Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Newsstand: July 1981

After a short delay, we return to the comics I remember purchasing in my youth, this time cover-dated July, 1981:

DC Special Series 25, while not technically a comic book, was still a must-purchase for me when I saw it. A treasury-sized magazine about the making of Superman II, it was an essential companion to my beloved, read-to-pieces Superman the Movie magazine.

While the series went downhill in a hurry (to this day, I don't believe I've seen Superman III or IV in their entirety) the first movie remains one of my all-time favorites. I remember going to see it again and again in the theater with my then-best friend, Barbara Johnston. At the time, going to see Superman the Movie was like a weekly ritual for us. By the time Superman II came out, we had begun drifting apart, and I'm sorry to say I've completely lost touch with her.

Looking back, Superman II is a perfect example of how perceptions change. When it was released, critics proclaimed it as the rare example of a sequel that surpasses the original. Now, fans lament that it doesn't represent the vision of the original director, Richard Donner, who was replaced by Richard Lester partway through shooting.

For myself, I haven't seen the movie in at least 10 years, so I can't say how well it holds up. I remember really enjoying it when it came out, and I still remember how Christopher Reeve really seemed to transform from Clark Kent to Superman in the scene where he reveals his secret identity to Lois Lane. As I type this, I can't decide whether it's time to watch the movie again and re-experience that enjoyment, or stay away, in case the memory cheats.

Also tying in with Superman II came another treasury comic, DC Special Series 26, featuring a tour through Superman's Fortress of Solitude. A part of me has always been fascinated by the locations and props surrounding the heroic characters I've loved, whether it's the Batcave and Batmobile, Sherlock Holmes' deerstalker cap (back when I thought he wore it all the time), or Doctor Who's TARDIS. So a tabloid-sized comic featuring a tour and catalog of Superman's home away from home, in the guise of an adventure, was right up my alley. Now, so many years on, I don't remember too much of the story, but I do remember reading it again and again, and loving it.

The only other comic I can remember actually buying this month is Tales of the Green Lantern Corps 3. I've spoken at length about this miniseries elsewhere, and I can't think of anything to add here. (The whole series is available to order in one book here, among other places.)

Why didn't my enjoyment of this series lead me to start buying Green Lantern on a regular basis? For one thing, I hadn't gotten in the habit of buying comics regularly at this point. (Oh, how times would change.) For another, the story is a perfectly well-told, self-contained story that doesn't immediately force the reader to follow unresolved plot threads into another book. Try imagining that in today's market.

Ironically, had I started reading Green Lantern at this time, I would have picked up the first appearances of the Omega Men. In fact, had I been more seriously into comics at this point, this month, I could have also picked up John Byrne's first issue of Fantastic Four, and the Madame Xanadu one-shot by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers. But, you know, everyone discovers comics at their own pace. I was still just on the fringes of my flirtation with the hobby that would be come a full-blown, life-long (so far) love affair.