Friday, August 31, 2012


Doug:  Welcome to Fantasy Island, kiddies!  Today's Open Forum asks you to put on your "What If? Well, Why Not?" thinking cap and come up with some alternate scenarios to well-known events.  And, if you want to extend it, shoot -- give us a one- or two-year plot outline!

Doug:  Here's the deal:  We all know that throughout comics history there have been many watershed moments.  For example, under the Earth's Mightiest Heroes umbrella the return of Captain America way back in Avengers #4 totally turned that title in a different direction; similarly the break-up of the originals and entrance of three former villains in #16 ushered in a new era.  And what of the introduction of the Vision?  Certainly that was influential for decades.

Doug:  Over in Amazing Spider-Man, we all seem to mark time with the deaths of Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin.  Past the Bronze Age, there was the introduction of the black costume.  Was the introduction of the All-New, All-Different X-Men the biggest game-changer of them all?

Doug:  So here's your poser for today:  Let's just pretend that in each of the above cases (and please -- don't hesitate to throw out your own for the betterment of discussion), the title was failing so poorly in sales that it was on the verge of cancellation.  The events I've named no doubt would have saved those books, and then some.  But what would you have done as an alternate action?  Would you have taken an existing character and introduced him or her to the Avengers?  Would you have switched creative teams in some of these books?  Is there a plotline that ran somewhere in another comic that you feel would have worked in your favorite book and increased reader interest?  The sky's the limit today, so let your imagination run wild.  And thanks for playing!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Long Live the King

Karen: I like the 1976 version of King Kong. There, I said it. I know, it's cheesy as all heck, but it's another movie that I will stop and watch just about any time I see it on the TV. I'm sure a lot of that is pure nostalgia -this film came out the year I turned 12, and I was already a fan of the original Kong. I even had two King Kong posters in my room at that time: one showing the original, and the other the "Twin Towers" 76 Kong.

Karen: I'm also a huge admirer of Rick Baker, and I think his Kong suit is pretty sweet. He'd go on to do even better apes but this one worked for me. I also get a kick out of the terrible Kong robot used in (I think) only one part of the film, when Kong is on display in New York. That thing is just awful, stiff and totally unconvincing. The fact that Dino DeLaurentis tried to convince everyone that the robot was used for all the Kong scenes is so laughable, but hey, that was DeLaurentis for you.

Karen: I thought Jeff Bridges was OK, and Jessica Lange annoyed me. But Kong was great. I'll be honest here: I'd rather watch this than Peter Jackson's bloated Kong film.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On the Radio

Doug:  I'm sure for many of us our transistor radios were prized possessions.  We've discussed these before, but today I want to focus on specific radio stations and especially on-air talent that you recall fondly from your childhood.  Who were those sometimes larger-than-life personalities who carried you through your days?  Did they have a schtick, or recurring shows/features that you loved and looked forward to?

Doug:  For me, the be-all-and-end-all of radio in my youth was the "Big 89", WLS radio out of Chicago.  I understand that at night, WLS could be heard throughout the Midwest and adjoining Canada, and perhaps even farther.  The line-up that I most remember consisted of Larry Lujack in the mornings, followed by Tommy Edwards in the late morning/early afternoon, Bob Sirott on the drive home, John "Records" Landecker in the early evening, and Brant Miller to take us through bedtime.  There were numerous regular moments in each program, like Sirott's "Let's Talk Softball" -- wondering why a show like that?  The game of 16" softball was invented in the Windy City, and is still a mainstay of the lakefront parks to this day!  However, the highlight of all listeners' days was the broadcast of "Animal Stories" near the end of Lujack's show.  "Uncle Lar" would welcome in "Little Tommy" and the two would examine the previous day's animal headlines from around the world.  You can listen to a sample of their program here; it was often quite hilarious, as the two men would get to laughing so hard they couldn't get through the next story.

Doug:  Most of those guys remain fixtures in the area.  While Lujack is retired in New Mexico, Tommy Edwards spent years as the PA announcer at the Chicago Stadium and United Center for Bulls games (including during the championship years).  Bob Sirott is the 10:00 anchor on the local Fox Evening News, while Brant Miller is the lead meteorologist for the local NBC affiliate.  Landecker continues as a disc jockey, working around town on the various "Oldies" stations.  Great times, great memories -- how about you?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Building a Better Lois Lane: The Man of Steel #2

The Man of Steel #2 (October 1986)
"The Story of the Century!"
John Byrne-Byrne/Dick Giordano

Karen: Issue #2 of the 1986 Superman revamp is devoted to what I consider to be an essential element of any version of Superman: Lois Lane. Lois has been presented so many ways, but Byrne's version is all class.

Doug: From the teaser last issue, we can already tell that Lois has gotten as big a remake as Superman. I don't
think we'll see this Lois running through Africa as the "Cheetah Queen" or any such nonsense.

Karen: Our story starts as Superman swoops down a Metropolis street, right in front of a restaurant where Lois and editor Perry White are eating. Lois races off to follow the m
ystery man but is stopped by Lex Luthor -or rather, by his chauffeur. Lois tells him to buzz off, that she's in a hurry. We only get a glimpse of Luthor's eyes, but he looks perturbed.

Doug: Again, with all of the goofy history of these characters, I can recall being taken aback at the Lex cameo. He did seem really mad, but in a very menacing, "you don't know what you're dealing with" sort of way. And that he had a chauffeur... something is different.

Karen: The delay from Luthor is all it takes for Lois to lose sight of Supes. But she calls in a favor, and is soon airborne herself, in a helic
opter. Where is Superman anyway? Why, stopping a purse thief. He returns the bag to the young lady it was taken from, and also turns down the volume on her boom box (the 80s) but not before he hears a report of a liquor store robbery. In no time he arrives at the scene of the crime and asks the SWAT leader to pull his men back, to avoid any bullet ricochets. The policeman is dumbfounded, but before he can act Superman walks up to the first gunman and pinches the barrel of his automatic weapon closed. The rest of the robbers inside the store begin shooting at him, and Superman looks mighty annoyed. That was just spot-on! He uses his heat vision to heat the guns and the robbers quickly drop them. He knocks the two men out, and when he comes to the woman robber, she says "You wouldn't hit a lady, would you?" He approaches her and says, "A Lady? No, I'd never hit a lady," and then proceeds to plink her in the forehead and knock her out. He also removes the dynamite she had under her coat. Lois arrives just moments after he leaves. In a series of panels we see the same situation repeated over a number of days: Lois showing up just after Superman has left. You can feel her frustration in her body language.

Doug: Last week you referenced Superman: The Movie several times. In this series of vignettes, I thought Byrne played Superman as if he were Christopher Reeve. The personalit
y that Reeve gave to his role as the Man of Steel really came through for me in these pages. What sort of a political statement do you suppose Byrne was making when his Captain Reagan, upon being rebuffed by the perp when asked to surrender, said, "Damn! I was kinda hoping my reputation would be enough to scare them outta there."?

Karen: Oh, I agree, this Supes definitely seems to have been heavily influenced by the films, but mostly in a good way. Can you believe the Reagan thing totally blew by me?

Doug: John Byrne draws a youn
g-looking Superman, and as we noted last issue, he's only supposed to be around 25 years old. I loved the scene where he dealt with the gun moll. Just another sign that this was going to be a different sort of Superman.

Karen: It was funny, but I was still a bit surprised he would actually hit a woman. Changing times I guess. After all these near-misses, Lois is back at the Daily Planet, grumbling. We get our first glimpse of another venerable Superman charac
ter, Jimmy Olson. Jimmy is all "Golly" and "Jeepers!" about Lois' troubles. He muses that Lois would have to be somewhere right when the trouble starts in order to catch Superman. Of course that gets her gears spinning....

Doug: Superman's low profile seems a bit Batman-like to me. How weird, yet appropriate in a way, was it that Jimmy was stuck back in the 1950's as this story took place in the present of the mid-'80's? Was Jimmy the bone thrown to long-time readers
who were upset with all the changes?
Karen: You're right, Jimmy does seem like a hold-over from the era of Krypto, a giant key to the Fortress, and multicolored kryptonite. The bow tie is the capper! Superman is flying over the Metropolis skyline, satisfied with the decrease in crime lately, when he spots Lois in a car that has plunged into the harbor. Superman flies down into the water and scoops up Lois and her car. He flies her to her apartment. "You know where I live?" "Of course, Miss Lane. I know where everyone lives." I thought that was funny, although I couldn't tell if he was supposed to be joking or not. Once he delivers her to her place, he's about to fly off when Lois quickly comes out of her star-struck stupor and demands that he stay and speak with her. She cleans up and the two sit down for a chat. Again, so much of this series reminds me of the 1978 Superman film. There's an obvious attraction between these two, even as Lois tries to pry info out of the Man of Steel. When she asks where he's from, he admits he doesn't really know, but "What matters is I think and feel as an American." So no disavowing that "American Way" mantra for this Superman. It seems pretty dead nowadays, unfortunately. When Superman eventually does leave, he asks if Lois always keeps an aqua lung in her car. She realizes then that she hadn't fooled him at all.

Doug: As Superman surveyed the outcome of his crime-fighting, it became a prophecy fulfilled. His mother, Lara, had asked Jor-el if one day their son would rule over the terran primitives. Just in this panel or two we can look ahead to Paul D
ini's and Alex Ross's wonderful treasury-sized Peace on Earth, where Superman fought to rid the Earth of its ills. I'd argue that while the world might have been a big bite to chew, Metropolis itself certainly wasn't out of the question.

Karen: Although they're not Bronze Age, we might have to consider reviewing some of those Ross treasury-sized books. They were terrific!

Doug: Clark had remarked to his Ma and Pa in the first issue that he thought Lois was pretty neat. I do recall thinking way back when how much of a source the Superman film was for Byrne's dialogue -- plots in general. But there is, as I said above, a real Chris Reeve vibe in the scene in Lois's apartment. How forward was it of Lois to do the interview in a robe and towel?? There was certainly potential for a Sharon Stone moment there... His parting question was as priceless as Reeve's declaration that Margot Kidder was wearing pink panties.

Karen: What I thought was forward was how she sat right next to him on the couch rather than in the other chair! But Lois knows what she wants. One thing that's interesting here is that although she's obviously attracted to, maybe even smitten by, Superman, her story is her first priority. Lois is excited over her interview, and hurriedly writes up the story and heads into Perry White's office, only to discover that she's been scooped! Perry's hired a new writer by the name of Clark Kent!

Doug: Yeah, you know -- Clark Kent. The guy who is 6'4", around 240, solid, square jaw... that Clark Kent. I know everyone feels this way, but "Clark Kent" has to be the biggest suspension of disbelief in all of comics. And he also serves as the linchpin for the discussion on "who is the true man/woman -- the mask, or the secret ID
?" No doubt in this case Superman is the real deal and Clark Kent is the disguise; Batman? Not so sure. But anyway, what a ploy by Kent to throw Lois off the Superman/Clark trail, and right away. Great angle by Byrne to get the love triangle rolling.

Karen: This issue was fun and breezy. We're still left wondering about Lex Luthor and his role in these new mythos. But Lois is portrayed really well and the relationship between her and Superman is off to a great start.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Defining #1 and #1A

Doug:  Here's one for you to ponder, and this is pretty wide open -- books, characters, teams, writers and artists -- you name it!  If the Avengers is your favorite superhero team and the Fantastic Four is your next best, what's the difference?  What, in all of the years of publishing, separates these two teams for you?  Why do you prefer Earth's Mightiest Heroes to the denizens of the World's Greatest Comic Magazine?

Doug:  I like John Buscema and George Perez, with Buscema being my favorite.  Why?  I guess it's the power and majesty of his characters, particularly from the Silver and early Bronze Ages.  And his Conan...  just "wow".  But, on the other hand that Perez guy, as he evolved, really became a detail guy.  Every character looked different, and how about his attention to detail on backgrounds?  Tough call.

Doug:  So today we'd like you to muse on some of these sorts of dilemmas and dig deep into you inner preferences.  It should be an interesting share!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I've Got A Bike, You Can Ride It If You Like...

Karen: We've mentioned bikes in previous posts and comments when discussing how we got our comics. But thinking about it, bikes were so essential to life as a kid. A bike was mobility, and freedom. I had about three I can recall. The earliest one I remember had one of those awesome banana seats on it! I graduated to a 5 speed, and later a ten. Your bike was your key to adventure. I recall riding to friends' houses, the park, stores, even in my teens pedaling the ten miles across town to get to my job at the comic shop. I didn't need to get a ride -I had a bike!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Power Mad?

Doug:  Since we've just kicked off our six-week tour of John Byrne's Man of Steel, let's have a discussion on creators who were given omnipotent control over a comic book.  Somewhere in the course of our comments I'm sure we'll hit on Walter Simonson's run on Thor, Byrne's tenure on the Fantastic Four, and perhaps Frank Miller's turns on The Dark Knight Returns and Daredevil.  Do you have other examples for the betterment of the discussion?

Doug:  What are some successes and failures in your opinion?  I'd offer that while the scope of Byrne's run on the FF was second only to the Lee/Kirby stories, I didn't care for his inking of his own pencils.  The series would have been enhanced had Joe Sinnott provided his standard consistent look to the mag -- but I think Byrne insisted on the control.  And as you'll see, we'll take a few issues with Byrne's handling of the reimagining of the Superman mythos as we go forward.

Doug:  Digging deeper into this issue, is collaboration the answer when plotting a winner?  Can one person succeed endlessly, or is the notion of "more cooks in the kitchen" a better recipe?  Where do we see teams who caught lightning in a bottle, only to have a rift later on?  As always, thanks in advance for your participation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We're Gonna Need A Bigger Blog

Karen: Last week I received the blu-ray edition of Jaws, one of my favorite films. Universal has done a spectacular job cleaning up the image; this is the best I have ever seen the film look, and I've watched it plenty of times. Even after repeated viewings over the years, I am still drawn to it. There's an undefinable quality to it that makes it eminently re-watchable (to me at least). The details behind the film's troubled production only make it more interesting. I think we're probably lucky that the robo-shark didn't work very well, because instead of a straight-up monster shark film, we got a movie dripping with suspense. It's much more exciting that way and the final battle at the end, when the shark is shown in all his toothy glory, is a more effective pay-off. I know I'll be throwing this disc in the player repeatedly, especially in summer time. Has it ever been safe to go back in the water since Jaws?

Doug: I'll add only this -- there are a handful of films I'll always stop for when surfing channels. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the original Universal monsters films, the Planet of the Apes series, and Jaws. It is always a treasure.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Building a Better Krypton: The Man of Steel #1

The Man of Steel #1 (October 1986)
"From Out of the Green Dawn"
John Byrne-Byrne/Dick Giordano

Doug: As many of us had said earlier, I was surprised during our recent round of Bracketology that Crisis on Infinite Earths bested the deaths of Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin in the semi-finals. Today we'll begin a six-week examination of the fall-out from the Crisis -- the re-imagining of Superman, as told by John Byrne in the bi-weekly series The Man of Steel. Byrne was among the hottest creators in comics in 1986, having come off of lengthy runs on the X-Men and Fantastic Four. DC Comics wasn't afraid to go after some big names for their revisionist histories, handing the reins of the revamps to Byrne, Frank Miller (Batman), George Perez (Wonder Woman), Green Arrow (Mike Grell), Hawkman (Tim Truman), and the Justice League (J.M. DeMatteis/Keith Giffen/Kevin Maguire). Obviously you're sitting there reading a blog about the Bronze Age -- this series will look at what came next, for better or for worse.

Karen: I haven't looked at this series in a very long time. I don't recall feeling strongly one way or another when I read it originally. My main concern was that Superboy had been wiped out of existence, and that affected the Legion. I've never been a Superman fan.

Doug: That's an excellent point, and one that made me sad. Personally, I quit buying the Legion after Superboy #259 when little Clark got kicked out of his own book. To be honest, that time coincided with my cold turkey dropping of all comics, but I'll admit that I was very concerned that the Legion was going it alone after that story.

Karen: Well, the Legion's never been the same since Crisis, but that's a discussion for another time.

Doug: I'll be reading and scanning from the original issues, but did want to mention that I was a winner in the trade paperback raffle back in 1987. As I recall, readers could submit entries to each of the Superman mags being published at that time: Superman, Adventures of Superman, and Action Comics. I think I sent in 3-4 entries to each comic. How surprised do you think I was to get an unexpected package at college one day? I could not believe it! In case you've never seen one, DC basically bound the six issue mini-series. The stock used is the same as DC's covers and interior pages were printed on.

Karen: You lucky guy! I dug out my comics for this one.

Doug: Our story is divided into three parts: a prologue and two chapters. We pick it up on a Krypton far different from the one depicted by Wayne Boring, Curt Swan, et al. This is a highly advanced/evolved Krypton, where human emotion has been squelched for centuries. The Kryptonians are masters of their planet, controlling every aspect of their lives -- even down to when it rains. We meet Jor-el, a scientist troubled by impending events on his planet. Jor-el is served by two small robots (droids) who have the ability to converse with him and each other, and to follow directives. One says to the other that their master seems troubled; the response is that while all Kryptonians have been acting apprehensively, it is not in the programming to know why. This is our first clue that there seems to be little emotion on this planet.

Karen: Yes, this was certainly not the Krypton I was familiar with, although my knowledge of Superman and his mythos mostly came from the Superman films and my uncle's 50s and 60s Superman comics. That Krypton was also technologically advanced, but seemed a much warmer, human place. Byrne's decision to go with a cold, sterile version of Krypton seems an odd choice. Jor-El and Lara's wardrobes reflect this as well -almost every inch of skin is covered.

Doug: We see Jor-el next standing in front of a globe, or pod. He had instructed his servants to place "the matrix" within an orb in his laboratory. As he reaches out a hand toward the encased fetus, the Lady Lara enters. It's pretty obvious that although they are married and this is their child, there was no sexual contact whatsoever in the creation of the baby. Jor-el speaks of Krypton's impending doom, and of a civilization failed. Lara rebukes him, and questions his speech as archaic. But Jor-el tells her what he knows: the planet is going to explode due to pressures rising within its crust. While the matrix could not survive, even in the pod, it could survive after a journey through hyperspace. Lara is incredulous, but we're again aware that there doesn't seem to be a real motherly attachment. Jor-el says that he has scanned the heavens and found a suitable planet for which to send the baby -- Earth. He shows Lara an image of middle-America, and she recoils at the site of a bare-chested farmer. Again, it's obvious that any coupling between Jor-el and Lara took place in a test tube.

Karen: This lack of humanity and feeling (Jor-El is an anomaly) makes the death of Krypton seem a bit less sad -call me insensitive but the Kryptonians don't seem to be really living.

Doug:  I think it's interesting that in wiping away the 50-year backstory of Krypton, we're left only with these few sterile images.  I suppose we are to assume that they could do anything, so whether or not ore was their industry or service-type jobs is a moot point.  This is it, face value.

Doug: Jor-el says that due to the energy of Earth's yellow sun, the child will grow up with extraordinary powers; Lara interprets that as her superior Kryptonian son subjugating the savages of Earth's primitive culture. Jor-el is a bit more open-minded. Suddenly the eruptions begin to ravage Krypton's surface. Jor-el wastes no time in launching the escape pod. As it leaves, the planet begins to quake and groan; Jor-el says to Lara that he is glad that they will face the end in each other's company. As the rocket exits, the planet indeed explodes, and we see a small shard of Krypton reaching the tail of the rocket, and lodging itself there.

Karen: Ah yes, foreshadowing...

Doug: Chapter One opens on a high school football field, where young Clark Kent is leading his team to victory -- by scoring his 10th touchdown of the game! This ain't yer daddy's Clark Kent! We meet Jonathan Kent, near the sideline as the Smallville coach is about to explode in the "thrill of victory". Yet Pa Kent seems a bit dour. The game ends, and Clark comes off the field on his classmates' shoulders. But his teammates don't seem as jubilant. Pa steps forward and interrupts Clark before he leaves with his friends. Clark initially offers to talk later, but Pa's having none of it. They eventually leave the school, as some clouds start to roll in. Pa said it was time they had a talk, and begins to relate a story we are by now very familiar with: how Jonathan and Martha Kent saw a bright light in the Kansas sky, followed it out to one of their fields, found a rocket ship with a baby inside, and adopted the child. John Byrne adds a few updates along the way, such as (I believe) the blizzard that crippled the heart of Kansas for an entire winter; it wasn't a tough sell to the townsfolk when Martha appeared in the spring with a new baby.

Karen: Both when I first read this, and now, I found it odd that Clark was a super-star athlete. I know Byrne was trying to differentiate his version of Clark from what had gone before, but it just doesn't make sense to me that his parents, knowing his vast power, would allow him to potentially harm other kids. The idea that Ma and Pa had to take Clark aside and tell him that he had to pretend to be a nerd, basically, seems much more likely. 

Doug: We then see young Clark start to mature, from a toddler to an elementary-aged child. Along the way there are amazing feats, miracles, and other just unexplainable incidents that occur. While Jonathan and Martha realize that something is amiss, they try to keep Clark as grounded as possible. This explains why as a teen Clark was proud of his accomplishments on the gridiron, but wouldn't be characterized as big-headed. I think in this "origin" section of the origin story, Byrne crafts for the reader the roots of Superman as the "Boy Scout", fighting for "truth, justice, and the American way". It's pretty obvious that he's been raised with "Midwestern values", and has taken this teaching to heart. Eventually Clark realizes that he can fly -- for a really nice rendition of a man suddenly able to leave the ground, I'd encourage you to see Kurt Busiek's and Stuart Immonen's Superman: Secret Identity. As we take leave of the site where Jonathan had hidden the rocket ship, we see Clark suddenly take ill. Of course, we know it's due to the chips of his home planet, stuck throughout the nooks and crannies of the ship. But, who is the mystery man lurking in the shadows on this rainy Friday evening?

Karen: I got a different impression of Clark here, in that I did feel he was egotistical and a bit of a jerk. However, by the time Pa has explained things to him, he's talking about his responsibilities to the world. This seemed like an awful fast u-turn to me. I just didn't buy it.

Doug: Clark's personality as an adolescent is not revisited, so the adult altruistic Clark is all we'll have to work with.  We enter Chapter Two in the Kent kitchen as Jonathan comes down for breakfast. Martha has her scrapbooks out, and muses over all of the headlines Clark has generated through his activities over the past seven years. Seven years! I guess I was a bit surprised that Byrne chose to make Clark 25 in this story. I don't know if I felt he should have been older or younger, but once Superboy was taken out of the equation the age of 25 does seem to be a bit old for a Super-debut. As Jonathan opens his daily paper, he sees yet another headline of a mysterious "Superman" who saved a disabled space plane. Suddenly, there are creaks in the floor boards above them -- in Clark's room! Hustling up the steps, shotgun in hand, Pa and Ma burst into the room to find... a brooding Clark. Clark's depressed and confused, and begins to relate what had happened as the space plane had gotten into trouble.

Karen: It's much like what happens in the original Superman film, isn't it? Except there's no trip to the Arctic. Also, check your glasses pal: that's no shotgun -looks more like an ax handle to me.

Doug:  Obviously you've never been to Smallville and checked out an artillery store.  Actually you caught me trying to write from memory without opening the book back up.  Duh to me.  And really, it looks like a large utensil for use with a cauldron suspended within a fire place.  We use those all the time...  But we can go with ax handle.

Doug: In flight over Metropolis, everything seemed to be going well when suddenly a small civilian craft got too close and clipped the tail of the space plane (this is obviously pre-9/11, as any craft like that would be taken out of the sky by an F-16 escort). Clark had been in the crowd of spectators watching in horror as the big vessel tipped and began its nosedive. Streaking up from the ground, with no concern for his secret identity, Clark was able to right the plane. However, little did he know that onboard was not only the crew, but intrepid reporter Lois Lane. As the plane was stabilized and brought in for a landing, the crew had become aware that it was a flying man who was saving them. Never one to miss a story, Lois was first off the plane and accosted our young hero with a "Hold it right there, Buster!" Clark was taken aback, so much so that he didn't fly off. Their eyes met, a little chemistry began to brew, and then the crowds set in. The sense of claustrophobia was more than Clark could take.

Karen: Again, I had a feeling of deja vu for the Superman film, as Clark saves the plane here too. Although no one here said, "We got something. I'm not saying what it is, but trust me." I like Lois' look here -in fact, Byrne does a nice job with both Lois and Clark. Giordano's inks really complement his pencils.

Doug:  With Man of Steel, I think it was safe to say Byrne felt that the Superman movie was canon. Back in Smallville, Ma stitched a garment on her sewing machine as Pa and Clark entered the room. What we are seeing is a quick-hitter in the evolution of the Superman costume. Pa and Clark made the famous shield, while Ma came up with the color scheme. Ma also gets credit for noticing that clothes worn close to the skin never seemed to tear when Clark was playing as a child -- hence the skin-tight costume. She also gets credit for the boots. Pa came up with that brilliant disguise of wearing... eyeglasses with slicked-back hair. Uh huh. And then we get what can only be called a majestic last-page splash. Wow.

Karen: The idea that Superman has some sort of a protective force shield close to his skin I think originated with science fiction writer Larry Niven, of whom I have heard Byrne is a big fan. Niven is a proponent of the idea that all of Superman's abilities are really mental-telekinesis for flight and super-strength, force field projection for invulnerability, etc. We see this idea put to use by Byrne for the character of Gladiator when he had him appear in Fantastic Four. I don't think it was ever really stated that this was true for all of Superman's powers in the Byrne run though. And yes, you just have to roll your eyes and accept that no one can tell Clark and Supes are the same guy.

Doug: I really got excited re-reading this story for the review. It brought back a lot of memories I'd not felt in 25 years. I've talked often on the blog about my love of Superboy and utter disdain for Superman. But here, in this series, was a Man of Steel I could begin to embrace. Byrne grounded Clark Kent in the real world and brought his power levels down to the point where he was no longer a god. This was infinitely more appealing than his Silver Age personna as a do-everything. I just liked this a lot better. And overall, this sense of newness running throughout the DC Universe was very fresh, a true jumping-on point.

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