Posts Tagged ‘Silver Age’

Lucy Lane Perfectly Embodied Her Silver Age Self In Last Night’s Supergirl, In Just Seconds

November 10, 2015

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I am loving Supergirl. It’s funny and action packed and upbeat and just blatantly feminist, all in a very sincere, almost corny way that could be terrible if everyone wasn’t selling the heck out of it. But they do sell the heck out of it, especially Melissa Benoist as Supergirl, and as Kara Danvers too; she kills it in both identities. There’s an earnestness to her, and to the show in general, that makes everything work like gangbusters. Tonally, it’s a lot like The Flash, which I also love, but with even less angst. It’s just superhero fun! I am all over it.

Last night’s episode saw the first appearance of one of my favourite comic book characters, Lucy Lane, played by Jenna Dewan Tatum. Lucy is Lois Lane’s sister, and has appeared intermittently in Superman comics over the years. When they announced that Lucy was going to be on the show a while back, I wrote a post about how I hoped that the show would go with her early 1990s riot grrrl incarnation, but instead they went even further back. This Lucy Lane was her Silver Age self to a tee, right from the get-go.

Before Lucy showed up, there were some romantic sparks flying between Kara and Jimmy, er, I mean James Olsen. The show seemed to be building up to some kind of moment between the two of them. Then Lucy showed up, and that went completely off the rails. In just a few seconds, Lucy quickly established herself as James’ ex-girlfriend and had him roped into a dinner date to talk about their relationship, squashing what he had going with Kara.

This is CLASSIC Lucy Lane. Starting in the 1950s, Jimmy Olsen had his own comic book series called Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, in which he had all sorts of whacky adventures. Lois Lane had a series as well, Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane, but Lucy rarely appeared in her sister’s book. Instead, she was a regular guest star in Jimmy’s series as his fickle girlfriend. Jimmy was constantly trying to woo Lucy, but she always put him down and ended up spurning him repeatedly. In short, Lucy was always screwing with his love life.

And now, decades later, she’s doing it again in a whole different medium. Poor Jimmy/James can’t catch a break. I’m willing to bet a lot of money that this arc with Lucy ends with her ditching James yet again.

(I should point out that there was an arc in the Super-books in the early 1990s where Lucy and Jimmy were dating and Jimmy got fired and ultimately became homeless. Lucy stuck with him, and got him help, and was a generally great girlfriend. Jimmy, on the other hand, was a terrible boyfriend and took on the fickle role, even after he got back on his feet. He ignored her and only called her when he wanted something. After her riot grrrl phase, Lucy wised up and dumped his sorry butt.)

Lucy seems to be enjoying a bit of a renaissance right now, though not in the comics. She’s in Gwenda Bond’s Lois Lane: Fallout YA novel, as well as its upcoming sequel, Lois Lane: Double Down, and now she’s on Supergirl. I’m excited to tune in next week to see what she and James get up to, as well as what villain Supergirl is taking on next. It’s just a rad show all around, gang. Check it out if you haven’t yet!

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Wonder Woman Unbound Preview #7: Bad Romance

February 24, 2014

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Every Monday until Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine comes out this April, we’re taking a look at a comic panel that captures a key moment in Wonder Woman’s history and highlights an important point from each chapter.

In the Golden Age, romance didn’t play a huge part in Wonder Woman comics.  Steve was head over heels for Wonder Woman, but Wonder Woman wasn’t much interested in his advances.  She was fond of Steve, but his attempts to woo her were regularly rebuffed.

By the Silver Age, Wonder Woman and Steve were an item, but it was quite a bumpy relationship.  As we can see in this panel from Wonder Woman #133 in October 1962, Steve didn’t react very kindly when Wonder Woman’s superhero gig required her to take off suddenly:

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Steve blowing his top at Wonder Woman was a common occurrence in the Silver Age.  He wanted all of Wonder Woman’s attention, and when he didn’t get it he exploded.  It certainly wasn’t fun for Wonder Woman, as we can see from her tears, but she put up with it and constantly fought to show her love for Steve by submitting to whatever inane activities he came up with for her to prove her affection.

This power dynamic in romantic relationships was standard for the Silver Age.  Just ask Lois Lane, who had to put up with a domineering Superman in at least four different series.  Men in the Silver Age had a massive sense of entitlement, and lashed out when they didn’t get their way.  All of the female characters just took the abuse, even Wonder Woman.  While she’d originally been a unique and independent hero ahead of her time, by the late 1950s Wonder Woman was in the same boat as everyone else.

To read more, you’ll have to wait until Wonder Woman Unbound comes out this April!  Be sure to come back next Monday, when we’ll look at Wonder Woman’s catchphrases, and also check out the sixth installment of my Wonder Woman interview series this Wednesday; we’ll be talking with Matt D. Wilson!

Wonder Unbound Unbound is available for pre-order now, online or at your local comic shop.

When President Kennedy Helped Superman OR A Rather Ill-Timed Tale

September 9, 2013

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I’ve been reading some old Superman comics lately, and that always leads to some bizarre discoveries.  The Silver Age was a bonkers time for comics generally, but every now and then there’s a story that’s so weird that it needs to be shared.

In Action Comics #309, Superman was the guest on a TV show honouring him for all of his great achievements.  The show was a complete surprise to him, but all of his friends were there to celebrate him.  This was nice and all, but everyone was expecting Clark Kent to be there too and, obviously, he wasn’t (protecting his secret identity was the main plot of 94% of Silver Age Superman comics).  Usually Batman would disguise himself as Clark Kent when Superman got into a secret identity pickle, but Batman was already at the studio.  Sometimes Superman would use a Clark Kent robot, but the fiendish Lois and Lana, always suspecting that Clark was Superman, had teamed up and brought an electronics sensor in order to expose any potential robot shenanigans.  Superman was in a tight spot.

But then who should appear but Clark Kent!  Lois and Lana were proven wrong yet again, and Superman’s secret identity was preserved.  So who did Superman get to impersonate Clark Kent?  President Kennedy, of course:

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Superman had helped out the government earlier in the issue and President Kennedy promised him a favour in return, so Superman cashed it in later that day to save his secret identity.

President Kennedy showing up in Action Comics is random enough on its own, but here’s the kicker: Action Comics #309 was published in late December 1963, a month after Kennedy was assassinated.  I can’t even imagine being a kid in 1963, the entire nation still in mourning, but now a month has passed and life is carrying on so you go down to the corner store to buy the new Action Comics and there’s Kennedy, hanging out with Superman like nothing had ever happened.  I imagine there were a lot of people freaking out a bit.

The letter column a few issues later certainly included some irate readers.  A sheepish Mort Weisinger, the editor of the Superman line, explained that their comics go to print and are shipped to distributors months in advance of when they hit the newsstand, and it was impossible to recall the issue.  In fact, it quickly became a collector’s item and retailers asked DC to print more, but they refused.  They also postponed another Kennedy story that was due to appear in Superman.

The Silver Age was a whacky, goofy time, but DC dipped into some unintentionally dark territory with Action Comics #309 when what should have been a fun adventure took a somber turn.  It’s amusing in retrospect, though, and it was nice to see a classy response from DC.  They printed not just one but several letters that were upset about the issue, and Weisinger clearly explained what happened behind the scenes.  It’d be good to see some more of that transparency from DC these days, with the many controversies they’ve always got on the go.

A Classic Songs Playlist Inspired By The Tearful Silver Age Lois Lane

June 3, 2013

My friend Lori and I like to come up with playlists when we do fun things, and we did just that when we wrote our article “Lois Lane’s Cry For Help” for Women Write About Comics’ Lois Lane 75th anniversary celebration.  We call them audio escorts, and for the Silver Age Lois Lane we went with older songs, nothing later than the 1960s, that fit the things we discuss in the post.  Here are a few of the songs to enhance your reading experience if you haven’t checked out the article or all of the other great Lois Lane posts at Women Write About Comics.

The article focuses on how poor Lois wept ALL the time in the Silver age, and so we selected a couple of songs about crying.  First up is Lavern Baker’s “I Cried A Tear”, a song about trying to get back a lost love that would fit in pretty much every single issue of Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane:

Our other tearful choice is Dusty Springfield’s “Every Day I Have To Cry Some.”  It’s a great song, and Dusty Springfield is a fascinating person who didn’t quite fit the role thrust upon her, much like Lois:

We mention a story where Lois got kryptonite vision, and we thought that “Green Eyes” by Helen O’Connell and Bob Eberly with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra was rather fitting:

We also talk about a story where a growth ray turned Lois into “the fattest girl in Metropolis.”  Lois was distraught, and we both thought she could have learned a lot from Big Dee Irwin’s “Happy Being Fat” and its liberal use of the tuba:

Eventually, Lois Lane got it together and decided to be her own woman and not care what anyone else thinks.  We commemorated this turn with Billie Holiday’s bad ass “Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do”:

Everything is better with an audio escort, so even if you’ve already read the article you should totally read it again while listening to these classic tunes!

My Guest Post For The Lois Lane 75th Anniversary Celebration At Women Write About Comics

May 30, 2013

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The super cool site Women Write About Comics is having a big Lois Lane 75th anniversary celebration, including a series of guest posts about Lois.  I got to write one with my friend Lori, and it just got posted today.  It’s about the Silver Age Lois Lane, and specifically about how she spends the vast majority of her own series, Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane, in tears.  She cries when Superman teaches her lessons (which he does all the time, setting up elaborate ruses to do so) or when she disappoints him through her actions or, more often, her appearance.  It’s a rough scene.  The poor girl is distraught all the time, trapped under the yoke of patriarchal oppression.

However, we suggest that there’s a silver lining to Lois’ tears.  In constantly weeping while being forced to conform to the norms of gender roles in the 1950s, the crying can be read as a subversive act.  Her obvious displeasure at her lot in life showed the unpleasantness of women’s role in society at the time, and some of her young readers noticed.

You can read the full post of “Lois Lane’s Cry For Help” over at Women Write About Comics!  It was a lot of fun to write.  Silver Age Lois Lane is a bizarrely fascinating character.

RIP Carmine Infantino, 1925-2013 – His Wonder Woman Legacy

April 5, 2013

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Yesterday, legendary comic book artist Carmine Infantino passed away at the age of 87.  Infantino is perhaps best known for helping to launch the Silver Age of comics when he co-created and designed the costume for an all-new Flash in Showcase #4 in October 1956.  He co-created many other famed characters as well, including the original Black Canary and the Barbara Gordon Batgirl.

In terms of Wonder Woman, Infantino had a surprisingly significant impact.  He never drew much art for the character, only contributing layouts to the covers of Wonder Woman #173 and Wonder Woman #174 that were then finished by Irv Novick:

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But behind the scenes Infantino was a big game changer for Wonder Woman.

In 1967, Infantino became the editorial director at DC Comics.  He hired new creators like Dick Giordano, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, and many others who are now legends in their own right.  It was Infantino who tasked Denny O’Neil and Mike Sekowsky with revitalizing the lagging Wonder Woman series in 1968.  After nearly two decades with Robert Kanigher at the helm, the series was in a creative and financial rut.  The result was the mod revamp where Wonder Woman gave up her superpowers to become the human Diana Prince, kung fu master and globetrotting foe of the criminal mastermind Dr. Cyber:

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These changes didn’t go over well, and the execution left a lot to be desired, but Infantino was right in deciding that something had to be done to mix things up.  Wonder Woman had been a mess for most of the 1960s, and while the mod revamp wasn’t so hot either, it ultimately culminated in the restoration of the Amazon Wonder Woman a few years later in 1973.  This return was met with celebration from key members of the women’s liberation movement, Wonder Woman made the cover of the first issue of Ms. magazine, and she’s been a feminist icon ever since.  Infantino ran DC throughout all of these changes, finally leaving his editorial role in 1976.

So while Infantino is best known for his art, he played a key role in the history of Wonder Woman as well.  The man was a comic book legend ten times over, and while like many Silver Age creators he never got the financial credit he deserved for his many creations, his contributions to comics will be remembered by fans forever.

Wonder Woman #0 Preview OR Now This Is A Real Flashback!!

September 18, 2012

So far, DC Comics’ #0 issues have flashed back a few years or so to tell stories from earlier in this new universe.  With Wonder Woman #0, though, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang have flashed back all the way to the 1950s to tell their story, stylistically at least.  Today’s preview on the Huffington Post has an awesome Silver Age vibe:

It’s like a Robert Kanigher story, but 700 times better!!  What a great idea to mimic an older style and reference the classic Wonder Girl stories from the 1950s and 1960s.  This looks super cool and I can’t wait to see what they do with it.  The book is so dark now, so it’ll be interesting to see how they work that angle into the innocuous lightness of a Silver Age sort of story.  Plus Ares is supposed to be in this… that dude is pretty messed up, what with the death and destruction that follows him everywhere he goes.  This should be fascinating.

Pick up Wonder Woman #0 this Wednesday!!  It looks hilarious and great.


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