Superman in Crisis

SiC 35 — World’s Final Comics (10:24:1985)

Reviewing Action Comics 575, World’s Finest Comics 323 (the final issue of that series), and some minor Super involvement in All-Star Squadron 53! And also responding to your feedback!

5 replies on “SiC 35 — World’s Final Comics (10:24:1985)”

“The Great Brain Robbery” was an interesting idea, I thought, especially with Einstein’s brain determining a way for Intellex to control Superman’s brain. Knowing the fascination that writer Elliot S! Maggin has for Einstein, I was slightly surprised that he was not involved in writing this story. I’ll be interested, eventually, to hear if there is some continuity connection to Maggin’s story “The Einstein Connection”. I don’t remember such a connection, but I could certainly be wrong.
“Rodent on a Rampage” was a more minor story, but it does raise the issue of how Superman decides what creatures belong in his interplanetary zoo.
This final issue of World’s Finest was kind of flat, as far as I’m concerned. The parting of Superman and Batman seemed too big a deal, and happened without much build-up, in this story. Count me (as someone who cut his teeth on the Silver Age stories) among those who hold that Superman and Batman should always be good friends. I know others hold different opinions on this, but we all have our particular “head canons”, and that’s part of mine.
It was good to hear the All-Star Squadron story, because I alway appreciate the affection and respect that Roy Thomas has for those characters, which always come through, and I liked that he acknowledged the ongoing, time-and-universe-spanning events of the Crisis.
Thanks, as always, for the fun you bring to my week.

Hi Jon. I have a few thoughts about Action # 575. The Villain Intellex was quite a psychopath. He had no problem taking brains out of live people and destroying entire planets to do it. No taking over a planet or revenge motivations, just “ I want a brain, let me kill everyone for it”. At least the Collector from Marvel comics only cared about acquiring his prizes but I never read where he killed civilizations to do it.

I found Kurt Schaffenberger’s art to be a bad fit for the story. I associate him with the more humor type stories contained in the Lois lane and Jimmy Olsen titles, Some of these pages had Superman almost smiling and Intellex jumping up and down in anger, sort of like the style contained in less serious stories. With the debate about Superman’s code against killing, I do wish Superman had killed him at the end instead of just tying him up and sending him away.

The World’s Finest story wasn’t great but I really did appreciate Afred Alcala’s inks. They made the art pop. Superman was taken down by magic wolves and this makes me think about the nature of his weakness to magic. Anything Just made of magic can defeat him ? I’m not an expert on all his appearances , but it seems there should be more to it. In the Battle between Him and Thor in the Avengers/JLA crossover, he should have been defeated easily as Thor’s hammer is magically based. Anyway, the ending where Batman tells Superman off was a bummer wrap up to the series. It was an overreaction, in my opinion and doesn’t ring true. Superman has used his intelligence in many stories, he’s hardly a person that just charges in without thinking.

Reminds me of a saying I heard once, “Every relationship goes through a series of endings”.

Hi Jon! How ya doing? Hope it’s still going well with you and your lady friend, she sounds delightful. Sorry I haven’t written in a while, life and all that. Aw thanks, you’re the best. Hey, can I share some thoughts on this week’s episode? Well, I’m going to anyway, heh-heh.

Sadly, DCU Infinite does not have any of the Action Comics issues, and we’ve just passed the last Superman issue. Both series pick up again starting with Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow and right into Byrne. And now with World’s Finest ending, the only monthly pre-Crisis Superman book on the app is DC Comics Presents. At least it’s something, but it boggles the completist mind why this era would be left out. Sigh.

I agree completely about the World’s Finale. It was lackluster, very Batman heavy, and just ended their friendship because editorial. Definitely a whimper, not a roar. I would have believed it better with some buildup, but “I don’t like the way you work, I’m outta here” is very petty and not the relationship we’ve seen here. Although I will be revisiting this in an upcoming episode of Outcasters, if memory serves, so I think there’s maybe more Bat-editorial shenanigans than Super-direction. I’ll have to see.

Hey, I have a question for you? Do you think DC actually was planning a reboot for certain characters by this point? Other writers to the show have mentioned it, but digging into that thought, Crisis was DC’s first line-wide reboot. Or do you count the Silver Age introduction of Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, etc as a reboot? It was definitely a reimagining of the characters, and keeping the name trademarks alive, something which DC and Marvel still do today. But was it an intentional attempt to start a new continuity? I don’t think it was. The second Flash, GL, etc certainly resulted in that, but only much later after The Flash Of Two Worlds explained that the Golden age continuity was included in the DC history.

But was Crisis really going to be a reboot? The word “reboot” wasn’t really commonplace in 1985 except for computer early adopters. And applying it to your fictional world? Plus the result was more selective of characters impacted. It’s happened so much since then, we’re used to the concept, and immediately know what the term means. But to say “the writers knew a reboot was coming, so they did this or that”? I don’t know if we can say that at all for the creatives working in 1985! Knowing how Crisis would impact the DC universe is one thing. Knowing that characters would be restarted? Very different thing.

Or am I utterly wrong? Wouldn’t be the first time. But what do you think? And the other listeners?

Well, I better go. Take care, bud! And until next time, thanks for reading. 🙂

Hi, Jon. There was a lot that I wanted to comment on in this episode, but I’ll try not to be too overwhelming in my response.

First in regards to “The Great Brain Robbery,” I feel sure that this title has been used many times in many places over the years. It’s such an obvious pun to make that it must be hard for writers to resist the temptation. The story itself was kind of fun, in the old-school pulp sci-fi way that “brain in a jar” stories always are. With names like “Einbrain” and “Eyegore,” I have to think that we weren’t intended to take the story completely seriously. It makes sense that it was a Halloween romp.

More thoughts on Superman’s “much-vaunted code against killing.” First of all, no one says things like “much-vaunted” these days, and I think that’s a shame. Maybe it should join “penultimate” as something we all try to work into conversation as much as possible!

More seriously, I remember some discussion about the notion that superheroes shouldn’t kill during the old Marvel show as well. It does sometimes seem to hamstring the heroes a bit, and as you say, such codes regularly get violated on various technicalities. With a character as powerful as Superman, however, I can see where an actual “code,” or at least a general policy, against using lethal force might be appropriate. He is so rarely in physical danger himself, so rarely faces a threat that he cannot easily deal with, that situations where he needs to resort to deadly force should be extremely few and far between. And if Superman decides to kill someone, there’s almost nothing anyone could do to stop him. It makes sense that he would deliberately place that kind of restriction on himself, to prevent him from giving in to the temptation to kill his enemies unless the situation really, truly warrants it. As I say, such situations should be very rare.

Thanks for the history of World’s Finest. It was, when you think about, kind of an odd series. Superman and Batman were never an official partnership, and each one had their own individual set of villains to deal with, and yet somehow every month they managed to end up working together on the same case. That’s in addition to both of them being part of the Justice League. That’s a lot of time spent together, even if they are best friends. I agree that their “break-up” in this issue fell pretty flat, and even though the book was ending I’m not sure having them officially split was really necessary. As I said, they weren’t “officially” a team to begin with.

Nice to see an issue of All-Star Squadron show up. I loved that series. As with The Invaders at Marvel a decade earlier, Roy Thomas’s love for the Golden Age heroes, and his knowledge of World War II history, was infectious and always made for an enjoyable book.

Finally, welcome to Indiana! That’s where I live. Glad you were able to stop by for a few days.

Hi, Jon. I’m jumping in here late, but that’s what happens sometimes. I’m performing in a musical version of Spongebob next weekend, so I’m sure I’ll be behind next week too. Worse comes to worse, I can probably catch up over Thanksgiving break. Anyway, enough about me, how are you?

Where in Indiana were you? I’m in the northwest corner. If Mindy is close to where I am, I’d love to buy you lunch some time you’re out this way.

As for the issues themselves, I agree that the Action cover is fun. Enjoyed hearing what you said about it, since I can’t read it via Infinite (not even on Ultra). I was able to read World’s Finest Comics, which didn’t do much for me. Nightwolf wanted to whole city to see Superman fail, but how could they when they could barely see anything at all? Glad you mentioned the light pole – the bit about Broadway lights was kind of ridiculous. Speaking of ridiculous, what a flimsy excuse for Batman “breaking up” with Superman.

All that said, I really enjoyed your look at the history of WFC and was happy to hear you go into your Superman read-through a little more in-depth than on your Twitter feed. According to that feed, you have your work cut out for you to get to the Death of Superman when you’re hoping to. Good luck!

Oh, and there are no Superman issues on Infinite until “What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?.” So, it’s going to be my Crisis hardcover and DCCP and whatever other ancillary books from here on out. Won’t stop me from listening, of course. 🙂

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