May 19, 2018

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 1179: Action Comics #559, September 1984

Sorry. Late dinner.

May 18, 2018

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 1178: Action Comics #523, September 1981

A very silly story about an alien that convinces Steve Lombard that they're brothers in order to steal Steve's athletic prowess.

I'm not even kidding a little.

As I noted a couple of days ago, Superman faces some very, very strange menaces. I think it's because most writers recognize that if they used the kinds of challenges that are usual for other superheroes, Superman would fix the problem immediately. But when you go to the stranger side of things, antagonists can have very weird and specific powers that baffle, but never quite defeat, the Man of Steel.

More Action to come...

May 17, 2018

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 1177: Action Comics #484, June 1978

Have to say I'm becoming quite taken with Action Comics. I think we're going to stick with it a little while. I'm in the process of tracking down Marv Wolfman's run on the title, but we'll be reading stuff from throughout the recent history of the run, though not quite into New 52 or Rebirth territory.

This is a great story, the story of the original Superman (at this pre-Crisis moment still living on Earth-2) and his wedding to Lois Lane. I always thought that what happened to them in Infinite Crisis was absolutely criminal, and I'll admit that it's what turned me off of Geoff Johns's writing. Taking away a happy ending from the original superhero is almost as bad an idea as joining the DC and Watchmen universes....oh, yeah.

Today's issue also gives us an interesting interpretation of what Clark would be like if his super side was sublimated. He's far less unassuming in this version of himself, channeling his innate desire to do right into his reporting, becoming something of a newsman action hero. This is the Clark that Lois falls in love with, and it's actually quite heart-wrenching when she realizes she's been right about Clark being Superman all along, and thinks that when his mind is healed, he won't want her for a wife anymore. Superman, of course, does the exact right thing, and joins with her in a Kryptonian ceremony.

Also, can I just say, Lois is looking absolutely smoking on that cover. Well done, Mr. Garcia-Lopez.

More to come...

May 16, 2018

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 1176: Action Comics #479, January 1978

I've never actually seen the cover of this comic. I have in my collection a fair number of coverless comics that have found their way into the boxes over the years. I'm not picky about this sort of thing. Though the covers are wonderful works in and of themselves, I'm more particular about the story being complete, rather than the comic itself. I'm more inclined to not include a comic in my collection if the center pages have come loose, and there is thus story missing. This is the case with many of my Archie comics, and, sadly, one of my old Animal Man Strange Adventures issues.

But today's story is intact, if coverless. Superman faces a foe that only he can see, which makes for some kind of hilarious panels of the big guy doing what looks like those instructional dance photographs that you might find in an old disco album.

(Tell me there's someone out there who gets that comparison...)

It's a competent story, and indicative of the Superman stories we see in this era, pre-Crisis, pre-gritwash. Writers appeared to just throw the most outlandishly powerful and weird villains at Superman to see what he would do. The random bad guys he faces in the 70s remind me of the weirdos the Doom Patrol fought a decade earlier. That's a strange lineage to trace, but I think that Superman is often far more weird that we give him credit for. Consider the wackiness of the 50s and 60s, much like that of Batman - I think in a lot of ways that surreality has never really left the Man of Steel. It's not just that he's equipped to deal with villains that are strong, but also those that are strange. The super human is not only physically superior, mentally superior, but also conceptually superior, able to intuit about alienness. Which Superman does very, very well.

More to come...

The 40 Years of Comics Project - The Bi-Weekly Graphic Novel Number 66 - Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways, 2007

In my spare time, rather than glut on any television, I've been binging New Avengers, starting right at issue #1. It's a really great run of comics, all the way through. I was sold on Mr. Bendis right there and then. His gift for dialogue is where the bar should be set. But I'll get to that stuff, y'know, eventually.

Fairly early into the run, we get the mega-crossover "Civil War." Not to be confused with the similarly-titled, yet completely unrelated, film. Well, mostly completely unrelated. Civil War is one of those stories that only really makes sense in retrospect, knowing from afterward who was manipulating things, and how the war played into this. By itself, it's a bit flawed, though this time around I read as much of the crossover as I have, and the bigger picture is confusing and confounding. As most large-scale crossovers, and real-life political stories, often are. And in that it is successful.

This particular little section is okay, but not great. The Young Avengers, seeing that the Runaways might need some counselling from more mainstream heroes their own age, get into the inevitable hero smackdown before a tentative alliance is formed when Marvel Boy is sent by S.H.I.E.L.D. to take them all down.

For me, the best part of this story is the end, at which point (SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT) the Runaways reject both sides of the conflict, citing the notion that it's just adults screwing everything up, regardless of which side you choose. I think perhaps this, for me, is the aspect of the Runaways comics that the television show just hasn't quite grasped. These kids are anarchists. They're not interested in what the adult world has to offer. They're interested in the world they can make.

If they're left alone, that is.

To be continued.

May 15, 2018

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 1175: Action Comics #425, July 1973

I thought that, since I've been reading a bunch of Batman stuff lately, I should get into some Superman stuff too. And the nice thing about Action Comics, the old ones anyway, is that there's always 2 or 3 features, not just a Superman story. Today both the Atom and the Human Target share the book with the big, blue Boy Scout.

I enjoyed today's issue. It was a very silly story about a man who kills the last Moa in New Zealand, and ends up bringing its irradiated egg back to Metropolis. What's great is that the man, a hunter, kills the bird accidentally, and then spends the rest of the story guilt-ridden over his mistake. It's a nice contrast to the usual tales of big game hunters who more often than not end up as the villains of whatever story they're a part of. Don't get me wrong: I'm 100% against the kind of hunting that is depicted in this comic. It's the difference in characterization that I find refreshing.

There is one panel that is amazing - as the super-Moa is flying around Metropolis, Superman latches onto its legs, which immediately are shed and a new pair grows in their place. Superman is, quite distinctly in at least one panel, left holding what amount to a pair of human-sized chicken legs that disappear in the next panel! Where did they go? Did Superman just drop them? What the heck is whoever finds those legs going to think? I know that these kinds of details go unremarked upon in old stories like this, but I really want to know what happened to the legs.

More to come...

The National Social Welfare Assembly presents: "Your Free Trip Around the World" - December 1963