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Silver Age September – Elongated Man in “Ten Miles to Nowhere”

After a month of spotlighting the strange (if endearingly strange) history of comic books (and especially the Silver Age), I think it is worthwhile to show the comic books of the Silver Age that are simply great stories period. Here is an archive of all the Silver Age comics features so far!

Today we look at the debut of the Elongated Man’s back-up feature in Detective Comics. So here, from 1964’s Detective Comics #327, is “Ten Miles to Nowhere,” by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino!

Enjoy!

Elongated Man stories were the perfect option for Gardner Fox’s gimmick-driven style of storytelling, as Fox would get a chance to come up with clever mysteries for Ralph to solve. Meanwhile, Fox was also good at forming charming characters, which Ralph and his wife Sue most certainly were.

Here, from Detective #327, we see the first Elongated Man back-up story for Detective Comics…

Good stuff, right?

You have to love the offbeat nature of “there is an ear in the fireplace!” Plus, Infantino’s art (inking his own pencils) is stellar. The character work is excellent.

Honestly, I think the story in #328 “The Case of the Barn Door Bandit” is even MORE charming (and Infantino’s art is even better). Here is a sampling of that story…

I picked “Ten Miles to Nowhere” to spotlight, though, since it IS the first one.

18 Comments

Ten Miles to Nowhere, being reprinted in DC’s Silver Age Classics reprint series in the early 90s, was my introduction to the Dibnys, and responsible for why I dig Elongated Man so much. Infantino’s work here is terrific.

“An ear– in the fireplace! He must be up on the roof!”

Those are great stories. Gardner Fox really is a terrific writer.

These are wonderful stories. God, but I miss the Dibny’s SO much.

Yeah, reboot would win some major points from me if it brought back Ralph & Sue. And that the flashback in Identity Crisis never happened.

From what I can tell, these stories should actually be considered ground-breaking, in the fact that they completely got rid of the long time superhero / girlfriend dynamic set down with Superman and Lois. The Silver Age DC’s seemed stuck on this, with both Flash and Green Lantern with their secret identity’s girlfriends doing little more than arguing with them while admiring their hero identity. It seems so simple, but a young married couple on vacation is just so unusual. I’m not sure the mostly kid audiences from back then would have loved it as much.

I know it’ll be brought up again and again by people, but it’s a shame that some editors and writers ideas of “maturing” DC was to take one of the most light-hearted, fun SIlver Age-y characters and screwing it all up with rape and murder. Honestly, it kind of sounds like a joke!

One random comment, too, is how the first one is a perfect reflection of the culture. Families going on road trip vacations, stopping in quaint motel cabins along the way… it’s all very ’50s – early 60s. It’s also nice to see Sue isn’t the complete nagging, bitchy women that wives were often written as back in the day.

A Ralph and Sue solving mysteries book would be a nice change of pace from the rest of the Nu 52 line. Maybe they can at least do a run in DC Presents (which is what it should probably be: a try out for on-going books)

Unfortunately today in comics there isn’t a place for:

a) characters having fun
b) married characters
c) married characters having fun.

And more’s the pity.

Gricomet, I would second the idea of Ralph and Sue in DC Presents. Sounds too fantastic to be true, though. My vote for creative team: Evan Dorkin and Amanda Connor.

I would LOVE to see Ralph and Sue come back! But not if they’re changed to be gritty and edgy. That’s the whole point of Ralph’s personality, to appear light-hearted and foolish. It makes people forget that he’s a great detective.

I’ve been wondering if Ralph and Sue would be alive after the “reboot” as well, but figure with the way they’re doing things these days, they won’t be married. Heavens forbid we leave any married couples intact in the DCnU

I’ve always prefered Elongated Man to Plastic Man (ok, that’s not true), I love how he is a serious guy. In fact, it’s a bit odd, how serious Elongated Man is when Plastic Man is the one with the criminal background etc and Ralph is happily married. I also love the editors note stating that he’s the only hero without a secret identity, which for the time is pretty cool.

Wow!! I’d forgotten what a great team Fox and Infantino were.
I consider this the Mad Men school of comic books…adults writing and drawing comics for themselves and their peers, as oppposed to the current fan boy school of comics.

Why wasn’t Infantino allowed to ink his stuff for the Batman stories themselves? I always felt that classic DC silver age ‘slick’ look when his art was inked by the likes of Giella just didn’t fit the tone of Batman / Detective Comics.
Infantino/Giella’s style was more suited to Flash or straighter sci-fi like Mystery In Space/Adam Strange etc.
What does anyone else think?

Such good stuff.

Sue’s reactions to Ralph are really terrific.

@robert: You’ve got it backwards. In the Silver Age, creators made comics with the audience in mind. It’s nowadays that creators think “What would I like to see?” and end up pandering to their inner fanboy.

@Imitorar.
In 1964 the majority of the market consisted of nine year olds like me.
Which is what amazed me when I read this column; the sophistication of the art work and writing. I remember reading the comic at the time and skipping it because there wasn’t much action in it…nine year about being what we are.
But reading it in 2011 I can almost hear the Henry Mancini soundtrack playing in the background. Nice.
Perhaps it’s better to remember Ralph and Sue for what they were and try not to bring them back.

Yep, there’s a lot to that series. I can’t comprehend why lighthearted slipped from the vocabulary of DC comics.

The Elongated Man & wife are my favorite characters from DC. I’ve been doing a series of reviews in my blog: http://ralphdibnytheworld-famouselongatedman.blogspot.com/p/elongated-content-index-of-this-blog.html
Incidentally, I was abot to get to Ten Miles to Nowhere. So far I’ve just reviewed Ralph’s earlier appearances in Flash.

My imitation of a certain comic scribe-“I want to make comics fun and accessible again for readers of all ages, so part of my plan is to have Sue Dibny raped and later murdered. As we all know, rape and murder is fun and accessible.”

I hate DC Comics.

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