Tom Scioli’s recent revival of DC’s Super Powers drew heavily not just from the source material, but from “The Source” as well, as he dove deep into DC lore, particularly Jack Kirby’s contributions, to tell a crazy new story. With that material being collected in the Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye trade paperback, Scioli took to his blog to share his commentary on his approach to the new story.
If you aren’t familiar with Super Powers, it was a licensed toy line created by Mattel back in the 1980s, featuring various DC super heroes — everyone from mainstays Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Robin to deeper cuts like Red Tornado, Dr. Fate and Orion. It also included characters from the Super Friends TV show, such as Samurai, as well as some characters created specifically for the line, like Golden Pharaoh and Cyclotron. To go along with the line of toys, DC created three different miniseries — the first two of which involved legendary creator Jack Kirby. The animated Super Friends show, a Saturday morning staple in the 1970s and 1980s, evolved into Super Powers as well. The line spurred a lot of other merchandise, from Underoos to Nerf wrist flyers to fast-food kid’s meal toys.
For a comic-loving kid who wanted to make Superman punch Darkseid, it was awesome.
Scioli harnessed that energy into a back-up story for Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye, part of the Gerard Way-curated Young Animal line. He talks about why he wanted to work with Dc in his post:
After flying high from my experience working on Transformers vs. G.I.Joe with John Barber, I wanted to do something along those lines for Marvel and DC, to reinvent their universes in a self-contained series, like I did with the Hasbro-verse. I contacted Gerard Way about the possibility of me doing Super Powers for his new line of books at DC. Gerard pitched the idea and got the green light for a 4-page backup in Doom Patrol, the flagship book of his Young Animal line. As things progressed, the 4 pages were reduced to 3 and it went from Doom Patrol to Cave Carson. Being part of Cave Carson was fine with me, but the limitation of 3 pages is a tough challenge. 4 pages is doable, but it’s difficult to get any kind of momentum going in just 3 pages. The solution I came up with was to do hyper-compressed panel layouts. The limitations of the assignment gave me an interesting puzzle to solve.
He also talks about the heroes he decided to use in the book, some of whom he amped up in different ways:
BMX Batgirl was inspired by a fusion of 60’s Batgirl on her motorcycle, and the 80’s aesthetic which I think is a big ingredient in the original Super Powers.
This Green Arrow origin is maybe the most popular page in the whole series. I wrote similar one-page origins for Red Tornado and The Green Lantern which remain unpublished. I fused elements of Jack Kirby’s classic origin story for Oliver Queen and some other elements from his brief run on the character.