Yesterday, an animation by Zack Snyder and Bruce Timm, celebrating Superman’s 75th birthday, went viral. Predictably, I like it until it reaches the 90s and the turgid Doomsday arc. The animation chooses to skip Lois and Clark which was an entertaining take on the character and zips past Smallville, which had a very healthy lifespan. Let’s not forget, it also brought the JSA and the LSH to the small screen. Naturally, the animation concludes with the New 52 and hulking Henry Cavill.
It seems appropriate then that I should finally post my review of Superman 284: a 100-page issue from February 1975. I have very few Super-Spectacular issues left to add to my collection. I’ll eschew the war and mystery books although one day, I might try Tarzan ( I haven’t read Marvel’s version either). That leaves a Flash, a Batman and an earlier Superman- although this one doesn’t bode well.
284 is a Daily Planet-themed issue, which is a clever conceit. The dark blue, sobre cover doesn’t exactly leap off the spinner rack, however.
Headline news –Secret Guardian of Smallville: a classy, nostalgic Bates/Swan story where Pete Ross and Lana help CK investigate a Superboy robot still protecting their home town. The denouement reminds me of the Thomas/Adams Sentinels fate. One wonders why Supergirl wasn’t established in Smallville.
Sports-The Interplanetary Olympics: Lana accomanies Supes in this 1963 tale. The planetoid hosting the event is a haven for criminals who need super-energy to escape into the future, Supes appears to be doing poorly but the trials are fixed. This flight of fancy is a bit humdrum but features lovely Swan art.
Comics-King of the Comic Books: “Look out Ebeneezer, here comes GEEZER”-a curosity from 1943 that lampoons comics with a metatextual gag strip. The creatorof the cretinous super-hero Geezer is a nebbish who falls prey to Bundists. “I’ve often wondered how it would feel to be a comic character” muses Supes.HAW!
Society Pages-A Modern Alice in Wonderland: a 1946 fable in which an heiress, dreaming of an acting career, learns her lesson after an encounter with gangland versions of Carroll’s characters. Hard going and primitive.
Gate-crashers in the Fortress of Solitude: a 2-page spread featuring clip art of Lois, Jimmy, Brainiac and Batman, er gatesocrashing the Fortress of Solitude.
Finance-Superman Owes a Billion: Another Swan story featuring Weisinger’s stable of characters ( Bizarro, Prof. Potter, Lori Lemaris and surprise guest-star Aquaman). It explains very earnestly why Superman isn’t a tax evader and why the US is indebted to him. One month later, in Novemner 1961, the grotesque Fantastic Four will make their debut…
obituaries- The Death of Clark Kent: In order to preserve his secret ID after CK’s life is apparently claimed in an accident, Supes adopts new careers: a waiter, then a vacuum cleaner salesman. This is a rather laboured humorous dilemma, again from 1946.
All in all, despite the clever theme, this is silly, harmless fare. Some classical art but nothing that would make me come back next month.
Why would I settle for such lackustre material when Marvel’s Kozmic head-trip Warlock explodes from the mind of Starlin, that same month?
What about the apocalyptic sci-fi/ horror or sexy pulp Noir of newcomers Atlas?
DC’s response was, predictably, to ape Marvel’s sword and sorcery and Pulp revival titles just as Atlas had, Next time, we’ll look back at a more innovative DC in the Silver Age, when the airy futurism of Carmine Infantino revitalised the super-hero strip.
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