Saturday, March 01, 2008

FBW’s Harmonic Convergence Of Action Comics, The Big Easy & Real Estate Finance

FanBoyWonder has just returned from our week-long business trip from New Orleans and it was an eye opening experience.

It was our first time in the Big Easy but it was clear to see from the moment we left the airport that this city is still reeling from the gut-shot inflicted by Hurricane Katrina followed by the inept, inexcusable lack of response from the federal government.

We didn’t make it anywhere near the Ninth Ward but the we did spy the Superdome on the cab ride in and even the cleaned up hotel/casino and tourist districts still looked run down to us.

Our cab driver whose name we never got but his quiet, serene dignity reminded us of Morgan Freeman. Morgan told on the drive from the airport how he lost everything following Katrina.

The hurricane itself never touched his house but the broken levees filled his home with eight feet of water destroying a lifetime of possessions and memories. After nine months in a FEMA trailer, he rebuilt and he considers himself one of the lucky ones

It’s a disgrace this was allowed to happen in the United States of America.

So FanBoyWonder did our best to support the New Orleans’ economy by dining out and enjoying some Cajun cuisine.

Our thanks go to our colleague Jenn who made us escape the confines of our hotel to the Garden District to enjoy some “Real Nawlins Food” at Jacques-Imo’s

Other thanks go out to our friends Elizabeth, Joy, Jennifer-Robyn and new friends Kerry and Borda as we all enjoyed dinner at Grand Isle The next night, FBW’s boss Janet and our friend Kathleen enjoyed dinner near the French Quarter at a fine restaurant whose name we can’t recall as Kathleen picked the eatery.

Meanwhile, our special thanks go out to Wendi at Pittsburg, PA-based National Real Estate Information Services for her generous donation of eight issues of Action Comics to FanBoyWonder’s missing collection of Superman comics.

By way of explanation, it’s quite rare indeed that FBW’s day job as a reporter of the real estate mortgage finance market and our off-duty fanboy ways crossover.

Yet it was during the mortgage conference that we attended while walking the trade show floor that we literally did a double take at the sight of a pile of Superman comic books on the trade booth table.

We would say there were about 20 issues of Action Comics from the 1980s—some we had and some we used to have but lost. We asked if these were for sale and for how much, Wendi said we could take them.

This occurred the day before Superman’s traditional birthday of Feb. 29 (as portrayed in the comics). We don’t’ know if this was by accident or by design but NERIS’ Action Comics strategy is a surefire way to appeal to the fanboy businessman.

So we selected the issues we wanted—eight in all—we thanked her, took her business card, gave her our card and made off with our surprise loot. Reunited and it feels so good.
Wendi—you have our profound thanks.

The issues we picked up: Action Comics #540, 541, 542, 543, 544, 546, 551 and 552.

Action #544 was the special 45th Anniversary issue where Lex Luthor and Brainiac were re-vamped to become new and improved bad guys, while #546 featured guest stars Justice League of America and the New Teen Titans.

These books, circa 1983, were sentimental favorites—partially issue 546—and we enjoyed once again viewing of the artwork of the late, great Gil Kane and late, great Curt Swan—comic book legends both.

There is little about these books to attract us other than sentimental value. As we re-read these stories 25 years later we marvel at how goofy they were. This was the last gasp of the Silver Age and this version of Superman that worked so well during the 1950s and 60s and 70s really wasn’t holding up during the comic book character renaissance that was occurring during the early 1980s.

Two years later the CRISIS on Infinite Earths would re-write the entire DC Universe and a year later, writer/artist John Byrne would revamp the Last Son of Krypton in The Man of Steel and Superman would be a fully formed, three-dimensional character.

While post-CRISIS corporate gangster Lex Luthor worked so much better than the goofy mad-scientist of the Silver Age, the re-envisioned Brainiac by Marv Wolfman in a new body with the scary appearance of a skeleton of living metal with a grey, honeycomb patterned skull made Superman’s old foe pretty damn scary and he was nothing but pure, cold logic.

FanBoyWonder considers this the best version of Brainiac but it only lived a couple of years until the CRISIS and then was retro-coned into a telepathic villain during the post-Byrne Superman era.

It just goes to show you that you never know what you’ll find when you go to a real estate finance conference in The Big Easy.


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