Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Kryptonite Kid!

Does anybody remember station wagons? If you can imagine this car as baby blue, then this is the car that I grew up riding around in, a 1962 Chevrolet.

And, in those more carefree days, my best friend Tommy Hefner and I loved going with Mom to the grocery store or driving downtown to pay the bills. Why?

Because we could ride "in the back," the four-square-foot rear of the station wagon, where we entertained ourselves by sitting on one side and sliding to the other side when Mom turned a corner.

We also read a lot of comics back there.

One of the comics whose first memory links it to the back of the station wagon is Superboy 83, which introduced The Krytonite Kid.

Now here was a one-trick guy. He and his dog, which was a lab aninal never given a name in the story, were shot into space by their planet Blor and then mysteriously passed through a Green Kryptonite cloud before being deflected to Earth.

Now he and his pet can radiate Kryptonite Rays! Meanwhile, being telepathic, they boy and his dog send dreams to Superboy & Krypto to flee Earth or get their butts kicked.

Just for fun, compare the beautiful Curt Swan art on the cover with the corresponding panel in the story, drawn by the fine (but not-as-good) George Papp.

On their arrival, the Kid and his mutt torment the Boy of Steel and the Heroic Hound (I made "Heroic Hound" up -- sounds pretty cool!) by using their Midas-like transmutatory powers to turn Smallville High into a Green-K building, and other mean-type things.

When Kal & Krypto flee to an abandoned trailer park, they're hunted down and tortured. Imitating his dream life as Broderick Crawford in Highway Patrol, the Kryptonite Kid throws the book at Superboy! A phone book, that is.

Then, when all seems lost, a very literal Deus ex Machina arrives ... "Master" Mxyzptlk, who has peeked in from Zrrff and doesn't want this rank amateur to take away his super-plaything.

So, he uses his 5th-Dimensional magic to zap the Kryptonite Kid and his Green Growler (I made "Green Growler" up too!) into the 5th Dimension. Also, Mxy reverts all the Kryptonite artifacts to their original states.

Just think about it. The only thing the Kryptonite Kid and friend have going for them is their threat to Kryptonians. If they use their powers to drive Superboy and Krypto from Earth -- or kill them -- then in what way are they a danger or threat to the rest of Earth?

Think about it. Sure, in the story, the Kid says that after chasing Superboy away he will build a giant ray gun and rule the Earth. But have you priced Giant Ray Gun components lately? Sheesh!

Imagine. The Kid and his mutt have killed Superboy in that trailer park. He walks into Smallville Square and announces his deed.

Then Lana Lang grabs a two-by-four and brains the Kid, killing him instatly, and Pete Ross and Chief Parker stomp the dog to death.

Problem solved!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

About that Zod Guy...

A question from an old friend, Myron Moody:

Hi Mark, I've a question for you as a Superman expert. In both the television show Smallville and the second Superman movie with Chris Reeves they have a character named General Zod. I don't remember a General Zod in the comics but I could be wrong. Could you clarify this for me? Myron

Well, Myron, up until this morning-- when I took the time to look Zod up -- I would have said that Zod was invented for the Superman movies. But I'd have been wrong because my memory was on the fritz.

The Silver Age had a General Dru-Zod, from the 1960s, who tried to take over Krypton (before it exploded) with an army of robot guys that were drawn to look like Bizarros. I had forgotten about him!

It's also interesting that while Zod, played by Terence Stamp, appeared in Superman: the Movie and in Superman II looking like --well -- Terence Stamp, the General Zod re-introduced into DC comics still looked a lot like the Silver Age Zod.

Compare the 1961 comics panel with this 1983 jigsaw puzzle and you'll see that the Zod-clones are wearing a green version of the same uniform Zod wears in lavender in the puzzle.

Yes, the uniformed guy in the puzzle is Zod.. The guy in the puzzle who LOOKS LIKE Terence Stamp is another Phantom Zone baddie.

So, the producers of the 1978 Superman movie picked Zod from the comics and made him a big-big Superman villain instead of a minor one. Thus the minor Silver Age character Dru-Zod has now become the Adolf Hitler of the DC universe. Who'da thunk it?
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© by Mark Alfred