Monday, September 26, 2011

Graphic Novels - Silver Age Superman: Superman #196

Welcome back to Superman Month. This time I will be going over a random issue from the Silver Age.I don't have much to say about this age, except that just about everything like Brainiac, Metallo, Supergirl, Kandor, Superpets (?????), the Fortress of Solitude and a whole lot of other things came out of this age. This is also the age where Superman was at his most powerful. Super strength, Super speed, x-ray vision, Finger Beams (or Gay Pride Beams, thanks Caitlyn), and most of all Super-dickery, Superman had them all. Anyway, today's issue has two stories, with both ranging from weird to "Ehhh???" So here we go as we leave the Pre-Crisis age:

Superman #196
Writers: Bill Finger and ?
Artists: Wayne Boring and Al Plastino

The Thing from 40.000 A.D. aka Superman vs. "John Carpenter's The Thing"
We start out with Superman beating the crap out of Clark Kent....That gets explained eventually.

We actually start out one night as something like a comet shoots out of the sky and lands outside Metropolis. It turns out to be the Thing, which looks a little like the Smog Monster from Godzilla vs the Smog Monster. The Thing has the ability to change its form into anything it wants to. The next day, the army and Superman show up to see what crashed. Since the Thing wants to stay out of sight, it transforms into a another soldier. Superman and the captain are shocked as the see two versions of the soldier. At that moment, a truck catches on fire (a distraction from the Thing) and Superman has to go put it out.
I see why the call it The Thing...ew.

Over the next few days, a string of robberies happen. They're strange because the robbers are apparently trusted citizens with access to the stolen goods, and also because the victims insist on describing the robbers’ actions to them.  At the Daily Planet, Clark asks Perry that he wants to report on the robberies. Perry says that Lois is already on that story, so he assigns Clark to report on the world's largest synthetic diamond. It turns out that the Thing is staking out the place where the diamond is being held. The Thing decides that the only way it can get the diamond is to take Clark Kent's form and steal the diamond. When it (as Clark) steals the diamond, Superman heads to the museum and finds ot what happened, and then thinks something really weird:
Superman thinking of himself in the 3rd person? Let me go look up in my mental health encyclopedia for the answer.

Superman finds the Thing (as Clark). They fight and it seems like the Thing is a match for our man of steel. It turns out that the Thing wants to make a time machine to go back to 40,000 A.D. and rule. As they keep fighting, the Thing takes Superman's form, so we have a Superman vs. Superman fight. Superman realizes that the only thing he can do is to lure the Thing to an H-bomb site. When the bomb goes off, the Thing is destroyed and Superman is unfazed (uh, did Superman just kill that Thing? it seems like he did.). The day is saved and the Thing from 40,000 AD (or CE if you're that anal) is beaten.

The Star of Steel aka "Superman meets Days of Our Lives"
The issue starts out as Clark goes to a press conference, where Producer Marcus Moeller (ha!) introduces the awesome actors Lyrica Lloyd (another ha!) and Alistair Wight. They’re back from Africa after doing some filming. Ms. Lloyd has a leopard on a leash at her side. Suddenly, Lyrica loses control of the leopard, but Clark is able to grab the leash and stop the big cat. Lyrica thanks Clark. Moeller then announces that they are going to make a Superman movie. Lyrica then notices something about Clark:

This is an example of Silver Age Stupidity.

Clark (who is thanking God these people are so stupid), tries to get out of the predicament, but Moeller tells him that the money will go towards charity, and Clark will be able to report on the production. It’s Lyrica who’s able to sway Clark into doing the movie. Something else which is kind of stupid also happens during this:


At the Daily Planet, everyone, even Lois “I’m an obsessive twit at this time” Lane, is impressed. As he and Lyrica head to Hollywood, Clark begins to feel a little something for Lyrica. It must be those L’s. As they study their scripts, they learn that Lyrica is playing a nurse who can’t even guess that Dr. Stan Sage is actually Superman. Hmm…art imitating life, perhaps? Anyway, they arrive at the studio. Clark (or Claude, whatever rows your boat) is given a high-tech Superman suit that can sort of mimic his powers. Wow! Who knew?

As shooting begins, an accident happens involving an experimental robot, and Superman is able to stop it. The producers think Clark was able to do it using the suit. During this time, Clark has to escort Lyrica around town to some events for the movie. During this time, Clark begins to fall in love with the woman. Aw. The next day, Alistair comes in to play his role. Suddenly, the man falls to the floor DEAD! (or asleep. Can’t really tell…Nope! He’s dead.). This shocks everyone, but the movie goes on anyway. In the next scene, Clark plays himself and flies Lyrica around on set. He kind of forgets he’s supposed to be playing Superman and not be Superman and flies her up to a swan-shaped cloud. Suddenly, Lyrica blacks out again, so Clark flies her back down to the ground. While Clark wakes Lyrica up, The producers wonder how the suit was able to do all of that. In the next scene, a huge glass model, which was built for the movie, cracks because of a sonic boom (!!!) and is about to fall on Lyrica. Clark playing Superman springs into action and saves her, but the producers notice that Clark wasn’t hurt from all of that glass. Clark suddenly announces that he’s Superman who’s come to visit the set. The producer then thinks it would be a great idea to have “Claude” meet Superman. Superman, flabbergasted, is able to come up with one of the silliest things I have ever read in a comic book.

Lol. That's all. 

Over the next few days, Clark has fun, dancing, and dinner with Lyrica. Clark then has decided that he will propose to Lyrica. Lyrica, who apparently is much of a (insert word here) as Lois, coldly turns Clark down and says this,"A new name and a Superman suit can't change you from weak, timid Clark Kent." Well, this sends Clark into a homicidal rage…oh wait. This isn’t Law and Order: SVU. This actually makes Clark basically out himself as Superman to Lyrica. And yes, he does it in a real funny way.

I have no words for this.

As he reveals his costume, she faints again. When Lyrica comes to, Superman tells her that he wants her to be his wife. Lyrica then reveals a dark secret to Superman: she’s actually the Lex Luthor from the Earth XX-XX (notice no Y)!!!

Okay, she doesn’t say that. She reveals to Superman that she contracted a disease in Africa. That is what also killed Alistair. The reason she wanted to do the Superman film was because it would be her last one and she also fanaticized about being with Superman. Superman, who’s again flabbergasted by this, desperately looks for a cure, but finds nothing. He then spends 24 hours doing this:

Chris Reeve: You know, you could turn the world on its –
Superman: I can’t!!! I’m not you!
CR: Uh...yes you are.

Unfortunately, even Superman can’t stop death. She dies, telling Superman that she loved him. Months later, the movie comes out in Metropolis. Superman, looking sad, leaves a black wreath at the premiere.

…. … … .. .. . . . ..

And that ends this weird issue. Is it good? Yes. It’s has a good first story that reminds me of movies like “The Thing” and just about every sci-fi episode that has a evil doppelganger in it. The art is also done well in the story. It's fast-paced and is cool for an 8-page story.Next, we have the second and main story of the issue.  It was weird, and I mean “Funny” weird, not “Bad” weird. This age was full weirdness like that. Here is a pretty weird example: This Deserves a W-T-Fudpucker! The story literally plays out like some sort of Greek tragedy or something similar to that. It’s full of weird ideas and weird stuff, and somehow I still like it. It’s not the Superman I‘m used to, but it is still Superman. Well, with the Pre-Crisis stuff out of the way, it’s time to look at the new universe that has been created by some dudes named Grant Morrison and George Perez.


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