomy at the the Chicago Art Institute, where he studied with J. Allen St. John, the original illustrator of the Tarzan stories.

Boring was hired by Siegel and Shuster for their Cleveland studio. Both the link and the Wayne Boring web site state that Boring began working with Siegel and Shuster as a ghost artist on their features Slam Bradley, Spy, and Dr. Occult in 1937 via mail. According to the Amazing Heroes interview, Jerry Siegel had placed an ad in Writer's Digest. At the time Boring lived in Norfolk, Virginia and worked as an advertising artist at the Virginia Pilot newspaper. He said that he earned a decent income at the Pilot, but wanted to be a cartoonist, like his favorites, Frank Godwin (creator of the strips Rusty Riley 1948-1959, about a read haired orphan and his dog, the fox terrier Flip, and Connie 1927-1944) and James Montgomery Flagg, creator of the Uncle Sam "I Want You" army poster and the comic strip Nervy Nat.

Jerry Siegel asked Boring to meet him in New York City, according to the A. H. article. Wayne took a leave of absence from the newspaper and met Jerry at Grand Central Station, and then went to Joe's apartment. Boring said that Joe lived in a"rathole" apartment on 3rd Avenue, which had the elevated subway train tracks outside his window. The room was so small Boring had to step over the bed to get the other side of the room. Boring described Joe as a timid guy who wore elevator shoes. When Wayne was hired by Siegel and Shuster he moved to Cleveland and was joined by fellow artists Paul Cassidy, Leo Nowak and John Sikela (who were featured in episode #17: The Artists Of Jerry Siegel's And Joe Shuster's Cleveland Studio).

Boring described the studio as a 12' x 12' room with four drawing tables; Jerry Siegel had a desk in the anteroom. He described how the team would work. Joe would lightly sketch the art, which would be finished by the other artists. According to Boring Joe would have some hand problems to go along with his poor eyesight. He saw Joe come to the office at one point wearing a leather glove which immobilized his hand, which had been prescribed by a doctor.

Boring recounted an interview Jerry and Joe gave to the Saturday Evening Post magazine in the studio. Wayne worked at one of the drawing tables with his back to everyone, until one of the Post staffers asked him to leave because they needed the room.

Wayne felt that at first DC Comics top executives Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz did not know that Siegel and Shuster had their own staff of artists. He remembered a time when the two DC executives traveled to Cleveland. According to Boring, they got into an argument with Jerry because they wanted him to concentrate on writing Superman stories instead of his other characters. Along with pre-Superman creations Slam Bradley, Dr. Occult and Federal Men, Jerry also wrote Red White and Blue, The Spectre, Star Spangled Kid and Robotman. Having grown up during the struggles of the Depression, Jerry wanted to write it all. Boring also characterized the deal Siegel and Shuster signed with DC as "a swindle".

Not only would Siegel and Shuster eventually sue DC Comics, but Boring claimed they also sued him for breach of contract. According to Boring, he talked to Jack Liebowitz, who said that the Superman creators had sued DC, and asked Boring to work exclusively for them. Boring didn't give a date for when this transpired, but the Siegel and Shuster lawsuit occurred in the late 1940's. Wayne Boring did work for DC Comics on the Superman comic strip beginning in 1942.

To read more about this studio, go to Marc Tyler Nobleman's blog Noblemania at .

Boring's first confirmed story credit was for the third story of Action Comics #42, September 1938, published around August 15, 1939, a Federal Men feature written by Jerry Siegel. Wayne's first cover was for Action Comics #25, the June 194o issue, published around April 23, 1940. It showed Superman flying over water, with men in a boat shooting at him. His first credited Superman story was for Superman #5, the Summer 1940 issue, published on May 10, 1940, the first thirteen page tale, The Slot Machine Racket. Boring also drew the cover for this issue, showing Superman rip the bars off of a window.

After Siegel and Shuster lost their lawsuit, new Superman editor Mort Weisinger brought in Boring, Al Plastino, Curt Swan and others into his stable of Superman artists in 1948. . Win Mortimer took over the Superman comic strip and Boring began his legendary run on Supemran comics through the 1950's. He would provide Superman covers regularly through 1957. His last Superman cover were for Superman #113, May 1957, for the story The Superman Of The Past, and Action Comics #231, August 1957, for the story Sir Jimmy Olsen, Knight Of Metropolis. Boring's last cover overall was for Showcase #10, September/October 1957, the second Showcase issue to feature Lois Lane. (She would get her own title beginning with the cover date of March/April 1958.) His last story was for Action Comics #359, December 1967, titled The Kryptonite Rumble. When Curt Swan became the main Superman artist around 1960, Boring would return to the Superman comic strip. Wayne said that Weisinger fired him in 1966. Wayne Boring recalled a stormy but productive relationship with editor Mort Weisinger, who was known for the abuse of his talent. Boring quipped during the magazine interview that he was afraid if he went to hell, he'd find Mort Weisinger in charge.

The day after being fired from DC, Boring was hired by Prince Valiant comic strip artist Hal Foster as a ghost artist on the strip. He would also work on two other comic strips, Davey Jones with Sam Leff and Rip Kirby with John Prentice.

In his latter years Wayne Boring would work as a security guard at a bank. He also kept an interest in art by taking up painting, which he said improved his drawing. He wished he had begun painting years earlier.

Wayne Boring's last published work was for Secret Origins #1, April 1986, published on January 10, 1986. Jerry Ordway drew the cover for the Boring drawn story titled The Secret Origin Of The Golden Age Superman which was written by Roy Thomas.

Wayne Boring died of a heart attack in Pompano Beach, Florida.

The Superman stories of Wayne Boring have been reprinted in DC's various Archives and Showcase Presents editions, as well as two editions of reprints from the Superman comic strip, three volumes of the daily strips and one volume of the Sunday strips, in hardcover and paperback editions.

Here are some highlights from Wayne Boring's long career drawing Superman. The inker for all of the stories and cover listed here was Stan Kaye, who would also be one of Curt Swan's inker.:

The Origin Of Superman, the first story from Superman #53, July/August 1948, published on May 5, 1948. This ten page story was the first detailed Superman origin story, published on the character's tenth anniversary. It was written, appropriately, by Bill Finger. This story was reprinted in the trade paperbacks The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Superman From The 30's To The 70's and Superman In The Forties.

Wayne Boring pencilled the cover to Superboy #1, March/April 1949, published on January 8, 1949.

The Super Key To Fort Superman was the first story in Action Comics #241, June 1958, published around April 29, 1958. The twelve page story was written by Jeryr Coleman. This was the first Superman story which featured Superman's Fortress of Solitude as we know it today, although there were some changes in its depiction in the years to come. The story was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow Archives vol. I and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. 1.

The eight page Titano The Super Ape story appeared in Superman #127, February 1959, published around December 18, 1958. Otto Binder wrote this story about a chimp that is exposed to radiation and mutated to a giant ape with the ability of shooting kryptonite beams out of his eyes. It was reprinted in Superman In The Fifties, Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow Archives vol. II and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I.

The Girl From Superman's Past appeared in Superman #129, May 1959, published around March 19, 1959 and was written by Bill Finger. This ten page story marked the first appearance of Lori Lemaris, the mermaid. She would make periodic appearances in Superman comic books even to this day.

Superman's Other Life was published in Superman #132, October 1959 and appeared on newsstands on August 6, 1959. Otto Binder wrote this full length story, 25 pages, about a different type of "imaginary story". Batman and Robin used the Univac computer in Superman's Fortress Of Solitude to give Superman a unique birthday gift, a look at what his life might have been like if Krypton had not exploded. Surprisingly, it was not a totally idyllic story for Kal-El. This story was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. II and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at , and the internet archive 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 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 this episode of the 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