Thursday, September 6, 2012

Alter Ego #112

It is going to be a busy week of reviews here at the Comic Box with Action Comics, Worlds' Finest, Smallville, and an interesting issue of Earth 2 coming out this week.

Before running the scanner ragged, I thought I would briefly review Alter Ego #112 which also came out yesterday. Alter Ego is a comic magazine published by TwoMorrows publications and edited by comic book legendary writer Roy Thomas. It focuses on the creators of comic books and influential runs as well.

This issue promised a story about Mort Weisinger's run as Superman-books editor back in the Silver Age. As that is one of my favorite eras for Superman as well as one of the more prolific times for Superman, introducing many parts of his history as well as a chunk of his classic villains, I was extremely interested to read this issue. Heck, Supergirl was introduced in the Weisinger era. Of course I would want to read this.

 The article itself is more of a visual montage of many of the aspects of Weisinger's legacy interspersed with some of Weisinger's own words as well as some from his son. For example, here Weisinger talked about how the owners of DC weren't his boss, the readers were his boss. (Can you imagine 60 million people read Superman at one point??)

Of course, there is Action Comics #252, one of the crucial issues of the era.

This was also a time where the stories showed how unflinching Superman was in his battle for truth, justice, and the American Way. It was interesting to hear Weisinger mention the need to infuse education and an 'American way of life' into the stories. Elsewhere, he states that his favorite stories were those where Superman has lost his powers and needs to use his wits to be successful.

But I thought it was extremely interesting to hear Weisinger say Superman had a schizoid personality, as Clark is 'insanely jealous' of Superman because he wants people to love him for who he is. It solidifies the concept that Superman considers his 'true self' to be Clark. But I never felt that the character was internally conflicted, jealous of himself.

Later Weisinger talks about how he felt handcuffed to Superman, almost defined by him, and feeling he needed to walk away from him as a character so Weisinger could reclaim his life. (In a bit of hubris, Weisinger says 'You [Superman] can't do without me; I know I can exist without you.)

The quotes are all great and the piece is visually stunning, a mix of covers, panels, and new art done in the style of the time. That said, I was hoping this would be more of a true text piece. It could include those quotes but also delineate just what Weisinger introduced to the Superman mythos, as well as point out issues that illustrate the points made in his quotes. Maybe a future article?

As a result, the piece I liked the most was an article about Paul Cassidy, one of the earliest Superman artists and someone I had never heard of! Cassidy is created with bringing back a more 5-sided S-shield (as opposed to a simple triangle) as well as adding the shield to the cape. His biggest body of work was the Superman dailies.

Imagine, a major contributor to early Superman and I had never heard of him! That's why I love comic magazines like this!

I highly recommend the TwoMorrow magazines for the comic historians out there. Best of all, the issues tend to have a central theme so choosier consumers can buy based on interest.


Landry Q Walker said...

The concept that Superman is disguise while Clark is the true person is a fundamental aspect of the character to me. I've never understood why anyone would steer away from this approach.

Anj said...

I'm with you.

He is Clark.

Anonymous said...

In the 90's live-action "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman" tv series, the writers focused, mostly on the Clark Kent persona. Heck, Dean Cain's Clark Kent even states "Superman is what I can do. Clark Kent is who I am". Great memories. Wonderful writing in the series. Really intriguing stuff to look at, too, from a psychological perspective. :)-ealperin

Martin Gray said...

I was likewise surprised, Anj, but then delighted by this unusual piece. Perhaps Mort Weisinger has been covered in depth already by Alter Ego.

As you plugged the TwoMorrows books, might I add that they're incredibly cheap if bought digitally.

And for more discussion of the early Superman books and creators, The Golden Age Superman podcast is a great listen.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to also point out that the "Nembo Kid" article in the above issue of AlterEgo details the Italian Language version of Superman (Written & drawn by Italians no less) cites a number of appearances by the Silver Age Supergirl in that book.
What this means is that somewhere in Italy there is a cache of heretofore undiscussed& uncatalogued Silver Age Supergirl storylines...

Just saying...


Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

I love the TwoMorrow stuff, especially Back Issue.

And a whole other country's unknown Supergirl stories. Fascinating!

Anonymous said...

The other great Supergirl mystery from the 1960's is whether or not the character ever made any guest appearances in the syndicated "Superman" newspaper strip.
Curt Swan got his start on Superman on the newspaper strip and I know some dependable silver age characters (Bizarro for example) did make appearances in said strip so it's not so far fetched a notion.
I've asked around at various conventions and have yet to get a definitive answer, Supergirl or No Supergirl though I think DC ought to make some of these storylines available in archive edition or two...