New Reviews of Old Comics
Super Powers gives comic books a bad name.
I remember mentioning in this column a few weeks back that I liked the Jack Kirby ad for Super Powers and it made me want to read an issue. As fate would have it I found this issue for a buck and now I wish I had kept that dollar or spent it on another comic because this thing is a total abomination.
“Machinations” was written (and I use the term loosely here) by Paul Kupperberg and I regret to say Carmine Infantino handled the art chores. As a rule I love everything by Carmine, and this would be the exception to that rule; I don’t know if he just ripped through this to get it done, or drew it one handed while holding his nose with the other hand because the script reeked so bad, but this is sub-par at best for him The dialogue is horrible and the characters’ actions barely resemble anything a long time comics fan would recognize.
OK, I know you’re saying “this comic was written to sell toys,” and I get that; I get it. Hell, I own many of the Super Powers toys! I’m not expecting Watchmen here, folks, I just don’t understand why the story has to be insipid in order to sell toys. As example the splash page has Darkseid using a crowbar to pry open a second hand clothing store’s alley-side door. He lost his Omega Power so he’s as weak as any mortal now. So he steals some clothes and then gets his ass whipped by some kids, literally kids, with a chain. Even if Darkseid doesn’t have ray beams shooting out of his eyes, he’s not exactly a little guy. Why not just bust down the door and then step on those punk kids? Then DeSaad, Mr. Freeze and some other guy I never saw before are hiding out in a fortress somewhere and get into a squabble. This travesty of a story totally lost my interest so I have no idea what happens after that. And I care even less. Again, I get that it’s written to encourage kids to buy toys, but doesn’t it seem counterproductive to publish something this dumb and annoying? A kid is going to read this and think “comic books suck.” When I was around 8 or 9 I clearly remember being in the Milwaukee airport and picking out two comic books to read on the flight to Maine; The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers. The Hulk, because he was on TV at the time and I loved that show. The Avengers because they had Captain America. It was Avengers #199 and I remember that because years later when I really got into comics I made a point of hunting down #200 to finally read the second part of that story. I kept both of those, and still have them, because even as a kid I thought they were good stories. If I had picked up Super Powers or something along these lines I really doubt I would have ever bought another comic book.
The only way I will ever buy another Super Powers comic is if I see one where Jack Kirby did all of the art, and then I’ll pray Paul Kupperberg didn’t write it.
Notable Ad: Yeah, I know, this whole comic is an ad for Super Powers toys, but DC still managed to sell some other ads. Most notable is the 12 page center spread ad for MASK toys, produced by Kenner Toys, same makers of the Super Powers line. Coincidence? I think not. There is a three and a half page MASK comic story (written by Joe Orlando), and the rest of the pages are photos of MASK products you can buy; gym bag, pajamas, Velcro shoes, underoos, crap like that. Did this big glossy paper ad run in all DC titles that month, or just Super Powers? I don’t remember seeing it in others. It just reinforces the sad purpose of Super Powers.