Done-in-One Wonders Episode #2: Call Him the Space Cowboy

Professor Xum and guest villain the Terra-Man talk about the alien-equipped desperado’s second appearance, featuring a threatening gimmick that never gets old.


Featuring: Superman v1 #250


Images from this episode:

Music by Hoyt Curtin, Earl Scruggs, and the Manic Street Preachers.

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16 responses to “Done-in-One Wonders Episode #2: Call Him the Space Cowboy

  1. Wonderful episode Xum. Someone should get this to Cary Bates, I think he’d be touched (and impressed!) someone would do this deep a dive on one of his stories, especially one so obscure.

    While I have never been shy about my lack of admiration for Curt Swan’s work, I will admit, you’re completely right, he did manage to draw lots of different body types, something a lot of other artists didn’t bother with/weren’t able to do.

    And while we all make fun of Terra Man as a Mort, in retrospect he’s no more ridiculous than most Silver Age villains. Even though we don’t see him full on on the cover, the beat down he’s imposing on Superman looks pretty dire.

    The sheer amount of work put into this podcast astounds me. It makes me feel lazy. I’m really thrilled we have you as part of the network!

  2. Easily one of the best podcasts on the network. Always entertaining and insightful…and successful in distracting me from work. Anxiously awaiting the next episode.

  3. Let me join the throng in proclaiming my love for the format you’ve designed for this show. I don’t know what I look forward to more, the next issue deep-dive or the continuing antics of the Xum crew. I respect and appreciate the amount of work that must go into each episode.

  4. This is the type of story that proves Superman III isn’t so far off after all. Alstrum is essentially Gus Gorman. The everyman that gets pulled into a fantastic series of events that Superman has to try and get him (or her) out of. Typical of Bronze Age stories, particularly those of Cary Bates. Unfortunately no one really wants an “average’ Issue of Superman adapted into a major motion picture. Therein lies the burn.

    And yes, yes, YES Swan (and Anderson) were perfect for these types of stories about “real” people.

    Not to offend Mr. Manning, but I think if Bates and company had scaled back SOME of his tricks and gadgets, he may have fared better. He had the equivalent of Adam West’s utility belt to pull some pretty far fetched weapons out of. An age-inducing branding iron? Why not?

    Fun show, as always Xum, and expertly crafted.


  5. Wow. This episode was a LOT of fun.

    I’ve always been a fan of Terra-Man. Despite all of his super-science trappings, he always seemed like more a fantasy-based character. The winged horse Nova put him squarely in the ranks of characters like Marvel’s Black Knight (and Valkyrie) and DC’s Shining Knight. (Also, I wonder if there was an untold story where Terra-Man and Nova encountered Supergirl and Comet the Super-Horse?)

    Later post-Crisis attempts at “updating” him fell flat for me. I preferred his classic look and manner. He always made me think of Burt Reynolds in Clint Eastwood’s Hombre sin Nombre clothing.

    The other item that fascinated me was the idea that this story followed a template established in other DC Silver Age stories. I hope this aspect is explored in future episodes.

    Keep up the great work! I’m going to go listen to these episodes again to see what I may have missed the first time.

  6. Another fine program, sir. I always got a kick out of Terra-Man because he was so unlike the other villains in Superman’s rogues gallery. Also, for decades he has reminded me of a local used car salesman who airs cowboy themed commercials (even though it’s mid-Michigan). For “done-in-one” story recommendations, with your cast of characters I’d like to see DC Comics Presents #8, with Superman and Swamp Thing taking on dozens of Solomon Grundies.

  7. Man, finally found the time to listen to this episode today, and it was another great one – but then again, I expected nothing less. The issue covered here was slightly before my time (I jumped on board in about 1975), but I enjoyed the rundown nonetheless.

    1. Also, your announcements for coming episodes have me intrigued – there were in fact several really good done-in-one issues of the New Teen Titans (of course, for the first few years there were simply no bad issues of that series), so I’m curious to see which you’ll pick. Also waiting in anticipation for the GL and Supes stories you mentioned. I’m hoping that you’ll also be showing some love for the done-in-ones in some of the mostly forgotten titles that fell victim to the DC implosion (like Ragman, Black Lightning, etc.).

  8. Truth be told, I found a little bit of Terra Man went a long way back in the Seventies… I was no cowboy fan, and hated that his name never matched his gimmick. Terra Man? Why? Your Space Cowboy name makes much more sense. Or just Cosmic Cowboy. Kid Cosmic?

    And he was around so very often! As new foes went, I much preferred Vartox and the Viking From Valhalla… even that stupid lynx was more welcome.

    But I loved this episode. I re-read the issue in preparation and enjoyed it hugely. Hearing it discussed in the presence of Toby Manning himself, well, let’s just say I’m now a fan. Terra Man was even better here than on your first episode. Not as great as Grundy on the banjo, but who could be?

    I agree, the art was amazing, from the thrilling Neal Adam cover with that unusually toned background to the splendour of Swanderson. And Cary Bates did a great job transcribing the adventure he dreamt on Earth Prime, while cuddled up with Elliot and Julie.

    Almost every element of this episode was perfect. What would I change? I’d delete the background bleeps, they just disturb me!

    Obligatory suggestion: Diana Prince, Wonder Woman #185!

  9. No “sophomore slump” here, you’ve produced another top-notch episode! I have not read this particular issue, but your vivid descriptions really brought it to life. I could practically see the great Swanderson art in my mind’s eye.

    What I really appreciate is that you can have fun and be entertaining, while still approaching the stories with a level of respect. There’s a million blogs out there devoted to snarking on old comics. Which is fine, and I can appreciate that style of commentary too. But it’s nice to have someone who takes the books at face value, and examines the craftsmanship involved without having to prove that you’re hipper than the material.

    Thanks again for this delightful show, and I look forward to hearing more!

  10. Sorry for the super late comment! Loved the show and somehow thought I had left a comment but didn’t.

    Like others, I don’t mind TerraMan in small doses. I love the idea of a stereotypical outlaw cowboy somehow having enough gimmicks to be a threat. Thus, it is the magic combo of scary and ridiculous!

    As for color imaging in medicine, it is out there but only for specific modalities. XRays and CTs and even MRIs are pretty much shades of gray. MRI can have color but at least in my experience, it isn’t often used. And it certainly doesn’t reflect the actual color of things.

    Ultrasound can have color but mostly to represent flow towards or away from the sound signal. Again, this is arbitrarily red/blue and not actual color. And PET scans use color to,show cellular activity not actual color.

    Love this show Xum. Nutty fun.

  11. Xum – Another WONDERful episode!! I realized while listening I was remiss in leaving feedback for the first episode. Sorry about that! Echoing everyone else, your story about Uncle Kenzo in the first episode was truly heartwarming. Such a happy memory and you did an excellent job sharing it.

    And don’t apologize if the show gets too “self-indulgent”. It’s your show! This is your personal message to the world. Get as touchy-feeling, Xum-ish as you’d like. In fact, the more personal your discussion, the more invested listeners may become. Michael Bailey has built a podcasting empire on opening his heart to his listeners.

    Some Bronze Age comics are hard for me to enjoy nowadays, unless Bob Haney is involved. However, you have a way of celebrating these issues that makes them compelling! And your production values are amazing. Your Terra Man voice continues to crack me up!! So happy to have you part of the Network!!

  12. Excellent show Xum – hopefully, you won’t show Terra-man what happened to his post-Crisis counterpart in 52; am sure if he read that, he would be torn apart! (little Black Adam humour there!)

    I loved how involved you got into the story and look forward to hearing more done-in-one tales from you and your guest hosts!

  13. Hi Xum! Another awesome episode. The amount of time and effort you put into this show is evident and it’s obvious you love the material. Thanks for a show that is consistently impressive on all levels. Darrin

  14. It’s been bugging me for weeks! Who’s playing Terra-Man? And I just figured it out: The great Sam Elliott! Perfect casting!

    You have all the best guest-stars.

    (with apologies to all the great guests on the network in general)

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