Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Ultra-Dynamo's Super Power

Must ... have ... DRAMA!


Starman, as always, delivers. Dr. Doog, easily recognizable by his trademark Yellow Bathrobe of Doom, prepares to throttle up the old Ultra-Dynamo.

Even one such panel from the brilliant Jack Burnley can serve as a primer on Creating a Dramatic Comic Book Panel. Light from below and use chiaroscuro. Use severe changes in font size to impart power to phrases. Catch characters poised just on the verge of action. Mysterious machinery in the background is good, particularly if it has a hyperbolic name and unspecified powers. Proximity is frightening; always place evil nearby, such as in the next room.

But what really interests me in this panel is the use of the word "super power". It hasn't become one word yet, and it isn't being applied to a person's abilities. Still, it's the first use of that phrase I can remember (it's from April 1941); are there any earlier ones that you know of?

11 comments:

Bully said...

Doog! Spelled backwards it's good. Yet another example of name-as-destiny.

Mark said...

Counter-example: Doogie Howser, MD.

Walaka said...

There's a bit in Jones's Men of Tomorrow where he explains that in the late thirties and early forties, "super" was used as an all-purpose superlative modifier for all sorts of stuff, both tangible (product: this is super soap!) and in- (event: that was a super party!). It is possible that the ungood doctor was not referring to the machine's super-power, but to its great, extraordinary power.

And yeah, this was obscure pedantry calculated to cover my not having a real answer to your question.

In any case, Golden Age Starman rocks!

Sleestak said...

The ony thing that could make those panels better would be zipatone.

The Fortress Keeper said...

Ultra-dynamo is so much more...dynamic... than, say, "metagene."

totaltoyz said...

Doog! Spelled backwards it's good. Yet another example of name-as-destiny.

Holy charactonyms, Batman! Would you believe I never noticed that about Doog's name? Wonder if there's a Dr. Ecin kicking about somewhere?

Scipio said...

Actually, when Burnley wrote it, the villains name was Dr. Doom.

The editors changed it to Doog, for unknown reasons.

Thank goodness! How stupid and over the top would it be to call a villain "Dr. Doom"?

Athelind said...

ESpecially since "DOom" backwards is "Mood", and in 1941, the world wasn't ready for a villain whose superpower was EMO.

...shouldn't he be wearing a Yellow Bathrobe of Doog?

totaltoyz said...

And they added a (presumably) silent "E" on the end when "Dr. Doome" fought the Seven Soldiers of Victory!

David Lawson said...

Counter-example: Doogie Howser, MD.

Ah, but it's a little known fact that Dr. Doog is in fact an older incarnation of young Dr. Howser who has travelled back in time to menace the original Starman.

And trust me, you don't want to know what happened to Corky from Life Goes On.

David C said...

The editors changed it to Doog, for unknown reasons.

Clearly, Dr. Doom used his celebrated time machine to travel back in 1941 and retroactively sue for copyright infringement!