Tag Archives: Superman

Anthony’s miscellaneous comics picks for September 2014

Wonder WomanHere’s what’s of interest from various comic companies for September.

IDW

Full solicitations are available here.

  • Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War! #4 (of 6), $4
  • The Powerpuff Girls, vol. 2: Monster Mash TPB, $18
  • Rocky & Bullwinkle: Moose on the Loose TPB, $18

Boom Studios

Full solicitations are available here.

  • Steven Universe #2, $4
  • Lumberjanes #6, $4

Image

Full solicitations are available here.

  • Copperhead #1, on sale Sept. 10, $4
  • Oddly Normal #1, on sale Sept. 17, $3

Comic strip compilations

  • Superman: The Golden Age Sundays: 1946-1949 TPB, $50
  • Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Comics, on sale Sept. 9, $50
  • The Complete Peanuts, 1993-1994, on sale Sept. 10, $30

Comments

“Copperhead” is a “space western” about the shady/questionable goings-on in a small town on a Old West-like distant planet. It sounded like it might be interesting (including the short preview available), though I still miss “Reed Gunther.”

Wonder Woman had a short-lived newspaper comic strip that ran from 1944 to 1945, and it’s never been collected—until now. It was written and drawn by the creator of her comic book, William Moulton Marston, and by her Golden Age comic’s artist, H.G. Peter.

What superheroes influenced Clark Kent to begin his superhero career?

Man of Steel's young Clark Kent
Young Clark in “Man of Steel” pretending to be…?

Among the lesser things debated about last year’s movie “Man of Steel” was a scene where a young Clark is wearing a red towel, pretending to be a superhero like many young children. However, various people asked: if Clark’s the world’s first superhero, then how can he pretend to be a superhero as a kid? And if so, what hero was he emulating?

I’ll look at each era of comics, but my overall answer is that while Clark’s the first “real world” superhero, there were various (in-universe) fictional heroes/superheroes that would’ve served as inspiration when setting up his super-career. There’s also other factors depending on continuity (including actual heroes preceding Clark in some versions).

Earth-2/Golden Age

As the world’s first superhero, Superman started his career after the deaths of John and Mary Kent and moving to Metropolis, where he started working for the “Daily Star” newspaper.

While there isn’t much revealed about his pre-”Action Comics” #1 youth, I’m under the impression Clark probably made his costume himself, given he started his career after the Kents’ deaths. Like in real life, Clark’s costume might’ve been influenced by the circus performers (and circus “strong men”) of the day, who would’ve worn such colorful costumes. In real life, comic strip heroes like the Phantom (who pre-dated Supes by a few years) and Popeye the Sailor (hero with vast strength), as well as pulp characters like Doc Savage, also were likely influences on Superman’s creation; perhaps on Earth-2, Clark grew up reading their adventures in Smallville’s newspaper.

One more influence, albeit via a retcon, came from 1981′s “New Adventures of Superboy” #15 and 16. The story sees Superboy of Earth-1 accidentally wind up on Earth-2 in the 1930s, where he meets Earth-2′s teenaged Clark Kent (and John and Mary Kent). Superboy gets back home, after a brief attempt at training Clark in his powers. The story shows Clark was considering joining the circus, and almost does so, which might lend credence to the circus costume notion. Of course, actually meeting his Earth-1 counterpart would’ve been an influence as well—at least as far as “what to make his costume look like.”

So for Kal-L, his influences might’ve been the same ones as in real life that led Siegel and Shuster to create him (circus strongmen, fictional costumed adventurers like the Phantom, Doc Savage, etc.), as well as that fateful meeting with Earth-1′s Superboy.

Earth-1/Silver and Bronze Age

On Earth-1, Clark began his superhero career in childhood as Superboy, with Ma Kent creating his costume from the indestructible blankets that brought him to Earth. As for what might’ve inspired Clark and his parents?

Fans will recall on Earth-1, the Golden Age superheroes of the Justice Society were just fictional characters on Earth-1—as Barry “The Flash” Allen was a big fan of Jay Garrick and company’s adventures. Since DC Comics exists on Earth-1 (and other Earths), it’s probably not too far off to assume Clark (or even Ma and Pa Kent) read the Justice Society’s adventures as well. Ditto Fawcett Comics’ own Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family, whose books existed on Earth-1 as well. Yes, Earth-1′s Superman could’ve been influenced by his own “imitation”!

Besides the JSAers, the Phantom, Popeye, and Doc Savage likely also had their adventures published in comics, pulp novels, etc. on Earth-1. There’d also be animated superheroes as well, though which ones depends on what point on Earth-1′s sliding timeline Clark debuted as Superboy. Mighty Mouse, created in 1942, would certainly be such a superhero; I’ll assume Earth-1′s Terrytoons was influenced by the JSA/other heroes rather than parodying a not-yet-existing Superboy/Superman.

The very end of the Bronze Age—at the time of “Crisis on Infinite Earths”—would’ve seen Superboy’s debut shift to the mid-60s (always being about 20 years behind the “present”). Thus, along with all of the above, another influence could be the earliest Marvel superhero comics like the Fantastic Four (debuted in 1961) or Spider-Man (debuted in 1962). That is, assuming Marvel comics exist in the DC Universe, which they’ve gone back and forth about during the various cross-universe crossovers over the years.

So for Earth-1′s Superman, his superhero influences would be, like fellow hero the Flash, the (fictional) adventures of the Justice Society, as well as Captain Marvel, various comic strip heroes (the Phantom, Popeye, etc.), and even animated superheroes like Mighty Mouse, plus (at the very end of the Bronze Age) the long-shot possibility of the earliest Marvel superheroes like Spider-Man.

Post-Crisis

With the JSA and JLA now coexisting on the same Earth, this one gets somewhat different. Superman became the first hero to debut in the modern age, decades after the JSA’s heyday. Thus, Clark’s influences were more direct—with actual superheroes preceding him by decades that Clark, Ma and Pa Kent would’ve read about or even recall.

Meanwhile, other fictional heroes would’ve still existed—the aforementioned Phantom, Popeye, Mighty Mouse, and (depending on DC editorial’s mood) maybe even the Marvel superheroes. Captain Marvel, of course, now coexists on the same Earth as Supes, with his debut well after Superman’s.

So for post-Crisis Superman, it’s primarily the Justice Society as living historical heroes.

The New 52

The 2011 New 52 reboot once more returns Superman to being the world’s first superhero, with the JSAers once more relegated to Earth-2 (where they don’t seem to be called the “Justice Society,” have been de-aged, and other gratuitous changes). Clark’s superhero debut came “five years ago” in the New 52′s super-compressed timeline. Similar to the Golden Age, Clark began his career as an adult, while creating his (awful Lil’ Abner-like) costume himself, with the Kents (once more) dead by the time of Clark’s superhero debut.

Since this version of Clark would’ve grown up in the 90s and 00s, I assume his influences could include characters like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, He-Man, and the Power Rangers, along with older characters like Popeye, Mighty Mouse, and even Underdog (despite Sweet Polly being a Lois Lane pastiche). Depending again on DC’s editorial mood, even the Marvel characters could’ve been an influence. (A Clark that grew up with the Spider-Clone saga?) Like post-Crisis, Captain Marvel—er, “Shazam”—is a contemporary successor hero. Given the changes to the JSA characters, I assume there’s no Justice Society comics (or those resembling such) in the New 52 DCU’s “Prime Earth.” No, I don’t know what influenced Barry Allen (over in Flash) otherwise either, if not Jay Garrick (besides the cynical “death of his mother motivating him to fight crime” retcon recently added). Maybe Barry grew up reading comics about the Terrific Whatzit?

So for the New 52 Superman, his superhero influences are likely random non-DC heroes and superheroes seen in TV and movies (TMNT, Power Rangers, etc.), as well as maybe older characters like Popeye, Mighty Mouse, and Underdog. There’s also the long-shot possibility of Marvel superheroes, as well.

Other

The “Lois and Clark” TV show had Clark once note (after being shrunken) that he felt like “Mighty Mouse.” Which’d support the above idea of Mighty Mouse as an influence, assuming Mighty’s not a present-day creation in the L&C Universe.

Conclusion

Overall, seeing little Clark pretend to be a superhero in Superman movies shouldn’t be a head-scratcher, as there’d be plenty of heroes/superheroes a young Clark Kent could pretend to be. Said characters’ cultural influences would surely also be on Clark and/or the Kents’ minds when crafting Clark’s superhero identity.

Keith White

Minorities in cartoons: Keith White

This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Keith White, a minor supporting character in the Superman comics. Keith first appeared in “Superman: Man of Steel” #1 in 1991, and was created by Louise Simonson.

Keith was introduced as a young boy sent to live in a Metropolis orphanage after his mother, suffering from AIDS-related complications, was unable to continue caring for him. One day, while wandering underground, Keith was caught and kidnapped by “Underworlders,” genetic experiments-gone-wrong (long story) who were living underneath Metropolis. Telling Keith they were holding his mother hostage and would kill her if he revealed their plans, Keith kept mum even after being rescued by Superman. Keith shortly returned to try to rescue his mother, but learned that the Underworlders weren’t holding her hostage at all. Keith then managed to signal Superman (using glow-in-the-dark spray paint to mark a large “S”-shield), and told the Man of Steel what was going on. Superman, of course, promptly put a stop to the Underworlders’ plans.

Several years later, during the “Fall of Metropolis” storyline, Keith’s caretaker at the orphanage was killed (in “Man of Steel” #35) while protecting the children from a rampaging killer robot. Soon after, Keith met Alice White, the wife of “Daily Planet” editor Perry White. Alice took a liking to Keith, and soon managed to convince Perry that they should adopt the boy. Keith was reluctant at first, but soon afterwards, his mother passed away. After her funeral, Keith agreed to live with the Whites.

Like every other supporting character at the time in the Super-books, Keith was in attendance at the wedding of Lois Lane and Clark Kent in 1996′s “Superman: The Wedding Album.” Keith served as the happy couple’s ring-bearer.

At some point afterwards, Keith seemed to be ignored or forgotten by the Superman book writers, and failed to appear for a number of years. However, Keith put in one more appearance in 2011′s “Superman 80-Page Giant 2011″ #1. There, Keith is shown as old enough to leave Metropolis to strike out on his own, which depresses Perry. Presumably, Keith, like Charlie Brown’s younger sister Sally and various soap opera characters, fell victim to the selective rapid aging of certain characters.

From what I can tell, this is Keith’s final appearance to date, as soon after came DC’s New 52 reboot, which wiped out previous Superman storylines (save somehow “The Death of Superman”). Between the New 52′s emphasis on youth, sidelining or altering of older characters (the Kents, Alan Scott and other Earth-2/Justice Society members, etc.), and that Perry’s children have usually been tertiary characters in the Superman mythos at best (the number of kids, their names, etc. having varied over the years), it’s hard to say if or when Keith will return.

The title of “Man of Steel 2″ is… “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”?!

America vs. the Justice Society
The last time I can think of Batman v. Superman being a courtroom situation: 1985′s “America vs. the Justice Society” miniseries. Granted, it’s the Earth-2 Superman and Batman, but…

News came earlier yesterday of the official title of the “Man of Steel” sequel. And that title’s not “Batman vs. Superman,” but… “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” No typo there… they really went with that as the title. To outline my issues with it (besides sounding like the bizarre sort of title one would see for a “Transformers” movie):

  • The heavy talk about the film already assumed it’d be “Batman vs. Superman”; seems odd to run counter to that by dropping the “s” in “vs.”
  • The only place such an abbreviation for “versus” is seen is in legal cases in court. As countless Twitter jokes have already done (and will do so for the next few years until it’s released), it sounds like a big courtroom battle between the World’s Finest heroes. But of course, Warner Bros.’ marketing minions who picked this title knew all this…right? Granted, I’d watch a film about the law firm of “Wayne, Kent, and Prince”…
  • Giving Batman top billing in the film not only disposes of the increasing fiction of this being a Superman “sequel” (versus just being an increasingly forced sounding Justice League lead-in), but implies Warner Bros. really does value Batman more than Superman, to the point that they won’t even let the Man of Steel have a true sequel to “Man of Steel.” While “Man of Steel” was successful, the film isn’t truly beloved the way “The Avengers” is, for various reasons. However, instead of fixing said problems, WB seems to have decided it’d be easier to just make the next film have Batman star, to the point he gets top-billing in what’s supposedly Superman’s own film. Not only is this unfair, but it also implies DC/WB doesn’t have any worthwhile superheroes to offer besides Batman. Their video games and animated movies/TV shows also being Batman-heavy seems to support this. A far cry from Marvel, who’re making films and TV shows about everyone from SHIELD to Agent Peggy Carter to Guardians of the Galaxy, in hopes of repeating the success they’ve had with making various second-tier heroes household names (Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, etc.). While Batman’s a versatile character, DC/WB are in a tough spot if there’s the off-chance the public actually tires of Batman at some point.
  • I assume the titular superheroes will do the old “first they meet, then they fight, then realize they’re on the same side and team up” comic book bit that sometimes happens when heroes meet each other for the first time. Given this is a lead-in for a JLA film and all, I doubt they’ll stay permanently at each others’ throats. Still, I’m assuming this film won’t be any lighter in tone than the last one with a set-up like that.

Overall, it’s clearly a title only a marketing executive would love…

Minorities in cartoons: Dave Stevens and Tina Ames

Dave Stevens and Tina AmesThis week’s minorities in cartoons entry is another two-fer: Dave Stevens and Tina Ames, who (as far as I can tell) hold the distinction of being the first recurring African-American characters in Superman comics. Dave first appeared in “Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane” #106 (November 1970), while Tina first appeared in “Lois Lane” #114 (September 1971); both were created by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Werner Roth.

Astute readers may recall that “Lois Lane” #106 is one of the most (in)famous issues in Lois’ Silver/Bronze Age series: it’s the story “I Am Curious (Black)!,” which features Lois becoming African-American for a day. To summarize the issue’s events: to write a story about the status of African-Americans in Metropolis, Lois ventures to “Little Africa,” an inner-city African-American neighborhood. (Most stories from the 70s to the present suggest “Suicide Slum” is the main inner-city/impoverished neighborhood of Metropolis.) There, she finds nobody is willing to speak with her due to her race, including Dave Stevens, who’s leading a Black pride rally; at one point, he points to the passing Lois as an example: “look at her, brothers and sisters! She’s young and sweet and pretty! But never forget…she’s whitey!” Going on about how Lois’ “kind” won’t let Blacks enjoy the privileges she does (including living in integrated neighborhoods, etc.), Lois walks off, distraught.

Lois Lane as a Black woman
The cover of “Lois Lane” #106, with Lois as a Black woman. Art by Curt Swan.

Running into Superman, Lois has an idea, and convinces Kal-El to use on her a Kryptonian device (used in an earlier “Lois Lane” story) that can perform temporary full-body plastic surgery; in this case, to give Lois African-American features. Heading back to “Little Africa,” Lois tries to do more research for her story; at one point, she’s appalled at the conditions she finds in a slum. Running across Dave Stevens (who doesn’t know of Lois’ transformation), the two befriend each other, with Dave later shot while trying to stop a group of drug dealers. Being rushed to a poorly equipped hospital, the only compatible blood available for Dave is Lois’, who transformed back to normal after the transfusion. (If curious, Lois’ blood type is O Negative.) Dave comes to, sees the now-Caucasian-again Lois, and decides to stay friends with her.

Surprisingly, this isn’t a one-off story; it turns out there’s a sequel. Lois doesn’t become Black again, but in the follow-up issue, “Lois Lane” #114 (September 1971), we’re introduced to Tina Ames. Tina’s a co-worker at the African-American newspaper Dave also works for; similar to Archie’s Chuck Clayton and Nancy Woods, Dave and Tina are also seen dating. This story sees Lois being sent by Perry White to convince Dave to join the “Daily Planet” staff (becoming its first Black columnist). After an adventure involving Lois, Superman, Dave, Tina, and the superheroine the Thorn fighting The 100 (an organized crime gang that made frequent appearances in Bronze Age Superman and Black Lightning stories), Dave agreed to join the “Planet,” with Tina being hired on as well. “Lois Lane” #116 sees another fight with Lois, Dave, and Tina (and Superman) against The 100; Lois’ short-lived public affairs TV show is seen in this story, “People USA.”

After this story (and a few others), Dave and Tina didn’t make many appearances until a storyline in the late 70s run of “Superman Family,” involving a shooting attempt on Dave over his muckraking efforts. The storyline also involved Tina gaining energy powers due to a defective healing device of Professor Potter, which Potter had brought from Earth-2 (where it’d been created by the Justice Society’s Dr. Mid-Nite).

Dave and Tina didn’t appear much past the early 80s, and don’t seem to exist post-Crisis, where the most prominent African-American characters in Superman stories were probably Franklin Stern (the “Planet”‘s publisher) and Ron Troupe, a “Planet” writer. Of course, since it’s comics, it’s always possible for Dave and Tina to make a comeback if some nostalgic writer felt compelled.

Why did Clark Kent move from Smallville to Metropolis?

Superboy leaving SmallvilleOver the years, DC Comics has published some stories showing how Clark Kent moved from his childhood hometown of Smallville to the big city of Metropolis. But why did Clark choose Metropolis? Why not Chicago, or Gotham City, or Kansas City, for that matter? Granted, with Clark’s super-speed, he could work in Sydney, Australia if he’d wanted, while still living in Smallville.

The most frequent reason given since the 1950s has been that Clark moved to Metropolis in order to go to Metropolis University, where he studied journalism. Metropolis University first appeared in “Superman” (vol. 1) #125 in November 1958, and has been a mainstay of Metropolis (and many versions of Superman’s backstory) ever since.

That said, here’s a look at the various eras’ takes on how and why he moved to Metropolis as opposed to becoming a Kansas City/Chicago/Gotham resident…

Golden Age/Earth-2

The earliest Superman comics seemed vague about where Clark grew up. By the mid-1940s, with the introduction of Superboy, some flashbacks to Clark’s younger years began to be presented, mostly along the idea that Clark grew up in Metropolis. One such story (May 1947′s “Superman” #46) claimed Clark went to a “Metropolis High!”

By the time the Superboy series became fully established at the end of the 40s, it was also made clear that Clark grew up in a town separate from Metropolis, eventually revealed to be named “Smallville” (in 1949′s “Superboy” #2).

Post-Golden Age, while the Earth-2 Superman was stated to never have had a Superboy career (per the early Golden Age stories), it was eventually revealed in 1980′s “Superman Family” #203 that Kal-L grew up in a small town named Smallville, just like his Earth-1 counterpart. 1986′s “Secret Origins” #1, retelling the Golden Age Superman’s origin story (and elaborating on the events of “Action Comics” #1) showed Earth-2′s Smallville was a small town located near Metropolis. It’s shown that Clark moved to the nearby  big city of Metropolis to find a newspaper job, though not to go to college, per being the 1930s (when attending a university was less common versus post-World War II). The “Superman Family” story also indicated Earth-2′s Smallville stayed, like the post-Crisis and New 52 versions, an insignificant small town since it never had a Superboy. Earth-2′s Lana Lang, who debuted in the “Superman Family” story, stated her family had left Smallville years ago (thus never having met Clark until that story’s events), since there was “no future in such a little town.”

Silver Age/Earth-1

While a lack of college education not preventing getting a newspaper job with a major paper was probably plausible when Superman was first introduced in 1938, by the late 1950s, it probably seemed unlikely to the comic’s writers. The post-war increase in individuals attending college also might’ve helped spur the idea that Clark would’ve gone to college, as well. Thus, as I noted above, Earth-1′s Clark left Smallville to go to Metropolis in order to attend college. Starting with 1955′s “Superman” #97, occasional stories were told about Superboy’s final days in Smallville (after the deaths of the Kents), including a giant “farewell” cake Superboy had baked for a going-away celebration.

As for why Metropolis University, “Superman” #359 (May 1981) reveals Clark’s alternate choices for college were Gotham City’s Gotham University and Hudson University, the college Dick Grayson attended. The story shows Clark was initially undecided about which school to attend, but a brief adventure’s events led him to feel that Metropolis was where his future truly lied. While some stories at the time showed Smallville located near Metropolis (and Metropolis and Gotham City being twin cities), it’s made clear that Clark opted for Metropolis for its university and the city itself, not just out of the convenience of its location. (All three universities had offered Clark a scholarship, so cost wasn’t a factor.) Of course, previous stories had shown Clark visiting Metropolis on occasion (and even interned at the “Daily Planet”), so I’d imagine Metropolis might’ve been more favored by Clark over Gotham City, anyway.

Of course, after going to Metropolis, Clark made sure Superboy eventually showed up there, but delayed his debut there for some time. “Superman” #365 (November 1981) was a follow-up story, focusing on Clark’s early college days, as well as the world at large debating to which city Superboy had moved. Cue this panel showing a newscast about Las Vegas casinos taking bets to which city:

superboy_alternate_cities

 

Besides that they gave better odds to Los Angeles (of all places) over Chicago (the city sometimes compared to/serves in movies and TV as Metropolis), of interest is there’s no other fake DC cities listed besides Metropolis and Gotham City. No Star City, Central City, or Coast City appear above. However, Washington DC is listed (the eventual home of Wonder Woman), as are New York (eventual home of the New Teen Titans) and Detroit (one-time home of the JLA).

Post-Crisis

While there’s no Superboy post-Crisis, Clark still was shown to have moved to Metropolis to attend Metropolis University. However, he’d only moved to Metropolis after spending several years post-high school traveling the world. Since Smallville post-Crisis is now firmly in the midwest (Kansas), while Metropolis is (somewhere) out on the east coast, it’s clearly not just for convenience here, either.

From what I can recall, there’s even fewer stories focusing on Clark’s college years post-Crisis than there were pre-Crisis (and those weren’t a ton, either). The main reference to such is his romance with Lori Lemaris (which went similarly to its pre-Crisis version, sans a superhero identity), when Lori returned in the 90s stories for awhile.

New 52

Once again, Clark moves to Metropolis in the New 52 to go to Metropolis University. In this continuity, however, Clark goes to work for the “Daily Star” after college. The “Star”‘s editor-in-chief George Taylor had known the Kents in Smallville, where Taylor once worked for the “Smallville Sentinel” (a Smallville newspaper sometimes seen in Silver/Bronze Age Superboy stories). Thus, further incentive for Clark to go to a city out on the east coast.

Other media

Other media’s depictions of this matter often seem to go with Metropolis being a nearby major city to Smallville, with Clark thus moving there out of convenience/being used to Metropolis as the main “big city.” This certainly seems to be the case for the 2000s TV series “Smallville,” which kept the older comics’ “Smallville near Metropolis” motif, but oddly moved Metropolis to Kansas (instead of Smallville out east). Being fairly close to Smallville might also be the case for 1990s series “Lois and Clark” (which used Chicago as a Metropolis stand-in).

 

Anthony’s DC Comics picks for July 2014

Showcase Presents Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo CrewHere’s what’s of interest from DC Comics for July. Full solicitations are available here.

Comics

  • Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet #2, on sale July 2, $3 (digital-first)
  • Batman ’66 #13, on sale July 23, $3 (digital-first)
  • Adventures of Superman #15, on sale July 30, $4 (digital-first)
  • DC Comics Presents: Batman Adventures #1, on sale July 30, $8
  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up #5, on sale July 2, $3 (digital-first)
  • Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #2 (of 6), on sale July 2, $3

Trade paperbacks

  • Showcase Presents Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, on sale Aug. 27, $20
  • Astro City: Victory (HC), on sale Sept. 17, $25

Comments

There’s a lot to be interested in this month from DC, as the comics section above shows. A lot, that is, assuming one sticks with the digital-first/non-New 52 titles.

“Adventures of Superman” will continue in print form for a short while yet, collecting the last few digital installments of the now-cancelled title.

“Scooby-Doo Team-Up” looks like it’s going to have the gang meet the rest of the DC Universe after all. I suppose that (and the previously-advertised Teen Titans meeting) answers my question of whether or not super-powered superheroes exist in Scooby’s world. Anyway, this issue sees Scooby, Shaggy and company team up with Wonder Woman! Daphne and Velma get singled out in particular in the solicitation (“Amazon training?”).

The most anticipated trade paperback in some time comes in August (not July), as we finally get that long-delayed “Showcase Presents” volume of Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew! The oversized Showcase volume will reprint the entire original series, as well as the three-issue “Oz-Wonderland War” miniseries. The late 2000s miniseries has already been collected in a trade paperback, which means the entirety of the Zoo Crew’s print run will finally be available in trade paperback form, even if mostly in black-and-white.

 

How Lois Lane met Clark Kent

Valentine’s Day is this week, so I thought I’d look at one of comics’ biggest romances, which of course would be the romance of Superman and Lois Lane. In light of that, and since comics love to pretend they’re showing major character events “for the very first time!” in various reboots, I thought I’d take a look at the comics’ major depictions of Lois and Clark’s “first meetings.”

Golden Age/Earth-2

Action Comics #1
“Action Comics” #1, June 1938

“Action Comics” #1, published in 1938, doesn’t show any elaborate first meeting of Clark and Lois, though it is the first-ever appearance of both characters. Instead, we see Lois has been on the paper’s staff for some time before Clark joined the staff. Clark and Lois’ first lines to each other: “W-what do you say to a, er, date tonight, Lois?” “I suppose I’ll give you a break…for a change.” “Action” #1 (and the much-later retelling/elaboration in 1986′s “Secret Origins” #1) shows Lois had been avoiding Clark, however; after an incident with mobsters at a night club requiring Clark to keep up his milquetoast persona, Lois storms out, telling Clark: “You asked me earlier in the evening why I avoid you. I’ll tell you why now: because you’re a spineless, unbearable coward!”

Of course, the relationship between the two greatly improved over time… with 1978′s “Action Comics” #484 revealing the tale of how Lois and Clark of Earth-2 were married sometime in the early-to-mid 1950s.

Silver Age/Earth-1

Adventure Comics #128
“Adventure Comics” #128, May 1948

While there’s no exact switchover issue from Earth-2 to Earth-1 for Superman’s comics, there is, chronologically, a first appearance for the Lois Lane of Earth-1—which also conveniently happens to be the Earth-1 first meeting of Lois and Clark: “Adventure Comics” #128, published in 1948. Yes, their first meeting was shown as teenagers, during Superboy’s era. (If curious, the first appearance of the adult Earth-1 Lois seems to be the present-day section of “Superboy” #1 in 1949, though the comics’ setting doesn’t fully switch to Earth-1 until the mid-50s.)

The plot: Teenaged Clark wins a contest to work as a cub reporter for the “Daily Planet” for a week, and goes to Metropolis. At the paper, Clark meets the other winner of the contest: a teenaged Lois Lane. (Their first thoughts about each other, expressed in thought balloons: “Golly! She’s so pretty!” “Golly! He’s so unexciting!”) Lois, learning Clark is from the same town as Superboy (Smallville wouldn’t be named until 1949′s “Superboy” #2), asks Clark various questions about the Boy of Steel, while Clark wishes Lois were more interested in his civilian alter-ego. The paper’s editor (not Perry White here—presumably, he’s still a reporter or lower-level editor at this point in their lives) decides to award whichever teen brings the best story the honor of front-page publication, with a byline. Lois also makes a side bet with Clark (an ice cream sundae) over who’ll bring in the winning story.

As the story goes, Lois ends up beating Clark to filing several stories, as Clark’s forced to go into action as Superboy each time. Eventually, Lois also uncovers a group of crooks’ scheme, which Superboy rescues her from… but the resulting story wins Lois the front page byline, and her ice cream sundae bet with Clark. As the week ends, Lois and Clark both head back to their respective hometowns, with Clark wondering if he’d ever see Lois again.

Action Comics #500
“Action Comics” #500, October 1979

Of course, Lois and Superboy do meet again several times between this point and adulthood, but Lois doesn’t meet Clark again until they’re both adults, with Lois already employed at the “Planet.” (“Who’s Who” states Lois did work for the “Planet” during college summer vacations, establishing her at the paper well before Clark showed up.) Their first meeting as coworkers at the “Planet” has had two major versions: the first shown in “Superman” #133 in 1959 (“How Perry White Hired Clark Kent”). The second version was an updated and summarized version of “Superman” #133′s story for “Action Comics” #500 in 1979 (a retelling of Superman’s life story). It’s the second version that sees Clark proves to a skeptical Perry his journalism merit by writing a story about Superman defeating the Anti-Superman Gang with a fake kryptonite ruse—said story that Lois had been working on cracking for a week. Lois’ response to Clark scooping her: “I don’t know how you did that, ‘Mister’ Kent—but unless you want your life to be miserable around here…don’t ever do that to me again!”

Lois and Clark’s relationship improves, of course, with the two even dating briefly in the 70s. Various stories flashing-forward into the future, particularly 1980′s “Superman Family” #200, shows Clark does eventually marry Lois (presumably winning her over as Mr. Kent, not as Mr. Superman). The final (non-canonical) pre-Crisis story, “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” shows a different sort of wedding between the two, of course.

Post-Crisis

Man of Steel #2, 1986
Man of Steel #1, 1986

With the post-Crisis reboot of Superman in Byrne’s “Man of Steel” comes yet another take on the first meeting of Superman and Clark. Here, Clark is once more shown getting hired at the “Daily Planet” by writing about his alter-ego, in this case, getting the first-ever “interview” with the Man of Steel. However, Lois and Clark had met in issue #1 of the “Man of Steel” miniseries, when an uncostumed Clark used his powers to rescue the endangered experimental “space-plane” (that Lois was on) from crashing. Lois’ first words to Clark (just before he flies off): “hold it right there, buster!”

Later (in “Man of Steel” #2), Lois does meet the “proper” Clark Kent, after the latter was hired by Perry. Clark had turned in the first-ever “interview” with Superman…which Lois had spent the entire issue working to get. Unlike other first meetings, we don’t see Lois’ obviously-angry reaction to her new coworker’s scoop.

Eventually, Lois and Clark started to date each other, with the two marrying in 1996′s “Superman: The Wedding Album.”

Several later storylines would show some revisions to “Man of Steel”‘s versions of events, particularly “Birthright” in 2003-2004 and “Superman: Secret Origin” in 2009-2010.

The New 52

"Action Comics" (volume 2) #3, January 2012
“Action Comics” (volume 2) #3, January 2012

Unlike the other continuities above, I couldn’t find a clear “Lois meets Clark for the first time” meeting for the New 52, which somehow doesn’t surprise me. From what I can tell, the first interaction between Lois and Clark is in “Action Comics” (volume 2) #3, where Lois meets Clark and Jimmy at a diner. In this issue, Lois is meeting Clark under orders from the “Planet” to try to get Clark to come work there instead of at his then-current reporting job with the “Daily Star.” However, an earlier adventure has left Clark badly bruised. Lois’ first line to Clark in the New 52, upon seeing Clark? “Kent, you look like something a pig couldn’t hold down.” Clark’s response? “Duly charmed.”

Unlike other versions, Clark and Lois are just friends, with the two not dating or showing romantic interest in each other. Superman’s shown dating Wonder Woman (for ill-conceived reasons), while Lois has someone else as her boyfriend.

Conclusion

That about sums up the major comic first meetings. Of course, there’s various other “first meetings” from other media, including the movies, TV shows, etc.

The Beatles in cartoons

Batman #222This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ American debut on the “The Ed Sullivan Show.” 

The Fab Four have appeared in or been referenced in various cartoons and comic books. Like the multitude of “(example) in cartoons” post before this one, I’ll list a few examples (of many) of the Beatles’ cartoon references…

The Simpsons

The Simpsons has referenced the Beatles pretty often. Among other instances, the “Be-Sharps” episode’s a thorough parody of the Fab Four, while Marge was said to have been a big Beatles fan during her teen years. (I suppose it could still apply even with the show’s timeline sliding in newer episodes making Marge too young to have been alive in the 60s.) The living members of the group have even done guest voices.

The Beagles

I’ve written previously about this 60s Total Television produced series about a two-beagle rock band.

DC Comics

During the Silver Age, the Beatles were referenced in some DC stories:

Marvel Comics

The Beatles got referenced in the Marvel Universe as well. Most famously, the Fab Four attended the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm in 1965′s “Fantastic Four” Annual #1. I’d assume with sliding timelines, it’s the “living former Beatles members” nowadays that attended.

The Flintstones

A few latter episodes of the show’s run parodied the Beatles, through the lens of the show’s middle-aged writers. Several British Invasion-style rock groups were shown visiting Bedrock, including the “Way-Outs.” The second episode featuring hillbillies the Hatrocks, “The Hatrocks and the Gruesomes,” has the hayseeds note they “can’t stand ‘Bug music’!” (by a group called the “Four Insects”) while overstaying their welcome at the Flintstones’ house. Cue Fred and the gang dressing up in Beatle wigs and rigging a radio/telephone to play “Bug music.” This manages to drive the hicks back to “Arkanstone” (prehistoric Arkansas). Said “Bug music” is mostly heard as an off-key repetition of “yeah, yeah, yeah,” a la the Beatles song “She Loves You.”

This episode also managed to include another 60s entertainment trend, monster sitcom characters, via the Flintstones’ neighbors the Gruesomes appearing. A parody of Ed Sullivan himself would appear in another episode as “Ed Sulleystone.”

Warner Bros.

The 90s Warner Bros. series referenced the Beatles on occasion:

  • The “Tiny Toons” episode “Fields of Honey” had a flashback to Ed Sullivan’s show, where he dismisses Bosko (the “Talk-Ink Kid” of early Looney Tunes fame) when he sees Honey’s not with him. Ed notes “now all I’ve got are those mop-topped Liverpudlians.”
  • “Animaniacs” had an episode (“A Hard Day’s Warners”) parody the Beatles’ similar-titled movie.
  • “Pinky and the Brain” saw the episode “All You Need is Narf” parody the Beatles’ latter years and eventual breakup. Pretty hilarious, though slightly odd the mice saw (an ersatz) Walter Cronkite’s newscast while in India… per Wikipedia, India had TV by the mid-to-late 60s, but gather newscasts wouldn’t have been from the US (maybe from the BBC, if imported at all?).

FoxTrot

The comic strip FoxTrot shows Andy nostalgically looking over some Beatles vinyl albums from her younger years—at least back when said “younger years” would’ve been during the 60s… yes, sliding timelines once more. This cued a “what are records?” comment from Jason, with Andy suddenly feeling less-young.

The Beatles

Finally, there’s the Beatles’ own animated series, which aired on ABC from 1965-1969.

“Man of Steel 2″ (or whatever it’s called) pushed back to 2016

Man of SteelWord came last week that the “Man of Steel” sequel, which was supposed to be released in July 2015 (when it’d have gone mano a mano against the “Despicable Me” spinoff movie “Minions”), has been pushed back to May 6, 2016. On that date, it’ll directly face a still-unnamed Marvel movie.

I can see some reasons for pushing it back to 2016: a mid-2015 release for a big-budget superhero film still hammering out its script (or film’s official name) seems a stretch. There’s also the film being a mess at this point—a ton of announced characters (Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman), debate over who the villain(s) will be, what the film’s plot will even be about, etc. Plus, the heavy competition in 2015—besides the “Minions” movie, there’s also “Avengers 2″ and “Ant-Man” to contend with, plus the reboot of “The Terminator.”

The main flaw of a 2016 date is that it’ll be a three-year stretch between DC superhero films. Meanwhile, Marvel will be releasing “Avengers 2,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” and a few other films, including “Ant-Man.” Marvel pretty much dominates the modern superhero box office scene at this point, with DC’s theatrical efforts currently riding on a single film (hence hauling in their favorite crutch, Batman, for the sequel). There’s also that it’s a sequel to, well, “Man of Steel,” in all its depressing, joyless tone. “Man of Steel” did well at the box office, but reaction to it by fans and the general public was decidedly mixed; it’s not (and never will be) a widely beloved film like the Reeve Superman movies. Hence Warner Bros.’ pulling-out-all-the-stops effort with the sequel. On top of all that, DC/Time-Warner also want a “Justice League” film (to cash in on “The Avengers” popularity), which at this point will probably be lucky to see a theatrical release before the end of the decade. Assuming superhero films are still a craze by that point, of course. And again, there’s no indication what the “unnamed” Marvel film will be, assuming Marvel doesn’t blink and change its release date.

Overall, I guess Time-Warner will need all the luck it can get. At least they have television, where they have a stronger presence than Marvel (“Arrow,” the upcoming “Flash” show, the multitude of Batman cartoons, etc.), though the recent news of Marvel producing shows for Netflix (plus a few for-regular-TV series) might change that…