For All Mankind #14

Rob and comics pro/WONDER TWINS writer Mark Russell review "Elementary" by E. Nelson Bridwell, Ramona Fradon, and Bob Smith, and a special back-up story, "The Origin of the Wonder Twins" by Bridwell, Kurt Schaffenberger, and Smith, from SUPER FRIENDS #14! Plus Listener Feedback!

Check out images from this comic by clicking here!

Opening and closing themes by Hanna Barbera.

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26 responses to “For All Mankind #14

  1. The Elementals would have been an interesting concept for an ongoing series. A team of reluctant heroes whose bodies and minds might be hijacked at any moment to fight evil. They could even change it up a bit, and go with Marvel’s Captain Universe concept and have the spirits take possession of different random person each time.

    1. Totally agree that these Elementals could have been put to good use. I’m also surprised that no one mentioned the similarity between this concept, i.e., reluctant heroes whose bodies are hijacked by spirits, and Dr. Fate.

  2. Hello Mark – thanks for guesting on this episode. Your view on creating other worlds and planets was fantastic.
    I LOVED your work on Wonder Twins and hope that you write more of their adventures in the future!

    I thought that this issue was very good. I liked that we got to see all of the major players of this issue (and next issues, in one case) in a casual setting just being their normal ‘secret identity’ selves before the action unfolds.

    Once they are turned into the Elementals I thought that Salamander and Gnome had great looking costumes – but The Undine and The Sylph didn’t look good at all – they seemed rather plain.

    Rob – you mentioned that this was the only issue of Super Friends to be released during the DC Explosion. There is a FANTASTIC book by Keith Dallas titled ‘Comic Book Implosion: An Oral History of DC Comics Circa 1978’ that goes into the planning, execution and ultimate death of the idea. It’s a great read!

    When you mentioned how men wearing headbands seems to be all the space age fashion rage, I was reminded of a letter column (maybe in Superman Family? – I’m not sure) that although we think it looks funny to see men wearing headbands it’s really no different than men wearing neckties – neither really serves no function.

    Listening to this episode I was a bit disappointed that you and Mark were so dismissive of how scary Zan’s power was to the people who were in the audience – – – you should know by studying the works of Frederick Mercury that:
    “Thunderbolt and lightning – very very frightening me”

    1. Ah, but the headbands did serve a purpose on Krypton, being symbols of citizenship.

      What’s that, you say, then how come the women never wore ‘em?

      I dunno, maybe they were actually symbols of sexism. Supergirl wasn’t having it, though, which is why she added one when she changed costumes in the Eighties.

      1. Martin – Thanks for letting me know about the headbands!
        I wonder which writer decided to add to the lore of Krypton by adding that bit. I love when writers build off of things that were there before – but never explored in depth!

        1. Hi Shawn, Supergirl adopted the headband in 1983 courtesy of Paul Kupperberg, but the first time it being linked to citizenship that I can recall was in the Fabulous World of Krypton story in 1980’s Superman #352, written by one Paul S Newman. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has come up with it before that, though. It sounds very ENB!

          1. The headband was definitely a marker of citizenship and was just men back in Silver/Bronze Age. Kara wearing it in the later part of Daring New was definitely her breaking custom.

            I know I learned about the headbands significance in the Krypton Chronicles mini-series.

            I can definitely try to look in the Superman encyclopedia tonight to see if I can figure out more.

          2. Of course Anj, the Encyclopedia! OK, under ‘Krypton’ it tells us that the issue was 1974’s Superman #264, another FWoK story. The Headband Warriors of Krypton by Elliot S! Maggie and Dave Cockrum tells us that men wear the headbands at formal occasions to commemorate a slave revolt – the oppressed used headbands as slings!

            OK, so not ENB, but still…

          3. Elliot S! Maggin is one of my all time favorite Superman writers, both in conics and prose. I’m not surprised he mixed a little world-building with his storytelling.

  3. Great to have Mark on the show. I really enjoyed his Wonder Twins series, and add me to those who hope for more! This is another one of those earlier issues of SF I had bought for me as a wee lad. I remember thinking how similar Salamander’s costume was to Bushmaster of just a few issues before. Not sure if ENB was taking a dig at Fradon’s costume designs in the story or not, but I think the costumes are actually kind of cool and unique.

    Ah, those DC/Marvel Fiddlesticks! My daughter got a used but near complete set of those about 7 or so years ago at a toy show. They are a lot of fun, and are undoubtedly some of the last bits of merch with DC and Marvel characters actually IN the same package, not just on adjoining marketing, like the Lite Brite sets. Our friend Brian Heiler just featured a 1980 Toys R Us flyer that advertised the set.×1024.jpg


  4. How brilliant to hear one of today’s most interesting writers on the show. Wonder Twins is such a terrific comic, smart, funny and great looking – Stephen Byrne is such a splendid artist.

    I loved Mark’s observation that the Gardner Fox formula had been put into video games and other media… as a non-player, it hadn’t struck me, although I know quests are a thing. I wonder if Sonic the Hedgehog has a Snapper Carr.

    Mark’s origin of the Wonder Twins was different to the one given in Super Friends, yes, but the bit in this story about them asking for backpay, I could imagine him writing that.

    I loved the opening story, Elementary, even more than the great Zan and Jayna back-up, the Elementals were an interesting bunch. It’s a shame that they never caught on, they seem older than your average superheroes, and their reluctance is a nice angle. I hope you’ve sparked Mark to use them, Rob.

  5. Well, Rob, you did it again: not only mentioning but also singing the jingle for a novelty product that I shall refrain from naming, the damn tune’s been swirling in my head all day…

    Otherwise, though, wonderful show. A big thank from me as well to Mark Russell for participating. So far, the only thing by him I’ve read is the reimagined Flintstones – which I loved – and I’d really like to read his Wonder Twins. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.
    As to the issue covered in the show, I remember this one quite well and fondly. I thought the Elementals were a really interesting crew and would have loved to see them again. I recall that this was in fact the first time I learned what a sylph and undine are, and that salamander meant something other than the rather cute little amphibians.
    And yes, I totally remember the Super Friends PSA with the tidbit about approaching strange dogs, which I also applied many times in real life.

    1. I’m a little younger than you, Edo, so this issue was the what motivated me to learn what a salamander was! Like, you, Rob, and Mark, I learned quite a lot from comics over the years. I never figured out what a salamander had to do with fire — and it’s sis puzzle me — until just now, as I searched the internet to find out. I recommend the Wikipedia entry on “salamanders in folklore” for more on that AND a mention of Paracelsus!

      I’m also right there with you and Rob on Aquaman’s PSAs. The Sovereign of the Seven Seas taught me how to get something out of my eye, as well as how to introduce myself to a dog.

  6. Great episode Rob! I have fond memories from reading this issue back when I was nine. When the Comico “Elementals” series by Bill Willingham came out in the 1980s, I think I was the only person that thought the Comico series was inspired by the Elementals in this issue.

    I really appreciated hearing from your guest, Mark Russell. His run on Wonder Twins was quite enjoyable. Although considering this episode was released on Inauguration Day, I’m surprised you didn’t do an episode of FW Presents where you and Mark discuss his earlier series, Prez.

    Oh well, I must get back to my day job. At the [Michigan] Hall of Justice!

  7. Thanks for having Mark on, Rob! This was another great episode. I’ve been busy and failed to comment, but it wasn’t ’cause I didn’t have things to say. Just assume I agree with every positive comment you received regarding the last two comics, the last two episodes, and #14, too. And the Dr. Mist backstory in the comments last time led me to look up H. Rider Haggard! That led me to She and Allan Quatermain and even the real life adventurers that inspired him. I’m still learning from comics!

    A few things on previous episodes I feel compelled to submit, even though they’re late:

    First, Dr. Mist, the immortal tyrant turned hero, may have inspired the JLU’s take on future Vandal Savage.

    Second, some sources say two legendary leviathans of comics, Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, created TNT and Dan the Dyna Mite. Those two were a tidal wave of talent. Seems like if they’d collaborated on another character, they could have had a billion dollar idea — you know, a real sea change on the comic book landscape. Ah, well.

    Third, I can confirm that the Super Friends’ TNT and Dan the Dyna Mite are from a different Earth than the ones in the All-Star Squadron. How do I know? Simple. Different color gloves.. The DC Who’s Who — which I’m told is the definitive directory of the DC Universe — shows TNT and Dan in orange gloves ( Super Friends #12 shows them in red gloves. And as a famous defense attorney on Earth-2 once rhymed, “If the gloves do not match, they’re from another Earth, natch!” This rule especially applies to characters created by Norris and Weisinger.

    Fourth, Ward Hill Terry is as great on the episode as he is in the comments!

    On to comments about the issue I’m supposed to be talking about:

    1) Congrats on a great guest! And he’s a de Toqueville fan! I, too, love proto-anthropological dissections of my national character.
    2) Rob, obviously, Gleek was Aquaman’s helper because Aquaman needs less help than anyone else.
    3) I agree with Mark; tragedy and suffering in comics is a good intro for kids whose lives have thus far sheltered them from such things.

    That’s it for now. Looking forward to #15!

  8. How can I pass up a story that incorporates the works of Paracelsus?! He was an interesting person, who lived in a time where the line between science and magic was much more blurred than it is today. On one hand, he contributed to modern medicine and chemistry. On the other, he practiced alchemy and Hermeticism.

    Any way, I love the idea of team based on the four elemental spirits from Paracelsus’ writings. Elemental themed teams are nothing new, but the historical and philosophical roots of the Elementals could have provided some interesting story potential. In addition, the idea of reluctant heroes, who are literally forced to be heroic, is interesting to me.

    I’m looking forward to the next issue.

  9. So nice to end the work day with a Super Friends podcast!

    Firstly, thank you so much for having Mark Russell on the show, and Mark, thank you so much for your hard work on the Wonder Twins series, it was so well done! I have all 12 issues, the two TPBs, and I hope you and Stephen Byrne can give us a second series on Zan, Janya, and the Maths!

    This was the first issue of Super Friends I ever purchased. I was at a sort of farmer’s market/flea market combo with my family, and one of the booths had a comic book carousel display. This issue was on it, and as soon as I saw “Origin of the Wonder Twins”, I knew I had to have it, and immediately grabbed it! Later I would find the back issues at comic stores.

    I remember thinking the Elementals were cool characters, and the fact that they were possessed by spirits was such a different way to have super powers.

    I thought it was odd to see Gleek being sent off on his own to help Aquaman, but it was interesting to see Undine being able to hear Aquaman’s telepathic commands, because she was ‘of the sea’.

    Of course, my fave part of the issue was the Origin of the Wonder Twins. Like Mark, I would’ve liked to see Exor being drawn more alien like, but other than that, I was pleased with the story, and was very happy to know the story behind Zan & Jayna, their powers, their home, and up-bringing.

    Two last things. In the podcast, you mention the “DC Implosion”. I’ve seen this mentioned before, but have no idea what it is. I find no explanation of it online. What happened?

    Also, you said in the podcast that this was the last time there would be extra pages on Super Friends. During its run, there were 12 other issues that had extra pages. The stories alternated between the Wonder Twins, Jack ‘O Lantern, Seraph, and Plastic Man.

  10. Welp, off I go to buy me those Wonder Twins TPBs from In Stock Trades … Jupiters! looks like they’re 42% off, woot! And a voice in my head insists on telling me that I get free shipping for orders of $50 or more. I … I hear and obey, voice in my head.

  11. As always, I had fun with this one… although I confess my fun was blunted by the fact that the DC Universe app (now DC Universe Infinite) didn’t include the Wonder Twins back-up story with the rest of Super Friends #14. Ahh, well, hardly you guys’ fault.

    I confess that I spent a fair bit of time trying to head-canon how the depiction of the Elementals in this issue might be retconned with the way Elementals were handled in the later DC Universe (especially the era that gave us the “Fire Elemental” version of Firestorm). I may still have to see how this story pans out. If these guys get their souls, maybe the elemental forces are available to bond with the likes of Swamp Thing and Firestorm in a few years? I don’t know….

    Was also glad to get to hear from Mark Russell directly, as I’ve been enjoying his run on Wonder Twins (through the aforementioned DC Universe app, although I’m only a bit more than half-way through at this point). I hope he gets the change to revisit these characters soon.

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