Back Issue #142 April 2023 (magazine review).
Finally, the software bug that plagued the UK GPO computer system has been resolved, and the backlog of material from the USA has started to arrive, beginning with the April edition of “Back Issue.” As you can see from the cover, the Boy of Steel is prominently featured, with John Wells providing an overview of Superboy’s history of adventures, minus the LSH. This also includes the problem of accounting for which era he belongs to when, as Superman, he maintains a mid-30s age for several decades.
At some point down the line, his early adventures may be split between the New 52 realities, particularly since later versions of Superman didn’t have him in costume at all when he was young. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, the cover design is by Dave Cockrum and colored by Glenn Whitmore, originally created for the Aurora model kits. On page 18, the actual assembled model is displayed.
It would be fascinating to see all the Aurora and Mobius model kits, who now holds the license and molds, displayed together for comparison to their box cover artwork. In my youth, I built the glow-in-the-dark Dracula, the Forgotten Prisoner of Castlemare (whoever that was), and Spidey, but the Aurora kits weren’t widely distributed in the UK.
For those of you who are fans of artist/writer Frank Thorne, you may be as surprised as I was to learn he created the superhero and titular character “The Far Out Green Super Cool,” as writer Dewey Cassell relates here. The comic book lasted for four issues and was essentially an educational series for kids to keep them on the straight and narrow back in 1972; it is now quite rare. You have got to love his sketch of Mr. Death.
Writer Steven Thompson delves into the history of Disney’s Super-Goof, which gave Goofy superpowers and a costume by eating different radioactive vegetables until settling on super-goobers to prevent kids from imitating him. Considering the parallels to a certain DC character, I’m surprised there wasn’t any legal action. Further in, writer Mark Arnold covers “SuperRichie” or later “SupeRichie,” who, although not exactly superpowered, did get a costume change, indicating that DC Comics’ legal department may have had a word with Harvey Comics.
Continuing the “Super” theme, writer Steven Thompson also examines “Super Soul Comix,” though only one issue was published and it was a bit controversial for its publisher, Kitchen Sink. Its creator was Richard “Grass” Green. I had always assumed his nickname was a play on his surname, but Roy Thomas notes that it was short for “Grasshopper” since Green was very energetic and jumpy.
I’m on less familiar ground with Jack Davis’ work on “Superfan,” as, like writer Mark Arnold, I don’t really understand American Football. The same applies to “Super-Mario”; it’s simply the wrong generation. The “Blondie” newspaper strip, let alone the comic book, did make its way over to the UK, but Dagwood becoming “super” in the latter, as related by writer Mark Arnold, was more about finding new things for him to do, even if it only lasted four stories.
One of the main attractions for many readers might be the interviews by Dan Johnson with actors Gerard Christopher and Stacey Haiduk about their time on “The Adventures of Superboy.” If memory serves me correctly, I believe these episodes aired on Saturday mornings or at a time when I was at work in the UK, so I think I only caught one episode.
There’s plenty to read here, and it left me wondering if any other super-characters were missed out. The magic of using the word “Super” likely stems from “super-hero.” It sticks in the public imagination. One can’t help but wonder if the superlative had been “Ultra” instead, whether things would have been different. Mind you, I can only think of four characters with that word in their names, and one of them was an alien with an extra letter. That should set some of you thinking.
We definitely need to see more theme issues like this one. It brings together various aspects of popular culture, highlighting the impact of the “Super” phenomenon on comics, television, and even model kits. Such theme issues not only provide a wealth of information but also invite readers to reflect on the broader cultural context and significance of these characters and their stories.
In conclusion, the April edition of “Back Issue” offers a fascinating exploration of the world of “Super” characters across various media forms. From Superboy’s complicated timeline to the legal implications of Super-Goof and SuperRichie, it provides readers with a treasure trove of insights and intriguing anecdotes. And with interviews featuring actors from “The Adventures of Superboy,” the issue is sure to delight both casual fans and dedicated enthusiasts alike.
So, for those who have yet to delve into the “Super” universe or those who are already well-acquainted with these characters, don’t hesitate to pick up a copy of “Back Issue” and embark on a journey through the extraordinary and captivating world of superheroes and their superlative adventures. You never know which “Ultra” or “Super” character you might discover next!
(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: $10.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $ (US))
check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_54&products_id=1696