Thursday, December 2, 2010

Episode #146: It Was 50 Years Ago Today!

On this episode for the last week of September, which happens to be my birthday, on September 27, I wanted to take a look at the Superman titles that were published on the month I was born back in 1950. That's why I used the title, as a pun off of the first lyric to The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper song. Thanks to Mikes's Amazing World Of DC Comics  for always being a valuable resource.

According to the website, DC Comics published 27 titles in the month of September, 1960. They carried the cover date of November or November/December 1960, and a few titles published near the end of the month carried the December 1960 cover date. All of DC's titles this month contained 32 pages and sold for a dime. This was in the middle of the era where comic books appeared on the newstands at stores across the country, so they were not released on just one day each week of the month, as they are now, as I discovered.

The comic books released on September 1, 1960: Our Army At War #100 (war) and Tomahawk #71 (historical adventure).

September 6, 1960: Flash #116, House Of Mystery #104 (suspense), Mystery In Space #63 (science fiction), World's Finest Comics #113.

September 8, 1960: Blackhawk #154 (military/science fiction), The Many Loves Of Doby Gills #4 (TV show adaption), My Greatest Adventure #49 (science fiction).

September 13, 1960: House Of Secrets #38 (Suspense), TV Screen Cartoons #137.

September 15, 1960: Adventures Of Jerry Lewis #61 (comedy), Our Fighting Forces #58 (war), Superman #141.

September 20, 1960: Falling In Love #39 (romance), Tales Of The Unexpected #55 (suspense), Western Comics #84.

September 22, 1960: Green Lantern #3, Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #21, Wonder Woman #118.

September 27, 1960: All American Men At War #82, Showcase #29 (featuring the Sea Devils). I was a little disappointed that no Superman comic books were published on the day I was born.

September 29, 1960: Action Comics #270, Adventure Comics #278, Detective Comics #285. These last two titles carried the December 1960 cover date: Girls' Love Stories #75 (romance) and Strange Adventures #122 (science fiction).

The Superman titles published in September 1960 all carried the November 1960 cover date:
World's Finest Comics #113 9/6/60, Superman #141 9/15/60, Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #21 9/22/60, Action Comics #270 9/29/60 and Adventure Comics #278 9/29/60.

World's Finest Comics #113, NOvember 1960, was published around September 6, 1960. The editor was Jack Schiff, and the cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. Superman and Batman and Robin starred in the story, Bat Mite Meets Mr. Mxyzptlk, written by Jerry Coleman, pencilled by Dick Sprang and inked by Sheldon Moldoff. This story was reprinted in the books, Batman From The thirties To The Seventies, World's Finest Archives vol. III and Showcase Presents: World's Finest vol. II.

Superman assisted the Dynamic Duo in capturing some criminals who used a remote controlled robot to terririze Gotham City. Bat Mite apopeared, and felt the the Man of Steel upstaged Batman and Robin. The imp began to harass Superman. Mr. Mxyzptlk appeared and decided to get even by doing the same to the Dynamic Duo. Bat Mite pestered Mr. Mxyzptlk until he returned to the 5th Dimension, then realized he had been a pest and vanished as well.

The Green Arrow story in the issue was the six page Miss Arrowette, written by Dave Wood and drawn by Lee Elias. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Green Arrow  vol. I. Bonnie King won an archery contest and the title Miss Arrowette. She decided to use her talent to help Green Arrow and Speedy fight crime. After initial success, her blunders get both Green Arrow and Speedy captured by criminals. Bonnie does rescue them, and Green Arrow and Speedy use her trick arrows to capture the bad guys. They convince Bonnie to retire from crime fighting.

The science fiction character Tommy Tomorrow appeared in the story Journey To 1960. The story was written by Jack Miller and drawn by Jim Mooney. There was no plot synopsis available from the website Mike's Amazing World Of DC Comics, and the only reprint of the story was in DC Super Stars #6, the August 1976 issue.

Superman #141, November 1960, was published around September 15, 1960. The editor of this and the remaining Superman titles was Mort Weisinger, and the cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. Superman's Return To Krypton was written by Jerry Siegel, pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye. The story was reprinted in Superman In The Sixties, Showcase Presents: Superman vol. II and Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. II. When Superman chased after an unusual space creature, he accidentally flew too fast and broke the time barrier. He would up in the past on the planet Krypton. He met his parents, Jor-El and Lara, and fell in love with Krypton's most famous actress Lyra Lerrol. Superman kept his true relationship with his parents a secret, but assisted his father in finding a way to save their planet from destruction. When their efforts failed, the Man of Steel resolved to share Krypton's doom with the people he loved the most. Through a strange twist of fate, he is thrown into space in a rocket, and returned to his own time. As he approached Earth, a kryptonite meteor shower reminded Superman that the people he loved were gone.

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #21, November 1960, was published on September 22, 1960. The cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye and Kurt Schaffenberger, who inked Lois Lane and possibly Lana Lang as well.

The seventeen page story The Lois Lane Doll was written by Edmond Hamilton and drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. This story was reprinted in Superman: The Bottle City Of Kandor. According to the plot synopsis at, a criminal posing as a doll maker made a life size Lois Lane doll containing a bomb. His plan was for Superman to take it to his Fortress of Solitude. Somehow, the real Lois Lane is taken instead. She visited the bottle city of Kandor and spent time with Superman's friend Van-Zee, whose brother Dik fell in love with Lois. Superman took her from Kandor after Dik proposed to her. The Man of Steel succeeded in capturing the criminal and foiling his plan.

The second story of the issue was the 9 page The Battle Between Super-Lois And Super-Lana. gave no writer credit, but listed the writer as Jerry Siegel. Kurt Schaffenberger was the artist. Lana and Lois both gained super powers after bathing in a strange lake. They decided to use their new powers to convince Superman to choose between them for a wife. They fought each other until their powers vanished, so Superman was spared having to make a decision.

Action Comics #270, November 1960, was published on September 29, 1960. The cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye.  The easiest way to read this issue is in the reprint editions Showcase Presents: Superman vol. II and Showcase Presents: Supergirl vol. I.

The ten page story, The Old Man Of Metropolis, was written by Otto Binder, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by John Forte. Perry assigned Clark Kent to write a story on Midvale Orphanage and some of their gifted orphans. Clark flew to the orphanage by piloting the newspaper's Flying Newsroom helicopter. The headmaster showed some gifted students on the piano and violin, and another student practicing ballet. Clark met the student, Linda Lee, who was secretly Supergirl, and they pretended that they had never met before. She showed him a painting and Clark, with a wink, told her that she wasn't a very good artist. Linda gave him a story to read after he got home.

Back at his apartment, Clark read Linda's story, titled My Career As Superwoman. He then took a nap to recuperate after being exposed to green kryptonite that morning. Clark was awakened by an out of control rocket which was about to crash into Metropolis. As Superman, he flew at top speed to destroy the rocket, but flew so fast that he broke the time barrier and landed in Metropolis of the future. Superman was shocked to see his reflection in a window, and see the bearded face of an old man. He was met by Supermwoman, who he recognized as the adult Linda Lee. But he didn't remember when she had revealed herelf to the world, nor when he lost his superpowers. Feeling like a has been, Superman changed into Clark Kent and walked to the Daily Planet. He found Jimmy Olsen having replaced Perry White as the Editor-In-Chief. Jimmy reminded Clark that he had retired a long time ago. Later, as Superman, he discovered that Lex Luthor had reformed and invented a cure for cancer, then become Mayor of Metropolis.

Feeling like he had no life in Metropolis, Superman bought a flying car and flew to the Fortress of Solitude. Even the Fortress was not like he remembered, since Superwoman had put his old trophies into storage, and had replaced them with her own souviners. The Man of Steel returned to Metropolis even sadder, and found a piece of kryptonite. To make matters worse, he was arrested for illegal possession of kryptonite, since it would still harm Superwoman. He was put in the same prison cell as Bizarro. Superman;s day became better when the elderly Lois Lane bailed Superman out of jail. She told him that she had never married, and, since he no longer had super powers, followed his heart and told Lois that he wanted to spend their remaining years together. As they kissed, she disappeared and Clark woke up from his dream.

The next day, Lois ws surprised to find a bouquet of flowers on her desk, sent by Superman.

I really enjoyed this story. I knew from the moment that Superman wound up in the future that it was a dream sequence, only because I've read such stories many times. But I enjoy stories that take Superman out of his normal setting.

The Supergirl backup story was Supergirl's Busiest Day, reprinted in Supergirl Archives vol. I. Jeryr Siegel wrote the story, which was drawn by Jim Mooney. Linda Lee helped anoter orphan get adopted, then wished someting exciting would happen. She received an alert from Krypto for help. As Supergirl, she rescued Krypton from the spaceship that had captured him. After she returned to Earth, Supergirl receive a telepathic alert from Lori Lemaris in Atlantis. She helped the mermaid capture the Atlantian criminal Malto. Batman and Robin need her help next, then Superman signalled her to go to the Fortress of Solitude. There, Supergirl found the Man of Steel joined by Lori Lemaris, Krypto, Batman and Robin and the bottle city of Kandor. They had gathered for a surprise birthday party for Supergirl, and the alerts had been planned for her by Superman as a birthday challenge. Superman gives the oddest presents.

Adventure Comics #278, November 1960, published on Sseptember 29, 1960. The cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. The twelve page story Supergirl In Smallville was written by Otto Binder and drawn by Al Plastino. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Supergirl vol. I. Supergirl traveled into the past and met Jonathan and Martha Kent. She had decided to practice hiding her secret identity to prove to Superman that she was ready to be adopted when she returned to her own time. Supergirl disguises herself as their neice, Linda Kent, as far as Clark knows. The Kents are in on the secret. Theough a series of events, Supergirl succeeds in keeping her secret from everyone, including Superboy, Krypto and Lana Lang. But one evening, Supergirl entered the Kent home through a window, instead of using the secret tunnel. That proved to her that she was not quite ready yet to protect her secret identity on her own. Supergirl returned to her own time, sad at not being ready to be adopted.

Next Episode: How Clark Kent Met Lois Lane!

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