Saturday, December 28, 2013

Superman Saves Christmas - Bonus Coverage!

Oh - My - Gosh!  it's BONUS COVERAGE!

I was once a prolific comic book letter hack, with over 330 published Letters of Comment in the titles of pretty much every publisher I followed with any degree of consistency, from the '80s into the mid 2000s. 

Some of you may remember the undertaking I'm about to discuss, most of you will not (...or, never knew in the first place), but...

...When DC Comics ended their letter columns, sometime in mid-2002, that didn't stop me.  

I simply began producing a series of what I called "NON-LETTERS", which commented on the same issues as they were released, but might have been more frank or satirical, as they were not tailored for publication.  

In those Pre-Blogging days, I distributed these via an e-mail list of persons I knew that were interested in DC Comics, and might have enjoyed the comments.  

Today, they would be "Comic Review Blog Posts" -- and now (thanks to the miracle of "Copy" and "Paste") one of them actually is!  
Below is my "Non-Letter" to ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN # 623, which was the subject of OUR LAST POST.  Enjoy it as some sort of "Bonus Coverage"...

Oh, and notice that the New York Football Giants were bad THEN, too!  It's amazing how much of this stuff even *I* forgot! 
Time for another (long overdue) "Non-Letter" to DC's nonexistent letter columns!

Dear Mis-Adventurers:

Am I a hero?  A husband?  A role model?  Or am I just making things more complex than they really are…?

Probably.  Truth is, you’re ALL those things.  And MORE.”  -- Superman and Lois Lane, having another “heart to heart”, from ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN # 623. (Released December 17, 2003)

2003 has been an interesting year for writer Joe Casey and the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN title.  In this year, editor Eddie Berganza dispensed with the “book-to-book” connected continuity, began well over a decade ago by former Super-editor Mike Carlin, and had each Superman title stand completely on its own – telling its own particular stories. 

"...Now, with more SUPER!"
Joe Kelly’s ACTION COMICS, despite the muddled and confusing “Supergirls” arc, fared the best under this approach with “The Harvest” (Death of General Zod) being perhaps the best of the run.  Other highlights include the “Creeper on a Cruise Ship” and “New Year’s Eve Around the World” stand-alone stories in the last two issues of the year.  Let’s not even discuss the horrors that were Steven Seagle and Scott Mc Daniel’s SUPERMAN! 


Joe Casey’s ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, however, was truly a “mixed bag”.  It started off far and away as the cream of the Super-crop with such great stuff as “The Hollow Men”, “Heroville” and “Funky Flashman’s Super Emporium”.  Then took a SHARP DIP with such substandard efforts as “The Candidate/ Cannibal Planet” and “Anti-Angelica” mini arcs. 

The Funky Flashman... Yes, really!
This issue’s “Bittersweet” falls squarely in-between.  Not the best, and far from the worst.  It’s the sort of “Supes takes Lois to a remote location(s) for some private soul-searching talks” thing that we’ve seen Dan Jurgens and company do so much better in the past.  

This one has an interesting twist, though.  Supes recounts some of his most recent “untold” adventures to Lois in the form of TEXT AND ILLUSTRATIONS.  Four stories, in all, are told in this format: “How Superman Saved Christmas”, “Secret of the Phantom Quarterback”, “Crisis on Earth-Mind”, and “The Day The Earth Divided”. 

All of these, in some way, would have made interesting stories in their own right (…and may have been resurrected from Casey’s “scrap pile” for this express purpose), but are somehow IMPROVED UPON by the brevity of the format – as opposed to devoting a minimum of 32 pages (less ads), or multiple issues, to each idea. 

The Christmas tale is my personal favorite, as, in recent years, I’ve become a sucker for stories that present the notion that “Santa Claus” is some sort of “real” supernatural being.  Examples of such stories occurred in the MEN IN BLACK animated series, and (…believe it or not) in a recent issue of SAVAGE DRAGON. 

And there he [Santa] was, practically an amalgamation of all the various descriptions he’d been given throughout the ages.  I suspect he looks different to everyone.  To me, he had the warmest smile I’d ever seen…”  OH, ISN’T THAT GREAT?!  REALLY!!! 

When the reindeer come down with a mysterious virus on Christmas Eve, Superman “…guides the sleigh tonight” – and helps with the general delivery of presents. 

Obviously, time passes much DIFFERENTLY for him on that night.  He’s never rushed.  I had to beg him to let me make a delivery or two…”.   JUST WONDERFUL!!!

As for the others:  If nothing else, “Secret of the Phantom Quarterback” conjured up images of the “Post Silver Age”, Julius Schwartz era for Superman of the 1970s thru mid-1980s.  The image of a helmet and a football uniform – with no body inside – running amok on a stadium field would have made a perfect cover circa the Schwartz era… and, somehow, big dumb jock sportscaster Steve Lombard (…anyone else remember him?)  would have been involved. 

Crisis on Earth-Mind” involved Silver Age Green Lantern villain Hector Hammond, while “The Day The Earth Divided” might have been a company-wide, summer crossover series had it been published in the mid-nineties.  Both benefited form the “condensed overview” approach.

All in all, quite a bit better than we’ve gotten from Casey in the last few months – and, while I’m still glad he’s departing as part of the sweeping “Super-creative changes” to come in early 2004, I’m also glad he went out on something of a high-note. 

Joe Torcivia  (…composing this Non-Letter on Christmas Eve, 2003 – and hopes Santa Claus IS, in fact, a supernatural being.  Also figures that the currently 4-11 New York Football Giants must have a “Phantom Quarterback” – or could USE ONE!)   


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