Showing 1 - 10 of 253 posts found matching keyword: comic books

Too cheap to buy a ticket, Batman?

John Adams: once a dick, always a dick
from Justice League of America #113 (1974)

Three things.

Thing 1: The Freedom Train was a real thing designed to unite America against the dawning Cold War. Ironically, the train was forced to bypass several cities because they refused to allow black and white people on the train at the same time. (In this comic, the train will be hijacked by the villainous Wizard, who only wants it to prove to his Injustice League pals that he's good at stealing trains.)

Thing 2: That's some weird perspective in the second panel. John Adams was 5 feet 7 inches tall. Thomas Jefferson was 6' 2". Adams must have been standing on his soap box.

Thing 3: It's funny to think that the self-righteous John Adams is just being a dick, but the "improvement" he's talking about is the phrase "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence," which was added after that first comma as one of many revisions the Continental Congress made to the declaration draft that Thomas Jefferson unveiled on June 28, 1776.

The daily minutes of the first Continental Congress for June 28-July 4 do not indicate who was responsible for adding the phrase. Popular opinion points to New Jersey delegate John Witherspoon, the only clergyman to sign the Declaration. Witherspoon was at the time the president of Princeton, and just before joining the Congress, he made a big splash with a sermon titled "The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men." The movie 1776 gives him credit, which is good enough for me.

For the record, since this seems to be that kind of year, Witherspoon owned slaves. So did both good ol' Tom Jefferson (who often took his to bed) and, believe it or not, Benjamin Franklin (who did eventually change his mind and argue for universal emancipation). Of the four Founding Fathers mentioned in this post, the only one who never owned slaves was the self-righteous dick, John Adams. Give 'em hell, Johnny!

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How did Superman get strong enough to break those chains?

And wear your mask!Superman #5, June 1940

By drinking straight from the cow, obviously.

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Your annual piece of Clark Kent trivia: his glasses are indestructible.

Plastoid? Is that a Kryptonian word?
Adventure Comics #304, January 1963

Last year we learned that Clark Kent hides his fireproof shirt and shoes in a pouch in his indestructible cape when he becomes Superman. Now we know how his glasses survive that process.

Next year: how does Superman get a haircut?

Fraternity hazing sure has changed since 1963
Adventure Comics #305, February 1963

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A recent survey by the University of Chicago has found that Americans are the least happy we've been in nearly 50 years.

There are probably a lot of reasons for that, but I think it's because 1971 was the last time you could buy this as a 3' x 2' poster for just $1.50 (plus .25ยข postage and handling):


May Superman and peace never go out of style.

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The 2020 Superman Celebration would have been held this coming weekend if it hadn't been stopped by a microscopic germ. (That sort of thing happens surprisingly often in comic books.) This would have been the 42nd celebration in 42 years. They already have a date for next year, which I guess will be numbered 42 despite the one-year gap. That won't bother anyone who has read a lot of comics where schedules are mostly a suggestion.

Events that will not be held include the raffling of a 30-inch by 15-inch Superman "S" Shield made entirely of LEGO bricks. Those dimensions were chosen to match the chest of the Superman statue overlooking downtown Metropolis, Illinois, home of the celebration. I hope someone went ahead and built the sculpture anyway. It's not like we haven't had time on our hands.

There was also supposed to be a 5K run through Fort Massac State Park. It's also cancelled. I mean, I guess you can go run it by yourself. The state has opened the park, but race organizers won't be there, and you won't get a t-shirt.

The Metropolis Planet newspaper (which has a totally kickass header banner, by the way), estimates that the cancellation of the celebration will cost the city an estimated $4,427,212. That number seems super specific for an "estimate." Perhaps it came from the Calculator. (That's a reference to a DC Comics villain from my youth. Back in the day, the Calculator wore a purple suit with an electronic calculator stuck to the chest. These days, he's drawn as a suspenders-wearing accountant. I don't consider it an upgrade.)

If you don't know who this villain is, congratulations on an appropriately spent youth
Action Comics #522 (1981)

Plague or no, I can't imagine that anyone will be making a LEGO statue of that guy anytime soon.

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June marks the 14th annual Superman Month, and not a moment too soon! I think we all need to hear Superman's perspective on recent events.

What I learned while reading this is that I want a sweater with a W on it
(I couldn't find a PSA where Superman confronted a murdering cop.)

Action Comics #179 was published in April 1953, making that PSA sixty-seven years old!

When are you going to start listening to Superman, America?

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Art by Jack Kirby and Chick Stone, words by the actual President of the United States:

Credit to Twitter:@PresVillain

So brilliant, I wish I'd thought of it. But the credit belongs to

But wait! The joke works even better if you know the original panel from Tales of Suspense #66 (1965), written by Stan Lee:

He was being sarcastic!

Don't worry, Captain America survives, but by the end of the issue, he's heiling Hitler. Stupid disinfectants.

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An editorial cartoon in the newspaper got me to thinking about how Superman would handle something like the COVID-19 outbreak. In the cartoon, he was staying home to prevent the further spread of the disease. That's cute, but it's frankly a waste of Superman's power. No one who can hold his breath indefinitely as he flies through the Sun to disinfect himself needs to worry about a shortage of Purell.

Ironically enough, a plague was among the problems that Superman 2020 had to deal with in the far flung future of... 2021.

They're not dead; they're Transformers!

Remember Superman 2020, aka Superman III? He's Superman's grandson, the son of the son of Superman. We last discussed his adventures, written at the dawn of the 1980s, in January. (You know, way back when the threat to the world was white supremacy. Damn. What's it going to be by July? My bet is on Godzilla.)

Anyway, at the end of his first year in action, Superman was confronted with an uncomfortably familiar danger when the doors of the closed city of New Metropolis were opened on New Year's Day 2021, and everyone in the city was found dead.

What, did HIV and Ebola not make the news in New Metropolis?

I did mention this was written in 1982, right? Legionnaires Disease was discovered in an outbreak in 1976 which killed 15% of the original cases. Thirteen thousand cases are diagnosed per year in the US, and modern techniques have squeezed that fatality rate down to about 10%. (For comparison, COVID-19 is still killing under 2% by most reckoning, though it has infected over 26,900 Americans in the past three months alone.)

Maldavia did indeed have a 21st-century outbreak of flu that shut down the country and killed 6% of those infected, though that was in 2017, not 2014. Still, I'd say that's close enough that Nostradamus would have gotten credit for the prediction.

Remember those white supremacists I was speaking of earlier? Superman made about as much progress defeating them as Spike Lee did. When the hero arrives to help the panicked population, those dicks were quick to rush to social media to throw blame. (Life imitating art, or the other way 'round?)

You gotta admit, his logic checks out

Hey, if he were really at fault, I'm sure the authorities would have called it the "Superman Virus" in public addresses instead of referring to it by its scientific name. Because authorities have a responsibility not to mislead the public. Or so I've heard.

It turns out that Superman isn't the cause of the virus but the solution. Using his aforementioned super-breath, he distributes the cure throughout Metropolis' atmosphere, causing it to literally rain medicine.

Thanks, Gramps!

It only took Superman eight pages to thwart a plague and save the world, proving that you can save everyone without a single test kit so long as you have one Man of Steel. My hero.

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Perhaps this is why many species eat their young

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So I was reading The Atom #18 (1962), which is a comic book about a nuclear scientist who discovers a cast-off portion of a white dwarf star and uses it to shrink himself down to a small fraction of his normal size, the better to fight crime with. (Why is a tiny person better at fighting crime than a full sized person? How should I know? I'm no nuclear scientist!)

Anyway, as I was saying, in issue #18, this happens:

Flea-master? He's got to be a Spider-man villain by now, right?

I didn't think that was how flea circuses really worked, but everything else seems to check out.

The "true" explanation of what's happening here doesn't come until the end of the story.

Protonic radiation is the most relaxing kind

Yeah, that sounds like real science. The weirdest part is that it is.

Well, at least the curative aspects of "protonic radiation" part. Proton therapy debuted as an experimental treatment for cancer in 1961, mere months before this issue went to press. It was originally used to treat cancer of the eyes, and has gained increasing acceptance for other cancers in the decades since. (Or, as The Atom demonstrates, maybe it's only causing doctors to *think* that they're curing something. Damn you, protonic radiation!)

There you have it: comic-book science is real.

(I didn't bother looking up using white dwarf material to shrink people. I'm confident it's solid. I do still lingering doubts about that flea circus, though....)

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To be continued...