Sustineo Alas

Happy New Year! Here on The ‘Optikon we’re continuing a nostalgic journey through DC’s 1970s Secret Origins series and the 100-page Super-Spectaculars. This time, it’s one I bought just before Xmas but one that was published just shy of my tenth birthday!

Despite being a “grab-bag” of third-rate 40s strips, interspersed with two Silver Age reprints, I was entertained by this collection.

I Sustain the Wings: A charming little propaganda piece from 1943; it’s quite a novelty to read a wartime Superman adventure. Clark Kent’s army stint makes an intriguing backdrop for, ahem, action. Mary, the fiancee of hapless cadet Larry, is a honey.

Murder on a Star: Only the second GA Atom story I’ve ever read and an appealingly well-drawn little noir. It only dawned on me that this Atom is a bit of a luchador.

Lockup in the Lethal Lightbulb: Another gorgeous Kane/Anderson collaboration on the Silver Age Atom, only slightly marred by  some tedious science factoids. However, I can’t see Dr. Light now without thinking: “rapist”. Thanks, Brad Meltzer. Really. Thanks.

Superboy’s Last Day in Smallville: a touching little puzzle story that speaks to us all about growing up and moving on.  I’m not sure exactly why Supes thought he’d never see the people he loved again, though. Exhibit A: a decade of Smallville on tv ….

The Crime Clown: The Powerhouse Pair debut in a shameless, primitive Batman/Robin/Joker knockoff; Simon and Kirby do this thing far better with Sandman and Sandy. Dyna Mite was one of the Young All-Stars in the late 80s and Len Wein recently folded Dan and TNT into the Seven Soldiers of Victory to replace Green Arrow and Speedy.

The Hour-Man: I hadn’t clicked that Bernard Bailey also wrote and drew the Spectre. This is my first sighting of teen brigade, the Minute Men of America; the Newsboy Legion, two years later, seem to resemble them strongly. However,  this is a goofy, absurd tale in which evil Dr. Togg creates his ludicrous flying Gombezis- hybrid wolf-buzzards. I’d be astonished if they haven’t shown up in All-Star Squadron…

Gold: And Captain Triumph is a character only Roy Thomas could love: a fusion of two brothers-one a ghost- who dresses like Doc Savage. Lance Gallant’s Spectre-Lite abilities are under-used in this Shazam-esque story. However, it’s rather well-drawn.

Captain Triumph was also the inspiration for  the militaristic JSAer Lance, introduced in  2008, who eventually became Alex Ross’ parody of Cable, Magog.

The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue: This is an all-guns-blazing Imaginary Novel that first appeared a month after I was born. It’s a last hurrah for the Weisinger Super-Family, writing “finis” to Kandor, Atlantis, Lex, Brainiac, Mxyzptlk, Kara and Kal-El. It’s oddly poignant and Lex Luthor with hair is a dead ringer for Perry White. Hmmm…

Electric Superman paid homage to this story in 1998. I think Russell T. Davies might have seen it too:

A Look Through The Super-Spectacles: a couple of rave reviews for Hardin “Jack” Burnley’s Starman and a suggestion about reprinting Zatanna’s quest for Zatara.

Next: The Mystery Men of January

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners and are reproduced here for purposes of nostalgia and comment.


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