Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lot of deep cuts in this one, surprisingly.

Saturday's post was supposed to be today's, so I grabbed another comic off the pile next to my desk. I was expecting this issue to be complete out-of-continuity fluff; instead, it had a couple neat character moments and a ton of pre-Crisis continuity references! From 1979, Super Friends #17, "Trapped in Two Times!" Written by E. Nelson Bridwell (with thanks to Nick Pascale), pencils by Ramona Fradon, inks by Bob Smith.

I don't think the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, ever appeared in regular DC books back then; but this issue is written like it's in continuity just like every other DC comic published in the last forty years. Professor Carter Nichols (first appearance, Batman #24, 1944!) was serving as the Twins' guardian, but when the Time Trapper sabotages his Time Ray, the Twins are lost in time! Wonder Woman mentions having faced the Time Trapper before, calling himself the Time Master: this may or may not be a reference to Wonder Woman #53. The Legion of Super-Heroes is mentioned as well, and Superman explains the Trapper is a Controller, which may or may not be accurate: at the very least, the Time Trapper would have been a renegade Controller. Wonder Woman contacts her mom, Hippolyte, and asks her to use the Amazons' Magic Sphere to find the Twins. Jayna is on Krypton, the day before it will explode; while Zan is on a water-planet in the future, about to be destroyed by the sun Neryla turning into a red giant!

Using a pair of time-ships Superman built, the Friends split up: Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin to Krypton; Aquaman and Superman to Neryla. Even though Krypton only has an hour to live, at the time the people had outlawed space-travel, and weren't overly friendly. While Batman and Robin have to wear gravity boots to move in Krypton's heavier gravity, Wonder Woman's powers work fine, and she had learned enough Kryptonese to track Jayna down: she had been rescued by an actress, Lyla Ler-Rol. WW recognizes the name: Superman had traveled in time to Krypton before his birth, and met and fallen in love with Lyla! (Superman #141 from 1960! That one had probably been reprinted a few times, though.) How that would have come up in conversation, I'm not sure, but WW plans to take Lyla back to earth with them.

By now, the Kryptonian police are headed for the Super Friends' ship, since they were a little agitated the last alien visitor escaped with the help of Jor-El: a footnote explains "An obvious reference to Mon-El of the planet Daxam, who, after 1000 years in the Phantom Zone, became a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes." Obviously, everyone knows that...the cops straight-up attack, bent on destroying the spaceship, but Lyla sacrifices herself so they can get away.

Meanwhile, in the future, Superman and Aquaman find Zan, but their ship is attacked by a heavy water monster. Aquaman's telepathy drives it away, but he is contacted by Bahom, a member of the water-people trying to escape their doomed planet. The heroes help them open a portal to another dimension: Aquaman mentions experience in such because of his wife, Mera, who was from another dimension; while Supes had used devices like the Phantom Zone Projector before. Unfortunately, while the aliens were saved, the Friends' ship had been damaged, stranding them there. Superman uses the time controls to take them to the future, when the red giant would have collapsed into a white dwarf, giving Superman even more power--and powers to the others as well! (Supes mentions he knew that would happen since the same happened to Jimmy Olsen once.)

The Super Friends regroup back in 1978, planning to track down the Time Trapper. Since the Trapper might be prepared for traditional time-travel, Batman suggests Professor Nichols' hypnosis method, which Batman and Robin had used multiple times before...

It took me a few minutes to look some of this up; but tracking down those references would've meant finding those back issues and been much, much harder back in the day. Still, it adds a lot of background color to the book, and if sometime later you were reading a comic and saw a reference to the Time Trapper or getting super-powers under a blue star, you would feel like you were in the know. And I didn't think any of the references were absolutely vital, save for the basics like "Superman came from Krypton" and the like. Again, a surprisingly enjoyable little read.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Wow. That's a hell of a lot of back issue referencing right there man.
Stuff like this really does show that when done right, continutiy can be a fun little bonus for those who've been reading for a long time, while on the oppostie end, be confusing as fuck or something just easily ignored for those who aren;t longtime readers. Crazy.

Good point about that Kryptonian actress. How did that conversation get brought up? "Hey guys, you know I once dated an actress from Krypton once? True Story;)"