Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Mind-Blowing Threat!

(Those alien demons Rokk and Sorban have ordered Superman to kill somebody -- anybody -- on Earth.
Nertz to you, says Superman. You can't make me!
Oh, yeah? reply the cosmic bullies...)
They tell Superman to watch with his Super-vision, as they use a mental blitz to wipe out a couple of planets on demand, demonstrating the brain power of their ancient race.
OK, OK, the Man of Steel now believes them. What to do? He can't just kill somebody to please these fiends!
Wait a minute ... they didn't say WHO had to die. The noble hero will sacrifice HIMSELF. It's the only way out!
With this sad decision made, Superman writes farewell notes to his Planet pals, and heads to the newsroom to leave on their desks.
What's next in this page-by-page explication of Superman 171? Stay tuned and see!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Aliens' Condundrum!

Now, Superman steps in to answer the military's alert about the alien ship that's zoomed into Earth orbit.

What the heck!?!? as Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent used to say. These creepy, bug-eyed aliens have come from wherever-land for him? One's named Rokk, and the other Sorban. Sounds like a law firm.

But these clowns don't want to play around. They simply order Superman to kill somebody on Earth. They don't care who, and they won't say why. They seem to know all about him, too, putting up pictures of the Daily Planet staff on their viewscreen.

Of course, the Man of Steel refuses. Kill somebody? That's exactly what the Superman Code prohibits. Superman does not kill. And they can't make him!

Or can they? Tune in tomorrow for the next page of Superman 171, and see how these alien creeps intend to make sure that Supes does indeed snuff an Earthling.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Superman's Sacrifice!

With art by Al Plastino, the first story in Superman 171 is called "Superman's Sacrifice!"
In the splash section of the page, we see a couple of creepy aliens threatening to destroy the Earth unless Superman selects somebody to die.
Do you suppose these alien guys were influenced by the 1962 Topps cards Mars Attacks! ? I think it's possible.
As the story opens, Earth defences notice a rocketship-type spacecraft on its way towards Earth. Shades of ST:TMP and Vejur 25 years later, Earth tries linguacode messages on all frequencies, to no avail.
So they try sending up interceptor rockets, but the craft has a forcefield around it that rebuffs all attempts to bring it down.
Last resort: send for Superman or Supergirl!
Say -- don't you think it's kinda keen that we poor Earthlings at least TRIED to solve the problem ourselves, before asking for help?
Finally for today ... read the "fine print" at the bottom of the page. This is the obligatory copyright notice, etc, found on the first page of all comics. We find that Superman is published monthly, except for March, June, September, and December. Mort Weisinger is the Editor. Subscription price is given, and the standard disclaimer about the contents being fiction and not intended to resemble anybody living or dead.
Printed in U.S.A.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Public Service Tip

The inside front cover of Superman 171 featured this public service announcement, "Rx Against Accidents!"
These were several of these one-page features. I remember one had a panel debunking the "put a steak on a black eye" myth. Another had a gal (Miss Teen USA perhaps?) explaining how smoking doesn't make a guy look tough, just stinky & dumb.
"Hey!" exclaim the would-be cool cats. "If a kitten like Miss Teen USA doesn't like cigarettes, who needs 'em!"
This particular page simply presents the case for thinking first before doing something risky. The slight storyline ends with the kid who learned the lesson passing it on to others as if it were his own.
Wow -- the idea that actions can have unforeseen consequences. What a concept! Of course, it's been a while since I've heard someone use the term "fellers."
Tomorrow ... the first page of "Superman's Sacrifice"!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Welcome to a Dynamite Concept!

You know, when I was growing up as a kid, in the mid 1960s, hundreds of comic book titles were being published by Marvel, Dell, Golden, Archie, Disney, and DC.

Every month (bi-monthly in some cases) a complete issue of several stories, ads, and letter columns would appear, as if by magic, to gravitate into the sweaty mitts of any kid with 12 cents.

Pretty much at random, I have selected Superman 171, cover-dated August 1964, for a little experiment.

Over the next week or two we will look at EVERY PAGE of this comic in sequence, from cover to cover, with my observations thrown in. When we're done, perhaps we all will have a little more appreciation for what an undertaking such an everyday thing as a comic book was in the 1960s.

And, in my opinion, how much the poorer we are today, in not having such common treasures kicking around as part of our children's lives.
Well, on this cover we have a fistfight portrayed by the great Curt Swan. Did you know that Curt was a boxer in his youth? You can tell it here in the way Superman has his hands held up in the "put-'em-up" position, while that caveman lays into him with a mean right cross.
Everybody but Supes is smiling.
Those big domes in the background are supposed to be tipis or some such. But look how huge they are! They must be ten feet tall or higher. There must be some big critters on this planet.
For anybody who didn't know about the effects of a red sun's rays on a Kryptonian, the thought balloon lays it out for us. Superman doesn't have any powers here, and so he's getting his teeth handed to him.
Note the postage-stamp-shaped box in the top right-hand corner, which announces that this issue was approved by the Comics Code Authority. Do you think that the CCA is behind Superman's missing nipples and lack of chest hair?
Tomorrow, we'll dive into this stack of everyday miracle called Superman 171.
All original content
© by Mark Alfred