Superman in Crisis

SiC 25 — Bad Superman! You Broke Your Parents! (07:25:1985)

Reviewing Action Comics 572 (1:23) and World’s Finest Comics 320 (33:34) from July 25, 1985, and then responding to your feedback (48:53)!

4 replies on “SiC 25 — Bad Superman! You Broke Your Parents! (07:25:1985)”

Hey Jon, thanks for the latest episode of SIC. I am starting my vacation today and this show was on my mind. Action 572 surprised me , I don’t remember if I ever read it before but I was startled to see it was old style Silver Age format with three 8 page stories. I am fond of the SA books and was happy to see these tales. What really jumped out at me more so than the plots ,were the artists that were on display. Wayne Boring doing an 1985 comic , who knew ? I did see some of his work in Marvel titles in the 70’s , but I’m thinking this might have been his last published art in comic books. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you feel about his style, inker Dave Hunt overpowered the pages. You could make out his signature, flying sideways, figure of Superman to ID him, but not much else. The second story features Howard Bender and Bob Oksner and I was pleasantly surprised at the really nice structure of the page layouts. I remember Bender as being a journeyman type artist , but he certainly impressed me. Oksner I know from 60’s for his “good girl ” art on titles like Angel and the Ape and Jerry lewis. I’m not sure their styles meshed well in this story. I really was touched by the last panel of this story where the decedents told Superman that he was contacted because of his Compassion. Superman might be my favorite hero because of that trait. The last story had me cringe a little when I saw Superman take the key to the fortress apart. I always found that big Yellow key to be just an amazing visual. The World’s Finest was standard as a story but Batman being attacked by Superman shows how silly its is to ever think he would survive the encounter. I’m looking at you Frank Miller. Thank you for the podcast and have a great week.

Wow! Three stories in one issue (Action Comics #572)! That transported me back to my early 1960s Silver Age boyhood, which is one of my favorite places to revisit. I wonder if, in the face of the changes to be wrought by the Crisis, DC editorial was publishing any backlog of stories they had, to free up writers and artists for that main event, at the same time using up old inventory that might not be as usable in the near future. Just speculation on my part, wholly without any evidence. Certainly, bringing back Gollo, whose only previous appearance had been almost 30 years previous was an atonishingly deep dive, and I really enjoyed that. The other stories were a bit unusual, I thought, with “SOS from Nowhere” showing Superman’s noble character, and how that can have lasting impact, more than his physical strength, and “Purloined Fortress” being a fun puzzle story, and a nice return appearance by both Pete and Jon Ross, which was certainly refreshing after the previous interaction between Superman and Pete.
“Thirty Seconds over Dreamland” in World’s Finest #320 was a decent conclusion to the story, but I do wonder just how watertight Batman’s cape is to keep that bomb dry when he went into the water with it and swam.
In my feedback on the previous episode, my description of Kristin (Superwoman) Wells as a kind of “Mary Sue”, I was thinking not of the original meaning of the term (as a stand-in character representing the author), but as perhaps a later meaning of “a character, often a young woman, who is portrayed as unrealistically free of weaknesses, characterized by unprecedented skill in everything from art to zoology, including karate and arm-wrestling.” Remember that I really do like the character of Superwoman, but we are told, not shown of her great deeds that make her name famous through centuries, and that is not good storytelling.
Thanks, as always, for a fun, engaging episode, and I’m glad to hear so much commentary from other listeners. It adds to the feeling of community, which I’m enjoying.

Of all the names that I did not expect to hear on this podcast, Wayne Boring might have been at the top of the list! I really don’t know very much about him, beyond recognizing his name as one of the earliest Superman artists, but I would have thought that his work was largely confined to the Golden and Silver Ages. It was a surprise to find him drawing Superman this far into the Bronze Age. It was interesting to be able to see some of his work, and how appropriate that he was given such a Silver Age-type story to draw. His distinctive way of drawing Superman in flight does look vaguely familiar to me, so it’s likely that I have seen some of his panels here and there over the years, even if I didn’t know what I was seeing at the time.

I’m reluctant to jump into the Mary Sue discussion–not that that’s going to stop me!–given how fraught that term is these days. It’s my impression that Dave’s understanding of the term, to mean a character who is unrealistically good at everything and free of flaws, was probably the original meaning of the term. I think the “author self-insertion” aspect of the definition came a bit later. Of course, whole essays can (and have) been written about the term “Mary Sue,” what it really means, and whether it’s useful or not. In my mind, it’s been used by so many different people in so many different ways, it’s hard to get a bead on exactly what it means. Too often these days, it seems to get used to refer to any female character who gets to do cool stuff. But I take Dave’s point, and agree with it, that the main problem with Superwoman was hearing about all of her great adventures, but never getting to see them. It’s the old “show, don’t tell” rule of writing.

Thanks for another great episode, and I’m looking forward to next time.

Still just a bit behind, Jon. Took advantage of my last week before school to get in a nice long walk and listen to this one 8 days after it came out.

Again, I find myself wishing I could have read Action Comics rather than World’s Finest, if only to read a young Mark Waid. The good thing with short stories is that they’re over quickly if they aren’t doing anything for you, right? As usual, I got the flavor of the issue from your recaps and commentary and especially enjoyed the context with the Rosses.

World’s Finest was not a good read, unfortunately. Didn’t care about Rem at all and his origin was a clunker. Ah well, what can you do. I hold out hope that the Chronos story is better.

I really appreciated all the work you did to answer my question about Perry White’s age. This is why you’re the best.

Okay, let’s see if I can get caught up before Monday…

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