Disco Apocalypse Now

Superman in the Seventies, Introduction by Christopher Reeve; featuring stories written by Jack Kirby, Paul Levitz, Elliot S. Maggin, Martin Pasko, Cary Bates, Denny O’Neil, and others; illustrated by Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Dick Dillin, Dick Giordano, Bob Oksner, Werner Roth, Jack Kirby, and others (1970-79; collected 2000):

Solid collection of mostly stand-alone adventures of the Man of Steel from the Me Decade. Arranged thematically with one-page essays introducing each section, the book covers a broad range of treatments of the Man of Tomorrow.

Stand-outs include “Make Way for Captain Thunder!”, in which Superman and a thinly disguised Captain Marvel do battle (Superman would meet the real deal a few years later); “I am Curious (Black)”, a Lois Lane story that aims at racism and social issues; and a couple of sympathetic treatments of Lex Luthor, never more interesting a character than he was here, willing to save Superman’s life if he wasn’t going to be the one who defeated him. The Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen story is a bit of a peculiar inclusion, as it ends on a cliffhanger — there are several other Kirby Superman stories that might have better served this collection.

Classic Superman penciller Curt Swan works on a lot of the stories included here, to great effect. He’s terrific on the Captain Thunder story, and on “Kryptonite Nevermore!,” the early 1970’s story that attempted to modernize (and Marvelize) the Man of Steel. That latter story also ends without complete resolution, as the storyline would play out over the course of a year.

The 1970’s Superman stories often move into uncharted territory for the character. Clark Kent gets moved to television and now answers to media mogul Morgan Edge for several years. He also loses his perennial blue suits for some occasionally funky 1970’s business attire. New additions to the Superman cast include annoying sports broadcaster Steve Lombard, the somewhat bizarre space-cowboy Terra-Man, the ultra-powerful Galactic Golem, and a host of other new friends and enemies.

Throughout, we see attention given to making Superman and his Clark Kent alter-ego more fallible and occasionally troubled, though he soldiers through regardless. The volume also includes a nice array of classic covers from the era, including the Neal Adams gem that kicked off the “Kryptonite Nevermore!” arc and a number of great pieces from Nick Cardy when he was DC’s line-wide cover artist. All in all, a nice piece of work. Recommended.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s