2020. Wow! It’s really here.
Back in 1980, Superman comics depicted the future world of 2020…
So no, we are not living in floating cities with flying cars and controlled weather. Much less having a superhero around.
That’s the downside. On the upside, we’re not living in this either…
Ya know, if DC Comics had any smarts at all, they would be selling a Superman 2020 collection right now, maybe with a new story or two included. Not just to coincide with the arrival of the year 2020, but the concept was perfectly suited to our Current Year in its wokeness.
See for yourself…
It’s got nazis! And a sop to concerns about overpopulation as well.
The nazis even have their own cool salute…
…and predicted the soyboy epidemic.
And best of all…
…even though these “Purists” are totally racist, they’re also not racist at all. Now that’s a hell of a trick.
Seriously, DC could make sales from a high-concept series and score virtue-signaling points all at once. They accidentally stumbled across a form of wokeness that might actually make a profit.
Then again, they might get in trouble for this…
Even in the imaginary future, some things never change.
Happy New Year!
Back in the late 80s and early 90s, one of my favorite comics writers was Gerard Jones. At the time, he was writing some really fun – and sometimes really different – stuff in the trio of Green Lantern-related books. He did some Batman work, which I could take or leave, and he worked on a Justice League comic (at first with a co-writer and later solo) that was pretty funny. He was clearly liberal, but he was a lot more intelligent than most lightweight armchair libs writing comics, and even went against the liberal line at times. Mostly, his work was just smarter than the usual by-the-numbers crap that was and still is being published.
His work seemed to take a dip around 1993, though, and in a few years he didn’t seem to be writing much for comics anymore, if at all. I believe part of that had to do with clashes with editorial, which was undergoing changes at the time. I saw his name again in the local newspaper’s comics page around 2000 – he was writing a Pokemon strip.
He wrote a few non-fiction books in the 2000s, but I didn’t keep up with those. I heard very little about him after that until today, when I discovered he was arrested about a week ago for possessing kiddie porn and uploading it to YouTube.
I’ve long learned to separate the art from the artist. And he hasn’t been proven guilty yet. But there are limits. I doubt I’ll ever really enjoy his work again.
… would have these as our candidates.
Rumors are that Forsythe P. Jones III is in the running for veep.
As the year nears its end, let’s look back on the past of the future. Tomorrow was different back then.
Edmond Hamilton was a science fiction writer and primary driver behind Captain Future, a juvenile-oriented space opera series. Known as the “Man of Tomorrow” and “Wizard of Science,” The Captain sailed through many adventures…
Hey, wait, what’s he doing fighting that other Man Of Tomorrow? And did he get a promotion?
Colonel Future appeared in Superman #378 in 1982, and threw down with Supes. But who is this mystery man?
Upon recovering from his ordeal, Hamilton did what any scientist would do in his situation…. don a retro-futuristic costume and embark on a career of crime.
A man gifted and cursed with the power to see the future…. but only when in mortal danger. This was a pretty wild idea in comics at the time, and kinda blew my 12-year old mind.
Superman flies off to find Colonel Future stealing more scientific equipment, and once again fails to stop him. Our Hero begins to wonder if the Colonel really is a man from the future, as he seems to know exactly how to best Superman at every turn.
Following another defeat, Supes flies off to deal with the threatening asteroid…
The good Colonel learned his lesson… or so it seemed.
Colonel Hamilton returned in 1984…
…after having a vision that convinced him Superman was soon going to die.
Unlike the first story, which was pretty clever and engaging, this one turned out to be rather lame. The guy at the end of the page is dressed as Superman to collect for a charity drive. Several others are doing the same, and some criminals get the idea of infiltrating by wearing Superman costumes and stealing the money. Through a complicated event chain, Hamilton ends up in a costume and gets shot at and techinically dies until resuscitated by Superman, fulfilling his vision.
The story did give us this neat sequence, though –
There’s also a brief scene of Hamilton congratulating a Dr. Isaacs on a proposal for a navigation system for the space shuttle. Perhaps a shout-out to another science fiction writer turned supervillain?
BONUS ROUND: In 1978, four years before this Colonel Future appeared, there was another version in a retro-style Superman story set in the 1940s…
The Colonel was of course stopped, and four years later he appeared again, lamenting how his failure to kill Superman had hurt his standing among the supervillain community –
And that was it for this version of the Colonel. He was last seen in July 1982, a mere 5 months before the jetpack version first showed up and replaced him.
Indeed, the first Colonel didn’t even get a write-up in 1985’s Who’s Who series, listing nearly every DC Comics character that ever appeared, while the not-so-villainous villain version got a full page…
So just how did Edmond Hamilton come to be connected to Superman, anyhow? A couple of readers wrote in asking that it be explained for younger readers, and one even suggested a possible inspiration for the story of Colonel Future –
Strangely, the editor’s response didn’t mention that longtime Superman editor Mort Weisinger created Captain Future in the first place!
Extra Trivia Bonus: Captain Future’s real name was Curt Newton. The first appearance of each version of Colonel Future was drawn by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan, who drew some of Hamilton’s Superman stories. A second appearance of the first Colonel was drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. All of which, I’m sure, probably amused the writers and editor of the stories.
When I was a kid, I saw this, the strangest, trippiest, outright psychedelic episode of the Spider-Man cartoon, and it quickly became a favorite of mine (which probably explains some things about me) –
It turns out it wasn’t actually a Spider-Man episode… it was a recycled version of Rocket Robin Hood, with Spider-Man painted in place of one main character while the other character was deleted. Essentially one cartoon costumed up as another.
Knowing Ralph Bakshi was involved in both explains much of the trippiness.
“Everything comes back down to Batman, in the end.” – Donal Graeme
It’s dark and will likely be raining tonight, apropos for the night before Halloween.
A sequel was attempted…
..but ultimately not produced.
The phrase “It was a dark and stormy night” comes from the 1830 novel Paul Clifford, written by Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, and was picked up years later by Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz, who gave the line to aspiring author Snoopy as part of that decorated WWI Flying Ace’s ongoing efforts to be published.
The novel began thusly –
“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
Sounds like the setting for Gotham. Or a metal video game.
Schulz had Snoopy write out his novel, starting with the famous line and building from there, and can be read it its (short) entirety here.
In 1981, writer Len Wein and artist Walt Simonson did something fun for the 500th issue of Detective Comics, where Batman originated, by doing a remix of sorts of Snoopy’s novel, presented in its (also short) entirety above.
Somewhere along the line, Charles Schulz did a drawing for DC Comics artist Carmine Infantino, who drew Batman in the 60s –
Sorry, no Lizard or Spock.
As Charlie Brown says every Halloween, “I’ve got to rock!” So here’s the “Peanuts” theme as interpreted in rock style by Pat Travers.
Rock, Paper, Scissors, Linus, Smiths
Peanuts and music have a long history together, as this station has show in in the past, primarily with 80s British bands. Now someone has gone and created a Tumblr called This Charming Charlie, combining the subtextual angst Peanuts comics with the hyperdepressive lyrics of The Smiths, creating a singularity of suicidal bleakness, speaking to all of us through it’s universal symbolism of nihilsm.
Hilarious, is it not? In a bleak, anti-depressant sort of way.
Yes, well. But at least it’s borrowing from one of the finest bands to ever stride across the Earth, and this station is proud to bring it to you. We hope you appreciate it.