Episode #97 (Superman & The Final Chapter Of The Phantom Zone Criminals)
Russell’s Comic Brag
This is it!…the final issue of DC Comics Presents. The episode begins with some Listener Feedback, followed by everyone’s favorite segment, Russell’s Comic Brag. (OK…I might be exaggerating!) Next, I will be spotlighting Superman‘s Guest?…well, not really his guest. But Superman will be going up against The Phantom Zone Criminals. So this episodes’ Spotlight will be about The Phantom Zone. After some podcast promos, we’ll get right into our book; DC Comics Presents #97. The show closes with a trip to the Comic Spinner Rack.
Oh, dear LORD! What a muddled mess! Not your coverage, but this particular issue of the DC Comics Presents, series. This was not the story that the series deserved as a final issue. In the vein of “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow”, this seemed to be an exercise in “Let’s wipe out every trace of the Silver and Bronze Ages to clear the decks for John Byrne’s reboot.” Almost everything we, as readers, had been told for decades about the Phantom Zone was suddenly changed. Jor-El had sensed some living intelligence in the Phantom Zone, but had never bothered to tell anyone about it? Similarly, none of the Phantom Zone criminals, nor Mon-El, for that matter, ever noticed it or remarked on it?
Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s end this issue by basically destroying Metropolis and raining Kryptonite all over it, making it essentially a disaster zone for humans, and unsalvageable by Superman. Yeah, just the sort of “ending” all the fans were clamoring for.
Sorry. As you might guess, I really dislike this story, and I don’t think it was all that well-written, even for what it was trying to do. I don’t think you need to apologize for having a hard time following the story at times. I think you should be proud of yourself that you were able to follow it as well as you did. I think writer Steve Gerber should apologize, and I certainly would have expected better at the hands of editor Julius Schwartz, who certainly should have seen how poorly-organized this story was, and who certainly should have had more respect and affection for Silver and Bronze Age characters and concepts than are shown here.
None of this is a “slam” on you, Russell. I’m just sorry that this comic series ended on such a poor note.
I’ll be listening to your Finale episode, of course, and I hope we’ll still hear you at the microphone at some point in the future.
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I remember this issue being a hot mess, but it had one point of absolute brilliance: “Bizarro World exploding. Me fire infant son in rocket to center of planet so him be first to die!” DARK, but so funny it still makes me laugh 35 years later.