Wednesday, July 11, 2007

COVERSTORY Part 2

Welcome back to the second installment of my little reminiscence of my first encounters with the DC universe.


I know it´s been going for some time ( and I should really get back to the events of the comic salon in Barcelona ) but since this blog is also about the translated versions of american comics.........like it does say right above.......I should write something about that from time to time. Now I have mentioned that on the covers of SUPERMAN BATMAN, the magazine that reprinted the comics in Germany covers where often mirrored and word ballons sometimes were shortened or got different meaning.


Not only does Superman change the direction in which he throws that building, but in the text the fact that the meteor is loaded with deadly kryptonite was erased. And the fact that Superman had to hit the meteor dead center which makes it less dramatic. Maybe the german editors thought that much excitement would be too much for the german readership.


Or they didn´t print the word balloons at all. Maybe they thought that the situation that was shown was intruiging enough to sell the comic.


In this case the cover even took on a different meaning. In the original cover an alien had stolen Superman´s eyes and was wreaking havoc with his superpowers. Because of the pain and maybe to spare Lana the grisly sight Superman was covering his eyes with his hands. Now in the german version it looks like Superman is playing hide and seek while Lana is in deadly peril because of an alien attack. What a dork !


And sometimes they showed only a part of the cover.


Maybe it´s just me but I like the original better. It has more drama, you can see all the superheroes in their entirety not just parts of them. You can barely see Flash and Robin on the german version of the cover and Wonder Woman, Wondergirl, Changeling, Green Arrow, Black Canary and Aquaman were cut out. In the original you see the full smoke clouds and the whole battlefield. It has more....scope.

In comparison the altered cover looks kind of....blaaah.


Here is another example.


Clark´s thought bubble was completely erased and Lana´s text was changed to : " Now I´m totally sure, Clark. It´s impossible that you are Superman. "


In the original version Lana did not even have the slightest idea or notion that it was possible that Clark Kent was Superman. Only Clark´s though balloon let the readers in on the secret.

Now in the german version it was taken for granted that every female acquaintance of Clark was always suspicious of him and always tried to prove that he was in reality Superman. Or else her words make no sense.


The SUPERMAN TASCHENBUCH were pocket books of 100 pages that included various stories like the SUPERMAN SUPERBAND. There were two or three instances in which they had less pages like issue 18 which had only 70 pages but that was just a production mistake. And they did not print the individual issue covers inside the comic so you only got the one on the outside.


Like this one. Now, is it just me or does it look like Supergirl was not invited to the 3 - d movie night ? Or maybe she busted in on Superman selling x - ray glasses to the rest of the Justice League. Which would be kind of weird since Black Canary is also present. Well, maybe she wants to spy on the boys when they are showering. I mean it´s the 80s and people were not as sexually repressed like today.

What really hurts the eyes though is supergirls costume. The hot pants are okay but what´s with the puffy shirt ? I really like the later version.


Well, without the headband. That was not cool. The rest of the costume rocked.

The only good thing the other costume had were the hot pants. And they were shown prominently in some issues. After years of not being able to draw the super buns of steel artists went crazy - and who could fault them ? I guess many male readers became Supergirl fans at that time and reached puberty a little earlier.

You really wonder how qualified the german comic makers were. Or how much knowledge of the DC universe was required to get the job. On this cover Green Arrow is called Grüne Leuchte which was the german translation for....Green Lantern.


Okay, it´s possible to make such a mistake but with something as important as the cover should you not have somebody who proofreads the thing before it goes into print ? Maybe someone who knows the difference between Green Arrow and Green Lantern.

Okay, so sometimes they only showed you part of the cover.



Sometimes they changed the dialogue on the cover.



Or they just deleted the dialogue completely.



But the worst thing was that sometimes they left out pages. Now as the SUPERBAND and TASCHENBUCH had 84 or 100 pages that did not happen so often in those. But SUPERMAN BATMAN had only 32 pages so sometimes they left out up to 3 whole storypages.


In this issue Superman fights Captain Thunder who wears a similar dress like Captain Marvel and who has similar powers. I think this was because of legal difficulties. Now while DC comics had won the lawsuit against the comic company that published Captain Marvel and had bought the rights to the character from them there was one little detail they had forgotten. They hadn´t copyrighted them. So when this comic came out they had to learn that Marvel comics also had a character called Captain Marvel. And the copyright to it and thus the copyright to the name Captain Marvel. So to avoid further legal problems and since they did not plan to have him appear more times they just redesigned his dress and called him Captain Thunder.


What I liked most of SUPERMAN BATMAN was the art. Reading Superman comics that meant getting mostly art by the incomparable Curt Swan but you also had issues drawn by Neal Adams or Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. At that time I didn´t consciously realize that he was a paisano but I liked his art. And he was in a lot of comics. Like this one.


And it also has Firestorm who had the best costume ever of the 80s. Really. The best. And the issue was by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. In the story you had Firestorm falling under the influence of Killer Frost and fighting Superman. One of my all time favorite stories. It was recently reprinted in the Action Comics trade together with two other stories by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and they alone are worth the price of the comic. Man this guy is truly the king of Superman.


It´s really a shame that in the german FAZ Comicbibliothek issue of Superman there was not even ONE comic by him. Not one. And he was even on the cover. That really pissed me off. Well, and that they left out the most important page of the story " What´s so funny about truth, justice and the american way ? " one of the best Superman stories ever written.

Speaking about my favorite Superman stories I also have to include this one.


I don´t recall where it was printed for the first timebut WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW by Alan Moore and Curt Swan is one of the all - time classic tales if not THE essetial Superman story. And while there are some comics by Alan Moore which in my opinion are slightly overrated like THE LAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN ( the movie was much better ) I will always give him credit for this story....and WATCHMEN of course.


Another highlight of my collection is this comic with beautiful artwork by George Perez. The story of the Superman Batman team up was not that exciting but the art always delivered. I loved all his work especially the crossover stories with the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America.


In this comic he did a wonderful OMAC story who was one of my favorite comic characters because of his unique look. At that time I did not appreciate the comic work of Jack Kirby as much as today but his visuals on OMAC left such a huge impression that I based the look of an antropomorhic character on him.

So while I found the visuals not so much to my liking I really loved his stories : Omac, Tomorrow People but most of all : Kamandi.


At that time I can´t have read more than three stories that featured Kamandi but I was instantly hooked by the adventures of the last boy on earth. The whole concept of this postapocalyptic world populated by intelligent animals where humans were less than cattle stroke a cord in me almost immediatelly. I always was baffled that there never was much interest for this underrated gem of his work. Thankfully it has gotten more attention in the last years since it is a book that should be known by all fans of Jack Kirby. No, it should be known by all comic fans who like good stories.

Now for me George Perez was also the artist on one of the best stories ever. The nonplus - ultra in superhero storytelling. The holy grail of crossovers. The mother of all continuity retcon : CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS.


Superman Taschenbuch 71 had the first three chapters of this superhero opus. And sadly it was the last issue I ever got. There are rumors that they published more consecutive issues but I have never seen one and none of them made their way to Neckarweihingen. It took me many years to find some original issues of the series later on. When I finally had discovered where to get american comics I found one or two issues but I only read the entire saga when DINO published the series in two trades in 1999.


Another artist was Ernie Chan who often was credited as Ernie Chua. Before reading any of his CONAN issues with John Buscema I read a lot of his stories for DC. And while he did some issues of Superman most of his work for DC that I read featured another character.


BATMAN. I just loved all the different Batman villains and the elaborate deathtraps. No one does good deathtraps anymore.

At that time he really did a lot of work for the Batman titles and the main focus of the stories were the crime noir who - dunnit type of stories. Maybe that was what got me interested in crime stories in the first place. Because nothing appeals to me more than a good mystery.


Wow, this post has become pretty long. I guess it´s time to wrap it up and leave the rest for my next post for tomorrow ( or whenever I get the chance to write my next post ) since Desert Saints with Kiefer Sutherland has just begun 20 minutes ago and I don´t want to miss the rest of the movie. In my next post : more Batman !


More Superman !


More Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes.


Hmm, only 52 pics left to post. Maybe this means something. Where have I encountered the number 52 before ?

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest


Worlds will live. Worlds will die. And the DC universe will never be the same again.

2 comments:

Spider63 said...

Superman needs better villains!

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