by Robert Gillis 7/2010
What was so special about the silver age of comic books? Read about it HERE
(Click any image to enlarge)
Our understanding of the universe changes so rapidly these days that it’s no wonder back in the 1950s and 1960s, no one understood that a meteor was just a piece of space rock and that a comet was a merely a dirty snowball making a leisurely orbit around the sun.
Nope, back in the day, these ordinary space objects appeared over Smallville with the regularity of the daily mail, and always had UNPREDICTABLE MAGIC POWERS and could do ANYTHING! It was ALL KINDS OF AWESOME and still, somehow COMPLETELY SCIENTIFICALLY VALID, as the following classic panels will demonstrate:
HYPNOSIS: From Action Comics #337: Baby Clark was hypnotized into repeating the “Rich man, poor man” rhyme, and compelled to act the roles out later as an adult when the comet reappeared. Thank God Clark wasn’t throwing a temper-tantrum or throwing food at the wall (which toddlers often do) when hypno-comet first affected him.
GRANTING SUPER POWERS: From Adventure Comics #233: Like a cosmic genie, this meteor absorbed cosmic rays (which as I understand it, will kill most people in a few hours, which is why astronauts limit their exposure in space). Anyway, in this case, this guy gets super-powered by the magic meteor. Hey, by the way, if you THINK you’re invulnerable, perhaps you might want to test that theory with something less destructive than a BLOWTORCH?
GRANTING SUPER POWERS PART DEUX: People in Smallville were constantly being affected by comets and meteors, and in this gem from Adventure Comics #273 once again an ordinary guy has gained super-powers, and once again, Superboy is on hand to explain his scientifically plausible theory that strange invisible rays from the meteor worked their magic, but in this case, ONLY on the guy who was under anesthesia. Yep, that makes PERFECT sense. Sigh.
GRANTING SUPER POWERS PART THREE: From Lois Lane annual #2, 1963: In the far future, a comet passes Earth and humans in a valley are granted super powers — and mutate into something like the Na’vi beings from Avatar. Not not really, but they turn blue.
GRANTING SUPER POWERS PART FOUR: In Lois Lane #28, in the year 2441, a planetoid that looked a lot like Saturn wandered into the solar system, plowed into Metropolis and destroyed it – but guess what the “strange gasses emanating from the rings of the planetoid” did? — Right, they gave everyone on Earth super-powers.
THE TALKING DOG: In a personal favorite from Adventure Comics #239, the weird glow of a meteor affects Krypto, Superboy’s flying dog, so that the canine’s vocal cords are affected in such a way that he can now speak perfect English. Alas, it’s only for 24 hours (like most meteor magic) but Krypto makes the most of it, first by having a conversation in airless space, which happened a lot back then.
CREATION OF LIFE (well, monsters): Finally, while acknowledging these panels are scenes within a story where a hastily made “quickie” movie is made, (it’s not what you think, you’re disgusting), in Adventure Comics #272 (one issue before another meteor gives a guy super-powers, see above) once again a comet crashes and a mysterious chemical in the comet magnetically assembles a monster made of junk. Because even in the Superboy universe, movie producers knew comets were magic!
Ah, the Silver Age!