Full disclosure up front: I often contribute to Comic Effect and I consider editor Jim Kingman a friend. But I don’t have any work in this issue. Hence I’ve given Jim’s zine a rating.
Comic Effect, Jim Kingman’s wonderful article zine, celebrates the histories of Superman and Superboy in this issue. Sometimes, like in issue 44, #Jim presents a number of short articles. Other times, he devotes his zine to just a few articles. This issue presents just two articles: “Not Your Father’s Superman” by comics historian Murray Ward, and a history of the ’80s Superboy series by John Pierce.
Ward’s article was a treat for me, a survey of the career of the Last Son of Krypton from his debut to the present day. Ward always writes with humor and passion, and I love his description of how Superman seemed to always be present in his world, even if he never read Superman comics. I always felt that way growing up – even if I didn’t read Superman, his ubiquitous presence was always a joy.
Pierce’s piece revealed a lot about a pretty obscure series, the ’80s New Adventures of Superboy. Pierce does a nice job of getting readers interested in the stories presented there, especially an odd story that takes place in Tokyo.
But the most fun aspect of the issue to me was all the Superman covers shown throughout the zine. They don’t just map Superman’s history, but these covers seem to map the history of the comics industry. The 1940s had charming covers like the one on Superman #60 where Superman plays baseball umpire. By the mid-’50s, as demonstrated with Action Comics #206, the intriguing covers took hold under the aegis of editor Mort Weisinger. Those covers lasted to 1968 or so, when a new dynamism, led by Neal Adams, sparked some more innovative covers. By the mid-’70s, however, the covers slipped back into being a bit dull. After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the covers got more contemporary but at the same time less unique and special. There are some nice covers, like the schoolchild drawing on Adventures of Superman #558, but they’re few and far between. Seeing all these covers together was a real joy
I go crazy for Jim’s fanzine. It’s always a real treat.