TreasuryCast #11 – Superman and His Incredible Fortress of Solitude


Rob welcomes podcaster and Man of Steel expert Michael Bailey to talk about the all-original treasury edition, DC SPECIAL SERIES #26: SUPERMAN AND HIS INCREDIBLE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE!

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15 responses to “TreasuryCast #11 – Superman and His Incredible Fortress of Solitude

  1. Love this one for it’s insanity.
    The personal rooms are a bit odd.
    The space ark is nuts. How often does Superman review and update the list of people he is saving?

    As for the Phantom Zone, those Gerber stories are nuts. In that DCCP one, Mxyzptlk, possessed by the living spirit of the Phantom Zone, crashes the remains of Argo City into Metropolis. That includes all the corpses of the Kryptonite citizens of the place. That is some weird stuff.

      1. “Hmm. Maybe if I take his hand off with my heat vision we can finally get rid of this smug asshole,” thinks Superman.

        I had no idea you weren’t a Superman fan, Rob. I’m sad to learn that, I have to admit.

        Great episode and coverage, Rob and Michael. And yes, it was a nice reminder of old Kryptonian history and some of the past Superman nuttiness.

    1. IIRC, I think Gerber’s DCCP story was a chance to show how he would have reboot the Superman franchise without rewriting the multiple Earth concept. As far out and frightening as Gerber’s take was, he was a huge Superman fan. I think his hope was to smash the complacency which had built up around Superman in the Bronze Age to take him and the mythos in a bold new direction.

  2. Awesome episode! The Bronze Age is such wacky fun. It’s the same reason i hated that era of Superman as a kid, but find it intriguing as an adult.

    Regarding Batman podcasts… is there one dedicated to just Elseworlds? That would be fascinating listening.

  3. Great show, and I agree with everybody, Ross Andru was majorly underrated. I don’t think covers were his forte, despite him being the main cover artist on the Superman books around this time, but his interiors had a real vibrancy. He and inker Mike Esposito had a terrific synergy.

    The Fortress of Solitude treasury edition was released on my birthday, June 18 – which was also Superman’s Earthday, the day the Kents celebrated instead of his birthday, which they never knew was February 29. I’d like to think that was deliberate!

    I reviewed the story of the Fortress door – The Baffling Block of Metropolis – only a few weeks ago on my blog, coincidentally!

    Anj was far too modest to remind you that he reviewed the story of Superman and Supergirl and the Fortress nuclear pit on Supergirl Comic Box Commentary.

    The Phantom Zone mini by Gerber and Colan is still the most intense Superman story I’ve ever read. ‘BURN!’

  4. Wow, I’ve never even seen this. I need to own this NOW. I love Andru and though he’s drawn a million DC covers, his actual Superman comics work is not as common as you’d think. (My heart broke a little when I recently discovered that Neal Adams “touched up” his Superman drawing in the Spidey crossover. The nerve of that guy.)

    You know Ross Andru’s a master when even *Gil Kane* has gone on record as saying that Andru’s anatomy was 100% perfect all the time.

    My god, that back cover is KILLER.

  5. I am loving the TreasuryCast, guys — a great addition to your line-up!

    I bought a lot of the DC/Marvel tabloids back in the day, but the Fortress of Solitude book was one I had missed. I always assumed that it was just a collection of Fortress-themed reprints, not an all-new story. Now I really want to read it, especially after seeing some of that sweet Ross Andru art!

    Incidentally, I would totally listen to every episode of a “Wacky 1950s Alien-fighting Batman” podcast. I’m just sayin’…

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Listening now, but I wanted to say up front I DID buy this off the stands, right around the same time as the Superman II Treasury. For some reason, this issue got lost to time and I don’t have it. I think a stack of treasuries bit the dust in a cleanout accidentally, because my Superman/Shazam book is also MIA.


  7. Just listened, and I’m glad you brought up WF #271, because this feels like a very similar project. Give the comics history buff the job of straightening up the shelves and making things presentable. It’s kind of the anti-reboot in a lot of ways.

    In Alter-Ego #100 which Michael brought up, Roy talks about how he didn’t want to do Superman and Batman, yet here he was doing it anyway. Like him, I can’t recommend that issue enough. It’s squarebound like one of their companion books. Great stuff.

    The discussion about School Book Fairs got me to thinking. My kids’ school still has these, and we’ve even purchased a few of the Marvel Adventures digests there. What a perfect place for the new treasuries! The price point isn’t any steeper than the DK reference books that are all over the place at these sales, so I think it’s a no-brainer for Marvel (and DC) to get these into this venue.

    Oh, and while I never bought a treasury at MY elementary book fair, I did buy a Tor pocket paperback reprint of New Teen Titans #1-3 and the DC Comics Presents preview story. Around this same time, Tor also did a reprint of “The Life Story of Superman” Rob mentioned from Action #500, which as he pointed out was meant for a treasury. So this story just kept shrinking!!!


    1. I kept thinking about your coverage of WF #271 while listening to this episode. It really did feel like a history lesson disguised as a comic story. I wonder if this had more to do with the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot than the parallel Earths did. Keeping track of almost 50 years of back story, jumping through hoops to figure out whether a Superman story took place on Earth-1 or Earth-2, and stories like this might have made someone like Jennette Kahn look at it and think that it’s too dense for an average person to get into.

      (It makes me think about the story I’d heard about Dan Didio; word is, he was looking at a character bio for the Peter David-era Supergirl with its mentions of the Time Trapper and the pocket Earth and Matrix and angels, and said that it was time to simplify and streamline Supergirl’s background. But I digress…)

      Then again, maybe it’s not the rich historic background that was a problem. Maybe it was the storytelling. I mean, as fun as this tabloid is, it’s put together like a TV clip show where clips from old stories are strung together as flashbacks with occasional peeks in the present (that Green Lantern panel springs to mind). Even when younger me first read WF #271 and this tabloid, I felt like the stories were fun but flat, kind of like history lessons; older me remembers lots and lots and lots and lots of words. Meanwhile in “Legends of the Batman” I felt like the story was more exciting AND I got to learn a lot about Batman (then again, it might’ve helped having Jim Aparo and John Byrne there to amp up the visual dynamism; I still remember that panel of Batman saving the race car driver from his burning car).

  8. Nice job! I’ve got this one. Bought it fresh off the stands back then. Even then, the story of the artifacts in the Fortress struck me as old-hat, from another era. However I liked being able to fill in the gaps with references to Superman stories that I had not read.
    I had not know previously that Action #500, one of my favorites, was meant to be a Treasury!
    Michael, I was right there with you on everything until you mentioned your preference for the second Superman-Spider-Man book. I have so many problems with that, it still irritates me!
    As you were giving the synopsis, I was thinking about this Superman. My Superman. The thinker. He’s got a mystery to solve and he does it methodically. Along the way we are exposed to his other facets; Superman the engineer, Superman the curious, Superman the collector, Superman the grateful, Superman the caretaker and cataloger, Superman the big-hearted. Even the way he solves this mystery, by taking a break and letting his mind wander from the subject at hand, Superman the zen master. That’s why I liked this guy!

  9. Great episode!

    One note: This isn’t the first time in a tabloid drawn by Ross Andru and featuring Superman where an important plot element shows up.

    IIRC, in the first “Superman vs. Spider-Man” tabloid, Lex Luthor hatches a plot that involves the destruction of human civilization. Doctor Octopus realizes that he doesn’t like that plot at all and turns against Luthor. In SAHIFOS, Roger has similar qualms about Luthor’s plan to destroy the Earth. I remember reading that last page (on the same day my brothers and I saw Superman II!) and thinking that Roy Thomas had cribbed the same story beat that Gerry Conway had used in SvsSM. I knew that Thomas was stringing together what felt like entries in the Superman Encyclopedia about the Fortress of Solitude, but then to lift a story element from another tabloid was more than I expected.

  10. I wish I knew whether I would have been into the enormity of Superman lore when I was a kid, but the fact is that the Superman stories I was exposed to at the time were all boilerplate super-crap with tired art. I wish I’d had this treasury back then, and you guys have sold me on reading it today. Superman seems so much bigger than anything else in existence based on stories like this, and it’s a sharp contrast to how near-insignificantly small he’s become since Crisis. It makes me sad how DC couldn’t figure out how to be themselves in a modern context, and settled for being Marvel. I’ve always dug Ross Andru, and the imagination on display here is pure, rich comic sauce.

    As much as I enjoyed the “Earth Angel” period, Dan Didio was not wrong about the need to fix Supergirl’s history.

    I remember those little Scholastic catalogs from grade school. I didn’t often have money to actually order any books, and I don’t recall their ever having comic book related materials, but I enjoyed tossing through the brochures in class. I really wish I’d at least gotten a subscription to Dynamite or Bananas instead of scavenging the odd issue off a dank rack at the back of a Woolworth’s (also one of the few places treasury editions could be found.)

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