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for Sunday, May 9, 2004


When I saw the cover of SUPERBOY #8 [May-June, 1950], I knew it would make a great opening shot for today's column. Comic books and comics strips have featured many wonderful mothers, but Ma Kent was always one of my favorites.

Superboy 8

We're going to talk about Ma (and Pa) Kent in a bit, but let's give the credits for this issue first, courtesy of the GRAND COMICS DATABASE []...

The cover was pencilled by Al Plastino and may have been inked by him as well. Whitney Ellsworth is the credited editor, but Jack Schiff was the actual editor.

Inside the issue, we have...

"When Superboy Was a Superbaby" (this first-ever appearance of Superbaby was written by Bill Finger, pencilled by Curt Swan, and perhaps inked by John Fischetti);

"Little Pete" (gag strip by Henry Boltinoff);

"The Flags of Crime" (a Superboy tale whose author is unknown, but which was drawn by John Sikela);

"Home, Sweet Home!" (a Binky public service page written by Schiff and drawn by Bob Oksner);

"Shutter Bugs" (a single-pager by hands unknown);

"Ready To Go" (a two-page text feature);

"Daffy & Doodle" (a gag page pencilled by Lit-Win);

"Shorty" (another Boltinoff gag page);

"The Boy Without a World" (a Superboy story possibly written by Edmond Hamilton and definitely drawn by Sikela); and,

"Whistling Lariat" (a "Superboy's Workshop" activity page by hands unknown).

SUPERBOY #8 belongs to the ever-expanding ranks of old comics I will never be able to afford. THE OFFICIAL OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE opines that a near-mint copy of the issue would net its seller a cool $1,125. THE STANDARD CATALOG OF COMIC BOOKS lists it at $625. I have $78 bucks in my wallet, which might cover the down payment on a tank of gas for my van.

Over on eBay...a high grade, unrestored copy of SUPERBOY #8 in very fine/very fine plus condition sold for $427 with 17 bidders. A fair copy went for $102.59 with 4 bidders. Both of the auctions took place last month.

Getting back to Ma and Pa Kent...

There were things I liked about John Byrne's Superman relaunch (circa 1986) and things I hated. The thing I liked best of all was his decision to have the Kents alive, well, and still very much a part of Superman's life. No list of great supporting characters in comics could possibly be complete if it didn't include Jonathan and Martha Kent.

The perfect rationale for the "Boy Scout" that is Superman are his adoptive parents, two of the most morally upright people in the history of comics. Their survival opened the door to some terrific stories, some of which we've already seen and some of which I hope will be coming our way for many years to come.

Americans are living longer than ever before. Senior citizens are a force to be reckoned with in the halls of state, even as they deal with problems and situations as dramatic and serious as those facing their children and grandchildren. I get chills when I think of the stories which Superman's writers could and should tell with the Kents. But I digress.

Happy Mother's Day to Martha Kent and all the other great moms out there, whether they live on the pages of comic books or forever within our hearts.

Thanks for spending a part of this special day with me. I'll be back on Tuesday with a full-sized edition of TOT.

Tony Isabella

<< 05/07/2004 | 05/09/2004 | 05/11/2004 >>

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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