Alter Ego #37 June 2004 (magazine review).

To catch up on locating early issues, I have Alter Ego # 37, and, as you can see from the cover, it is all Superman on the first half. Actually, it has more to do with the origins, as Will Murray looks to Philip Wylie and his 1930 novel, ‘Gladiator’. HuHugo Denner underwent modifications in the womb, resulting in a near-invulnerable, extremely strong superhuman who had to navigate his life. Learning from his mistakes, HuHugo Denner enlists in the army during World War One, frequently performs superhuman feats, dismisses them by claiming that all men from Colorado are similar to him, and eventually turns to crime-fighting. Although Superman co-author Jerry Siegel says he never read the book, ‘Gladiator’ was a best-seller. Murray points out that there were too many similarities to ignore. I read the ‘Marvel Preview’ black-and-white adaptation of ‘Gladiator’ back in the day, and I tend to agree. I’ll need to investigate the 1938 film ‘The Gladiator’, where a man gains super-strength with a comic effect, if it becomes available on DVD.

Murray continues his examination by delving into the 1940 origins of ‘K-metal’, a substance that would later be named Kryptonite. I never saw the printed version of the 23-page story introducing it, despite having seen the pages and samples presented here. His research reveals where it would have fit in continuitI don’t believe the story length was the issue, but altering the relationship between Clark and Lois and granting her superpowers through a blood transfusion would have necessitated changes throughout the newspaper strips and the radio show.  the newspaper strips and radio show. Too much going on in a story is never a good idea for readers who are slow to accept change, and K-metal had to wait for another time.

The first part of Michael T. Gilbert’s interview with Al Feldstein about his time at EC Comics reveals that he wasn’t initially an SF fan but adapted Ray Bradbury’s stories to comicbook format before they got permission, a decision that only softened when the Wertham accusations grew.

Flipping the mag over, Jim Amash interviews Sy Barry (1928–still going strong at 98 years of age) in a nearly 30-page interview, covering his career as a penciller and inker as well as the people he knew in the Golden Age before taking over the art on the Phantom newspaper strip. This really is a compelling interview. Barry’s takeover of the Phantom newspaper strip led to an increase in its popularity, not only in Australia but also in Scandinavian countries, where he enjoys celebrity status. Barry also provides an explanation for the comic book companies’ decision to incinerate original art instead of returning it, as they feared its use in illegal magazines. He emphasizes that no artist would violate the heavily copyrighted characters.

Under the Fawcett banner, writer John G. Pierce examines in detail Captain Marvel/Shazam! at DC Comics, as well as the switch to realistic depiction by the likes of the late Don Newton.

Have I said enough to entice you? These early ‘Alter Egos’ had big page counts, allowing extensive coverage and long reads. Although I will always pursue paper copies, they do pop up, and I might even achieve my ambition to get them all, there is a digital option out there.

GF Willmetts

May 2024

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 104 page illustrated magazine. Price: $10.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6890. Direct from them, you can get it digitally for $ 4.99 (US))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_55&products_id=471&zenid=npo8nk827fiqsf6dm6eb85jrd0


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.