Friday, April 15, 2016

I Was the Reader Without Animal Powers

I was 11 when those aliens gave stunt man Buddy Baker his animal powers in DC’s Strange Adventures 180 (Sept. 1965), courtesy of writer Dave Wood and artist Carmine Infantino.
I enjoyed his adventure then and in The Return of the Man with Animal Powers (Strange Adventures 184, Jan. 1966), despite the fact that his super powers caused cognitive dissonance even in a child.
For example, how could you “borrow” the flying ability of an eagle without also acquiring wings or an avian bone structure? Superman’s powers — mostly amplifications of human abilities — seemed almost plausible by comparison.
But Infantino’s clean-lined, graceful art was always refreshing to the eye, and I also found it refreshing that Baker chose to go into super-powered action without fancy dress. Much as I love superhero costumes, the cliché was already becoming a bit shopworn by 1965. I had been attracted to Gold Key’s quasi-omnipotent Dr. Solar, Man of the Atom in 1962 in part for that reason, and my interest waned when he put on red spandex in his fifth issue.
I breathed another small sigh of regret when, in Strange Adventures 190 (July 1966), Baker put on his super suit. I didn’t read him much after that. In part it was because with the Batman craze in full swing, we had an embarrassment of superheroic riches.  Just as we have today.

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