Hocus & Pocus

By | Monday, June 18, 2007 Leave a Comment
Talking about magic yesterday got me thinking about one of the comics I had as a kid: Superman #272. It was one of DC's 100-page giants and was loosely themed around magic stories. Two stories I recall fondly were "The Other Side of the World!" (reprinted from Green Lantern #42) which was one third of the storyline from a couple years earlier where Zatanna tries to find her long-lost father. I remember it largely because of the unusualness of my actually having the other two parts to the story! At the time, it was probably the longest single story in my collection, and had some memorable imagry throughout.

The other notable story was "The Magician's Convention" reprinted from Action Comics #97. I hardly recall the plot, but it largely revolved around two buffoons, Hocus and Pocus, who thought they could perform real magic. When they would attempt something amazing, Superman would -- unbeknownst to everyone but the reader -- rush in at such an incredible speed as to be invisible and perform whatever tasks were needed to get the results Hocus and Pocus were looking for. I think what struck me was how much fun Superman was having. He was still foiling bank robbers and the like, but he was chuckling to himself the entire time. He wasn't doing anything out of spite or malice, but just provide a little confidence to these two otherwise wholly unremarkable dolts. In every other Superman story I had, the man of steel was serious about his job as a superhero. Not dark and broody, certainly, but he never really smiled. Saving the world was a job. A responsibility. A burden. But in this charming tale, he was having fun and getting his job done just the same.

I did some quick research today and found that Hocus and Pocus made, in total, four appearances, all between April 1945 and March 1947. Clearly not terribly popular characters. I'm left wondering if that whimsical side of Superman was too close to then-popular Captain Marvel. Was this fun-loving Superman a direct response to the Big Red Cheese? I know several of the same writers worked on both characters; was this just the result of that cross-pollination?

And what about Hocus and Pocus themselves? Were they based on anyone in particular? What kind of reaction did they actually receive to only warrant four appearances?

Just some idle questions about an obscure little corner of Superman trivia.
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