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June 21, 2024, 01:20:47 PM

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Author Topic: "Superman in the '60s", or How I Almost Didn't Become a Silver Age Supes Fan  (Read 2757 times)
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Supermen of America
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« on: June 20, 2023, 09:07:47 PM »

I've been meaning to write this for quite a while: In the early 2000s my (now late) oldest brother gave me, (along with my copies of "Secret Agent X-9: The Alex Raymond Collection" and "Batman from the '30s to the '70s", which he had borrowed 20 years before), the then-recently-published book named above. I was no longer a comic book fan, having lost this interest to Shakespeare, world history, and baseball analysis, but I did collect them in my early late teens and early twenties--my favorites then were Batman, an interest engendered by the TV show, and the LoSH, but I largely forgot about them after moving out of my parents' house.

Oddly, I had occasional, recurrent, vivid dreams of finding a store on Chapel Street in downtown New Haven (no, I'm not a Yalie) that sold old comics, probably based on a used bookstore I frequented on Whitney Avenue where I bought some when I was 21. As the years progressed, so did the dreams, moving from frustration at not being able to successfully purchase comics, to gradual, eventual, success. I also had a recurrent static dream of sneaking into someone's treehouse/clubhouse to find comic books and no one to bother me while I read them.

So, "Superman in the Sixties". I didn't like it.

This is not a fun book. The 2 longest stories are "The Last Days of Superman", in which (SPOILER WARNING, with lots more to follow) Superman suffers immensely from Kryptonite poisoning throughout while believing something called "Virus X" is killing him, and "Superman's Returns to Krypton", in which circumstances trap him on his original home planet right before it's due to explode and kill everyone he meets (his parents; actress Lyla Lerrol, with whom he conducts a necessarily doomed love affair). Fun stuff.

The opener, which is, logically enough, "The Story of Superman's Life", was OK, but the chaser, "The Last Days of Ma and Pa Kent", tells how Supes' beloved step-parents die of a tropical disease which frustrates all his efforts to save them--this is only the second story in and already we're knee-deep in tragedy.

Others include "Superman's Mission for President Kennedy", in which Supes encourages Americans to exercise more at the behest of JFK, whom artist Al Plastino depicts in the splash as a giant smiling-but-spectral figure of the then-freshly-murdered president, and "The Sweetheart that Superman Forgot", which chronicles another doomed relationship with a woman whom our hero meets while suffering from amnesia, said woman last seen weeping over his presumed death (it's a long story), while he bitterly regrets never having found Ms. Right. Oh, and don't forget "Superman's Super-Courtship", which details more romantic swings-and-a-miss with the misses, (in one case, a Missus), and "The Impossible Mission", wherein Superboy fails to save the life of Abraham Lincoln.

There are more uplifting Superman stories here: Edmond Hamilton's "The Showdown between Luthor and Superman", Leo Dorfman's "The Superman-Batman Revenge Squads", a few others, but a lot of these are just major downers, the kind a chronic depressive like me rarely read comics for--comics (says Bully) (it's a website) should be fun!

So, a few years later (2006), when I asked myself what I could buy at the newly opened local Borders Bookstore that would just give me joy, I realized it was comic books. Then I discovered that DC was reprinting most of their '60s stuff and I started collecting them: Showcase Presents JLA, Metamorpho, Green Lantern.
But not Superman. He was kind of a pill.

Six months later, while theretofore fruitlessly browsing, wondering what to get next, I decided to give in and give "Showcase Presents: Superman Volume 1" a try.
"Hey, these stories are fun!"
So I bought the second volume, and "Showcase Presents: Supreman Family", and "Superman in the Fifties" and "SP:Superman 3". And I realized that I was now a big fan and started looking for websites where I could discuss these with other fans (I was on the internet now) and discovered STTA, and here we are; gotta make dinner, no more time to talk, just wanted to get this done, before I did.
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