"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
So… whose nerd-fu was the mightiest? Let’s find out!
First of all, this was apparently one of the harder ones for our players, and I can tell that they all were honest because there were a couple of booby-trapped questions in there where Google would have given it to you but would have left some essential piece out.
Therefore, much applause is due to all our contestants for both their willingness to take a swing at it and also for their ethics and integrity; Steve Rogers would be proud. Big ups to John Trumbull, Travis Pelkie, Edo Bosnar, Ryan Stevens, Keith Morgan, Alicia Domres, Brock Leahy, Vance Barry, Mike Dale, and Laverne Hunter. Heroes all!
There were sixteen questions, but some of the questions had multiple-part answers and each one was worth a point. So if someone named, say, four members of the Star Hunters but blanked on the others, they still got four points for their answer. And sometimes someone thought of something I myself had forgotten, or in a couple of cases brought up an answer I had not considered but could be seen as equally valid, and in those cases I always gave the contestant the point. It was a very tight race– the tightest we’ve had yet.
So first, let’s see the answers, shall we? And then we’ll name the winner.
1. Who shattered the board of the Silver Surfer during a battle that raged from Asgard to Earth? (It was NOT Thor.)
That was Durok the Demolisher, in Thor #193.
Durok was a mindless construct, a creation of Loki using the stolen Odin-ring. He wasn’t much for strategy… for him it was all about breaking stuff. I bought this one off the stands, way back when, and I have to admit that when youthful me saw him break the Surfer’s board, it was unsettling.
Fortunately, it got fixed on the same page, but still, that moment stuck with me for years. As you all can see, since it was the first thing I thought of for this quiz.
2. Fredric Brown’s “Arena” has been loosely adapted for television more than once… Star Trek did it, The Outer Limits did it, even Space: 1999 did it. When did COMICS do it– more faithfully than any of the others named above?
That was Gerry Conway, John Buscema, and Dick Giordano in Worlds Unknown #4.
They just did Brown’s story straight off the page as he’d originally written it.
It was reprinted in Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction Giant-Size Special #1, and I’d have taken either as the correct answer. One contestant said “the adaptation in Unknown Worlds” and that was fine too.
3. We all know Spider-Man’s first time on a spaceship was rescuing astronaut John Jameson way back in Amazing Spider-Man #1 …but what was the SECOND time Spidey went into space on a ship?
Ah, that’s a tricky one. In the comics, it took quite a while; over a decade later, as nearly as I can tell. It was in the pages of Marvel Team-Up #54. Spider-Man had got snarled up in a secret government mess involving the Hulk and Woodgod…
…which ended with Spider-Man accidentally getting shot into space, and even the Hulk was unable to stop it.
Fortunately, in Marvel Team-Up #55, Adam Warlock happens along to rescue him.
Since the launch was a cliffhanger that wrapped up in the following issue, I accepted either #54 or #55 as correct. Those comics came out in 1977. But technically, the web-slinger’s second time in outer space was quite a bit sooner.
In the Saturday morning cartoon series from 1967, Spider-Man flies a spaceship to another planet to free its enslaved population, in a truly insane episode called PHANTOM FROM THE DEPTHS OF TIME.
This was actually done as a cost-saving measure– it’s because the show’s producers were recycling a bunch of characters and backgrounds from another cartoon, a sort of science fiction thing called Rocket Robin Hood, and shoe-horning Spidey in there. The results were frankly demented. I’d try to describe it for you, but… to be honest, words fail me. You can watch it here if you like. And enjoy that swingin’ jazz soundtrack.
I’d have taken either answer– I was looking for the comic, but Mike Dale reminded me about the cartoon and it WAS the second time chronologically, so I decided either one counted as correct.
4. Logan the Sandman, in his first original, non-adaptation comic-book adventure, traded his blaster pistol for his older ‘six-shooter’ multiple-function cartridge gun. What WERE those cartridges’ various functions?
The interesting thing about this, at least to me, is that at the same time William Nolan was trying to bring his Logan novels in line with the movie, Marvel was trying to bring its movie-based Logan comic closer to the novels.
So, as was pointed out by a commenter last week, both the comic and the novels landed in more or less the same place– a sort of survivalist take on Logan in the ruins of the domed city. I don’t think it was planned; I think it was a case of two different writers each trying to reverse-engineer a series out of the same story, and their extrapolations ran in parallel.
Marvel’s Logan’s Run scripter John Warner had certainly read the original Logan’s Run novel and he was sneaking in bits of lore from that book. One of them was Logan’s DS Gun, which had six different charges in each magazine: tangler, nitro, vapor, ripper, needler– and the homer, a heatseeker that was impossible for its victim to dodge. Warner clearly thought this gun was as badass as I did when I first read the novel, and he made it a point to get it back into the comics. But he fiddled with the names a bit.
Warner called the varying cartridges web, drill, rip, flash, cloud, and the homer was now seeker. I’d have taken either Warner’s names or Nolan’s as the correct answer; a couple of contestants named the ones from the novel, but only Edo Bosnar had the revised version from the comics.
5. Name all of the Star Hunters.
That would be these folks:
Darcy Vale, Donovan Flint, Dr. Bruce Sellers, Dr. Theodore McGavin, Jake Hammersmith, and Mindy Yano. Their ship was the Sunrider. A lot of folks got this one despite the comics never having been reprinted; most said they found the Star Hunters in their copies of Who’s Who, the page reprinted above. Still, the actual series deserves a reprint collection just for the stunning Don Newton artwork. Get on that, would you, DC?
6. Okay, now, name the Six From Sirius.
The actual six were Starn, Zematin-Lar , Skreed, LeMasque, Jakosa Lone, and Grod. Although Phaedra was a supporting character, if someone threw in her name too I decided it counted. I can be charitable, sometimes.
7. And finally in the name department, who was it that named Warlock “Adam”?
Some folks said it was the High Evolutionary, but that is not so. When Warlock landed on Counter-Earth, he was just “Warlock.” His first name of “Adam” was bestowed upon him by the groovy hippie teens that found him.
Specifically, it was Ellie Roberts. Because she cared dammit! Several of our contestants said “the teens that found him” and I gave them half-credit, but only Ryan Stevens named Ellie specifically.
8. What planet does the ruthless alien MONGUL originally come from?
This was a trick question, because no one knows.
Seriously. When Mongul showed up in the pages of DC Comics Presents, he was just an angry former dictator who’d been chased off his home planet by a populace that had finally had enough. That’s all we were told; the place was never named, and though the vanished creators of Warworld were named– the Warzoon– those weren’t Mongul’s people. Mongul was STEALING the key to Warworld from a Warzoon crypt. He blackmailed Superman into helping him do it and Warworld is where he’s hung out ever since. But he’s not FROM there.
Since Jim Starlin was drawing the book at the time, one may be forgiven for thinking Mongul’s one more product of his love for beetle-browed cosmic conquerors with super-strength and odd headgear. But he’s actually the creation of Len Wein, who wanted a villain that was a physical match for Superman (though Wein also says he kind of designed him with Starlin in mind.) Mongul seems to have slid past the whole DC Crisis reboot thing with his status unchanged, although Ryan Stevens pointed out that Mongul II was said to be from Debstam II in Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps. I gave him an extra half-point for that, although I don’t think that’s decisive enough to say it was the original Mongul’s homeworld as well. The guy got around.
As far as I know Mongul hasn’t made his New 52 debut yet… when he does, maybe he’ll get his home planet named then.
9. What was the secret everyone was after in the pages of SHATTER?
The secret of Shatter’s “golden brain” — which is to say, when artificial skills and talents were injected into him through treated RNA harvested from genuinely talented folks, he retained them permanently.
That’s kind of a vague goal and I got several half-remembered shots at it… things like “the secret of creativity” or “the secret of RNA transfer” and I generally gave credit for anything that was in the ballpark. There was also a plot point Keith Morgan reminded me about where everyone was after the original formula for Coca-Cola and I gave him credit for that as well.
But Shatter as a comic wasn’t really about the story. It was more about the milieu… it was the “first computerized comic!” which in the 1980s meant you were working with stuff like MacDraw.
What it really wanted to be was Blade Runner-style cyberpunk, and it got pretty close sometimes. Looking at it now, it seems sort of quaint.
There was some crabbing about how Shatter was too obscure to be a fair question, which just makes me laugh and laugh because the fact that it’s hard is kind of the point. But really, Burgas wrote it up on this very blog a while back and handed you the answer. So, again, applause to all you folks who didn’t Google for it because you’d have found it RIGHT HERE.
10. What did the Green Lantern Tomar-Re consider to be his greatest failure?
Failing to save the planet Krypton from destruction.
Tomar-Re took it pretty hard and carried around the guilt for years, until the Guardians finally decided to let him off the hook, more or less right before he was supposed to retire.
Why did they wait so long?
Because the Guardians are dicks. Duh. If you are a regular Green Lantern reader you already know this. Someday I’m going to do one of those list-style columns about all the different times the Guardians have been shitty to their GL Corps for no good reason.
11. Who is Arno Stark forced to battle to the death in the IRON MAN 2020 graphic novel?
That was the evil industrialist Marcus Wellington.
Not a nice guy at all. Despite it being the far future of 2020, I think Wellington might have been one of the earliest evil industrialists who climbed into his own armor himself to fight Iron Man, instead of having some lackey do it.
12. Green kryptonite kills Kryptonians, red kryptonite’s effects are unpredictable, and gold kryptonite permanently removes the superpowers of a Kryptonian. But what do blue kryptonite, white kryptonite, and jewel kryptonite do?
White kryptonite kills plants, and blue kryptonite am deadly to Bizarros.
Jewel kryptonite is a more interesting case. No one quite knew what the hell it did at first, not even Superman.
But what it really does– wait for it– is amplify the mental powers of those imprisoned in the Phantom Zone. It was something the evil Jax-Ur engineered during a trip to the past, making sure that the material from Krypton’s Jewel Mountains would show up right when he needed it.
Because, you know, just going to Jor-El’s place and strangling baby Kal-El in his crib was too easy. In the sixties, and even well into the seventies, defeating Superman or killing him was never enough. You had to really mess with his head first.
13. When the Skrulls sold Ben Grimm into slavery, who were the buyers? And what did they give the Skrulls for ol’ Blue Eyes?
That was Boss Barker of the Skrull slave planet Kral, and they wanted Ben for their gladiator arena.
And as you can see from the flyer he’s holding, Barker got him for a mere ten perfect power stones… though John Trumbull reminded me that really, Barker only put one stone down as payment and told the Skrulls they’d get the rest later once he’s seen Ben perform in the arena. So he got full credit even though he didn’t name the planet.
14. When BUCK ROGERS crossed over to television, which of the other characters on the show also originated in the comics?
Well, there was Buck himself, of course. Technically, he’s excluded from the question but since almost everyone mentioned him anyway I decided what the hell, it’s a free point.
But characters from the original strip other than Buck himself was what I was looking for. Specifically, his gal pal Wilma Deering….
The somewhat befuddled but kindly Dr. Huer…
“Killer” Kane and his vicious moll Ardala…
Oddly, on the television show their power dynamic was reversed– Ardala was Princess Ardala and Kane was her henchman. But they were there.
And finally, the one most of our players missed– the Tiger Man.
Actually, in the strip it was Tiger Men, plural– they were who Buck and Wilma found waiting for them on their first flight to Mars. On the show, there was only the one, and he was Princess Ardala’s bodyguard… mostly a generic thug. But the character was originally from the comic strip, so I counted him.
15. The original Planet of the Apes movie was the story of the astronaut Taylor and his adventures with the sympathetic ape scientists Cornelius and Zira. The Planet of the Apes television series was the tale of astronauts Virdon and Burke on the run with the sympathetic ape historian Galen. Who were the human-and-sympathetic-ape stars of Marvel’s TERROR ON THE PLANET OF THE APES?
The cast grew over the run of the book, but in the beginning it was the human Jason, an impulsive kid with anger-management issues, and his chimpanzee friend Alexander, forever doomed to try and calm Jason down.
Later there was a girl human added, Malaguena, and those who mentioned her got a point as well.
Doug Moench and Mike Ploog were doing amazing work on this, and it’s a damn crime no one can seem to sort out the reprint rights. Boom! almost did one a while ago but it fell through. Pity.
16. With whom did Captain Mar-Vell have his epic shootout at the O.K. Space Station?
That was The Stranger.
And why did the residents think he was a marshal in the first place?
Because Mar-Vell wore a star on his chest, pardner.
This was a real squeaker; only one point separated the top three. In third place, with 21 points, was Keith Morgan. Second place, with 21 and a half points, was John Trumbull.
And a mere half-point ahead of John, with a full 22 points, was Edo Bosnar! So he takes the Star Trek and Spectre books.
Congratulations to Ed and thanks again to all our contestants– I hope everyone had fun. I always do.
See you next week.
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.