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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crisis On Earth-Blog: Super Powers 25th Anniversary

It's time for another Crisis on Earth-Blog! Blogs will live, blogs will die!

Actually, that last part's not true; all the blogs participating in today's inter-blog team-up will be just fine after this. What is happening today is, a veritable all-star line-up of DC superhero-centric blogs will all be talking the same thing: the 25th anniversary of Kenner's classic Super Powers line of toys.

sgI've already covered a lot of the Super Powers/Aquaman-related stuff, but Shag Matthews (of Once Upon A Geek and Firestorm Fan) got the bright idea of discussing those nifty mini-comics that each figure came with at the time; and since I had never had the opportunity to do that before, I thought that would be perfect!

So without further ado, let's take a look at Super Powers Collection #8, starring Aquaman vs. The Penguin, with a guest-appearance by The Flash!:
...and with that, our heroes leave Penguin mired in the indignity of being tossed helplessly around by Aquaman's finny friends. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Aquaman doesn't just defeat the bad guys, he embarrasses them.

Aquaman didn't just appear in his own mini-comic; he also guest-starred in the Mantis book:
...I love how Aquaman's the unquestioned leader here!

He also cameoed in two other of the mini-comics, helping (respectively) Batman defeat the Joker and Superman and Wonder Woman defeat Luthor:
Having the other heroes guest-star in each other's books served several purposes; it helped sell the other figures of course, but it also reflected the inner-connectivity that was such a big selling point of superhero comics.

Sadly, none of these mini-comics featured credits, and I couldn't find any information regarding that online anywhere. So I turned to my pal (and friend of the Shrine) Paul Kupperberg, who wrote a lot of the material for DC's Special Project division, as well as the regular Super Powers mini-series that DC published. I asked, did he have any idea who wrote this Aquaman comic?
Here's what Paul had to say:

"I wrote only one of the Kenner minis, for Steppenwolf (#13). Alas, I have no real memory of having done it. Art looks to be Jose Delbo. The rest were probably written by the likes of Jack Harris, Rozakis, and the like. Wish I could remember more about them: don't even recall who the project editor was...probably Barry Marx, who worked under Joe Orlando in Special Projects."

Alas, the writers and artists of these books remains a mystery...for now at least.

For those of you too young to remember, the Super Powers line by Kenner was like manna from heaven for us comics/toy fans. Mego had come and gone, and no one had really stepped up to the plate and made a new line of action figures based on the vast universe of DC heroes.

Then Kenner--the geniuses behind the Star Wars toys, no less--came out with Super Powers: snazzy, well-produced figures, top-notch packaging (featuring Jose Luis Garcia Lopez art!), and these wonderful mini-comics, a nice reminder of where these legendary characters came from.
And it was a revelation to see such "B" characters, who rarely got any attention from toymakers, like Hawkman, Green Arrow, Dr. Fate, and the Martian Manhunter, turned into action figures. It might be hard to imagine that, now that almost every character that's ever set foot in a DC comic has gotten at least one action figure devoted to them (B'Wana Beast--B'Wana Beast--has two!), but seeing Kenner dip further into the DC library than the usual Superman-Batman-Wonder Woman level really made you feel this was a toyline made for comics fans.

As an Aquaman fan/collector, having the Sea King as part of the initial line meant he got the chance to appear on a lot of the other Super Powers products released in conjunction with the line; here's just a few of the products that we've previously profiled on the Shrine:
By 1984, the debut of the line, the long-running H-B Super Friends cartoon show was wrapping up its run. Without the Super Powers toys coming along at the right time, it might have been a long while until Aquaman had been seen anywhere outside of the comics, and its his continued visibility in the greater culture that has managed to keep the character alive and popular. So three cheers for Kenner's Super Powers!

Be sure to check out the other blogs involved in today's team-up:

Batman - The Bat-Blog
Blue Devil & Dr. Fate - Once Upon A Geek
Firestorm - Firestorm Fan
The Flash - Speedforce
The Flash - Crimson Lightning
Green Arrow - Dispatches From The Arrowcave
Hawkman - Being Carter Hall
The Joker - Love Dat Joker
Justice League - Justice League Detroit
Martian Manhunter - Idol-Head of Diabolu
Red Tornado - My Greatest Adventure 80
Superman - Fortress of Baileytude
and ...nurgh...

Special thanks to F.O.A.M.er Shag Matthews for putting this all together and effort above and beyond the call!


David J. Cutler said...

Aquaman: showing up in the last page of minicomics to make other people's villains go "Bah!" since 1984!

Great post!

Wings1295 said...

Wow - Now that is one heck of a post!

I like the crisp, heroic take on the character. Just so nice and clear that Aquaman is a Super Hero.

25 years and now we have him wandering around as a dead/undead mess. Bleh.

Awesome post, great idea!

Earth 2 Chris said...

Wow, this is great. Big SP fan. I have some theories on the SP mini-comic artwork. Looks like both the Aquaman and Joker comics were drawn by Eduardo Barretto. Mantis looks like it's by Jose Delbo, and Lex Luthor's book seems to be by Adrian Gonzales.

Great concept! Who wins, who loses...you decide!


Scurvy said...

Man did I love this line of toys! And their TV comercials made it so much more appealing to me than it is already. I still get excited over it when i see the 1st wave line-up!

Russell said...

The MANTIS book is definitely inked by Joe Giella. AQUAMAN looks like Pablo Marcos (he has that "New Teen Titans hair" look about him).

Ah, I remember these figures fondly. At one time, I had them all. Now...well, I think I gave them to my daughter to play with, so I probably still have them all *somewhere*...

Swinebread said...

bought the green lantern figure and that was it...

I wish I had been more into DC at the time...

The Irredeemable Shag said...

Great post! And I love that Aquaman swept in on the last pages to save the day in two of those mini-comics. He's the man! Respect the King!

And puffy stickers. I mean, c'mon, who doesn't have fond memories of puffy stickers?

The crossover was a blast! Thanks for joining in!

The Irredeemable Shag