Tuesday, January 17, 2017

This Looks Like a Job for Tiny Supermen!

It’s a swarm of bees! It’s a cloud of wasps! No, it’s a hundred tiny Supermen!
The Mort Weisinger-edited Silver Age Superman mythos reached its zenith when the Superman Emergency Squad was introduced in 1960.
We’d already seen the arrival of Brainiac, whose shrinking ray gave us the Kryptonian bottled city of Kandor, to be stored in another recent innovation, Superman’s arctic Fortress of Solitude (shamelessly lifted from Doc Savage).
Krypto the Superdog had arrived even earlier, and Supergirl more recently. Her own expanding mythos would give us Streaky the Supercat and Comet the Superhorse. Lori Lemaris, Superman’s lost collegiate love, was on hand if we happened to need telepathic assistance from a mermaid.
Kandor would in turn be source of further mythic evolution for the Man of Tomorrow. Superman’s increasingly complex and useful robots were also stored there, as was another new element, the Phantom Zone projector.
The tiny city would become the urban bottlescape for Superman and Jimmy’s Batman-and-Robin adventures as Nightwing and Flamebird. And, in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen 48 (Oct.-Nov. 1960), it would give us the Superman Emergency Squad, a silly team I loved.
In this Otto Binder story with art by Curt Swan, we met Superman’s tiny flying army from the Kandor. After shoving their way out of the corked bottled, they swarmed to the rescue dressed in Superman costumes (which would actually make them uniforms, I suppose). Initially someone insisted that they should all look like Superman too, which seems a bit fetishistic even for Silver Age comic books.
They returned in The War Between Supergirl and the Superman Emergency Squad (Action Comics 276, May 1961), a tale penned by Robert Bernstein and drawn by Wayne Boring. The “war” was staged so Superman could gaslight a criminal into thinking himself delusional as a means of shielding Superman’s exposed secret identity.
In the Kennedy era, already having been popularized on TV, radio, movie serials and cartoons and a newspaper comic strip, Superman was featured in seven comic book titles, or eight if you count The Justice League of America, where he was initially downplayed.
But the Man of Tomorrow was central to the titles Action Comics, Superman, Adventure Comics, Superboy, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and World’s Finest. Important additions to the Superman mythos might appear in any one of them — the tiny Supermen in Jimmy Olsen, the Phantom Zone in Adventure, Bizarro in Superboy and Luthor’s sister Lena Thorul in Lois Lane.

No comments:

Post a Comment