Sunday, February 07, 2010

Putting the Super Back in Superbowl Sunday

DC Comics Presents Superman #1, by Stan Lee, Paul Levitz, Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone, Al Milgrom, Dave Stewart, Jared K. Fletcher, Ken Lopez, and Lovern Kindzierski

Continuing the Superbowl Sunday tradition I kicked off (heh heh) with my reviews of NFL Superpro #3 and Strange Sports Stories, I'm pleased to review DC Comics Presents Superman #1, a football-oriented comic book remembering the dearly departed Julius Schwartz's impact on the medium. In this issue, a dream team of writers and artists tells two tales inspired by the Schwartz-helmed cover of Superman #264 originally illustrated by Nick Cardy.

Firstly, Stan Lee, Darwyn Cooke, and J. Bone tell the story of Professor Harold Gorky, who, fed up with society's glorification of muscleheads like superstar quarterback Tank Torgan and charitable-guest referree Superman, creates an invisible robotic football player to best them both in the field and win the heart of his secretary Tiffany. He succeeds, and when Superman gets to the bottom of things, he decides no punishment is better for the borderline mad professor than letting him win the vapid vixen of his dreams. Darwyn and Bone's definitively retro art is the perfect compliment to Lee's cooky script, creating a nostalgic yarn that respects the power of the mind -- in the midst of a game that celebrates getting one's skull bashed in.

The second story is pretty heavy by comparison, as a washed up football player ups his dose of experimental steroids to become an energy-crackling juggernaut, but fortunately Superman is in the neighborhood and uses his cosmic treadmill to run the wayward runner's energy out. Levitz and Giffen tell an engaging tale, with campy Silver Age staples that shine under an otherwise potentially dark fable about faded glory. I suppose any of us are just a washed up career away from becoming the phantom quarterback.

In conclusion, Wanda Sykes mentioned me on her Fox talk show last night, describing folks like me that watch the Superbowl for the commercials "like someone that orders pizza for the box." Hey, the game itself is really just one long commercial for spandex-clad team-ups . . . and we comic books geeks certainly understand that.

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