Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"A Frivolous Post Of Meaningless Consequence"

And aren’t we all ready for that?

Alternate Title:  (In case you happen to lose the first one): 


I am thinking about Superman.

“Strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men…”

As went the preamble in the eponymous fifties TV show (with the words “Adventures of…” in front of it.)  Not my favorite superhero, but we shall get to that shortly. 

“Superman… who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel with his bare hands…”

This may be nitpicky, but if a guy changes the course of mighty rivers, how hard would it be for him to bend steel with his bare hands?  That’s opening a pickle jar.  Shouldn’t the second example be better than the first one?  “Faster than a speeding bullet.  More powerful than a locomotive.”  They got that gradation in the right order.  Why not the other one?

I’m just sayin’….

“And who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper…”

Okay, here we go.

A man has two identities, one of which he is trying to conceal.  Otherwise, it’s nonstop

“Hey, Superman, could you help me move this credenza?”

He adopts the public persona of his diametrical opposite.  A coward.  A weakling.  The proverbial milquetoast, whatever that means.  The man wants no one to know his secret identity.  The clever disguise he assiduously adopts? –


That’s it.  That’s his whole disguise – he wears glasses.  And a suit instead of his Superman costume, but I mean, so what?  It’s like the same physical description and body type.  He just changed outfits.

“Last time, I saw you in a suit.  I didn’t recognize you in a sweater.”

Bank robbers make the strategic effort.  They do not crash the bank barefaced but clothed in decorative sportswear, then go home, change to suits and go, “Who could identify us now?” 

They wear masks!

This guy dons a pair of horn-rimmed glasses and thinks, “I’m in the clear.”

So here’s this Superman comic book story I remember, which was so ridiculous, I stopped reading Superman comics.  Or at least, substantially cut down.  What else am I going to read?  Books?

Here’s the scenario.  Get ready to guffaw.

A nearby town wants to honor Superman with a commemorative postage stamp.  (I am glad this came out before they don’t make them anymore.)  The problem is, the nearby town’s name is something like “Toonerville.”  (Nothing innuendous, like “Hooterville” – this being the fifties – but something with adjoining “O’s.”) 

You can see the immediate difficulty, right?  Me neither.  But for Superman this acknowledging “honorarium” is a perilous crisis.


As it is explained in the story, you write a letter, it arrives in “Toonerville”, they “cancel” the appended “Superman stamp”, Toonerville’s neighboring “O’s” inadvertently surround Superman’s eyeballs, simulating a man wearing a pair of glasses, and suddenly it’s…

“Holy Moley!  Superman’s Clark Kent!

That’s the story.  Just like that, the “Man of Steel” is irreparably “outed.”

I know it’s fiction.  But how much disbelief are they asking me to suspend?  That one, crossed the line.  And, for me, I’m like,

Over.  And out.  I am done with Superman comics forever.  (Pretty much.)

I mean – more reasonably – Clark Kent goes swimming.  He takes off his glasses –

“Oooh!  It’s Superman!

Clark Kent gets something in his eye.  He removes his glasses to daub it with a Kleenex

“Hey, that’s Superman!  With something in his eye!”

There are a myriad of credible possibilities.  Did they really have to “Jump the Shark” to “Toonerville Stamps”?  (Go inexcusably too far, for non-Happy Days aficionados.)

I wash my hands of these farfetched anomalies – a high schooler bitten by a spider, a costumed crime fighter allergic to yellow.  My by far “Superhero of Choice” was someone whose behavior and backstory were much easier to accept. 


An infant, raised by gorillas after his parents perish in an African plane crash.

Now that’s believable!


JED said...

Well, Earl. It seems you can find anything on the Internet. I searched and found the comic you are talking about is Superman #91 with the date of August, 1954. Yes, Superman was worried that if they used a front-facing image of him on the stamp, then if the stamp was cancelled in Altoona (PA) or Chattanooga (TN), and if someone who knew him as Clark Kent ever saw that, they would recognize him. So, he was able to replace the image with one of him from the side. I agree - a ridiculous story. But after 90 comics with, perhaps, two stories per comic, they seemed to have run out of ideas.

But that is what amazes me about good writers like you and others who can keep doing this whether it's for radio shows, TV shows or blog posts. You've talked about this before but I would still like to read more posts about how you develop stories from just a wisp of an idea into something people find entertaining.

Ed the fan said...