Thursday, April 21, 2016

Superman: Back to Futuro

Stan Lee once observed that comic book readers do not want change, they want the illusion of change. Certainly that was true when I was growing up, in the case of popular stories like the one in Superman 132.
The tale had Superman, Batman and Robin watching an alternate history in which Krypton never exploded and Kal-El was permitted to grow up there. Logically, that would seem to suggest a superhero story with no superhero, and while that might fly these days in the Gotham TV show, it would never do in October 1959.
In fact, of course, children — by far the primary audience for Superman then — like reassurance. They like to be told the same stories in exactly the same way, again and again. So even though Krypton didn’t blow up, a caped “superman” appeared anyway in the form of Kal-El’s professor, who called himself Futuro after an accident gave him (and Krypto) super powers identical to Superman’s.
“Jimmy Olsen” appeared in the form of Futuro’s pal Kal-El. Kal-El acquired a “spaceman costume” duplicating his familiar super suit, and also dressed in the weird earthly clothes of Clark Kent for a costume party. Lois Lane showed up on Krypton and immediately fell for the super guy. And because Futuro intended to marry Lois and return to Earth with her, he decided to empower Kal-El with that “one last charge” and leave him to guard Krypton as Superman.
Perfectly absurd. Perfectly satisfying.
Wayne Boring was the Superman artist of my childhood, and although his figures tended to be stiff, he had a wonderful way with those perfectly round, brightly colored planets and asteroids that Superman juggled, those massive transparent globular ray guns and those graceful minarets that soared above the cities of advanced civilizations. His drawings drew me into his universe. I remember being particularly entranced by the white-and-violet color combination of Futuro’s costume as he soared to the rescue.
Futuro’s secret identity, by the way, was “Dr. Xan-Du.” Writer Otto Binder was signaling, as clearly as possible, that this was all wish fulfillment. 

No comments:

Post a Comment