Aug 10, 2010

John Byrne, Superman, and Big Barda

It seems apt that John Byrne would call Alan Moore a one-trick pony soon after I discovered this blog, where I was reminded of Action Comics 593, the issue where Superman may have done an adult-rated flick with Big Barda.

So I read this when I was, what, seven? And I never thought it was a good story. Ever. It served no purpose. Of course, back then, I didn't know what porno was. Basically, in the previous issue, Barda and Superman had been captured by a mind-controlling monster from Apokolips named Sleez. Who then forces them to make possibly a pornographic movie.

Now, then, Mr. Miracle, Barda's husband, saves them, and when Sleez uses his powers on her, what happens?

Okay, to put it into context here, Big Barda was also trained by Granny Goodness. So basically, the only real difference is that she's a woman. Who can't resist mind control. Because she really wants to cheat on her husband.

Let's also not even mention the fact (too late) that Jack Kirby created Big Barda after his wife Roz. As you can imagine, he did not like this story.

But then, did Superman and Barda ever make that adult film, really? Well, according to John Byrne:

JB: If you want it to be a porno flick, it was a porno flick. If you don't, it wasn't! (8/31/2005)

All right, unfortunately, if you don't want it to be one,  then you have to reconcile the sequence earlier in the issue, when DARKSEID, LORD OF APOKOLIPS AND THE ULTIMATE EVIL, actually goes to Mr. Miracle to furnish him a copy of the videotape because he feels responsibility for the crap Sleez does.

And Mr. Miracle's reaction?

Guys, the problem with it not being an X-rated movie is that it makes it worse.

Also, you have to consider this scene from the previous comic, when we first see Barda under Sleez's control.

And seriously, I wouldn't be surprised if Sleez was doing stuff to Barda, too.

Over on Say It Backwards, a reader named Damian defended the story with this.

This is a fantastic story, Superman's John Byrne was probably the best period of the character. After all the changes on DC, comic books were not just for children, c'mon....

To which I responded with:

Anyone who defends this story by saying "comic books are not just for children" and not realize we're talking about SUPERMAN is part of the reason why children no longer read comic books in the masses that they used to - because people like you drove them away and keep them away, just to see things like Superman making a porno.

So congratulations, John Byrne.  To the "one-trick pony" Alan Moore, a "mature audience" meant using the issues of sex and seediness to provoke thought. To you, a more mature audience meant you could put Superman in a porno was a good idea. I commend your maturity


fanboy420 said...

Wahahaha! I used to have that issue! I would read it when things got a little "boring" if you know what i mean. lol wink wink

Allysons Attic said...

Did you know that they were going to have Mr Miracle and Barda in Booster Gold this week when you brought this up?

I like John Byrne's work because, it didn't take itself too seriously.
Sure the set ups were really SET up, but I think he wrote like Gail Simone does now.
AND I loved his art.
AS far as it being to adult for children. I don't know. It may have been too far above their wee little heads and teenagers would have thought it campy.

You also gotta put it in perspective.
TV shows that were out at that time:
The Love Boat
Magnum PI
AND Michael Jackson's song "Billie Jean" came out that year.

Duy Tano said...

I like John's work fine - Dark Phoenix Saga was one of my favorite stories ever, and his run on Fantastic Four is just legendary. Still, I take issue with him bashing Alan Moore for certain things about making the medium too adult when he's the guy who caused 20 years later the whole "Superman made a porno" thing, and also the guy who actually had Superman KILL three Kryptonians.

Paul C said...

I'm a big fan of Byrne's work but I wish he'd just make some effort not to let his obvious issues with women creep into his work.

Have you ever read his WikiQuotes page? It's hilarious.

Paul C said...

Just felt a need to expand on that last comment. I meant hilarious as in laughing at the absurdity of the comments, I do not share or endorse the views of John Byrne. Few people do.

Duy Tano said...

Byrne's Wikiquote page makes me contort my face in that configuration that says "....What... the hell... is going on... in this guy's head?" It's very amusing.

I was a big fan of Byrne's work for a long while, though obviously not as big a fan of his writing on Superman. But later on, around the time he got on Wonder Woman, I think his writing AND his art really took a big downturn, and he's not been able to get it back since.

Peter said...

I'm kind of surprised by comments about Byrne's "issues with women".

It seems to me he has written very strong, independent women every step of the way - from Misty Knight to Jean Grey & Ororo & Kitty Pryde & Emma Frost to She-Hulk & Sue Storm, who he made the most powerful of the Fantastic Four.

Am I missing something?

Icecypher said...

I read that issue as a kid, in a translated edition, so I cannot have the best picture of what the original one was.

But maybe Barda, who also was trained by Granny, was taken by surprise? A short line of text expressing this could make a lot of difference. Scott had his guard up, so he was ready. She wasn't.

If not him, perhaps an editor should have caught this.

Anonymous said...

do we get to see barda work the Mega rod?

Samuel said...

Superman and Barda did not do a porno. You presented the pics out of order. The second part has Sleez trying to make Superman have sex with Barda and he resists. Superman still has his costume on. Mister Miracle stops them before anything happens. The tape that Darkseid has is of Barda dancing or striping or any other dark thought you want, which would be like Tuesday for Barda on Apokolips. It's a Suicide Slum story!!! It's supposed to dark and grimey.

Duy Tano said...

Seeing as how I wrote this six years ago, I do admit I didn't make it clear that they didn't go through with the porno because Scott saved them, but that's where it was headed to. I do think I made it clear throughout the column that I presented the images in reverse.

Having said all that "the comic where Superman almost makes a porno" isn't adult or mature; it's adolescent. Defenders of this issue as I've stated in the piece would say this proved comics weren't for kids anymore -- no, it just proved that comics still weren't actually mature.

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