Friday, January 21, 2011

1966 - Swingin' Sounds for Secret Agents

Need it be said that, by the standards of the time, "Swingin' " was in the ear of the beholder? 

If you like it, let me know.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ze Plot, She Thicken

Here are the next three pages from Superman 180 and "Clark Kent's Great Superman Hunt."

Clark Kent, giving the reason of boosting Daily Planet's circulation, has taken to the TV airwaves in his attempt to discover Superman's secret identity.  He's asked TV viewers to send in their sightings of Superman in the hopes of coordinating dates and flightpaths for a clue to the areas Superman frequents.

Jimmy Olsen (correctly) points out that revealing Superman's identity to the world *might not* be that friendly a thing to do.  Clark's boss, Perry White, simply brushes aside Jimmy's protests with a breezy, "We won't reveal Superman's identity without his permission."

And Lois?  Well, she's on an overseas assignment, and isn't around to boff Clark on the back of the head with a rolled-up copy of yesterday's paper to express what a doofus he is.

So, Clark takes to the airwaves, and responses start flooding in.

But, why exactly is this even happening?  There must be a plan we don't know about, because we know Clark is Superman!

With this page we not only learn WHY Clark is doing it, we also learn that we nine-year-old readers have been drawn in to the story by a milennia-old literary device.  It's been commented on since Roman times. (The literary device, not this Superman tale!)

It's called in medias res, which is Latin for "in the middle of things."  Such storytelling brings the reader into the midst of the action, and them, once the reader is hooked, we "flash back" to the events that STARTED this whole ball rolling.  Homer used this trick in the Iliad and the Odyssey, friend.

The most extreme example of the in medias res technique in my recent memory is the pilot of NBC's The Event, where almost every other scene was subtitled "one hour ago" or "zix months ago" or "fifty-three years ago" or some such.

Now that our World Literature lecture is complete, let's simply observe that NOW WE KNOW why Clark is (to all outward appearances) trying to expose his own Secret Identity.  It's to save Lois's life!

Yes, this creepy thug, "The Wheel," kidnaped her on her way to that overseas assignment, and is holding her hostage.  She'll die unless Clark, known friend to Lois and Superman, exposes that Big Secret.

Look at Jimmy Olsen's face in the second panel of the above page.  Now, story artist Al Plastino might not have the most technically refined art style, but it accomplishes his goal.  Jimmy is HOT under the collar!  As a narrative stand-in for us, the readers, we don't get WHY our friend Clark is betraying our other buddy, Superman.

Now, on the next page of our tale, we see Superman's actions to steer his own investigation.  We knew Our Hero would save the day!  The fun is in seeing just how the Caped Wonder will outsmart "The Wheel" and save Lois's life, while preserving his TRUE alternate identity.

On TV, Clark asked local Metropolis viewers to get Superman's autograph and mail them to the Planet, in the hopes of finding a commonality.

QUESTION:  If you got the personalized autograph of the most powerful being since Jesus -- would YOU get rid of that autograph?  I know, I know, it's just a story.  Still -- I bet the Planet had a heck of a postage bill mailing all of those autographs back to their senders.

On the third page of this instalment we finally see Lois.  Buy, even though she's crying her eyes out, she sure looks pretty.  Note the box helpfully labeled "FOOD."

In the old style of cliffhanger serials and continuing today in the (very artless) smash-cuts of recent "action" movies, we are shown the heroine in peril lamenting her situation, and the efforts of the hero to find her, bouncing back and forth in a familiar storytelling trope.

In Clark's next step in his Superman Hunt, he's analyzed the thousands of Superman autographs and come to the pre-arranged observation that -- due to the style of writing the F and the H in the various autographs, Superman's civilian initials are probably those two letters.

So, we're treated to a couple of panels featuring the logical playing out of these possibilities.  My favorite is the last panel of the page, where a bum and a cop square off, each daring the other one to be Superman, because of their names.

See you again in a few days!

PS -- I've rearranged this Blog a bit.  Now you can access my various music downloads on a separate page that shows the covers of the albums.  You can flip between this page and that in the white strip at the top of the blog, just under the "Mark's Super Blog" header.
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