Comic books are colorful and feature simple, attractive characters that children love. So they make great tools for teaching reading and comprehension skills to our young people. You're probably familiar with Marvel's "Spidey Super Stories", a series of simplified comics starring Spider-Man and a rotating sucession of second-tier Marvel characters as they speak slowly and carefully and get involved in non-violent adventures. But we're not making fun of "Spidey Super Stories" here! No sir! Easy Reader wouldn't like it, and when Easy Reader isn't happy, bad things happen. What we're looking at today is something similar from DC, something called... Super A.
Yup, that's the title, "Super A". Or maybe "Super A ZHRRRRHH." Not really sure what that's in reference to. Maybe the table of contents will explain.
Super A was published as part of the SRA series of color-coded educational reading modules produced by Warner Educational Services, who were probably sitting around one day wondering what super-characters to include in their reading modules, until some intern reminded them that they'd bought DC Comics a few years back and could use the whole Justice League if they felt like it. Are you ready? Then let's begin!
Right away you notice something funny about these comics. First off they aren't printed on terrible newsprint and the colors aren't fading away. So there's that. The second thing you notice is the presence of both upper case and lower case lettering. Sure, I realize that part of the educational mission we're on is to teach children how to read and write properly, but there's something about lower-case lettering in comic books that removes some of the melodrama, don't you think? Oh yeah, another thing. If you recall the fake Rona Barrett that was wandering through Superman comics in the 70s - what? Who was Rona Barrett? Okay. Rona Barrett was a Hollywood gossip columnist who parlayed her lack of tact and insatiable nose for celebrity news into television stardom and a place on Frank Sinatra's enemies list. So when the Daily Planet was bought by a media conglomerate and Clark Kent became a TV news reporter, DC introduced "Lona Barnett" as WGBS's celebrity reporter. So, getting back to Super A, the fake Rona Barrett, who was white, is here replaced by "Hilary Hunt", who is apparently a black person. Perhaps she'd been spending some time in Superman's gadget that turned Lois Lane black a few years back.
By the way, Rona Barrett also wrote a book titled "How You Can Look Rich And Achieve Sexual Ecstacy." Just so you know.
ANYWAY this clumsily-redrawn Superman story features giant robot dragonflies that are part of a film being shot in Metropolis, and Superman flies right into where the female film director and her female assistant are trying to shoot a scene. Thanks Superman. Also thanks to the Metropolis film industry giving female directors a shot at making movies. Still aren't many of them around.
The robot dragonflies were being controlled by criminals who had kidnapped the brother of the fake Lona Barnett (who you will remember is a fake Rona Barrett), and were masterminding their evil plan from a fake Goodyear Blimp. Sometimes I think criminals are really over-thinking these evil plans.
1. control dragonflies from tower 2. watch dragonflies from blimp 3. ??? 4. PROFIT!!! Be sure to see The Dragonflies coming soon to a theater near you!
So what's next for SUPER A? Action? Adventure? Comedy? Comedy. Comedy with Scooter and his gang!
Yes, it's Scooter with his well known friends... um... looks like Superman's super-pigmentizer has been hard at work again. Scooter's pal Sylvester is now a super soul brother, instead of the goofy Caucasian beatnik he once was, and Cookie has also recieved an ethnic makeover. Quite a difference from the way things used to be, which was, let's face it, pretty white.
I'm all for ethnic diversity in comics, but when it's done in such a weirdly ham-handed fashion, you can't help but wonder if the clumsy tokenism is causing as much if not more confusion. Speaking of confusion...
ONE BEAR WALKED BETWEEN TWO BEERS IN A BAR WITH BEERS DRINKING BEERS I need a drink.
But it's not all fun and games here in Super A! Action and excitement are in store as Wonder Woman battles evil!
One day in an amusement park, a bunch of gangsters got onto the Ferris wheel and just started blasting away at each other. They do that sometimes, get into gunfights in dangerous locations that leave you with no room to move and no cover whatsoever. I'm sure Wonder Woman and her invisible plane can stop this nonsense, however!
So here's Wonder Woman standing on the wing of her plane holding the entire Ferris wheel as they fly around. Are you SURE there isn't a simpler way to solve this problem, Wonder Woman? You could spin the wheel real fast and hurl the gangsters off into space, or just bop 'em one as they come around, or any number of more realistic solutions. But no, you have an invisible plane, why not use it?
Here's a tip for gangsters. If you're ever in a Ferris wheel that Wonder Woman is holding up as she stands on the wing of her invisible plane two or three hundred feet in the air - STOP SHOOTING AT HER.
And now let's take a trip back in time to bonnie old Scotland!
Yes, it's Kate Hunter, the shepherdess who only wanted to play the bagpipes. And yes, there were women pipers! That whole thing about the Scots cutting off the fingers of any woman they found playing bagpipes is merely a pernicious myth. So let's see, Scotland, sheep, bagpipes, kilts.. it's gonna be hard to work black people into this one. I wonder what kind of switcheroo Super A pulled with this story?
Oh. I see. "Kate" used to be "Burr" and used to be drawn by "Infantino" instead of "Kubert" and used to have "a penis".
Here's Kate's clansmen facing the withering hail of Mackaye arrows, spurred on only by the brave sound of bagpipes!
And here's Burr's clansmen facing the withering hail of "invader" arrows, spurred on by the brave, etc., etc.
In both versions we find that Scotsmen will not fight unless they can hear bagpipes. Now I'm no Scotsman, but I also have felt the powerful urge to commit violence upon hearing the skirling wail of the pipes. There's a time and a place for the bagpipes and 2:00am IS NOT IT.
On the other hand, I've suddenly come up with a terrific plan to reduce the high rate of violent crime in Glascow; ditch the bagpipe music! It's as simple as that!
And in both stories our wounded piper manages to screech out something by, say, the Bay City Rollers or maybe Teenage Fanclub, thereby inspiring his/her clansmen to ever increasing levels of violent Highlander savagery.
Who will lead us in victory to Campbell, or Hunter, Castle? Why, Kate will! Or Burr, whichever gender you prefer. Comic books are not limited by your foolish, simplistic binary sexual restrictions!
And now a message from Wonder Woman.
How to draw Wonder Woman - draw three circles, add arms and legs, finish body and hair, have Vince Coletta erase half of what you drew and ink what's left. Draw me on the wing of my plane, commands Wonder Woman! Show me flying over your house! Picture me destroying your enemies! Is Wonder Woman now your date for the school dance? Wonder Woman wishes you to draw no further, by Hera!
Well, that's it for Super A. I hope we all learned something. Wait, give me a minute, what are we missing.. oh yeah, the answers to those questions Scooter and his foxy lady friend asked us! Suits and beer or something!
Just one suit and three beers please, I've got an early shift tomorrow down at Warner Communications turning men into women and white people into black people. Hey, it's a living.
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