"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Well, it’s been a week. Let’s see whose bronze-fu was the strongest, shall we?
We had about the same number of entrants as last time, six in all. Some you will recognize as fairly frequent commenters here on the blog, and others seemingly swooped out of nowhere. A hearty well-done to K.W., Abel Yu, Edo Bosnar, Richard Bensam, Shane Robertson, and Eileen Akers.
So a gold star to each of them. No one really scored big, but that’s because everyone was so scrupulous about abiding by the rules — I think most of our entrants went from memory, with a couple of folks looking stuff up in their comics. Once again, I was heartened and delighted by the utter lack of cheating. Seriously, that is just awesome. I love that everyone was so honest — one entrant, Abel, even owned up to asking his uncle for help on some of them. (Which delighted my wife. “You brought a family together for an activity!” she said, beaming. Julie loves stuff like that.)
Anyway, as far as I could tell there was no Googling or Wikipedia’ing. That was really cool. Especially since there’s always a fair amount of moaning and groaning about how hard these are, and I suppose it’s true — but that’s partly because, after almost a decade of administering the “guess the quote” contest on CBR’s TV and Movie Forum, I grew to hate smug Google cheaters with a passion far outweighing the seriousness of the actual offense (I know. It’s silly. But they’re such blatant LIARS, it always made me see red) so I try to make it so that if someone does use the Google, they still have to dig.
And also, these are designed to be hard because the chief amusement for me in doing a quiz like this (and I gather, for you all as well) is the answer column that follows a week later. That column is more entertaining if the facts presented are at least partly new to you readers out there.
So with all that out of the way, let’s get to it! First the answers, and then we will announce our winner!
PART ONE: “Who WAS that?”
1. Who cursed Simon Garth to walk the earth as a zombie?
For this you have to go back to the original story by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, but if you did so, you’d see that it was one of his disgruntled former employees.
Truthfully, Simon was kind of a jerk and probably had it coming, as explicated by Steve Gerber in Tales of the Zombie #1. Garth’s gardener, Gyps, vowed to get revenge upon his employer for his years of mistreatment and recent firing. Kidnapping Garth, Gyps stabbed him to death with a pair of garden shears in the Bayous near New Orleans. Gyps was not satisfied by Garth’s relatively quick death, however, and so he turned the corpse over to a nearby voodoo cult and forced voodoo queen Layla (also Garth’s former secretary– small world) to turn Garth into a zombie. Layla, with the aid of matching amulets, resurrected the corpse of her former employer as a mindless zombie. One of the two amulets was placed around Garth’s neck; the other was given to Gyps. Using his amulet, Gyps could control the Zombie. However, as you may imagine, this didn’t work out well in the end.
2. Who secretly was financing Defenders foes The Sons of the Serpent?
The Sons of the Serpent were a KKK-style hate group that fought the Defenders in a four-part saga that ran from Defenders #22 to #25, early in Steve Gerber’s tenure on the book. The Serpents were all about achieving racial purity through violence.
Which made it really ironic when it was revealed that the mastermind behind them was Nighthawk’s own business manager, a man named Pennysworth…
…a black man. Pennysworth had funded the Serpents basically as an investment to gain property advantages, buying up burned-out slum properties after the Serpent Sons had attacked them.
Steve Gerber laid out Pennysworth’s motives in such a chillingly plausible way that even thirteen-year-old me was thoroughly creeped out.
Pennysworth goes on to explain, quite reasonably, that Nighthawk never gave a damn where his money came from as long as it kept coming, and asked why was it suddenly bad that he had crossed the line into out-and-out villainy as opposed to his previous legal-but-merely-ruthless business practices, which had never bothered Kyle in the slightest. It was an extremely nasty scene, the more so for Pennysworth’s bitter calm playing against Kyle Richmond’s horror. It was the first time I’d experienced Steve Gerber subverting a superhero cliché to make a real-world point, and it is one of my most vivid memories of the Bronze Age. (Much more so than Don McGregor’s take on the real Klan over in Jungle Action, a story from around the same time that hasn’t aged nearly as well.)
3. Who did Dr. Zamm help to reach a heightened understanding?
This question tickled me because it sounds like it should be some sort of Jim Starlin cosmic thing, but that’s not it at all. In putting this quiz together, I tried to include as many different 70s comics trends as I could think of. Which meant that I had to have something from DC’s ‘relevant’ era, and also some Bob Haney craziness.
World’s Finest #224 covers both.
The Super-Sons are just not getting along with their establishment Dads, and the friction has reached the point where it is interfering with their actual superhero responsibilities. So all four go off to an encounter-group camp weekend retreat. “Camp Enoyreve” is administrated by the kindly Dr. Zamm, who, believe it or not, is NOT a villain. He’s got a Ph.D. in LOVE, baby, and just wants everyone to get along.
Starting with dance therapy…
…and then suggesting that the two boys switch dads for the weekend. Incredibly, this helps the four heroes solve the case of the moment AND leads to deeper appreciation for what the other side’s going through. And that’s been one to grow on, hepcats.
“The scribe recorded the words of Sonnabend the prophet. Words that would be preserved for eternity by the immortal Guardians, a collection of verses to guide the righteous across the eons.
“Not for billions of years, by earth measure, would the words of the particular verses he now recorded apply. But when the time came, they would certainly prove true:
“Star Child will leave a deathworld
For the System of the Rings,
Where the child will grow to legend
As his life the singer sings.
“When the conqueror wants his secret
With the Star Child he’ll contend;
And when the day of battle’s over
Then the legend’s life will end.”
Got it yet? No? Well… it helps to know that “Star Child” translates to “Kal-El” in Kryptonian.
The prophecy of Sonnabend refers to Superman, and it’s the engine that drives the plot of Elliott Maggin’s wonderful novel Last Son of Krypton. Several folks were perplexed at not being able to determine Sonnabend’s species or homeworld, but really, “the guy in Maggin’s Superman novel” was plenty. Anyone who got that much got full credit.
5. Most of the Marvel Novel series of the 1970s were written by comics guys like Len Wein, David Michelinie, and Marv Wolfman. But a couple of them were done by other writers using pen names. What were the true identities of “Joe Silva” and “Kyle Christopher”?
We’ll take the easy one first.
“Joe Silva” was one of the many pen names of the incredibly prolific Ron Goulart.
In addition to “Joseph Silva,” Goulart also did a number of licensed-paperback series novels under the names Con Steffanson, Frank Shawn, and even a stint as Kenneth Robeson for the series of new Avenger novels from Warner Books, after they ran out of old pulps to reprint.
He also did several under his own name, and a number of original SF stories and novels to boot. The guy was a factory.
Somewhat surprisingly for someone so prolific, these are all pretty good books, too. Smart, fun, quick reads. His entries in the Marvel series are no exception. I like his Captain America book a little better than his Hulk novel but they’re both good.
The second one is a little more obscure.
The ninth entry in the Marvel Novel series was actually a collection of four novelettes. You had the Avengers by Jim Shooter, the Hulk by Len Wein, the X-Men by Mary Jo Duffy — and far and away the best of the four was a Daredevil story by “Kyle Christopher.”
Kyle was actually Martin Pasko.
Stan Lee felt that Pasko was too closely associated with DC at the time and asked for the change. The full story is here, in CSBG’s own Urban Legends Revealed #47. Which is why I’m a little surprised that no one got the Kyle part of the question, though Abel got Joseph Silva. Brian will be hurt.
TV Bonus Question! There was another actor to portray Superman in live action in the 1970s besides Christopher Reeve. That time was on television. Who was the actor and what was the show?
This, it turns out, happened two different times. I feel really stupid for forgetting the one that is far and away the more famous instance.
When Margot Kidder hosted Saturday Night Live in 1979, they did a hilarious superhero skit featuring Bill Murray as Superman.
John Belushi brought the house down as the Hulk, too. The whole thing was hysterical and clearly showed that someone on the writing staff was a comics geek.
However, the one I was thinking of was a little more obscure.
In the late sixties, given the television success of the Adam West Batman, it’s not surprising that someone thought it might be possible to succeed with that same campy superhero take on Superman. It’s a little more surprising that they thought it should be done as a Broadway musical.
Especially given the technological hurdles they’d have to overcome in trying to make Superman look, well, super. It didn’t work out and the play closed after four months.
But what’s really inexplicable was the decision, almost a decade after this flop folded, to mount a production for television in 1975.
It featured David Wayne as the villain, and Lesley Ann Warren as Lois.
Ms. Warren’s take on Lois was a lot like her lounge singer in Victor/Victoria a few years later.
Superman himself was played by one David Wilson.
Most of our entrants got one or the other, but not both. I gave full credit for either one.
PART TWO: “Where was that again?”
6. Where was the structure drafted by the JSA, the JLA, and the heroes of Earth-S as a temporary HQ in the battle against the evil King Kull? (And who were the former owners?)
For that, we actually have to go back to the first two-part JLA/JSA crossover, “Crisis on Earth-One!” and “Crisis on Earth-Two!”
Several villains of the two Earths decided to band together, with the idea that if they each switched to a new Earth they’d have a fresh start.
During the course of their partnership, they created a headquarters that existed in — I guess you’d call it the interstitial dimensional space between Earths. At one point they trapped both groups of heroes there.
Of course, the good guys eventually won, but the place apparently just sat vacant after the big showdown. And so a few summer crossovers later, that interdimensional hideout became the staging area for the two teams (together with the gang from Earth-S) to take on Kull. Most everyone who got this one right even remembered the nom du guerre of the original villain team, the “Crime Champions,” though I would have accepted any reasonable variation of “the bad guys’ interdimensional HQ in the first JLA-JSA crossover.”
7. Luke Cage’s original office in Times Square was over a theater. What was its name?
That was the Gem theater, owned by the uncle of Cage’s young pal D.W. Griffith.
I confess that even though Cage’s current incarnation as an Avenger with a wife and a child is an interesting take on the guy, I really miss the old Hero for Hire with the low-rent office. You can see that era for yourself in Essential Power Man volumes one and two.
8. According to Bob Haney and Neal Adams, where WAS “Another Time, Another Place”?
Everyone thought this was a Brave and the Bold reference. Not so!
Haney and Adams collaborated other places, too. Like this little 8-pager from Our Army At War #240, where you could see that “Another Time, Another Place,” was “a planet known only as Easy Fox on military space maps!”
In fairness, that’s one where you simply had to have the book to know it, it’s never been reprinted anywhere.
9. Conan the barbarian hails from Cimmeria. King Kull is from Atlantis. Travis Morgan, the Warlord, lives in Skartaris. But where, pray tell, would one find…Wulf the Barbarian??
This is another one where you really have to have the book in your hands to get it. Wulf was one of the (very) short-lived Atlas line of books.
Technically, Wulf wasn’t a barbarian, but rather more like Talon in The Sword and the Sorcerer — a prince who’d lived most of his life on the run after his parents were killed.
As such, that meant that technically there were a couple of possible correct answers to the question. You could say that originally young Prince Wulf was from the fair land of Baerholm…
Or you could just as easily say that he hailed from the city of Azerebajia, which is where he ended up. I’d have taken either one.
A lot of that old Atlas stuff was very cool, at least for the first couple of issues. Pity the company crashed and burned so quickly. If someone ever scooped up the rights to that stuff for a trade collection of “The Best of Atlas Comics” or something like that, I’d be all over that like white on rice.
10. Exactly where DID Superman fight Muhammad Ali?
I couldn’t leave out one of the most legendary books to come out of the 70s, even if it is a little nutty. Most of you out there probably have heard of the book, but you may not know the story.
The short version — Rat’Lar, leader of the alien Scrubb, demands that Earth’s greatest champion fight the greatest fighter of their world. If Earth refuses, the Scrubb and their huge armada of spaceships will destroy it. Superman and Muhammad Ali each volunteer. Then they argue over who would be the better one for the job.
Since neither will admit the other might be a better choice, the Scrubb decide Superman and Ali will just have to fight it out, and then that winner takes on the Scrubb champion.
Rat’Lar generously allows Ali to coach Superman in the art of boxing, as well. Superman sets up a little space-time fold in the Fortress of Solitude where he puts his training gym.
A couple of people mentioned this little bit of tesseract sparring, and it caused some folks to misremember this scene as being the site of the match, but that is not so. In the actual bout, Ali hands Superman’s spandex-clad ass to him…
..because it takes place on Bodace, a planet orbiting a red sun, which put Superman and Ali on more-or-less equal terms. If you call that beat-down anything like an equal match.
It all worked out, Earth ended up not getting destroyed, and the Scrubb were sent packing. It’s a legendary book, but honestly that’s mostly because licensing issues have kept it from being reprinted. So it’s scarce and something of a holy grail for Bronze Age collectors. As far as the story itself is concerned, though, it’s about on the level of the time bionic superagent Steve Austin teamed up with Larry Csonka to whip Dick Butkus.
Which is to say, fun in a sort of goofball novelty way, but not anything I’d call actually good.
And hey, speaking of cheesy 70s television superpeople…
Bonus TV question! The Lynda Carter Wonder Woman met a man named Andros twice, once in the 1940s and again in the 70s. Where was Andros from… and who were the TWO actors that played him?
Most folks familiar with the old Lynda Carter Wonder Woman TV show know that it had two incarnations. The first somewhat erratically-scheduled season was on ABC, and had Wonder Woman fighting Nazis in the 1940s. That was where Diana first met Andros, in the two-parter titled “Judgement From Outer Space!”
Andros’ actual homeworld is never specified. I accepted “Intergalactic Council” or even just “outer space” as sufficient for the answer to where he came from. And in the two-parter set in the 1940s, he was played by Tim O’Connor.
Then ABC dumped the show. CBS scooped it up, retooled it so that it took place in the present-day — which is to say 1978 — and it ran two more seasons. Whereupon Andros dropped by again for another two-parter, “Mind-Stealers from Outer Space!”
This time he was played by Dack Rambo. I haven’t got the episode handy so I can’t confirm it (we only really liked the 1940s incarnation of the show, so that’s all we have here) but I’m pretty sure he was supposed to be the same Andros; apparently he’d just had a little work done.
We weren’t the only ones who snooted the later seasons of WW — everyone who got this got Tim O’Connor right off the bat, but almost nobody remembered Dack Rambo. “Some younger guy” was the answer I kept seeing, which made me laugh far more than it should have. Poor Dack. I’ll have you all know that his Sword of Justice was really a pretty good show, for the month or so it was on…
PART THREE: “What the hell’s THAT thing?”
11. How many other groovy costumes did Supergirl try out before settling on this one for most of the Bronze Age?
(I mean actually wore for an adventure, not just show off on a “reader’s suggestions” pin-up page.)
For this we have to thank the same man that made Diana Prince so swingin’ for that brief wonderful period in the 70s, Mike Sekowsky. He worked that same magic on Supergirl, too.
This time, it was more participatory — one of the gimmicks DC used to play with in the Bronze Age was teasing readers with the idea that they’d actually get to design a new costume for someone. (This happened a lot with Robin, after he went off to school.) But Sekowsky actually carried it through.
It began in Adventure #397, when big Mike decided to shake it up.
Supergirl did actually pick one of those… the one with the thigh-high boots, believe it or not. Because on Krypton, high-heeled hip waders are HAWT.
Supergirl stuck with that outfit for a little over a year. But readers kept sending in ideas.
So Supergirl would wear one for a little while as a try-out of sorts, with the idea being that eventually she would settle on THE costume. This went on for a few more months. We got this one that lasted for two issues…
This naughty number, that probably would have made even Power Girl blush, only lasted one issue…
And then we finally got the blouse-and-hot-pants outfit that most of us remember.
So, let’s recap. For actual costumes worn in a story before Kara settled on the blouse outfit, it’s–
1. The original one.
2. Hip waders. (Sometimes with red gloves, but I think it still counts as the same one.)
3. Bodysuit with racing stripes.
4. Naughty side vents.
And then the blouse with hot pants.
By my count, that’s four. I would allow three as an answer since the question is unclear as to whether the original one should be counted or not… but it’s a moot point because the only one who answered this was Abel (and his uncle) and their answer was “four.” Good job!
There are a couple of Showcase Presents Supergirl reprint volumes out, but they haven’t gotten up to the groovy era yet. Assuming the books keep coming, though, I think you’d probably start seeing this stuff… hmmm…. volume three or four, I guess? I dunno.
12. What was the Dream Dome? And which Marvel hero was used as the template for its audio-visual psychic projection?
It wouldn’t be the Bronze Age without some trippy psychedelic Marvel comics, and also a completely out-of-nowhere Marvel fill-in story from Bill Mantlo, something hurriedly scheduled to give a book’s regular creative psychedelic geniuses a chance to possibly make their next deadline.
Again we can fill that slot in our quiz with a two-fer, this odd little Killraven entry from Amazing Adventures #38.
Filling in for Don McGregor and Craig Russell, Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen gave us “The Dream Dome!” A story of Killraven stumbling across this stadium-sized dream machine that is actually a crashed experimental spacecraft, where a comatose astronaut mutated by cosmic rays projects twisted caricatures of “the heroes of my youth” as he lies in suspended animation, “dreaming but aware.” Mostly it’s a way for Killraven to fight his way through a bunch of Marvel characters — and even Gerald Ford — but the hallucinatory figure who serves as Killraven’s self-proclaimed psychic-projection tour guide is a distorted version of Iron Man. So Iron Man is who I was looking for, but I would have given credit for mentioning any of the Marvel characters who had a cameo.
Two seconds after I posted the quiz it suddenly dawned on me that the DC Sandman by Jack Kirby was headquartered in “the Dream Dome,” so I hurriedly edited in the bit about the psychic projection so everyone would be aware the answer would be found in a Marvel book. Nevertheless, Richard mentioned the Sandman’s Dream Dome anyway, and theorized that Brute or Glob must have been inspired by the Thing. I felt so guilty about forgetting this other Dream Dome that I gave it to him. Honestly, who’d have thought there were TWO Dream Domes in 1970s comics?
Nobody got the answer I intended, though I gave Edo partial credit for at least remembering it was from a Killraven story. It’s reprinted in Essential Killraven.
13. What vile vehicle appeared in Worlds Unknown, courtesy of Gerry Conway and Dick Ayers?
That would be Theodore Sturgeon’s Killdozer. Interestingly, through the vagaries of scheduling, this actually preceded the TV-movie it was supposed to be tying in to.
14. Red Kryptonite turned up in a lot of odd places, but probably none odder than the box where Jimmy Olsen found the sample that caused THIS.
What else was in that box?
It’s been suggested that the “end of the Silver Age” happened with the death of Gwen Stacy over in Spider-Man, but my personal marker has always been when Julius Schwartz and Denny O’Neil decided to get rid of Kryptonite in Superman. And given stories like this, can you blame them?
This has not been reprinted anywhere to my knowledge, and I can’t really blame DC for that either. But I included it because, as one entrant put it, “It’s one of those things that, if you saw it, you’d never forget it.”
15. Who built the Madbomb?
This is another one of those where there were several possible answers and I gave credit for all of them, since the question was somewhat ambiguous. Some folks responded with the scientist who invented the Madbomb, others answered with the villain who funded the Madbomb, and one answered with both the villain’s name and the organization he founded. (I’ll tell you, I think I’ve written these things so they’re really clear, and then the answers start coming in and there’s that facepalm moment of how did I not see that? But everyone is very good-natured about it, thankfully.)
We’ll start with the villain and his organization. It was Sir William Taurey and his New Royalist Forces.
However, the device itself was invented by a man named Mason Harding.
Bonus TV question! The alter ego of The Mighty Isis, Andrea Thomas, was a teacher. What subject did she teach?
I’m surprised more of the people that remembered the show didn’t get this. It was right there in the opening credits every week.
“Oh my Queen”, said the Royal Sorcerer to Hatshepsut. “With this amulet, you and your descendants are endowed by the Goddess Isis with powers of the animals and the elements. You will soar as the falcon soars, run with the speed of gazelles, and command the elements of sky and earth.” Three thousand years later, a young science teacher dug up this lost treasure and found she was heir to The Secrets of Isis.
So “science” or “high school science” or any reasonable variation thereof would have done it. (One of the most hilarious things about the show would be when Andrea or one of her students would find a clue and race over to the school to look at it through one of those crappy classroom microscopes. Clearly no one involved with writing the show had ever tried to actually USE one of those clunky things in high school.)
Truthfully, I was not a big fan of Isis or its companion show Shazam! I watched them, mostly out of some misguided sense of fan loyalty, but they really weren’t very good. No one is more surprised than me that so many of those old 70s Filmation live-action kid’s shows have found a second life on video.
I always did like Joanna Cameron, though. By all reports, she is a very nice person in real life, and apparently still answers her fan mail.
So how did our intrepid crew actually do?
There were eighteen total questions. Some of the questions were in multiple parts, though, so I awarded a point for each correct component — for example, if someone remembered a show but not an actor, they got one of two possible points there. There were twenty-four possible points, total. Considering the no-internet provision, we had some pretty impressive scores.
Edo Bosnar came in third, with eleven out of twenty-four.
Abel Yu (and his uncle) came in second, with twelve out of twenty-four.
And our winner, with an impressive sixteen out of twenty-four, was Richard Bensam. His loot should be winging its way to him within the next day or so.
Congratulations to all our players for taking part, and I hope they — and you — had as much fun with this as I did. I imagine we’ll be doing this two or three times a year, so suggestions for the next quiz theme are more than welcome. Be aware, though, that whatever I end up choosing for a theme, the quiz itself will not be for sissies!
See you next week.
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