Atom #36 (Apr.-May, 1968)

What defines a comic book superhero as a unique character?  Is it a name, or a costume, or a power set?  What about a hero’s “secret identity”?  Does it even matter who’s wearing the costume?

For what it’s worth, I suspect that the majority of people reading this post have a general conception of “Superman” as a single, unique character, albeit one with multiple versions — “pre-Crisis”, “New 52”, “Golden Age”, and so on.  It’s probably the same with Batman, or Wonder Woman — or with Captain America, Iron Man, or the Mighty Thor, for that matter.  Even if these heroes undergo occasional costume modifications or power fluctuations — and even if someone else steps into their heroic role for a time in the service of a storyline — there’s still a sense of a core character underneath it all — an “ur-Superman”, an “ur-Batman”, and so forth.  Read More

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World’s Finest Comics #157 (May, 1966)

This comic book features an “Imaginary Story”.  (And if your response to that phrase is “but aren’t they all imaginary?”, rest assured that famed British comics author Alan Moore agrees with you.)  “Imaginary Stories”, also known as “Imaginary Tales” or even (as in this very issue) “Imaginary Novels“, were a fixture of editor Mort Weisinger’s “Superman family” comics of the 1960s.  They allowed the creators to explore “what if?” scenarios in which Krypton never exploded, or Jimmy Olsen married Supergirl, or Superman was murdered by Lex Luthor (sounds like a bummer, I know, but it made for a classic story) — in other words, scenarios that wouldn’t or couldn’t fit into the “real” ongoing continuity of the comics.      Read More

Green Lantern #40 (October, 1965)

According to the Grand Comics Database, this comic book was published exactly 50 years ago today, on August 26, 1965.  The fact that it came out pretty late in the month may be significant, as it seems very likely to me that I bought it only after buying Justice League of America #40, which doesn’t have a specific date of release given in the GCD, but does have a later cover date of November, 1965.  That’s because I didn’t have a clue who Green Lantern was before I started buying comics, and it seems logical that I took a chance on the Emerald Crusader’s solo book only after first encountering him as a member of the JLA.  This book could well have been on the stands for a week or two after JLA #40’s release.  But since I don’t really know if any of that is actually true, I’m going to go ahead and honor the cover dates, and post about GL #40 ahead of the Justice League book.  Read More