Thursday, May 25, 2006

The World's Greatest Superheroes


It didn’t get a lot of fan press as I recall but April of 1978 saw the newspaper debut of THE WORLD’S GREATEST SUPERHEROES, a daily and Sunday comic strip featuring DC’s Justice League. Well, initially it just featured Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Packing in more action than most other strips of the period, the first storyline featured classic Justice Society villain Vandal Savage. Doctor Destiny followed. The strip didn’t run for long in my local paper but I clipped it all (as well as some Sunday strips from the NYC Sunday News). During the course of the action, we saw Superman behaving like a male chauvinist pig toward Wonder Woman, a shaved bald Flash needing brain surgery, Aquaman replaced by Batman and Robin and, towards the end, the introduction of Black Canary into the continuity.
Written in the beginning by ex-letter hack Martin "Pesky" Pasko (the first convention guest I ever met!), THE WORLD’S GREATEST SUPERHEROES offered some of the best art from (just recently turned ninety-something) veteran George Tuska, inked quite capably and comfortably by the much maligned (and often with good reason) Vince Colletta. The stories were original, the characterizations were strong for a daily strip and yet it was not a resounding success, even in those SUPER-FRIENDS days. According to Wikipedia it ran a lot longer in some markets, eventually featuring other heroes including Black Lightning. Later writers included Gerry Conway, Bob Rozakis, Paul Levitz and Paul Kupperberg. Additional art over the course of the run was provided by Jose Delbo, Bob Smith, Frank McLaughlin and Sal Trapani (or someone ghosting for him anyway!). The focus switched to Superman and the strip continued for about seven years. I doubt many of the fans who would appreciate it have even heard of it today. Hey, DC, you listening? There’s some trade paperback dollars waiting for you in this!

3 comments:

Jeff said...

There was a paperback of the Vandal Savage storyline issued in the early 80s. I had it as a little kid but have found very little sign of it on the Internet, which makes me feel like I hallucinated it.

I definitely remember the Tuska art, though. That story was also where I learned what a hologram was. Educational comics...

Tony Collett said...

No, Jeff, they did come out with it. I have it somewhere in my library. Remember Vandal Savage's eyes peering on the back cover?

Anonymous said...

George Tuska wrote to my brother, saying that he loved drawing the newspaper strip and how much he appreciated the care that Vince Colletta took inking it. He also wrote that it was Colletta who got him the gig in the first place. That letter is in my bro's safe.