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They used to sell horrible copies that were barely visible at stores. If you were lucky you saw a shadowy Superman fighting the bad guys. Otherwise you got a blur that would suddenly end with Clark and Lois making a bad joke while you wondered what had just happened.

When my brother bought our first VCR, one of the first tapes we bought had eight of the 1940s Superman cartoons. A couple of them were very dark, but most were watchable. A while later, we found one of the other cartoons, "Secret Agent," on another tape from the same company, and the video quality was so bad we could barely watch it.

They sold a lot of weird stuff. I remember one from about 1907 about a man dressed like a magician trying to do magic tricks. A woman kept appearing and ruining them. Then she offered him a vast kingdom. Suddenly she grabs his container of magic potion, pours it on him, and turns him into a skeleton. She tosses him away then wraps his cloak around her. Came in right after a weird Masque of the Red Death that had priests beating people to try to drive the spirits away before they went to the castle storyline.

Kids Klassics

Damn you, walking upright banana!

Elvira to appear for the last time at Knotts Berry Farm tomorrow.

I'm reading Procopius's The Secret History, which savages the morals of the Byzantine emperor Justinian and other members of his court. I just stumbled on this digital recreation of his face based on a famous mosaic in Ravenna. It looks just like his depiction in the mosaic, but it's startlingly lifelike.

A forgotten Iron Man villain: the Bloated Bandit. Link via the Supermegamonkey website.

This post displaced the thread DC's Omnibus line - Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age collections from the homepage.

Pre-Crisis Superman pretended to be a coward as Clark and showed his real self as Superman, so he had two personalities. It occurred to me recently that Spider-Man has two personalities too. As Peter Parker he's a serious guy. As Spider-Man he's flippant, and mocks JJJ, his unpleasant boss.

This element isn't present in all popular superhero features. It wasn't part of "Green Lantern" in the Silver Age. It was of "The Flash" slightly, as the Flash was slow and late as Barry Allen. The Fantastic Four didn't have secret identities (except for the Torch, briefly).

The Hulk's having another self gave his strip two, contrasting protagonists. Sometimes Banner had hero sequences: e.g. The Incredible Hulk #110.

C. C. Beck once wrote that Billy Batson was the real hero of Captain Marvel stories. I take him to have been referring to the fact that he often had to overcome some situation in which he couldn't say "Shazam!" He also investigated things and took risks.

Sometimes heroes have a dual personality in another sense. Wolverine has his hero side and his animalistic side. The late Silver/Bronze Age Thing had a self-hating side and a jokey side.

Batman was a playboy in his other identity. But there have always been Batman stories where Bruce Wayne hardly appears or doesn't appear, so the contrast between his personalities wasn't consistently present in the stories. On the other hand, the strip had two stars.

Batman's costume expresses his personality as a grim crimefighter. Robin's was colourful, so it expressed his laughing daredevil character. In this respect Robin is unlike most other kid sidekicks, as they were usually Mini-Me versions of the hero. On the other hand, they both grinned and punned as they fought.

Did the stories contrast their personalities? Batman got grim Batman panels. It's possible Robin smiled and grinned more often than Batman: I'd have to go through the stories to see. Robin was probably more often shown looking puzzled or worried.

What the stories did often do was contrast Batman's skill and knowledge and Robin's fallibility. For example, they'd be fighting crooks, Robin would get into difficulty, and Batman would have to break off fighting to save him. Or Robin would fear Vicki Vale had uncovered their identities, and only later learn from Batman that he detected and thwarted her plan.

If this happens, the X-Men-related characters will be in the Marvel fold again. Sounds like it could go either way.

Disney Trying to Buy Fox Studios

Be interesting to see them trying to fit the FF and X-Men into their movies.

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