Saturday, April 24, 2010

Episode #123: Reign Of The Supermen Month Week III: Cyborg Superman!

The third of the four Supermen introduced in the Reign Of The Supermen storyline, in the Superman titles cover dated June 1993, was the Cyborg Superman. He first appeared in Superman #78 (Triangle #14). This issue was published on the same day as the other Superman titles that month, April 27, 1993. This issue, as with the other three titles that month, had two covers. Penciller Dan Jurgens and inker Brett Breeding drew both the regular and the deluxe cut out covers. The story, titled Alive, was written and laid out by Dan Jurgens, finished art by Brett Breeding, lettered by John Costanza and colored by Glenn Whitmore. Jennifer Frank was the assistant editor, and Mike Carlin wsa the editor.

The story began with a frazzled and drained Lois Lane driving in the rain toward a LexCorp installation outside Metropolis. Her grief over Superman's death had only gotten worse with the news about his empty tomb and the appearances of the four new Supermen. She met a Dr. Meyer, who showed her a photograph from one of the installation's security cameras that seemed to show Superman, with part of his face in shadow.

At S.T.A.R. Labs someone off-panel asked to see the Mayor. He was in a meeting with Dr. Faulkner. A shadowed figure wearing a red cape barged in and demanded to see Doomsday's body.

As Lois drove back into Metropolis through the pouring rain, she heard the police scanner reports calling for Maggie Sawyer's unit to report to S.T.A.R. Labs because Mayor Berkowitz saw Superman there. Lois called the Daily Planet offices to get more information. Jimmy Olsen answered her call and filled her in on all of the information he knew. That was the last straw for Lois. She decided to get to the bottom of the story.

At Project Cadmus, Director Westfield ordered skytroops to intercept a bogey that was headed to the top secret installation. An unknown figure flashed by the skytroops, and the Guardian and Cadmus ground troops scrambled to intercept the unknown intruder. After he makes short work of the Cadmus forces, the Cyborg Superman was first revealed. He demanded to see the body of Doomsday. The Guardian was shocked, because he had watched Superman die. The Cyborg Superman claimed to be the original Superman, and was different because of the damage he had sustained during his fatal battle against Doomsday.

Not taking no for an answer, the Cyborg Superman burrowed thorugh a deep underground chamber to free the heavily chained body of Doomsday from a security cell. He used his cyborg hand to tap into Cadmus' security to open the security door

In the middle of the issue was a mini-poster of the Cyborg Superman.

Cyborg Superman wrapped Doomsday's body in the cables that had secured him to the walls, and flew out of Cadmus. Lois saw him fly by as she stood on the ground over Cadmus. He tied Doomsday's body to an asteroid and used parts from his cyborg body to create an alarm that would send an alert to him if anyone ever freed Doomsday. He then threw Doomsday into deep space.

Lois, at her limits emotionally, walked through the rain. She was met by the Cyborg Superman, who tried to convince her that he was the real Superman. They both went to Prof. Hamilton's lab, where he conducted a thorough examination of the Cyborg Superman. Hamilton had a familiarity with kryptonian technology as well as Superman's DNA. He found that the cyborg parts were based on kryptonian technology, and that the Cyborg Superman's DNA was a perfect match for Superman. The Professor was convinced that the Cyborg Superman was the Man of Steel himself, come back to life.

The issue ended showing Doomsday floating in deep space, laughing.

As the Reign Of The Supermen developed and became the Return Of Superman, the Cyborg Superman was revealed to really be Hank Henshaw, former astronaut. He made his first appearances earlier than the other three Supermen. Henshaw appeared with his other three unnamed crewmates of the space shuttle Excaliber, in Superman #42, April 1990, published on February 20, 1990. This was during the Krypton Man storyline. He and his crewmates were first identified in Adventures Of Superman #465, May 1990, published on February 20, 1990. In the next issue of that title, a LexCorp experiment onboard Excaliber malfuntioned, exposing the crew to radiation and forcing the shuttle to crash land on Earth. Their story was an homage to Marvel's Fantastic Four. By the end of the story only Henshaw and his wife survived. Henhaw's body deteriorated until it could no longer sustain him, but he was able to transfer his consciousness into computer equipment. He was able to manipulate the tecnology to create an artificial body from computer parts. When he appeared in this form to his wife, it drove her insane.

Henshaw left this body and transferred his mind to Superman's birthing matrix, which Superman had placed in space. Hank created a small body from kryptonian parts that allowed him to travel through interstellar space, and leave Earth.

That was where Henshaw got the kryptonian technology and samples of Superman's DNA to build his body when he returned to Earth. After his appearance as the Cyborg Superman, thanks to Dr. Hamilton's endorsement, he was the most prominent of the four new Supermen. Two cults would arise, one worshipping the Eradicator, then known as the Last Son of Krypton, and the Cyborg Superman.

After an alien ship appeared over Coast City, the Cyborg Superman almost killed the Eradicator. Mongul was on the alien ship, and destroyed Coast City. The Cyborg Superman convinced the President that the Eradicator was responsible. Mongul then began building an Engine City over the ruins. Cyborg Superman prepared a second warhead, aimed at Metropolis, where he planned on building a second Engine City. His purpose was to turn Earth into a new Warworld. Cyborg defeated Superboy, who escaped and was barely able to save Metropolis from the warhead.

The rejuvinated Eradicator and the real resurrected Superman defeated Cyborg. Eradicator sacrificed himself and shielded Superman from Cyborg's blast of kryptonite radiation, converting it into energy that restored Superman's powers. Superman destroyed Cyborg's body by pounching through his cyborg half, and vibrating his arm until Cyborg's body disintegrated. This occurred in Superman #82, the October 1993 issue. In Green Lantern #13 (vol. 4), it was revealed that the reason Henshaw chose Coast City was that his wife had been a former resident.

That would not be the end of the Cyborg Superman. He transferred his consciousness to the alert device on Doomsday's asteroid where he could hide. Doomsday would be found by a spaceship, where he escaped and landed on Apokolips. Henshaw created a new body with a Parademon's armor and attempted to take over Apokolips, but he was defeated by Darkseid. Darkseid's Omega Beams captured Henshaw in an orb, and Darkseid planned to use Henshaw at some future date. Darkseid eventually changed his mind and banished Henshaw from Apokolips, never to return. This occurred in the mini-series Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey published in 1994.

The Cyborg would later align himself with the Tribunal, which would prosecute Superman for supposed crimes of his ancestors over the destruction of Krypton, in the storyline The Trian Of Superman. Eventually, Cyborg would betray the Tribunal and attempt to take over their planet in another try to create a new Warworld. Superman and his allies, who had come from Earth to rescue him, defeated Cyborg. The Tribunal sentenced Cyborg to death and dropped him into a black hole.

This did not destroy Cyborg, but transported him into another dimension during a Green Lantern / Silver Surfer crossover. Cyborg would return to the DC Universe by that story's end.

Superman would battle Cyborg again at New Genesis during his Electric Superman period. After the Cyborg was defeated, he transferred himself into Superman's containment suit and began a new life as a high school art teacher. His hatred of Superman caused him to reveal his identity, and fight and lose to Superman once more. This time he transferred his mind into a clay statue, which was later stolen by Toyman. They teamed up against Superman to destroy him, but instead split him into Electric Superman Red and Electric Superman Blue. Two heads were better than one and both Supermen defeated Cyborg once again.

Cyborg would later conquer Kandor, but after being defeated by Superman yet again, was sent to the Phantom Zone. He would later appear as the Grandmaster of the Manhunters, in Green Lantern #11 (vol. 4) in 2006. His Cyborg body would be destroyed, except for his head., which would be taken by the Sinestro Corps when it invaded Oa. They took Cyborg's head to the anti-matter wourld Qward, where he would join the Sinestro Corps and wear 10 Corps rings.During the Sinestro Corps War his body would be destroyed once again, this time except for the upper part of his skull, and he remained alive somehow.

Cyborg has been harder to kill than cockroaches.

Next Week: Reign Of The Supermen Month Week IV: Superboy!

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!

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

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

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, April 22, 2010

Episode #122: Reign Of The Supermen Month Week II: The Man Of Steel!

The second of the four new Supermen to be introduced was the Man of Steel, who wore an armored suit, in the pages of Superman: Man Of Steel #22, June, 1993 (Triangle #13). All four of the Superman titles which introduced the new Supermen were published on the same day, April 27, 1993. Mike Carlin was the editor, and the assistant editor was Jennifer Frank. Both the regular and deluxe covers were pencilled by Jon Bogdanove and inked by Dennis Janke. The story, titled Steel, was written by Louise Simonson, pencilled by Jon Bogdanove, inked by Dennis Janke, lettered by Bill Oakley and colored by Glenn Whitmore.

The story opened with John Henry Irons telling the John Henry folk story to a small group of neighborhood boys. Irons was dressed in a sleeveless blue sweatshirt and red gym shorts, wearing Superman colors. A car full of gang members drove by, carrying hi-tech energy rifles. After Irons finished the story the boys walked down the street. One of the boys was murdered by one of the gang members in the car, who fired one of the energy weapons. Irons rescued the other boys, and chased after the gangsters. He caught up with the car before it could speed away, and fought with the gang member who shot the boy. The driver smeared Irons against a wall in an alley and drove away.

Irons awoke in the hospital, and was soon visited by a boy named Keith and a woman named Myra. Irons comforted Keith over his dead friend, and both wished that Superman had been around to save his friend. Irons told Keith how Superman had saved him. Irons had been working as a construction worker on a skyscraper, and he grabbed a cable to swing out and catch a falling co-worker. After he got his co-worker to safety the cable came loose, and Irons was falling to his own death. Superman saved Irons, and after his release from the hospital a few days later, Irons wondered how he could repay Superman.

He did not notice that he was followed by the the same gang members he had fought a few days earlier. Later, Irons forged a steel mask, and put on an armored costume. The gang members threw a homemade firebomb into the basement that Irons was in, setting it on fire. Irons rescued his neighbor Rosie from the inferno. Lois Lane was among the reporters interviewing Rosie after her rescue.

In the middle of both editions of the issue was a poster of Steel, drawn by Bogdanove and Janke.

Lois was met by union organizer Jeb Friedman, an old friend. He comforts Lois over her loss of Clark.

Lex Luthor II followed reports about this armored Man of Steel, and ordered Happersen find out where the hi-tech weapons came from.

Steel followed the gang responsible for the attacks to their hideout and attacked them. One gang member fired through another one to hit Steel. We learned that the hi-tech energy rifles were called Toastmaster BG-80's, and were invented by Irons himself. He subdued the gang and questioned one of the surviving members. Before Steel could get any information from the gangster, the gang member was shot from a distance by a woman who was called the White Rabbit. She was the head of the gang, as it was revealed, and was responsible for the spread of the Toastmasters.

The issue ended with Luthor wanting to talk with this new Man of Steel.

Eventually we learned that John Henry Irons had once worked at AmerTek Industries, for whom he designed the Toastmaster BG-80's. The real identity of the White Rabbit was Dr. Angora Lapin, then of AmerTek, and a former lover of Iron's.

As Steel, Irons never claimed to be the real Superman. After Lois met him, she wondered for a moment if he was Superman reincarnated, because he was closest in personality and purpose to the original Man of Steel.

Steel would also star in his own title, also named Steel, for 52 issues, from the February 1994 issue, published on July 28, 1993, through the July 1998 issue, released on May 6, 1998. In his own title, Irons returned to Washington, D. C. after an absence of five years, unaware he was still being followed by AmerTek. Corporate operatives attacked his family, paralyzing his nephew Tyke. Early issues had Steel battle AmerTek and the gangs who were using the weapons he had invented. Eventually he would succeed at toppling Amertek and the gangs, and battle the group Black Ops, led by the villain Hazard.

Later, Steel would become part of a Superman Rescue Squad when Superman was captured and put on trial on an alien world for the destruction of Krypton. This took place in the storyline The Trial Of Superman, which was published in the Superman titles cover dated December 1995 and January 1996.

Irons' nephew Tyke would later betray Iron's secret identityto Hazard's gang. Steel would defeat the group, but his family would be forced into hiding after the death of his grandmother.

Irons and his neice Natasha would move to Jersey City, New Jersey, where he worked at an area hospital. As Steel, he would meet Milestone's Hardware during the World's Collide crossover, cover dated July and August 1994. Steel found Hardware too rebelious, while Hardware found Steel too much a part of the status quo.

Eventually, Irons would join the Justice League. During the DC 1 Million storyline he would lead a reserve Justice League team consisting Barda, Huntress, Plaastic Man and Zauriel. Steel would later leave full time League status and become a reserve member.

He and Natalie moved to Metropolis, where Irons set up Steelworks, his own workshop. He would reveal to Superman that he had known his secret identity of Clark Kent for a long time. They would become partners, and Steel would supplant Prof. Hamilton as Superman's tech support. This may have contributed to Hamilton's becoming the villain Ruin.

Steel would retire after the Imperiex War, where he was injured while wearing alien armor built on Apokolips. He would create a suit of armor for Natalie, who would then become the new Steel. Irons came out of retirement to defend Metropolis during Identity Crisis. After the conclusion of that crossover, Irons would identify a corpse as an alternate Earth Lex Luthor, Jr., who would be blamed for crimes "our" Luthor had been accused of. Luthor would repay Irons by infecting him with an exogene that caused his skin to mutate to steel and back to normal.

A rift would develop between Irons and Natalie over her voluntary acceptance of Luthor's exogene, to the point that he destroyed her armored suit. When he discovered that Luthor was the source of his mutation he attacked Lex. Natalie stopped her uncle from killing Luthor. In an attempt to heal their relationship Irons built a new suit of armor for Nataile, but it did not heal their rift. They would discover the exogene eventually wore off.

Steel led the Titans when he rescued Natalie from Luthor, who had kidnapped her. Luthor defeated Steel using the exogene on himself and mimicing some of Superman's powers. Natalie would help to defeat Luthor. With their rift healed they reopened Steelworks.

Irons was severley injured by Atlas during the World Against Superman storyline. Now recovered, Steel is back in action.

Next Episode:Reign Of The Supermen Month Part III: Cyborg 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!

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

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

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, April 21, 2010

Episode #121: Reign Of The Supermen Week I: The Eradicator!

After the Death Of Superman storyline in the early 1990's, DC introduced another story involving four possible replacements for the Man Of Steel, or were one of them Superman himself? When these four Super Candidates first appeared, DC did a very unusual thing; they published each of their first appearances in one of the then four Superman titles. That wasn't so unusual, but the fact that all four issues were published on the same day was. The Superman titles, cover dated June 1993, all appeared on the shelves on April 27, 1993. The first of the Supermen to appear, according to the triangle numbers on the cover, was Action Comics #687 (Triangle #12). The first of the new Supermen to appear was first known as the Last Son of Krypton, but came to be known as the Eradicator.

Mike Carlin was the editor of the Superman line during this era. The four introductory issues each had a variant, or deluxe cutout cover. For Action Comics #687 (Triangle #12), the artists for the regular cover were penciller Kerry Gammil and inker Jackson Guice. The artist of the deluxe cover was Jackson Guice. The story, Born Again, was written by Roger Stern, pencilled by Jackson Guice, inked by Dennis Rodier, lettered by Bill Oakley and colored by Glenn Whitmore. This issue, and the other issues introducing the Supermen, were reprinted in Superman: The Return Of Superman trade paperback and The Death & Return Of Superman Omnibus hardcover. A later storyline involving the Eradicator was collected in the trade paperback The Day Of The Krypton Man.

For more information about the origin of the Eradicator, go to episodes 103 & 104 of this podcast:

Also check out episodes 42 & 43 of the From Crisis To Crisis podcast:

The Eradicator first appeared in Action Comics Annual #2, 1989. It was originally shaped like the post-Crisis birthing matrix from John Byrne's Man Of Steel #1. The Eradicator was a device created by Krypton's Science Council to be used against the alien Cleric, who preached against Kryptonian society's use of cloning to extend their lifespans. The Eradicator was used against the Cleric, but it did not kill him. By the end of the story the Cleric took possession of the Eradicator because he did not trust it in the hands of Krypton's leaders. He kept it for eons until he gave it to Superman.

After the Man of Steel returned to Earth, the Eradicator was the cause of some bizarre occurrences. In Adventures Of Superman #458, September 1989, it transformed Jimmy Olsen into a post-Crisis version of Elastic Lad. Unlike his silver age counterpart, Jimmy found this transformation very painful. When Prof. Hamilton was able to discover that the Eradicator was the source of Jimmy's problems, Superman sealed the device in a piece of scrap metal using his heat vision and disposed of it in a deep Antarctic crevasse. In Action Comics #646, Superman returned to the South Pole to fight a giant alien snail-like creature. The battle loosed the Eradicator from its container.

Superman's Fortress of Solitude returned to the post-Crisis Superman era thanks to the Eradicator, in Adventures Of Superman #461, December 1989. Superman learned that his family line was linked to the Eradicator through his ancestor Kem-L, who invented the device. Superman battled the Eradicator, which knocked out the Man of Steel. But when he awoke, Superman found that the Fortress had been transformed into a Kryptonian museum, with the Eradicator as one of the exhibits.

The Man of Steel thought his problems were over, but the Eradicator would attempt to control Superman once again during The Day Of The Krypton Man story, in Superman #41, The Adventures Of Superman #464, Action Comics #651, March 1990, and Superman #42, The Adventures Of Superman #465 and Action Comics 652, April 1990. This story was reprinted in the now out of print trade paperback Superman: Eradication!. At the end of the story Superman took care of the Eradicator once and for all by throwing it into the Sun. Or so he thought.

The Eradicator transformed itself into a humanoid figure inside the Sun, in the pages of Superman: The Man Of Steel #1, July 1991, published on May, 14, 1991, in the story The Return Of The Krypton Man. He fought Superman again in the following issues: Superman #57, The Adventures Of Superman #480 and Action Comics #667. Superman defeated the Eradicator again, this time with the help of Prof. Hamilton, who used the mysterious gem of the villain Mr. Z.

During the Return Of Superman story, the Eradicator was almost killed by the Cyborg Superman in Superman #80, August 1992. The Eradicator barely returned to the Fortress of Solitude to rejuvinate. In issue #82 he seemed to have been killed when he shielded Superman from kryptonite gas in the final battle against the Cyborg Superman, when the Man of Steel's powers were restored.

The Eradicator would be resurrected in the pages of Action Comics #693, when he merged with the terminally ill S.T.A.R. Labs scientist David Conner. His later appearances came when I was out of comics for a few years at the beginning of the 2000's, so I used some of the information available from Wikipedia.The Eradicator would briefly become a member of the Outsiders in their title, which I did not read. In Superman: The Man Of Steel #'s 95 & 96 (December 1999/January 2000) the original Eradicator program in the Fortress of Solitude once again tried to brainwash Superman. The humanoid Eradicator merged with the Fortress program and left Earth for a time.

He would return to Earth during the Our Worlds At War storyline, which was published shortly before I returned to reading comic books, with the opening of a new local comic book store. The last reference to the Eradicator in the Wikipedia entry was in the pages of Outsiders #26, vol. 4, as a representative on New Krypton.

In Action Comics #687, the story opened with a group of Antarctic scientists going back inside their installation after seeing strange lightning among the southern lights. Under the ice, in the Fortress of Solitude, a red energy globe discharged energy. A glowing humanoid form emerged from the energy globe. The death of Superman was recapped, and the energy form flew from the Fortress to Superman's tomb in Metropolis. He touched Superman's body and we were led to believe he merged with Superman's body. He discovered a tunnel inside Superman's tomb, but found the light inside the tunnel was too bright for his now sensitive eyes He then returned to the Fortress.

Bibbo, a Hob's Bay dockworker decided to do his part to take Superman's place. In his apratment, he donned a Superman sweatshirt, red boxing trunks over his sweatpants, and red boxing shoes to patrol his part of Metropolis.

At the Fortress, the Superman-like figure stood before a regeneration matrix, which was the source of his power. His abilities were more limited, with no more vision powers. To protect his eyes from light he wore a protective visor. On kryptonian viewscreens he watched news reports from around the world of various disaters and crimes.

At the center of both editions of the issue, as in the other three titles introducing the Supermen, was a mini-poster. This one featured the Last Son Of Krypton.

Some of the Fortress robots put a red cape on this new Superman, and he flew to Metropolis, and got busy right away. He stopped a bank robbery and threw one of the thieves through a wall. He also critically injured a carjacker, sunk a drug trafficing boat and tied a cat burglar to a 7th story flagpole. This new Superman was a lot more ruthless than the original Superman.

News reports began to be broadcast that Superman's tomb had been found empty. Lex Luthor II watched the reports from his office in the LexCorp tower. He wanted Happersen to find out everything there was to know about Superman's missing body. At this point the Matrix Supergirl barged into Lex's office demanding to know why he didn't tell her about this new Superman. Lex informed her that he didn't want to worry her, and that reports seemed to indicate there were four different Supermen. After Supergirl left, Lex ordered Happesen to find out if Superman was still dead, or if her returned to life.

This new Superman saved a small passenger plane from crashing into Metropolis, and set it down in Simon-Kirby Riverside Park. Lois got out of a taxi and briefly interviewed the new Superman, before they were surrounded by a crowd, similar to the scene near the end of John Byrne's Man Of Steel #1. This time, the new Superman carried Lois to the roof of a building where they could talk in private. Lois thought he looked like Clark but acted colder. He told Lois details only the real Clark/Superman would know. Before he flew away he told Lois that Clark was gone, only Superman remained. Lois was crushed. If he was telling the truth she had lost Clark again.

Next episode: Reign Of The Supermen Month Week II: The Man Of Steel!

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

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

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.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Episode #120: The Daily Planet: June 28, 1973.

This episode was originally scheduled for the week of Wednesday, March 31, 2010 for April Fool's Day. I can't say I have a real copy of the Daily Planet. Actually, it's more like the Weekly Planet. What I can say is that it is a real newspaper published in the real town of Metropolis, Illinois. The city newspaper is the Metropolis Planet, published every Wednesday.

Thanks to Betsy at the Planet, I was able to learn a brief history of the newspaper. It began as the Promulgator in 1865. Over the decades, with various changes in ownership and name, it would eventually be called the Metropolis News. In 1972, as part of the town's adoption of Superman, the newspaper changed its name to Metropolis Planet with the permission of DC Comics.

I received a copy of the Thursday, June 28, 1973 edition of the Metropolis Planet around the end of January of this year, when I visited my local comic book store, Acme Comics in Longwood, Florida. They buy collections of comics, toys and other collectibles for resale, and apparently this copy of the newspaper was part of a recent purchase. It was a tabloid sized newspaper, and had the title Superman Souvenir Edition under the masthead. The rest of the cover was a full page picture of Superman. Although the artist was not credited, it was clearly a Curt Swan Superman. The edition commemorated the opening of The Amazing World Of Superman museum. As I noted back in episode #26 of this podcast, which featured the town of Metropolis, this museum would be open for only a year.

The first picture inisde the newspaper was of then Presidential candidate Sen. George McGovern, who accepted a Superman Of Metropolis award during a campaign stop. History would show that Superman's endorsement was not enough to keep Sen. McGovern from suffering one of the largest landslide defeats in Presidential election history. On the same page was a short article about a replica of Superboy's Smallville home on display at the town's Superman museum. The model showed the interior, including Superboy's secret lab and robots, and his Kryptonian rocketship.

Mayor J. P. William's Superman Day Proclamation was reprinted. He declared Friday, January 21, 1972 as Superman Day. That day would be the town's first Superman Celebration.

Next was an article about the first female Metropolis resident to receive a Superman Of Metropolis award. She was Helen Lynn an employee of the Metropolis News, who was called the Lois Lane of the newspaper. She received the award in her hospital room at the Massac Memorial Hospital, and died soon after receiving the award on August 24, 1972.

There was another article about a hospitalized Superman fan, a five year old boy named Jimmy who suffered from lukemia. He had written a letter to Superman in Metropolis. The letter was answered by Bob Westerfield, chairman of the Superman Governing Board. After the boy's letter was published in the then Metropolis News, a special letter to Jimmy was written by Larry Davis, manager of a local telephone company, who had portrayed Superman when then Governer Richard Ogilvie was given the first Superman Award, on February 9, 1972. The letter reached Jimmy in the hospital on the same day he died.

A picture showed Superman, portrayed by Mike Forbes, blowing out the candles on a birthday cake at the Amazing World Of Superman Exhibition Center, on May 25, 1973. Next, an article detailed the history of the Superman Project. At a meeting of the Metropolis Chamber Of Commerce in January 1972, the members decided to take advantage of their name as the "home" of Superman, since Metropolis is the only city by that name in the United States. As mentioned earlier, the first Superman Celebration took place on January 21, 1972. The article noted that about 3,000 people attended, and the event was covered by the local media.

The first local citizen to portray Superman was Rev. Charles Chandler, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Metropolis. Carmine Infantino, who attended, described him as the perfect Superman. The mayor presented the key to the city to the Man of Steel. Roger Mudd reported on the event for the CBS Evening News on the January 29, 1972.

During the summer of 1972 Metropolis Recreation, Inc. was formed to finance a Superman promotion project. The initial stock offering of $250,000 sold out. It was during May of 1972 the Metropolis News changed its name to the Metropolis Planet, with the permission of DC Comics.

In May of 1973 the Amazing World Of DC Comics Exhibition Center held its grand opening. As part of the opening ceremonies a birthday party was held for Superman, protrayed by Mike Forbes as noted before, and was attended by about 600 people. A special Metropolis edition of the DC comic book The Amazing World Of Superman was on sale at the museum. It included a story of the development of the interest in Superman by the real Metropolis, and another article about how comic books are produced. The special issue also included a map of Krypton.

Among the exhibits were artwork from DC Comics, valued in the article at $1 million, a large collection of Superman memorabilia and comic books from around the world. Also included was the previously mentioned Smallville home of Clark Kent, his Metropolis apartment, and Superman's Fortress of Solitude. Of course there were samples of the various types of kryptonite (Superman probably didn't go near this part of the museum). The exhibition center also had a 25-foot Superman mural.

The end of the article detailed a proposed Superman theme park somewhere near Metropolis. It would be divided into different areas for each era of Superman,s life, from Krypton, to Smallville, Metropolis and his Fortress of Solitude. A Neal Adams sketch of the proposed attraction was included with the article. Above the entrance was a giant statue of Superman, and customers walked into the attraction between Superman's feet.

At the end of the first section of the paper was a picture of this first Superman museum, which was in a building that formerly housed a skating rink. Superman's homecoming speech at the grand opening was also reprinted. In the second section were various pictures of Superman at different public ceremonies, and a picture of a reconstruction of the original Fort Massac, the earliest settlement in the area. The replica fort was built on part of the state of Illinois' oldest state park. Also included was an aerial view of Metropolis as it existed in the early 1970's. At the end of the second and final section was a brief biography of Mike Forbes, who was the official Superman of the superman museum. He was a shot putter at Murray State University, and taught at the Marion Illinois High School before he was hired to portray Superman full time.

Sadly, this original Superman museum lasted only a little over the year before it closed, and the Superman Celebration would be revived around the release of Superman: The Movie in the late 1970's. It continued annually up to this day. The dates for the 32nd Superman Celebration are June 10 - 13, 2010. For more information about featured guests, etc., go to A new Superman museum would open as well. You can find more information about it at

The proposed Superman theme park was never built. A recession and a fuel crisis forced developers to scrap their plans. To learn more about this proposed Superman amusemaent park go to: or I first read about this park in the pages of one of DC's Treasury Editions: Limited Collector's Edtion presents: Superman #C-31, October/November 1974.

To learn more about the history of Metropolis, Illinois, the Superman Celebration and the Superman Museum, go to episode #26 of this podcast, Metropolis, Illinois!

Next Episode: Reign Of The Supermen Part I: The Eradicator!

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!

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

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

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, April 15, 2010

Episode #119: WORLD'S FINEST COMICS #71: Superman & Batman, Together Again For The First Time!

As part of our commemoration of DC Comics' 75th Anniversary, this episode features World's Finest Comics #71, July/August 1954, published around May 27, 1954, This issue contained the first team-up of Superman and Batman in that title, in the same story. In all of the previous issues of World's Finest Comics, while Superman and Batman appeared together on the cover, they appeared in separate stories inside. Not only that, but Batman and Superman first teamed up not on the comic book page, but in the Superman radio show. That episode was first broadcast on September 5, 1945. Robin first made an appearance, with Batman making his first appearance on the episode first broadcast on September 10, 1945. Also, their first comic book team up was not published in the pages of World's Finest Comics, but in the pages of Superman #76, May/June 1952, published on March 7, 1952. For more on that issue, andas well as a more detailed history of the Superman / Batman team, go to the Golden Age Of Comics Podcast, hosted by Bill Jourdain, episode #58, August 24, 2008:

The reason that Superman and Batman first teamed up in the same story in World's Finest Comics #71 was that it was the first issue of that title that had a lower page count. All of the previous issues had contained 64 pages, as did most of the golden age comic books at that time. By the early 1950's, printing costs had risen so that DC had to cut its page count in order to keep comics books at its traditional 10 cent cover price. With World's Finest the editors decided to team up Superman and Batman instead of dropping one of them from the title. It seems a can't lose idea in hindsight, but DC was not known for being the most forward looking comic book publisher at that time.

World's Finest Comics #70, May/June 1954, published around March 25, 1954, was the last 64 page issue of that title. The editor was Jack Schiff and the cover artist was J. Winslow Mortimer. It showed a humorous scene of Superman, Robin and Batman sitting at a shoeshine booth on a city street. The first story featured Superman in the twelve page story The Two Faces Of Superman, drawn by Al Plastino. Next was the four page story Casebook Mystery: The Racketeer's Revenge drawn by William "Bill" Ely. Green Arrow was featured in the ten page thrid story, The Joust Of Jeopardy, drawn by George Papp. After Green Arrow was Jimminy and the Magic Book in the four page story The Tale Of A Cat, written and drawn by Howie Post. Next was the period adventure character Tomahawk in the ten page story, The Burning Of Bonneville, written by Dave Wood and drawn by Nicholas Peter Cardy. After Tomahawk was the five page sotry, A Day In The Life Of A Paratrooper, reprinted from Real Facts Comics #21, July/Agust 1949, published around May 20, 1949. That story was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by John Fischetti. The final story of the issue featured Batman, in the twelve page story, The Crime Consultant, written by uncreditied Batman co-creator Bill Finger and drawn by Dick Sprang.

World's Finest Comics #71 had only 32 pages for ten cents. Jack Schiff was still the editor and J. Winslow Mortimer also drew this cover. It featured Batman using his own body as a shield to protect Superman and Robin from machine gun bullets. This issue only contained three stories. The first story featured the title's first Superman/Batman team-up, Batman - Double For Superman, written by Alvin Schwartz, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. This story was reprinted in World's Finest Comics Archives Vol. I, Showcase Presents: World's Finest vol. I and in the Millenium Edition: World's Finest Comics #71 (M. E. #35), August 2000, published on June 21, 2000. The second story featured Green Arrow in the six page story, The Invisible Death, written by France E. Herron and drawn by George Papp. The final, six page, storywas Feathered Fighters For Freedom, starring Tomahawk, written by Dave Wood and drawn by Nicholas Peter Cardy (I'm not sure if this is the same comic book artist later known as Nick Cardy).

The Superman and Batman story opened with an amphibious helicopter sitting on the water off the coast of Metropolis. A diver climbed back into the helicopter after finding a certain rock on the ocean floor. The helicopter flew into the air, and was chased by the Batplane. It was on autopilot while Batman and Robin climbed down ladders to board the helicopter. (I couldn't help but wonder how the Dynamic Duo could hold onto the rope ladders at such arispeeds, much less get around the helicopter blades to board the chopper. But that's comic books for the era.) We learn that the rock the diver had found was a piece of kryptonite. Batman and Robin discovered that the helicopter was armed when a gun on board shot down the Batplane, with the Dynamic Duo still hanging on the ropes.

Clark Kent saw the Batplane falling in a nosedive over Metropolis. He was seen changing into Superman by Lois Lane. He used the entrance canopy of a nearby building to cushion the Dynamic Duo's fall and then caught the Batplane in midair. Batman and Superman decided to swithch places and team up on the case. They were more scared of Lois Lane than they were of the kryptonite weilding crooks.

Superman, dressed as Batman, flew over the outskirts of Metropolis and spotted the hidden helicopter and the criminals' lair. He snuck into an open window of their hideout and fell unconscious because of the krptonite the crooks had happened to leave in the room, which he did not notice beforehand.

Batman, as Superman, "flew" down to Lois on the sidewalk outside the Daily Planet building (with the help of Robin's batrope). Inside the Planet building, Bruce Wayne intentionally let Lois see him changing out of Superman's costume. She was immediately suspicious, and thought that Bruce was possibly attemping to trick her and throw her off the trail of Superman's true identity. Bruce agreed to be interviewed by Lois over dinner. Robin then eavesdropped on Lois making a phone call to a lion tamer.

At their picnic dinner lions appear, but Bruce appearedseemed to knock them out. That made Lois wonder if Bruce could possibly be Superman after all. Later, at Wayme Manor, Bruce informed Dick that he spoke the lion tamer's commands to make the big cats play dead.

The next day, at a museum, Lois broke a pair of scissors while trying to cut a lock of Bruce's hair. Later Bruce told Dick that he had previously broke her scissors and glued them together so that they would fall apart when Lois tried to cut with them.

The next day, Bruce, again as Superman, helped Lois move her furniture. She appeared at her home as the fake Superman finished loading the moving van, lift it and fly away. The van happened to be a fake, loaded with helium balloons, and the furniture was fake cardboard copies. (What was unexplained was how Bruce was able to make paper copies of Lois' furniture overnight. I guess when you're as rich as Bruce you can nire enough people to get the job done in time). Bruce spotted the helicopter as the "van" floated overhead. Lois had been watching with a pair of binoculars and drove to the spot.

Superman, actually Bruce Wayne, swooped into the window much like George Reeves did in the 1950's Superman TV show. Bullets bounce off of Superman's costume (we can only assume that Superman's invulnerable costume cushioned Bruce from the bullets' impact). He faked out the crooks by threatening to bring down the house on top of everyone by knocking down two pillars. Lois climbed through a window and found an unconscious Batman. Pulling back his cowl, Lois at first thought he was Superman, but since he couldn't be hurt, it must be Clark. Superman/Bruce found Lois standing over Batman/Clark. He took Clark out of the window and asked Lois to call the police to pick up the crooks. The real Superman revived as soon as they got out of range of the kryptonite. They switched back to their regular uniforms, and the real Superman flew Lois back to the Daily Planet building (and thinking how lucky he was that Lois didn't see the kryptonite in the room).

By this point Lois was convinced that Bruce Wayne was Batman, until she sees Bruce waiting for her in her Daily Planet office. At first Lois was confused, then none too happy with Superman for tricking her into thinking that Bruce was really him. So the story ended with the Man Of Steel in her doghouse, at least until the next issue.

Next Episode: The Daily Planet: Thursday, June 28, 1973!

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!

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

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

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, April 7, 2010

Episode #118: MegaCon 2010: Day 3: Sunday Conversation With Dan Didio & The 2009 Project Fanboy Awards!

Note: This is the last of a series of blog posts about MegaCon, 2010, Day 2, but the audio podcast on MegaCon will be a single episode. I attended MegaCon, as I said in the Day 1 post, with Jeffrey Taylor O'Brien.

To see more of my photos from MegaCon 2010, click on the following link to go to my facebook MegaCon 2010 photo album:
To read Jeffrey Taylor's coverage of MegaCon go to:
To watch the Project Fanboy Awards Panel go to:

To read my reviews of the titles I bought at MegaCon this year, as well as a list of the comics I had autographed at the con:

Sunday morning happened to be the day that Daylight Savings Time took effect, and I forgot all about it for the first time in a very long time. So Jeffrey Taylor O'Brien and I got to the Orange County Convention Center about an hour later than we planned. We hurried to the convention hall. I thought I could walk fast, but Jeffrey is atround six feet tall and has very long legs. Now I know how my wife and grown son feel when they try to keep up with me on a brisk walk.

We got there in plenty of time for the first of the two panels we planned to attend, Sunday Conversation With Dan Didio. It has been a tradition Dan has carried on at various comic book conventions druing his tenure at DC Comics. This was the first one I had attended in person, and I plan on going to it in the future if he continues it now as DC's co-publisher.

Dan began by mentioning that his first convention after joining DC Comics was WonderCon in San Francisco. There were 60 people in the audience of that panel, and he noticed that there were not any young comic book readwers in the audiance. Dan thought, at the time, that when these guys die off, there might not be another generation to take their place.

The first question from the audience was from a comic book fan who asked if All-Star comics would be collected before he died.

Dan talked about the new DC Entertainment, whose prupose was to find a concise message across variou media.

He then said that he can tell when a person first read comic books by asking what is their favorite era of a certain character. One of the things that DC needed to improve on was a consistent tone to a character, he said. He noted that the tendency of a lot of writers was that they wanted to be the last guy to write the character. Artists often want to alter a character's look to put their own stamp on it. Dan wanted to find a balance: let creators create but be consistent with a character. He gave Superman: Secret Origin and the upcoming War Of The Supermen as examples.

Didio then asked the audiendce for their favorite Justice League era, getting a variety of responses.

Another question was about more girl friendly comic books. Dan said that frankly, girl friendly superhero titles don't sell very well, citing Marvel's Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane (of course he would cite the competition for tht kind of comparison). He said that he felt DC's Vertigo line was very female friendly, which crafted a variety of material with a female ambiance.

Another question was about age appropriate labeling, similar to Marvel. Dan said that DC was seriously looking at it.

Didio then talked about how character aging can be a problem. He gave Dick Grayson as an example (who it has been said he wanted to kill off). If Dick continues to age, eventually he'll be older than Bruce Wayne.

Another aspect that DC wants to work on, according to Dan, was big stories with character moments, that show how characters change through their experiences.

Someone in the audience mentioned Krypto, and Dan admitted he hated the Krypto/Atlas story in Superman, expecially the Alex Ross Krypto cover.

One of the most important changes at DC that Dan mentioned was that death would stop being a revolving door. Character deaths as a concept has been beaten to death, Dan noted, and has lost its value. On the same subject, Dan thought that the death of Roy Harper's daughter LeAnn was a resonant moment. Dan said that death in comics not done well won't stick, because even the creators won't believe it. Their first question, even before the readers, would be, "When do we bring Character X back?" He then mentioned that the first character killed after the dead is dead edict was Kid Devil of the Teen Titans. Dan noted that Bruce Wayne does not contradict that edict because he never was killed to begin with, and, he will be coming back soon.

Another comment from the audience was about the $1.00 first issues published by Vertigo. The person liked Vertigo's low price point for first issues and asked if that practice could be expanded to the regular DCU.

Dan Didio said that Geoff Johns job in the new DC Entertainment organization was to avoid conflicts with characters across various media. He gave the example of the Flash TV show. At the time in the Flash comic book, Wally West was The Flash, but on the show he was Barry Allen.

His last question to the audience: What would you do if you were DC's Editor-In-Chief? Jeffrey said that he would fire any creator who was late. Dan;s response was, "What would you do if Jim Lee wanted to do Justice League?" Jeffrey said that he would solicit it as soon as Lee had it done. (When it comes to being late, I guess Jim Lee's name would be the first to enter the conversation with All-Star Batman And Robin.) Among the answers were: to feature Batman's army of allies, bringing back the Batman Family and Superman Family titles. Dan said he has always had a rule, to leave the fanboy in the hall. It is hard, because he considers himself a fanboy at heart. Another response from the audience was to establish creative teams on titles for extended runs. Dan responded that he would as wee. It would make his job easier.

He also said that anthologies don't do well, because readers don't think the individual stories matter, he's found. Another thing Dan said he has noticed is that the opinions voiced on internet forums don't match sales firgures. Dan said that comic books are easier R & D than movies. One thing that comic book publishers need to stop doing is to give reasons not to read books. Publishers have to engage readers.

Dan felt that digital media will not hurt traditional comic book publisheing, because comic collectors still exist. Late titles is another issue Dan said need to be addressed. Comics need to be consistently good and consistently on time. Dan felt it's important for comic books to crossover into other media, including digital comics.

Dan ended the panel by saying that comic books should just tell good stories and make characters relevant.

Dan was a lot of fun, and a great way to end the convention. Jeffrey noted that Didio has a similar charisma as former President Clinton. Like him or hate him, hew was able to draw you in. During the panel it was evident that Dan could work the audience. He gave frank commnets, usually about past comic books, and deflect criticism on other topics. I hope he continues next year if he continues to come to MegaCon.

I had originally planned to go to another panel with LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I had to make a choice. I decided I wanted to chat with some of the other creators I had met. I chatted witth Derrick Fish, who does the new independent comic book The Wellkeepers. He and his girlfriend were very happy with the response to his title. They had almost sold out of copies of issues #0 & #1. Derridck had also drawn a lot of sketches. I also spoke with Billy Tucci.

Jeffrey and I met again for the Project Fanboy 2009 Awards Panel, where Jeffrey accepted the award for Favorite Comic Book Fan website for the Superman Homepage That was the main reason Jeffrey came to MegaCon. To watch the entire awards panel go to: My only disappointment was that noone from DC Comics came to accept the award for Favorite Publisher. There were very few poeple in attendance, just a few people covering the panel for a comic book website, and the award winners. It would have been nice to see someone from DC there regardless. The whole panel seemed to last fifteen minutes. It's a small thing, but so is the comic book industry in the United States. A little effort goes a long way with comic book readers. I realize an executive with a large publisher like DC or Marvel can feel pulled in a million directions by the fans, but taking a few minutes for something like this would make what comic book fans were there feel as if noone is too small for a big publisher to care about. Otherwise it was an enjoyable panel. Jeffrey and I even got our pictures taken with a Lois Lane cosplayer.

As we were leaving the convention I took Jeffrey by Billy Tucci's table. After talking with Billy about his book Sgt. Rock: The Lost Batallion, Jeffrey became so interested in the story that he bought a copy to read on the flight home. He later said that he enjoyed the sotry very much.

That pretty much wrapped up MegaCon for Jeffrey and I. We went home to have him fix an excellent meatloaf for a delicious meal he prepared for my family. I drove Jeffrey to Orlando International Airport Monday morning and extended an offer to stay with us if he desires to come back next year.

I certainly plan to be back at Megaon every year from now on. In the future I'll apply for a media pass so that I can cover the convention for this podcast and blog, as well as My Pull List blog. By then I hope to have a digital recorder, so that you won't just hear my talk about the comic pros, you can hear me talk with them, which would be an improvement for this podcast. My wife has said she would attend one day, probably Saturday, to see all of the costumes. My son, if he's here, even wants to go back. So I hope next year will be a family affair at MegaCon.

Next Episode: World's Finest Comics #71: Superman And Batman, Together Again For The First Time!

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!

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

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

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.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Episode #118: MegaCon 2010 Day 2: Part III!

Note: This is the fourth of a series of blog posts about MegaCon, 2010, Day 2, but the audio podcast on MegaCon will be a single episode. I attended MegaCon, as I said in the Day 1 post, with Jeffrey Taylor O'Brien. To read his coverage of MegaCon, click on the following links:

To see more of my photos from MegaCon 2010, click on the following link to go to my MegaCon 2010 photo album at:
To read Jeffrey Taylor's coverage of MegaCon go to:

The final panel Jeffrey Taylor O'Brien and I attended on a very busy and crowded Saturday was the Writing Genre Comics Panel. The panelists were Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Marv Wolfman, Billy Tucci and Brian Pulido (who, if you're not familiar with his name, is the creator of Lady Death).

Jimmy Palmiotti made the opening comment, stating that he preferred writing for genres other than superheroes. He then said the rest of the panelists feel like kids, in regards to writing experience, next to Marv Wolfman.

Marv spoke next, about the criticism of the movie Avatar being a remake of the story of Pocahantas. He said that the stranger in a strange land story is one of the oldest archetypes of storytelling.

The first question from the audience was about the hardest, and conversely, the easiest genre for the panelists to write. Brian Pulido said that horror was the easiest because he understood its language. Superheroes were the hardest for him to comprehend. Billy Tucci said that the guy/girl story was the hardest The challenge was to make them interesting. Stories like the movie Reservoir Dogs were easy, character development through action. Marv Wolfman spoke along similar lines. He found romance stories the hardest to write while avoiding stupid cliches. To him, all romance stories are basically the same story. The best writer he found in the romance genre was Jerry Conway. Ironically, at the beginning of his writing career, Gerry's biggest weakness was writing characters. It took him three years of hard work to learn how to write character development well. Justin Gray said that every genre presents its own challenges. His biggest challenge was writing teen characters believably, and not goofy. He then gave a few story ponters: show, don't tell; don't overwrite; let the scene develop. Billy Tucci followed up on that point. He noted that golden and silver age comic books often had captions explaining what was shown in the panel, i.e. a character punching through a wall. Billy said that if an action is shown in the art, there's no need to narrate that action.

Marv Wolfman said that if he did not know the artist he would write defensively, then rewrite to match the art.

Jimmy Palmiotti repeated his earlier comment. He found any other genre than superheroes easier to write.

The panelists then gave a variety of writing tips. Justin Gray said that a good story has characters who are invested in other characters. He also warned the audience to not become hooked on who loves you or who hates you among your readers. You will lose your way creatively that way. Marv Wolfman gave an example of Justin's point. When DC announced that Marv and George Perez first began writing The New Teen Titans, they got a lot of hate mail when their team line-up was announced. The new team was too different from the original cast. Once the title began to be published, the hate mail turned to fan mail. Readers overwhelmingly loved the book. Jimmy Palmiotti pointed out that if you are getting hate mail, that means that people are reading your work, which means money in your pocket. He also said that the only power critics have over you is when you react to them. Marv Wolfman made a very important point, to listen to criticism when it points out mistakes. He also said to work to avoid cliches in well worn genres. The hardest part is to recognize it and get out of it. Billy Tucci said that if you suspect you're writing a cliche, you probably are. You have to find a way around it. Jimmy Palmiotti pointed out that a cliche can work as a quick introduction to a character. The trick is to expand on the character to grow out of the cliche. Justin Gray said to introduce characters in broad strokes, then flesh them out.

The next question was how to write established characters? Marv Wolfman probably made the most important comment on the topic. He said a writer should never dishonor previous versions done by other writers. Be honest with the character and build on previous work, don;t tear it down or ignore it. Every writer deserves the freedom to write a character as he sees it.

Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray were asked how they worked together as co-writers. They talk about a project at least three times a day, to flesh out the idea and build on each other's ideas. Who writes the story depends on who's busiest. They bounce the script back and forth. Sometimes their best stories come out of thier disagreements.

Next was a question about hou non-visual media affected their work. A unanimous answer from the panel was to read newspapers, and observe the world around them. Marv Wolfman suggested listening to snippets of conversation around you, to develop an ear for dialogue.

Jimmy Palmiotti pointed out that most prospective writers have one great idea they hang their hopes on to become a big success. He said that a writer doesn't need one great idea, he needs a million ideas. Brian Pulido noted that editors don't hire writers, they buy stories. Billy Tucci noted that if you are writing a comic book story about a historical event, if there are any participants still living, interview them if at all possible. It adds human experience to the story.

Jimmy had a question for Brian Pulido. He asked Brian where his interest in horror came from, because he's such a laid back guy. It didn't seem to be a match. Brian said that his mother liked dark material and exposed him to it at a young age.

Justin Gray suggested to the audience to be influenced by everything, even by things you don't like. Think about why you don't like something. Know you're audience. Billy Tucci followed up on that comment by suggesting that you should know who you're writing for. Justin also said to find a common thread that run through the culture you're writing for.

The next question was on how to write dialogue that feels real. Marv Wolfman pointed out htat dialogue in comic books is not real. The purpose of dialogue in comics is to convey information in a believable manner. Billy Tucci suggested writing dialogue tight, to the point. Marv pointed out that dialogue has a half-life of about five years. Language and slang changes over time.

I asked Jimmy Palmiotti about a point he had made on an earlier podcast interview. In that interview he had mentioned about hitting the dialogue beats. I asked him to elaborate. He ponted out that every line of dialogue needs to hit the mark to advance the dialogue. A comic book has only 22 pages to hit the story marks. Marv added that the story should advance the character and plot. If something stands out in the story, does it fit in the rest of the story? Don't be afraid to kill your "babies". If your favorite line or situation doesn't fit the rest of the story or strays from the story, it has to go.

Another question to Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray was about the difference between writing for a video game vs. comic books. They said that when writing for a video game, the story has to fit into the game. Marv pointed out that with video games, you have to write to fit the game design.

The final question was about which is better, writing out the story or letting it happen. Brian Pulido said that it's a combination. It's important to know where you're going, but don't be afraid to follow the lead if the story wants to take you in a different direction.

Jeffrey and I left soon after the panel. Instead of taking the same route home, we traveled on I-4 through downtown Orlando so that Jeffrey could see my comic book store. He works at one in California, an denjoyed visiting my store. I guess it's my fault he spent more money than he planned. Along with some back issues he also bought a plush Mr. Mxyzptlk figure. Then we went home to have some of the delicious leftovers from Friday night's dinner.

Next: MegaCon 2010 Day 3!

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!

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

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

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 #118: MegaCon 2010 Day 2 Part II: The Nichelle Nichols Panel!

Note: This is the third of a series of blog posts about MegaCon, 2010, Day 2, but the audio podcast on MegaCon will be a single episode. I attended MegaCon, as I said in the Day 1 post, with Jeffrey Taylor O'Brien. To read his coverage of MegaCon, click on the following links:

To see more of my photos from MegaCon 2010, click on the following link to go to my facebook MegaCon 2010 photo album:

Nichelle Nichols began the panel discussion by taking a question from the audience. The first question was an obvious one: What she thought of the new movie. Nichelle liked the new Star Trek movie a lot. She liked its energy, the tech, J. J. Abrams enthusiasm. He brought a vitality to the project that was carried through by the actors in their performances.

Nichelle then had the convention volunteer move the tables back from the edge of the stage so that she could sit on the corner of one of the tables, closer to the audience. Someone said, "You need a piano." Nichelle answered, "I don't need no piano." Everyone laughed and applauded, because we knew she was right.

The next question was how much she enjoyed roasting William Shatner. Nichelle replied that she had a lot of fun. She then gave a short history of the comedy "Roast:", which led her into talking about Gene Roddenberry's development of Star Trek.

Gene wanted to bring more of a sense of reality to TV, along with gender equality and diversity. Hollywood executives told him that America wasn't ready for racial equality, especially in the deep south. Maybe in 300 years, they told him. As Nichelle put it, Gene told them thank you and then wrote Star Trek. No studio would buy it until another TV pioneer, Lucille Ball, head of Desilu Studios, bought Star Trek. She really didn't know exactly what it was. She thought it was a kid's show similar to the then popular Lost In Space. After Star Trek went into production, Desilu was bought by Paramount Studios. As most Trek fans know, the first pilot, starring Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike, was rejected. A second pilot, starring the now familiar original cast, was picked up by NBC.

Of course, the show did not have smooth sailing with studio executives. They thought that Spock's ears made him look develish and would scare kids.

Gene had called Nichelle's agent, requesting she audition for Star Trek. Nichelle had just closed a singing engagement at a London supper club, and so her agent was unable to get in touch with her. She was very tired and had not had a vacation in a very long time. Her plans were to fly to Paris and go on a skiing vacation. In fact, she was considering bringing her son over from the United States and moving to Europe. When her agent finally got in contact with her and told her the news, Nichelle at first declined. she was tired and just wanted some time away from work.

After a brief argument, her agent told Nichelle to get to the airport, where she would find a trans-Atlantic ticket waiting for her. He made a deal: if she didn't get the part she could fly back to Europe and take her vacation; if she got the part she could repay him the cost of the ticket.

During the flight she was reading a book about African history titled Uhuru, which is Swahili for "freedom". Nichelle carried the book with her to the audition to read while she waited for her turn. When she got to the studio there were other actresses waiting to audition for the part also. They looked down their noses at Nichelle, who described her attire as a modern 1960's black woman. Nichelle was told to go on in, much to the other actresses' surprise.

Nichelle briefly discussed the book with the director. there were other people in the room also. Her audition consisted of reading some lines. The dialogue involved Kirk, McCoy and Spock. Nichelle read Spock's lines. She thought that was the role she was auditioning for, so Nichelle asked, "What kind of woman is she?" It was explained to her that her role as Communications Officer had not been written yet. Nichelle's next question was, "Could Spock be a woman?" the response was, "Leonard Nimoy wouldn't like it." After being given some basic information about Spock, she read the three pages of lines as if Spock was a woman.

Nichelle noticed Gene Roddenberry sitting in the back of the room. She asked him what he was doing there. Gene told her that he had a little bit to do with the TV show she was auditioning for. Nichelle informed the audience at the panel that Gene gave her her first television role in his TV show The Lieutenant. Nichelle also told the audience that at that point she didn't know that Gene had asked specifically for her. At the end of the audition Nichelle was asked to sit in the other room. Later, when the Director saw her still there, he asked her why she was still there. He informed her that she had the role when she left.

In the earliest episodes Nichelle wore the same color uniform as Captain Kirk, a color Nichelle described as "cat-puke green".

Over dinner, Gene and Nichelle discussed a name for her character. Nichelle wanted to name her after the title of the book she had been reading, but Gene thought Uhuru sounded too harsh. She then suggested Uhura, which had a softer sound. Gene liked it, and that's how Nichelle's character got her name.

But things didn't go smoothly for Nichelle after that. After production began, she received a call from her agent. The studio didn't want to honor her contract, and wanted to buy her out. Nichelle did not give any reasons for this decision, but I had to wonder if race didn't have something to do about it. Her agent then told her that Gene wanted her to trust him. that sent Nichelle's temper through the roof. Nichelle told the audience that was her ego talking. She eventually calmed down and agreed to trust Gene. As it turned out, Gene knew how to make the system work for him when he needed to. He had her report as a day player. Nichelle would often stay after regular filming hours to do pick-up shots, etc. With overtime, she wound up making more money than she would have under her original contract.

At the same time Nichelle had a small role as a nurse on the TV show Peyton Place, although only the back of her head was shown.

When studio executives saw the dailies and asked Gene what Nichelle was doing on the set, he told them she was a day player. They said that they thought he was going to add a little color to the set. And so Gene had Nichelle's uniform color changed from "cat-puke green" to the now familiar red.

Her next projects include returning to the TV show Heroes. Her storyline had been cut from a previous season, when it was determined that there were too many plots going on at the same time. Her plotline is returning. She is also involved with several movies, one as an Executive Producer.

A fan asked her what was her favorite episode from the original series was. Nichelle answered that it was anytime Uhurua got off the bridge. A specific favorite episode was The Trouble With Tribbles. She then talked about how she knew Star Trek would be cancelled after only one season, because every episode kept getting better and better.

Nichelle ended the panel sharing how Uhura got her first name. Writer Steve Whitfield wrote a fictional history of Star Trek and its back story, and gave her the Swahili name Niota - Star.

Next: MegaCon 2010 Day 2: Part III!

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