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  1. #46
    Gotham Guardian Captain Jim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polar Bear View Post
    “The Battle with Bizarro!” by Otto Binder & Al Plastino

    from Action Comics #254
    Sorry to say I did not get Action #254 when it first came out. (But I did have this one that preceded it...)



    The words “heat vision” haven’t yet entered the lexicon.
    True. Originally "x-ray vision" was almost a generic term for a lot of different visual abilities that all got their own designations later on.

    I had a friend over tonight who was buying these off the shelf, only he stopped around 1970. He doesn't remember Superman's vulnerability to magic, so I'll be on the lookout for when Superman first mentions that, too.
    Hmm, as another guy who was "buying these off the shelf," I'd question that. Otherwise, how could Superman be affected by this guy...



    Definitely one of the better Binders.
    Binder created Bizarro. If you liked this story, you really need to find a copy of Superboy #68 (above); it's even better.
    Jim Zimmerman
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  2. #47
    CotM Member Rob Allen's Avatar
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    From Mark Evanier, written just after Alvin Schwartz' death:

    http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2...20.html#021680

    I mucked up the obit for Alvin Schwartz a bit, muddling the issue of who created the Bizarro character in the Superman family of comics.

    Bizarro first appeared in print in Superboy #68, which was written by Otto Binder. Bizarro second appeared in print in the Superman newspaper strip, which was written by Alvin. Both were supervised by editor Mort Weisinger. Alvin always said that he created the character. I'm not sure if he wrote the script for the newspaper feature first or merely came up with the concept and sold Weisinger on it but he definitely said it was all his idea.

    There is no record of whether Mssrs. Weisinger or Binder concurred with this history and since all three are now deceased, that's probably how the factual recital will remain. It would certainly not have been unusual for the scripts to have been written in a different sequence than their publication dates, and Weisinger was notorious for taking an idea pitched by one of his writers and assigning it to another.

    In any case, Alvin says he came up with the idea and, not that this is proof of anything, he sure never struck me as the kind of guy to take credit for someone else's work. In any case, he refined and expanded on the idea in the newspaper strip and the Bizarro that people know and remember is surely more the invention of Schwartz than Binder. I should have been clearer in what I wrote and have amended the posting accordingly. I'm sorry...or as Bizarro #1 or Michele Bachmann would say, "Me am not sorry."
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  3. #48
    Gotham Guardian Captain Jim's Avatar
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    Interesting. Well, at the very least, Binder wrote the first Bizarro story to be published. (And it would make sense to me that Bizarro was created as a one-shot Superboy character and then brought back in a new form as an ongoing Suerman character than the reverse scenario. But who knows.) And it was definitely an outstanding story.
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  4. #49
    Member Chad's Avatar
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    It's fascinating to see just how much was introduced into Superman's world in such a short time. We've already witnessed the first appearances of Brainiac, Supergirl, Metallo (those two actually debuting in the same issue), Kandor, and Titano and a concerted effort to bring the Fortress more into play, but there's something else that's starting to creep into these stories that's a little harder to recognize. In re-reading Superman 127, I came across a letter to the editor in which a reader asked why Superman doesn't simply use his superbreath to dispense of kryptonite when he encounters it. Alright, so this issue has a cover date of Feb, 1959. Now in Action 252 which has a cover date of May, 1959, Superman is placed in a kryptonite trap and remarks "I can't blow it away, my superbreath is not strong enough!" Clearly, Superman's comment was a result of addressing this reader's query and the exposition that's present in stories of this period seems to be a result of Weisgner/the writer either addressing or anticipating such questions. So many letters in these issues are of the "Why doesn't Lois landing in Superman's arms when she falls from a great height hurt her since Superman's arms are like steel?" variety and it's interesting to then see a scene a few months later where Superman explains to himself (really the reader) that by releasing a puff of superbreath, Lois' fall is cushioned when he catches her. It's interesting that the readers so directly and significantly impacted the tales they were reading every month. It's a little odd to see Superman think "Red Kryptonite! Of course, unlike Green Kryptonite this variety only affects me for 24 hours and never has the same effect twice! Also unlike Green Kryptonite it's effects aren't fatal! By the way, Blue Kryptonite only affects Bizarros!" as opposed to "Red Kryptonite! Great Scott!" but it lends a certain charm to these stories and who am I to say that's not how Superman thinks?
    Last edited by Chad; 01-25-2013 at 08:32 PM.

  5. #50
    Elder Member dupersuper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Jim View Post
    Hmm, as another guy who was "buying these off the shelf," I'd question that. Otherwise, how could Superman be affected by this guy...


    Was he bona fide magic pre-Crisis? I always liked the idea that he was just so far "above" our dimension he could play with it like we can with images on paper.
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  6. #51
    Senior Member foxley's Avatar
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    True. Originally "x-ray vision" was almost a generic term for a lot of different visual abilities that all got their own designations later on.
    Back in the Golden Age, they used to refer to "the heat of his x-ray vision" whenever he used that welding ability. Somewhere along the line, this ended up transforming into a full-blown power called 'heat vision'.

  7. #52
    Senior Member Polar Bear's Avatar
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    Default July 1959

    "The Curse of Kryptonite!" by Binder & Plastino (7 pgs)

    from Superman #130



    found in Best of DC (digest) #36

    Synopsis: Superman, digging an oil line in Death Valley, accidentally unearths some green kryptonite. Falling to the ground, he tries to melt it with his HEAT VISION (huh?) and his super-breath, but both are too weak to get rid of the meteorite. He then pounds the earth, trying to split the earth--he succeeds, but the fissure he creates is too small for the kryptonite to fall into. Then commences an extended flashback, Superman's thoughts catching readers up on many elements of Silver Age/Earth 1 Superman's life at that point: his arrival on earth, his weakness to kryptonite, why he can't just wear a lead suit, his Superman robots, and Supergirl's presence at the Smallville orphanage as Linda Lee. It's the end... he's too weak...

    Plot Spoiler: Suddenly, the meteorite rolls away! How? Krypto, seen for the first time in Superman's adult life, returned from space and saw his master's trouble from a distance. Knowing he couldn't come near, Krypto blew into the pipe Superman had laid down, blowing the Kryptonite away and saving the man of steel from death. After a brief conversation, Krypto returns to space to renew his availability as a deus ex machina.

    Observations: There were two Superman titles in July 1959, but they weren't doing stories from one title to the other. A storyline that began in Action would stay in Action; hence, the second part of the Bizarro story I reviewed last time will have to wait until my next review.

    Interestingly, Action was published monthly in the late 1950s, while Superman was published eight times a year, skipping every month divisible by three. I'd thought Superman was the main book and had been since the 1940s, but this sales schedule implies that Action outsold its sister title. I wonder if the same kind of thing happened with Batman and Detective?

    "Heat vision," eh? Didn't have to wait long for that one.

    In this seven-page story are 36 panels. 35 of them have captions. Captions would decline in use over the years, virtually disappearing (except for some Wolveriny first-person narration) after Watchmen in 1986-87.

    The tale is chock-full of little-known facts:
    • Superman doesn't carry lead spools in his utility belt, but he tried it once; unfortunately, they just melted when he flew quickly.
    • Once, a kryptonian ape got to earth, but it died of kryptonite poisoning.
    • Kryptonite meteorites don't burn up in earth's atmosphere; in fact, they don't combine with oxygen at all.
    • (spoiler) Krypto can talk using "the barking code Superboy taught him long ago." I'd never known they could ... talk. That's kind of weird. In fact, I'm not comfortable with Krypto happily calling Kal "master" if he's fully rational like that.


    These are the kinds of ideas that flesh out Superman's world and make it more ... well, perhaps not believable, but cohesive, full, with more to it than could possibly be fully addressed in these pages, a device I've mentioned earlier as reminding me of Tolkien.

    Finally, I wonder if Superman was digging this ditch for any particular oil company?

    Overall: Well, except for the weirdness of the fourth bullet point above, I'd have given it 4/5 stars for how it grabs the imagination, but that problem knocks it back down to 3.5/5.
    Last edited by Polar Bear; 01-26-2013 at 12:08 PM.
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  8. #53
    Senior Member Polar Bear's Avatar
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    Fascinating comments on Bizarro's publishing history, guys. I didn't know any of that!

    I know Superman was definitively vulnerable to magic by 1980 or so; it's not just a post-Crisis innovation.

    Chad, Superman's thought balloons are definitely used as a narrative device to explain things to readers, over and over, with characterization being a secondary concert. It's definitely a different way of reading.
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  9. #54
    Senior Member Polar Bear's Avatar
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    Default August 1959

    "The Bride of Bizarro!" by Binder & Plastino

    From Action Comics #255



    Found in Superman in the Fifties

    Synopsis: Out of this 12-page story, the first page is a splash, and the second summarizes the story from last issue, giving them only 10 pages to get out of their mess.

    Lois realizes that New Bizarro isn't Superman. New Bizarro propose his superiority over Bizarro, since he's so ugly. Bizarro resorts to force, leading up to a huge battle with warships as the weapons. Lois tries to save Superman from the meteor, but she's not strong enough to move the meteorite. (Hint to Lois--try dragging Superman away instead.) Bizarro appears and kicks the kryptonite away, turning it into a cloud of dust. New Bizarro ventures too close to the K-dust cloud and disintegrates (since he was an imperfect copy of Bizarro, who was K-resistant).

    Superman takes Lois back to Metropolis, but Bizarro won't leave her alone. He even dresses up as Clark Kent to get close to her! Superman destroys the disguise before it can endanger his secret identity, but Bizarro kidnaps Lois once again, bringing her to the same island as before. Superman and Bizarro have a pointless fight, but Lois has an idea...

    Plot Spoiler: She turns the duplicator ray upon herself, creating Bizarro Lois! Bizarro falls for her immediately, and they fly off to live "on other world in faraway solar system." The end.

    Observations: The title is an obvious homage to The Bride of Frankenstein, so at least I know they're being purposeful about the similarities to Shelley's novel--or at least, the movie.

    I did think the way they got rid of New Bizarro was inventive. I also liked it that Lois was the one who solved the problem.

    This isn't the reversed-everything Bizarro of future Adventure Comics; instead, he's little more than ... well, ugly and dumb.

    (spoiler) Superman, seeing Bizarro Lois run towards Bizarro, thinks she's the real Lois, and yells out, "Someday... er... maybe you and I... well... You may be Mrs Superman! Lois! You love me..." However, at the end of the story, Superman, quite the cad, tells Lois, "As I said, I may marry you... someday!" Jerk.

    Overall: 3/5 stars for an issue that didn't live up to the promise of the prior issue.
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  10. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polar Bear View Post

    I know Superman was definitively vulnerable to magic by 1980 or so; it's not just a post-Crisis innovation.
    Magic was definitely a weakness for Superman in the Silver-Age.

    One example is in ACTION # 243 (Aug) 58), Circe uses magic to give Superman the head of a lion. And I do seem to remember Superman being affected by magic in JLA stories (Felix Faust?)
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  11. #56
    Senior Member Ish Kabbible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polar Bear View Post

    Interestingly, Action was published monthly in the late 1950s, while Superman was published eight times a year, skipping every month divisible by three. I'd thought Superman was the main book and had been since the 1940s, but this sales schedule implies that Action outsold its sister title. I wonder if the same kind of thing happened with Batman and Detective?
    1960 was the 1st year DC published circulation figures. Action Comics sold an average of 458,000 vs Superman Comics at 810,000. To my knowledge Superman always sold much higher than Action up until the New52 thanks to Grant Morrison's appeal. Action Comics was monthly from Day 1, Superman quarterly until after WW2 then 8 times a year, finally monthly by the late 60s.
    Why they didn't make Superman monthly earlier is a great question. Superman for decades was DCs highest selling comics title. I can only speculate a couple of possibilities:
    1-Mort Weisinger as editor of the Superman line was maxed out with what his staff could produce and did not want to hire more outside help
    2-Producing more Superman might take sales away from Action,Adventure,Superboy,Jimmy Olsen or Lois Lane

    In this day and age of milking every last possible penny out of comic book sales, it's hard to relate to yesteryear's business decisions.Upholding quality standards looked to be as or more important than short term gain
    The above relation of sales also pertains to Batman Comics vs Detective

  12. #57
    Senior Member Polar Bear's Avatar
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    Thanks for the sales figures.

    It does seem crazy by today's standards. If you've got the same creative teams on Action & Superman, why publish the lower-selling one 12 times annually and the higher-selling one 8 times? Maybe it wasn't all about money back then...
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  13. #58
    Gotham Guardian Captain Jim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dupersuper View Post
    Was he bona fide magic pre-Crisis? I always liked the idea that he was just so far "above" our dimension he could play with it like we can with images on paper.
    That's too complex a concept for the silver age. He was magic. And as Jack said, there were others as well; Myx was simply the most obvious example.

    Quote Originally Posted by Polar Bear View Post
    Interestingly, Action was published monthly in the late 1950s, while Superman was published eight times a year, skipping every month divisible by three. I'd thought Superman was the main book and had been since the 1940s, but this sales schedule implies that Action outsold its sister title. I wonder if the same kind of thing happened with Batman and Detective?
    Yes, it did.

    DC's key anthology titles, Action, Adventure and Detective, were always monthly. (Same with Flash, All-American, etc., in the golden age.) Back in the 1940's, when a character was popular enough to be given their own title (the exception then, not the rule like today), the new title was invariably a quarterly. Later on they advanced that to bi-monthly, and still later, eight times a year ("monthly with the exception of..."), which became the new standard. The long running anthology titles remained twelve times/year, but a newer title was never more than eight times/year. I can only speculate at the reasons.

    Quote Originally Posted by Polar Bear View Post
    "The Bride of Bizarro!" by Binder & Plastino

    From Action Comics #255
    I didn't have the prior issue back then, but I did manage to get part two.
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  14. #59
    Senior Member Polar Bear's Avatar
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    Default October 1959

    “Superman’s Other Life” (25 pages), by Binder & Boring

    from Superman #132



    Found in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told

    Synopsis: In this “three-part novel,” Batman and Robin have a gift for Superman: an idea. They give him copies of photos he himself had provided, photos of Krypton, and tell him to input those data into his super-computer to determine what his life story would have been if Krypton had never blown up. Superman (not without a little trepidation) and his two friends watch the story together on his monitor, and, in a technique that predicts Chaykin and Miller twenty-five years later, we “watch” the story with him in panels that look like they’re on a computer monitor.

    Briefly, then. In part one, Jor-El, realizing his error, manages to get Kal and Krypto (or rather, the pup that would have been named Krypto) back to Krypton safely. Superman becomes a “youth scout” and has to do a good deed on another planet via super-telescope. He ends up saving the Kents just as they’re about to plunge into a lake, sending a heat ray that dries up all the water. He also acquires a younger brother, Zal-El.

    At the end of school, at the verge of adulthood, the computer that Krypton’s council has empowered to choose the life-long profession of every person on the planet, says he has to be a dispatcher, not a space man. The computer is “never wrong,” says his teacher, Xan-Du. Xan then shows Kal his new invention, but an odd chance pushes both the teacher and Kal’s dog into the rays.

    In part two, Xan-Du realizes he now has amazing powers—he can fly, he’s invulnerable, he’s super-strong. He decides to become Futuro, Man of the Future. He even gives Clark an emergency watch with a super-high frequency tone that will summon Futuro if Kal’s ever in trouble. But one day, when Kal summons Futuro to help a space man in a near-fatality, Futuro doesn’t show. The lad takes matters into his own hands, taking a rocket, going off-planet, and saving the space man himself. Futuro examines the computer that had assigned Kal-El to be a dispatcher, and it turns out there was a loose wire. Yes, Kal is supposed to be a space man after all! He’s given a blue-and-red uniform … one with a strange, shield-like symbol on the chest…

    In part three, Jor-El, Lara, and little Zal crash on an asteroid. They die. Futuro, understanding Kal’s pain, carves the asteroid into a Mount Rushmore-like memorial for the late El family. Then, a rocket comes near Krypton. Futuro and Krypto (yes, they do name him that after all) fetch it and bring it to the surface. Two human astronauts come out, as does stowaway Lois Lane, who quickly falls for Futuro in a big way. Futuro sets up the spaceship to return the three humans to earth, but he’s fallen for Lois, so he abandons Krypton! Before he does, though, he exposes Kal-El to his machine’s rays, turning him into a Man of Steel … a Superman.

    Plot Spoiler: Nothing to see here; move along…

    Observations: There’s so much wrong with this story, at so many levels. The computer created this story from a few photos? They give Kal a little brother, then kill him? An earthship made it to Krypton? Lois Lane stowed away on that ship, sans spacesuit, and survived? They named their dog Krypto? (Because we name so many dogs “Ear,” obviously.)

    And I realize that part of the story’s “fun” is that there are so many coincidences, from the dog’s name over to Superman’s costume and powers, but … well, it’s a story device I’ve had problems with ever since I was about ten years old.

    Overall: 2/5. I found it difficult to read, repeatedly straining credulity well past the breaking point. If this truly counts as one of “the greatest Superman stories ever told,” I’m going to be in serious trouble for the rest of this review thread.

    Thus close the 1950s--or at least, the 1950s stories I own!
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  15. #60
    Gotham Guardian Captain Jim's Avatar
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    Hmm, I believe you were thinking about this one too hard. I had the original as a kid, and I loved this story.
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