Monday, August 28, 2006

The DC Answer Bull

One week ago I discussed the totally awesome Batman Family comics, and the ubiquitous (thank you, Word-of-the-Day Calendar!) Anonymous correctly pointed out that despite my joke at the expense of Kryptonians, there was indeed a Superman Family comic book, which for many of its issues featured a cool cover design: small individual panels on the cover teasing each separate short story in the book, playing up its diversity and fun at the same time reassuring you with that seventies DC style that you were getting much, much more than a single story in the comic, oh yea, buy it now, buster!

Some of my favorite Superman Family covers take that "must buy" tease one step further and challenge you to find out the answers to dramatically-posed questions within the covers of the book. That's a long-gone art, isn't it? Done well, with compelling art and intriguing questions, stuff like that ratchets a comic book up from "Yawn...another Superman issue" to "I must read this comic book!" F'r instance, here's the question-heavy cover of Superman Family #210:
Superman Family #210

See what I mean? I betcha you're dying to find out the answers to all those thrilling questions, right? (I know I am!) But since I don't have a copy of Superman Family #210 in front of me, well, I'll just have to get out my Batman Junior Detection Kit and focus all the energy of my little stuffed grey cells on the matter at hand to answer the questions on the cover of Superman Family #210 for you, okay?

Let's take a look at the questions up close:

Q: Which villain wears the magical mask that has trapped Mr. & Mrs. Superman?
A: Golly. I'm no Ralph Dibny an' my nose doesn't twitch when I smell a mystery, but take a look at that green button-down shirt and those sensible brown dockers. That's Luthor, I bet. Check out the all-too-Luthor-esque (Luthorish? Luthoran?) stance, too. And you'd think Mr. Superman would know that, unless the mask is lined with lead. That's an easy one. But what about:

Q: Who are Jimmy Olsen's doubles?
A: That's a tougher one. Knowing Jimmy, Man of Action, the way we do, that could be clones, time-travelling duplicates, imposters with rubber masks, or maybe even robots programmed to destroy Superman, disrupt the Daily Planet, and double-date Lucy Lane. But check out the suits on Jimmy-2 and Jimmy-3: sensible dark jackets (well, okay, one looks purple) that no doubt came from the Men's Warehouse or maybe even J. C. Penney instead of Jimmy's usual green plaid jacket that he picked up at Bibbo's garage sale. That's why I choose to believe these guys are actually Jimmy of Earth-Q—refugees from an Earth where the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy quintet have worked over Superman's Pal to give him a sense of style and pride that you can't get from a green plaid jacket. Yes, totally Earth-Q.

Either that or Robin and Speedy in rubber masks playing a practical joke to teach Jimmy a hilarious lesson. Either one.

Q: How can Clark Kent write the news before it happens?
A: Easy one. He cheats. He's a big stinkin' journalistic cheatypants. Turn in that Pulitzer,'s tainted with the tears of Great Caesar's Ghost. Next question?

Q: What gives Supergirl that sinking feeling?
A: Uh, I dunno...could it be the knowledge that in twenty-five years she's going to look like a taffy-stretched teen harlot Lolita who could really use a sandwich, a pair of underpants and maybe some of her ribcage back?:

Q: Why does this dog mean trouble for Lois Lane?
A: Because that's Ms. Lion, Lois! Ms. Lion!
Step away from the Ms. Lion, Lois! If you know what's good for you, please, please put down the Ms. Lion!

Finally, this one isn't posed on the cover, but it seems an obvious enough question to me: Q: How can one comic fit so much actiony goodness between two covers for a mere dollar?

A: Because that's DC of the early eighties for ya: they knew how to give you plenty of fun and great value for your money!


Roland Dodds said...

"could it be the knowledge that in twenty-five years she's going to look like a taffy-stretched teen harlot Loilta who could really use a sandwich, pair of underpants and maybe some of her ribcage back?"

Haha, classic.

SallyP said...

You know, for being the last survivor of a dead planet, Superman SURE seems to have an awful lot of relatives and other various Kryptonians running around.