Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Random Reads: "Don't Call Me Superboy!" by Bates and Swanderson

After a few years of Superboy sharing his mag with the Legion of Super-Heroes, the powers-that-were at DC decided it was about time The Boy of Steel got some solo-page time. Paul Levitz, editor of DC Super Stars, called on the Superman dream team supreme of Cary Bates, Curt Swan, and Murphy Anderson to put together this special one-shot story. The irony is that Bates concocted a story called "Don't Call Me Superboy!" which was about the "in-between" years of Clark Kent's life. The years in which he felt too old to be called Superboy, but was too young for anyone to think of calling him Superman (guess he'd never heard of Peter Parker's alter-ego...).

As an added bonus, Bates' story tied into the then-current Bigfoot craze. A cool and smart move since ol' Sasquatch was all over the tabloids and TV at the time, including being featured in a legendary TV crossover between the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. Far-out, huh? Okay, are ya ready to delve deeply into the pages of DC Super Stars #12 (November 1976)? Then let's go!


  1. I really enjoyed this story when it originally came out…but a friend pointed out the really disturbing and tasteless plot element that had totally passed me by, and that tarnished my admiration considerably. There's a lot to appreciate in seeing Bates, Swan, and Anderson all at the peak of their strengths -- I don't think this trio did finer work together than this story -- and on a Superboy tale, no less. But boy, do I wish the writer and editor had realized what they were doing and been more sensitive to the implications and changed those last couple of pages.

  2. Somebody help me! This story was criticized in a letters column letter back in 1977 or '78 for exactly those reasons -- the kidnapping, sexual victimization, brain-washing, etc. (Also I remember the letter writer complained of how artless the flashback was ... suggesting he thought he'd stumbled onto a Hostess Snack Cake ad featuring Superboy ...)

    The thing is the letter didn't appear in DC Super-Stars (the series ended and the letters columns trailed off ...) I remember the letter popped up someplace strange .... maybe in Adventure Comics? Maybe Superman Family? I dunno ... but if anyone could find it ...



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