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Author Topic: Proof of Cary Bates's Genius: ACTION #509  (Read 21287 times)
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Super Monkey
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« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2005, 07:35:45 PM »

At last the most epic of all super tales can be read on-line, behold the spender that is.. The Computers That Saved Metropolis!

http://www.techknight.com/gallery/jlsoft


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You bet. Aside from their appearances in other giveaways, Shanna, Alec and Ms. Wilson appear in SUPERMAN #358, in a story that makes direct reference back to "The Computers That..."


They sure did:

Superman No. 358
April 1981
Cover: Superman vs. Cron; Bruce (Superman) Wayne vignette //Ross Andru / Dick Giordano (signed)
Story: “Father Nature’s Folly” (17 pages)
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Frank Chiaramonte
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Feature Character: Superman (last appearance in DC COMICS PRESENTS #32; next appears in ACTION COMICS #518)
Other characters: Margaret Wilson, Alec, Shanna, and their classmates (last appearance in ACTION COMICS #509; next appear in SUPERMAN IN “VICTORY BY COMPUTER” #1)
Intro: Nutra (“Mother Nature”; only appearance)
Villain: Cron (first and only appearance)
Synopsis: When a blackout hits the classroom in which Clark Kent is lecturing to students, he regales them with the story of Superman’s battle against Cron, an alien who attempted to destroy “Mother Nature”.
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Captain Kal
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« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2005, 08:31:08 PM »

OK, I'll grant that the characters have appeared in canon elsewhere.  I stand corrected on that score.

OTOH, I'm firm in my stance that the TRS-80 ad isn't specifically in canon.  Superman himself appears in his own books yet that isn't a reason to accept an ad campaign for Radio Shack as canon.  Since I'm pretty sure the terms of the licensing for that ad didn't include letting DC continue to use the Radio Shack name nor any of its trademarks like TRS-80, the kids couldn't be referred to as those whiz kids again.

Since we're still talking about it, I'll add some stuff I left out before, believe it or not.

Not only did the Trash-80 go obsolete like anything else in the IT world, but it wasn't even the top of the line for PCs back then.  Radio Shack merchandise was notorious for costing top dollar but delivering mediocre product.  You were generally better off spending your money elsewhere where you'd get more for your money and it would be more reliable too.  I'm not the guy who nicknamed it the Trash-80 as that monicker had been floating around when that computer was current.  Are we to believe that our hero's super-brain is equivalent not only to a lowly, obsolete desktop PC, but to one that wasn't even the best of its kind in its heyday?

How about the fact that the best supercomputers of today can barely perform facial recognition and are nowhere near passing the Turing test for artificial intelligence?  Yet, that hyped-up Trash-80 ad would have us believe that that lowly PC could 'think like Superman'?  That was a really misleading part of that story/advertisement.  I'm surprised no one called it outright misrepresentation back then.

Superman had built the most advanced computer on Earth, his own Supercomputer.  That alone lets us qualify him as a computer expert.  We don't need that lame TRS-80 ad to qualify this for him.
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Captain Kal

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Kurt Busiek
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« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2005, 09:37:01 PM »

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
OK, I'll grant that the characters have appeared in canon elsewhere.  I stand corrected on that score.

OTOH, I'm firm in my stance that the TRS-80 ad isn't specifically in canon.


It is at least to the extent that Superman did indeed pay a surprise visit to that class, as shown in that story.  Whether events played out precisely as shown?  Open question.

But enough stupid and impractical stuff has happened in canonical stories over the years that I don't see why the Radio Shack giveaways should be ruled out on those grounds, particularly when they're well-written and drawn.  Two of those giveaways are by Bates, one's drawn by Starlin, two by Swan.

Alec and Shanna and Ms. Wilson are cross-company stars, too, appearing in Radio Shack ads published by Archie as well:

http://www.atarimagazines.com/whizkids/showpage.php?issue=computertrap&page=3

At least a couple of these are written by Paul Kupperberg, who wrote their one non-Bates DC appearance, and at least one is drawn by Carmine Infantino!

The kids and their teacher got around -- Metro City, Coastal City -- a fair hike from Oak Street, in Smallville!

kdb
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« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2005, 10:44:12 PM »

Agreed re: stupid things appearing in canon over the years not ruling the Radio Shack story out -- if it's well-written.

That's my problem with it.  It requires too much suspension of disbelief for me.  Superman's been shown to be superior to the best Earth mainframe computers throughout his incarnations.  I cannot accept that the lowly TRS-80 is his equal.  In that, I don't consider it well-written.

Billy Anders with his pet lynx (believe it or not, I did not get that 'lynx = links' pun when I first read that) made more sense and it still was hokey having Superman rely on a kid to store his super-strength like that.  At least that didn't violate any known real world principles since they could make that up from whole cloth.

The TRS-80 and PCs in general are very well-known to be the lower end of computer processing power, not even including the obsolescence of time.  It just doesn't track.

I'm not forcing anyone to agree with me.  Just don't expect me to agree on this without a really darn good reason.
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Captain Kal

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« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2005, 11:20:16 PM »

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
That's my problem with it.  It requires too much suspension of disbelief for me.  Superman's been shown to be superior to the best Earth mainframe computers throughout his incarnations.  I cannot accept that the lowly TRS-80 is his equal.  In that, I don't consider it well-written.


I'm confident that there are plenty of things just as illogical in many, many stories that are unequivocally canon, which is my main point.

kdb
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Johnny Nevada
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« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2005, 02:03:27 AM »

I have a copy of this story somewhere, and thought it was pretty goofy as well... though from what I recall, the stuff they were asking him to compute on their TRS-80s weren't exactly high-end stuff that'd tax his super-brain to its limit (say, fighting Luthor). So I guess I (sort of) bought some cheapo early 80's brand of home PC serving Superman as a glorified calculator to help him fight a threat that wasn't Luthor-level (Major Disaster).

Re: canonical: Hmm... the several He-Man ads---er, "stories", written in the early 80's are apparently considered canonical, though I'd imagine the fact that Eternia was in a seperate dimension (?) from Earth-1 probably helped...

Wonder if that "Superman meets the Quik Bunny" story can be considered in current continuity as well, then (since IIRC it came out in '87, after "Crisis"/"Man of Steel")... ;-)
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« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2005, 04:39:31 AM »

Quote from: "Johnny Nevada"
Wonder if that "Superman meets the Quik Bunny" story can be considered in current continuity as well, then (since IIRC it came out in '87, after "Crisis"/"Man of Steel")... ;-)


It's a little known fact that the Quik Bunny grew up on Roosevelt Ave. in Smallville, right next door to "Bash" Bashford.

kdb
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2005, 07:15:38 PM »

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
Agreed re: stupid things appearing in canon over the years not ruling the Radio Shack story out -- if it's well-written.

That's my problem with it.  It requires too much suspension of disbelief for me.  Superman's been shown to be superior to the best Earth mainframe computers throughout his incarnations.  I cannot accept that the lowly TRS-80 is his equal.  In that, I don't consider it well-written.

Billy Anders with his pet lynx (believe it or not, I did not get that 'lynx = links' pun when I first read that) made more sense and it still was hokey having Superman rely on a kid to store his super-strength like that.  At least that didn't violate any known real world principles since they could make that up from whole cloth.

The TRS-80 and PCs in general are very well-known to be the lower end of computer processing power, not even including the obsolescence of time.  It just doesn't track.

I'm not forcing anyone to agree with me.  Just don't expect me to agree on this without a really darn good reason.


Yeah, I see your point, Captain Kal. For some reason, I got the idea in my head that an eighties computer's calculating power was pretty impressive.

Then again, there's nothing in this story that shows that Superman's brain IS as powerful as the TRS-80, just lots of kids saying that this is the case. Dialogue is not the same as comparison. For instance, in LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, it has been established in dialogue over and over that Mon-El is mightier than Superboy because he is several years older and taller, however I have difficulty pointing to a moment where such a statement is PROVED (and do I ever want to find a moment like that; would hush up those "Superboy can beat Mon-El" crumbs in the other forum but good!  Cheesy ) .

The fact Superman is able to calculate numbers as fast as a computer does not mean that his brain is as powerful as a low-end computer from 1980.

However, there are some occasions of so-called Stone Age computers being valuable to mankind, why if John Titor is to be believed, at least one, the IBM 5100 is the most important computer in the history of civilization!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Titor
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"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
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