Saturday, June 15, 2013

Black Zero!

Neal Adams
Since this weekend has been about all things Superman, let me add this. My very first Superman comic book was issue two hundred and five under the simply smashing cover above by Neal Adams. The drama fairly drips from this confrontation between the Man of Steel and Black Zero, a leering vaguely vampiric agent of a interstellar gang of pirates who it seems was ultimately responsible for the destruction of Krypton. Kal-El is so incensed by this villain that he frees prisoners from the Phantom Zone to help him battle this creep.

Gary Frank
Hence the inclusion of this story in 2009's Tales from the Phantom Zone. Otto Binder's story is a whopper, a large-framed spectacular that seeped deep into my boyhood brain. Al Plastino's artwork on this tale is unusually potent. Alas the story of Black Zero proved too much for those who managed the myths of Krypton and the "true story" of his contribution to its destruction has been almost completely ignored since. (Though I  hear echoes this character might, just might be in the latest big-screen epic.)

But it's just more proof that whatever they do, however many times they reboot the DCU, they cannot ever unravel the memories of their readers. I know, deep in my heart of hearts that an obscure baddie named Black Zero is the real reason Krypton blew up, and the real reason Superman came to Earth, even if DC doesn't want me to. Or maybe they do. I get confused.

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