It might be easier to visualize those stiff poses and flat coloring that make up the art, but it's that sweet, sweet dialogue that really serves as the hallmark of the Silver Age. It's all bold proclamations about whatever's happening right this very second --- often with sentences that would take way longer to say out loud than the event they're meant to be describing --- capped off by as many exclamation points as you can get away with in a single word balloon. But for all of its memorable quirks the dialogue of the era makes for some pretty fun reading.
Like, for instance, in 1959's "The Colossal Super-Dog," in which every single line in the story is the best line in the story.
So hey, you know how Jimmy Olsen sometimes runs into a mystical jewel called the Star of Cathay that sends his consciousness back in time to his past life as famous 13th century merchant and explorer Marco Polo, who also had a super-powered pal in the form of a genie named Korul? If you don't, that's fine, I'm pretty sure there are only five or six people who are obsessed with Jimmy Olsen to the point of paying attention to his past lives, and at least two of them work for ComicsAlliance.
The point is, that was a strange piece of DC's Bronze Age continuity, but maybe the weirdest thing about it was that it wasn't the only time Jimmy Olsen got sent back to a past life. So I guess the question I really wanted to ask was: You know how Jimmy Olsen used to be Spartacus?
I've been writing about weird old comics on the Internet for well over a decade now, and there are two things that you really need to take away from that. First, I am old, and never have I felt the inexorable march of time grinding me to dust more acutely than when I think of it in terms of back issues. Second, I've learned a lot about all the different ways that a comic can be weird. Sometimes it's that they're tackling a bit of strange subject matter, or throwing together two (or three) genres that don't quite mesh together. Sometimes it's the approach, the bizarre swerves that drag a character out of their normal comfort zones. And sometimes, it's the fact that it's a comic that exists at all, in defiance of all logic.
If you're anything like me you're probably a little mystified by the current state of the Superman books. As fun as those stories might be, trying to figure out how the younger Superman of the New 52 era has been replaced by his older counterpart from the previous version of DC Universe --- you know, the one who had a mullet, was made of blue electricity for a year, and once got beat to death by a bone monster --- is pretty confusing even for someone like me, let alone the more casual fans who might be drawn in by the idea of Superman punching out Rorschach or whatever else is coming down the pipe.
But that said, and comics being comics, it's not exactly something without precedent. Back in the '60s, there was a story where an older Superman showed up to meet his younger counterpart, and then immediately tried to murder him with trickery and poison. And I think it's safe to say that he didn't really think that one through too well.
Last week, Archie Comics announced that a new Josie and the Pussycats comic was on the way, and there are a lot of different directions the creators could take it in. They could head back to the original premise of a scrappy, up-and-coming but relatively unknown high school band, they could pick up on the movie's premise of the Pussycats as world-famous celebrities, or they could even do what the cartoon did back in the day and send them off to space.
Or, I suppose, they could put the focus back where it was in the early '70s, when they were constantly battling against Lovecraftian horrors and trying to cleanse the Earth in purifying flame.
I have to be honest with you, folks: As much as I like the Justice League of America, and as much as I love Silver Age DC Comics in general, I find those classic JLA stories from the early days to be pretty hard to get through. Maybe it's the function of having a larger cast to deal with, or maybe it's that the kind of big, world-threatening baddies that require a whole team of superheroes have a different kind of charm than the weirdness that you get from an issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, but even at their most ridiculously bizarre, they are not really my thing.
But with DC recently putting out the first year of Justice League stories as part of its line of Golden and Silver Age hardcovers, I decided to give it another shot, and this time, I finally got to Justice League of America #7 and "The Cosmic Fun-House." And when I talk about the JLA "at their most ridiculously bizarre," this is exactly what I'm talking about.
If there are two things I find fascinating in the world of comic books, it's bizarre crossovers and Archie comics where everything turns weirdly serious. They're the things I look for when I hit the back issue boxes at conventions, and while I usually have to settle for getting those two fixes separately from stuff like those Life WIth Archie comics from the '70s where Betty gets attacked by a bear, every now and then, I'll find something that fits both. And every now and then, it's even weirder than I expect.
Case in point: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Meet Archie, in which... well, you can probably guess what happens just from that title. What you might not guess, though, is that it involves a kidnapping at gunpoint and a giant floating interdimensional cow head.
The importance of a comic book cover can never really be overstated. It's the first thing a potential reader sees, and especially back before we had solicitations and previews, in the days of newsstands --- and sour-lookin' newsstand owners who were quick to remind you that this ain't a library --- it was often a creator's only chance to convince them to pick it up and at least check out what was inside. Because of that, there are decades of comics out there that are either so bizarre that they pretty much demand to be read, like just about every Silver Age DC book, or books plastered with over-the-top dramatic titles like "And There Must Come... A Destiny!"
In 1945, however, things were a little different. So different, in fact, that the fine people at Fawcett Magazines once decided that it would be a good idea to use that precious bit of real estate on the cover of Captain Marvel Adventures to let you know that you were about to get a story where Captain Marvel went to Columbus, Ohio. Although to be fair, they also determined that this was less important than the story about an old man who found a piece of string on the ground.
Last week, when ComicsAlliance launched its poll to determine our readers' favorite Archie character --- and I'm happy to announce that Jughead Jones has taken a considerable lead, narrowly beating Randolph The Kid Who Likes Anime --- I tried to mention a few things about the characters that the average reader might not know. Veronica, for instance, had a storyline where she was revealed to be the prophesied destroyer of all vampires, which is a good thing to know even if it doesn't tip the voting scales in her favor.
But there was one piece of the Riverdale puzzle that I thought I should probably elaborate on: That time that resident nerd Dilton Doiley was possessed by a sentient jean jacket. And believe it or not, it's somehow way weirder than it sounds.
I've been writing about weird old comics on the Internet for over ten years now, and in most cases, those stories stick out because they're built around a weird premise, or because some kind of big, strange event happens in the middle of it that comes out of nowhere. But today, I read "The Super-Pranks of Krypto," and that story's a little different.
I mean, yes, as the title indicates, it's a comic about a dog from space pulling pranks on his owner, who is also from space, but really, by the standards of the Silver Age, that's not all that strange. No, this one's weird because every single choice in every single panel that was made by the creators is the weirdest, most inexplicable choice that they could've possibly made.
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