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Author Topic: Superman in the Silver Age  (Read 110163 times)
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Rugal 3:16
Last Son of Krypton
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« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2003, 02:49:18 AM »

Apparently, I thinl DC thought Marvel would be another EC (Bill Gaines' comic shop), but what they didn't account for is that marvel lasted and remained on top for 8 years until 1970.

All i can respect about Stan Lee is that he writes most of his titles for numerous years, unlike the divided works in the weisinger era. But otherwise his contributions IMO are naught compared to Siegel and Shuster.

Otenami Haiken to iko ka
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« Reply #25 on: June 19, 2003, 08:24:54 PM »

Quote from: "Rugal 3:16"
All i can respect about Stan Lee is that he writes most of his titles for numerous years, unlike the divided works in the weisinger era. But otherwise his contributions IMO are naught compared to Siegel and Shuster.

I agree that Siegel and Shuster had a more lasting impact on comics than Stan Lee but considering this is a Superman website and forum that should come as no great surprise but the shame of it is that the general view that people have would be that they actually recognize Stan Lee for his impact on comics.  Hopefully between the success of the Smallville Television show, the Superman Movie in developement and the character appearing in Justice League on the Cartoon Network that the media will give Siegel and Shuster their spotlight in the sun and make the general public aware of their impact.

"Look Up In The Sky ..."
Klar Ken T5477
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Metropolis Prime, NYC, NY USA

« Reply #26 on: June 19, 2003, 11:50:16 PM »

When I first saw Marvels in their infancy I thought they were crap - cheap paper, hideously drawn characters and thought the Thing looked like a walking pile of mons-turd.  

I had been termendously spoiled by the Wesinger era at DC and bear in mind this was 61-62 (I was like 6).  I later picked up an issue of Spider-man thinking it was a re-boot of The Spider from the pulps that had been featured in a warren publication, Screen Thrills Illustrated.  I disliked immensely Ditko's artwork thinking it was populated by some strange ethnic group of wierd-os.

Later when the Marvel cartoons first premiered on TV with the ultra limited animation that was basically cut out panels with music - mostly by Kirby, I was intrigued. It wasnt until 67-68 that the Kirby FF was at their height did I make mine marvel but only for the Kirby/Steranko
material.  But while reading the marvels, I always felt like I was slumming
over at Brand I. (I for "ego" as they used to say in LOCs back in the day)

And nothing made my day more than when Kirby came to DC and was doing JO and the Fourth World saga.  His Olsens were worth the price of admission and I was not at all displeased to see an Anderson or Plastino head pasted on bridging a precraious continuity from Marvelizing beloved
DC characters.  But oh - those 4 armed terrors! :shock:

By the time, Kirby had left DC I was at art school and drawing myself and not paying attention.

But after all this time, the comics I want to buy and reread are the Wesinger era DCs- pure escapist entertainment wheras the Marvel's, particularly the FF are well done but with all the fighting and epic battles, they just give me eyestrain and a headache.

Of course, what has survived thruout the years...most of the Marvels
because if one wanted to still be a heroic cartoonist then one studied Kirby and not Swan...ha!  Im spending a small fortune just to get readable comics and I will accept them in the worst condition possible as long as the pages arent brittle just so I can escape all the tumult and angst of modern day life and the harrowing adventures of being an indie
filmmaker to settle down with "Jimmy Olsen's Monster Movie".

Ya dont get the ads and LOCs in the archive editions and Id rather READ my comics then collect. Cheesy
Superman Squad
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« Reply #27 on: June 21, 2003, 04:01:51 AM »

I want to pick up on something touched on in another thread.

"The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel," the first John Jones: Manhunter from Mars story, is considered by some to be the first Silver Age super hero comic. The only other contender is Showcase No. 4 featuring the first adventure of Barry-Flash-Allen.

I've owned the first three John Jones adventures since I was a small kid, but I don't know much about his evolution from that point on. It's obvious he eventually turned into a Superman clone. (Yawn.) But he wasn't always like that.

In 1992 DC issued some facsimile editions of important Silver Age classics. I seem to have four of them (I don't know how many there were): Green Lantern No. 76, Action Comics No. 252, Showcase No. 4, and Detective Comics No. 225.

(Hey... One thing I re-learned from reading the notes at the back of the Flash comic... The first Silver Age Flash story was written by the great Robert Kanigher!)

Mark Waid has an interesting article at the back of the Detective comic. He talks about the enduring heroes being products of their time, John Jones' time being the age of prosperity, paranoia, McCarthy, SF movies like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", and a keep-watching-the-skies mentality.

Waid gives Schiff credit for picking up on the mindset of a generation and creating a new science fiction series that "used the element of paranoia to terrific effect". He rightly points out that John Jones, who "was forced by his otherworldly appearance to work in secret, performing his deeds invisibly rather than risk exposing himself to a distrusting world", shared few similarities with Superman.

John Jones was unique. Was he a "super hero"? I'm not sure. I think so. If he wasn't, he can't lay claim to being the first Silver Age super hero. But, as I said, I only have his earliest three or four adventures. For me, he was a really cool science fiction character, sort of a Bogey-type detective with secret powers.

There's not much to suggest John Jones was Golden Age, even though he appears in what is obviously still a Golden Age Batman comic book. Not with those Silver Age -- or, more correctly, Weisinger-era -- angles of science fiction and tragedy.

So... his first appearance credits (from the '92 facsimile edition):
EDITOR: Jack Schiff
WRITER: Joe Samachson
ARTIST: Joe Certa

There is one curiosity... In my ancient Australian reprint of the original John Jones appearance, the splash panel very clearly displays this credit:


But in the DC replica edition, which boasts, "...comics as they were originally presented", the artist credit has been removed! I can't think of a reason why.
Continental Op
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« Reply #28 on: June 21, 2003, 03:09:33 PM »

It's worth pointing out that Krypto, who everyone ALWAYS calls a "Silver Age" character and NEVER  a "Golden Age" character, actually preceded BOTH J'onn J'onzz and the second Flash. But the poor dog never gets the credit for starting the Silver Age.

I know that some people would object to using the concept of comics "ages" at all, saying that comics are comics. But I think the Krypto/J'onn/Flash example shows that you can't really point to one specific issue of one title as truly ushering in a new "Age" of comics. That's just something speculators do to raise prices. An "Age" to me is defined more by the general tone and subject matter and story/art trends in comics at a particular time.

If you want to confuse yourself, read some of the science-fiction and Justice Society stories edited by Julius Schwartz around 1950, and then read some of the science-fiction and Justice LEAGUE stories he edited around 1960. THey are supposedly separate "Ages" but do they really seem that different? Superman stories in 1957 and in 1967 were both part of the "Weisinger Era" or "Silver Age" but they are very different. (The general consensus seems to be that Superman's S.A. mythos really started cooking in 1960 and that newer writers circa 1966 changed the tone again.)

Personally, I think that comics in general have a different "feel" every 3-5 years no matter what. You can't always pinpoint it but they just do. Of course, that probably has as much to do with me changing as a reader as it does with the comics, but I think comics do settle into a particular "groove" for a few years and then the market starts to shift its tastes.
Continental Op
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« Reply #29 on: June 21, 2003, 03:20:43 PM »

Aldous-- in the 70s, DC often added artist credits to the splash pages of reprinted stories when the artist (or sometimes writer) was known. There were no credits given at DC in the Fifties (or pretty much anywhere in comics). The best an artist could usually hope for was signing his name in the splash somewhere, and hope the editor wouldn't remove it. Some creators like Simon and Kirby or Bob Kane had the clout to add their names to the splash in the 40s, but that tradition was mostly gone by then.

It was Stan Lee in the mid-60s at Marvel who really began the idea of using credit boxes. DC was slow to follow, although the editors at DC would sometimes mention the name of the writer or artist in the letter columns. DC didn't really start listing writers or artists as a general rule until the late 60s, and the letterers and colorists didn't get listed at all until about 1978.

So that uncredited splash really was "as originally presented". (Although I'm sure the story was recolored and retouched even then. Even the best "reprints" of old stories, like DC's Archive series, are usually more reproductions than reprints.)
Superman Squad
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« Reply #30 on: June 21, 2003, 11:24:42 PM »

C-Op, you are quite right about "trend", "feel" and "groove", but the beginning of the Silver Age seems more significant than that. Even if you don't put a name to it, even if you don't call it a new "Age", something big started to happen.

Super hero comics as an industry were pretty much in the doldrums, in the truest sense of the word.

It may be cheeky to call John Jones the first comic of the "revival", but there's no doubt that when Showcase No. 4 hit the stands, something new and fresh and clever had happened to super hero comics. Then along came Broome's Green Lantern.

I have no problem seeing the creative and popular heights of the first great era of super heroes as a "Golden Age". Then super heroes seemed to have had their heyday, and, in fact, looked to be going the way of the dinosaur.

Then they rose again. The dawning of a new "Age"? I think so!
India Ink
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« Reply #31 on: July 28, 2003, 06:49:15 PM »

For Superman's 30th birthday celebration, Curt Swan and Neal Adams whipped up a big cake (decorated with these frosted details: "1938-1968; CLASSIC TALES featuring SUPERMAN'S FRIENDS and FOES!).  Superman--not one for fancy table manners--decided to get up ontop of the cake, stand right on top of it with a big "30th Anniversary Issue" on his burly shoulders (I don't care if he is Superman, I'm not eating that cake after he's gone and stepped in it).

Whoever organized the party--nevermind that it was a bit late with the cover date being July-August 1968 (surely the proper date would have been June 1968, and in Action Comics not Superman)--I hear it was E. Nelson Bridwell who sent out the invitations--whoever it was who organized it was good enough to invite his friends and family (Perry White, blowing cigar smoke everywhere, for sure I'm not going to eat that cake now, Lois Lane, broke out her best fishnets for the occasion, gentlemanly of Swan to give her some drop shadow or else you could look right up her dress, Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen, good thing Supergirl is invulnerable because when Olsen is excited his hands are flying everywhere, hit her right in the face, and broke his fingers, his fingers are stuck like that now, such an accident-prone kid), but whoever organized the party was stupid enough to invite his top three foes (Mxyzptlk, Brainiac, and Luthor--Supergirl made sure to break their thumbs as they came in the room, and they were still grimacing in horrible pain when Adams snapped the cover photograph).

Enough with the bad comedic quips--what Classic Tales did Bridwell arrange for this special anniversary celebration? Here's the Table of Contents run-down (from the inside front cover);

80pg. Giant SUPERMAN Featuring Prize Stories from the SUPERMAN LIBRARY!

THE SUPERMAN FROM OUTER SPACE.....................1
From another world comes Hyper-Man, to ask his exact double,
Superman, to help him preserve his secret identity! So why does
the Man of Might deliberately EXPOSE H-Man's alter ego,

THE TRIO OF STEEL................................................15
Superman, Superboy and Superbaby existing at the same time
...when they're all one person at different ages?  That's only one
of the impossible things that happen before this wild tale comes
to its kookie conclusion!

THE CAPTIVE OF THE AMAZONS.............................24
Jena, an Amazon princess from another planet, decides to make
Clark (Superman) Kent her husband!  And what Jena wants Jena
gets . . . even if it takes kidnapping, blackmail and a wierd love

SUPERMAN'S NEW UNIFORM..................................38
What does the Man of Steel do when his super-costume loses
its indestructibility? He gets hold of a new, improved outfit! But
one of the "improvements" turns out to be a fiendish death-trap!

THE SUPER-FAMILY OF STEEL................................51
Here it is . . . a genuine super-wedding!  The bride is a beauti-
ful brunette . . . the groom a gallant gladiator in red-and-blue!
Come along . . . you're invited to the festivities!

THE BRIDE GETS SUPER-POWERS.........................59
What's more trouble than twins? Super-twins . . . to a non-super
mother!  So the Husband of Steel comes to the rescue and en-
dows his wife with all his powers!

THE SECRET OF THE SUPER-FAMILY......................70
We won't tell you a thing about this chapter! Sharpen your wits
and see if you can guess the surprise ending!


30TH ANNIVERSARY SUPERMAN QUIZ....................14


I enthused enough about the wonderful "Super-Family of Steel" on the old DCMBs.  Suffice to say I love this "Lois Lane" story written by Edmond Hamilton and illustrated by the inimitable Kurt Schaffenberger.  But that wasn't the only treasure to be found in this Giant.

I'm surprised to find that "The Superman From Outer Space" is just 13 pages long.  Having now read it yet again I still find myself thinking it must be 24 pages.  Without question this story has influenced Alan Moore in many of his stories--most obviously in the concept of Terra Obscura (from Tom Strong), as well as in his Supreme stories.  And it probably served as an inspiration for the first Vartox story by Cary Bates, as it proposes the old parallel world concept--but a world not in a parallel dimension or universe, but simply a world given astronomical chances that happens to develop in another part of the universe along remarkably similar lines as Earth.

"One day in Metropolis"--begins the story, as with so many other Superman stories--finds Lois and Clark interviewing a reknowned scientist who has created a robot that is uncannily similar to himself--and a "robot detector" that allows Lois to distinguish the difference.  Lois pockets the detector and intends to use it on Clark when he joins her for lunch--as she knows that Superman will be at a hospital function at the same time.  From the hospital, the Man of Might uses his X-Ray vision to activate his Clark Kent robot (in the secret closet of his apartment) to take his place at lunch.

This story intriguingly uses several scenes of X-Ray/telescopic vision shots.  Four alone on the third page, where this whole Clark Kent robot scenario unfolds via Superman's vision powers.  The thing that bugged me about those scenes back in 1968 and still bugs me today is that we also see thought balloons for the people that Superman is peeping in on.  Comic books have their own internal logic, and for me this breaks one of the rules of that logic.  While it's possible to take a lot of liberties with visual depictions--and these X-Ray shots are a good example of that--there are rules that accompany such artistic license--such as not showing things that Superman himself can't witness.  He can "see" dialogue because he can read lips, but he can't hear thoughts.

But enough aesthetic theory--on with the story...

  Before the robot can report for lunch and be found out by Lois, a gaudy costumed figure smashes the robot's head (we see "Clark's" head blown apart, glasses flying) and this same person dresses in Clark Kent's duds and takes his place at lunch with Lois.

"Later at the Daily Planet office..."  Superman flies in the window and escorts "Clark" back out the window in front of Lois.  On a mountain top, Superman confronts the impostor, now divested of Clark Kent's suit of clothes and standing in his super outfit (this guy must be colour blind as he matches a basic fuchsia costume with orange cape, yellow "H" on green chest emblem, yellow belt, green trunks, and yellow boots).

Turns out this guy is "Hyper-Man" and he's been using his telescopic vision to spy on Superman for years.  Back home on Oceania, his adopted planet, Lydia Long (Girl TV Reporter) is convinced "Chester King" is in reality Hyper-Man, and now H-Man hopes to recruit Superman to save his secret identity the way he just saved the Man of Tomorrow's.

Hyper-Man was born on the planet Zoron, under a red sun, and when that planet blew up his scientist father managed to send him away in a rocket ship at the last possible moment...

"Landing on a smaller planet which had a yellow sun, I gained super-powers! I was found and adopted by Dad and Mom King in a small town!  I assumed a secret identity as Chester King, their son, and began a crime-fighting career as Hyper-Boy!

"After my foster parents died, I took a job in Macropolis as a roving television reporter for the Oceania Network!"

Superman remarks, "Your history is a repetition of mine, Hyper-Man!"  But he's not so surprised as Hyper-Man by the similarity, for as he explains as he feeds data cards into his Super-Univac computer, inside the Fortress of Solitude: "Each of the 100 million galaxies in the universe contains more than 200 billion stars!  Out of their trillions of planets, by sheer chance alone, it follows that at least one world would be a close duplicate of Earth!

Like Superman, Hyper-Man is susceptible to the radiations of a surviving chunk of his homeworld, called Zoronite, a yellow piece of space rock.

After Superman privately consults his Super-Univac computer, the two Men of Steel leave our Earth and apparently arrive on Oceania in no time.  There they visit H-Man's underwater "Fortress of Secrecy" where Oceania's champion takes Superman on a tour.  A diagram compares Oceania culture with Earth--curled point toe shoes vs. rounded straight toe shoes, three wheeled cars vs. four wheeled cars, odd shaped coins and bills vs round coins and rectangular bills.  Hyper-Man also shows Superman a replica of Zoronite (here un-coloured white) and a mysterious blue meteorite he's been analyzing.

Superman asks why Hyper-Man doesn't use a robot to fool Lydia Long.  The Last Son of Zoron has been experimenting with robots but an element in Oceania's atmosphere, Zillium, "short-circuits any delicate electronic brain." [Note: this may have provided the idea used a couple years later--after this story's Giant reprint--in World's Finest 202 where Superman has to junk his robots because of environmental pollutants in the atmosphere that play havoc with their programming.]  Likewise, Hyper-Man hasn't developed a Super-Univac type computer with its predictive and analytic capabilities.

As a demonstration, when Hyper-Man asks Robot # 3 what's two plus two, the stiff automaton (shown in the panel trying to fit a round peg in a square hole) responds: "Uh duhhh...2 plus 2?...That's hard, Master! Uh duhhh...I know...five!"

Superman tells his doppelganger that he'll see what he can do about shielding the robots against the effects of Zillium, but when the Zoronian Champion flies out of the Fortress of Secrecy, Superman's private thoughts reveal that he intends to expose Chester King as in reality Hyper-Man!

At the O.N. office, Lydia (a Lois Lane double) is harassing Clark Kent-like Chester King (more proof that Hyper-Man was colour-blind, as Chet wears a black and red striped tie with an orange suit), when "Hyper-Man" flies in the window.  Lydia is just about to retract her accusations when the robot cracks apart in front of her--convincing the Girl TV Reporter all the more that King is the Man of Bronze.

Later, as it's July Fifth, independence day in the O.S.A. nation, there's to be festivities which both King and Long are supposed to attend.

You have to wonder if the Oceanians had any sense at all.  To celebrate the independence of the O.S.A., they ascend in a long tube to a large satellite which is then rocketed into orbit, from which they witness their hero, Hyper-Man, igniting an enormous nuclear cloud of ATOMIC firecrackers fired into space right before them.  After this display of stupidity, they then mildly watch as the Man of the Future carries an over-sized radioactive flag pole and flag, luminous with the light of the atomic reactor that sits at the top of the flagplole.

On this July Fifth, it's actually Superman in the gaudy garb of Hyper-Man.  And he uses this opportunity to deflect a yellow Zoronite meteor toward the satellite observation window.  The window is meteor-proof (so the Zoronite simply bounces off of it), but apparently not radiation proof (which begs the question--why did the Oceanians willingly expose themselves to atomic radiation for the sake of some fireworks and a flag display?) as Chester King gasps in pain from his exposure to the Zoronite radiation.

Now Chester King has to give it up.  He's been found out as Hyper-Man, there's no use pretending to Lydia or the rest of the crowd on the satellite, and he introduces Superman as the Hyper-Man-pretender.  However when the real Hyper-Man tries to use his powers again he finds that his extraordinary abilities have left him and he's just like any other ordinary Oceanian.

Among the gathered spectators is a scientist who offers the theory that the radiations of the atomic fireworks combined with the radiations of the Zoronite meteor to permanently rob the Macropolis Marvel of his amazing powers.

As it seems that Superman unwittingly neutered their champion, he's now persona non grata on Oceania and takes his leave, returning to Earth.

A year later, Supergirl finds her cousin in their Fortress of Solitude using his super-vision to watch Oceania.  Together they sit and lip-read the far distant scene.

Turns out Superman knew (thanks to his Super-Univac) that that blue meteor was really some kind of red Kryptonite equivalent, which in this case had the ability to slowly kill Hyper-Man.  Losing his super-powers was just the first stage in the progressive radiations that would eventually lead to the Zoronian's demise.

Superman decided that it was best to keep the truth from Hyper-Man, but also decided to make it seem that Chester had lost his powers by accident, so that he and Lydia would finally be free to admit their true love for each other and live in wedded bliss for the remaining time that the Active Ace had left.

Together, the Kryptonian cousins witness the sombre scene between Mr. and Mrs. King.  Chester (as I'll call him, since that's who he truly is now, even wearing glasses which would now seem to be necessary rather than a mere disguise), Chester tells his wife that "Last week at my Fortress I checked that blue meteor and found out that its rays had been poisoning me all along!  That's what took my powers away a year ago! It wasn't Superman's fault!"

As King gasps his last goodbye to the lovely Lydia, Supergirl sheds a tear and exclaims,  "What a heart of gold you have, Superman!  You gave them a priceless gift even you have never had--a happy year of marriage!"


"The Superman From Outer Space" originally appeared in Action Comics 265, June 1960.
story:Otto Binder  art: Curt Swan and Stan Kaye

India Ink
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