Posts tagged superman
Well, the time has come for a change. After a couple of years of telling Secret Origins off and on. I’ve decided to expand the scope of the column, hence the name change. If you’re familiar with comics at all, using The Brave and the Bold as a title usually equates to team-up stories. This is true, but potentially any retro-comic can be reviewed here, even if the initial focus is going to be team-ups. For the inaugural column, I decided to use the World’s Finest team of Superman and Batman… and Robin. So travel back in time with us to 1956, and then even further back to the 17th century with The Three Super-Musketeers!
The story begins innocently enough, at the Gotham City Historians’ Convention. There, Dr. Carter Nichols announces his intent to solve the riddle regarding the identity of the Man in the Iron Mask! For some reason, Clark Kent of the Daily Planet is there to cover the convention. Knowing of Nichols reputation and previous work with Batman and Robin, he decides to pay the Dynamic Duo a visit. After a quick exchange of pleasantries we find that Nichols actually plans to send Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson back in time using a combination of his miraculous time-ray. You laugh, but it’s better than his original method using hypnosis…
Before you can say “Holy convenient plot device, Batman!” The trio find themselves in 17th century France near the prison of Pignerol. I kind of admire this story in two conflicting ways. It gets a lot of facts right, but it also isn’t afraid to eschew them in favor of a fun story. Speaking of, barely after they get their bearings, the World’s Finest team comes across D’artagnan and the other Three Musketeers (but not before they switch to their costumes. It may be 16-something or other, but you’ve got to protect your secret identity). This meeting turns out to be most fortuitous, seeing as the musketeers are severely injured from their latest scuffle with the villainous Bourdet. Batman, ever the tactical mind, has a cunning plan. He has the musketeers disrobe and suddenly the titanic trio are stand-ins for Athos, Porthos, and Aramis! Just in time too, as they are beset by Bourdet’s men. Thankfully, these aren’t ordinary musketeers being faced!
Because OF COURSE Batman is an expert fencer!
Not to be outdone, Superman welds the two disarmed swords with his own using heat vision to route the rest of the brigands. In the aftermath, our heroes find out that the musketeers were actually trying to rescue the Man in the Iron Mask when they were injured. Not leaving anything to chance, Batman asks straight out who the Man is. According to D’artagnan, it’s none other than Count Ferney! Batman, throwing causality to the wind offers to help D’artagnan prove his claim, after the real musketeers are given refuge.
In the meantime, we meet Bourdet, who does not believe the Super-Musketeers could possibly have done what his men say. He is about to find out though, as our band of buck-swashlers arrive at the castle. Superman takes point, and it’s a good thing, because…
Too bad Kryptonite didn’t exist in the 17th century!
Naturally, Superman tears through the iron as if it were paper. That doesn’t stop Bourdet’s men though, bless ‘em! Having no idea what they’re up against, they charge the (literal) Man of Tomorrow with pikes. As expected, this doesn’t work either, but at least we get a great exchange from Batman and Robin…
Batman’s outright shut-down of Robin makes me laugh out loud every time.
Bourdet is a wise man, however. Seeing that his forces are ridiculously outmatched, he does the only thing he can, bring out the Man in the Iron Mask as a hostage! Before surrendering, Superman decides to take a peek under the mask, but wouldn’t you know it, the thing is lined with lead. Anyway, being the noble heroes that they are, the super-musketeers surrender and allow themselves to be chained while the castle is set to ground with explosives. Bourdet and his entourage get away with their prisoner and make their way to greener pastures…
“In an Emergency”? Silver Age Superman always finds an excuse to tunnel.
After the danger has passed, the Super-Musketeers use their recollection of history and logically assume that the Man in the Iron Mask is about to be moved to the Bastille… where he’s destined to die. Superman won’t accept that they are destined to fail saving this man, while Batman can’t believe history can be changed. Even though this is a 50′s story, and they aren’t quite the same characters today, it’s nice that the World’s Finest heroes still have differences. Moving on, Superman indeed spies the prisoner in the Bastille. Rather than just rescue him, Batman suggest that Superman stay with the prisoner while he and Robin try to convince the king of Bourdet’s guilt. A solid plan by Batman, even though Superman could get to Versailles to grab the king and be back in like, 3 seconds.
Regardless, it’s the Dynamic Duo on their way to have an audience with the king. Being mere mortals, they are of course chased by Bourdet’s men. I would love to explain how they throw their pursuers, but I don’t think words could explain how insanely absurd it as well as the visual…
I love that you can explain any crazy shenanigans like this with two words: “He’s Batman!”
With the bad guys bamboozled, the Caped Crusaders make it to the royal palace easily, and to gain egress to the King’s chambers is easy as pie, what with a royal banner hanging outside his window. A quick wall-climb later and our heroes are face to face with the king. Unfortunately, he mistakes them for assassins (What would you think if two masked men entered your bedroom through the window?) and tries to run them through. The King is a better leader than a fighter though, as he knocks himself out on his chamber door. Batman has a plan though, and it combines both his considerable skills as well as his penchant for exchanging clothes with people.
Does anyone else think Robin has done this before?
Not wasting any time, Batman (as the King) sets the royal carriage off to the Bastille, full speed ahead. Bourdet has spies everywhere it seems, as one of his lackeys sends a carrier pigeon to take care of the Man in the Iron Mask before his innocence can be proven!. Quick cut to the Bastille, and that’s exactly what’s going on (carrier pigeons were apparently cheetah-quick). The bad guys proceed to flood the prisoner’s cell…
Those red boots tell me you’re probably incorrect, Monsieur Bad Guy.
So yeah, it’s obviously Superman in the Iron Mask, but that doesn’t deter Bourdet’s men from trying to kill him. You have to admire that kind of loyalty in a henchman. After multiple attempted murders, such as suffocation, impalement, and good old-fashioned roughhousing, Superman sees his companions arriving and takes care of business. By this time, the King, still in Batman’s costume has come to, and the sordid tale is spelled out for him. Count Ferney is safe, but what of history’s account of the Man in the Iron Mask dying in the Bastille? Well, it looks like the king is into ironic punishment.
Time Travel: It always wraps up nicely, except for when it doesn’t.
With the adventure over and the real musketeers recovered from their injuries, it’s time for our heroes to be drawn back to the “present” of 1956. They are still in costume however, so as they are fading back into the timestream, Batman orders everyone to change clothes (told you he was into it). Meeting back with Dr. Nichols, the trio fills him in on the “true” story of the Man in the Iron Mask (albeit with super-heroics omitted).
“Hey Dick, speak up, I don’t think they heard you in Versailles!”
And so there you have it. A pretty fun tale, if not entirely accurate. I’m not going to go into who the Man in the Iron Mask really was (“Eustache Dauger“), but I will give the story props. There may or may not have really been a Count Ferney, even though if he did exist, he didn’t have much to do with this tale. What is kind of interesting (to me) is that in today’s France there is a part of Geneva called Ferney-Voltaire, where the author Voltaire lived, and he was the one who first established the prisoner had an iron mask. Anyway, join me next time when I’ll regale you with a tale just as fun, but maybe without as much history behind it!
This story originally appeared in World’s Finest Comics #82, May-June 1956. It has been reprinted various places, notably the Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told, World’s Finest Archives Vol. 1 and Showcase: World’s Finest Vol.1.
This is a re-post of something I did for BigShinyRobot back in April. It’s something I’m really proud of, so I wanted to show it off on my own space, too. While I am generally happy with how they turned out, Batman #1 is clearly the best, and the Incredible Hulk #1 is not so hot. I don’t consider myself an artist by any means, but these were still fun to do. I hope you like them too!
Digital Comics are pretty great. It’s nice and convenient to have your reading library in the palm of your hand with the need for digging through longboxes all the time. It’s great that technology has progressed to a point where this is a feasible option. What if it wasn’t though? What if digital comics became a reality in the late 80′s/early 90′s? Of course, the comic companies would want to reach the widest audience possible, so they would create software on the dominant platform of the time, The Nintendo Entertainment System! Unfortunately, the NES had some graphical limitations, and both DC and Marvel would have had to get a bit creative. They’d also be prohibitively expensive. With that in mind, I’ve created what I think NES-style digital comics would look like complete with solicitation text! Of course, I’ve included the originals as well, so you can compare. (Click for full size)
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Well, with the limitations of the time, it probably wouldn’t be the greatest reading experience ever, but it’s fun to pretend, right?
I don’t know about anyone reading this, but I’ve had a good amount of fun doing these funny-animal origins. I’ve hit a bit of a roadblock though, and that is finding proper origins for some of them! I really wanted to do Rocket Raccoon and especially Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny, but in the former case, the origin issue seems non-existent, and in the latter, the origin issue is so far out of my price range that I’ll never see it. Some of the characters I wanted to feature only have implied origins, like Squeak the Supremouse. What’s an unpaid blogger who’s committed to a theme to do? Then I recalled a character which many of you have probably never heard of. He never had his own title, he never really had a story that lasted more than a couple of panels, yet he is fondly remembered by many. Who is this strange turtle with powers and abilities far beyond those of other terrapins? Well, interestingly enough, he didn’t have an official origin until his career in comics was considered over! Tuck your cape inside your shell as I give you… The Secret Origin of Super-Turtle!
Now, like I said, Super-Turtle’s origin doesn’t come into play for quite a while, so we have to do some guesswork. Being a turtle, he is long-lived, during his career, he has met Clark Kent at least twice, once as Superboy and once as Superman. It seems early on, that the two heroes have a bunch in common, similar powers, similar costumes, even the same disguise in their civilian identities. What really separates the two is how they go about their super-business. Let me illustrate:
As you can see here, Super-Turtle must have been operating for some years if the thugs know of Superman. This leads me to believe that for the first part of his career in crimefighting, S-T preferred to work from the sidelines, or in the shadows. I mean, he’d have to do a lot of explaining, being a talking turtle and all. But now that he has taken his act public, he is overshadowed by other super-people and feels he has to overcompensate. It’s a sad, sad tale (not really). His troubles would continue when he’d encounter local law enforcement, taking his fantastic abilities for granted…
As depressing as that scene is, you could imagine Super Turtle brushing it off. Why shouldn’t he help out his fellow defenders of justice? Sadly, it wasn’t just the police officers taking him for granted, though. As the legend of Super-Turtle grew, so did his reputation for being a doormat. Good old S-T took it in stride though. Slow and steady wins the race, after all. On the other hand, the poor treatment just wouldn’t stop. Why, before you knew it, even overpaid laborers were taking advantage of the Titanic Tortoise.
Still after this shoddy treatment, Super-Turtle was undaunted. He knew he has to use his gift to aid the world, and no unkind acts were going to stop him. That’s when they started, The jibes, the snickers. S-T was becoming the laughing-stock of the hero trade. It was starting to get to him. Not even his armored shell could protect a broken heart. He was about to hang up his cape forever, when his super-hearing picked up a distress call. Of course he couldn’t ignore it, noble hero that he is. What happened next though, well, it flipped the way S-T would live his life right around…
This second meeting of the two heroes made something snap in our hero, Super-Turtle. After witnessing Superman rushing headlong into battle, without a care to his surroundings made S-T delve more into Superman’s history and found something startling! Superman was the kind of man who took no guff from anyone, did things his way, and darn the consequences! To you and me, these were examples of what has become known as “super-dickery”. However, to Super-Turtle, it was an inspiration. He was through being a doormat! He came to understand that his power made him a figure to be revered, not laughed at! Like Superman, he could save the world, but do it to his advantage. It started simply, with a bit of vanity. Seen here is Super-Turtle’s first selfish act, but it’d be far from the last.
After that incident, it just got worse and worse. Super-Turtle started doing more and more uncouth things. He started playing pranks on his paramour, convincing people that he killed his own alter ego, he even took a page from Superman’s book, he started wearing a Pope hat and declaring himself king. He ego was getting too big for his shell. It all came crashing down for Super-Turtle when he shirked his responsibilities for fame…
Super-Turtle’s picture was indeed in tomorrow’s paper, with the headline — “Super-Turtle: Murderer!” It’s a sad tale. You see, in the time it took S-T to return to the scene of the fire, the elderly woman had inhaled a lot of smoke. Super-Turtle did save her, but the amount of toxic fumes the woman was breathing took their toll shortly afterward. The animal kingdom was in shambles! Their hero, their most noble protector had failed them. As for Super-Turtle himself? It hit him the hardest. All he wanted to do was help people, but he let it all go to his head. In disgrace, he hung up his cape, ate a bunch of rotten fruit and got drunk. He spiraled in despair for many years. In time, people forgot about the one-heroic turtle. S-T never forgot though, after 20 years of wallowing in self-pity, a funny thing happened. The Crisis on Infinite Earths. While he wasn’t involved in that conflict, he was lucky enough to survive on the merged Earth that came out of it. The caveat? No one had ever even heard of Super-Turtle on this new Earth! He could make a go of it again, have a fresh start! This time, he would do things right. With this revised Earth came new enemies and responsibilities as well, thankfully this gave our hero focus, and before you know it, he was back to his old self!
So all’s well that ends well, right? Sure, Super-Turtle had a rocky road, but he eventually came out on top. This wouldn’t be a Secret Origins column without, you know, an origin though. So here I am happy to present to you, the actual, not made up and totally serious Origin of Super Turtle!
These stories originally appeared in a range of comics from the mid-to-late 1960′s There are too many to list! The actual origin comes from Silver Age 80-Page Giant July, 2000. The story weaving the pages together was my own idiocy, however.
Continuing from last week, we kind of left out story a bit unfinished. Sure, we got through Captain Carrot’s origin just fine, but we left his entire world in peril! I actually debated just leaving it like that, and any interested parties could find out on their own. I ultimately decided, “Why not continue it?”. After all, the story has not been reprinted, and the issue the story continues into has a staggering 6 origins in it (7 if you count the Captain Carrot recap)! So then, let’s dive into the second part of the first multi-part Secret Origins column with… The Secret Origin of the Amazing Zoo Crew!
The story start where we left off last time, Superman and Captain Carrot are off to Superman’s dimension to stop the source of all of the troubles from the previous column. Before they can do that though, the two heroes spot a jetliner being bombarded by those same pesky de-evolving rays. The pilots now don’t have the know-how to fly a plane, and as Superman remarks, being an ostrich and a kiwi, they don’t know how to fly anyway. Captain Carrot steps up to save the day, still carrying a chip on his shoulder from Superman’s poor treatment of the Cotton-tailed Crusader last issue. Sadly, he miscalculates a bit and can’t catch the plane in the air. Superman tries his hand, but suffers from a bit of performance anxiety he blames on dizziness from the space barrier around Cap’s world. After alternately declaring the passengers doomed, and telling Captain Carrot he’s their only hope, he passes out or something. Although going in with a lot of trepidation, seeing as he isn’t as strong as Superman, Captain Carrot valiantly shows how he’s earned the title of hero:
After that amazing feat, Superman is suddenly able to function normally again, and CC quickly escorts him away from the scene, as people are giving the hairless ape some funny looks. After that, both heroes do a bit more recapping which is pointless for me to also rehash. Finally they approach this mysterious barrier. Superman, who even after constant examples of how Captain Carrot can handle himself, tells Cap if the Long-eared Lagomorph can’t make it through, he’ll return after he takes care of business on Earth-1. Carrot scoffs at how arrogant it is to call your home dimension Earth-1, but is stopped short when Superman is caught like a fly in amber after attempting to breach the barrier. A second later, he disappears with a resounding “Zappt!” Captain Carrot tries to give chase by also trying to go through the barrier, but he only bounces off of it. It’s then he realizes he can’t fly and starts pummeling back to his own Earth. You’d think this’d be the end of our Buck-toothed Buccaneer, but comics don’t work that way, and we get this pretty cool splash page.
I am beginning to think normal physics don’t work on a cartoon animal world, because Captain Carrot was certainly moving at escape velocity in the upper atmosphere. I’m just saying he should be a liquified sack of carrots, if you get my drift. Thankfully he isn’t, and he relates his story to his savior, Pig-Iron. After the exposition exchange, he gets around to asking the Hoggish Hulk how he got his start. Pig-Iron is happy to oblige.
So, it turns out we’re going to learn where all the rest of the meteor rocks from last issue went. If you think that’s absurd, wait until you find out why they imbue mild-mannered animal-people with powers in the first place! Anyway, introductions and origins are out-of-the-way (for now), Captain Carrot convinces Pig-Iron to help out with the barrier, but the whole “no flight” problem is still there. No big deal though, last issue Captain Carrot saw a news report about all of the heroes popping up in the last couple days! He figures at least one of them has to know how to fly, so get ready for a whirlwind tour of the United Species of America! First Stop: Mew Orleans!
And as it is in all fiction, when the new duo gets to Mew Orleans, Mardi Gras is of course going on. Captain Carrot wonders how they are going to find this supposed Alley-Kat Abra, but for the sake of the narrative, she just happens to be floating alongside the parade. Things are never that easy though, and the parade crowd is then pelted with more de-evolving rays! Cap and Pig-Iron jump into the fray, as Cap asks the Tricky Tabby for some assistance.With the assistance of her “Magic Wanda”, Alley Kat-Abra and the gang take care of things handily. Captain Carrot explains his plight and asks Kat if she can fly. She says she can levitate and can help, but she wants them, and us by proxy to sit through her origin, so here it is.
And so Felina Furr reasons that’s what gave both her and her wand magical powers. Why she just happened to have a wand is a complete mystery though. It’s best not to think about it. Carrot and Pig-Iron tell her she’s on the mark, and say they have to get moving to Kornsas for their next recruit. With that, Alley Kat-Abra does a quick incantation and they get to their destination, but maybe not exactly where they wanted. You see, they teleported into the heart of a twister! Luckilly, the “man” they’re looking for is on the scene. Fastback, the Tornadic Terrapin does his best Flash impression and dissipates the cyclone. If you’ve read this far, you know what’s next, as Fastback relates his origin.
So, formulaicly, Fastback is brought into the fold. Kat offers to teleport everyone to Follywood where the last two meteors landed, but Fastback prefers to run. I can’t blame the guy. If I had super speed, I’d use it all the time, too. The group gets to the L.A. Freakway (love the puns, guys!), and it seems whoever is behind the de-evolving rays is stepping it up a bit, converting the entire expressway at once. This would be overwhelming, but the Malleable Mallard, Rubberduck and the Star-Spangled Spaniel, Yankee Poodle are on the scene already, where they have things well in hand. The formula for this issue continues, but thankfully, we get a two-fer this time.
Although the Follywood twosome seem to be in the hero game as a lark (and to make movies, natch), they agree to lend their super stretching and animal magnetism to Captain Carrot’s cause after a quick contract negotiation. The quintet makes their way back to the barrier and attempt to overcome it again. Alley-Kat Abra ponders if it is similar to barriers created by mystic Yogis. This leads to what is simultaneously the best, but most belabored of the puns in this issue. I’ll just let you see for yourself. You see, the barrier is a –
After a familiar “Zappt!” They are teleported much like Superman was earlier. It turns out they are teleported to Pluto like Superman wanted, but it seems to be the Pluto of the Zoo Crew’s universe, although at this point, who knows? The group tries to find Superman, and thankfully there is a telltale evil villain-style cave in the distance. They enter and they do indeed fins Superman, chained up in Kryptonite, which is keeping him docile. Before the Man of Steel can be freed though, the mastermind behind the whole plan reveals himself as… Starro the Conqueror! He plans on killing all of the heroes, but first, you guessed it, he tells his origin!
Starro goes on to say Carrot and crew’s world reminded him too much of the human beings who plagued him, so he came up with his reverter ray. Superman interrupts at that point telling the Zoo Crew that there is absolutely no way that they can defeat Starro since he couldn’t Man, the ego on that guy. He then takes credit for their powers, in one of the most unsung tales of Super-dickery ever. Apparently, his own kryptonian powers interacted along with Starro’s ray and the meteor to empower them all. It isn’t too clear and it includes a lot of “somehows”, so my guess is Superman just wants to get the credit. Starro is kind of sick of all this crap, and starts his attack. The Zoo Crew enters the fray and… they get trounced. They apparently haven’t grasped the whole “teamwork” thing yet, which is odd, considering they had just finished a recruitment/team-up. Thankfully for the team, super villains like to gloat. As Starro is celebrating his victory, Captain Carrot rallies his team together and this time, they work together, with iconic results!
And so, Starro us subdued but not defeated. Luckily, Pig-Iron has a lot of limestone residue in his body (really, go back and check his origin panels). Limestone is anathema to starfish so Starro just shrivels up and the day is one. I guess the animal kingdom doesn’t have a code against killing. The Zoo Crew then frees Superman, who is surprisingly ineffectual the entire issue. He finally eats some crow though, when thanking his saviors. The heroes decide they can do a lot of good together rather than separately, so they officially band together as the Zoo Crew, and live to fight another day.
And there you have it. Last week I mentioned the Captain Carrot books have not been reprinted, and while that is still true, I have renewed hope in the Showcase edition being released soon, with DC finally working out some of the royalty issues in other books of the period. At any rate, I enjoyed telling the tale, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Next week, we’ll have… well that could be up to you! Let me know what animal-hero you’d like to see and If I y’know, have the issue, it could be in next week’s column!
This story originally appeared in Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew #1 March, 1982
Today’s column is a bit seasonal, and oddly enough it doesn’t feature the origin of a character. It does have an origin of sorts, though. Around this time of year, there is a lot of talk about this guy that wears red, and has a place up in the Arctic. Yes, of course I’m talking about Superman, but did you know there’s another denizen of the frigid north? You may not have thought about him in years, but that doesn’t mean he’s not there. So grab some eggnog, kick back by the fire, as I tell you… The Secret Origin of the Superman/Santa team!
Our story starts, as most Superman tales do, in Metropolis. A Salvation Army Santa is being held up by a youngster with a dart gun. Superman arrives on the scene and finds out the lad has been hypnotized, so he decides to wrap the kid in his cape and fly him to the Fortress of Solitude in the arctic, for “study”. He brings the boy, named Timmy Dickens, of all things, out of hypnosis where he grills the kid about what’s happened. Superman asks Tim where he got this dart gun that hypnotized him (comics!), and Timmy tells his tale about he snuck into his parents room to scope out presents. He mentions that he’s too old to believe in Santa, which is what compelled him to be a little d-bag and ruin his Christmas surprises. He doesn’t remember anything after he picked up the gun though. Superman then suggests something, that regardless of the context, is just plain creepy.
Anyway, Superman does his hypno-whammy and finds out that none other than Winslow Schott, the Toyman is behind these shenanigans. Before you can say “Jack Frost roasting on an open fire” Superman and Timmy are flying back home when some random toy boat Timmy was holding shoots Superman with a weird ray that causes him to plummet from the sky. He barely has time to twist his body so Timmy lands on him and not vice versa. In the middle of the frozen north, Timmy is pleading for Superman to wake up, otherwise they’ll both die out there. It seems hopeless, but all of a sudden, little men come to help out. and they team up to carry the Man of Steel to safety.
As this cheerful scene is happening, we cut to the Toyman, who somehow was watching the entire scene. He’s a bit miffed that he can’t see what happened after Superman fell from the sky, but he’s pretty confident that big blue is dead. You see, he somehow got his hand on white dwarf matter, and instead of shrinking him like the Atom, he used it as “heavy gravity energy” which not only made Superman plummet, but saps his powers also. Science! Toyman takes a break from his revelry though, suspecting if Kal-El isn’t dead, he’ll be coming to settle the score. The Toyman wants to be prepared so he starts tinkering, and we leave this scene for another.
We find ourselves back in what is now described to us as the north pole! Superman is slowly coming to, and he see his stout benefactors along with their boss, as it truly is a sight to behold:
Superman is all like, “yeah, right”, proclaiming if there were a secret workshop at the North Pole, he would know about it. Santa explains no one can see it unless he wills it to be so. Pleasantries are exchanged, and Superman explains that he has to stop the Toyman. Santa, being a right jolly old elf, already knows. Mr. Schott is definitely on the naughty list. Santa takes Superman to his monitor room which totally looks like Nasa’s mission central. For me, it kind of takes some of the magic out of the Santa myth, that he has to keep track of the world with technology rather than say, magic, but I’ll let it go, seeing as this is DCU Santa.
I guess Santa/Superman don’t consider Toyman to be too much of a threat, because they spend some time chit-chatting about the good old days, and how toys aren’t as good as they used to be back in the day. For Santa, this means wooden horses and the like, but for Superman, he pines for a holographic projector he had as an infant on Krypton. You see, good old Superman liked to watch Kryptonian Masters of the Universe on it:
With that seemingly unimportant plot element out of the way, Santa explains it’s time to get things done, it being Christmas Eve and all. It seems that Toyman has sold booby-trapped toys all over the place. Santa offers to take Superman with him on his yearly sojourn, killing two birds with one stone, as it were. Also, Superman is still weakened by the gravity ray, so he’s not really 100%. Superman insists he’s fine, and Santa and Superman fly off separately. quickly though, we learn that Santa is indeed wise. Superman can’t stay airborne! Luckily, Santa uses his famed sleigh to catch him, and they’re off like a “Schott”.
Wanting to get on with his own stuff, Santa decrees the first stop is the Big Schott toy store. The doors are locked, so Santa suggest they take his traditional form of breaking and entering and use the chimney. For some reason, the chimney is completely bricked up, but Superman takes care of that by totally just busting through, like a Kryptonian Kool-Aid Man.
Like I said previously, Toyman is prepared for this eventuality, and sics a bunch of pre-programmed toys on Superman! You’d think Superman would make short work of them, but not only is he still weakened, it seems some of these diabolical toys have trace amounts of Kryptonite! Things looks dire for the Man of Steel, but Santa is on the scene! He and the elves use the ‘ol Christmas magic and counter Toyman’s toys with his own private toy army, and what ensues is the toy battle of this or any other century!
The fray goes on for a bit, with Santa not getting his hands dirty, possibly to keep his existence a secret. With the help of his toy soldiers, the battle seems to be turning in favor of the good guys. Just when the battle seems won, Toyman turns a gun on Superman, while Kal-El is busy confronting a Cylon. Santa has it covered though, in his own special way:
With Toyman underfoot, Superman has things well in hand and gives the baddie over to the authorities who have been summoned thanks to Super-Ventriloquism. Superman is finally feeling the effects of the gravity ray wearing off, and just in time, too! He has discovered a receipt list of where all of the tainted toys are located, and raids the houses of good boys and girls in the wink of an eye! Santa, satisfied with a job well done, wishes Superman a Merry Christmas, and asks him to return little Timmy home. Superman is just about to do just that when the toy ship that zapped Superman earlier in the story does it yet again! It seems Timmy may be a bit of a liability, but before that can be discussed, we find Superman and Timmy back in the arctic cold. It seems it indeed was all a dream, or was it? You see, Timmy now suddenly believe in Santa Claus, among other things. Superman shakes it off and takes Timmy home. Finally rid of the troublesome child, Superman returns to Clark Kent’s apartment, and grabs his street clothes out of his secret cape pocket, where he finds his own Christmas miracle.
Heartwarming, isn’t it? Well, I’m sure you’ll agree, while this wasn’t a traditional Secret Origin, it was still quite entertaining! So from me to you, dear reader, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good flight!
It’s my opinion that late 90′s DC Comics are probably the best of my generation, you had amazing runs like Grant Morrison on JLA, experimental series like Chase, outright fun titles like Hourman, and great fifth week concepts like Final Night and DC One Million. One of the true lost gems of that era is the Elseworlds 80-page Giant. For the uninitiated, Elseworlds is a label DC slaps on a title that gives us an alternate take on our favorite heroes, be it something like Batman becoming a Green Lantern, or Superman becoming a sports icon/businessman! Elseworlds is where anything can happen, and I love those stories.
The Elseworlds 80-page Giant on the other hand is a mystery to most people, the issue was pulped when a story depicting a baby Superman got into a bunch of cartoonish hijinks that would kill a human baby. DC didn’t want to get in trouble for the content, so the entire issue was scrapped, but not before a trickle of issues made it to the UK. I was lucky enough to grab a copy of the issue at Wizard World in 2000, shortly after it was published/scrapped and before it skyrocketed in price. Ironically, of the stories in the issue, only two have ever seen the light of day, including the controversial story that got it pulped in the first place!
Now while fair use won’t allow me to post the entire issue (I’m hoping for a digital re-release, myself), I can recount some of the highlights, such as a story where the stretchy heroes/villains of the DCU are placed in a Lovecraftian horror story, and retrospective on a universe where all of the heroes are actually musical acts. My absolute favorite though, is a collection of mock-up splash pages made to emulate classic silver-age DC titles. There are no stories, but these “opening pages” are enough to get your imagination working overtime, so I present to you, Silver Age Elseworlds!
Everyone who is even remotely familiar with super heroes knows who Lex Luthor is. Even though at times he’s been mad scientist, uncouth businessman, or even President of the United States, everyone knows he’s Superman’s main antagonist. I won’t recount Luthor’s many origins here, as they are way too numerous to recount here. What I am focusing on is an aspect of Luthor that has become pretty iconic, even though most people don’t know why. It’s Lex Luthor’s Power Suit!
The time is 1983. The crisis is still a couple of years away, though it is being planned (I’ll get to that later). Luthor has been defeated by Superman for the umpteenth time. Superman flies off to deal with another crisis, thinking Luthor will be incapacitated until he returns. This actually makes Luthor very livid, as he sees this as an insult. To him, it’s almost as if he’s now beneath Superman’s notice, just a minor inconvenience the likes of Mr. Mxyzptlk. However, he is pretty badly beaten and is in no condition to escape. Luckily for him, he’s Lex Luthor, the greatest criminal mind of our time, and sends a relay for one of his robots to retrieve him. The robot takes Luthor to one of his many secret hideouts. This one is actually a last-ditch escape plan, complete with spaceship! As Luthor falls into unconsciousness, the ship takes off for an unknown destination, with hope for an opportunity for the villain’s renewal.
So, the ship reaches its appointed destination and is grabbed by a tractor beam! It seems every time an unidentified craft appears in the atmosphere of the planet Lexor, a woman name Adora is summoned in the hopes that “he” has returned, and since this is comics and is important to the story, this time it is “him”.
Bet you didn’t see that coming! Lexor has a bit of history in the pre-crisis Superman books, but it’s essentially a planet where Lex Luthor once crashed on, and essentially became their Superman. Then they re-christened the planet in his honor. Comics, everyone!
Anyway, at this point, the story backtracks a few days to see Superman’s panicked response to Luthor missing, assuming he’s up to something truly horrendous. He finds and trashes the hideout Lex launched from, but from the rubble, Lex’s robot launches an ominous satellite emblazoned with the words Strike Back — Phase One.
Back on Lexor, Lex is recovering nicely, He has discovered that since his last visit to Lexor, he has been blessed with child, and this seems to change something in him as he vows to Adora to become a new man, giving up his hate-war with Superman, and staying on Lexor where he is revered. He addresses the people and promises to use his considerable genius to better life for all Lexorians. The days pass and things are quite idyllic for Lex and his family, but something gnaws at his soul. He cannot escape his all-consuming hatred for the Man of Steel.
In his rage, Luthor uncovers an ancient ruin with scientific wonders far beyond Lexor’s ken. This will come into play later, but for now we cut to Lex’s lab/home where he finds out about his rogue satellite. He doesn’t fret too much, knowing Superman will find a way to thwart it. Lex laments that once he does Kal-El will inevitably realize where Lex is at and will come to confront him, not knowing about his rehabilitation.
We cut to several weeks later (this story is a slow burn, but the payoff is worth it) where Lex unveils a device called the Neutrarod to the people of Lexor. This device will stabilize the planet’s core which heretofore was unknown to even be unstable! That Lex Luthor folks, he’s a freaking super-genius! His hard work done, Lex spends the rest of his day with his family for a job well done. Later that night, Lexor is attacked by its first true villain, who everyone seems to arbitrarily dub the Mystery Marauder.
The next day, Lexor’s ruling council calls on Luthor to stop the marauder. Lex pledges his support, with a huge grin on his face, as if he knows more than he’s telling. His wife is rather perceptive and calls Lex on this, but he assures her that he just appreciates the irony that Superman will actually have a villain to deal with when he finally arrives on Lexor. Blinded by devotion, Adora buys it, but you can’t really blame her, she has no real reason to doubt Lexor’s hero.
Anyway, more time passes, and Superman finally arrives on Lexor. He promptly grabs Lex and is hauling him off, while Lex muses that Superman must be wearing some kind of super sun screen, as Lexor’s red sun isn’t draining his powers. Lex being Lex of course is right, Superman proceeds to tell the story of how he took care of the satellite which really isn’t important to the story. What is though, is while Superman is trying to haul Lex off of the planet, the Lexorians valiantly try to defend their greatest citizen. Lex notices that their barrage is affecting Superman much more than it should, and his sunscreen is wearing off. Taking the opportunity, he spirits himself away to a secret cave. Superman gives chase, not bothering to expend his x-ray vision. If he had, he might have been able to prepare himself for this!
What results is a full on physical confrontation where Luthor is truly holding his own, and when you’re up against the planet-juggling might of pre-crisis Superman, that’s saying something! The fight rages on for a couple of pages until Lex unleashes a truly devastating shot that hits Superman square on. Unfortunately for everyone, (you’ll see what I mean in a minute), Superman is still invulnerable enough to deflect it. The ricochet hits the Neutrarod, causing their collective energies to mix, hitting the planet’s core much like throwing gasoline onto a fire!
What follows next is a dark mirror of Superman’s own home of Krypton exploding, which is so poignant, and makes you actually feel for Lex so much, I can’t help but show the entire page.
After Lexor’s destruction, Superman flies off, assuming Lex was also killed in the blast. He also laments Luthor’s burning hatred being the cause of such destruction. I am sorry Superman, but I have to side with Lex here. Superman started the fight, Lex was defending himself. Sure, there is a ring of truth to what Superman is saying, but Lexor’s death is as much his fault as it is Luthor’s if not more so. Anyway, Luthor survives as if there was any doubt. If he could take on Superman one-on-one, of course he can also survive a planet’s destruction is Superman can. Lex vows what I can only call super-revenge. He thought he hated Superman before, but now his hatred dial is turned up to 11.
So there’s the story of Lex Luthor’s power armor. I think it was a great story, with a ton of potential. Sadly, a lot of that was unrealized since the crisis came and wiped these versions of the characters out of existence. The idea of Luthor being on par physically with Superman has endured though, and even the current version of Luthor has a variant of this armor. What I liked he most about the story though was how human and relatable it made Lex. Sure, he’s a super-smart egomaniacal criminal, but with this story, his hatred of Superman seems really justified. This story was just so well done, and I’m happy to have recounted it for you!