Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Back Issue #62

Knowing I had this week off from work and looking for some extra stuff to read, I broke tradition and downloaded a digital copy of Back Issue #62, a book I was unfortunately unable to find in the print version. As an amateur comic historian, I love Back Issue in general but this issue focusing on Superman in the Bronze Age is just a treasure trove for any Superman fan.

But for me, this was just about the perfect issue. I am in my early forties and I consider my formative years on comics to be the late 70s and early 80s. That's when I started to pick out favorite characters, be excited about the ancillary stuff like sneak previews and back-up features, and when I really became a Supergirl and Superman fan. So this issue struck the perfect mix of nostalgia as well as being unbelievably informative.

I mean just look at this table of contents!

There is so much here which I remember reading when these things first came out! Superman Family, World of Krypton, the Supermobile issues, the Superman Back-Up stories, the Alan Moore 'Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow', and even the Atomic Skull.

In particular, Superman Family and the World of Krypton and the Supermobile story with Amazo all have powerful memories for me.

Now there isn't any specific Supergirl piece in the issue, the Girl of Steel is generously sprinkled throughout the issue. The most salient articles for Supergirl fans is the first one in which the editorial switchover from Mort Weisinger to Julius Schwartz is covered and the Superman Family article.

There is a lot of small little blurbs about Supergirl in those articles.

This one I found interesting and reminds me I should reread those earliest Superman Family issues. In those stories, Elliot S! Maggin has Supergirl deciding to try to leave the super-hero business to help people 'person to person' as the guidance counselor at the New Athens Experimental School.

Despite that overt statement, super-heroics continue to follow Kara around and (if I recall) by the third issue of new Supergirl stories (in this book which alternated new stuff with reprints) Linda isn't bemoaning her life as Supergirl and diving into action as normal.

This picture crops up now and again and I would have loved to see this book. Can you imagine what it would have been like in the early 80s to have an all-woman superhero team. This is Birds of Prey before BoP was a twinkling in DC's eyes.

Supergirl writer Jack C. Harris wanted to create this team of Supergirl, Batgirl, Enchantress, and Vixen. What an interesting mix of characters! Someone should bring this idea back for a mini-series.

Anyways, I covered those Enchantress stories on this blog here and here.

But there is more.

The Superman Family article goes in depth about all the characters in the book, including the married Earth 2 Superman and Lois Lane. It was in these books that I first learned about Susie Tompkins, the telepathic niece now tormenting Superman in Grant Morrison's Action Comics.

Just a couple of more blurbs which grabbed me ... although again I will say this whole issue is great.

There is an article about the Earth 2 Superman and it covers the arrival of Power Girl.

In the original All-Star Squad books, Power Girl was fiercely independent and didn't want to be mentored. Too bad Gerry Conway couldn't explore that more. And ironic how now the Earth 2 Supergirl and Superman have a much more conventional relationship of mentor/protege than the Earth 1 versions nowadays.

Lastly, there is a very nice and in-depth review of the last pre-Crisis Superman, the famous Alan Moore 'Whatever Happened to ...' two-issue wrap-up. As it is pointed out here, I am amazed that this story was only 2 issues! Today it would be at least a 6 issue mini-series ... at least. I usually am anti-decompression. But man, I would have loved this story to be just a bit longer to explore a lot of the zaniness that happens here.

I love this story, a wonderful capstone to the Schwartz era and sort of clearing the deck for John Byrne. I cover the Supergirl bit of this story briefly here.

I haven't even commented on the Supermobile story or the back-up features! Amazing issues!

So definitely worth getting if you are a Superman and Superman family fan. Head to the TwoMorrows website to get your own copy!


Martin Gray said...

Yeah, Back Issue is a great read, I subscribe digitally to it and sister publication Back Issue - they're total bargains in terms of information and entertainment.

Gear said...

Thanks Anj, I didn't even know this magazine existed, and it's not carried in my local comics store. I'll be buying and downloading this weekend!

Anj said...

I get Back Issue and Alter Ego based on the content covered in the issues.

I have never been disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Ah the Power Team...I'd a killed for DC to greenlight that book back in the day. Somewhere in a happy alternate reality there is a bestselling all female Superhero team book headlined by Supergirl and Batgirl...but then that is a universe that RESPECTS it's legacy characters so success to be expected.


Anj said...

I agree John, I would love to see a Worlds Finest with Supergirl/Batgirl.

I really thought the last Kara/Steph friendship was wonderful, produced great stories, and was just about to blossom into something great.