Markley’s Fevered Brain: Look Up In the Sky…

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

One of the first superheroes to truly become a success is Superman. He was almost an instantaneous hit from his first appearance in Action Comics #1 in 1939. Over the last 75 years the character has gone through a number of changes and transformation, and yes, these all took prior to the New 52. Thankfully for us, over the years DC has done a number of reprint collections of classic Superman material from all over the place. These collections are what I am going to look at this time out. Most of these are collections of Superman and a fellow hero or villain and, at times, these are collections of a type of Superman story. But all of these are a lot of fun and are worth reading if you enjoy your Man of Steel from a happier time.

Superman Vs. The Flash

Superman Vs. The Flash


First off is Superman vs. The Flash. At one point in time there was a tradition of Superman and Flash having a race to decide who was faster. To be honest, most of the reasons they had these races tended to be very contrived, but going back and reading these stories in this collection made me remember how fun they were. This collection reprints stories from Superman, Flash, World’s Finest, DC Comics Presents, and many other places, from the Silver Age to Geoff Jones run on Superman. A nice plus is the art by Curt Swan (who I think is highly underrated), Dick Dillin, Dan Jurgens, and others all under an Alex Ross cover. I will not reveal who won which race.

Superman Vs. Mongul

Superman Vs. Mongul


Next is a more focused collection called Superman vs. Mongul. Mongul was an intergalactic conquer who Superman confronted a number of times, mostly in the 1980s, and it was always a knock down brawl. Mind you, these stories took place prior to Doomsday’s arrival. The majority of these stories came from the pages of DC Comics Presents, and they do not hold up all that great, but they are an interesting read. Jim Starlin did a number of these stories and they make a nice contrast to his cosmic work at Marvel. The real reason to get this collection is a Superman story called The Man Who has Everything by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (the creative behind Watchmen). A great story that is almost worth the price of the book alone.

Superman: Adventures of Nightwing and Flamebird

Superman: Adventures of Nightwing and Flamebird


Superman: Adventures of Nightwing and Flamebird collects the stories by Paul Kupperberg and Ken Langraff about a pair of crime fighters from the planet Krypton. These stories are from the 70s and were a way of telling Superman stories set on Krypton (or Kandor) and exploring Superman’s home planet. These tend to be short stories from the pages of Superman Family (another 70s comics, with stories about Superman and his friends and family, including Lois Lane, Jimmy Olson, and others). Flamebird and Nightwing (which has nothing to do with the character Dick Grayson would later become) fly around with rocket belts fighting crime and helping those in need. These are not great comics, but there is a charm to them that is hard to find in today’s comics.

Superman: World of Krypton

Superman: World of Krypton


Superman: World of Krypton collects a series of stories set on Krypton before it exploded. This trade has everything from John Byrne’s Man of Steel #1 to the World of Krypton back up stories from the pages of Superman in the 1970s to the World of Krypton miniseries to a story from the pages of Superman Family. It is interesting reading these old stories because you have art by such diverse creators as Dave Cockrum, Dick Giordano, and Mike (Hellboy) Mignola. These stories greatly expand the world of Krypton and would later on greatly influence the movie versions of Krypton.

Superman/Batman: Saga of the Super Sons

Superman/Batman: Saga of the Super Sons


In the early 1970s in the pages of World’s Finest Comics, there was a long running series of stories featuring the sons of Superman and Batman. These were not every issue, but random issues and all of these were part of DCs “Imaginary Stories” which would later be called Elseworld Stories, or in Marvel’s world, What If?. All of these stories are collected into one trade paperback called Superman/Batman: Saga of the Super Sons. There are over twelve stories of the sons of Superman and Batman collected here with art by Dick Dillin, Murphy Anderson, and others under a cover by the late Nick Cardy. The stories are built around the conflict between the two sons who have very different views on how to fight crime and also the conflicts with their fathers, Superman and Batman. At times the stories are a bit too much like a Brady Bunch episode, but it is the time period they were written. A couple of side notes about this series, almost all of these stories were written by Bob Haney, and while these are not as good as his Brave and the Bold stories, they are entertaining. Also, throughout the entire run of the stories you never get to meet the mothers of the two boys with such famous fathers. These are a piece of DC history, not the best part, but an interesting part worth checking out.

Superman: Secrets of the Fortress of Solitude

Superman: Secrets of the Fortress of Solitude


The final Superman book I want to discuss is the Superman: Secrets of the Fortress of Solitude. The Fortress of Solitude has long been Superman’s secret place to go to relax and enjoy his Kryptonian culture. This collection reprints stories about the Fortress of Solitude from its first appearance in the 1940s (Superman #17), and continues reprinting stories through the 1970s, including the treasury edition, DC Special Series #26. One problem with this collection is it reprints stories from over forty years and the original writers did not necessarily keep the facts about the Fortress the same so there are times where one story will contradict another story later on. There are a number of creators whose work is collected here, including Curt Swan, Wayne Boring, Roy Thomas, and one of my favorite writers, Roger Stern. As with all of these collections, this is a nice glimpse into the past of the world of Superman which many people seem to have forgotten.

Black Widow #1

Black Widow #1


A new book I really enjoyed was Black Widow #1 from Marvel. This is a spy book with fantastic art by Phil Noto. The basic story is Natasha (The Black Widow) does a number of side jobs from her work with the Avengers in an attempt to make up from her violent and, at times, cruel past. While only the first issue is out, I must say the first issue made an impression on me. I have always liked the writing of Nathan Edmonson (His Who is Jake Ellis? Is well worth reading if you never checked it out, from Image Comics) and based on the first issue of Black Widow, he is crafting another fascinating character in the world of spies and deceit.

Everything written in this sentimental blog are my words and do not reflect the opinions or thoughts of Westfield Comics or their employees. I welcome comments, both good and bad, at MFBWAY@AOL.COM. Please, let me know what you think.

Thank you.

USER COMMENTS

We'd love to hear from you, feel free to add to the discussion!