Posts Tagged ‘John Broome’
Ever since the Superman panel at SDCC 2010, my interest about Jeff Lemire’s Superboy had been piqued. After all, he’s proven with Essex County, The Nobody, and Sweet Tooth that he’s best writing about what happens in small-town America and, well, it doesn’t get more small-town America than Smallville.
Directly following his stint as the headline act of Adventure Comics, Superboy has finally come to terms with the fact that he’s a composite of both Superman and Lex Luthor’s DNA. For right now, all he wants to do is get back to his roots, figure out what it is that makes Superman great, and support the widow Kent. Unfortunately, where there’s a superhero there’s bound to be supervillains popping up from time to time. With a little help from the Phantom Stranger (yesss) and Krypto, it’s up to Superboy to protect this small town from whatever it is the DCU decides to throw at it.
This is only Jeff Lemire’s second foray into the superhero genre (the first being his Atom back-up in Adventure Comics) but, in a familiar setting, it seems to work well for him. His teenagers actually talk like teenagers and, more impressively, his Phantom Stranger speaks just like he did in his 1969 John Broome series. And, as weird as it sounds, his own excitement for this title is at kid-on-Christmas levels (seriously, when Jon and I ran into him on the SDCC floor and asked about it, he immediately turned into the happiest guy in the convention hall).
Pier Gallo’s (Batman Confidential, Dark Reign: Hawkeye) art is gorgeous as well. Not only are the characters able to convey emotions well, but his backgrounds are amazing. While reading the story I actually felt like I was back in the Midwest, looking out over miles and miles of lush nothingness. Plus, as with the above panel, he manages to make lots of small actions take place in each panel without making it look ridiculously busy.
This book is definitely worth checking out, if not for the superb art, then for the what-the-hell worthy twist ending. Needless to say, so adding this title to my pull.
Hi, folks! Jonny here. The Underrated Underdogs feature has always been one of my favorites at High Five. Rob and Maggie know a lot about that stuff and I always love it when they review some old character I’ve never heard of. I have always wanted to review my own underdog, and a year into High Five I’ve finally found my guy.
In 1952 DC Comics broke with common practice and introduced a new character without testing his/her popularity in one of their existing on-going titles. Since the success of any new character is uncertain, most new heroes are brought along side an existing character (IE Wolverine in Hulk #181) or receive a showcase slot in a short story magazine like More Fun Comics. Apparently the word of John Broome (Elongated Man, Detective Chimp) was enough to entice DC to take a few risks, and in August or September of 1952 the world met the Phantom Stranger in his very own six issue miniseries. Likely the gambit didn’t pay off because the Phantom would not reappear until February 1969 in Showcase #80 along side Doctor Thirteen. From this rebirth we come to know our hero.
The original concept behind the Phantom Stranger was quite simple: a crime with inexplicable causes would be perpetrated and the mysterious Phantom Stranger would appear from no-where, expose the supernatural as a hoax, and vanish leaving the audience to debate his true nature. Usually he was working along side Doctor Thirteen who was consistently annoyed at the mystery surrounding Phantom Stranger.
Apparently this concept targeting young boys didn’t work for DC and in issue 4 The Phantom Stranger received a new creative team, a new costume, and some badass powers that quickly settled the question of natural vs spiritual. Beyond aesthetic alteration, the changes wrought by Robert Kanigher (creator of Barry Allen) and Neal Adams (who’s drawing an upcoming Batman book this summer YAY!) demonstrated a shift in target demographic. No longer did our hero spend his time mystifying 7 to 10 year-olds with disappearing acts. This new Phantom Stranger’s friends were teens, and hippies at that. His enemies were no longer simple-minded murderers or thieves, but rather the Forces of Evil themselves. This series continued throughout the first half of the 1970s and boasted such creators as Len Wein, Jim Aparo, and Tony DeZuniga. Check out the cover art for the first issue of Phantom Stranger under Kanigher and Adams below:
By 1973 the Silver Age was over, and the Bronze Age was in full swing. This shift saw a population with little interest in many of the once popular characters. Phantom Stranger was a casualty of this shift and he largely faded into Limbo until Alan Moore reminded us of the mysterious hero in 1982′s Saga of the Swamp Thing.
Here, we saw the beginnings of Phantom Stranger’s third and current interpretation. To Moore, and all subsequent writers, the Phantom Stranger was not a being of power. Rather, he was an all-knowing sage who transcends time, space, and continuity. No matter where you are in the DCU, The Phantom Stranger can find you, and he can guide you to a better path. This concept was beautifully illustrated by Grant Morrison in Animal Man #22 when Phantom Stranger met a time-displaced Buddy Baker and helped him find the path to his lost family.
What I find remarkable about the Phantom Stranger is that the character holds up perfectly despite all the ret-cons and reinterpretations. Since the character was built on a simple platform of perpetual mystery the changes have not affected DC’s immortal sage to any detriment. In fact, the changes have made him even cooler. DC has issued 4 theories as to his origin. None are to be taken as fact, and all are meant to further the mystery. But, in my mind, The Phantom Stranger represents some overreaching Power in the DCU that has sent its messenger to earth in 3 phases: first to observe, second to fight, and third to guide.
I love this interpretation for a few reasons. One, it gives Phantom Stranger a certain realism of character in that he has matured rather than simply aged. Second, and more importantly it mirrors the path of humanity as we begin, live, and complete our lives. This is, of course, my own interpretation for my own amusement, but the fun of any mystery is in the guessing.
[Liked this post? Vote it up on reddit!]
So, this is old as all get out and prooobably something you’ve already noticed and/or known about forever (especially if your name happens to be Kelson) but I don’t care. I just noticed this and it made me way, way happier than it probably should have.
First, we have the cover to John Broome’s the Flash Vol. 1 #105 from March 1959, Barry Allen’s first ever solo title and the the first appearance of Sam Scudder as the Mirror Master (which I will totally one day actually own).
All right, now let’s take a look at the cover to Mark Waid and Michael Jan Friedman’s the Flash Vol. 2 #105 from September 1995, in which Wally West helps out, gets tricked by, and fights second Mirror Master, Evan McCulloch.
Oh, man. That’s one of the funniest tributes to a past cover I’ve ever seen. Awesome!