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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 85

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at another great moment from Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow.


I felt bad that I left this great moment with the Prankster and the Toyman when I featured a bunch of moments from Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, so I figure I’d post it today!

Alan Moore and Curt Swan kicked a whole lot of ass in this scene…

“Do you know what radios waves look like? Because I do!”

So awesome.


If Garth Ennis had written this, I could imagine the carnage that followed. Seeing Pete Ross dead in a Curt Swan Superman comic book was creepy enough. Good thing it was the last of the “imaginary stories” because Moore wiped out a lot of characters in two issues.

Moore, Swan and Perez. Sheer brilliance!

Heh, I had one of those Superman action figures.
The real ones only punched when your pressed the legs together.

another reason the story is one of the best superman story the look on big blues face when he asks you know what radio waves are not to mention Lana ‘s surprise over learning Clark is Supes

I’m not the biggest Perez fan, but I like his inks over Swan in this issue. Is this the only time they ever worked together?

actually the first time they worked together was on a guatemalan death squad (the skin tight leather uniform years), but that’s a whole other comicbook…;-)

You know what the biggest problem with Superman’s secret ID has always been? Not the glasses, they’re brilliant. The problem is that Superman and Clark have all the SAME FRIENDS! This point is proven by this scene. Toyman and Prankster didn’t go after Pete because he was Clark’s friend but because he was Superman’s friend. So who was he protecting by keeping the secret?

HIMSELF! As long as no one knew Clark was Superman Clark could date Lana while Superman continued to get rewarded for constantly saving Lois.

And everone thinks that Krypto was the super-DOG!

“Good thing it was the last of the “imaginary stories” because Moore wiped out a lot of characters in two issues.”

That was kind of the point. Actually the entire point.

wow, this was exciting.

As long as no one knew Clark was Superman Clark could date Lana while Superman continued to get rewarded for constantly saving Lois.

It always shocks me that more people haven’t caught on to this. Reading between the lines, Superman was sleeping with at least two different women. Clark and Lana were an on-again, off-again couple. At the same time, Lois and Superman were having this great romance. The third woman was Supergirl.

Each of the three women was color-coded and associated with one of the three “worlds” Superman lived in. Kara Zor-El was blonde and from Krypton. Lana Lang was a redhead and from Smallville. Lois was a brunette and who was from Metropolis.

Naturally, Alan Moore and Curt Swan got it. Look at how angry Lana is in the middle panel at the top of page 9 and notice how here look shifts to concern in the final panel in that sequence. Great, subtle stuff…

The exchange which starts off this sequence always gives me chills, as well…

“You’re talking about the unmasking?”

“Yes, I’m talking about the unmasking.”

Dean, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t sleeping with Supergirl. I don’t know how Kryptonians feel about mating with first cousins, but most humans frown on it. He was raised in Kansas, not Arkansas.

I’m with you on the rest of it, though. The Silver-Age heroes were some real pricks when it came to women. For all Barry Allen is glorified as the greatest Flash he was nailing Zatanna between the panels in Justice League of America while engaged to Fiona Webb in his own book. And don’t even get me started on how shabbily he treated her after he killed Zoom!

Bob, I did not mean to imply that Superman and Supergirl were sleeping together. That is not exactly what I meant, which was that he simply that he had three women in his life.

However, Superman and Supergirl had an … ummm … interesting relationship. They are extremely flirtatious at times (i.e. Action Comics #289). It makes sense, since they are the last male and female survivors of an alien species. It is sort of like an arrangement marriage, which commonly occurs between cousins in some cultures. I imagine it happens that immigrants assimilate into Western values and suddenly have child brides show up from the home country.

Read that way, the relationship actually makes a lot of sense. Kara wants to live with Clark, but he resists to the point of ending her to an orphanage. He wants to keep her a secret from the world, but finally relents when she demonstrates that she has become Americanized. As she matures, flirts and teases him a bit. However, ultimately she makes an independent life for herself.

Didn’t Supergirl have a fling with her pet horse at some point? Seems like flirting with your cousin is small potatoes after that.

I thought it was Lois who had the fling with the horse?

Hmm… First cousin incest and beastiality…maybe Dr. Wertham had a point?

The guy can see radio waves and fly God know how far in a nano second but he doesn’t check out the toys with his super vision and even with his super speed he gets caught flat footed and gets his clothes destroyed. How do you make this character work?

I thought it was Prince Charles who has a thing going with a horse.

Grrr.. that anonymous was me

How do you make this character work?

Ike, it is actually pretty simple: by focusing on the character.

Superman is no more powerful in his way than Morpheus from “Sandman” or Doctor Manhattan in “Watchmen”. No one sat around moaning and holding their knees over how to make those characters work. They had flaws deriving from clearly drawn personalities, which naturally produced conflict. The mechanics of their (admittedly few) battles were purely secondary considerations.

Superman comics get boring when his corporate owners insist on smoothing down the rough edges in his personality. They get interesting when someone with enough juice (i.e. Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and John Byrne) to re-introduce some of those rough edges takes over the title for some short period of time.

No one ever had more power over Superman than Mort Weisinger. Weisinger was heavily influenced by Freudianism. That helped him in focusing the Superman titles on the romantic/sexual nature of the Man of Steel’s central problem. Namely, that he is the Last Son of Krypton. There is exactly one female of his species left and a coupling is highly unlikely for various reasons (her youth, their close biological relationship). That leaves him feeling isolated and alone.

Superman compensates in two ways. The first is by being a sort of Super Boy Scout and becoming the center of his community. The second is by entering into a series of emotionally stunted relationships with Earth women. He loves them, but also lies to them pretty constantly. The ease with which he deceives them causes him to lose respect for them and behave in some very aloof, dick-ish ways. He plays cruel tricks to teach them small moral lessons, etc.

This, in turn, causes him to feel guilty. That guilt is manifested by various bizarre transformations and losses of control. Bear in mind that despite much cruder plots, dialouge and art that this version of Superman outsold the best-selling current titles eight-to-one.

Dean, he was pretty dick-ish under Cary Bates, too(at least I think it was Bates). In one story in the early ’80’s Clark had a date lined up with Lana, but Superman showed up ahead of time to put the moves on her! Since he was still technically with Lois, Lana slapped him and told him to %@#* off. He flew away hoping that “Clark” would get a warmer reception.

I’m telling you, the Silver-Age heroes were total pricks!

Bob, I agree with you about the generally prickish behavior. My point was that there was a root cause that derived from character. Superman couldn’t commit to either Lois, or Lana, because marriage to either foreclosed the prospect of Kryptonian children.

My frustration with the era that Cary Bates and Elliot S! Maggin was that it was full of the type of half measures that you are talking about. The wild metaphors of the Wesinger era were gone, but the writers were still not directly addressing the problem. The issues are not exactly dated, or immune to more adult treatment. “Sex and the City” did, like, six seasons of examining why and how women lie to themselves about the men in their lives. “Mad Men” has done two great seasons largely about sexual and gender politics in the workplace. To be honest, “Smallville” has done a better job aligning the characters with the themes than the comics have done in a quarter century.

The problem with Superman is the modern comic reader. Lois Lane is not so unlike Miranda Hobbes, but she is not allowed to talk or act anything like that character in a romantic setting. The readership have grown into middle-age, but they don’t want to see their beloved icons having adult relationships. Properties like Superman and Wonder Woman that have those issues at their core suffer as a direct result.

Dean, I think the problem is that most people still think of comics and Superheroes as childrens stories. Even the middle-age fan base of modern times, while still enjoying thier comics and wanting more from them, think of the iconic characters like Superman and Wonder Woman as being “family” characters. The fact that cartoons and toys are made of them to market to children backs up that belief, and no one wants thier childrens characters to be overtly sexual. I’m afraid it’s just something we’ll have to deal with until Americans start to take on a more European attitude toward sex.

Man, have we gotten off the subject of the “Cool Moment.” My actual point was about the uselessness of having a secret identity when both IDs have all the same friends…illustrated by what happened to Pete!

“The guy can see radio waves and fly God know how far in a nano second but he doesn’t check out the toys with his super vision and even with his super speed he gets caught flat footed and gets his clothes destroyed. How do you make this character work?”

I think you start by removing the huge stick from your ass.

Damn, people here can be so bitchy. I think Ike Iszany’s point was that Superman was just so ridiculously overpowered pre-Crisis (a valid point) that he could be such a hard character to write, with regards to action sequences. As powerful as he is, it should be near impossible for someone to get the drop on Superman like that, and almost action scenes should be over in a panel or 2. All of them should end as fast as they did here, but had to be dragged out for a whole issue.

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