Posts Tagged ‘Superman’

Posted Saturday, January 1st, 2022 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 81

Happy New Year.

The Ball has dropped and it’s time to face another 365 days. At this point, no one knows what 2022 will offer.

To kick off the new year, we pull from the past and offer Superman in Action Comics issue 81. Like many of the covers of the Golden Age, the only suggestion of the passage one year to the next is the cover.

Action Comics (1938) 81

Action Comics (1938) 81

Headliner Superman stars in Fairyland Isle. Featured are Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen against the one-and-done villain Fancy Dan, not to be mistaken for Spider-Man’s Silver-Age nemesis.

The story is reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archives Vol. 5.

Congo Bill is the main character of the alliterative second feature, Nemesis of the Northland.

The Chinatown Kid, Magician showcases the Vigilante with Zatara bringing up the rear in Sea-Going Sparklers.

Sharing the cover with the Man of Steel are Father Time and Baby New Year.

Father Time’s origins hail from the Greek’s association of time, or chronos, with Cronos the god of agriculture, hence the scythe. The Romans saw Cronos as a personification of Saturn, who also carried a sickle, and as an old man. Wings and an hourglass were added later, a reminder of Death or the Grim Reaper.

Editorial cartoons would later depict Father Time as the representation of the previous year. He would be seen passing the crown to Baby New Year signifying the dawning of a new era or year.

Baby New Year is believed to be the resurrection of Father Time who grows old during the year to become the phoenix-like, aged representation of year’s end. The fresh year is presented in diaper, top hat and sash bearing the year that he represents. Though named Baby New Year, he is often represented as a toddler.

The moniker was often bestowed upon the first born of a village, town or city each year. The tradition has been dropped due to concerns the infant could be targeted by criminals.

No matter how it is celebrated, happy New Year from Jeff and I and Four-Color Holidays. May your 2022 be lived to the fullest.

Posted Thursday, November 11th, 2021 by Barry

Superman (1939) 12

Penciler Fred Ray must have seen the storm clouds on the horizon with his prophetic cover for Superman 12. Within six months the United States would be part of the global conflict now known as World War II.

The nameless sailor and soldier share the cover with Superman, but it’s those in the flanking uniforms who will are honored today, Veterans Day.

Being the title character, Superman, in his alter ego as Clark Kent, opens the book on vacation. He and Lois Lane are on a cruise ship when they meet Nan Wilson who has inherited an island. Intrigue follows when it is discovered the island is being used as secret submarine base by hostiles.

Superman (1939) 12

Superman (1939) 12

In the second story, Clark Kent’s article on deaths that appear to be suicides are proved wrong when Superman takes over in the Suicide Murders.

Another propaganda story in The Grotak Bund has Superman saving America from sinister foreign powers. In this story, The Grotak Bund is working to hinder the American defense system by sabotaging factories.

Safe Job gives Superman a breather with a simple detective story. The hero discovers a robbery at the Chalmers Real Estate Company was an inside job.

Lex Luthor brings the book to a close in The Beasts of Luthor, 13 pages of science-fiction inspired artificial animal husbandry. Lois and Clark team for a story on a scientist from the island of Baracoda where giant animals are manufactured. It becomes known its all part of a plot using the animals to conquer the world.

Originally known as Armistice Day, Veterans Day is observed annually on Nov. 11 to honor military veterans. It is held on Nov. 11 in part to remember the close of World War I that ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

It was named Veterans Day in 1954.

Superman was excused from the second world war under the excuse he was powerless against magic which could be wielded against him in Europe.

In reality, he didn’t exist and if he had, would have been able to stop the fighting in one day. It was also decided he would not be featured in either of the theaters so as not to take away from the real men fighting and giving up their lives.

Yet, America’s greatest (fictional) hero has long been featured with and honoring the real heroes.

Posted Monday, September 13th, 2021 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 23

Doff the hat, toss the bandanna, let the world see the chrome on the dome, today is National Bald is Beautiful Day.

More and more men are celebrating the freedom from morning grooming, trashing the combs and reveling in their new found time. No longer must they spend the extra time and money shampooing and coifing.

While Yule Brenner may be the first choice as spokesman, he never graced the cover or interior of a comic book. No, the logical choice is Superman’s number one archvillain Lex Luthor.

Luthor’s criminal career can be broken down into three eras. He began as a red-haired “mad scientist and manipulative warlord,” according to the forward in Lex Luthor A Celebration of 75 Years.

His follicelly-challenged appearance first came to be in the Superman newspaper strip then Superman issue 10, courtesy of artist Leo Nowak, though he first appeared in Action Comics 23 with a full head of red hair.

The loss of his hair was addressed in Adventure Comics 271. The Silver Age story also provided a new origin for Luthor. In the tale, young Luthor was a fan of Superboy, even building a club house/museum dedicated to the Boy of Steel’s exploits.

When an accidental fire began at the club house, Superboy put the blaze out with a puff of super breath. Luthor was uninjured, but his hair had fallen out due to a mixture of fumes from Kryptonite he was studying and the blow from Superboy.

The feud was on.

Luthor continued to battle Superman throughout the Silver and into the Bronze ages.

It wasn’t until after Crisis on Infinite Earths he became more of a business man. Writer/artist John Byrne retooled Superman and Luthor. The villain became a mashup of Ted Turner and Donald Trump with a dash of Marvel Comic’s Kingpin.

Using his considerable fortune for leverage, Luthor launched himself into the world of politics as the new millennium arrived. A botched attempt at weapon’s trading and a bounty on Superman’s head backfired leaving Luthor a fugitive and to abandon the Oval Office.

Writers continued to reinvent Luthor throughout the ensuing Crises, events and company reboots.

Luthor has accompanied the Man of Steel outside the printed page to the silver screen, the small screen and video games

While our choice for spokesman for National Bald is Beautiful Day has such a rich history, the day itself does not.

To celebrate, well, do whatever you want; read some back issues with Luthor as the protagonist, shave your head or compliment someone who has.

Posted Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 337

Welcome to National Hobo Week, Aug. 10-13.

While most of you – more than likely all – won’t be traveling to Britt, Iowa, for the National Hobo Convention, you can celebrate, commemorate, commiserate vicariously. Let’s start with the Man of Steel’s first foray into the vagrant life in Action Comics issue 337.

A nursery rhyme causes Superman to cosplay after performing various deeds. His first has him halting a crime while acting as a man of means. He follows the act by feigning poverty to petition the government for support of a slum project.

Next, he apprehends two thieves while dressed as an Indian chief. His fourth foray is as an attorney to stop a killer and, finally, as Clark Kent, fakes an operation as a doctor.

Prior to what will be his last act, Superman warns the FBI he plans to commit a robbery. The G-men procure some Kryptonite to thwart the attempt. Superman steals the Green K and explains the odd proceedings.

As a baby on Krypton, young Kal-El had been exposed to a comet while reciting the rhyme, “rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief.” Somehow the comet caused a hypnotic effect causing Kal to act out the verse when exposed a second time.

Supergirl followed in her own story, The Green Sun Supergirl!

For those wishing to learn more about National Hobo Week, research famous hobos such as Leon Ray Livingston, T-Bone Slim or Alexander Supertramp.

More to follow as we take the week and recognize the heroes who have donned the patchwork suit, taken possessions in bindle and hiked across the United States.

Action Comics (1938) 337

Posted Saturday, July 24th, 2021 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 252

National Cousins Day has a mysterious past, but is still marked in red on the National Day Calendar each July 24.

 

Action Comics (1938) 252

The day is designed to celebrate bonds formed between those sometimes closer than siblings. Or, to commemorate a kinship that can form when siblings are not there.

Such is the case with Kara Zor-El and Kal-El, better known as Supergirl and Superman.

Depending on which reboot you last read, Kal and Kara are the sole survivors of Krypton. Originally, she arrived on Earth in 1959. Kara was sent into the heavens in a rocket of her own following Kal’s departure. The explosion caused a malfunction in the guidance equipment and she meandered in space for a bit. When she arrived on Earth, she was already a teenager.

Supergirl later became a victim of Crisis on Infinite Earths. She would be re-introduced to the DCU in 2004 in issue eight of the Superman/Batman comic book. Jeph Loeb authored an ongoing series following her reintroduction a year later.

Supergirl appeared in a self-titled movie in 1984. Unlike her cousin, Kara was not well received at the box office.

She would be given a supporting role on the CW incarnation, Smallville, in season seven.

CBS launched the latest celluloid version in 2015. To date, it has been renewed for a sixth season.

Supergirl has appeared in several incarnations in the animated DCU as well. Her first was on Superman: The Animated Series where she was voiced by Nicholle Tom. Later, she would slide over to Justice League Unlimited. Her new origin would be retold in the direct-to-video feature-length Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.

More recently, she has been a fixture on the pre-teen-oriented DC Super Hero Girls series.

So, set a little time aside and remember the sibling who wasn’t a sibling, but still there when you needed them.

Posted Thursday, July 8th, 2021 by Barry

Video Game Day

Need we say more?

Well, we’re gonna.

There’s no real history for the day, but there are a plethora of games that can be sampled. Rather than bore you with a lengthy dissertation, we’ll let Nixian’s YouTube offering on the Evolution of Superhero games give you a sampling.

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Posted Monday, May 31st, 2021 by Barry

Help Superman Crush Nick O’Teen

World No Tobacco Day is observed around the globe every year on May 31, according to National Day Calendar. The day is designed to encourage 24 hours of abstinence from any form of tobacco.

Attention is also to be focused on the reported adverse health issues from extended tobacco use. Currently seven-million deaths are attributed to tobacco use a year; 480,000 of those are Americans. Another 890,000 deaths are said to be a result of second-hand smoke.

It is estimated over one-billion persons are regular tobacco users. An estimated 34.3 million are adult smokers in the United States. Those numbers are on the decline with 21 in 100 people used to be smokers.

West Virginia has the highest rates of smoking in the United States. The Mountain State is followed by Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Indiana, Ohio and Alaska. Broken down farther, 14 percent of the US smokes.

Superman has long loaned his name and likeness to many a cause of his long-lived career. This public service announcement is another reminder the fictional do-gooder is saving the world one person at a time.

World No Tobacco Day

Posted Saturday, February 13th, 2021 by Barry

Shazam (1972) 1

For the cheese enthusiasts out there prepare to celebrate, today is National Cheddar Day.

The birthday boy is a native of Cheddar in Somerset, England.

Shazam (1972) 1

Shazam (1972) 1

No, lie.

Cheddar is so popular it accounts for about a third of all cheese sales in the United States. Half the sales in the United Kingdom are cheddar.

The (non) holiday hails from Tillamook County, Oregon, where the cows outnumber the humans. It’s a relative newcomer to the calendar of days Hallmark doesn’t recognize. The first event was held Feb. 13, 2019.

Maybe of more interest is the history of our mascot, the Big Red Cheese himself:  Shazam.

While the character began at Fawcett Publishing in 1940 under the moniker Captain Marvel, he’s better known these days as a house hero for DC Comics.

How Shazam came into the DC fold has already been covered at Four Color.

Focusing on his reemergence, Shazam returned to spin racks in late 1972 with his self-titled book. Superman buried the hatchet with his former rival and appeared side-by-side on the cover, introducing the Big Red Cheese to a new era of comic book reader.

Not long after his return to the comic book world, Shazam became part of Saturday morning television in a live-action series by Filmation. The series ran from 1974 to 1977 on CBS. In in 1975 Shazam became a double feature with The Secrets of Isis.

Later the character would appear as part of Hanna-Barbera Productions Legends of the Superheroes in 1979.

Filmation optioned Shazam for an animated series on NBC from 1981 to 1982.

The former Captain Marvel remained in the DC animated universe appearing in animated films Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and Justice League: The New Frontier. In 2010 Superman and Shazam teamed for an animated short in The Return of Black Adam.

His 2019 feature film earned $74 million at the box office after expenses.

Oh, and if you’ve read this far and aren’t aware, Shazam was christened The Big Red Cheese by arch nemesis Dr. Sivana. Hence, he’s our ambassador du jour.

Posted Friday, January 1st, 2021 by Barry

New Year’s Evil (2019) 1

Rotten Tomatoes gives New Year’s Evil a 14-percent score.

I give New Year’s Evil at least a 90-percent score.

Wait, we’re talking about two different things. Apples and, well, tomatoes.

New Year’s Evil was originally a 1980, low-budget slasher starring Roz “Pinky Tuscadero” Kelly.

DC Comics adopted the title in 1997 releasing eight one-shot specials featuring a who’s who of rogues.

The most current incarnation of New Year’s Evil came in my stocking of comic books from Jeff in 2019. Yeah, a little late with this one, but I wanted to save it for the big day.

And, here it is.

New Year’s Evil (2019) 1

New Year’s Evil 2019 features another plethora of villainy from the DCU.

First up is the Joker in The Amateur. New Year’s Eve is spoiled by someone other than the Clown Prince of Crime. Batman and the Joker must come to terms with accountability.

Superman foils the Toyman in Slaybells Ring. His attempt at monopolization of Christmas is thwarted by those he hoped would follow.

Bright and Terrible shows a different side of Sinestro when his past is misconstrued.

Poison Ivy learns she can’t change people in Auld Lang Ivy.

Wonder Woman cautions Ares his mercy may be misguided in Winter’s Root.

A surprising show of good intentions allows Black Adam to bring some tenderness in A Coal in My Stocking.

Calendar Man remains in Arkham Asylum courtesy of his own demons in New Year, New You.

The best of the lot is a surprise unveiling of Chronos’ childhood in Father Christmas.

A Prankster New Year! is just as the title reads.

New Year’s Evil closes with Harley Quinn in Little Christmas Tree. An act of kindness does not go unpaid.

Posted Thursday, November 26th, 2020 by Barry

JSA (1999) 54

JSA (1999) 54

JSA (1999) 54

The JSA hosts the JLA in the Jan. 2004-cover dated issue.

Geoff Johns joins the two teams for their annual dinner in 20 pages that don’t seem rushed or over crowded. While drawing on some history between characters, the story doesn’t require any real background knowledge to enjoy. Johns focuses on characterization rather than action, though two minor-league villains pop in for a cameo. Their intrusion harkens back to DeMatties and Giffen’s tenure on the Justice League books from a decade earlier.

Johns’ encyclopedic knowledge of the DC Universe is evident as he has fun with the iconic heroes. Batman’s paranoia is rampant as he looks in every dark corner for trouble. Green Arrow and Hawkman spar with words and threats. Impulse and Jay Garrack stare across the great divide of the generational gap.

All-in-all, JSA 54 is a fun read. Johns proves equal to the task of combining the Golden and Modern Age families for a sit-down meal.