It was another one of those nights where I felt like I was breathing through a soda straw so at 2:00 AM I finally surrendered and left bed for the studio where I spent an hour or so reading a trade paperback collection of THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES. Reprints of comics I’d read in the mid-1960s, the Legion stories are set in the 30th century and feature the wonderfully clunky art of John Forte. In my youthful estimation the Legion ran a close second to Batman because:
- The stories drew in both the superhero and science fiction genre
- The stories were about kids that I could readily identify with
- There was such a wide variety of both good and evil characters
However, in some respects that large number of characters could be a liability as well as an asset. Not only could it be difficult for an eleven-year old mind to keep up with all of the interweaving plot lines, I think that in the beginning the rush to pad out the roster gave us some fairly one-dimensional characters.
A prime example is Star Boy, born Thom Kallor to parents living on an orbital platform about the planet Xanthu. While the character was eventually fleshed out and linked to several other notable DC heroes, in the earlier Legion stories his sole super power was the ability to make things heavy, and I’m not talking mother-in-law poundage: Heavy as in up to the weight of a planet.
Hmmm. A superhero that can make things heavy, as in:
- Helping construction workers by making foundation blocks sink into the ground
- Hiding valuable objects by making them so heavy they’d sink into the ground
- Stop fleeing villains by making them so heavy they’d sink into the ground
…and at this point I run out of ideas…Other than the “sinking into the ground” bit the main benefit to Star Boy’s power would be helping Kate Moss to get across the street on a windy day. Even as a kid I couldn’t figure out how he’s managed to stay on the Legion roster with such limitations, but as I drove past a city maintenance crew the other day I finally figured it all out.
It was the stereotypical nine-guys-standing-around-one-guy-with-a-shovel scenario, but that mob was not what caught my interest. It was the older guy sitting sideways out of the passenger seat in the truck, doing absolutely nothing but drinking coffee. That’s when it hit me: The Legion of Super Heroes is a union shop! Star Boy was hired early on and has so much seniority he can’t be “downsized” no matter how limited his powers may be.
Latest in cut-paper sculpts and a miracle that it is finished at all. I started this almost a year ago but as most of you know this has not been an easy year. Even as I look at it now I can find a half-dozen rookie mistakes but to be honest I don’t give a rat’s (bleep). I’d rather be a couple of thousand miles northwest of here at a small chapel in Soldotna, Alaska waiting for my mom’s funeral.
The World’s Finest team ( Batman/Superman) has been one of my favorites from the Day One of my interest in comics. I was not sure I would like the current Batman V. Superman movie but when the flow of action moved away from the stereotypical “mistaken hero throw-down” to fighting Doomsday I stared to like it.
Batman: “Don’t worry – I’m a friend of your son’s “
Martha: “I know. I could tell – you know, the cape”
As it is with all my cut paper work you really don’t get the depth with regular photography, and with this particular piece you’ll be missing even more. You’ll note that Superman’s eyes are glowy-red, like he’s either just used his heat vision or is warming up to do so soon. When I box-frame this work I am going to melt two little holes in the protective Plexiglas.
…right in Superman’s line of sight….
It’s the closing of the year – and as this particular year has been a most challenging one I am glad that I can close it with this paper sculpt…as in “At least I got this one done!”
…and as for the name. When he first discovered superheroes Jaden couldn’t correctly pronounce “M” or “S” so “Superman” became “NuperDan”. It stuck, and now our favorite Kryptonian exile has been permanently dubbed “NuperDan” in the Deitrick home.
Look for this as part of a larger “World’s Finest” paper sculpt due to be out in February.
It delights me to see the attention lavished on the mid-sixties Batman TV series. Yes, I know it was the height of camp and I was none too pleased myself.( it was even worse for those of use in the Last Frontier – KENI Channel 2 in Anchorage managed to broadcast the two episodes in reverse order) I was twelve when it first aired and had been an ardent Bat-fan since the first issue with Julius Schwartz at the editor and it was painful to watch my hero become a buffoon…but if we’d never had the series I doubt we’d ever had the movies or the animated series.
You see, Batman needed all the help he could get at this point of career. When “Julie” took over as editor Batman and all the related titles were on the verge of cancellation, avoided only when transformation from cowled scoutmaster to scientific detective caused a dramatic rise in sales. Aesthetics had a lot to do with it too; Carmine Infantino took over the artistic reins in Detective with issue 327 and “Mystery of the Menacing Mask” and became the first artist that I could identify by style alone.
So, it should be no surprise that my upcoming World’s Finest piece should include that version of the Dark Knight that had more of a mid-level intensity.
When current comics readers read those names they most likely think of the characters from the New Krypton story arc that ran about five years ago in DC comics just prior to Flashpoint and the introduction of the “new 52”. For geezers like me Nightwing and Flamebird can only mean one thing: the crime-fighting identities that Superman and Jimmy Olsen assume when visiting the bottle-city of Kandor.
Kandor – the Kryptonian city that was miniturized and stolen by the arch-villain Brainiac and subsequently recovered by Superman ( or “Nuper-Dan” as my three year old grandson calls him). Kandor was the setting for several Superman/Batman adventures as chronicled in World’s Finest comics and Nightwing/Flamebird allowed the two heroes to continue to fight crime as a team despite Superman’s lack of powers under red sun conditions.
I enjoy revisiting characters from the Sixties. Yes, Silver Age stories and many of their conventions were a bit on the campy side but I loved them then and I still hold them in high regard now . I like them for the same reason I still like the Batman TV series. I mean, a world with lots of adventures where a average guy in tights is considered heroic and no one really gets hurt? What’s not to like?