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Happy Birthday, Big Guy! Here’s to the Lost Years…

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And by ‘big guy,’ of course, I mean… Superman.

Specifically, I’m talking about the pre-Crisis Superman. His birthday, according to DC Comics, is February 29th. That’s straight from E. Nelson Bridwell and if anybody at DC knew that stuff, it was him. He was THE MAN when it came to DC trivia.

But what’s this about ‘lost years,’ you ask?

Well, as it happens there was also this article in The Atlantic that annoyed me no end, partly because of what it got right– the increasing desperation since the 1980s of DC’s various attempts to ‘fix’ Superman– but I was annoyed more about what it got wrong.

Because there was one time it actually worked, and there is something of a conspiracy of silence about it.

There’s been a certain amount of historical revisionism about all that seventies Superman stuff; I suspect because most of those histories are being written by fans who only started reading comics in the eighties and nineties and grew up sneering at boring old ‘silver age’ Superman. This thing in The Atlantic is just the latest example. There’s almost an unspoken agreement among comics historians to ignore the run where Julius Schwartz, Cary Bates, Elliott Maggin, and others actually did fix Superman.

I was there. I started reading comics in 1968, and I have vivid memories of how that seventies Superman revamp actually played out. And it doesn’t deserve the brushoff it gets most of the time.

This is what happened. Most people who know anything about Superman know about Mort Weisinger’s tenure as editor and what was affectionately dubbed the ‘kryptonite sixties.’ A lot of the Superman mythology came out of that, starting with Brainiac and the bottle city of Kandor in 1958, and then adding all sorts of things like Supergirl and the Phantom Zone and Mon-El, and all the Bizarro stuff, and the planet Lexor where Luthor is a hero, and so on. “Last son of lost Krypton” was the hook most of it hung on. Weisinger was a science-fiction veteran and he had SF legend Edmond Hamilton writing many of the books, and between the two of them Superman took on a galactic scale. By the mid-sixties there was a whole history and geography of Krypton– the Scarlet Jungle, the Jewel Mountains, Kryptonopolis and Kandor and Argo City and all of that.

But it was all aimed at little kids. You look at the Superman books of the fifties and sixties today and what stands out is the “superdickery,” but look a little harder and what you’ll see is the wish-fantasy of a bright nerdy eight-year-old boy. Yeah, everyone jeers at him, especially those bitchy girls, but HA! if they only knew about his REAL life where he gets to fly all over the place and hang out in his secret fort with all the cool toys and awesome friends and super-pets… why, then those icky girls would change their tune about Clark in a hurry.

Seen through modern adult eyes of course it looks like Superman’s a jerk. But it was never meant for adults. I know it seems absurd to most of you reading this, whose only experience of buying comics is probably visiting a specialty retailer catering to the Sheldon Coopers of the world, but once upon a time, folks like that weren’t the intended superhero audience. That era of Superman comics sold like gangbusters because kids actually read comics then, and the added push from TV made Superman the gateway title for a lot of us.

But the superhero readership was changing. The comics audience was skewing older as Marvel picked up more and more readers, and suddenly DC was getting branded as the stodgy, kid’s table publisher. So DC started remaking their heroes and trying to ‘modernize them.’ A lot of DC characters got revamps right around that time. Robin went to college as Batman became THE Batman, Green Lantern partnered up with Green Arrow and went to find the Real America, Wonder Woman lost her powers and took up kung fu, and so on and so on.

It took a couple of years for them to get around to Superman; Mort Weisinger was still editor and he had been running his own little monarchy in the Super office, but Weisinger finally retired in 1970. Julius Schwartz took over as editor, and he was determined to shake up Superman and modernize him as well.

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The biggest change was Jack Kirby taking over Jimmy Olsen and all the Fourth World stuff he incorporated into that title. But the other Super books got all hip and groovy too. Supergirl got a series of new outfits and ‘relevant’ storylines, and Lois Lane got a hip relevance makeover as well. (Though it has to be said that Robert Kanigher, who was writing Lois Lane, had a ludicrously tin ear for this sort of thing and as a result ‘relevant’ Lois is mostly just embarrassing.)

And in the main books, Clark Kent became a TV reporter, all Kryptonite was destroyed, and Superman was de-powered to about two-thirds of what he had been before. Denny O’Neil orchestrated most of this in the “sand creature” story arc collected in Kryptonite Nevermore.

So far, so good. Most of you reading this probably have a cursory awareness of all that history, especially if you are familiar with the comics blogosphere. There have been hundreds of bloggers hooting and laughing at all the groovy hip seventies cool relevance applied to a square like Superman. And a great deal of it is justified.

A lot of that stuff is cringeworthy, no question. But here’s the thing…

…most of those revamps didn’t stick. Denny O’Neil wasn’t comfortable on Superman, he never felt like he had a handle on the character, and his tenure as writer didn’t last long. Supergirl and Lois Lane got canceled. Kirby didn’t last much longer on Jimmy Olsen than Denny O’Neil did on Superman, and pretty soon he was off doing stuff like Kamandi and The Demon instead.

So what we got, essentially, was a revamp of the revamp, a couple of years in. Elliott Maggin and Cary Bates took over as the main writers on Superman and Action. Supergirl and Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen all got their solo titles folded into one super-sized book, Superman Family. Curt Swan and Bob Oksner and Kurt Schaffenberger settled in as the main artists. And in a quiet, non-fanfare, craftsmanlike way, they started tearing it up. The books got really good. And they stayed pretty good for well over a decade.

Overwrought, ‘relevant’ drama was downplayed in favor of fun puzzle stories and wry humor. A Viking riding a dragon invades Metropolis and Superman has to figure out where he came from and how to put him back. Analogues of Captain Marvel, Popeye and Zardoz showed up to challenge Superman. An alien minstrel wants Superman to star in his new epic poem. That kind of thing. It was often goofy but it was fun, clever goofy, and readers were in on the joke.

Because there wasn’t anything particularly groundbreaking going on, the books never became fan favorites, they never got the buzz or awards that books like Warlock or Swamp Thing or Howard the Duck were getting around that same time… but on the other hand, most of those fan-favorite award winners got canceled after a year or two. Superman comics sold well, month in and month out. Kids were still digging them. They were accessible to a general audience. Hell, they still sold to me fairly often, and I was pretty sophisticated about my comics by the late seventies. Moreover, when it came to DC I considered myself a Batman guy. Even so, the right Superman cover would still get my attention.

So, in honor of February 29th and as a sort of nose-thumbing neener-neener to certain Atlantic writers who don’t do proper research, here are a bunch of my favorites from that era. (Defining ‘era’ for the more pedantic among you, I mean the run that begins with Action #398, when Clark Kent starts working for WGBS as an anchorman, and ending with Action #583, the conclusion of “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”)

There’s no particular rhyme or reason to these other than that I think they’ve been unfairly overlooked. Most haven’t been reprinted at all, and the ones that have are only in books that are themselves long out of print. But you probably could find back issues from a dealer without too much trouble, because, as I said earlier, these aren’t really fan favorites. They’re just my favorites.

Starting on the next page…

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Yes! Yes! Yes! THIS is my era of Superman, Supergirl, Lois, and Jimmy. (In fact, that “Princess of the Golden Sun” story was my first comic book.) The stories were fun and made me LIKE the characters and want to see more of them. There aren’t a lot of comic book stories that do that for me anymore. I also liked the fact that even if the story was a multi-parter, usually each part told a full story, I wasn’t left feeling like nothing really happened.

Thanks for this Superman Birthday treat we can all enjoy!

Great column, Greg! I really should finally read that Atlantic article, I suppose…

I heartily second your recommendations for the Alex Toth annual, The Return of Jonathan Kent, and the Julie Schwartz tribute story. The others I sadly haven’t read.

I can’t agree with you on the merits of Steve Lombard, though — even as a kid I thought the whole “Steve’s plays practical jokes on Clark which sometimes backfire” bit got pretty old. I thought Marv Wolfman had Superman put it well in DC COMICS PRESENTS Annual #1 (Another great pre-Crisis Superman story): “Clark can be mild-mannered, but he doesn’t have to be the office joke!”

nice colum n greg for hard to believe like batman that super man being dc number one cash cow that there is a lot of his stories even from julies days that dc has never reprinted at all . even as a showcase one would think they would want as much superman stuff out there for new fans. though could also be some of this stuff is not reprinted due to the royalties dc would have to pay making it to expensive or like how they once felt about the batman tv show. are proably ashamed of the silver age version of superman and thus non one of the stuff you just talked about.

People rarely realize how good Superman used to be in the 1970s. He was far better then than Batman ever was.

Right there with you Greg. This was my era of Superman and the names Cary Bates and Elliot S! Maggin will always be tops, in my book. Some of my favorites:

Action Comics 401-402-Superman is captured by a Native American group, who are protesting construction activity near a sacred mesa. A group of criminals are also secretly burrowing into the mesa to steal priceless artifacts. Superman is held in check, thanks to a red jewel, which filters the sun’s rays, causing an affect like being under a red sun. There is also a nifty Superman and Supergirl back-up, in 402, where they have divided the Fortress of Solitude and are fighting like children. It escalates to near fatal levels. Beautiful Swanderson art, Leo Dorfman on script.
Superman #302-Luthor secretly affects Superman’s pituitary gland, causing him to slowly increase size, but not his brain. Supes has to fake a newscast, with himself (as Superman) to trick Luthor into reversing the process (with the help of Ray “Atom” Palmer). Story by Maggin, art by Jose Louis Garcia Lopez (PBHN).
Action Comics #432-A new Toyman (the one seen in Challenge of the Superfriends) plagues Superman and he gets help from Winslow P. Schott, the reformed original. Story from Bates, art from Swanderson.
Superman #338-Superman finally succeeds in returning Kandor to normal size; but, tragedy still hovers over the city. Story by Len Wein, art by Swan.

There are so many more. Action Comics also featured some great back-ups, in this era, with some Mike Grell Green Arrow stories (including an encounter with Krypto), Dick Giordano’s art on the excellent Human Target stories, Rose & Thorn in the Lois Lane book, the World of Krypton stories (especially in the Kryptonite Nevermore issues of Superman), and more. Just good, good stuff.

As you mentioned Maggin’s novels, let me just add you won’t find better Superman prose stuff, anywhere, and it also topped a lot of the comics. The first one, last Son of Krypton, revolves around the theft of newly discovered Einstein papers, by an alien (from under both Superman and Luthor’s noses), forcing Superman and Luthor to work together. Maggin’s Luthor is given a lot of depth here, both by mixing elements of past comic tales; but, also by fleshing out his personality. Maggin’s Lex idolizes Einstein, has an organization of flunkies around, hides behind a plethora of secret identities (many of which actually perform altruistic acts, though often in conjunction with a criminal scheme), sleeps in a sarcophagus (with Snoopy sheets), and has a biting sense of humor. His Superman uses his brain more than his brawn and uses complex strategies to achieve his goals. Maggin also has Einstein play a pivotal role in Superman’s arrival on Earth. The second book has Superman face a demon, and includes Luthor’s estranged sister, Lena Thorul (the family moved away and changed their name, after Lex’s criminal youth came to full fruition). Lena also has psychic abilities, which come into play when the demon crosses into the mortal plane.

Steve Lombard is a great comedic figure in these books, as in the comics. Maggin even gives him some depth, showcasing, in one of the novels, how Lombard spends his Sundays, during football season: watching old movies, instead of football. Lombard can’t stand to watch the game that has passed him by.

I really got into Superman with “Man of Steel” and Byrne’s reboot, but for years afterwards his titles were some of my favorite, and he is still one of my favorite characters thanks to that run. But as a result, I was one of those people who always “underrated” the preceding decades of Superman, which I only had sporadic knowledge of. But encountering it via things like the Gil Kane Superman collection and the reprint of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (as well as the Fourth World stuff), I have a new and deeper appreciation for that time period. I’d love it if they hit this era with some Showcase Presents or Chronicles style reprints, or a bunch of giant omnibus editions. They would shoot to the top of my wish-list.

Those are the stories I grew up with.
– In their french editions, wich i look for on my holidays in housesales and such …

Bates and Maggin were real good

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

February 28, 2016 at 1:08 am

Articles like this always leave me kind of ambivalent. On one hand, I read many of these as a wee lad (my older cousin had a large stack of 70s Superman comics), so I know that these are really rather good and Curt Swan is still my favourite Superman artist. On the other hand, “comics were better when I was growing up” is such an obviously nostalgia-coloured statement that it’s hard to take it seriously. After all, the people who grew up reading, for example, Marvel or Image in the Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane days would probably say the same about their personal favourites.

I only rarely picked up Action or Superman back in the ’70s as a young reader, mainly because, yes, I wasn’t a fan of the art (it’s not that I don’t like Swan’s art, I’ll readily acknowledge that he was a master craftsman, but I just found it a bit bland). However, I never recall not liking the stories when I did pick up a random issue – in fact, one in particular that sticks in my head as a really memorable story is from Action Comics #488 (which I got in one of those Whitman three-pack bags), featuring a one-off adversary called Microwave Man. Bates was the author, and I recall that it was really well-done, with a bitter-sweet conclusion.
Otherwise, I have really fond memories of reading World’s Finest (although more for the many back-up stories when it was a dollar comic) and DC Comics Presents in the late ’70s. Those were always solidly entertaining books.
Your overriding point, about how little, if any, of this material has been reprinted really resonates with me. I’m still always a bit shocked that DC has not gone about systematically reprinting anything from some of its flagship characters and titles of the 1970s, not just Superman but also the JLA.

And I definitely agree with Jeff about the two Maggin novels. I recall initially being a bit miffed when I started to read “Last Son of Krypton” and realizing that it wasn’t simply an adaptation of the movie (as the cover seemed to indicate) but then I just got sucked into the entertaining story. Same with “Miracle Monday.” I really need to re-read those someday.

DC should put out a “Best of Curt Swan’s Superman,” don’t you think?

One of my favorite Superman stories from this era was a DC Comics Presents issue pairing Superman and Clark Kent, where Superman and Clark Kent was split by the Miracle Machine. The battle with the Atomic Skull was kinda “meh,” but the rest of the story was a great character piece on both halves of Superman’s identity.

I collected Bates and Maggin Superman in the early 00s when I had money from my first real job. They had unique, clever ideas and were fun, unlike the Identity Crisis garbage DC was doing at the time.

Thanks for this column, Greg! The first Superman comic that I ever bought was Man of Steel #1 even though I’m sure that I had probably grabbed some Superman comics here and there from flea markets and such. My older brother was a Marvel reader so I’d see DC characters on TV and read Marvel Comics. I only bought Marvel for the first few years when I started my own collection. Superman is my favorite character after Captain America and I only have a few pre-Crisis issues that I bought when I asked the owner of my LCS to point me to some when the New 52 started. Recently, I’ve wanted to pick up more pre-Crisis DC and this article pointed me to some issues that I’m going to try to find now.

I too loved the Maggin-era Superman. For me, there is one important element that most of these stories have that has been missing from Superman for the last decade or so: Clark Kent. And it isn’t just Superman. It seems like most superhero comics have been ignoring or overlooking the secret identity which I think is a weakness of modern superhero comics.

I haven’t read it in forty years, but I seem to remember that “Last Son of Krypton” was where I learned what a philtrum was.

Two of my favorites are (1) the two-parter where Lois and Lana catch the plague that killed Ma and Pa Kent (two of my first comics as a kid); and the Amazo four-parter (which I found in back issue bins) in college.

Maggin’s LAST SON OF KRYPTON was my first exposure to the comics’ version of Superman, since I’d only seen the George Reeves show and SUPER FRIENDS before then. (I’m pretty sure I got the book before I saw SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, so my experience would’ve been the reverse of Edo Bosnar’s — I was disappointed that the movie’s plot had nothing to do with the book!) So Maggin’s Superman has always been pretty definitive in my mind. I’m surprised to realize that the era of Morgan Edge and Steve Lombard has sunk into such obscurity. (Although I hated Steve in the books, because he was just like the bullies who picked on me relentlessly at school. I guess Clark’s ability to play super-pranks on Steve in return was part of that wish fulfillment for young readers.)

I’m not surprised to learn that Mike Sekowsky was behind Supergirl’s ever-changing costumes. He was also the artist and writer on most of the “Diana Prince, Wonder Woman” era, which was known for the various “mod” fashions Diana wore.

I think I am more of a Post-Crisis fan when it comes to DC Comics, but I’ve read a few of those, particularly the Maggin stories, and I agree that they’re a LOT better than most people give them credit for. In a peculiar way, these Superman stories are the opposite in temperament of the Marvel stories of the period, so they’re a nice contrast. Let me explain my pop psychology.

Marvel heroes (particularly the X-Men and Spider-Man, but all of them had this to a point) have their angst and torment out in the open. They have lots of personal problems and issues. But when push comes to shove, they have deep friendships, romance with lots of beautiful partners, lots of human ties. I mean, I used to envy Peter Parker, with plenty of friends that would stop what they were doing to get caught up on HIS problems, and tons of beautiful women in his life, and he ALSO got to be Spider-Man and crack wise.

Superman was the opposite. He had the appearance of cheerfulness and happiness, he was this stable guy with the adoration of the public and the respect of the community, but these stories had a deep sadness underneath, a loneliness. Of course, a lot of it springs from the fact that Pre-Crisis Superman was really an alien and too powerful and responsible to relate to normal human beings, so that he had to lose his powers to have his happy ending with Lois in the Alan Moore story.

The Marvel heroes were handsome, sexy teenagers that perhaps complained more than they should. Superman was the middle-aged guy, responsible, powerful, and stable on the outside, despairing on the inside.

@Rene — Superman is Don Draper?

Maggin’s prose novels are some of my favorite Superman stories and his version of Lex in “Last Son of Krypton” is hands down the best version ever, including Byrne’s “evil executive.”

His Lex was an outlaw genius who, when he wasnt trying to kill Superman, was actually capable of great altruism (which he couldn’t take credit for because he was a wanted criminal).

Maggin also gave Lex a sympathetic, and believable motivation/reason for why losing his hair made him hate Superman (short version: Lex was already starting to fall over the wrong side of the thin line between genius and insanity when he lost his hair).

I highly recommend it, especially for fans of Morrison’s All Star Superman and Millar’s Red Son. Some of their takes on Lex in all likelihood borrowed from Maggin’s novel.

I blame Warner brothers and Team Bruce Timm who has admitted he doesn’t know how to write a good story for him. In turn we get wackman shoved in our face. Superman is meant to be powerful and love life. Wackman has some interesting story lines but it seem meant for another character like the punisher. He is not smart as luther, weakest of the heroes. Even wolverine is more interesting and in the old days he was a C line character. Just background noise.

LOVE Maggin and Bates. The seventies were really a great time for Superman. I also think O’Neil’s run is excellent, and Superman’s appearances in Kirby’s “Jimmy Olsen” and “Forever People” are wonderful, too.

Maggin’s prose novels are some of my favorite Superman stories and his version of Lex in “Last Son of Krypton” is hands down the best version ever, including Byrne’s “evil executive.”

LAST SON OF KRYPTON and MIRACLE MONDAY are absolutely my favorite Superman of all time. The only reason they’re not listed is because I’ve written about them in this space at least half a dozen times over the last decade–last time was here– and I wanted to mention some other examples from that time. But the two novels are brilliant and I recommend them unreservedly. They are this era’s Superman at his very best.

Travis –

I don’t know. I have watched a grand total of one episode of Mad Men. :)

But many heroes in geek culture are about finding your place in the adult world. Silver Age Superman is a guy already up to his neck in the adult world, and he doesn’t find it so great.

I think that is why he is, in a way, actually more appealing once you get past 35.

I’ll add more to Maggin’s Lex. His Lex is befriended by Clark Kent and Lex is the only one who seems to notice that Clark is smarter than people realize. His young Lex has a brilliant mind, in a mundane environment and he is always looking to go beyond his limited environment. He can talk circles around his teachers; but, he can’t relate to his peers. He has a penchant for getting into trouble, because he pursues his ideas with fanatical zeal. Clark tries to look out for him and keep him from getting into too much trouble, before things go sour.

Lex will never tell Superman the real reason he hates him; because he knows that Superman would try to atone for the events and Luthor would be forced to forgive him. That hatred motivates him to greater and greater accomplishments. In Last Son of Krypton, Superman offers him a pardon, in exchange for help getting the Einstein papers back, and talks to Lex about many of his accomplishments and how he could find fulfillment by using them to help others. Superman doesn’t fully know that Lex does many good deeds; because that is a part he hides deep inside his various cover identities.

Lex can take ordinary objects and create new scientific wonders out of them, without trying. He is given only pen and paper in prison, yet he has deduced a way to create an explosive (I think) from the glue that binds the paper on the writing pad. He doesn’t do it, as the next time, they wouldn’t give him pen and paper. He is the precursor to Hannibal Lector, minus the serial killer element.

Lex’s father didn’t understand him and it sounded like he was mostly absent. Lex seems to constantly need the attention he doesn’t get at home. His only friends are Clark Kent (who he rationalizes as tolerating to be his straightman) and Superboy, after he saves his life. As an adult, he has a bit of fun with Clark Kent, which ends up allowing Superman to nab him and whisk him off to jail (Last Son of Krypton). As an adult, Lex doesn’t seem to acknowledge much of their past, lest he seem less the criminal.

Lex is a Scorpio, which is part of why he takes pride in his green and purple suit, with the bandoleers of weaponry and gadgets.

So many touches that are missing from later versions of Lex. Maggin did a great story where Luthor relives Einstein’s life, on his birthday, to honor his inspiration. It takes Supes a while to figure it all out and he even lets Lex have a moment of reflection with a statue of Einstein.

ps Even after a gap of several years, Maggin still had the chops. Check out the novelization for Kingdom Come, that he wrote. It greatly fleshes out the story and captures the post-Crisis Superman well, while adhering to Waid and Ross’ story. Maggin also produced a nice Batman Elseworlds (in the 90s), with Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (PBHN), set in West: The Blue, the Grey and the Bat.

To be honest most of these Pre-Crisis early ‘ 80’s Superman issues were complete dreck. Many of the ones you cite were homages to earlier stories (a la it’s an alien plot or snookered by Luthor). However, there were some gems. I can recall the Superman/Superwoman team up in DC Comics Presents, and a battle with the Crime Syndicate. Also, the whole Luthor/Thorul long running plot was interesting. Maybe a little topical but “The Day They Nuked Superman” was an eye opener.

And let’s not forget the New Adventures of Superboy that Bates usually wrote (if memory serves). It was all part of the rich tapestry of the Last Son of Krypton.

My favorite title was DC Comics Presents, teaming Superman up with another DC hero and the best issue of that title was Superman and Golden Age Superman (Earth 1 and Earth 2 Superman). That should have been a movie in its own right.


I rarely read Superman and one of the few I picked up was Microwave Man! That was actually a very good story with a bit about how the police dealt with super villains before there were super heroes.

I finally found someone who remembers the 70s comics the way I do! I started reading comics in the 60s where, as you say, the comics were for little kids. I got to about age 12 and stopped buying them, like all kids did, and a bit later found out they had improved a great deal but were still FUN. For whatever reason fun is the last thing that a superhero story wants to be today. Just look at the new 52 and all you’ll see is GRIM, GRIM, GRIM. As far as Superman goes, the 70s were the golden years.

Thank you for this! My era of comics…. And you can see why from your examples that I always say that the problem with Superman stories today is NOT ENOUGH CLARK KENT. Superman only works as a character because he’s Clark Kent. On Earth.

“(Superman’s) birthday, according to DC Comics, is February 29th.”
I told my friend that, and he asked:
‘What does that even mean, when he was born on a different planet?’

(tone: genuine curiosity)
What does that date celebrate – his arrival on Earth / when the Kents found him?

What does that date celebrate – his arrival on Earth / when the Kents found him?

Depends which writer you ask… but the consensus is, I think, his emergence from the rocket on Earth.

That makes sense – it’s when he came into this world, after all. (As is a birthday.)

I read this post with a bit of delay, unfortunately, but thanks, thanks, thanks for what you’ve written, Greg. I might be biased, because Bates/Maggin’s Superman is the first super-hero comic I’ve ever read, but I re-read them again and again lately and I think they’ve aged pretty well. I subscribe to all your considerations and I’ve always wondered about the reasons why this phase went unnoticed: I’m sure that the sudden change of vision when Kahn came in and, mostly, some divergencies between Maggin and DC abruptly toned down what could have been a real rebirth for the Man of Steel. I am sure that if Maggin could have brought on all of his ideas throughout the seventies and eighties, Maggins+Bates would have been to Superman what Claremont was to the X-Men.

I would totally buy ANY reprint of the AC398-583 (and related Superman issues) era. I really doubt there would ever be one, though.

Concerning Superman’s birthday, I always thought that Feb 29th date was mostly chosen to hint at the unearthly birth of Kal-El: a day that is mostly non-existent. Bates also wrote a story in the New Adventures of Superboy about his real age and birthday issues.

I agree with this so much! DC has dropped so much of ’70s Superman down the memory hole and I’ve never understood it because, as you say, so much of it is brilliant.

Pretty much all your suggestions are spot on. I’m also a sucker for the revived origin story and Superman 2000 (an imaginary story where Kal El comes to Earth in the mid ’70s and grows up to become Superman in what was the future. Also The Miracle of Thirsty Thursday, which is Maggin playing with ideas that would come to fruition in Miracle Monday.

I’m also quite fond of DC Comics Presents. The first four years or so are so much fun, particularly when you have guys like Pasko and Levitz and Wein stopping by to do a Superman story here and there.

(That said, I think the O’Neil revamp is actually quite amazing.)

Happy belated birthday, Kryptonian. I give you belated oblivion.

It was “Superman 2001″ (Superman #300), one of the rare cases were 2000 belonging to 20th century is acknowledged :-)

I also remember the short-lived saga of Superman 2020, about Superman’s grandson. I still wonder how a single Superman managed to have a middle-aged son and become a grandfather in merely 40 years! They found a way to explain Superman sudden aging (he was not supposed to age normally, at the time), but never bothered to fix that time inconsistency. Calling it Superman 2030 would have done the trick!
It was fun, by the way, I don’t remember if it was by Pasko or Bates.

Superman 2020 was an occasional backup feature in Superman around ’80-’81. Cary Bates wrote the first one. I think the followups were by Bob Rozakis, who was king of Julie Schwartz’s backup features.

I honestly hadn’t thought of the fact that discrepancy though. It’s true, Superman 2 in that series would have been a lot younger!

(And yes Superman 2001. I forgot…)

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