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The crossword puzzle in my daily newspaper has some comic strips sharing its page. It also has a cryptogram and a word scrabble puzzle. I jump my brain into start every morning by doing all three.
Ordinarily, I pay no attention to any of the comics, but yesterday morning and today I jumped into startle when my eyes strayed into the Phantom strip.
The phantom has been fighting the forces of evil for a long time. As a child, he was one of my favorites. I loved his costume - a gray body suit with a hood and a black eye mask. He had a terrific build and a handsome face, but his attraction was not his good looks, but his great strength, proper grammar, and moral fiber. He was a modern Robin Hood in gray long johns.
I don't remember him having a sidekick other than a huge dog, or wolf. I couldn't be sure which it was. He most certainly did not have a female in his life, not even one as pure as Maid Marian. I would have remembered because I would have suffered from extreme jealousy.
So what did I see the Phantom up to yesterday and today? It was a shock. Of course, this was strictly out of context, for I've no idea what the story line is, but there was the Phantom, making love to some hot looking brunette lady. The dialogue is minimal but I gather they are alone on an island and are intending to make the most of it.
I almost choked on my green tea. The artist did a good job of proving the Phantom to be as great a kisser as he is a fighter.
What is the world coming to? For years of course, Superman has been chased by Lois Lane, who finds him to be a total nerd whenever he's Clark Kent, her fellow reporter. Once she sees him in his tights and cape, minus glasses, she's hooked. In my youthful days, however, he never came close enough to Lois to do any kissing, except when saving her, and he was too busy doing that to do anything else. It was apparent that Clark Kent would have liked to blister her lips, but he never could work up the nerve.
I wondered about this when I was about ten years old. What was wrong with him? Even the intrepid Dick Tracy had Tess, with whom he was obviously involved, why not Superman?
The other thing that puzzled me when I was young was the business of his metamorphosis into the crime fighter - in a phone booth? Couldn't he have gone someplace safer to change clothes? Didn't he feel cramped and a lot crumpled wearing the superman outfit under his Brooks Brothers, (I'm sure today it's an Armani), suit? Was he wearing his strange boots under his shoes? Why wasn't he robbed of all his belongings, including glasses, wallet, and tie, during the time he was gone crime busting? Can't you imagine the reaction of the next person stopping to make a phone call?
When I started asking these questions it was time to stop reading the comic and switch to some modern fiction, where the jobs of Superman were done by mortal men wearing blue uniforms and badges, or detectives in suits and ties, and sometimes even glasses.
I've often thought they missed a big bet by not having superman and Lois marrying and producing Son of Superman - or better yet, Daughter of superman. The baby would be a chip off the father's super heroic block, crawling around the crib the first day home from the hospital, climbing out the second day and walking into the kitchen demanding a three course meal. He or she would have to develop faster than his or her father and be stopping the Amtrak at the age of four.
There is a TV program, which portrays Superman as a high school kid. The actor who plays him looks a bit light weighted and reluctant to flex hidden muscles, but he definitely opposes any oppression or evil that comes his way in the very small town in which he lives, which realistically offers him enough corruption to train him for the big time town.
There was a time, not too long ago, when kids, especially boys, would have objected to the Phantom as a lover, but times have apparently changed in the comic book business. When the kid, sitting on the store floor reading the comics has a Playboy in his pocket, you have to give him something to get his attention and his two dollars.
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