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Author Topic: In defense of Terra-Man  (Read 4624 times)
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Council of Wisdom
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« on: January 03, 2007, 11:41:24 AM »

Like any other character, Terra-Man has had some stinker stories, to be sure, Kupperberg really fumbled the ball with SUPERMAN #377 (1982) which had Terra-Man team up with an alternate magical version of himself. Whenever a super-writer resorts to a magic-using villain, it's usually a sign of writer laziness and boredom: witness Denny O'Neil's creation of Pompeii wizard Moximus (shockingly, never seen again).

But overall, i'd say I like Terra-Man. He represents a very specific "type" of seventies space opera villain, who's had some good stories, especially under his creator, Cary Bates.

Terra-Man has some pretty cool gadgets. The homing explosive bullets, laser lasso, mind control machines, the flying horse that he used to fly in space in a very Joseph Campbell-esque piece of imagery...Terra-Man had access to extraordinary gadgetry.

Because Terra-Man is an "honorable" villain, he never uses Superman's weaknesses against him, which means that any story with him isn't going to fall into the repetitive trap of Kryptonite use or other hoary, tired gimmicks like a red sun filter and so forth.

Terra-Man has a definite "gimmick" as a villain, almost at the level of the Batman foes with their obsessions: his is the Old West. He has a clear, concise reason for wanting to battle Superman: he's the century's #1 lawman. I've never entirely understood for instance, why some bad guys are in the orbit of Superman.

Finally, because Terra-Man is fundamentally mortal and not an overwhelming, insane villain like Mongul or someone as grandiose as Lex Luthor or Brainiac, he works very well as the "Superman" enemy in team-ups, which precisely how he is used: he can fight Superman, but the nature of his abilities are such that he wouldn't overwhelm, say, Black Canary. There was WORLD'S FINEST #261 by Denny O'Neil that features Terra-Man and the Penguin teaming up against Superman and Batman, and then there was that issue of DC COMICS PRESENTS with Superman and the Blue Devil that Terra-Man crashed.

"Wait, a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
       - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
Sword of Superman
Superman Family
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Posts: 114

« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2007, 06:48:15 PM »

Sorry Julian but the original Terra-Man have a way too much lame-look for taking him seriously..
« Last Edit: January 03, 2007, 07:38:14 PM by Sword of Superman » Logged

"Since we didn't want to use our science on your world, Shayera and I decided we would fight Earth-crime with Earth-weapons. She always found it amusing that I felt so comfortable with them" - Katar Hol
Uncle Mxy
Superman Squad
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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2007, 10:36:44 PM »

I'm confused -- is there a War on Terra?
Superman Squad
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2007, 04:53:56 AM »

....who's had some good stories, especially under his creator, Cary Bates

I agree. In fact, one of my favourite Superman comics has always been "Super-Showdown at Buzzard Gulch" (1974).

It's a very good example of an outrageously illogical Cary Bates story, but at the same time he has been clever and inventive. It's very entertaining, and has wonderful art. Putting Superman into a whole new environment, yet still with his usual co-stars (their personalities intact), was a great idea. I think it's one of his best stories.

Nostalgia may be talking here, as I was given the comic as a very young kid, but it still holds up today whenever I re-read it.

I once wrote a synopsis/review of that comic, probably on the "Superman in the 70s" thread that bit the dust when we changed over to the new forum recently. But I think I still have the text copied somewhere.

In reality, Terra-Man would keep Superman occupied for all of two seconds (let's be honest), but the "Super-Showdown" story showed what a writer with a good imagination could do with a potentially lame villain. Well done, Mr Bates.
Superman Squad
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2007, 07:33:03 AM »

Is "Super-Showdown" the story in which Terra-Man kidnaps Clark, Lois, Jimmy, Steve Lombard, Perry White et al., and hypnotises them into thinking that they live in the old West? I really like that one: Lombard as a cowboy picking a fight in a saloon while showgirl Lola Barnett looks on, what's not to like?

It makes sense for Superman to have a Western-themed foe, or at any rate a Western character in his entourage; he's such a bit of Americana himself that he easily lends himself to the genre. When you see a cover depicting Superman wearing a gunbelt, you know you want to read it. Generally speaking, actually, superhero and Western comics tend to marry quite well, because they follow the same ethos: lone man comes into town and cleans up the bad guys single-handed. All that changes are the trappings.

I also rather like the eco-terrorist version of the post-revamp, though the Western motif got slightly muted. I didn't know that they'd also made another version of the character recently; I became aware of him just in time to see him get killed by Black Adam.

Between the revolution and the firing-squad, there is always time for a glass of champagne.
Super Monkey
League of Supermen
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2007, 12:07:14 PM »

He is ok I suppose, but for me he is also up there with Toyman and The Prankster as far as dorky levels are concern.


"I loved Super-Monkey; always wanted to do something with him but it never happened."
- Elliot S! Maggin
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