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Question: Who'd win in a three way race?  (Voting closed: April 21, 2006, 06:10:53 AM)
Green Arrow's Arrowplane - 0 (0%)
Batman's Batplane - 1 (12.5%)
Wonder Woman's Robot Plane - 7 (87.5%)
Total Voters: 8

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Author Topic: Superman in the Gardner Fox/Sekowsky Justice League  (Read 6250 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: April 21, 2006, 11:10:53 AM »

I just picked up and finished reading the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA SHOWCASE. How come the SHOWCASE Superman was $10, but here they stiff you with $17?

What is particularly interesting about Superman and his participation in these stories is that Superman's powers work in very weird ways. For instance, in JUSTICE LEAGUE #11 (1962) Superman uses his Super-Memory to obtain information from one of the Lord of Time's holograms. Now, what's weird is that to use his Super-Memory, Superman sits there and concentrates, and there are these concentric circles around his forehead, like Aquaman using his Aquatic Telepathy or Magneto's magnetism.

What's also weird is that in the very next issue, JUSTICE LEAGUE #12 (1962), Superman is able to use his Telescopic Vision to see through to other dimensions.

Telescopic Vision does not work that way!

Superman's participation in these stories seems to essentially be an extension of the Batman/Superman Team-Ups. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the aforementioned JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #12 (1962) where Superman and Batman go to the meeting together, and they beat Doctor Light using the tried and true WORLD'S FINEST tactic of disguising themselves as each other so the bad guy uses the wrong weapons on them. Though there are exceptions, it's safe to say that if Batman is not in a JUSTICE LEAGUE story, then Superman probably won't be, either. When the team breaks up like they did in "DOOM of the Star-Diamond" usually Batman and Superman are together.

And here in this SHOWCASE we've got the first appearance of one of Superman's greatest Bronze Age foes, Amazo. From that time Xviar summoned Amazo as a part of the "Nine Ultimate Enemies of Superman," to that last 1985 battle in SUPERMAN SPECIAL #3 by Nelson Bridwell where Amazo tries to steal the powers of the Kandorians, Amazo was often a solo Superman enemy.

Anybody who says the Superman S blew up because of the Chris Reeve movie needs to look at this collection. Here, Sekowski had the shield so huge it covers nearly his entire torso.

Speaking of Sekowsky, he is a pretty good artist, especially when drawing faces that are weird and have character, and are fascinating and grotesque. His Doctor Light had big ears and a wrinkly forehead - he looked like a cross between a psycho literature professor and an especially creepy member of the Nixon cabinet. Sekowsky's aliens all had elongated heads and weird OUTER LIMITS-style appearances; his memorable Amazo design was actually pretty conservative compared to some of the ones that showed up, like Sekowski's Easter-Island style untouchable giants. By contrast, he tended to draw the "pretty" members of the Justice League in a profoundly boring way: nobody's appearance was more forgettable than the Sekowsky Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

This is weird to say, but my favorite Leaguer just from this collection is Aquaman. The moment that clinched it was when he commanded a Dolphin to rise from the water...and mimic Aquaman's voice exactly. His foe thus distracted, Aquaman leaps on the ship, fists swinging, explaining that "Scientists have been teaching dolphins to talk for some time now!" But apparently, it took Aquaman to teach them to do impressions. Or when Aquaman talks about his "finny friends" revealing to him the secret location of the sunken Colossus of Rhodes (!).

I had no idea you could do so many cool things with fish, whether it was the swordfishes that sink a ship, the manta rays that swing deadly poisons away, or the giant sea serpents and squids that Aquaman occasionally calls up. Wow!

My least favorite Leaguer in this collection is Wonder Woman. For one thing, there's all this stuff about her Magic Lasso vibrating. If you removed the lasso's ability to vibrate, Wonder Woman's contributions to the story would be zilch. Here's the thing, though: 1) rope doesn't vibrate, 2) have her do something else, please! That said, there were many great moments involving her Robot Plane.

Tragically, there was no three-way race between the Arrowplane, Batplane, and Robot Plane.

When reading this, I assumed I was going to want to wring the neck of that punk weasel Snapper Carr after the third issue. Surprisingly, Snapper was considerably less annoying than Green Lantern's power ring. If you look at nearly every escape, it somehow involved Green Lantern's ring. Like the Atom shrinking to escape his bonds and then touching Green Lantern's ring. Or Green Lantern escapes by pressing his ring against Wonder Woman in secret and willing it to do something or other.

Did Green Lantern contribute money to the making of this comic? How come he gets to do everything?
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Klar Ken T5477
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2006, 02:27:35 PM »

Wondy's Robot plane would win, Its a robot plane.

Bear in mind, the JLA was under the domain of Julie Schwartz IIRC who at time herding Flash, Gl, the SF books and didnt even get is hands on Batman til 1964 with the 'new look'.  That would explain some of his unfamiliarity (and Fox's) with canonical Supes.
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nightwing
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2006, 05:03:44 PM »

The Bat-Jet, ArrowJet and Invisible Plane would end any race in a photo-finish.  In which case Wonder Woman will always win since she can claim her jet's nose crossed the finish line first, but the camera couldn't see it.

Julian Perez writes:

Quote
Now, what's weird is that to use his Super-Memory, Superman sits there and concentrates, and there are these concentric circles around his forehead, like Aquaman using his Aquatic Telepathy or Magneto's magnetism.


I experience the same phenomenon when I have a headache.  

Quote
Anybody who says the Superman S blew up because of the Chris Reeve movie needs to look at this collection. Here, Sekowski had the shield so huge it covers nearly his entire torso.


What I remember about Sekowsky is that he could never draw Superman's emblem so that it looked like an "S."  Then when he left came Dick Dillin, who if anything was even worse.  Dillin's S-shield looked like a snake that wriggled into a slightly different position in each panel.  But never in the course of 100 or so issues did it ever settle into a shape remotely like an "S."

I'm plowing through the "Superman Family" Showcase and I've noticed that in those old Jimmy Olsens, Curt Swan drew a considerably larger "S" than he did later on.  In fact, I think Wayne Boring was the one who originally made it big, with Swan and Plastino following suit as Boring was "the man" in the 50s, and somehow during the 20 years or so of Swan's own pre-eminence on the books, he shrank it to the size we usually associate with "Earth-1" Supes (though the record for "small" has to go to Shuster's original, badge-like rendition).

Quote
Speaking of Sekowsky, he is a pretty good artist, especially when drawing faces that are weird and have character, and are fascinating and grotesque.


I always dug Sekowsky on the JLA, at least before Sid Greene started inking him.  If I had any complaint it's that his anatomy could be hit or miss.  Sometimes those "heroic physiques" made the male Leaguers look like pickle barrels with garden hoses for "limbs."

Quote
The moment that clinched it was when he commanded a Dolphin to rise from the water...and mimic Aquaman's voice exactly. His foe thus distracted, Aquaman leaps on the ship, fists swinging, explaining that "Scientists have been teaching dolphins to talk for some time now!" But apparently, it took Aquaman to teach them to do impressions.


This is easier than you might think.  Aquaman actually has a very high-pitched and squeaky voice.  Strange, but true.

Quote
Did Green Lantern contribute money to the making of this comic? How come he gets to do everything?


This was a common complaint even in the lettercols of the era; that GL got to solve all the League's problems.  For my money that's less annoying than the frequency with which kryptonite appears.  Every story where Superman shows up, his contributions are negligible because every world-conqueror, criminal mastermind, bank robber and street punk around has kryptonite on hand to render him helpless.  Kryptonite rays, kryptonite liquid sprays, plain old kryptonite rocks, whatever.  I think it was the JLA (and on TV the Superfriends) that turned Kryptonite into such a tiresome and yawn-inducing part of the mythos, more than anything in Superman's own books.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2006, 07:23:09 PM »

Quote from: "Klar Ken T5477"
Wondy's Robot plane would win, Its a robot plane.


Can't argue with that!

Quote from: "Klar Ken T5477"
Bear in mind, the JLA was under the domain of Julie Schwartz IIRC who at time herding Flash, Gl, the SF books and didnt even get is hands on Batman til 1964 with the 'new look'. That would explain some of his unfamiliarity (and Fox's) with canonical Supes.


Julie Schwartz's stamp was all over this thing. For one thing, I think after reading this SHOWCASE, my IQ is fifteen points higher because of comments like this:

* EDITOR'S NOTE: A "bollide" is a bright meteor which explodes in the course of its flight through the atmosphere!

There's a sort of Encyclopedia Brown-esque vibe that springs from this thing, where heroes conquer villains thanks to obscure trivia. "Wait, there are only 28 days in February, THAT'S the date Xotar means to strike!"

What is especially interesting is that the DC cosmos shown in JUSTICE LEAGUE feels fundamentally very RATIONAL. That is, yes, magic occasionally shows up in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #11-12 with Felix Faust and the three magic imps, but those types of stories are considered rare and special BECAUSE they involve magic. Most of the time, you have things like Aquaman swimming to rescue the Pearl of a Rajah and ignoring the warnings it is cursed as "superstition!"

Quote from: "Nightwing"
I always dug Sekowsky on the JLA, at least before Sid Greene started inking him. If I had any complaint it's that his anatomy could be hit or miss. Sometimes those "heroic physiques" made the male Leaguers look like pickle barrels with garden hoses for "limbs."


It's funny, at first I was a little bothered by Sekowsky's style, then gradually the more of the collection I read and the more ugly people, aliens, and Easter Island headed giants, the more he won me over.

Then, there was a MYSTERY IN SPACE issue in the middle done by Carmine Infantino. Suddenly when the book went back to Sekowsky, he didn't seem as...impressive, and had to work his way back again.

There were some occasions of downright strange art, especially when applied to everyday objects. For instance, during the Amos Fortune issue a black cat crosses Wonder Woman's path. Now, I have no idea what that weird space creature Sekowsky drew is, but it's not anything like any cat I've seen.
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TELLE
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2006, 07:32:00 PM »

Dolphins are not fish!

I collected these old JLAs for awhile, when I was into the Perez JLA (climaxing in the giant issue 200) and still attached to the Superfriends, followed by a "scholarly" search for the origins of the cross-dimensional "Crisis" team-ups with the JSA.  I hated the art but grew to love it and the barrel-chested versions of my fave DC heroes.  Snapper Carr is hard to appreciate even ironically.  Most of the Silver Age "science heroes" --GL and Atom especially, generally leave me cold.  I never read GL's book though, and so never got into Hal Jordan's alter ego "problems" (Barry Allen and Clark Kent are still kings in that dept).

There was a great article about Mike Sekowsky's art in the last issue of Comic Art magazine.

Great analyses, Julian, especially on the Batman/Superman relationship.

The stories frustrated many because of the lack of character development --although Dinah and Ollie began there and the 70s under Conway et al added some depth.  Definitely Bronze Age Avengers or Defenders has more to offer.
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2006, 07:55:47 PM »

I remembe the early JLA stories giving me my only glimpse of characters I collected less often, particularly Aquaman, which I also think came out well defined in stories, Green Lantern, and the MM...I also agree that Superman was often sidelined to the point where I didn't even expect him to have a role...

Its funny how much I loved "Challenge of the Weapons Master" for that very reason of the heroes deducing the final conflict and the factoids thrown in...I even liked the odd coincidence of the smudged words in Wonder Woman's log being coincidentally the exact words of a convoluted sentence of "his 'unsuccessful attempt' to defeat the Justice League of America"...even as a kid, I thought these were very different stories, but I liked them.
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2006, 08:18:39 PM »

Quote from: "TELLE"
Dolphins are not fish!


Dolphins are aquatic mammals!

They can also do complex math problems :shock:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep05/marine.html

Fun Dolphin fact:

Bottle-nosed dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) have an absolute brain mass of 1500-1700 grams. This is slightly greater than that of humans (1300-1400 grams) and about four times that of chimpanzees (400 grams)
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2006, 09:09:11 PM »

I've been reading early issues of the Atom lately and if you want science 'facts' read any Schwartz edited book of that peiod esp stories by Gardner Fox and John Broome.
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