EP0088: Atomic Robo: The Savage Sword of Doctor Dinosaur and the Knights of the Golden Circle and Superman, Volume 5: Hopes and Fears

Atomic Robo fights his archnemesis in The Savage Sword of Doctor Dinosaur and then travels back to the Old West in the Knights of the Golden Circle. 

Superman takes patriotic family vacation in Superman Vol. 5: Hopes and Fears

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Transcripts Below:

Atomic Robo battles Dr. Dinosaur and then goes back to the Old West in two different Atomic Robo collections, and then we’ll take a look at Superman: Hopes and Fears, straight ahead.
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EP0070: Superman Action Comics: The Oz Effect

At long last, one of the big questions of DC Rebirth is answered as the identity of Mr. Ozis revealed.

Transcript:

Graham: It’s time to learn who the man behind the curtain is. Join us as we take a look at Superman Action Comics: the Oz Effect, straight ahead.
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EP0050: Superman Vol. 4: Black Dawn

An old enemy returns and why the Kents left Hamilton County.

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Transcript:
There’s something weird going on in Hamilton County when Batman comes to town. Find out more about it as we take a look at Superman Volume 4: Black Dawn. Straight ahead.

[Intro Music]

Announcer: Welcome to the Classy Comics podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. From Boise, Idaho here is your host, Adam Graham.

D.C. Rebirth began with Clark Kent and family living in Hamilton County. Clark running a farm with Lois getting rehired to the Planet, first impersonating her younger self and then made the actual Lois Lane with the advance of Superman Reborn, where the 2 timelines were merged. She, and now Clark, have jobs in Metropolis and so, eventually, it’s going to require moving there. I think this has always been in the offing. As much as I like the idea of Clark Kent, rural farmer who super commutes as Superman, I think that these things in comics, there tends to be a gravitational pull back towards a certain status quo and one of those big things is Lois Lane and Clark Kent, reporters for The Daily Planet, working and living in Metropolis. So, this was always going to end and I think that the writers of Superman, where most of the Hamilton County stuff occurred, were really aware of that; that this was not going to last forever and so they actually were pretty clever about it. They worked in little hints throughout the Superman issues that showed some of the weirdness going on in Hamilton County but never focused on it too much except for one issue which didn’t seem at the time to really go anywhere but in retrospect, was part of the weirdness going on throughout this.

And so, we come to Black Dawn and in many ways Black Dawn is like a finale of a T.V. series. The book contains issues 20 through 26 with the Black Dawn storyline taking up issues 20 through 25 and you remember Superman is being published every two weeks. Currently, it’ll be just monthly when Brian Michael Bendis takes over. So, this is the culmination of a year’s worth of storytelling and their writer Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason as the artist, really, it’s a great run. I highly recommend it, right from the first volume but at any rate the story begins with Batman coming to town to report some problems with John’s powers and some weirdness going on in Hamilton County and Superman, Batman, Robin and his son John, aka Superboy, are doing the general superhero thing of scoping around in the shadows until Lois Lane comes out and shines the light on them and tells them to be like normal people and go indoors to talk and so there is this great picture. This is one of my favorite pictures from the Patrick Gleason art on Superman where you’ve got Batman and Superman sitting at the kitchen table of farmhouse along with Robin and Superboy and you’ve got the rooster clock in the background and it’s just as beautiful for how out of place and awkward Batman looks in this picture. It’s got one of these great lines, where because Batman doesn’t eat his pie, and Superboy asked “Doesn’t your dad like Apple?” and Robin whispers, “Batman doesn’t eat pie.”, and it’s just a beautiful, weird little thing and I just love that. It’s really emblematic of the sort of fun this series has had. Really, it’s just a tremendous picture and it’s one of my favorites in this run so I love that and essentially Batman reveals that there’s weird readings and that John’s powers are being repressed, for some reason, and he’s here to investigate and everybody goes to bed but Batman wanders out on his own and is captured. So, it’s a serious situation and other people disappear and get captured. Lois finds herself alone in the farmhouse and so we get an issue where Lois is dealing with being alone in this really weird landscape and you get Lois Lane driving the Bat-mobile.

If you recall, last week I was talking about how some of the really great modern Lois Lane stories are being written right now and I think this issue was a great example of that. The art is good throughout the story but there is a little bit of unevenness because Doug Mahnke actually comes on to do some of the art on several issues in this series as well as collaborating with Gleason on them but there is a reason for Mahnke’s inclusion and I’m going to spoil kind of a mid-art reveal, so giving you a warning, spoiler warning on this.

It’s revealed that the villain behind this is Manchester Black, who first appeared back in Action Comics 775 back in 2001. Manchester Black headed a group of anti-heroes known as the Elite. They faced off against Superman in a story called “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?”. The Elite were written as a response to a group of anti-heroes known as The Authority, who really took on extraordinary actions and freed themselves from the mores that traditionally limited what superheroes would and would not do. Their actions caused so much devastation that it led to Superman confronting them all in battle and defeating them. In many ways, the idea of one man up against a wide array of opponents and foes, it calls to mind, to me, when I read it a kind of like high noon Superman version and it’s a really great story. So, they bring Manchester Black here and Manchester Black has been working with aliens in the area and helping to keep them safe in exchange for their cooperation and his plot is to get Superboy and turn him towards his end, towards his sort of rough form of vigilante justice. He uses his psychic and telepathic powers in order to help achieve that end and it’s up to Superman and Lois to find a way to save their son. There’s a solid ending to the story. I won’t spoil that part of it and it really does show the strength of the Super Family. If I had a critique of the story, this sort of long, involved, yearlong, even just in Universe months, long entrenchment really just did not seem Manchester Black style. It seemed like they wanted to bring back Manchester Black for the sake of it rather than him really fitting in the story. That said, there does lead to some pretty, creepy looking art that’s pretty stylistically done. I will say that Manchester Black, such a photo that brings disturbing imagery through what he does as well as his ability to manipulate minds and so you do end up with some art that is a little bit startling for a book known for its more fun visuals, including what looks like, and appears to be at the time, an amputation or near amputation but other than this, I think this was a solid story to close out the Hamilton County run.

Now we also get for Issue 26, a one issue story and this one is “Brains versus Brawn”, and it’s a guest story written by a Micheal Moreci and Scott Godlewski and the setup is that Superman is teaming up with Superboy and trying to teach him how to use his powers but Superboy, in battle is kind of doing his own thing rather than following that Superman’s directions. At the same time, Superman has flashbacks to the time when Paul Kent it was challenging him and expecting him to do things a certain way. Superboy ends up having a failure and Superman recalls what happened with Paul Kent where Paul own the fact that he had caused the problem by insisting that Clark do everything his way and so Superman concludes that Superboy too has got to be given a chance to really learn and develop his own style rather than be forced to do everything Superman’s way and I think that there is a good moral lesson in that and particularly about the relationship of father and son, where a parent should be equipping a child to be themselves rather than a copy of the parent. However, I do question if the issue does take the lesson a little too far because with Superboy, we’re dealing with a 10-year-old with superpowers and it 10 years old, all you pretty much got is instinct without the years of experience and training. So, there does have to be a balance where you are listening and where there is also room for growth. So, it may have been a bit unbalanced in its approach but it’s still a valid moral and I enjoyed it. Overall, as I think has been the case with every volume in the series, I enjoyed Black Dawn and I will gladly give this particular volume a rating of classy and I am eager to see what’s ahead for Clark Kent and family as they move to the city and we’ll be picking that up in future volumes.

Alright, well, that’s it for now. If you do have a comment, email to me classycomicsguy@gmail.com. Be sure and rate the show on iTunes and Follow us on Twitter at classycomicsguy and if you’re liking the podcast please rate on iTunes and from Cascade, Idaho, this is your host Adam Graham signing off.

EP0048: Lois Lane: A Celebration of 75 Years, Part Two

A look at some later Lois Lane adventures as part of a celebration of 75 years of Lois Lane.

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Transcript below:

Graham: I look at some more modern day Lois Lane comics as we continue our look at Lois Lane, A celebration of 75 Years straight ahead.
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EP0047: Lois Lane: A Celebration of 75 Years, Part One

A look at Lois Lane’s early appearances beginning at Action Comics #1.

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Transcript:
Graham: Today we salute Lois Lane and as we take a look at Lois Lane: A Celebration of 75 Years straight ahead.

[Intro Music]

Announcer: Welcome to the Classy Comics podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. From Boise, Idaho here is your host, Adam Graham.

Graham: D.C. Comics has, several times, created cross decade collections focusing on a single character. Probably the first time was in the late 1980s where they released The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told and The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told and they also released similar compilations for the Golden Age and Silver Age in imaginary stories. And then the early part of the 21st century, they revived the Greatest Stories Ever Told line but this time with more characters: Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Shazam, but many of us question these. I say many of us, at least me and several reviewers online. We took a look at Shazam: The Greatest Stories Ever Told and said are these really the greatest Shazam stories ever told and a lot of them ran into that problem. So, they started doing something different with a celebration of a certain number of years. Generally 75 years for a given character. So, they’re not saying they’re the best stories ever told featuring that character but they are stories about that character and you can’t really argue with that though it is a fair question as to what the quality is.

One thing that D.C. did with these new celebrations of milestone years was they didn’t just focus on the main heroes. They have several villain collections mostly from Batman’s Rogue Gallery. I believe that there’s one for the Joker, there’s one for Two-Face and Catwoman. As far as I know, Lois Lane is the only character who is essentially known as a supporting character, who has her own collection in these milestone lines. So, we’ll take a look at these Lois Lane based stories and probably one of the big challenges is that most Superman stories, which is where the majority of her appearances occurred, came where she is not the main character. So, it’s a question of do we get stories that are really about and connect to Lois even if she’s not the focal point.

The book begins with the Golden age and probably one of the most oft reprinted stories ever Action Comics #1 and #2, which is of course Superman’s first story but it’s also Lois Lane’s first story. So, it’s fair game to include it. It’s an iconic story and in many ways it, even in this first issue from the Golden Age, forms a lot of the key characteristics of what would make Lois Lane, Lois Lane at her best. Even though it was mostly just Superman flying around doing his heroics, she still played a part. Then they also reprint Action Comics #6, which is one of my favorite comics of the Golden Age because essentially what happens is that there are people who are merchandising Superman and they’re talking about making a Superman radio show and Superman movies and of course none of this had happened in 1938 and Superman toys and there is some nefarious goings on behind the scene, which Lois actually figures out and really does shine through here but it’s just a great story. Probably my favorite part of the book is the Lois Lane, Girl Reporter back-up scripts. These were features that appeared in The Adventures of Superman and they were 4 or 5 page stories but they were really good. She would be given some task by some guys who were kind of condescending towards her and she would manage to save the day. Sometimes she would end up calling in the police to help which isn’t unreasonable, but she essentially led the way and I think that scripts like that makes some of her behavior in Superman stories make more sense, if she’s actually handled stuff without Superman being around and managed to go through things competently, then she might feel more comfortable taking risks.
As it is, various portrayals of Lois Lane, you kind of wonder how she survived long enough to meet Superman with all of the risks she takes. But I like these scripts and if there were more of them, I’d like to see them collected in a book.
Then you have Lois Lane Loves Clark Kent, in which she goes to a psychiatrist and explains she has a fixation on Superman and she’s in love with Superman and the psychiatry suggests that what she needs to do is to turn her efforts and her energy to someone she doesn’t really care about so that she will care about them and will no longer be fixated on Superman. It’s actually a funny story which, I think unlike some of the Silver Age stories, which kind of make Lois Lane ridiculous, is funny without being disrespectful.
Moving on to the Silver Age items in the collection, you have The Girl in Superman’s Past. This story introduces Lana Lang and allows another angle to the Lois/Superman relationship, with Lois having a rival for Superman’s affections in the person of Lana Lang. In many ways during the Silver Age, much of Superman comics and a lot of Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane, which this showcase issue would eventually lead to, became a bit of a sitcom and this character, I guess, was her ethel and set the stage for a lot of high jinx to ensue.
I also like the New Lois Lane, which was a story where Lois decided that she was going to give up trying to find out Superman’s secret identity and the problem with this is that Superman wants her to discover a fake, secret identity that he’s set up so that it will get someone else off his trail but all of the clues he leaves for her, she ignores as part of her desire to turn over a new leaf. It’s funny and it’s just a really cute script. I like that one quite a bit.
The other two Silver Age stories are just kind of average and I find some modern sensibilities and in many cases with good reason, I do think that it did feel a little bit like the compilers were trying for a certain sort of a narrative with the Silver Age. I mean, there were a lot of scripts like that but they were somewhat selective in what they put in there to kind of build this narrative.
Then we have 1970s I Am Curious (Black), in which Lois is trying to get a story out of the black neighborhood of Metropolis known in this story as Little Africa. Whether this is related to the Suicide Slum introduced in the Black Lightening, I don’t know but she found great resistance, so she asked Superman’s help to turn her black so that she could actually experience and interact with people and try and understand them. And of course being kind of light Silver Age, Superman has access to a machine to do that because you can get any machine like that up in the Fortress of Solitude back during that era and I think the story overall comes from a good heart. I think it may have drawn a little bit on the book Black Like Me. It’s a good hearted story. It’s somewhat tame, but it tells a simple and powerful truth. It may overstate things, well, it does overstate things a bit, when Superman tells Lois that the reaction to finding out that Lois is really white by a black supremacist who received a blood transfusion from her would say something about the possibility of peace on earth but still I think the overall thrust of it was good and it’s definitely well intended and like I said, comes from a good place and actually that was all of the Lois Lane stories that it had up there, up until the Crisis on Infinite Earths, which is kind of weird because essentially you have 15 years of stories about Lois Lane and featuring her that weren’t included or considered for inclusion. I do know, for example I read in a Supergirl comic from the 1970s, there was a back-up script, featuring Lois Lane that was a lot more like Lois Lane, Girl Reporter from the 1940s rather than Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane.

That will be all for now. Join us back here for part 2, as we take a look at the modern comics collected in this book featuring Lois Lane. In the meantime send your comments to classycomicsguy@gmail.com. Please be sure and rate the show on iTunes, if you’re enjoying it and follow us on Twitter at classycomicsguy. From Boise, Idaho, this is your host Adam Graham signing off.

EP0034: Trinity, Vol. 2: Dead Space

The book featuring DC’s most awesome heroes (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) begins with three villains gathering and then our heroes having a pow wow to discuss continuity before getting to a real adventure.

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Transcript below:

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, DC’s longest enduring superheroes come together to talk. We’ll tell you all about it next as we take a look at Trinity Volume Two: Dead Space straight ahead.
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EP0033s: Action Comics #1000 Review

A look at a milestone issue jam-packed celeberation of Superman in Actions Comics #1000 with stories from some of the greatest creators in the comic book industry.

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EP0018: Superman: Action Comics, Volume 4: The New World

Superman barely has time to adjust to his latest retcon before a team of malcontent supervillains form the new Superman Revenge Squad and declare war on him.

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Transcript:

Superman faces his revenge squad and we take a look at it in Superman Action Comics Volume Four: The New World.

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