RETRO REVIEW: The New Adventures Of Superboy #25 (January 1982)
Or – “Part Of Me Wants To Call Him Tom Welling, For Old Times’ Sake…”
The DC Universe is full of characters who serve as the ‘Dark Mirror’ of their hero, from Bizarro to Professor Zoom to Sinestro himself. Even Man-Bat serves as a kind of revers-o version of his primary character, which begs the question: Does EVERYONE have a backward-self? For at least one Justice Society stalwart, the answer is in these pages. Your Major Spoilers (retro) review awaits!
THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY #25
Writer: Martin Pasko
Penciler: Kurt Schaffenberger
Inker: Dave Hunt
Colorist: Jerry Serpe
Letterer: Ben Oda
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 60 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00
Previously, in The New Adventures Of Superboy: Waaaay back in 1941, the creators of Superman decided that they could double their storytelling buck with a series featuring the adventures of the Man of Steel when he was still a boy. As the decades passed, the adventures of Superboy passed in and out of vogue, and were always set roughly 15-20 years in the past. Of course, as time went on, that timeframe had to slide, and Superboy went from the 1920s to the 1940s, and eventually the 1950s. At that point, though, Superboy lost his book to the fan-favorite juggernaut that was the Legion of Super-Heroes, and by the time he got his own book back, it was the Reagan-era. Which is why, as we open this story (set “fifteen years ago”, thirty years ago) Lana Lang has suddenly developed a crush on a man who looks like an extra from ‘Hair.’
The man’s name is Burt Belker, an associate of Lana’s dad, apparently a well-known archeologist, and also Headband World Weekly’s cover-boy for May 1971. Of course, Burt’s discovery isn’t just any old ancient helm, but an artifact of incredible mystical power, as proven when he (foolishly and probably illegally) places it on his head. There must have been some magic in that something something Frosty The Snowman joke…
The threat of Cosmic Hippie is quickly defused, but Burt finds himself tormented by strange dreams and visions of a strange, ancient world. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from taking the time to romance young Lana Lang and making Clark Kent jealous. Kurt Schaffenberger does a great job of making this issue look like the 1960s, or at least DC Comics of the sixties (which shouldn’t be a surprise, given that he was, in fact one of DC’s artists during that decade.) When the visions get too powerful, Burt ends up succumbing to the helmet’s lure, breaking into the local museum…
AAAAAH! It’s the reverse-Doctor Fate! It’s ETAF ROTCOD! Wait, that’s a terrible name…
Doctor Chaos? I take it back, Etaf Rotcod isn’t all that bad. Chaos quickly realized that Superboy has a weakness for magic, and uses his arcane might to whup the Boy of Steel like a government mule, while at the same time putting the moves on Superboy’s girl. Insult? Meet injury…
Man, by Superboy standards, that right there is some highly charged erotica! Lana’s totally twitterpated by Burt’s corduroy leisure suit and the necktie wrapped around his dome, leaving Kal-El out in the cold. Worse still,when he tries to prove that Burt is Doctor Chaos, Superboy finds that he has a perfect alibi, having been macking on Lana. Of course, looks can be deceiving, as Pops Lang finds out the hard way.
Etaf Rotcod easily overpowers Superboy with his mysticism, and then infects Lana with his magic, transforming her into his consort, complete with equally bizarre helmet and booty shorts. Call her… GNAL ANAL!
Actually, perhaps not…
Luckily for Yobrepus, Lana has been in love with him for years, and it takes only one super-powered kiss to return her to her right mind, albeit one that’s a little bit confused as to why she’s dressed like a cheerleader with a bucket on her head…
With the villainous Anti-Fate wrapped up, Superboy takes a moment to make-out with his girlfriend, which is a win-win for everybody, except decorum. The use of the sudden inexplicable magic weakness is also appropriate for the tales quasi-Silver Age subtext, and the presence of Doctor Chaos/Etaf Rotcod is one of the few things that makes this particular Superboy series notable to a connoisseur of comic goofiness like me. (There’s also an appearance by a major DC heroine as a six-year-old that’s pretty entertaining in an inexplicable way, but that issue is probably a Retro Review for another time. The New Adventures Of Superboy #25 is old-school in all the right ways, as well as three or four of the wrong ones, pleasantly unassuming and well-drawn, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. I know for a fact that you can find a copy in my three-for-a-dollar bin at work, and probably the one near you as well…
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!