Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Superman: Star-Fucker

As part of the 30 Days project, I’ll be reviving Gone&Forgotten for a short article every day throughout the month. Today it’s…

With Superman’s 75th Anniversary being celebrated this year and a new movie spurring on the sale of ever more deep merchandise cuts – from cufflinks to hardcover collections – Your Humble Editor has been asked what Superman stories he’d most like to see collected.

A lot of my favorites have already been given a great treatment – the chronological reprints of the first few years, Superman vs Muhammad Ali, even collections collecting the works of the great Jose Luis Garcia Lopez.

Others aren’t on the horizon sadly, because a coffee table edition of Len Wein and Jim Starlin’s DC Comics Presents run – where Superman starts off fighting Mongul and ends up challenging God – would be amazing. Likewise, there’s no shortage of great themes – Imaginary stories, Bizarro tales, Krypto appearances, Superman Family arcs, and so on.

More than anything, though, I’d love to see Superman’s many celebrity crossovers – most of which can’t be done because of rights issues. It’s a shame – we've gotten Superman’s match with Muhammad Ali on the record, but how about:

Superman meets Orson Welles:
The Man of Tomorrow met the legendary auteur in his own title, Superman (vol.1) #62, during an era when Welles' "War of the Worlds" radio drama was still a thing in recent memory.

In this story, Orson Welles is transported to mars where meets an alien race of Nazi fetishists - Martler (That's Mars + Hitler for the slow kids in the back) and his Solazis (Which is stupid + unnecessary for everyone. Maybe it means "Solar Nationalists". I dunno, I'm new here)

Ironically, Welles broadcasts a warning to Earth via the Solazis' radio set, which everyone on Earth takes as a hoax - except Superman, because what else has he got to do except check in on stuff happening on other planets?

Welles holds his own against the ground troops while Superman stops the invasion fleet. Welles' secret weapon: stage magic, which apparently he's so into that he keeps a rabbit in his coat AT ALL TIMES.

The story ends with Welles admonishing the Solazi leader: "You're lucky not to be hanged like the Nazi leaders you admired and imitated". Damn, Orson ... Damn.

Superman meets Perry Como
Lois not only tosses both Clark and Superman over for Perry Como, but she quits her job at the Planet when a timely headcold gives her voice some weird perfect resonance which allows her to win a singing contest and subsequently becomes the number one female vocalist in the country. Helluva cold. Exact same way that Whitney Houston got her start.

Along the way, there's crooks kidnapping Como and Perry being such a nice guy that he tries to get Superman and Lois back together, once he realizes the former girl reporter has fallen for him instead. 

Luckily, such a clever plot has a built in ending, since Lois' success is based entirely on a headcold. Yep, she leaves it untreated and dies, the end!

Superman meets Antonino Rocca
Decades before he gets his ass handed to him by Muhammad Ali, Superman enters the squared circle with AWA/NWA/WWWF wrestler Antonino Rocca - well, no, he didn't, but Mxyzptlk arranged it so Rocca could fight Samson and Hercules in the ring, and he beat both of them. Well, wait, actually it was Krypto in a Mxyzptlk costume, and also the grown-up versions of Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad were actually disguised as Hercules and Samson. Oh, and Superman was disguised as Rocca, but Rocca was disguised as Superman. PS, I'm really Perry Como (unzips lifelike rubber Perry Como costume)

It was a berserk little story that let the exceptionally popular sports figure make a friendly appearance with the Man of Steel without complicating it with things like a linear narrative and clear threat. Also, it appeared as the backup to a two-parter where Superman goes to another planet full of giant flowers and insects and is blinded under its green sun by an alien Hitler, but that doesn't earn the cover. I mean, Green Sun Space Hitler doesn't have an agent to deal with...

Superman meets Ann Blyth
You know, "famed Universal-International picture star Ann Blyth", kids today love Ann Blyth. 

Anyway, getting prevenge on Lois for her Perry Como dalliance, Superman lets himself be led around by mermaid Ann Blyth in an adventure involving pirate treasure and a robot octopus, so kind of like The Goonies except watchable (what you people see in that movie, I'll never know). 

Superman meets Ralph Edwards
The host of Truth or Consequences, which was apparently a show where Ralph Edwards was an intolerable jerk for no reason. Some of the consequences he made his non-super guests perform: lie in bed and count sheep jumping over him, hang upside down from the ceiling and play the piano, and check out a coin flip inside an aquarium tank - wait a minute, this is a radio show.

Possibly Superman's most clever foe, Edwards gets Superman on the show to make him fetch a shit-ton of water, then proclaim his love for Lois Lane (Superman yells his true feelings so loud that no one can understand it, which isn't that just the way for a man?) and then has to write his secret identity on a blackboard! 

Well done Mister Edwards, your chair at the Legion of Doom is waiting for you.

But the best of them all is undoubtedly:


stavner said...

Here are a couple of reprints of the Orson Welles story:

stavner said...

Here are some book reprints of the Orson Welles story:

rocketdave said...

I do remember that Orson Welles story from a copy of Superman From The 30s to the 70s that I checked out from my local library as a kid. In hindsight, I have to wonder where J'onn J'onzz was during all that. Okay, I know the Martian Manhunter hadn't been created yet.

rnigma said...

Superman also met Pat Boone... one wonders why he couldn't have met Elvis or the Beatles or anyone halfway cool music-wise. (Yes, DC was also publishing a Pat Boone comic that maintained his square image.)
The Orson Welles appearance, with its "boy who cried wolf" story, promoted his "Black Magic" movie, just as Ann Blyth's plugged "Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid."

And "Truth or Consequences" was popular enough for Ralph Edwards to persuade an entire freaking town to rename itself after the show...

Omar Karindu said...

Also also there's a story where Superman meets Alan "Candid Camera" Funt, IIRC.

Weirdly the Jerry Lewis cover above was apparently redrawn; originally the goon with the 'stache and tommygun was Luthor with a raygun and sadly no awesome 'stache. The whole thing almost makes you rethink the "redrawing" policy at DC, Jack Kirby Superman faces and all.

Mr. Preece said...

I just wish there was a Superman Chronicles series of TPBs for the 1975-85 era.

I enjoy the Golden Age Superman stories and the Bronze Age stories. I really don't much care for the Silver Age Superman stories. Too dumb, too pointless for my taste. (Maybe one once in awhile is okay...)

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