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Back Issue #77 December 2004 (magazine review).

This early 77th edition of ‘Back Issue’ focuses on the more comedic super-heroes…mostly Writer Bryan D. Stroud focuses on Plastic Man when he became part of the DC Universe, initially as one of the ‘Dial H for Hero’ guises until the real one came along. His own series was short-lived, and I can’t remember much about it, although that might be down to poor UK distribution at the time.

Writer Eddy Zeno examines some of the specific humorous aspects associated with Superman. You might wonder if the Man of Steel holds the record for the most hamburgers consumed. I’ve never understood why Superman unconsciously hypnotizes others with his glasses, while everyone laughs at Clark Kent’s distinct appearance. I mean, Lois Lane wonders how she could have been fooled for so long about the difference between the two alter-egos, and this is a ready-made practical solution that even he didn’t realize he was doing, considering his lenses are from his baby spaceship

Writer Jarrod Buttery has a look at the work of Owen McCarron (1929–2005), who did Marvel’s ‘Fun and Games’ from 1979–80. When it came out, I bought the 12-issue series but never filled in the mags, figuring that the number of clean issues would be rare. I just looked up the current prices. Hmmm.

Eclipse Comics had a short run of ‘Cap’n Quick & Foozle’, as writer Stephen Friedt relates. Born out of unbought stories at DC Comics by Steve Englehart, who let artist Marshall Rogers loose on the idea, It argues that different characters can transform story plots in many ways.

I was vaguely familiar with ‘normalman’, a character known for more than just its 12 limited issue parody of the comicbook industry. Michael Eury interviews his creator, Jim Valentino, about how it started at Aardvark and, when the Sims broke up, continued in Renegade. A good parody’s value lies in incorporating the contributions of the sources it parodies, a feat he was successful in achieving.

Writer Daniel DeAngelo has a more extensive look at the DC Comics character, the Blue Devil. Daniel DeAngelo offers a unique perspective on the humor within the DC Universe, highlighting the issues that arise when stuntman Dan Cassidy finds himself mysteriously ensnared in his stuntsuit. It was fascinating to observe the designs in development, which were significantly darker and, to put it mildly, sinister. The niche he created didn’t please everyone, especially DC, which caused his title’s demise.

Marvel’s Star Comics aimed to bridge the gap for younger readers and guide them to higher levels, but it didn’t cater to us adults. However, it did introduce Spider-Ham, a concept to consider in the context of Spider-Man films set in diverse realities. The behind-the-scenes politics of accruing licensed characters and seeing them be more successful abroad than in the USA must have been startling, although Marvel’s marketing didn’t understand that. Even so, the fact that Star Comics managed to survive for 6 years under that byline does suggest a modest level of success. The article highlights that crafting content for the junior market requires a distinct mindset.

I’m uncertain if Michael Eury’s last article, which proposed a comics team-up between the 1950s Batman and Dick Tracy, would ever gain traction. It never happened. In terms of logistics, I believe it would require a linear approach, allowing the contrasts to contribute to its humorous moments.

I must admit, I was a little nervous about this particular ‘Back Issue’, but I usually exercise caution when dealing with anything humorous. Not that I would borrow, but I’m more conscious of the mechanics as I use it myself, so I tend to be a little more critical. Even so, this turned out to be a learning curve on titles I hadn’t come across before. I still think comedy can come out of a situation, even with serious characters, rather than intentionally funny characters fitting into a serious situation.

GF Willmetts

June 2024

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: varies. ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 8.95 (US))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_54&products_id=116

UncleGeoff

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.

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