I was a bit leery of talking about the Man of Steel because so much has been written about Kal-El and there are so many experts on him here. But SUPERBOY? Except for his Legion appearances, very little of the Boy of Steel has been reprinted in the last thirty or so years so, perhaps, I can come up with some decent queries.

  • When did Superboy (of Earth-One) know that he was from Krypton? I know the Golden Age version but was there that moment with young Kal? He did invent a memory-prober so he could recall his life on Krypton as an infant but was there anything that prompted him to do so? In other worlds, when was the first time Krypton appeared in the Superboy features?
  • One of the quirky parts of the Silver Age Superboy stories was that he built a time telescope so he could view the future. That way he already knew that he would become Superman and learnt about the destines of BATMAN, LOIS LANE and even GREEN ARROW. He encountered an adult Luthor during his time travels. Does that seem right? Should he have that much knowledge of his future. The Legion prevented that in the 30th century yet he had free rein to do so in the 20th.
  • Obviously there was a LOT of Kryptonian/future/advanced tech in the Kent home. Remember Superboy's "Fortress" was his basement!!

Have to recharge! Be Right back!

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Hoy Murphy said:

Dik-Zee? He must have been from the south of Kandor.



Did he have a brother Pik-Zee?  Were they always on the run from Jin-Xee?

Thanks (I guess) for mentioning SUPERMAN'S GIRLFRIEND, LOIS LANE 21--I've put it on my want list. Somehow I think if I had read this issue when I was ten my reaction to it would be different than yours. I've just read the main story which is reprinted in SUPERMAN: THE BOTTLE CITY OF KANDOR. I'll have to get the back issue or volume 4 of the SHOWCASE PRESENTS (whichever comes first) to read the back-up and cover featured story.

To his shame, John Byrne did a mockish cover for ACTION COMICS 597 that depicts a cat fight between Lois and Lana like that--with his assurance that such a scene would not appear in the comic!!!?? What an idiot--that scene is the best thing about that issue!

One of my favourite 80 page giants was SUPERMAN 207 / G-48, that I got in the summer of '68. I loved those stories! It includes "The Family of Steel" which introduces Van-Zee and Sylvia. Which is why I love them so much as a couple. An awesome story. So I know I would've been super-excited if I found this follow-up story.

At the end of that story, Lois takes the serum that Van-Zee made for Sylvia and it doesn't work, because she has type O bllood and Sylvia has type A.

Also, Van-Zee didn't make it so Sylvia could live in the bottle city. When their marriage starts out, they're living outside the bottle, but he makes the serum for her so she can keep up with him and their super-kids. So I gather the serum alters her metabolism so she essentially becomes Kryptonian. They later decide to settle down in the bottle city, where the Krypton-like environment takes away her super-powers. 

There's no evidence that Dik-Zee wears the super-costume 24/7. He wears it at Van-Zee's house (when he's awake--we dont see what he wears in bed), because his niece and nephew dig it. Having nieces and nephews myself, I know this is something I would do if it made them happy.

And Lois digs the suit, so of course he wears it on their dates if that's what excites her.

Also, it's clear that for Kandor, Superman is a main interest for the Kandorian people. They like to see anything that is happening with him. The same way Canadians take an interest in anything that Michael J. Fox is doing.

Why wouldn't they dress like their hero? There was a time in the '70s when practically everybody was wearing a Canadian tuxedo. And you don't know how many of those suits Dik has. He could be like Albert Einstein or Alfred Hitchcock, who had numerous copies of the same suit of clothes, so they wouldn't have to waste time every morning choosing what to wear.

Moreover, when I was ten, if some adult had grabbed my copy of a comic book like this one and then proceeded to explain to me why it was stupid--I would just stare at them blankly, wondering what was wrong with them. Edmond Hamilton and Kurt Schaffenberger provide panels of enjoyment on every page--what more could a kid want from a comic?

I'll admit that I didn't reread LOIS LANE #15 (F'60) or dig out Volume 3 of SPSF so I didn't know about Lois taking the serum but that doesn't negate my point. Superman knew about a formula that gave Earth people permanent superpowers and never investigated it further.

And I like Van-Zee and Sylvia too. A happy married couple with children is a rarity in comics. And Van-Zee became the Bronze Age Nightwing. I would have rather they resembled Superman and Lois instead of being perfect doubles.

As for Dik-Zee, he's wearing a Superman outfit in every scene he's in whether he's visiting his family, on a date or at work! No matter how you slice it, it's odd.

But I'm not trying to take away anyone's enjoyment of any comic. Heck, I have all four Showcase Presents the Superman Family, the complete run of Superman Family and several Silver Age Superman/Jimmy Olsen TPBs.

Sometimes, things just stick out too much!

The Super-serum Van-Zee whipped up for Sylvia not only required one of those ever-popular Silver Age incredibly rare elements from outer space, but also only worked on people with Sylvia's blood type, if I recall correctly, thus it was useless for Lois.  There was an imaginary story in which the serum did work on Lana, who then became Superman's wife & crime-fighting partner, until the public noticed that, since she was invulnerable to kryptonite, she was technically more powerful than him, so she left Earth rather than humiliate Superman by constantly saving him from K-based traps.

I understand that and I understand why DC didn't want to give Lois superpowers. I'm just saying logically that here's the progression:

  • Superman loves Lois
  • Superman can't marry Lois because she would be vulnerable.
  • Superman WOULD marry her IF Lois could be given superpowers
  • Van-Zee creates serum that gives his wife Sylvia superpowers
  • It won't work on Lois due to her blood type
  • Superman has knowledge of a successful superpower giving serum
  • Superman has super-intelligence
  • Superman could reformulate the serum for Lois or at least try to.
  • Yet he doesn't or conveniently forgets about it as many people do about equally important things in the Silver Age.

All that from one panel in a Lois Lane comic! If one reads between the lines!

I think it's when a kid started asking these questions and letting logic get in the way of a good story that the kid started to think he was too grown up for these funny books and turned into a surly teen that believed nobody could possibly understand him or his generation. Thankfully we usually get over that.

That's actually what makes rereading these stories as an adult so enjoyable to me. Trying to fill in the holes and treat them as one version of a person/hero/villain's life while giving them perspective as a whole canon. The Superman Mythos is filled with countless discrepancies, many omissions and too many "But-What-About-...." moments. Since he as man and boy was appearing in eight different titles, all that was impossible to avoid.

Every series has its charms. Every story has its nuggets of information and seeds for questions. The more I examine them, I wonder if they're really plot holes or did the writers deliberate create them to challenge the reader? Or least to write a sequel?

I seem to read these stories with three minds--and all of these minds at the same time. One mind reads them as a kid--there are some things the kid likes and some things he doesn't, but it's more about what looks really cool and fun and not so much about making  sense. Another mind is the historian, who is interested in the whole process and what was going on with the people who made these stories. The other mind is the fan fictioneer, who tries to extapolate from these stories into a greater continuity (there's just about nothing that happens in these stories that I can't explain using some super-logic).

What I loved about Hamilton's story is the complexity of the plot--which is nearly on the level of the screenplay for THE BIG SLEEP. There are all these twists and turns and the story goes in a direction you'd never think but somehow it all wraps up in the end. I think that this roller coaster is what keeps the writer and editor entertained. They like to see where else they can push the story next. For the kid readers, this is a big tent show of wonders. There's this amazing thing and then this amazing thing and then another amazing thing. The kid is so caught up in these amazing bits that he doesn't have time to think about how it all makes sense.

I also like how Weisinger had this grand troupe of players. In any given Super story, another member of this supporting cast, or another fabulous concept, could come into play. It's like an Ed Sullivan Show of one great act after another.

Also with any Kurt Schaffenberger story, it's simply a pleasure for the eyes. There were some moments where I just laughed out loud. Kurt always knew how to make a scene ten times better.

Sylvia and Van-Zee show up three months later in Lois Lane #24. If they were intended to be regular supporting cast members for Lois, eventually it would have been very frustrating for her, seeing them live the life that she wanted: married to "Superman" with kids.

Thinking about the former Sylvia DeWitt, consider this: she was granted power on par with the Man of Steel, given the opportunity to do great good on Earth and beyond. Yet she gave that chance up for her family. Some would say that she made the right choice, others that she had abandoned her duty and others still that she should have compromised her time.

She is a character from the 60s with different sensibilities and attitudes on both womanhood and motherhood. Imagine her being created today?

Dave Elyea said:

The Super-serum Van-Zee whipped up for Sylvia not only required one of those ever-popular Silver Age incredibly rare elements from outer space, but also only worked on people with Sylvia's blood type, if I recall correctly, thus it was useless for Lois.  There was an imaginary story in which the serum did work on Lana, who then became Superman's wife & crime-fighting partner, until the public noticed that, since she was invulnerable to kryptonite, she was technically more powerful than him, so she left Earth rather than humiliate Superman by constantly saving him from K-based traps.

"The Day Superman Married Lana Lang." That is absolutely my most favorite Imaginary Story ever. I read that story so many times, I know it by heart. It was in Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #26 (July 1961), with wonderful art, as ever, by Kurt Schaffenberger, although I saw it reprinted in 80 Page Giant #3 (September 1964), paired with the first official Imaginary Story, "Mr. and Mrs. Clark (Superman) Kent," telling what happened when, well, Clark married Lois. (Given Lois's personality, it doesn't go well.)

As a kid there were many imaginary stories I enjoyed, but I was always ambivalent about them. I felt like I was being cheated. Here I paid good money for a comic and I got one that doesn't count. Like throwing money down a rat-hole. To the little kid me, that was a major failing on the part of the comic creators whoever they were. Somehow they couldn't think of a way to make a story count, so they gave themselves a cheap out. 

That's what I liked about the "Family of Steel"--it really counted. They totally fooled me until the big reveal. And I appreciated that. If they could get one over on me like that, I figured these guys were pretty good. I didn't mind being totally manipulated by a story, so long as they didn't cheat and didn't break the internal rules of the Superman universe or use a cop out like it's a dream or it's an imaginary story.

The older me is disposed to give the imaginary stories much more credit than the younger me. Given that all of this has been swept away--and none of it counts--there doesn't seem to be as much distinction between the imaginary stories and the real stories as there used to be.

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