For All Mankind #35

Rob and Super Friend Steve Givens review "Circus of the Super-Stars" by E. Nelson Bridwell, Romeo Tanghal, and Bob Smith from SUPER FRIENDS #35! Plus Listener Feedback!

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Opening and closing themes by Hanna Barbera.

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15 responses to “For All Mankind #35

  1. Welcome to the show Steve! Great episode! Nice to hear a newcomers perspective!

    The title, if not the entire idea for the story HAD TO be inspired by the ‘Circus Of The Stars’ specials that were all the rage in the late ’70’s.

    I don’t wanna be a Roy Thomas about it, but I would have loved if THIS circus was either Haly’s Circus or my beloved Hill Bros. Circus!

    Regarding the beautiful art of Aquaman way up high on that diving board – to paraphrase a quote from the MCU – “That’s Atlantis’s Ass!”

  2. Good podcast about an issue I remember fondly. On review of it, though, for all the good things in it the overall taste is pretty sour.

    First, the cover: it was nice, with an interesting color and an eye-catching scene. Unfortunately, the heroes and the shadow of the bad guy are so big that Aquaman had to be pushed off! If the characters had been a bit smaller, the whole crew could have fit. This is true usually, as Robin and Aquaman are the two who keep getting eliminated.

    The story, like the cover, could have been great but was instead only acceptable. What was a novel idea about a charity circus got bogged down pretty quickly with the nit-picky explanatory word balloons and the endless question marks. What Steve found adorable I found redundant and silly. And the action scenes: come on, does anybody really believe that a strong man could have thrown a guy THROUGH a wall? It’s bad enough that Superman is sometimes shown doing it, let alone a circus guy.

    WHY the Super Friends didn’t simply ask their pals Hawkman and Hawkwoman, the Atom, Green Lantern, Nubia, etc to catch the bad guys for them while they were performing is beyond me. Would have made a fun story, I think.

    But I think what I hated most about the story was the proverbial vengeful crazy guy arsonist. He was a real let-down. SEVEN super-heroes to stop him? Sheesh.

    There were a few good things in the story, though. It’s always a pleasure to see Commissioner Gordon and Alfred, Aquaman’s diving bit was absolutely the highlight of the story, and the idea of the circus WAS a good one. I just give this issue a 5. I give the podcast a 9, though!

    By the way, Steve is right about the Barkis Gang being behind all of the action. On page two panel 2 Commissioner Gordon clearly says, “there are tips about (their) three major crimes.”

  3. Great discussion, gentlemen. One of my earliest memories is actually of being at a circus when I was like 2 years old. I haven’t been back since and I’m now 53, so apparently I must not have liked it very much!

    The circus theme reminds me of the first season Superfriends episode involving a circus. Robin tells the other Superfriends in an inexplicably enthusiastic and upbeat voice, “I used to work at a circus until my parents were killed and then Batman took me in.” It was kind of an odd line reading by Casey Kasem lol, but still nice that they mentioned Robin’s origin story.

    Finally, although I don’t comment a lot, I just want to mention that I listen to this podcast every month. I read most of the issues of this comic as a child and watched the TV show my entire childhood. I always enjoy the nostalgia of listening to your discussions.

  4. Congratulations on the Robbie, Steve – and Rob, if you ever decide to hold some kind of ceremony honoring all of the Robbie recipients, you *have* to get Margot Robbie to host it…

    Great discussion as usual. As for the issue at hand, Shawn and Russell have already pointed out two of my main takeaways: my immediate thought when the plot was summarized is that this story was certainly inspired by the Circus of the Stars TV specials of the late ’70s and early ’80s (man, the past really is a different country…); it also occurred to me that the Super Friends could have (hell, should have) had some other actual heroes step in and do the crime fighting that evening. They didn’t even necessarily have to be JLA-ers, i.e., they could have called up, say, Black Orchid or the Elementals (from issue #14) or some other members of the Global Guardians besides Nubia to tie the story in to past issues.

    I also have to comment on the art: I know I’ve seen Tanghal’s pencils somewhere before, but I don’t think it looked anything like the work in this issue. I think it’s nice that both he and Bob Smith seemed to have made an effort to ensure that the finished art look as much as possible like Fradon’s.

    1. So where have you seen Romeo Tanghal’s pencils previously? Air Wave back-ups in Action? The odd Dial H For Hero in Adventure Comics? A Dr Tzin Tzin Christmas two-parter in Batman. The terrific Deadman and Phantom Stranger team-up in DC Super-Stars… I remember his pencils best from Nightwing and Flamebird in Superman Family… but when I check that out, turns out the penciller was Ken Landgraf. Am so dumb.

  5. Super Friends #35 was some solid silly fun.

    I enjoyed Romeo Tanghal and Bob Smith’s art in this this issue. Tanghal used some great points of view and really made the story flow.

    How nice that the 1% cut a check so the local kids could go to the circus for free. I think that word balloon on page 1 was switched out from what the Monopoly guy really said. I’m pretty sure it was closer to something like, “Ugh, I can’t believe we had to pay the way for all these “takers.” Why can’t the unwashed pull themselves up by their bootstraps like I did when father loaned me a mere 20 million? However, they’d make fine labor for my new tax shelter. Send them to the mines!”

    Fake Aquaman needs to work on his snappy crime fighting repertoire. While shouting “What I’m doing is what you’ll wish I weren’t doing” is grammatically correct, I don’t think it’s striking fear in the hearts of criminals. But then he shows he means business by drowning a diver.

    Speaking of that, the circus performer stand-ins for the heroes definitely had a bloodlust. Fake Superman and Wonder Woman put three villains’ heads through walls. Fake Batman made sure another one will never father children. And I’m pretty sure fake Robin killed a guy.

    So, in closing, remember, kids: NEVER false advertise. And NEVER put civilians in the line of fire against criminal gangs… unless they’re carnies.

  6. Another issue I didn’t read before so I am definitely enjoying hearing about it.

    But this one is … odd.

    Totally agree that sending out plain old folks to be super-heroes seems like a recipe for disaster. And I’d love to have seen the actual discussion.
    Guy: okay I’m here to sub in for you so you can stop crooks
    Superman: No, you are here to sub in for us and stop crooks
    Guy (thinking): WTF did I sign up for !!!

    Anyways, silly and fun and perhaps a fine ‘all ages book’ at a time when circuses were a big deal. I went to one as a kid and marveled at the trapeze stuff. But someone doing tricks with a tiger was off-putting. Either the tiger was being forced to do nonsense (bad) or the guy is going to get mauled (terrifying).

    Anyways, we are only a couple of issues away from the best Super Friends issue …

  7. Another issue I bought off the racks, and one I remember well. It says a lot about me that I remember noticing that the art had changed from my previous Super Friends issues. Yes, even at age 5, I could spot the difference. This despite the fact that Tanghal is defnitely trying to keep the characters on model with Fradon’s versions. Robin even has the squared off tunic bottom that is pretty unique to Ramona’s work. In a few months, Tanghal will get to ink Robin every month in New Teen Titans, and he doesn’t change Perez’s rounded tunic bottom there.

    I was always a sucker for multiple-figure images like the large panel with Batman and Robin and their acro-bat-ic act. That image has a permanent room in my brain for over 40 years at this point.

    I saw small circuses when I was a kid, but Cindy and I took our kids to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey every year when they came to town, and we always enjoyed it. I get the concern over animals’ rights, so I understand why circuses have fallen out of favor, and RB and B&B are no more, but it still saddens me that in a generation or so, they will be a complete thing of the past. Dick Grayson’s origin will need a complete recton at some point.

    1. Your observation about circuses got me thinking: when I was a really little kid in the 1970s, circuses were apparently still going strong, although even then they seemed to have lost much of their luster – and full disclosure, I’ve never been to one, even though I recall TV commercials for Ringling Bros B&B and Circus Vargas (which is more of a West Coast outfit, apparently) whenever they were passing through Oregon. By the time I was a teen in the 1980s, they already seemed passe, so it’s always surprising to me to hear that they’re still a thing – i.e., that they were still around when your kids were little enough to be interested.
      By the way, I went down a bit of a rabbit hole looking into this topic, and learned that Ringling Bros./B&B has been revived and is going to begin productions again in 2023, but without animals. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Circus Vargas is still around and regularly touring, with only a hiatus in 2020 due to Covid. And it hasn’t used animals since 2010.

  8. Another great episode! I was thrilled when it was mentioned that I am a recipient of a “Robbie”. This puts me one step closer to my dream of earning a REGOT. Now of only the Tony Awards will recognize my one-man show “The Gleek Man Cometh”.

    1. Sean, I assume Greek’s arch-nemesis Time Trapper is one of the roles you play in the show. I’ll look for your tour!

  9. 1 I always thought Superman zoo was “welp Curt got tired of drawing gangsters”
    2 THAT said i’m suprised there was never an alien zookeeper
    3 as to circus i saw quite a few and was always “Animals? EH THATs neat,acrobats? eh CLOWNS! I was kid in a wheelchair and everybody told me I was funny all the time i thought clown might be a good career!
    4. Chris is right about Robin but what’s worse the circus of crime will now be the wresting federation of crime!

  10. Another great show Holy High jumps Batman .

    Did the justice league not think they should have just Maybe called in flash , plastic man and the atom to take over for day . That would have bin safer then sending out circus workers out as fake super heroes .

  11. Thanks for another fun show, Steve is a top guest. I bought this issue when it came out and I don’t think I’ve thought about it since. Looking at it again, I remember not engaging with with mystery because, yes, the heroes would never take money under false pretences.

    Romeo Tanghal did a pretty decent job of emulating Ramona Fradon’s work, what a star. Mind, great as the downward shot of Aquaman about to dive is, those clowns looking up at him are the stuff of nightmares.

    I went to the circus a couple of times as a kid, it was the Seventies so there were horses and… I think that was it. We were too common to have decent animals.

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