Before Superman Could Fight Captain Marvel, He Had To Face This …

This is “Just Like the Time Before,” a feature where I examine instances from comic book history where comic book creators did early versions of later, notable comic book characters and plot ideas. Essentially, the “test runs” for later, more famous characters and stories.

The suggestion for this installment came from my reader Sam H.!

In 1938, Superman debuted in Action Comics #1 and he became a sensation, becoming the first superhero to get his own comic book series rather than splitting time in an anthology…

Imitators popped up constantly, and one of the most prominent ones was Captain Marvel, who debuted in 1940’s Whiz Comics #2…

My buddy, Nick Perks, longtime Line it is Drawn artist, once did a hilarious bit for an old edition of Line it is Drawn making fun of the similarities between the characters…

In any event, Captain Marvel soon became super popular, and was in fact MORE popular than Superman for a large stretch of the 1940s. DC Comics (then National Comics) sued Fawcett Comics over the character, claiming copyright infringment and the whole thing was in the courts for YEARS. Eventually, it seemed like National Comics had essentially won, but really, comic book sales were down, so Fawcett Comics just agreed to stop making Captain Marvel comic books in 1953.

Years went by, and Marvel Comics actually got their own Captain Marvel (and the trademark to the name, which is why Captain Marvel’s comic books have since had to use his famous magic word, “Shazam,” as the title of the comic book. Eventually, DC just re-named the character Shazam).

DC was interested in bringing Captain Marvel back and since they were the only ones who could publish Captain Marvel comic books without getting sued by, well, them, Fawcett agreed to license the character to DC Comics in 1973.

However, DC believed, for whatever reason, that the key to the characters working was that they exist in their own universe, so they were in their own comic books universe with an art style like the Golden Age Captain Marvel (his original artist, C.C. Beck, even drew the comic books!) (it was nice of Superman to show up for the cover of the first issue, at least).

Eventually, in 1976, during one of the annual Justice League/Justice Society crossovers, the Fawcett heroes also joined the fray and Superman and Captain Marvel fought for the first time…

There was even a special treasury edition comic devoted just to the two fighting…

Eventually, DC worked out a deal with Fawcett to just outright BUY the character, and he was integrated into the DC Universe officially (instead of being in his own universe and occasionally visiting) in Legends…

So that was how Captain Marvel came to be part of the DC Universe. However, did you know that there was a time when DC wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to have the two heroes interact? So they decided, instead, to do a sort of “test run” on the idea soon after DC started doing Shazam comics? If not, then do we have a story for you…

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From: https://www.cbr.com/superman-captain-marvel-captain-thunder/

What DC’s Giant Move To Walmart Means For Comics

Batman Giant #1, one of four newly-announced series being sold exclusively at Walmart.

DC Entertainment, part of the Time Warner family of companies recently acquired by ATT, last week announced a deal with retail giant Walmart to bring comic books back to mass-market distribution channels for the first time in decades. According to the announcement, four exclusive DC titles will be carried at over 3,000 Walmart stores nationwide, featuring some of the top talent in the comics business.

The news has some in the business ecstatic about the potential for expanding the footprint of periodical comics, where sales are stuck in a perennial rut, but is also causing concern among the 1200+ independent comic retailers.

Giant steps

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, instantly gives DC a huge potential audience for its comic line at a moment when its properties are highly visible through other media including movies, TV and games. According to DC Publisher Dan DiDio, that factored in to the choice of the four titles to launch the new strategy. “These new monthly books combine new and accessible stories with reprints of classic comic series,” he said. “It’s a great way for new readers to get into comics and follow the characters they’ve grown to love in TV and film.”

The new DC comics will be 100-pages each, priced at $4.99, and feature a new lead story backed by reprints of material from the past two decades. The 100-page format of the Walmart-exclusive Giants recalls a program DC used briefly in the 1970s, well-remembered by fans of a certain age as an introduction to the company’s deep catalog of older stories and characters.

The first titles announced as part of the program are Superman Giant, Justice League Giant, Batman Giant and Teen Titans Giant. According to the announcement, Superman and Justice League will be available the first week of each month; Batman and Teen Titans on the third week, starting July 1.

DC also provided some details about the new books and their creative teams.

  • Superman Giant will kick off with a two-part story by Jimmy Palmiotti and Tom Derenick, plus reprints from The Terrifics #1 (2018), Green Lantern #1 (2005) and Superman/Batman #1 (2003). Once the two-parter has wrapped up, the title will roll out a new 12-part series by industry phenom Tom King, drawn by Andy Kubert, starting in September.
  • Justice League Giant will initially spotlight Wonder Woman, with solo stories by Tim Seely in the first two issues, followed by a 12-issue run from Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti in September. The first issue will also reprint Justice League #1 (the book that launched DC’s successful New 52 run in 2011), The Flash #1 (2011) and Aquaman #1 (2011). This title is clearly aimed at comics-curious fans of the DC movies.
  • Palmiotti also pens the first new story for Batman Giant #1 (art by Patrick Zircher), which will feature reprints of Batman #608 (2002), Nightwing #1 (2011) and Harley Quinn #1 (2011). In September, superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis takes over with a 12-issue arc.
  • Teen Titans #1 launches immediately into a 6-part story by Dan Jurgens with art by Scot Eaton, Wayne Faucher and Jim Charalampidis, backed up by repritns from Sideways #1 (2018), Teen Titans #1 (2003) and Super Sons #1 (2017).

Back on the newsstands

DC’s move reverses a 40 year trend that has seen comics disappear from newsstands and convenience stores, their primary sales channel from the 1930s through the 1970s, as a result of the rise of an alternative channel known as the Direct Market, which distributes them to comic book specialty stores on a non-returnable basis. The shift to the Direct Market, now dominated by a single distributor, Diamond, dramatically increased the profitability and predictability of the comics market but reduced the visibility of comics beyond the core fanbase who frequent local, independently-owned comic shops.

Expanding distribution could help DC’s publishing efforts, which have risen and fallen with changing fan tastes and retailer ordering strategies. In the company’s eternal competition with rival Marvel Entertainment, a division of Walt Disney, DC is nearly even in unit market share (37.9% compared to Marvel’s 38.4%) but trails in retail market share 42.6%-25.7% according to the latest sales figures from Diamond.

The new DC books at Wal-Mart are aggressively priced at $4.99 for 100 pages (a standard 24-page comic goes for anywhere from $2.99 to $7.99, depending on the format and creators involved). Although only one story in each book is new material, it is not clear how much they will add to the bottom line, particularly given Walmart’s reputation for squeezing suppliers hard on margins to keep prices low for customers. However, as an investment in creating more visibility for the characters, more readers, and a bigger footprint for the DC comics brand beyond the several hundred thousand regular patrons of comic stores, it’s easy to see the business logic behind the deal.

Not everyone is happy

As news of the deal spread throughout the comics industry over the weekend, some comic shop owners expressed concern about the implications of a major retailer getting exclusive content from fan-favorite creators. The main sticking point isn’t just competition from Walmart, which is terrifying for any small business, but the fact that comic stores will not have a way to sell content that is sure to play well with the hardcore fans who constitute the lifeblood of their customer base.

It also means that diehard fans will have to go to Walmart to read Tom King Superman stories or Brian Bendis on Batman, spending money at the retail giant that would otherwise go toward their monthly comics budget at their local shop. Walmart may not count those pennies, but they mean a lot to independent stores already operating on a razor’s edge of profitability.

Another issue is that some of the country’s most densely populated urban areas do not have Walmart stores nearby. For example, there is no Walmart near Manhattan, and none within the city limits of San Francisco, Seattle or Boston. That situation is likely to create a secondary market for collectibles that will not benefit DC, Walmart or the creators of the books, but may put money in the pockets of resellers and speculators.

 

From: https://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2018/06/26/what-dcs-giant-move-to-walmart-means-for-comics/

Comic Legends: The Iconic Superman Writer Who Retired Mid-Story

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and eighty-sixth installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week’s legends. Click here for Part 2 of this week’s legends.

NOTE: I noticed that the the CSBG Twitter page was nearing 10,000 followers. If we hit 10,050 followers on the the CSBG Twitter page then I’ll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week that we hit 10,050. So three more legends! Sounds like a great deal, right?

COMIC LEGEND:

Edmond Hamilton retired in the middle of writing a Superman story.

STATUS:

True

Edmond Hamilton was already a prolific pulp fiction writer in the 1920s and 1930s before he had even heard of comic books. He was really well known for the Captain Future character (a character that, contrary to popular belief, he did not invent).

Years into his career, Hamilton was approached by an old acquantaince from his pulp fiction days, Mort Weisinger, into writing for Weisinger on the Superman feature at DC Comics, where Weisinger had recently become the editor of the Superman line of comics.

Hamilton then worked for Weisinger for the next TWENTY years, writing numerous Superman and Legion of Super-Heroes stories.

One of his most famous stories, Action Comics #300, saw Superman transported into the future where the Earth now had a red sun. It allowed Hamilton to touch on a lot of the same ideas he did in his science fiction stories.

Hamilton, though, had struggles with his health, and in 1966, when he was 62 years old, when he was already considering retirement, his doctor told him he should retired right away. So that meant stopping in the middle of a story he was writing!

Action Comics #336 (sorry, it is not the story that is on the cover with Supergirl and her horse. That is the other story in that issue. I couldn’t resist using it at the featured image) saw Hamilton paired with Curt Swan and George Klein about a story involving the first person paroled from the Phantom Zone and how the people of Kandor were not fans of the former criminal, Ak-Var, except for Thara, the niece of Superman lookalike Van-Zee…

So Hamilton left midway through the story, so Weisinger’s assistant editor, E. Nelson Bridwell, stepped in and finished the story (Bridwell would later write stories where Van-Zee and Ak-Var took over as Nightwing and Flamebird from Superman and Jimmy Olsen and Bridwell would note in the pages of Superman Family that Ak-Var had a special place in his heart because he finished the story of Ak-Var’s first appearance) and here is how Bridwell finished it out…

Hamilton would be in poor health for the rest of his life (dying in 1977), but he actually did still occasionally write, even doing a few science fiction novels. He was survived by his wife, the amazing writer in her own right, Leigh Brackett.


Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed – Was there almost a Gladiator sequel, despite the whole “the star dies at the end of the movie” thing?


OK, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don’t even actually use on the CBR editions of this column, but I do use them when I collect them all on legendsrevealed.com!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Here’s my brand-new book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books.

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

Here’s my second book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? The cover is by Kevin Hopgood (the fellow who designed War Machine’s armor).

batshark

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get some original content from me, as well!

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends. — half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

From: https://www.cbr.com/superman-writer-retired-midstory/

Walmart will begin selling an exclusive monthly DC comic anthology …

DC will begin releasing an exclusive, monthly anthology comic series in Walmarts across the United States next month.

The comics will be more than your typical single-issue comic: these will be 100-page books, featuring a mix of new and reprinted material, priced at $4.99 an issue. According to DC Comics, the new material will be written by the likes of Tom King, Dan Jurgens, Brian Michael Bendis, Andy Kubert, and others, while each book will also include stories from the New 52 comics, Rebirth, and the New Age of DC Heroes. The series will include four titles: Superman Giant, Justice League of America Giant, Batman Giant, and Teen Titans Giant. This is the latest in a long line of Giant-style comics from DC: its 80-Page Giant line came in 1964, with others published over the years.

The first four books of this new series will hit shelves on July 1st, and after that, Superman Giant and Justice League Giant will each be released in the first week of the following months, while Batman Giant and Teen Titans Giant will arrive two weeks later. The books will also feature some longer stories: Tom King and artist Andy Kubert will begin a 12-part Superman series beginning in September called “Up in the Sky!” beginning in Superman Giant #3, while Brian Michael Bendis will pen a 12-part Batman series called “Universe,” beginning in Batman Giant #3.

DC’s partnership with Walmart unlocks a potentially huge audience for the publisher. More than 3000 Walmart stores across the US will carry the books — more than there are dedicated comic book stores in the US, and it harkens back to the days when most supermarkets carried comic books and science fiction magazines on their shelves. Walmart isn’t the only major retailer that’s getting in on the comic game: Bleeding Cool reported earlier this month that Game Stop would trial selling comics in some of its stores beginning on June 15th.

From: https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/23/17497126/walmart-dc-comics-giant-tom-king-brian-michael-bendis-superman-batman-justice-league-teen-titans

Walmart will begin selling an exclusive monthly DC comic anthology in July

DC will begin releasing an exclusive, monthly anthology comic series in Walmarts across the United States next month.

The comics will be more than your typical single-issue comic: these will be 100-page books, featuring a mix of new and reprinted material, priced at $4.99 an issue. According to DC Comics, the new material will be written by the likes of Tom King, Dan Jurgens, Brian Michael Bendis, Andy Kubert, and others, while each book will also include stories from the New 52 comics, Rebirth, and the New Age of DC Heroes. The series will include four titles: Superman Giant, Justice League of America Giant, Batman Giant, and Teen Titans Giant. This is the latest in a long line of Giant-style comics from DC: its 80-Page Giant line came in 1964, with others published over the years.

The first four books of this new series will hit shelves on July 1st, and after that, Superman Giant and Justice League Giant will each be released in the first week of the following months, while Batman Giant and Teen Titans Giant will arrive two weeks later. The books will also feature some longer stories: Tom King and artist Andy Kubert will begin a 12-part Superman series beginning in September called “Up in the Sky!” beginning in Superman Giant #3, while Brian Michael Bendis will pen a 12-part Batman series called “Universe,” beginning in Batman Giant #3.

DC’s partnership with Walmart unlocks a potentially huge audience for the publisher. More than 3000 Walmart stores across the US will carry the books — more than there are dedicated comic book stores in the US, and it harkens back to the days when most supermarkets carried comic books and science fiction magazines on their shelves. Walmart isn’t the only major retailer that’s getting in on the comic game: Bleeding Cool reported earlier this month that Game Stop would trial selling comics in some of its stores beginning on June 15th.

From: https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/23/17497126/walmart-dc-comics-giant-tom-king-brian-michael-bendis-superman-batman-justice-league-teen-titans

DC to produce original comics for Walmart starting July 1

DC Comics announced it will release four monthly series of 100 page, $4.99 comics with new and reprint material featuring Batman, Superman, the Justice League of America and Teen Titans to be sold exclusively through Walmart beginning July 1.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — DC Comics has made an agreement with Walmart to produce a line of new $4.99 monthly comics featuring Superman, Batman, Teen Titans and the Justice League to be sold exclusively at Walmart beginning July 1.

The books will be 100 pages long each and include one new story and three reprints of old stories.

A typical DC comic features 22 pages of story and 10 pages of ads and sells for $3.99. The primary place to buy new comics in the country is in comic shops. It’s expected that comic shop owners won’t be happy with DC’s exclusive arrangement with Walmart. 

The new stories for the 100-page books will be produced by by top writers like Tom King (Batman), Brian Michael Bendis (Superman), Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn) and Dan Jurgens (Superman).

Each of the four new titles, “Superman Giant,” “Justice League of America Giant,” “Batman Giant” and “Teen Titans Giant” arrive in Walmart stores July 1, with new issues arriving monthly.

“We are extraordinarily excited about working with Walmart to expand the reach of our books,” said DC Publisher Dan DiDio. “These new monthly books combine new and accessible stories with reprints of classic comic series. It’s a great way for new readers to get into comics and follow the characters they’ve grown to love in TV and film.”

According to the embargoed news release sent out last night, the debut title lineup includes:

SUPERMAN GIANT #1

DC Comics announced it will release four monthly series of 100 page, $4.99 comics with new and reprint material featuring Batman, Superman, the Justice League of America and Teen Titans to be sold exclusively through Walmart beginning July 1.

SUPERMAN GIANT #1 features chapter one of the two-part “Endurance,” an original story written by Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Tom Derenick (“Harley Quinn”). “The Daily Planet sends Clark Kent to Tornado Alley to do a story on the area, but when the storm hits, it turns out that this mild-mannered reporter is more helpful as Superman,” the release said.

The issue also includes reprints of “The Terrifics” and “Superman/Batman” comics.

TEEN TITANS GIANT #1

Features the first chapter of a six-part Teen Titans story by Dan Jurgens with art by Scot Eaton, Wayne Faucher and Jim Charalampidis. The Teen Titans’ are attacked by a new villain called the Disruptor and the Fearsome Five. 

Additional reprint stories include “Super Sons”; “Sideways” and “Teen Titans” stories.

BATMAN GIANT #1

Batman searches for a missing girl in “One More Chance,” written by Palmiotti with art by Patrick “Patch” Zircher. Reprint stories include “Batman,” “Nightwing” and “Harley Quinn.”

“Beginning with BATMAN GIANT #3 in September, superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis makes his DC debut on the Dark Knight with a 12-part story, ‘Universe,’ ” the news release said. “Batman’s run-in with the Riddler leads the Caped Crusader into a mystery that spans the globe.”

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA GIANT #1

DC Comics announced it will release four monthly series of 100 page, $4.99 comics with new and reprint material featuring Batman, Superman, the Justice League of America and Teen Titans to be sold exclusively through Walmart beginning July 1.

Wonder Woman faces off against Ares, the God of War in “The Conversion,” an original story by Tim Seely with art by Rick Leonardi and Steve Buccellato.

Reprint stories star the Justice League, the Flash and Aquaman.

Since the news release was embargoed it was not possible to seek comment from local comic shop owners that make a living selling different versions of the books starring the same characters.

The news release did not address the possibility of the new books glutting an already stuffed comic market or the impact it might have on comic shops.

From: https://www.cleveland.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2018/06/dc_to_produce_original_comics.html

DC Comics Unveils Superman as Refugee Hero, Stands Against Border Law

It’s always tragic when fictional characters, loved by millions of different people, are morphed into political mouthpieces. Well get ready for heartbreak, because DC Comics has taken it upon itself to turn America’s superhero, THE Superman, into a liberal advocate for refugee rights.

What does that “S” stand for? Well, apparently it stands for “Social Justice.”

Wednesday being World Refugee Day, apparently, DC Comics decided to go with the big guns in trying to shift its America First pop culture fans. It unveiled an iconic comic book image of the man of steel standing in front of Metropolis with white doves of peace flying in the background. For millions of fans, it was a familiar image of one of America’s strongest and most popular characters.

It became truly unfortunate when Twitter users read the caption that DC made to go along with the classic image. “Superman stands up for what’s right.” it declared. Great! Makes sense. However, the next line posed the ill-fated question. “Did you also know he’s a refugee?” One could hear the sound of a million eyes rolling, and the collective “Oof!” of a million conservatives’ comic book memories being punched in the gut.

“This #WorldRefugeeDay, be like Superman and stand up for what’s right. #StandWithRefugees and @theIRC.”

Note that the IRC, or International Rescue Committee, is a group that advocates for global humanitarian aid, and while that’s all well and good, they have been railing against US immigration practices in the hubbub over separated families.

Well, there you have it folks. Superman is officially a social justice warrior, who’s next mission is to laserbeam law-abiding ICE agents and beat border patrol guards into a pulp for putting babies in cages.

If you’re a fan of America First or just want immigration laws enforced, the Man of Steel is no fan of yours. In fact, if you were in his universe today, you’d most likely be his enemy number one and rest assured he’d be crushing your skull like some masked comic-book goon.

The left has been so rabid and so panicked over the recent enforcement of border laws, that even the pop culture giants have started to believe that maybe hitlerian forces are committing atrocities against illegal immigrants. Or they are just so biased against Trump and the contemporary conservative that they transform beloved heroes into liberal orthodoxy’s praetorian guards.

Honestly, the latter is more likely the case. How sad. Hopefully DC wakes up from the politicizing soon, otherwise we may be forced to endure an all star superhero cast come together to form the “Social Justice League.”

From: https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/culture/gabriel-hays/2018/06/21/dc-comics-unveils-superman-refugee-hero-stands-against-border

A Superman Movie Villain Is Finally Being Introduced To The Comics

Superman IV: The Quest For Peace saw Lex Luthor, who was absent from Superman III, creating The Nuclear Man by taking a strand of Superman’s hair, putting inside a genetic matrix and attaching it to the side of a nuclear missile. When that missile went airborne during a test launched, Superman, insistent on ridding Earth of its nuclear weaponry, intercepted the missile and tossed it into the Sun. That triggered the creation of Nuclear Man, who was physically portrayed by Mark Pillow and voiced by Hackman. Nuclear Man gave Superman a good run for his money, but in the end, he was defeated when the Man of Steel dropped him into the core of a nuclear power plant, turning him into electrical energy. The Quest for Peace was met with poor reviews upon release and only made a little over $36 million worldwide off a $17 million budget, thus killing any plans for Superman V. It would be another 19 years until another theatrical Superman movie was released, and Superman Returns, while set in the same continuity as the Reeve series, opted to ignore the events of Superman III and The Quest for Peace.

From: https://www.cinemablend.com/news/2438530/a-superman-movie-villain-is-finally-being-introduced-to-the-comics

Bio Comic Tells The Heartbreaking Story of Superman Co-Creator Joe Shuster

Joe Shuster changed everything. When he drew that squinty man in the circus leotard lifting an automobile over his head and smashing it down onto a rocky outcropping — with the panicky gangster fleeing in disbelief toward the reader — he fired the imagination of countless children. Comic books — all of popular culture, really — could never possibly be the same again.

Shuster’s own story and tragedy are well known in the comics community, including the sale of Superman for only $130, his failing eyesight and inability to continue drawing, and his decline into anonymity and poverty before finally receiving recognition and a pension from DC Comics in the 1970s. Several insightful and valuable biographies and histories of Superman’s creators and of the comics medium as a whole have told Shuster’s story, but none has told that story in his native medium — in comic book form.

Recently released from Super Genius (a Papercutz imprint), The Joe Shuster Story: The Artist Behind Superman finally presents Shuster’s tale, as well as that of his friend and Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, via sequential art. Two experienced comic book biographers, writer Julian Voloj (author of Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker) and illustrator Thomas Campi (Magritte: This is Not a Biography), bring Shuster’s story to four-color life.

RELATED: Magritte Comic Book Biography Captures the Artist’s Surrealist Spirit

“The focus on Joe Shuster came more by coincidence,” Voloj admitted in an interview with CBR. “When I was exploring the idea of turning the story into a graphic novel, I learned that someone donated a box of letters, written by Joe Shuster, to Columbia University. I contacted librarian Karen Green and got access to the letters even before they were fully catalogued.

“They were heartbreaking letters, most of them from around 1965-1970 when he was struggling to pay medical bills and fearing to be evicted,” Voloj continued. “Reading about his hardship in his own words made me decide that he’d become the narrator.”

Keeping Shuster in the foreground was sometimes difficult, as the more assertive partner, Siegel, often took the lead in their creative, business and personal relationships. “Shuster was definitely the more quiet of the dynamic duo,” Voloj said. “Siegel was the more outspoken, the one who took initiative, be it negotiating with potential publishers (even before Superman) or deciding to go to court.

“The book is not only the story of Superman’s origins, but it is most of all the story of a friendship, and I think that Shuster often joined Siegel in his endeavors because of loyal friendship.”

Voloj went on about the decision to make Shuster the book’s core. “To me, Joe Shuster was the more tragic character: He was an illustrator who was losing his eyesight. He was in love with the Lois Lane model, and his friend Jerry Siegel ended up marrying her. Focusing on his perspective is a way to take him out of Jerry Siegel’s shadow; making him the narrator is giving him a voice.”

When the discussion turned to the already voluminous material about Siegel and Shuster, Voloj was quick to praise and cite many earlier histories. “Yes, that’s true and you can see that the graphic novel has nearly 20 pages of annotations, citing every great resource we used when doing the book. My interest in the American comic book history stems back to reading Michael Chabon’s fictionalized account in The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and shortly afterwards Gerard Jones’ non-fiction book Men of Tomorrow. Then there is the amazingly researched Superboys by Brad Ricca, and not to forget the important work of Marc Tyler Nobleman and so many others. Superman created the whole industry, and to me, this was a story that had to be told in comic book form, paying homage to the artform itself.”

The comic book industry was essentially born with Action Comics #1, so in many ways, the history of Joe Shuster is the history of American comic books. After falling out with National/DC, Shuster’s search for work led him to briefly providing illustrations for Nights of Horror fetish pulps. That publisher’s legal problems coincided with the infamous Senate hearings on the connection between comics and juvenile delinquency, leaving Shuster fearful of public shame or legal repercussions.

“The book was never about Superman alone, but really a story about the American comic book history itself. Joe Shuster’s life is put into the wider historical context,” Voloj said of the book’s many historical connections. “He’s the child of Jewish immigrants, and like so many of his peers, he faced discrimination on the job market. The fact that most comic book pioneers were either of Jewish or Italian background had to do with the fact that they were barred from the advertising world. And once Superman became a success, they became the ‘Mad Men’ of comics. The Senate hearings are in this context important because they had many antisemitic undertones. They not only changed the face of the industry, but they were also a reminder that Jews were not totally accepted in post-World War II America.”

Excepting his role in several lawsuits to regain rights to or control of Superman, specific details of Shuster’s life are fleeting and anecdotal for nearly a quarter century from the early 1950s into the early or mid-’70s. While Voloj does paint a picture with the scant details known (for example, a famous instance of Shuster, working as a delivery man, presenting a package in the same building as National’s offices and being insulted by publisher Jack Liebowitz), he feels the lack of concrete information suits the tragedy of Shuster’s story.

He explained, “Losing Superman pushed both creators into obscurity, so in a way it is fitting that we don’t know much about their life. In the book’s narrative, the trial is a turning point, and we only see tidbits of Shuster’s post-Superman life. Both Siegel and Shuster did not only lose their creation, they were lost. And the industry that Superman created continued without them. Therefore the narrative focus broadens and we learn, for instance, about the readership’s changing tastes, the congressional hearings, etc. The story is told from Shuster’s perspective, so I imagined him still following developments, even if he is no longer part of it.”

Although both Siegel and Shuster have been gone for over twenty years now, more details about their lives – both personal and business – continue to be unearthed. Voloj and Campi’s book steers into the commonly told version of Jerry Siegel’s father’s death, that he was murdered during a hold-up, even though that story has recently been debunked.

Voloj explained, “Marc Tyler Nobleman proved that he was not shot, but rather died of a heart attack. In the illustrations, however, we play with the fact that it was for a long time unclear how he died. We see the robbery, but don’t know what exactly happened. For many years, Superman’s bulletproofness was related to the idea that Siegel’s father was shot, so leaving it open in the illustrations allows readers to come to this conclusion. However, the endnotes explain that he died of a heart attack.”

Another more recent revelation that made it into the book was Bob Kane’s role in Siegel and Shuster’s first lawsuit against DC/National — namely, that Kane was asked to join the suit, but instead informed the company of the impending legal action to get better terms for himself with Batman’s ownership. “It is worth reading the endnotes to this scene,” Voloj said. “Nobleman actually uncovered the backstory related to Kane’s decision to inform the publishers. His father advised him not to join the lawsuit, and from his perspective, it was the right decision since he became the only winner of the lawsuit – by not being involved and renegotiating his contract.”

When the discussion turned to Superman’s impact, both Voloj and Campi believe Shuster and Siegel deserve all the credit for Superman’s success. “Superman was a game changer,” said Voloj. “As one can see in our book, Siegel and Shuster were influenced by contemporary pop culture and mixed different elements into a something new. It’s science fiction — not from a distant future, but rather in the present. It’s not set on an exotic planet, but right here in an American city. Clark Kent has Zorro’s secret identity, but is at the same time an underdog like Harold Lloyd. All the puzzle pieces existed in the culture that surrounded these Cleveland youngsters, but they put them together into something different.”

Campi chimed in to expand on that thought and comment specifically on Shuster’s graphic appeal. “I think it’s very special. Joe Shuster was just a kid when he did the first drawings and actually graphically created Superman. Working on this book gave me the opportunity to study his work and I couldn’t help picturing this kid in the ’30s, those beautiful curvy cars, the suits with large pants, suspenders, wooden nib pens, big pieces of paper, no internet, no DVD, no smartphones; it’s all fascinating. He was making history without all the help we can have in this digital era.”

“The artwork can seem naïve if seen through the eyes of somebody working digitally or simply used to modern aesthetics. I think it’s great if you put it in context,” Campi continued. “I’ve studied and reproduced a few of his drawings for the book. The inking, and even the way he simplified anatomy, were pretty impressive for someone of his age who didn’t have the amount of comics and references we have nowadays. Personally, I’m a big fan of those old-school styles, they have that sort of elegance that never gets old.”

The Joe Shuster Story: The Artist Behind Superman is available now from Super Genius.

From: https://www.cbr.com/joe-shuster-superman-creator-biography/

Comic Legends: The Strange Case of Perry White’s Temporary Replacement

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and eighty-fourth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week’s legends.
Click here for Part 2.

NOTE: I noticed that the the CSBG Twitter page was nearing 10,000 followers. If we hit 10,050 followers on the the CSBG Twitter page then I’ll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week that we hit 10,050. So three more legends! Sounds like a great deal, right?

COMIC LEGEND:

The Superman titles replaced Perry White as the editor of the Daily Planet but then Mort Weisinger changed his mind mid-story and Perry returned.

STATUS:

True

1966 was a weird time for the Superman titles. After an extremely successful start to the decade, things were beginning to unravel a bit for the books. Longtime Superman editor, Mort Weisinger, wasn’t sure why things were going relatively poorly for the books (what he probably did not want to admit was that losing two of his main writers probably didn’t help. One of them, Edmond Hamilton, retired, but the other one, Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, was fired for the temerity of trying to get the copyright to Superman back).

He was filled with indecision over the books. It is no surprise that he ended up retiring himself in 1970. He just didn’t know what to do.

The problem with that indecision is that it directly affected the titles that he was editing, resulting in some hilariously weird stories where he would make a big change and then instantly regret it and change it back. Years ago, I wrote about one of these changes in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed, about how Weisinger decided to remove Superboy and Supergirl from the Legion and then, mid-story, change his mind and it was only due to E. Nelson Bridwell writing a heck of a story that it did not end up reading like madness. Luckily, fans were already used to Superman/Superboy (and the Legion, too), coming up with convoluted plans, so Superboy and Supergirl “leaving forever” only to return the next issue wasn’t really all that out of the ordinary for comics of this era.

In Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #62, Lois is volunteering at a hospital when Perry White shows up…

Her new temporary editor, Clark Kent, has her cover an announcement regarding the Senate race for the state that Metropolis is in…

The miffed Lois decides to run against Superman and she obviously gets trounced in the polls until Mister Mxyzptlk shows up and begins to help her beat Superman. She realizes, in the end, that this wrong and she tricks Mxy to going back to his home dimension…

We learn, though, that Superman and Lois are both ineligible to become Senators (Superman only ran to help distract Mxy) and so a new Senator has to be named…Perry White! And so his replacement was named, Van Benson…

Showing that this was intended to be a real change, Benson shows up in the next month’s issue of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, where he insults Jimmy’s reporting skills..

but comes around in the end…

The new status quo also showed up in Action Comics #335.

The late, great comic book historian Rich Morrissey was the one who broke the aformentioned Legion reversal story and he, too, announced that this was also a case of Weisinger reversing himself mid-story, and I tend to believe Morrissey.

So the next issue of Lois Lane (released a month after those other comics, as it came out with 8 issues yearly at the time, so four times a year they would take a month off), suddenly sees Lois suspect Van Benson might be a secret agent for evil…

As it turned out, he WAS an FBI agent undercover pretending to be evil. So now that his assignment was over, Perry White shows up and takes his old job back, “temporarily” (but obviously permanently)…

Funny stuff. Thanks to Rich Morrissey for the information!


Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed – Did NBC prevent Star Trek from having a 50/50 Male/Female crew on the Enterprise?


OK, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don’t even actually use on the CBR editions of this column, but I do use them when I collect them all on legendsrevealed.com!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Here’s my brand-new book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books.

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

Here’s my second book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? The cover is by Kevin Hopgood (the fellow who designed War Machine’s armor).

batshark

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get some original content from me, as well!

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends. — half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

From: https://www.cbr.com/superman-perry-white-replacement/

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