Friday, December 31, 2010

Episode #159: Superman In 2010: The Year In Review!

2010 was a mixed bag for me as a Superman fan, moreso than than in a long time.

This year the long New Krypton storyline ended with War Of The Supermen, which I reviewed in episode #128. Superman: Secret Origin also concluded. New storylines began that will stretch well into the next year, Grounded in Superman, and Lex Luthor has take over Action Comics, like he takes over everything else, in a sequel to Blackest Night. Luthor is on a quest to recapture the Black Energy.

A new Legion title began, and the same group of 31st Century heroes also took over Adventure Comics, both being written by Paul Levitz.

Another old comic book writer returned to DC, Cary Bates, with the Elseworld's title Superman: Last Family Of Krypton, which I reviewed in episode #148.

The basic premise of Grounded has not jelled with me. I found it to be out of place with Superman at this stage of his career. As others have said before me, if Superman couldn't save Pa Kent, why would this woman's claim that the Man of Steel could have saved her husband from a tumor have made him question himself. While a few individual issues have been pretty good, like the one of the aliens in outer space in Detroit, and the recent one on child abuse, Superman has seemed aloof, unlike he was even at the end of War Of The Supermen. And for the events of New Krypton to not even be mentioned until Dick Grayson Batman questioned Superman about his motives a few issues into the plot, is not good storytelling. It's as if the previous stroyline has been forgotten as the creative team moves on to the next story.

It hasn't helped with J. Michael Strazynski's announcement that he was leaving Superman and Wonder Woman, to concentrate on the sequel to Superman: Earth One graphic novel, is a bad publicity move. Noone looks good here. I wish DC would stop looking for the biggest names and look for the best names to write good Superman stories.

I'm not going to drop the Superman books, just yet. I've read great to bad Superman stories over a lot of years, so I have faith that the Man of Steel will rebound. But if the new storyline next year with the return of Doomsday doesn't appeal to me, I will consider dropping the Superman titles until a storyline comes along that interests me. Not too long ago that would ahve been unthinkable. I hope DC comes up with a good story, and doesn't just think, "Okay, what have we not done to Superman, yet. I know, we'll have Doosday rip his arm off!" I hope it doesn't come down to a stunt like that. I just hope Superman can walk a lot faster and get this story over with.

One character I hope returns is Clar Kent. I miss Clark Kent. When the regular identity is ignored for the flashy guy in the capes and tights, it makes the character too one dimensional and boring. I like the twists and turns of Superman's life as both superhoer and newspaper reporter and husband. Here's to more of that on 2011.

For my best Superman story of the year: it's Superman: Last Family Of Krypton! Cary Bates has lost none of his talent as a storyteller, and he found a great way to challenge the Man of Steel and his family, and develop the supporting cast in new and interesting ways.

It's just too bad that it couldn't have been one of the regular Superman books.

In 2011, the Superman Fan Podcast will shift the main focus of the episodes. With quite a number of Superman podcasts popping up, covering various eras, I'm going to shift the main focus of this podcast to the silver age, which happens to be the era I began reading comic books, in the mid-1960's. And that will begin with the very first episode of 2011!

Next Episode: The Search For The Silver Age Superman!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library 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 the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Episode #158: Metropolis Mailbag: Superman #64!

This story is the third of our Superman Christmas stories, and my favorite of the three that have been featured on this podcast.

For a great golden age Superman Christmas story, go to Bill Jourdain's Golden Age Of Comic Books podcast, episode #48 for December 17, 2006.

Metropolis Mailbag, which was also the name of the long running letter column in Superman, appeared in Superman #64, February 1992, triangle # 1992: 6, published on December 17, 1991, the very day my daughter was born. It contained 32 pages for the cover price of $1.00. The cover was pencilled by Dan Jurgens and inked by Brett Breeding. The story was written by Dan Jurgens and drawn by Jackson (now Butch) Guice, lettered by John Costanza and colored by Glenn Whitmore. Mike Carlin was the editor, and Dan Thorsland wsa the assistant editor.

A very gloomy Superman met Lois Lane at the central Metropolis post office. She soon learned the reason for his very Scrooge like mood, when she saw the amount of mail Sueprman had to go through. This year, there were more letters than ever before. Lois realized why he dreaded it so much.

Most letters wanted help, and not just for the needy. One letter writer asked the Man of Steel to squeeze a lump of coal into a diamond, a tip of the hat to the classic silver age Superman. Another letter asked his help to find a heart transplant donor.

One letter caught his attention. It was from an elderly concentration camp survivor, now living in the USA, who discovered that one of her sisters also survived the camps, and now lived in Germany. The Man of Steel made arrangements with the American Embassy at super speed and flew the woman to Germany. He didn't have time to enjoy the happy reunion, but quickly flew back to Metropolis.

Lois had been busy, sorting letters for the appropriate relief agencies which could help them better than the Man of Steel.

Superman found a cute drawing of himself drawn by a young boy, but was caught off guard by the accompanying letter. The boy's father was dying from an inoperable brain tumor, and the son asked Superman to save his Dad. Once again Superman left Metropolis, this time to fly to Salt Lake City and tell a desparate son that there are limits to even the Man ofSteel's abilities.

Superman made it to the hospital and introduced himself to the boy's mother, ten minutes after her husband died. After comforting an angry young boy, a medical professional asked the widow if she had considered organ donation. Superman mentioned the heart patient in Kansas City, and left the widow to make a very painful decision.

In a Kansas City hospital, a woman was rushed to surgery, because a donor had been found. Against all odds, the dead husbands's heart was a perfect match, and it arrived via Superman Airways. The Man of Steel deflected the woman's thanks, and told her to thank a grieving mother and son in Salt Lake City.

Finally, in Metropolis, Superman and Lois sorted the final letters over some Bib Belly Burgers (Metropolis' equivalent of a fast food hamburger restaurant).

Back at his apartment as Clark Kent, he went through his mail and found a wedding invitation. Who was it from? You'll have to stay tuned next year for a future episode of the From Crisis To Crisis podcast. This is the era of Superman comics they are covering, and I've got to leave something in this issue for them to talk about.

This story did not have a single fault to me, and I thought the coincidence of the donor match, while long, was not contrived.and fit into the story. It also did a better job of illustrating the limits to Superman's powers that the current Grounded story did.

Next Episode: Superman In 2010: The Year In Review!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library 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 the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Episode #157: Happy Birthday, Al Plastino!

Albert John Plastino was born on December 15, 1921 in New York City. He now resides in Long Island, New York. Al had a number of relatives in his Italian family who lived long lives. A grandfather lived to the age of 98, and two aunts lived into their 90's. He is best known as an artist for the Superman family of titles for about 30 years. He co-created, with writer Otto Binder (and maybe editor Mort Weisinger) the Legion of Super-Heroes (subject of episode #115), and Supergirl (subject of episode #38).

Al had a love for art even from childhood. An older brother was an artist who encouraged his little brother's talent. His father would drop Al at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on a Saturday. Al would copy from the classical Masters, such as Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Monet, Raphael and others. This is how he learned how to draw in a variety of styles, which would be a handy talent in his comic book career. In third grade he had some drawings published in the yearbook, and by 6th grade he was painting backdrops for school plays. Al graduated from the High School of Industrial Arts in Nwe York City.

His first job was for the magazine Youth Today, where he was hired after winning the cover contest twice. Al's first comic book work was for the Henry Chessler shop. He then did freelance art work until WWII. He would be drafted, and his art talent would eventually get him assigned to the Pentagon to create posters for the war effort. Later he would be sent to New York City and the Steinberg Studio, to draw art for Army manuals.

It was while here that he heard about DC Comics' search for artists. Al sent a sample to Mort Weisinger, and thus began a long association with the Superman family of characters. He even negotiated a page rate of $50.00 per page, when the going rate for a beginner was $30.00. Al was never afraid to stand up to his editors when he thought he was right. He was able to work with Mort Weisinger because he never tolerated the editor's abuse. The only editor he couldn't work with was Murray Boltinoff. One editr Al thought was a nice guy was Jack Schiff.

Al was also the artist on the Batman comic strip, written by editor Jach Ellsworth for 8 years. Througout his comic book career he always had two accounts.  One was the comic strip and the other was Superman. He averaged two pages a day, and completed a story in two weeks, doing both pencils and inks. Al also drew covers, done after the story, illustrating a story point on the first page, or splash page.

One story he drew the art for almost wasn't published. He drew a story about President Kennedy asking Superman to lead a Youth Fitness campaign. During production, the President was assassinated, andthe story was pulled from production. It was finally released at the request of President Johnson (episode #49). One character Al hated to draw was Krypton. Drawing a regular dog was hard enough, but a flying dog with a cape was tougher. During Jack Kirby's time with DC, Al was asked to redraw Superman's face bythe DC editors. He would paste them onto the original art boards, and it was exacting work.

Al Plastino was the artist on a number of other comic strips. One was Hap Harper for United Features Syndicate. Another was Ferd'nand, a pantomime strip which ran in 400 newspapers worldwide. Al also inked the Nancy & Sluggo strip for creator Ernie Bushmiller. Ernie's lines were so tight that Al had to ink it with a fountain pen. During the 1980's Al ghosted six months of Peanuts strips for Charles Schultz when he underwent heart surgery. While Al wsa paid, the strips were never published and were possibly destroyed.

Al Plastino retired from commercial art in 1981. Afterward, he has enjoyed life with his wife, four children and six grandchildren in Long Island. He met his wife when she caught his attention as a possible model for Love Stories. Since he was 17 years older than she was, Al met her mother to prove he was legitimate and trustworthy with her daughter. They hit it off and he told his  future mother in law to call him Al.

He also loves to golf and fish. Among his old golfing partners was entertainer Jackie Gleason and comic strip artist Milton Caniff, creator of the strips Terry And The Pirates and Steve Canyon. Al still pursues his love of art, now painting oils and watercolors. His favorite subject is landscapes of areas around Long Island.

Al's first published Superman story was Superman, Stunt Man, from Action Comics #120, May 1948. The story was written by Alvin Schwartz. A movie director wanted to hire Superman to do some outlandish stunts for his next film. He went to a public appearance of the Man of Steel. When Superman signed everyone's autograph book, he was too fast for his own good, and signed the director's contract. Being the man he was Superman agreed to honor the contract. He performed all of the stunts, but in ways that somehow were never able to be filmed. Superman reminded the director that he had honored the terms of the contract, and to send his payment to the Daily Planet Aid Fund.

The next Al Plastino story featured on this episode was The Power Of The Parasite, in Action Comics
361, March 1968. It was written by a young Jim Shooter. An inter[lanetary mapmaker dissipated some Earth cloud cover with a special power beam, but became interested in a strange, glowing purple cloud. He brought it aboard, but it turned out to be the Parasite, whose body had disintegrated when he absorbed too much energy from his most recent battle with Superman. Reformed, the Parasite sucked some of the life force out of the alien, but got too greedy and killed him. Parasite got a job at the Daily Planet after putting on a disguise. He cleverly sucked a little of Superman's power away from him on several occasions, before revealing himself in order to finish off the Man of Steel. Superman got some help from another ship of intergalactic mapmakers, who took Parasite away to pay for the murder of their comrade.

Here's a toast to Al Plastino on his birthday. Happy Holidays, continued health and long life to you, Al!

Next Episode: Metropolis Mailbag, Superman #64! Our thrid annual Superman Christmas story.

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library 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 the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Episode #156: The Supermobile!

The Supermobile only appeared in two issues, Action Comics #'s 481 & 482, March and April 1978. They were the middle issues of a four issue storyline, written by Cary Bates, and illustrated by penciller Curt Swan and inker Frank Charamonte. The story involved Superman's battle against the villain Amazo.

Amazo first appeared in The Brave And The Bold #30, June 1960. He was an android created by Professor Ivo in a quest for immortality. Amazo was a formidable foe of the Justice League, because he had the ability to absorb all of the powers and abilities of the League.

This particualr story began in Action Comics #480, February 1980. Amazo's Big Break Through told the story of how Amazo was somehow awakened from his electronic slumber in his display case on the Justice League satellite. Superman was on monitor duty, and Amazo knocked the Man of Steel all the way into the ocean.

Superman recovered in time to make it to his Fortress of Solitude and discover that Amazo was activated by a wave of red solar radiation that was sweeping Earth. That same radiation would deplete  Superman's powers, because he was born on a planet that orbited a giant red star. The Man of Steel figured he had twelve hours before his superpowers would disappear, while the red solar radiation swept past Earth. He returned to Metropolis and went to work as Clark Kent.

On his way out of town to cover a story, he was met by Professor Ivo, who had now reformed and was being pursued by his creation. Amazo attacked the cab they were in. The issue ended as Superman's powers gone and Amazo about to crush both of tme with one blow.

The story continued in Action Comics #481, March 1978. Superan teleported both himself and Prof. Ivo to the Fortress of Solitude with a mini-activator hidden in his mouth. It was part of the back up plan Superman had devised off panel in the previous issue during his earlier time at the Fortress. Amazo blamed his creator for the interruption of his electronic slumber and meant to kill him. Amzao pursued them to the Fortress, but Superman was ready for him. He burst out of a secret chamber and ran over Amazo with the Supermobile. After a short battle in the Arctic, Amazo flew away, and Superman flew the Supermobile to Metropolis.

Issue #482, April 1978, was the only one in this story I read when it was first published. Through a WGBS news report, Cary Bates gave a very clever recap of the prvious two issues. Superman displayed the capabilities of the Supermobile, which duplicated all of his superpowers. His invulnerability was duplicated in the Supermobile by Supermanium, the hardest substance known to the DC Universe. Superman rescued Lois Lane from Amazo and carried her in the Supermobile's back seat. Amazo punted the Supermobile into space, and Superman had to use his body as a brake to slow it form the g-forces that were crushing Lois.

They landed on an asteroid that had just enough atmosphere for Lois to breathe. Superman faced Amazo, and revealed that Prof. Ivo had been under the Man of Steel's protection the whole time, shrunken and hiding in the secret pouch of Superman's cape. Amazo's power ring restored the Professor to normal size as Superman gazed at the stars. He realized something, and then flew into the air and drove Amazo underground with one punch. Then he returned Lois and Prof. Ivo to Earth in the Supermobile. The Man ofSteel realized, by the positions of the stars, that Amazo had knoecked them a few days ahead through the time stream, so the red solar radiation had passed. The issue ended with Amazo bursting out of his tomb on the asteroid.

The final issue of the story, Action Comics #483, May 1978, Sleeps No More, was the least satisfying chapter of the whole plot. It told the lame tale of an unexpected side effect of the red solar radiation. It caused all of the plant life on Earth to secrete a gas that kept Earth's population from being able to sleep. When Superman returned to Earth, he had to face Amazo one last time. With help of the Justice League, they were able to knock out Amazo, and place him in Earth orbit to somehow collect that gas that had plagued humanity. A weak ending of what was a great story.

Next Episode: Happy Birthday, Al Plastino!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library 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 the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Episode #155: Stuart Immonen!

Stuart Imonen is a Canadian comic book artist and writer. His wife Kathryn also works as a comic book writer. I featured his Superman mini-series Superman: Secret Identity, which was written by Kurt Busiek, back in episode #99. Immonen studied art at York University in Toronto. His first comic book work was the self published series Playground. He began working for DC Comics and Marvel in 1993.

My first exposure to Stuart's art was in Legion Of Super-Heroes (vol. IV, known as the 5 Years Later Legion) #39, January 1993, published on November 17, 1992. I later followed his work on Action Comics, Superman and The Adventures Of Superman.

For Marvel, Stuart worked such titles as Hulk, X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Ultimate X-Men and Nextwave.

Immonen also has worked for Image and Top Cow.

In 2005 he wrote the book, 50 Reasons To Stop Sketching At Conventions, which detailed the reasons why he no longer draws sketches for fans at conventions. Stuart became the second artist on Ultimate Spider-Man, after original artist Mark Bagley ended a run of drawing the first 111 issues of the title. Stuart worked through issue #133. As of this episode he is the artist on New Avengers.

Stuart has drawn two web comics, Never As Bad As You Think, and Moving Pictures, which used the story of the theft of Eurpoe's art treasures by the Nazi;s during WWII as a backdrop for the plot. This latter web comic was collected into a paperback edition by Top Shelf Productions in the summer of 2010.

The first Sturart Immonen Superman story featured in this episode is Bizarro's World parts I & V, Superman #87, March 1994 and #88, April 1994. Both issues were written by Dan Jurgens. Immonen was listed as guest penciller. Josef Rubinstein was the inker, John Costanza the letter and Glenn Whitmore was the colorist. This story introduced the second Bizarro Superman, who was created by Lex Luthor as a test subject to find a cure for the clone disease that was felling clones, including Lex Luthor, Jr. By part 5, Superman and Lois rescued Bizarro, but not in tome to spare his life.

The next story came from Action Comics #758, October 1999. The untitled story was co-plotted by penciller Immonen and writer Mark Millar, inked by Jose Marzan, Jr., lettered by Bill Oakley and lettered by Glen Whitmore. Superman fought what I call a lobster clawed robot, operated by Intergang. The robot's inventor, an Intergang operative, used the situation to double cross Boss Moxie, Intergang's leader, to become its new master.

The final Stewart Immonen story of this episode is Final Night, a mini-series that was published weekly, with the cover date of November 1996. It brought back a classic Legion nemesis, the Sun Eater,  from Adventure Comics #352, January 1967. In Final Night, the Sun Eater attacked Earth's Sun and was consuming it. Earth's heroes, and some of it villains like Lex Luthor, banded together to defeat the threat. In spite of his weakening powers, Superman volunteered for the suicide mission of deploying their weapon to kill the Sun Eater and restart the Sun. His place on the spaceship was taken by Ferro Lad, a member of the Legion team sent into their past to help in the crisis. Hal Jordan, now the villain Parallax, sacrificed himself to destroy the Sun Eater and restore the Sun.

Next Issue: The Supermobile!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library 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 the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Episode #154: Happy Birthday, Keith Giffen!

Keith Ian Giffen was born on November 30, 1953 at Queens, New York City. He is a comic book writer and artist. His art style has evolved over the years.

His first comic book work was drawing Sons Of The Tiger for Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu #17, October 1975. Keith is most famous for several stints on DC's Legion Of Super-Heroes and the Justice Leage titles Justice League International and Justice League Europe. I enjoyed his use of humor in the JLE title, and his characterization of Metamorpho and the Elongated Man, Ralph Dibny, two of my favorite second tier characters.

Giffen took a sabatical from comic books to work as a stroyboard artist on animated series such as, The Real Ghostbusters and Ed, Edd & Eddy.

Keith has also done comic book projects for a variety of publishers, including Hero Squared for Boom! Studios, about a guy who discovers that on an alternate Earth, he is that world's greatest superhero, and his girlfriend is his double's greatest archenemy.

Giffen did the breakdowns to two year long weekly comic book series for DC Comics, 52 and Countdown (which became Countdown To Final Crisis). Both series met their weekly deadlines without missing a single publication date. I wonder if Keith would ever want to do another year long weekly series again?

Keith will probably be remembered mostly for two runs on DC's Legion Of Super-Heroes. The first time with writer Paul Levitz stands as one of the most popular runs of Legion stories with fans. He began with Legion Of Super-Heroes #82, March 1982 and ended with Legion Of Super-Heroes #63, August 1989 (what is referred to as the Baxter series, after the higher quality paper it was printed on). His second run on the Legion was woth Legion Of Super-Heroes #1, November 1989 (volume IV, or what is called the 5 years later Legion). Giffen served as penciller and co-plotter with husband and wife writing team and Legion fans Tom and Mary Bierbaum.

In 2010, Keith finished the 12 issue mini-series The Authority: The Lost Year and is currently working on Booster Gold and Doom Patrol as of the time of this recording.

No discussion of Keith Giffen would be complete without talking about Ambush Bug, a character Giffen created and has become a foil to satirize superhero comic books. His first appearance was in DC Comics Presents #52, December 1982. Originally a villain, Ambush Bugs power is teleportation. He has made a variety of appearances in DC comics and had two mini-series.

Keith Giffen's first Superman story was All This And Kobra, Too for DC Comics Prsenets #81, May 1985, as plotter and penciller.

The first Keith Giffen Superman story featured in this episode is Caitiff: First Of The Vampires, from Action Comics #577, March 1986, published on December 19, 1985. Julius Schwartz was the editor. The cover was pencilled by Keith Giffen and inked by Bob Oksner, who also did the interior story art. Giffen als served as co-plotter, with scripter Robert Loren Fleming. The letterer was Milt Snapinn and the colorist was Gene D'Angelo. superman investigated the mysterious deaths of people in the Intensive Care Unit of a Metropolis hospital. He discovered they were victims of Caitiff, the first Vampire, who fed off the life force of those near death for his own survival. The Man of Steel also learned that he was the last of his kind, before Caitiff disappeared, beyond Superman's ability to follow him.

The next Keith Giffen Superman story of the episode is Prisoners Of Time, from Action Comics #579, May 1986, published on what would be my son's birthday four years later, February 27, 1986. Giffen pencilled the cover and the interior art. Karl Kesel inked both the cover and the story. Superman and Jimmy were snathced into the past, into the middle of a war between the Gauls and the Romans. By the end of the story, our time traveling pair helped bring the two sides together.

This next Superman story was the first one that I read. It was Burial Ground, from Action Comics #646, October 1989, published on September 5, 1989. Mike Carlin was the editor. The cover was drawn by George Perez.Keith Giffen was the co-plotter and the penciller, Roger Stern wrote the script, Dennis Janke, Bill Oakley the letterer and Glenn Whitmore the colorist. After defeating the Kryptonian artifact Eradicator, Superman had sealed it in a scrap of metal and dumped in a dep chasm is Antarctica. Superman discovered a giant, alien snail like creature, that had been dropped on the primordial Earth by a spaceship inor der to get rid of an unwanted hitchhiker. The creature awoke from its dormant state after uncounted eons to eventually swallow Superman. The Man of Steel used his heat vision to give the creature a dose of heartburn, only to ignite the methane inside the creature's body, blowing it to bits. The explosion cracked open the metal that encased the Eradicator, allowing it ti menace Superman in a future story.

The final Keith Giffen story of the episode is Sanctuary, from Superman: The Man Of Steel #15, September 1992 (Triangle # 1992: 33).Louise Simonson wrote the story, Kerry Gammil pencilled the scenes in Metropolis, while Keith Giffen pencilled the scenes in hell. The inker wsa Dennis Janke, letter was Bill Oakley and the colorist was Glenn Whitmore. This took place in the middle of the Blaze/Satanus War, when Superman and the Newstime building had been transported literally to Hell. Not only did Superman have to fight against Blaze's demon horde's he also had to protect the people who were trapped in the Newstime building from those same demons.

Next Episode: Sturat Immonen!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library 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 the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Episode #153: Superman: The Triangle Years!

One of my favorite eras of modern Superman comic books is the era known as the "triangle years." Beginning with the Superman titles cover dated January 1991, the Superman books carried an additonal number. The first Superman title published that carrying that cover date had an additional triangle on the cover with the year 1991 and #1. The next Superman title for that month carried a triangle number of 1991: #2, and so on for the entire year. When the Superman titles cover dated 1992 were published, they began with a new triangle number 1. Each following year the triangle number restarted at number one.

The reason this triangle number was added was that, after John Byrne left the Superman titles, the creative teams that took his place slowly evolved into tighter plotting, so that eventually, each individual Superman title that month told a chapter of a larger story. The next title would advance that plot and so on. The next issue boxes at the end of the letter columns became more important, in order to know the correct reading order of the Superman titles. That is why the Superman team began the triangle numbering system. Readers no longer had to flip to the end of the letter column to organize their Superman books inorder to read them in the correct order. It was right on the cover.

In order to keep the creative teams coordinated on such tightly plotted stories, the entire Superman creative staff would meet in annual sumits to plan out the next year's worth of Superman stories. Jerry Ordway would begin what was a running joke and suggest, "Let's just kill him," and was ignored until their plans for Clark's and Lois' wedding in the comics was interrupted by the TV show Lois & Clark.

This triangle numbering system began under Mike Carlin's tenure as editor of the Superman titles, which began in 1987 and ended with the Superman titles cover dated January 1996. Eddy Barganza continued the triangle number system until the end of the era.

What I enjoyed about the triangle era and its tight continuity was that it fleshed out Superman's world. Both Clark Kent and Superman had room to develop as characters, and there seemed to be more room for minor plotlines involving supporting characters.

During this era, two titles joined the Superman family of books. Superman: The Man Of Steel, borrowing the title of John Byrne's landmark series which restarted Superman continuity, began with the July 1991 issue, published on May 14, 1991, triangle number 1991: 19. That meant that a Superman book was published every week, except on months that had five weeks. To fill that gap, Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow would be published quartlerly, beginning with the Summer 1995 issue, through #15, the Fall 1999 issue.

The traingle number system stopped when new creative teams wanted to take their individual Superman titles in their own directions.

Among the major storylines of the triangle era was Clark's revelation of his secret identity to Lois Lane, just before the Time And Time Again story, which ran in the March - May 1991 issues. In that series, Superman encountered the Linear Men, who protected the time stream. The Man of Steel was bounced back and forth through time.

In Panic In The Sky, Superman lead Earth's hereos on a preemptive strike against Warworld, now led by Brainiac.

The Death Of Superman took place in the Superman titles cover dated December 1992 and January 1993. When the producers fo the TV show Lois & Clark wanted to marry them off first, it left a gap for the comic book creative team. So instead of a wedding, they planned for a funeral, Superman's. Funeral For A Friend, January - February 1993, showed the strength of Superman's supporting cast, as they coped with Superman's death. Reign Of The Supermen, June - October 1993, introduced four possible replacements for the Man of Steel, culminating with the return of Superman himself.

Bizarro's World, March - April 1994 introduced the second Bizarro, who became the lab rat of the cloned Lex Luthor as heled a desparate search for the cure to a clone disease. Battle For Metropolis and Fall Of Metropolis, May - July 1994, told the story of a dying Lex Luthor who decided to take metropolis with him.

In Zero Hour, a crossover event in the September - October 1994, the DC Universe was reset again to "correct" continuity errors that had crept in since Crisis On Infinite Earths.

The Death Of Clark Kent, May - July 1995, introduced Conduit, a new major villain who grew up in Smallville and had learned Clark Kent's secret identity. His goal was to destroy Clark's life.

In The Trial Of Superman, November 1996 - February 1997, Superman was put on trial by an intergalactic tribunal for the deaths of the population of Krypton. It turned out that the tribunal had been manipulated by the Cyborg Superman.

Final Night, October - November 1996, was another crossover event, reintroduced the Sun Eater, which threatened Earth's Sun.

Also in November 1996, Superman: The Wedding Album  concluded the quickie romance which the Superman creative team had to scramble to pull of, after Lois & Clark finally married them off on TV.

One of my least favorite Superman storylines of the era was the Superman Blue story, from May 1997 - June 1998. Superman's powers evolved so that as a superhero, he became an energy being who needed a containment suit to keep his energy form from dissipating. When he was Clar, he was a normal person. Superman Red was introduced in the March 1998 books, when Superman Blue split into two beings, one of them the Red persona. The traditional Superman would return after the battle of the Millennium Giants.

In the early years of the 2000's, I stopped buying comic books foir a while for financial reasons and the lack of a local comic book shop. There were a number of later storylines of the triangle era that I missed, including Critical Condition, June - July 2000, where Superman suffered from a form of kryptonite poisoning.

In Emperor Joker, September - October 2000, the Clown Prince of Crime stole the powers of Mr. Mxyzptlk.

President Lex, January - February 2001, told the story of Lex Luthor's election as President of the United States.

Our Worlds At War, August - September 2001, chronicled Superman leading Earth's heroes against Imperiex.

Return To Krypton, March - May 2001 and September - October 2002, rebooted Krypton's continuity, revealing a Kandor that was possibly from another dimension.

As I prepared for this episode, I realized how much I had forgotten about some of these storylines. I have to reread them when I can find the time, and I hope to fill in the gap in my Superman collection from earlier this decade. I enjoyed this rop through memory lane, through the ups and downs of past Superman stories.

Next Episode: Happy Birthday, Keith Giffen!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library 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 the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Episode #152: Happy Birthday, Elliot S! Maggin!

Elliot S! Maggin was born November 14, 1950, (which happens to have been my maternal grandfather's birthday back in 1910) in Brooklyn New York. He wrote comic books in the 1970's and 1980's. He mostly wrote for DC Comics, and the majority of his comic book stories featured Superman. The reason his middle initial has an exclamation mark after it is that Maggin has said that comic book sentences don't have periods. He signed his name on a story credit with an exclamation mark, and then editor Julius Schwartz declared taht his name would afterward always appear in the story credits as Elliot S! Maggin.

His writing career began around the age of 16 or 17, when he had a short story published in a Canadian Boy Scout magazine. He graduated as Valedictorian from Brandeis University in 1972 with a degree in American Studies, and from Graduate School at Columbia University in 1974 in Journalism. Maggin's Junior finals honors thesis in the American Studies Department involved Superman and Green Lantern.

Another term paper became his first published comic book story, which featured Green Arrow, What Can One Man Do?. He got a B+ on the paper, but thought he deserved an A. He sent it to DC Comics and it got published. It appeared in Green Lantern / Green Arrow #87, December/January 1971, published on October 21, 1971. It was the second story of the issue, and has been reprinted in Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection vol. II, Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection hardcover and Green Lantern/Green Arrow vol. II.

About this story, editor Julius Schwartz said:

"In all my years as a comic book editor, I have never come across a 'first time' script that came within a light year of equaling Elliot S! Maggin's 'first time' comic book script. Indeed, to equalize this thrilling experience, I must go back to the early '40's when, as a literary agent, I sold the very first story of a young Ray Bradbury."

Ray Bradbury is the first science fiction writer I ever read, and got me hooked on the genre.

Elliot's next purblished comic book story was the classic Superman tale, Must There Be A Superman?, from Superman #247, January 1972, published on November 11, 1971. The penciller was Curt Swan and the inker was Murphy Anderson. It has been reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Superman In The Seventies, Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. I and Green Lantern: In Brightest Day.

Maggin began writing for the Superman books soon after an editorial change with the Superman titles. Mort Weisinger retired in 1970, and the Superman books were split up among three editors. Julius Schwartz took over Superman and World's Finest Comics. Murray Boltinoff became editor of Action Comics, Superboy and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen. E. Nelson Bridwell became editor of Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane.

Julius Schwartz was not familiar with Superman. He had been the editor of DC's science fiction titles, and of the Batman books since the mid- 1960's. Julie, as he was called, gave the Man of Steel to his best talent and let them show him what they could do with him. His top writer at the time was Deny O'Neil, who had problems relating to a character as powerful as Superman. O'Neil preferred more street level characters as Batman or The Question. He still wrote one of the classic Superman stories, Kryptonite Nevermore!

Len Wein also wrote some Superman stories, even introducing us to Clark Kent's neighbors in his apartment building.

Comic book writers Elliot S! Maggin and Cary Bates had the most enthusiasm writing for Superman. Elliot was not intimidated by the Man of Steel's powers, but concentrated on stories that explored moral dilemmas, questions of right and wrong. Maggin considered Julius Schwartz as one of his mentors. Elliot and Cary Bates did collaborate on a number of Superman stories. Bates concentrated on the plot, while Maggin wrote the dialogue.

Early in Elliot's comic book career, Gerry Conway killed off Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man. Elliot decided he wanted to kill Lois Lane in the Superman titles, which didn't thrill his editors. After he had a dream about Lois, Elliot decided he wanted to get Lois and Superman hitched. That didn't go over well with his editors either. Maggin couldn't win either way, but in the second instance he turned out to be ahead of his time.

Elliot has catagorized himself as a non-practicing Orthodox Jew. But he did enjoy giving the comic book characters he wrote stories with a religious preference. Their religion may have never become a part of a story, but it did help Maggin to flesh out his characters. He felt that Jimmy was a Lutheran, Lois a Catholic, Perry White a Baptist, Lex Luthor a non-observant Jew, Bruce Wayne/Batman an Episcopalian, Clark Kent and his parents as Methodists. While he never bought into Superman's slogan, "Great Rao", Elliot did consider Superman as believing in a Kryptonian version of a monotheistic philosophy.

As he continued to write for Superman, Elliot's version moved closer to the classic Siegel and Shuster version. He saw Superman as more of an American icon than an action hero, personifying the best of patriotic and humanitarian values. Maggin came to see that every successful Superman story uplifted both the character of Superman and the reader.

Elliot loved working with classic Superman penciller Curt Swan, and his favorite comic book artist he worked with was Alex Toth. That was on the story Villain, Villain, Who's Got The Villain?, the main story of Superman Annual #9, 1983.

One of the stories they collaborated on was Who Took The Super Out Of Superman?, which was one of the rare multi-issue storylines of the era, covering Superman issues 296 - 299, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Bob Oksner. Superman discovered that his powers disappeared when he would appear in public as Clark Kent, and was vulnerable. When he appeared to the public as the Man of Steel his powers were normal. He began to wonder if Earth really needed protecting 24/7. He also began to think about if he would ever have to choose between his life as Superman or as Clark Kent. So he began to explore his life as Clark Kent. Clark became more assertive, even standing up to the obnoxious Steve Lombard.

Kent also explored his relationship with Lois Lane hot and heavy. There was even a famous scene that garnered news coverage, which caused readers to wonder if Clark and Lois spent the night together. The next day, as Lois placed a flower on Clark's desk at the Daily Planet, she wore the same dress she had worn the previous day at work. Editors changed one line of dialogue in that panel, and had Steve Lombard say, "New getup, Lois?" The original line, as written by Elliot, was, "Same dress as yesterday, Lois?"

Elliot and Cary also worked together on Superman 2001, which appeared in Superman #300, which was the subject of episode #24. This story was a retelling of Superman's origin, as if he came to Earth the year that issue was published. It was reprinted in Superman: Past & Future, which collected Superman's best time travel stories.

Maggin had a large part to play with Superman #400, October 1984, published on July 12, 1984. It contained 64 pages for the cover price of $1.50. Julius Schwartz was the editor, but his wife was very ill during the production of this issue. Elliot wrote the story, The Living Legends Of Superman, which was reprinted in Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, vol. II. The sotry explored how different people saw Superman in future decades and centuries.

Al Williamson, the subject of episode #131, drew the story, Doc Homer's Superman Nectar, which was about a salesman hawking a "medicinal cure" telling a story of an old and bearded Superman saving a space pilot.

Frank Miller drew The Legend Of Earth Prime, about how the true nature of Superman's secret identity is discovered in the future.

Penciller Marshall Rogers and inker Terry Austin drew the story Resistance, about a future homeless man who discovered Superman's ancient uniform and inspired the populace to rebel a tyrannical government.

Wendy Pini drew Our Greatest Treasure, about a future college class debating the true nature of Superman, if he was real or a legend that began as an early computer game.

Last Son Of Krypton, drawn by Mike Kaluta, told the story about two teen movie goers who become part of a Superman movie, playing the Man of Steel and Jimmy Olsen.

Mike Kaluta drew Miracle Monday, about a future holiday, similar to Thanksgiving or Passover, but honoring Superman. The tradition is to leave a place at the dinner table for the Man of Steel.

Jim Steranko wrote and drew the second story of the issue, The Exile, which told the story of how the legend of Superman inspired humanity to spread throughout the stars in the distant future. Steranko even called Elliot and read the entire story to him on the phone to see if he got it right. Of course, Elliot thought he did, and so did I when I read it.

One of my favorite Elliot S! Maggin stories was The Einstein Connection, from Superman #416, February 1986, published on November 14, 1985. I previously talked about this story as one of my favorite Superman stories in episode #1. To summarize, Lex Luthor would often escape from prison on March 14. When Superman would recapture Lex on these dates, he found Lex doing some unusual things for a prison escapee. One time Luthor approached the New Jersey shore on a small motorboat. Another time Lex ordered an unnamed person's favorite flavor at an ice cream parlor, then working at a European patent office. Eventually Sueprman put together the clues from over the years. When he captured Luthor once again, he took a short detour and took Lex to the Einstein statue that commemorated the physicists' 100th birthday. With a tear in his eye, Lex said, "Happy birthday, Sir." Then Superman returned Lex to prison.

Elliot wrote just under 200 stories for DC Comics, from 1971 - 1986, and periodically  from 1989 - 1992. He also served as an editor for DC from 1989 - 1991, for 71 issues of DC's various fantasy titles, such as Dungeons & Dragons, Forgotten Realms and Spelljammer. He also edited eight issues of the more traditional super hero title Challengers Of The Unknown.

Maggin also wrote two Superman related novels. Superman: Last Son Of Krypton (1978). It told the story of Superman's life from Krypton to Smallville and then Metropolis. He and Luthor had to team up to defeat a mysterious alien. Superman: Miracle Monday (1981) told the story of Superman battling an entity of pure evil who wanted to unleash universal chaos. The book introduced time traveler Kristin Wells, who would become Superwoman, and later become a supporting character in the Superman titles. The book introduced the holiday Miracle Monday, which occurs on the third Monday in May. Be sure to mark your calendar.

Elliot wrote scripts for superhero animated series, X-Men and Batman: The Animated Series (1992) and Spider-Man (1994)

He also wrote novelizations of twho comic book series, Generation X (1997), co-written by Scott Lobdell, and Kingdom Come (1999), adapting the comic book mini-series created by writer Mark Waid and artist Alex Ross.

Maggin ran for public office twice, losing both times. The first time was for New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District in 1984. In 207 he announced his candidacy for California's 24th Congressional District. He pulled out of the race in early 2008.

After his comic book career, Elliot held a variety of jobs, including teaching and freelance writing. Currently, Maggin is a developmental learning consultant with Kaiser Permanente, a managed care consortium.

To read more about Elliot S! Maggin online, as well as some of his best Superman stories, go to

Next Episode: Superman: The Triangle Years!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library 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 the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Episode #151: Action Comics #150 & Superman #150!

Action Comics #150, November 1950, was published around September 15, 1950. The issue contained 48 pages and sold for a dime.The editor was Mort Weisinger. Wayne Boring pencilled the cover, which was inked by Stan Kaye. It showed Superman taking photos of kids who would stand behind a Superman cutout.

The first story of the issue was twelve page Superman tale. The Secret Of The 6 Superman Statues. The writer is unknown, but we do know that the penciller was Wayne Boring, and the inker was Stan Kaye. There was no reprint information for this story.

The story began as Lois was mad at Clark because he claimed to be too busy to attend the dedication of a Veteran's housing project. Of course, the reason he was too busy was that he would be attending the dedication ceremony as Superman.

As the Man Of Steel spoke at the ceremony, Lois' purse got knocked off her arm accidentally. After the ceremony was over, Superman helped Lois gather her belongings. He used his x-ray vision to search for her change that fell into a grating, and made a surprising discovery. Superman discovered a statue of himself, composed of a plastic-like substance, buried deep underground. He retrieved the statue and placed it in front of the Veteran's Housing Project.

Later, Superman found another Superman statue, exactly like the first, hanging from a balloon and descending toward a city street. He demolished it before it crashed into the road.

Then we saw three men in a dark room, led by someone named Marko, discussing their setting up Superman with their statues. Their purpose remained unknown.

As Clark Kent at his Daily Planet office, he pondered the mystery of the statues when he was called into Perry White's office. Perry wanted him to cover the story of a diver who needed to be rescued. Clark said he was busy and Lois jumped on the story. As Superman, he flew to the site of the emergency, a ship on the ocean. He dove into the water and freed the diver's lines from some rocks they had become entangled on. On a nearby shipwreck from the 1300's, Superman discovered a third Superman statue, exactly like the first two. He removed the statue from the wreck in order to keep the mystery from the public.

Superman discovered a fourth Superman statue sealed inside a time capsule vault. He carried it into space so that he could open the vacuum sealed vault in the vacuum of space, retrieve the statue, reseal the vault and return it to its original site.

The three mystery men were happy that Superman was befuddled about the statues. They flew a helicopter to  Mount Avery because they needed Superman's help on one more job. We discovered how the men created the statues, as they lowered a long tube that bored into the mountain. They poured a liquid plastic into the tube and molded it into the shape of Superman.

At the Daily Planet a note was left for Superman. It called for the Man of Steel to use his x-ray vision on the tallest mountain.outside Metropolis. At Mount Avery he found three more Superman statues buried underneath the mountain. He bored into the mountain and crushed them.

Marko and his men set up at the base of the mountain. They had turned Superman's tunnel into a toll road. They were unaware that Superman was listening to them as they discussed Superman carrying out their plans. The Man of Steel realized he had been played for a stooge, and began to turn the tables.

The site of the original Superman statue was now gushing oil. Superman burrowed underground, through the oil deposit and to the site of an Indian reservation. That way the money from the oil would help the tribe recover financially from recent crop failures.

At the site of the shipwreck, where Marko's men were opening a treasure chest on a boat floating over the wreck, Superman used super ventriloquism to scare them into thinking the treasure was haunted. They dropped the chest back into the ocean, and the Man of Steel planned to donate the treasure to the Metropolis Museum.

Superman flew to Mount Avery and burrowed another tunnel into the mountain, creating a free roadway to detour Marko's toll road. He then informed Marko that he knew of his schemes and had foiled them. Marko mocked Superman, noting that they had done nothing illegal.

Marko and his gang returned to Metropolis, and discovered a Superman statue on top of city hall. They took their guns and shot at the statue, and were surprised when their bullets did no damage. They were shocked to discover that the statue was actually Superman himself, who arrested the whole gang.

The next day, as Clark and Lois walked past a Superman statue in a park, Kent commented that he had his fill of Superman statues.

The next story in the issue was the eight page science fiction Tommy Tomorrow story, The Forgotten Heroes Of Space. The story was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by John Fischetti. Tommy Tomorrow met some out of work space pilots, whom he recognized as the heroes who inspired him to become a space man. Tommy suggested that they start their own space freight line. Tommy Tomorrow's Planteers planned to sell some slightly outdated spaceships, and Tommy encouraged the men to make a bid.,

The old timers' bid was accepted, and Tommy took a leave of absence from his regular job to help the new company out.

Inter-Space Space Lines fought this new competition by purchasing and monopolizing as many spare parts as they could.

The old timers made their first shipment, atomic fuel to a floating city on Neptune. They overcome a series of mechanical breakdowns through some old space maneuvers. The I. S. S. plan backfired when one of their ships suffered an emergency, and was rescued by the very old timers they had tried to put out of business. To make amends, the company president promised to help the new company and even erected a statue to honor the space pioneers.

The third story of the issue was the six page Congo Bill adventure story. The writer was unknown, but the art was done by Ed Smalle. Congo Bill accepted the challenge of surviving on an uninhabited island, using nothing but his bare hands. The Adventure Club offered $5,000.00 if he succeeded. Unknown to Congo Bill, some escaped killers were hiding on the very island. They kidnapped Congo Bill and forced him into slave labor. He tricked them into using all of their ammunition, and the criminals eventually fell off a cliff into shark infested waters. The Adventure Club Members found Congo Bill at the campsite, and he donated his winnings for famine relief.

Vigilante, the modern western hero, starred in the final ten page story of the issue, Six Slugs For Vigilante, drawn by Dan Barry (brother of long time Phantom comic strip artist Sy Barry). Flying on his way to the next stop of his concert tour, Vigilante captured some train robbers. One of the criminals got loose from his bonds and tried to take over Vigilante's plane. The plane crashed, but everyone escaped unharmed. The criminals attempted to kill Vigilante and his sidekick Stuff a number of times, but Vigilante eventually recaptured them and returned them to jail.

Superman #150, January 1962, was published on November 7, 1961. It contained 32 pages for 12 cents. This issue was reprinted in : Showcase Presents: Superman vol. III.. The editor was Mort Weisinger, and the cover was penciled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye, featuring the third story of the issue, When The World Forgot Superman.

The first story of the issue was the eight page The One Minute Of Doom was written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Al Plastino. Superman stopped a tornado by flying around it in the opposite direction at super speed. He left a cheering crowd for a special appointment.

In outer space, Krypto used his heat vision to fuse asteroids together to build a Doghouse of Solitude. He also left for a special appointment.

Back on Earth, Supergirl saw some boys fishing. Some boys with fancy poles made fun of a boy who only had a bamboo pole. Underwater, Supergirl hooked a whale onto the hook of the bamboo pole to teach the other boys a lesson. She also left for a special appointment.

Supergirl met Superman and Krypto at the Fortress of Solitude. They gathered near the bottle city of Kandor, to pay respects to their lost home planet in Krypton Memorial Day, with a minute of silence. The Super trio then recalled their origins.

Superman, with his super memory, recalled being placed on the rocket when he was a toddler, by his parents Jor-El and Lara.

Supergirl remembered the survival of her home in Argo City, when it survived Krypton's destruction on a huge chunk of rock and a sliver of an atmosphere. They survived the transformation of the ground to kryptonite by lining the ground with lead sheeting. When a meteor storm punched through the lead shielding, Kara Zor-El's parents placed her in a rocket in order to save her.

Krypto recalled being sent into space in a test rocket by Jor-El, to perfect his design which would eventually send his son to Earth.Years later Krypto's rocket would land on Earth and be discovered by Superboy.

The people of Kandor recalled being captured by Brainiac. Even the Phantom Zone prisoners mourned Krypton's destruction. The citizens of Bizarro World remembered Krypton Day in their usual backwards fashion by a minute of noise.

After a minute of silence Superman thought of another way to honor Krypton. Superman, Supergirl and Krypto flew into space and found a huge uninhabited planet aobut the same size Krypton was. They used their superpowers to terraform the planet into a duplicate of Krypton, complete with Kryptonian cities and a robot population. The super trio planned to return to this planet every year in the future for Krypton Memorial Day.

The second, eight page, story was The Duel Over Superman, written by Robert Bernstein and drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. Lois Lane covered a blackout in Metropolis, caused by a nighttime lightning storm. She met Lana Lang, who was covering the same story for television. Both women watched Superman repair a high tension wire and end the blackout. The two ladies dined at a restaurant afterward, and decided to force Superman to choose between them. To raise the stakes they would fake a duel with each other, and force Superman to choose one of them to keep them from killing each other.  Lois had the idea of having the duel at a local castle that she had written an article about. Of course, each woman thought that Superman would pick her over the other one.

The next day, at the opening of an new amusement park where Superman made an appearance, Lois and Lana faked an argument and challenged each other to a duel. At the Daily Planet offices, Jimmy was unable to talk Lois out of it. She informed Jimmy that she had announced that he would referee the duel. Poor Jimmy then used his signal watch to summon Superman to help find a way to stop the duel.

Superman saw through the scheme and decided to teach both women a lesson. First he built robot duplicates of Lois and Lana. At the castle, he secretly locked Lana in the dungeon and had the robot Lana duel Lois. The robot Lana drew swords. Lois' plan seemed to backfire when she expected Jimmy to call Superman with his signal watch to stop the duel. She went on with the fight and stabbed the robot Lana with her sword. Jimmy led Lois into the armory as she thought she had killed the real Lana.

Superman then unlocked the door to the dungeon, and Lana faced the robot Lois. It was Lana's turn to wonder why Jimmy didn't call Superman with his signal watch to stop the duel. Robot Lois chose pistols, and Lana fired into the ground to avoid hitting Lois. But to her surprise, robot Lois fell as if hit by the shot. Lana thought the bullet ricocheted to hit Lois

The Man of Steel maneuvered the real Lois and Lana into the same room. Furious, Lana and Lois attacked each other, forcing Superman to admit using robot duplicates to trick both women. The two women continue their attack off the top of the castle. Superman rescued both women, to discover that the real Lois and Lana on top of the castle. They had outfoxed Superman, when they discovered their robot duplicates and reprogrammed them.

While this was a chauvinistic story, and would not be published today, it was fun to see how Superman had his own trick turned on him.

The final story in this issue was the nine page When The World Forgot Superman, written by Jerry Siegel, penciled by Curt Swan and inked by Wayne Boring. Superman returned to Earth and Metropolis in time to stop a gas explosion in the sewers. He flew at super speed to keep the manhole covers from blowing off. He almost got arrested for disturbing the peace by a police officer who had never heard of Superman.

He flew to a window at the Daily Planet building, but Perry Lois and Jimmy had never heard of Superman either. Superman secretly changed to Clark Kent and suspected a prank. Lois told Clark about the crazy guy who claimed to be a superman, and he realized that it was not a prank after all.

Clark checked the front page of a previous edition of the Daily Planet, which had the banner headline of Superman recovering a sunken space capsule. Instead, the headline in tis place was of the robbery of a pretzel factory. He decided to prove he was Superman.

As the Man of Steel, he balanced on a wire with his fingertip over downtown Metropolis. He then flew down over the unbelieving crowd, who pointed out the jet pack under his cape (which wasn't there a moment ago).When he leapt over the crowd, springs were on his feet. He then caught a falling statue, but people noticed it was made of sponge. A moment ago it was made of stone.

Superman then realized the source of this insanity. Outside of Metropolis he called Mr. Mxyzptlk. His hunch was correct, as the imp had used his 5th Dimension magic to make people forget that Superman ever existed. The Man of Steel carved the letters in Mxy's name out of rock. He challenged Mxyzptlk to pronounce the word each time he rearranged the letters. Eventually, Superman confused Mxy enough that he pronounced his own name backwards and had to return to his own dimension.

I thought this was one of the weaker ways that Superman defeated Mxyzptlk. It must have been an off day for the imp.

Next Episode: Happy Birthday, Elliot S! Maggin!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library 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 the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Episode #150: Superman:War Of The Worlds!

Note: Our regularly scheduled look at Action Comics #150 and Superman #150 will be postponed until week for the third annual Superman Halloween episode.

War Of The Worlds has become synonymous with Halloween since Orson Welle's 1938 radio adaption, which we will have more about later.

H. G. Wells published War Of The Worlds in 1898. Wells was born on September 21, 1866 and died on August 13, 1946. He was a science fiction writer before the term was invented. At the time his books were described as "scientific romances". Some readers have thought that War Of The Worlds was a commentary on British Imperialism. It is possible, since Wells was a socialist. Like most novels of the era, War Of The Worlds was serialized, in Pearson's Magazine in 1897.

Two movie adaptions were made of the novel, in 1953 and again in 2005. A syndicated TV show was produced from 1988 - 1990.

A radio adaption of War Of The Worlds was broadcast for Halloween on October 30, 1938. The episode was part of the radio anthology series Mercury Theatre On The Air, on the CBS Radio Network. It was produced by Orson Welles and John Houseman, who would become most well known for the movie and TV series Paper Chase, and for the wine commercials where he would say the slogan, "We will sell no wine before its time."

For the radio adaption, the site of the Martian invasion was not Great Britian, but Grover Mills, New Jersey. The town would later erect a monument to commemorate the honor. The radio program caused a national panic the night of the broadcast partly because of its fictional news bulletins. It tapped into the nation's concern over unrest in Europe, with the rise of Nazi Germany.

I first heard the radio drama in 7th grade, in Mr. Kinney's English class. He had a collection of record albums of old radio programs.Among the other radio shows we listened to in class was an adaption of Edgar Allen Poe's story, The Tell Tale Heart, and Sorry, Wrong Number, which was about a wife who called her husband at work because he was late getting home. I won't spoil any more of the story, because you can probably find these for free on podcasts of old radio programs.

In 10th grade, I had Mr. Kinney again, this time for American Literature. That year a touring actor came to my high school, reprising Hal Holbrook's one man show as Mark Twain. Before the day of the show, Mr. Kinney played his album soundtrack of Hal Holbrook's performance as Masrk Twain. It was fantastic. The live show I saw with the touring actor was fun also, but hearing Holbrook's performance first took a little away from the live performance. It was already familiar. I wished I had watched the live performance first, so that the material would have been new and fresh to me.

ABC premiered a TV movie, The Night That Panicked America, on Halloween night, October 31, 1975. The movie was about the radio adaption of War Of The Worlds and the effect that it had on some people across the country. The late John Ritter, who would later be one of the stars of the sitcom Three's Company for the same network, had a role as a rural teen. He went with his Dad, who drove around the countryside hunting for the Martian invaders. He and some other men would shoot holes in a water tower, which they mistook for a Martian tripod.

What most interested me about the movie, which I only saw once, were the scenes which portrayed how the cast and crew produced the radio drama and its sound effects. To get the effect of someone using a two-way radio, an actor held up a ceramic coffee cup close to his mouth as he spoke the lines. It simulated the tinny sound of a voice on a radio. My favorite scene involving the production of a sound effect was when the first Martian capsule opened. To create that sound, a microphone was placed over a toilet stall in a men's room near the recording studio. The water valve was shut off and the water removed from the toilet bowl. On cue from the studio, which I think was a blinking light bulb, a cast member slowly unscrewed the metal lid of a glass jar, which was opened inside the empty toilet bowl. With the acoustics of the tile-walled bathroom, it produced a sound like two stone slabs sliding against each other.

After I graduated hight school, in the late 1970's or early 1980's I was able to buy an album of the recording of the War Of The Worlds radio braodcast. What I remember about the album was one difference between my copy of the album, and Mr. Kinney's. Both copies were the same, with pictures of newspaper front pages with headlines about the national panic over the radio braodcast. Mr. Kinney's copy had one headline about 60 people who comitted suicide. My copy did not have that particular newspaper headline. I still have that album, even though I no longer have a record player to play it on. I have downloaded the proadcast from a podcast that reposts old radio shows. It is available on iTunes, along with albums collecting Orson Welles radio broadcasts for sale.

Superman: War Of The Worlds was published by Elseworlds/DC on October 14, 1998. It contained 64 pages for $5.95, as opposed to 64 pages for a dime 50 years earlier. The editor was Joey Cavalieri. Michael Lark drew the cover and interior art, and his art style was perfect to capture the look of the early Superman of the late 1930's. The story was written by Roy Thomas, fan of the golden age of comic books. He will be at MegaCon in Orlando, Florida in March 2011, and I look forward to having him autograph my copy, and talk to him about the creation of the story. Willie Schubert was the letterer and Noelle C. Giddings was the colorist.

The story began in a similar fashion to the novel and radio adaption, with Earth being watched, except that in this story, Earth was watched by Kryptonians as well as the Martians. As Kal-El's rocket escaped Krypton's doom, the narration contrasted the motivations of Krypton and Mars. Kal-El's journey continued in a familiar fashion, as his rocket landed safely on Earth, to be found by the Kents. As he grew, Kal-El, now Clark Kent, developed amazing abilities. He was orphaned again when his adopted parents both died, and as he stood before their graves, looked up at Mars, as mysterious explosions occurred on the Red Planet.

Clark moved to Metropolis, where he bought a copy of the Daily Star at a newsstand. The front page had some familiar headlines from the late 1930's, about the Spanish Civil War and Japan's invasion of China. Also on the front page was a headline quoting an astronomer who said that no more mysterious explosions had been seen on Mars for the past eleven days. In the original Superman stories, the newspaper he worked for was the Daily Star, later to be changed to the Daily Planet.

Kent went to the Star offices to apply for a reporter's job, and asked the phone operator to speak with the editor. He mentioned that he had a little experioence with the Sentinel. The operator was surprised when the editor, George Taylor, said to sent Clark up to his office. In those first Superman stories, the Editor-in-Chief was Geroge Taylor. Later his names was changed to Perry White. The phone operator was relieved by the regular operator, and we learned that the woman Clark spoke to was none other than Lois Lane.

Clark asked a red haired copy boy, who wore a bow tie, where the Editor's office was. The copy boy said his name was Jimmy (Olsen, of course). Clark introduced himself to Editor Geroge Taylor and City Editor White, a younger looking Perry White. Kent admitted that the Sentinel who had some experience with was not the Metropolis Sentinel, but the Smallville Sentinel, his high school newspaper.

White had a big laugh, and Taylor was amused enough to give Clark a shot, assigning him to cover a meteor impact outside the nearby town of Woking. Lois overheard the conversation as she walked by the office, and stormed in. She was furious after being stuck on the Miss Lonely Love column, and a guy off the street having a big story dropped in his lap. Taylor surrendered, and assigned her to cover the story with Clark. The Editor-in-Chief then received another story tip, about a lynch mob at the county jail. In the first Superman story, this was the first event Clark Kent covered as a reporter for the Metropolis Star. It was a nice tip of the hat to that first Superman story.

At the crash site, Clark and Lois found not a meteor impact, but a manufactured capsule of some kind. They met a Professor Ogilvy (a character from Well's original novel) and his visiting friend, Dr. Lex Luthor. Dr. Luthor had a full head of red hair, as he did in his original appearance in Action Comics #23. The professor believed that the capsule was connected to the sxplosions that occurred on Mars days before.

As if to confirm his speculation, the capsule opened and a creature appeared, resembling an octopus with giant eyes. The Martian fell out of the capsule and into the crater. Dr. Ogilvy, holding a white flag, led a peace party approached the crater. Their efforts were answered by the Martians with a death ray, which killed the entire peace party. The Martians then opened fire on the entire crowd which had gathered around the crater. Clark was hit as he shielded Lois with his own body. His suit was burned off, revealing a bright blue and red costume and cape, with a familiar triangle with a red "S" on his chest.

Lois asked, "Those longjohns fireproof?" That sounded like something Lois Lane would say.

Clark answered her, "You needn't be afraid. I won't harm you." He said something similar to Lois when he first met her in that first Superman story in Action Comics #1.

Clark and Lois were the only survivors at the site, until Army troops arrived. An officer asked Clark if he was with a circus, or a foreign army. Lois answered, "He's my photographer."

The capsule opened, and a Martian tripod loomed over the crowd. American troops opened fire, and Clark recognized the Martian death ray about to fire. He joined the attack, leaping into the air and stonishing everyone. People wondered if he was one of us or one of them. Clark was hit by the death ray and knocked to the ground. More Martian tripods appeared and opened fire on the Army. Clark revived in time to save an artillery crew from a hit by the death ray. He then lifted the artillery piece by the barrel, jumped into the air, and swung the cannon like a club, knocking the tripod on the ground.

Lois watched the action through binoculars, from a safe distance. She wondered who Clark Kent really was. "Caspar Milquetoast he ain't," she said. She watched Clark smash into the fallen tripod and throw the Martian out. Lois returned to the train station and used a payphone to file a report with the Chief. Her call was cut short by an attack by one of the tripods. Lois was saved by Dr. Luthor, who gave her a ride to his lab outside Metropolis.

Martian tripods blasted the bridge that crossed the West River. Army troops watched helplessly as fighter planes were shot down by the Martians, who even blasted pilots who had bailed out of their planes and were floating to the ground. Clark saved one pilot whose parachute had been disintegrated with a hit by a death ray. Ground troops said a familiar line, "Look, up in the sky," "It's a bird," "Looks more like a plane," No, it's --- that guy in the acrobat outfit!" For some reason, it doesn't have the same ring to it.

George Taylor watched the approach of the tripods through the streets of Metropolis, through a telescope at his office window. Clark knocked a tripod into the water, while others launched black gas shells which killed everyone on the ground.

Lois and Luthor were unable to reach his lab by car because of the abandoned vehicles on the road. They ran from the Martians to no avail. Lois was captured and tossed into one of the tripods while Luthor's hair caught on fire.

Clark survived the deadly gas attack by holding his breath. He lept into the air, only to be hit by two death rays. Clark was finally knocked out and tossed into another of the tripods, which was loaded with bodies.

George Taylor and Jimmy watched tripods march down Metropolis streets. His window was hit by a death ray. Taylor sacrificed himself to push Jimmy out of his office seconds before the blast. A two page spread showed tripods marching through downtown Metropolis, terrorizing the population.

Clark Kent awole to find himself bound in a Martian lab, and Lex Luthor now working for the Martians in a bid for his own survival. Lex informed Clark that he had been unconscious for three weeks. Clark watched in horror as he watched another human being swarmed by Martians, who wanted to feed on his plasma.

Luthor also filled Clark in about recent events. Great Britain, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had been conquered and their governments wiped out. The world leaders of Roosevelt, Stalin and Hitler were all dead. Human sirvivors had been interred in prison camps, to serve as slave labor and food for the Martians, who travelled in small mini tripods.

Lois was brought from the nearest camp to Luthor's lab at his request. He and the Martians were fascinated by Clark's survival. Lex had deduced that Clark was not from Earth, but Kent had no idea where he was really from. He said that his human parents had found him in a rocket. Luthor informed Clark and Lois that the Martians were interested in Kent because many of the Martians on Earth were sick because of Earth's bacteria. Lex said that his throry was that close proximity with Clark had kept the lab Martians alive and healthy.

Clark's immunity to Earth germs had become the key to develping a vaccine for the Martians, which Luthor bragged he had finally perfected. Lex was surprised when the Martians reacted to the news by attacking him. Lois saved him by stabbing Luthor's attacker with a Martian feeding pipe. Lois and Lex then freed Clark. He attacked the Martians and led an escape from the lab, taking the fight outside and beginning to free human prisoners.

A giant tripod attacked, but Clark lifted an abandoned car and smashed it against one of its legs, in a familiar pose that recreated the cover of Superman's original appearance on Action Comics #1. A second tripod fired a black gas shell, which Clark caught and threw back at the tripod, destroying it. He then ripped the leg off of a third tripod, but this one had learned from the earlier attacks, and now floated above the ground, without legs. Clark lept to attack it again, but was hit by a death ray. Kent fell under the floating tripod, which wobbled. He recovered to throw one of the falen tripods under the floating one, finally bringing it down.

Clark smashed the tripod in fury, but then voice weakened. He paused, asked himself what he was doing, and fainted. Watching the battle, Luthor deduced how to defeat the floating tripods, as he and Lois rushed to the fallen Kent.

Clark told them that he was overcome by war fever. His own world may be dying, or even already dead. Kent admitted that if it wasn't for the Martians, Earth might be running in fear from him. Lois admitted he was right, because even as he was saving them from the Martians, she was still afraid of him. She said that she had been a fool, but would make up for it. Unfortunately, Clark never heard her last words, because he had already died.

Luthor would devise weapons to defeat the Martians' anti-gravity, and the invaders were finally defeated after 40 million people were killed. The nations of Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union formed democratic governments, while Great Britian formed a right wing government led by Fscist Sir Oswald Mosley. John "Cactus Jack" Garner was named the new President of the United States, and Lex Luthor was sworn in as Vice-President. Luthor's wife, the former Lois Lane stood by his side.

In front of the new League of Nations, a statue of Superman was erected in front of the Trylon and Perisphere. But the inscription did not honor Superman, but Clark Kent, "born on one world, raised on a second, and saved his adopted planet from invasion by a third". in what became known as the War Of The Worlds.

I was curious about the names of Mosley and Garner, so I researched their names. It turned out that they were historical figures.

Mosely was a member and maybe even founder of Britain's Fascist Party. He was interred in Britain during WWII. Garner was FDR's first Vice President, before sharp disagreements over policies led Prsident Roosevelt to drop him in favor of Harry Truman. Garner would live londer than any other Vice President, dying at the age of 98. I wonder how history might have been different if Garner had remained Vice President.

Next Episode: Action Comics #150 & Superman #150!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

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