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 Posted:   Jun 21, 2017 - 6:18 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

One part of this era of Superman that seems odd is having Clark Kent be a broadcast journalist. I get that it was likely an attempt to modernize the book a bit, but are people really that dense not connecting the dots that Clark is Superman? It is one thing if most people see a tiny head shot of Clark at the beginning of one of his articles, but when he is on your tv every night? And probably more often than not covering a Superman story! Especially in an era of three channels plus PBS. This isn't a dig against Gerber, since he was using the status quo that was handed to him. Still, it amuses me all the same.

Superboy joke deleted thanks to photo_ucket.

 
 Posted:   Jun 21, 2017 - 11:45 PM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

The Phantom Zone #2

These might read as summaries, but I am actually just pointing out the occurrences in the story that caught my attention visually or conceptually. When reading the series for yourself (selves?), my observations are the things of whch you want to take note.



Another great issue. I am curious to read what you have to say about the trippy third issue. One thing that seems a little odd is some of the timing of events on Krypton. Jor-El demonstrated the phantom zone projector to the science council after Kal-El had been born. Kal-El was 2 maybe 3 when he was sent to Earth, so in maybe a year and change, the science council peer reviewed Jor-El's findings regarding the Phantom Zone, decided that the Phantom Zone was the preferred method of punishment for Krypton's worst offenders, and sent several criminals into the Phantom Zone. Bureaucracy works fast on Krypton! By contrast, around that same time, Jor-El had figured out Krypton was going to blow up imminently and nobody seemed to care.

 
 Posted:   Jun 22, 2017 - 5:26 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

As you no doubt realize by now, DC in those years treated continuity and story logic like an unwanted responsibility and eschewed whenever possible. It's appalling to anyone well-versed in Marvel books, but it's the name of the game with DC. It's one of many things that led to CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS just a few years later.

Onward to Phantom Zone #3:

(December 1981) "The Terror Beyond Twilight!" Superman and Charlie Kweskill/Quex-Ul experience “The Phantom Zone Electric” in the surreal, psychedelic third part of the miniseries. Writer: Steve Gerber; Art: Gene Colan, Tony DeZuniga.

Supergirl literally claws her way out of a vat of acid by using her strength to crunch the metal walls on her way out of the vat. In true villain fashion, the Kryptonians don’t stick around to watch her “die.”

Outside a Metropolis brownstone, an impressive explosion panel of a car hit by the insane Kryptonian prophet Ter-Em’s heat vision. The police officer sent flying through the air by the blast It looks like something or Joe Kubert or Gerry Talaoc might draw.

Batman does a cool summersault and mid-air flip onto a car roof to avoid danger when he is thrown out of a building by Ter-Em.

The rest of this issue focuses on Superman and Charlie Kweskill, who deal with some truly mind-bending psychedelic things as they make their way through the various barriers of the Phantom Zone. They deal with some fierce-looking demi-demons that attempt to feed The Man of Steel to their young, but the yellow sun vortex allows Superman and Charlie to plunge through that particular barrier.

We are introduced to Siren-like female surreal creatures, a banished Kryptonian sorcerer, Thul-Kar, who used the Phantom Zone to escape Krypton’s destruction, and most bizarre of all, there is the godlike being Aethyr. The Phantom Zone is said to be his essence or will; it’s high-concept stuff.

Gene Colan’s art and panel layouts add considerable effect to these whacked-out scenarios from the Mind of Steve Gerber, whose surreal concepts bring to mind 1970s Marvel Comics. There’s a nod to Ego, The Living Planet with the face portal creature that echoes insanity-inducing “logic” within its confines.

All of this would have been way over the head of ten-year-old me, and besides that, I never went in for cosmic concepts and sorcery. However, the idea of Krypton having a mystic is interesting, especially since he heeded scientist Jor-El’s warning about their planet’s imminent destruction. I definitely appreciate Gerber’s additions to Kryptonian history; he clearly loved writing for the Superman universe.

Superman calls the sorcerer “chum” in this story, which is so in-character for him during the late-’70s-early-’80s time frame in the comics.

For the Earth part of the issue it was cool to see Batman ever-so-briefly in Metropolis, as he is quickly deducing that Superman is in the Zone. He just doesn’t know just how far gone into and out of the Phantom Zone his good friend is at that moment!

Supergirl was impressive here. She is intelligent, resourceful, persistent, and constantly thinking her way through the dire circumstances in which she finds herself and Earth. Gerber gives her one line of dialogue that lays this out. I like when Supergirl uses her super-hearing to determine whether any of the criminals were still in the Fortress of Solitude.

The cliffhanger is General Zod and three of his minions setting up a satellite-sized laser cannon composed of Fortress of Solitude technology. It is powered by Green Lantern’s power charging lantern. Zod wants to zap Earth into the Phantom Zone.

 
 Posted:   Jun 22, 2017 - 6:13 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

A Kenner "Super Powers" action figures commercial from 1984 (when I was just a few years too elderly to have owned these)

Or, if you prefer, footage from the upcoming Justice League movie:

 
 Posted:   Jun 23, 2017 - 9:47 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)




Martin Pasko, the third 1970s-era Superman writer whose work I have read, also has an interview and it too looks to be of a high quality, and it is. One learns a lot about Pasko’s time on Superman, his contributions, concepts, and story approach. However, since the lengthy interview was conducted via email, Pasko descends into his usual wordiness and does so while complaining about how Julie Schwartz added expository verbiage to his, Pasko’s, scripts!

Pasko mentions that he and fellow DC scribe Gerry Conway often discussed upping the action by having Superman and his super-powered Kryptonian nemeses crash through buildings and the like, which is something Zack Snyder received severe criticism for doing in Man of Steel.

Excellent book, by the way. A MUST for any Silver and/or Bronze Age Superman fan.

 
 Posted:   Jun 24, 2017 - 2:24 PM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)


Onward to Phantom Zone #3:

(December 1981) Superman and Charlie Kweskill/Quex-Ul experience “The Phantom Zone Electric” in the surreal, psychedelic third part of the miniseries. Writer: Steve Gerber; Art: Gene Colan, Tony DeZuniga.

Supergirl literally claws her way out of a vat of acid by using her strength to crunch the metal walls on her way out of the vat. In true villain fashion, the Kryptonians don’t stick around to watch her “die.”


This is the only part in this series where the art doesn't quite work. As she is about to be thrown into the cauldron it looks like the acid is only a few feet from the top of the cauldron, but when she is thrown in to the cauldron, it appears the acid is at least a dozen or so feet from top. She is able to create a handhold, stop her movement, and then climb out without ever touching the acid. The end result of the scene itself doesn't bother me, but the way it is drawn it seems a bit of a cheat. Regardless, a great moment for Supergirl.


Gene Colan’s art and panel layouts add considerable effect to these whacked-out scenarios from the Mind of Steve Gerber, whose surreal concepts bring to mind 1970s Marvel Comics. There’s a nod to Ego, The Living Planet with the face portal creature that echoes insanity-inducing “logic” within its confines.

All of this would have been way over the head of ten-year-old me, and besides that, I never went in for cosmic concepts and sorcery. However, the idea of Krypton having a mystic is interesting, especially since he heeded scientist Jor-El’s warning about their planet’s imminent destruction. I definitely appreciate Gerber’s additions to Kryptonian history; he clearly loved writing for the Superman universe.


Agreed about the art. And yeah, I don't know that I have ever been that fond of some of the crazier cosmic elements. Fortunately, Gerber mixes in the action on Earth, so the cosmic elements don't completely overtake the issue.

It is amusing that the mystic listens to Jor-El, but the scientists don't. I always liked the rationalization from Superman: The Movie where the rest of the Kryptonians don't dispute Jor-El's research, just his conclusions, and therefore choose to do nothing and prevent Jor-El from doing nothing.

Supergirl was impressive here. She is intelligent, resourceful, persistent, and constantly thinking her way through the dire circumstances in which she finds herself and Earth. Gerber gives her one line of dialogue that lays this out. I like when Supergirl uses her super-hearing to determine whether any of the criminals were still in the Fortress of Solitude.

The cliffhanger is General Zod and three of his minions setting up a satellite-sized laser cannon composed of Fortress of Solitude technology. It is powered by Green Lantern’s power charging lantern. Zod wants to zap Earth into the Phantom Zone.


Agreed. Supergirl really shines in this issue. I liked that they use GL's lantern to power the weapon. Although it is getting ahead of things, I loved how Supergirl got the lantern back to GL in the next issue.

 
 Posted:   Jun 25, 2017 - 5:16 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

The Phantom Zone #4:

(January 1982) "The Phantom Planet!" After escaping from the Phantom Zone’s core, Superman seeks to exact vengeance on the escaped Kryptonian criminals, who wish to send Earth into the Zone. Writer: Steve Gerber; Art: Gene Colan, Tony DeZuniga.

The issue’s best sequence is the opening, with Az-Rel and Nadira destroying a Metropolis nightclub of what is writer Gerber’s satire of Punk, called “Bizarro” of all things. The pyrotic Az-Rel and psychokinetic Nadira combine to immolate a violent club patron and then the entire building.

Gene Colan-Tony DeZuniga render a hellish nightmare of a scene here, and special note must be made of colorist Carl Gafford’s efforts here, too. An outstanding job by the entire creative team.

Of all the escaped Kryptonians, Az-Rel and Nadira are the most terrifying, which is saying something when there is also the insane prophet Ter-Em, big bruiser Jax-Ur, the aptly-named Kru-El, and the deformed and unpredictable Nam-Ek.

Faora-Ul is featured in the issue’s other brutal scene, when a hapless young farmer happens upon Faora-Ul sensually bathing in a pond. She beckons him to her and crushed the life from him. It is and getting something of an sexual thrill from it, which is communicated more by Colan’s art than by Gerber’s words. The scene also emphasizes Faora’s hatred of men. This is an essential aspect of her character, something that was not really touched upon in Man of Steel.

There's a rare scene between Batman and Perry White in White's Daily Planet office. It's unusual but fun to see Batman moving above the skyscrapers of Metropolis. Supergirl also has a scene at White's office.

Charlie Kweskill’s sacrifice seems unnecessary, especially if it was designed to motivate Superman, as if Earth’s peril wasn’t enough. I wish that Kweskill had somehow gotten out, but there was nothing more to do with his character, nor was there sufficient time to relegate him to another fate. His character does come full circle in that he ends up realizing who he is and commits himself to a greater cause than himself. Still, the poor guy was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t even commit and then loses everything but not before having the full realization of who he is. It’s a character coming full circle, but it's the one shortcoming of this miniseries, though it is a small one.

The finale comes at a quick pace and in a most energetic manner. There are some fine action scenes, though the dispatching of the villains is done so fast! However, this only reminds the reader that the emphasis of this story concerns the Phantom Zone, so it is a foregone conclusion that Superman and company would defeat the villains.

Superman using Kru-El as a “living bludgeon” to hit Jax-Ur. It’s even cooler that it’s in orbit above the Earth.

In another prescient scene that no doubt inspired Man of Steel, General Zod and Faora-Ul fly through and shear off a large portion of a skyscraper. The disinterested Nadira and Az-Rel refer to this action as Zod and Faora having a tantrum. The twisted pyrotic psychokinetic couple are completely uninvolved in Zod’s plans and have instead indulged in their own separate sadistic goings on.

Steve Gerber expands the mythos and possibilities of the Phantom Zone and does an incredible job of making the reader consider the nightmare of a place that has been a part of the Superman legend for so long.

 
 Posted:   Jun 28, 2017 - 12:26 AM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

The Phantom Zone #4:

(January 1982) "The Phantom Planet!" After escaping from the Phantom Zone’s core, Superman seeks to exact vengeance on the escaped Kryptonian criminals, who wish to send Earth into the Zone. Writer: Steve Gerber; Art: Gene Colan, Tony DeZuniga.

The issue’s best sequence is the opening, with Az-Rel and Nadira destroying a Metropolis nightclub of what is writer Gerber’s satire of Punk, called “Bizarro” of all things. The pyrotic Az-Rel and psychokinetic Nadira combine to immolate a violent club patron and then the entire building.


That is a great sequence. Some of the moments seem to push the envelope with respect to the comics code authority. I wonder if Gerber got much resistance from either editorial or the thankfully now defunct CCA?

There's a rare scene between Batman and Perry White in White's Daily Planet office. It's unusual but fun to see Batman moving above the skyscrapers of Metropolis. Supergirl also has a scene at White's office.

This scene cracked me up due to how downright jovial Batman was with Perry. He even said thank you and goodbye when he left. Post-Crisis Batman would be in the shadows demanding answers and then once he had the information he needed, slip away when Perry wasn't looking.

Charlie Kweskill’s sacrifice seems unnecessary, especially if it was designed to motivate Superman, as if Earth’s peril wasn’t enough. I wish that Kweskill had somehow gotten out, but there was nothing more to do with his character, nor was there sufficient time to relegate him to another fate. His character does come full circle in that he ends up realizing who he is and commits himself to a greater cause than himself. Still, the poor guy was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t even commit and then loses everything but not before having the full realization of who he is. It’s a character coming full circle, but it's the one shortcoming of this miniseries, though it is a small one.

Agreed, and there really wasn't anything to do with the character.

The finale comes at a quick pace and in a most energetic manner. There are some fine action scenes, though the dispatching of the villains is done so fast! However, this only reminds the reader that the emphasis of this story concerns the Phantom Zone, so it is a foregone conclusion that Superman and company would defeat the villains.

Superman using Kru-El as a “living bludgeon” to hit Jax-Ur. It’s even cooler that it’s in orbit above the Earth.

Steve Gerber expands the mythos and possibilities of the Phantom Zone and does an incredible job of making the reader consider the nightmare of a place that has been a part of the Superman legend for so long.


Yes, this was a great scene. As I mentioned earlier, I loved Supergirl throwing GL's lantern to Wonder Woman from orbit. For a four issue miniseries, Gerber did a great job giving all of the major characters a moment to shine. Definitely a great miniseries.

Thanks for the write-up! I enjoyed your comments for all four issues.

Jim, did you ever read this issue (DC Comics Presents #97):



It also features a story by Gerber. It partly summarizes the Kryptonian bits from the Phantom Zone miniseries, but he also adds to what he built before. The art is by Rick Veitch, who is probably best known for his work on Swamp Thing.

 
 Posted:   Jun 28, 2017 - 9:39 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

I suppose "jovial" might be the word for pre-Crisis Batman, especially after he breaks that thug's jaw when he first appears. wink Oh wait, that would be my joviality! wink

If you get around to reading some more of those Bronze Age Brave and the Bold comics, you'll find that writer Bob Haney had The Dark Knight in a sort of "Dirty Harry" mode. There must be a hundred panels of Jim Aparo having drawn Batman punching or kicking some creep in the face--complete with effects "explosion" showing the (sudden?) impact of the punches. Batman also had a penchant for calling criminals "punk." Pre-Crisis Batman was a violent s.o.b. but yes, more talky.

I just saw that issue of DCCP last week and wanted to get it but passed on it since my stack was already quite high. I'll get it soon, though.

Glad you read and liked the observations. smile

 
 Posted:   Jul 10, 2017 - 5:15 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

A bit shocking to me as I just learned Artist Eduardo Barreto died...back in December, 2011.

How did this information escape my attention before now? Did anyone else here post about this in this or the Marvel thread? If they did, I must have missed it.

My experience with Barreto's work was in Detective Comics back around 1996-97, when he would do the occasional inking or fill in when Graham Nolan was on assignment elsewhere. I enjoyed his work.

Sad to learn of Eduardo Barreto's death. frown

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/comic-riffs/post/eduardo-barreto-rip-remembering-the-panache-of-the-brilliant-teen-titans-and-judge-parker-artist/2011/12/16/gIQAnNEKyO_blog.html?utm_term=.8af49dcd8322

 
 Posted:   Jul 10, 2017 - 7:23 AM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

A bit shocking to me as I just learned Artist Eduardo Barreto died...back in December, 2011.

How did this information escape my attention before now? Did anyone else here post about this in this or the Marvel thread? If they did, I must have missed it.

My experience with Barreto's work was in Detective Comics back around 1996-97, when he would do the occasional inking or fill in when Graham Nolan was on assignment elsewhere. I enjoyed his work.

Sad to learn of Eduardo Barreto's death. frown

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/comic-riffs/post/eduardo-barreto-rip-remembering-the-panache-of-the-brilliant-teen-titans-and-judge-parker-artist/2011/12/16/gIQAnNEKyO_blog.html?utm_term=.8af49dcd8322


Rest in peace. My first exposure to his work was the Shadow Strikes book he did for DC. His style captured the feel of the 1930s well, and had a nice moodiness that fit The Shadow perfectly.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 11, 2017 - 2:50 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)



Dokey-Okey, Phelpsie: You Win wink Department:
















 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2017 - 7:54 AM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

Another fun Barreto cover:

 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2017 - 7:58 AM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

I recently dug this book out of my collection to reread.



I am a sucker for late 19th century stories, and this book was a lot of fun. A nice mashup of Batman and Jack the Ripper. Fantastic art by Mike Mignola and P. Craig Russell


This story will soon be adapted into an animated movie. http://nerdist.com/gotham-by-gaslight-is-dcs-next-animated-movie/ Should be a lot of fun if handled properly. Fortunately the DC animated films have a pretty good track record.

 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2017 - 12:00 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Gordo: That's a fine Barretto tribute, indeed.

Michael Scorefan: Bought that DC Comics Presents #97 today.

Also got Green Lantern #177, a well-regarded Len Wein-Gil Kane story. I believe it was included in the 1983 edition of those fun Year's Best Comics Stories digests.

 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2017 - 3:43 PM   
 By:   drop_forge   (Member)

RIP Sam Glanzman, aged 92. He was the oldest living creator still working.

 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2017 - 3:44 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

I have several of his G.I. Combat and even better USS Stevens stories.

 
 Posted:   Jul 13, 2017 - 6:41 AM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

Michael Scorefan: Bought that DC Comics Presents #97 today.

Also got Green Lantern #177, a well-regarded Len Wein-Gil Kane story. I believe it was included in the 1983 edition of those fun Year's Best Comics Stories digests.


Let me know what you think of DC Comics Presents when you get a chance to read it. I looked up the cover of Green Lantern #177, and I love the Gil Kane cover. I am pretty sure the image of Hal in the foreground has been used by DC marketing on various merchandising over the years. I don't own the issue, but the image looks very familiar, and not just because it is a Gil Kane cover.

 
 Posted:   Jul 13, 2017 - 8:56 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

I'm really looking forward to reading both books this weekend. The Phantom Zone miniseries made me see Steve Gerber in an entirely different light. It's also quite apparent to me that his effervescent writing style defines how I viewed 1970-76 Marvel. It's like he was their guiding force or something. I need to get around to reading his run on The Defenders.

I also must read Crisis on Infinite Earths, an epic stoey I've never done in its entirety. Its arrival coincided with my having initially left comics back around 1985-86. It baffles me why I left, because I was positively enthused about DC in those days, and would occasionally come back and grab the odd Batman book.

Ah well, sometimes one must leave a place in order to better appreciate it, and I did just that with DC, and was something I never did with Marvel, but then I've always been (mostly) a DC Comics guy--but anyone here who's read my posts knows I love Marvel as well.

 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2017 - 7:11 AM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

I also must read Crisis on Infinite Earths, an epic stoey I've never done in its entirety. Its arrival coincided with my having initially left comics back around 1985-86. It baffles me why I left, because I was positively enthused about DC in those days, and would occasionally come back and grab the odd Batman book.

Ah well, sometimes one must leave a place in order to better appreciate it, and I did just that with DC, and was something I never did with Marvel, but then I've always been (mostly) a DC Comics guy--but anyone here who's read my posts knows I love Marvel as well.


Now that I think about it, I haven't read Crisis on Infinite Earths either. I didn't start collecting DC Comics until just after Crisis ended. One of the first DC comics I bought was Man of Steel #1, which rebooted Superman for a post-Crisis DC universe. I should read Crisis eventually, but at this point I think I know most of the major deaths and revelations (many of which have since been undone), so it will be a much different reading experience than if I went in cold. I am sure the Perez art alone justifies reading the book.

I am probably more of a Marvel guy, but I love DC quite a bit also. I am happiest when they both succeed (although my wallet may disagree).

 
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