Superman/TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids #3 (final DC story; guest-starring Wonder Woman)
DC Comics/Radio Shack (1982)
“The Computer Masters Of Metropolis”
WRITER: Paul Kupperberg
ARTISTS: Kurt Swan & Frank Chiaramonte
Lex Luthor has threatened to blow up the Metropolis Fair, the mad scientist upset that his criminal genius was snubbed for the electronics exhibit. As Superman tries to uncover Luthor’s plan Wonder Woman is the latest superhero to teach computers to Ms. Wilson’s class, and Alec and Shanna get to tell her a few things she didn’t know. After the obligatory computer history and Radio Shack promotion, Luthor makes his move, trapping Superman in an unused planetarium exhibit to trap the hero in a red sunlight room. Once again Luthor forgets about the telephone, but knowing the police won’t believe it’s Superman he calls on Alec and Shanna to help him uncover where Luthor will strike first and get in touch with Wonder Woman. Together the two superheroes foil Luthor’s scheme and save the fair.
What they got right: The Computer Whiz Kids actually have a helpful role in this story thanks to the computers. Mixed into the educational/promotional part of the story are bits that foreshadow how Alec and Shanna help out this time. They also seem to be learning from their previous encounters with Superman and Supergirl in hanging out with superheroes and their lessons on computer.
What they got wrong: The educational side of the comic takes up so much time that Luthor’s plan doesn’t get a lot of time and he only pops up now and then to remind us this plot is going to happen. This also happened in the first two (the ones Kupperberg didn’t work on, which may be why he didn’t know Lex was in the prison and the last story was about him NOT getting out) but it’s more distracting here. Luthor is also recycling how he trapped Supergirl in the previous story and making the same mistake his henchmen did by not considering the phone. He could just call Batman and I would assume he knows Wonder Woman is around. Yes, Superman makes the same assumption that nobody would believe it’s him unless they know him and the Daily Planet‘s phone lines are all busy but he may have other allies. I do wonder how he knows Alec’s phone number though. Ask the operator? I also don’t remember Wonder Woman flying on her own before the Crisis reboot or using her magic lasso to change from Diana Prince.
What I think overall: This is the last time the kids would team up with Superman and friends, outside of an issue of the main comic where Clark Kent tells them a weird story during a power outage. It really doesn’t tie into this but Linkara actually reviewed it as part of his look at the Radio Shack hero kids. It’s not worth adding to this series and not very good on its own, but this trio of comics are a fun set of stories if you grade on the PSA/promo curve.
From here out Radio Shack would partner with Archie Comics for some reason but would keep Alec, Shanna, and Ms. Wilson while moving them away from Metropolis. We’ll start there next time.