New Reviews of Old Comics
How many Superman stories have been written? I’m sure some lonely individual out there has totaled them all up, and the number is ridiculously high. Given all that, it shouldn’t be a big surprise when you see a cover with Superman in what looks to be a western style gunfight; they can’t all be set in Smallville or Metropolis. If he can fly into the 30th century to hang out with the Legion of Super-Heroes, he should be able to go back in time to when the west was won. The first page even has the feel of an old Bonanza opening; man walks into a bar, offers up some witty banter and starts shootin’ the joint up. This cycle continues until Superman walks in. The gunman not only draws on Superman, but winds up shooting him down. WHAT?!?! Superman can’t be shot! Well, that’s because this is only a practice dummy for Terra Man, the star of “The Artistic Thefts of Terra-Man” written by Paul Kupperberg, with art by Curt Swan and Dave Hunt.
The story is set in current times, not the old west because back in Metropolis Lana Lang is on a hot story about some stolen Rembrandts stashed away in a train station locker. Flashes of Gerlado at Al Capone’s vault come to mind as the door is open, but just as the paintings are revealed, Terra Man breaks through the ceiling on a Pegasus. *sigh* Really? Is this necessary? He originally stole the paintings, gave the tip as to their location, but now he’s changed his mind. This leads to Terra Man then attacking an airplane in mid-flight, but Superman is disguised as the target. Terra Man escapes on his Pegasus. Seriously? The “climax” of this story is a showdown at the previously mentioned saloon with Superman out-maneuvering some tracer bullets that hit Terra Man, who “can only groan.” Yes, that was the end of the story. This verifies my thought about how many Superman stories have been written, and at some point you need to scrape the bottom of the originality barrel. This would be one of those stories.
As if that weren’t enough this issue has a second story, “Yesterday Once More” by Bob Rozakis with art by Howard Bender and Dave Hunt. This eight pager has Superman solving a seven year old murder by using his super-memory and super speed activity to build a downtown facade and trick the murderer. Although not the best story going, it beats the first one. There is a fine line between cheesy and annoying. In some cases the “super” actions (super ventriloquism, super breath, super memory etc) can be somewhat endearing in a goofy sort of way. Like Batman’s utility belt, they always seem to have the needed resource right at hand, no matter how hokey. However, it does reach a point of being over done, overkill and over boring. I half expect to see Superman develop super farts after eating chili and hot box Lana Lang, but I don’t think the Comics Code Authority would permit that.
Best Ad: “The Series that shakes the cosmos! Super Powers! A full page Jack Kirby display ad with Hawkman, Batman, Robin, Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Wonder Woman in a battle with Penguin, Joker, Brainiac, Lex Luthor and some mysterious black blob (we can assume Darkseid). The Joker is shooting “Slippy Grease” under Robin’s motorcycle. I have to admit I never read Super Powers when it came out, but after seeing this ad I might want to give it a try. It looks like some good, silly comic book fun. Although I didn’t read the series I did own almost all of the toys, even Plastic Man and Samurai, but sadly never got Shazam. I kept all of the little comics that came with the toys, but I think my son lost/destroyed them. I had Secret Wars toys too, but they weren’t as nice as the Super Powers toys. So what came first, Secret Wars or Super Powers?