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Author Topic: Superman in the Silver Age  (Read 107452 times)
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India Ink
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« Reply #32 on: July 28, 2003, 07:02:36 PM »

Another boon from that 30th anniversary issue (Superman 207, 80 Page Giant G-48, June (July) 1968), was a Wayne Boring illustrated story called "The Captive of the Amazons" which originally appeared in the issue of Action immediately after the one that featured "The Superman from Outer Space," and also by Otto Binder with Stan Kaye inks--no. 266, July 1960.

This one is not to be confused with "The Super-Prisoner of Amazon Island," also pencilled by Boring, which Aldous can be found describing on page 10 of the old DCMB "Superman in the Seventies," originally from Action no. 235, December 1957. I haven't tracked down that story myself, although I understand it can be found in both Superman Annual no. 3 and Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane no. 104.  I hold out little hope of ever getting that Annual, unless DC releases it as a replica edition, but I'm optimistic that I might someday soon get a copy of LL 104.

Anyhow, on the old 70s thread, Aldous offered up "Super-Prisoner" as a fine example of Boring's talents for drawing glamorous and beautiful women.  Having never seen it I can't speak to that, but "Captive" seems to be yet another example of Boring's gifts for rendering lovely ladies.

The prime Amazon in this tale is Jena, lovely blonde Amazon Princess of the planet Adoria, resplendent in a green body suit which curiously has these sparkly gleamings as inked by Kaye bouncing off Jena's form.  But it's actually the glimpses of her Amazon attendants which most capture my fancy. Somewhat like Zamarons, these young ladies are outfitted in quasi-Roman armour chainmail vests, with curious helmets that seem like a cross between Roman Legion helmets and miner's hard hats, with wierd promontories on the top that seem to have no functional purpose.  The ladies have little abutments on their vests that cover their shoulders, but their arms are bare.  While the nearly knee-high metallic boots cover their otherwise bare legs--together with a frilly device upon their better parts which seems hardly to qualify as a skirt as it covers nothing and seems entirely see-through.  Even Jena's queenly mother, despite her advancing age and generous girth, does not demure from wearing this same outfit, but for the fact that the Legion helmet/miner's hardhat is replaced by a coronet.

Apparently these Amazons have no shame about their bodies because their bald, little men-folk are so lacking in aggression that the strong women have slight fear of inviting unwanted male attentions, and may happily expose their bodies in public without danger of molestation from any quarter.

Ah, but yes there is a story here I should give some passing reference to.  Well, Jena is a mysterious movie star on Earth who in actuality has been searching for her Ben Affleck--which happens to be Superman.  Unbenounced to the general public or Superman or the reader, Jena has manipulated circumstances so that Clark Kent will be cast in her new movie.  When they are on board the supposedly mock spaceship for this new movie production, Clark is taken captive, exposed to Green K, and transported to Adoria, where Jena intends to make the Man of Steel her sex slave--I mean--husband.

Threatening to blow up the Earth with a death-ray, Jena induces Superman to agree to be her consort (the sixth, her other five husbands having perished in battle with robots).  And to ensure his fidelity she offers him a drink laced with a magic love potion.  As he downs the cup of desirous liquid, Superman becomes an ardent suitor and actually is too demonstrative.  Clumsily wrecking the subway tube under the city as he retrieves a big diamond for his bride, breaking the king's crown and a priceless urn with the loud vibrations of his singing {"I'M SO WILD ABOUT JENA, I'M CHASIN' COMETS ALL THE TIME!!")

Apparently men do have some purpose on Adoria, and her father presides over the wedding. But at the banquet reception, the boorish Superman shows no table manners, acts a perfect glutton, and burps so loudly that the force of his belch sends the wedding guests careening across the room.

When the rebel robots (who occupy the hills surrounding the royal city) launch a raid, Superman pushes them back with little effort and then deposits them in the planet's main reservoir--poisoning the prime water-supply on this water deprived world.

Jena bitterly regrets her choice in a mate, and asks her father to "get me out of this nightmare."  And he does just that by declaring the marriage annulled and tearing up the license.

But Superman (who was pretending all the time to be in love and to be boorish--as the love potion had no effect on him) flies away from the Amazon world into space and then sends an ice planet into orbit around Adoria so that the Adorians will have plenty of fresh water raining down upon them for years to come.

After which, Jena returns the favour by revealing the location of her deathray so that he may destroy it.

*****

By the way, reading the review of "The Super-Prisoner of Amazon Island," on the old DCMB, I noticed that Aldous never quite got to the conclusion of this story, and now it's bothering me--just how did it all turn out in the end?

To refresh our memories here's the review by Aldous from that thread:

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Do you have the sexy story from Action #235 (1957)? "The Super-Prisoner of Amazon Island." Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye, artists.
This may be an example of what you're talking about. This story is another favourite of mine. The amazons in the story are all very leggy, shapely and sexy. Wayne gave Lois a nice figure (I guess), but still managed to make her homely and dull-looking (the short hair doesn't help).

I'll run through the story for anyone who's never seen it.

Lois and a group of women become marooned on an uncharted island. The girls manage to get the ship's radio working and send out an S.O.S. They are then startled by the appearance of a group of scantily-clad women - the leader introduces herself to Lois and the girls as Elsha, Queen of the Amazons.

Elsha boasts of a "land without men," and explains to Lois that the Amazons despise all men for being weaklings. She demonstrates her strength by throwing a spear clean through a tree trunk.

Superman arrives not long after, and Elsha is shocked by the Man of Steel's feats of super-strength. Of course, it doesn't take her long to decide that Superman is the catch of a lifetime and begins scheming to make him her husband. (Maybe Lois can sympathise with Elsha...)
The Amazons bring chains with which to enforce an Amazonian tribal law, that any man who trespasses on the island must become a slave. Superman is amused by this, but Lois warns him that the chains have a greenish glow. They're made from the metal of a Kryptonite meteor.

Superman is about to beat a hasty retreat when he realises the Kryptonite is having no effect on him. He decides to allow them to chain him while he tries to figure out what is preventing the Kryptonite from affecting him.
The Amazons hold an auction for the "super-slave". Lois outbids the Queen but Elsha tears up the Amazonian law and so invalidates the auction. But Superman is still not "free" because now the Queen presents another written law that basically means whichever woman can give Superman a task he is unable to perform must become his wife.

One by one he uses his wits (and super-powers) to perform the tasks. Of the marooned women, only Lois (accidentally) is able to come up with a task Superman cannot carry out. Lois does not want to force Superman to have her, so she comes up with what she thinks is the easiest of the tests - but her test is, in fact, the toughest. She asks Superman what is behind a large rock (a single flower), thinking he will just look through the rock with his x-ray vision. Superman accepts the task, but finds the rock is composed of lead ore, rendering his super-vision useless. The Man of Steel admits he "can't see a thing" behind the rock. Lois pulls out the flower, confirming there's "not a thing" behind the rock, thereby releasing Superman from the trap.

The Queen gives the final task to Superman. She orders him to make her a commoner, and Superman thinks, "How can I change her whole ancestry... or the royal blood in her veins?" Then he uses super-vision to read a tiny inscription on the Queen's crown: "Amazon Law: If crown is lost--or destroyed, the reigning queen loses her royalty."
He destroys the crown with heat vision, making Elsha a commoner. But now he is shocked to find the Kryptonite weakens him, and realises with horror that the Queen's crown contained some rare substance that neutralised the Kryptonite.



---
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India Ink
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« Reply #33 on: July 28, 2003, 07:09:34 PM »



[note: GCD credits this all to Neal Adams--which it might seem to be looking at this scan--but studying the cover on my copy I decided that Curt Swan must have had a hand in it, at least on the faces of some like Lois and Supergirl.]
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India Ink
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« Reply #34 on: July 28, 2003, 09:48:26 PM »

That cover looks like a real hodgepodge.

Yes, the basic figures do look like Adams. But the inks sure don't look like Adams... not even early Adams. The Perry, Luthor, Brainiac and maybe Jimmy faces sure do look as if they were "fixed"  by Swan. And the inking, especially on the villain bodies, is quite a bit more crude than Adams usaully would be. It looks more like Joe Giella, perhaps Jack Abel or even George Roussos to me.

And of course, almost all of the DC covers in the late Sixties were apparently drawn from loose sketches designed by Carmine Infantino, so you could credit him as designer.


<<Ah, but yes there is a story here I should give some passing reference to. Well, Jena is a mysterious movie star on Earth who in actuality has been searching for her Ben Affleck--which happens to be Superman. Unbenounced to the general public or Superman or the reader, Jena has manipulated circumstances so that Clark Kent will be cast in her new movie. When they are on board the supposedly mock spaceship for this new movie production, Clark is taken captive, exposed to Green K, and transported to Adoria, where Jena intends to make the Man of Steel her sex slave--I mean--husband. >>

It occurs to me that this story definitely inspired the post-reboot character of Maxima. In the original Stern /Perez Maxima story, I believe she even masqueraded as a fashion supermodel while seeking out Superman, to transport him back to planet Almerac and be her mate... whether he liked it or not. (Why oh why wouldn't he??)
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India Ink
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« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2003, 11:34:08 PM »

Actually I caught an error in my original post on this Giant--an error which I meant to delete from my draft, but forgot to, and so it ended up in the post when I knew better.  I could use the edit function to re-edit the whole thing, but instead I'll just explain that the actual cover date on the issue was a bit confusing.  Not July-Aug as I originally said, and not really June (July) as I stated in the second Jena-related post.  Really it was July inside a box on the cover (which would usually indicate June-July--not July-August as I originally guessed), but on the indicia the date is given as simply June.  Which would make this really a 30th anniversary issue exactly (and not off in dates as I suggested earlier).  However I think the 30th anniversary celebration was arrived at later as a theme for the Giant--as the Giant doesn't seem to celebrate that so much as another theme of confused identities and twisty endings.  The thing is I remember reading this comic when the PNE was on (think I bought it at Kootenay Loop after we'd been to the PNE) and the PNE (the local fair) has always been on in the last two weeks of August, ending on Labor Day--which would mean my copy had been in the spinner rack for a good three months before I bought it.
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India Ink
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« Reply #36 on: October 01, 2003, 10:17:51 AM »

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Posted: Thu 21-Aug-2003 2:42 am Post subject: Re: "The SHOWDOWN Between LUTHOR and SUPERMAN!"

India Ink:

I'm eager with anticipation as to what Aldous thought of this story. Hopefully after all my build-up it wasn't a letdown.


Far from it, my friend. I loved it. It’s one of the best Superman-Luthor stories; of that there is no doubt.

The cover always intrigued me, with me being a lifelong aficionado of the old time bareknuckle boxing and the manly art in general. Many would disagree, but there’s something primal, honest and honorable about two willing men stripping to the waist and battling it out with their fists...

It’s odd, in a way, to see the supreme inventor and intellectual, Luthor, and the most gentle and peace-loving of all the super heroes, Superman, engaging in fisticuffs.

Edmond Hamilton has reduced them to the most elemental of battles.

This comic is great!

I think the first few pages are the most interesting, and, as in most good novels, the main character (Luthor, not Superman) is a changed man by the end.

On the first page Luthor’s thoughts reveal that he thinks Superman is always on his case because Superman is jealous of Luthor’s scientific genius. Once Luthor breaks out of jail, he cuts in on the broadcast of a TV Western, in which two men are about to have it out with their fists, to dare Superman to meet him in a fair fight without his super powers. (Is it fair that Lex is allowed to use his fantastic intellect?) In case we missed the point, Luthor later runs a clip of two heavyweight boxers during a bout. Superman’s supporters think it’s silly, but Superman is too honorable to let the challenge slide. He thinks his supporters will lose faith in him if he declines Luthor’s challenge! This says a lot about Superman’s ingenuousness and Luthor’s cunning. It’s amazing how easily the Man of Steel can be manipulated.

There’s a curious moment on page 5 when Superman thinks:

“I super-compressed my Clark Kent clothes and hid them in the pouch of my cape when I went back into the ship for the shoes!”

This is puzzling, for surely the Clark Kent clothes were already in the pouch of the cape.

I love the spattering of fight-language throughout this story. We have phrases such as “showdown battle”, “man-to-man”, “have it out with him”, “self-defense”, “black eye”, “combat”, and “only the first round”. There is a wonderfully gritty theme to this adventure, and it ain’t hard to spot!

The other outstanding thing for me in this great story was the subtle change in Luthor as the story progressed. Starting out as his usual cunning, manipulative self, he wanted to help the people of the desert planet only so they would co-operate with him in his hunt for Superman. But by story’s end he had genuinely taken their welfare to heart, and seemed to have disadvantaged himself to help them.

One scene that I also liked, and which reinforced the strength of character of Superman, was when he took some water for his own use from the water-carrying beasts. “I won’t take too much from them,” he thinks, “just enough to keep me going until I can find more...” You know, the Man of Steel’s own life is in danger, yet he won’t endanger the lives of these creatures to save himself. His compassion, innocent kindness and strength of character are, as demonstrated again in this tale, the attributes that set him apart as the greatest of the super heroes, and not his super powers.

India, that cover was always build-up enough, and I wasn’t disappointed. I was very glad to finally have the opportunity to read this great and curious adventure!
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« Reply #37 on: October 01, 2003, 08:28:33 PM »

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There’s a curious moment on page 5 when Superman thinks:

“I super-compressed my Clark Kent clothes and hid them in the pouch of my cape when I went back into the ship for the shoes!”

This is puzzling, for surely the Clark Kent clothes were already in the pouch of the cape.



Not to mention the old question; what happened to the glasses?  Trust me, I've learned from bitter experience that eyeglasses don't fold or compress.  Or to be more precise, they aren't much good after they do!

Quote
The other outstanding thing for me in this great story was the subtle change in Luthor as the story progressed. Starting out as his usual cunning, manipulative self, he wanted to help the people of the desert planet only so they would co-operate with him in his hunt for Superman. But by story’s end he had genuinely taken their welfare to heart, and seemed to have disadvantaged himself to help them.


Of course this just validates Superman's belief that somewhere deep down Luthor really is a decent man.  A wonderful subplot of the old mythos was that the Lex-Supes rivalry had two sides: there was Lex's hatred, yes, but on the other side there was Superman's guilt -- justified or not -- over having robbed the world of a great genius.  Superman believed that if not for Luthor's obsession with revenge, he might have contributed great things to the world.  I always thought he saw it as one of his life's challenges to balance that account by reforming Luthor someday.  And from time to time, as here, we got little hints that he just might pull it off.

In a larger sense, this kind of optimism is what draws me to Superman when other characters lose my interest.  Batman, depending on how you write him, can be about survivor's guilt, revenge or a crusade, but in any event he's tilting at windmills...crimes may be foiled, but crime itself will endure. Other heroes...like all of Marvel, for instance...operate in a world where things just get worse and worse and the temptation is powerful for heroes to adopt the methods of the villains.  But in the world of the pre-Crisis Superman, the good guys won more than they lost, virtue was rewarded and vice punished, and in the end even the biggest villain around was capable of redemption.  You can't get a much more upbeat mythos than that.

Does this make Superman more childish, unsophisticated and "unrealistic" than other heroes?  Maybe so, maybe no.  I generally find that attitudes about the world can be like self-fulfilling prophecies...if you look for the bad in the world, you will definitely find it, but if you look for the good, you'll find that, too.  Superman is the original icon for the power of positive thinking.  He sees the best in people, and it's contagious.  We all knew that one day, even Lex would come around.

Too bad we'll never live to see it now.  Sad
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India Ink
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« Reply #38 on: October 02, 2003, 07:42:54 PM »

Good to see Aldous on this board after all this time.  I began to despair we'd ever see his name here again.

What does Superman do with his shoes and glasses.  This is like Tarzan being able to spell "Tarzan" in the first novel (for certain reasons owing to his self-education he shouldn't be able to) or Cinderella's slipper remaining glass after everything has turned back to its original state after midnight.
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India Ink
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« Reply #39 on: October 05, 2003, 12:37:55 AM »

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India Ink:

Good to see Aldous on this board after all this time. I began to despair we'd ever see his name here again.


Thanks, India. That's nice to know.

My feelings on the shoes-and-glasses issue are related, I guess, to my post from about three months ago, Superman was pretty dumb to live in Metropolis. The Superman of this era was so fast, he had absolutely no need to carry his Clark Kent clothing around with him. He could have stored those clothes at anyplace on Earth and retrieved them at any time in less than half-a-second. He's so fast (faster than light) he could have stashed the clothing down a crater on the moon and still collected them and been back at the Planet newsdesk dressed as Clark Kent in less time that it takes someone to spill their coffee.
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