Friday, August 25, 2017

Otto Binder, Mort Weisinger and the Silver Age Superman

The Silver Age Superman era was crazy fun, filled with creations like Lex Luthor, Braniac, Kandor, Bizarro Superman, various flavors of Kryptonite, imaginary stories, etc. I read all these as a kid; at some point it became fashionable to dismiss all of the expanded Krypton mythology - John Byrne jettisoned all of it in his reboot. Lately I've been missing it and buying back some 80 page giants to reminisce. Every time I see one of these silver age Superman covers it pulls my heartstrings.

A lot of these innovations were the creation of Otto Binder, a science fiction writer who had worked on Captain Marvel stories before his Superman work. Binder did the same thing on Superman that he had for the Big Red Cheese: expanded the mythology of Superman and his universe.

The other famous influence on Superman's Silver Age era is the editor, Mort Weisinger. I heard stories about Weisinger's dominating editorial style. Jim Shooter wrote about his time working for Weisinger as a teenager in the 1960s. Yet at the same time, under the right circumstances, Weisinger could be generous, as in this story where he treated Shooter and his Mom on a trip in NYC. I have always wanted to know more about Weisinger and his time with Superman. He had a great influence on the series for over a decade.

Superman Forever is a podcast I just discovered, produced by Bob Fisher. Bob just produced two of the most incredible episodes on Mort Weisinger! The first episode is where Bob has a conversation with Weisinger's son, Dr Hank Weisinger. It was very insightful. They all knew how Mort could be overbearing at home, yet considerate at other times. He wasn't a tyrant all the time and loved to write and work. One of the best parts of this is how Weisinger got a lot of products for free through his article writing. But there are many other tales of the Superman comics that Hank remembers. The second episode is a conversation with Arlen Schumer, the historian who wrote the coffee table sized Silver Age of Comics book a few years ago, about the Weisinger era. Among many other topics!

I loved these 2 episodes so much I've subscribed to Bob's podcast. He has another episode dedicated to Lex Luthor's silver age trilogy involving the planet Luxor. It's quite good and making me want to buy back some silver age Superman comics. Nuff Said!


  1. The picture in your video is the wrong Otto Binder!!

  2. Chris, glad you liked the interview. As I said, my father liked the guys like Binder and Hamilton because they were from SF and could write well---they were smart. However, you should know that many of the creations attributed to Otto were really my father's ideas and told Otto to execute them, to build a story around them. Also, originally Bizarro was a "monster" but inevitably he character transformed to being more amusing, especially with Bits of Bizarro --that is all my father. What is most ironic is that while he is responsible for developing the mythology, he could never say he created Superman. Yet, the character he co-created, Aquaman, is going to become the biggest money maker of them all.


Ratings and Recommendations by outbrain