SUPERMAN and the Incredible Hulk are competing for super-hero dominance on the moon--after the earth has been destroyed, of course, in a mushroom cloud of the "KA-BLOWIEEE!!!" variety.

Hulk, in a fit of green-skinned hubris, has agreed to assist a gang of lunar bank robbers in exchange for a lifetime supply of Kryptonite, with which he can destroy his more glamorous rival.

But what would crooks use to stick up the Moon National Bank--lasers or space bombs?

That's the problem confronting Matt Eisman in comics class this morning. Along with 16 other aspiring chroniclers of intergallactic villainy, Matt, 13, is crowded into a scruffy back room in the old Smithsonian Castle for a week-long, museum-sponsored seminar on the art of drawing adventure comics.

Sal Amendola, a prominent practitioner and executive for DC Comics (Batman, Superman, etc.), leads the course with blackboard demonstrations of proper explosion technique and space suit design.

But for the highly technical challenges, like arming lunar bank robbers, Air and Space Museum curator Kerry Joels is on hand to lend expert advice.

"I was thinking of lasers," Matt offers tentatively.

"Where would they get the power source?" Joels asks. "They could use bombs, but then they'd blow themselves up, too, and they're in it for the money, right?"

Matt nods. They both frown.

"What about something like high-tech electronic cattle prods?" Joels suggests. After he explains to Matt what a cattle prod is, they agree on the dastardly solution.

Superman, beware.

"What these guys are doing is the next generation of scientific dreaming," says Joels, as Matt returns to his drawing table.

"Art is often on the cutting edge of science," Joels adds, citing literary figures such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. "The experimental artists of the 19th century were at or before great discoveries in physics."

Amendola, a 14-year veteran in comics who has taught in a variety of settings, stresses that fantasy art provides a creative escape for inventive minds.

"I wanted to be a cop when I was a kid, but I was too short," says the softspoken, 5-foot-3 artist. "I didn't have the aptitude for math, or I would have been an astronomer. With comics I could make my own world, where I was astronomer, cop, whatever I wanted to be."

Several of his current students, who range in age from 13 to 15, have enough talent to consider going pro, says Amendola, "but they sure better not do it for the money."

Chris Hoge, for example, has established himself as a class standout with his emerging series on the mission of the NASA space explorer Dagorah to Pluto, where a robot "200 times smarter than humans" rules with an iron hand.

Chris, 15, draws clear, bold figures with sophisticated perspective but says he plans on computer science as a career.

Like many of his classmates, he cites the "Star Wars" movies as major influences on his work. He adds with obvious pride that he's also seen the Stanley Kubrick classic, "2001: A Space Odyssey," though he "didn't understand the ending."

Instructor Amendola says his pupils "know a lot more possibilities" because of the recent popularity of science fiction films. "A dozen years ago, space was still a total fantasy. These kids know what they want to draw."

Robin Porter, 14, is in the midst of a lunar space colony saga involving an indigenous subterranean culture of "little E.T.s."

She includes a businesslike woman engineer in her story who provides a sharp contrast to the typical comic-book buxom beauties, who are either being saved from grisly deaths or undertaking Olympic feats in bikinis.

"If they're going to have a colony on the moon, you'd think there would be some women scientists," explains Robin.

Greg Cullen, 13, has serious aspirations as an artist but zany predictions for the 21st century.

In his comic world, it's the year 2016, and the Earth has received an SOS from a distant and mysterious HIGHLIGHT COMIC CLASSES By Paul Barrett

SUPERMAN and the Incredible Hulk are competing for super-hero dominance on the moon--after the earth has been destroyed, of course, in a mushroom cloud of the "KA-BLOWIEEE!!!" variety.

Hulk, in a fit of green-skinned hubris, has agreed to assist a gang of lunar bank robbers in exchange for a lifetime supply of Kryptonite, with which he can destroy his more glamorous rival.

But what would crooks use to stick up the Moon National Bank--lasers or space bombs?

That's the problem confronting Matt Eisman in comics class this morning. Along with 16 other aspiring chroniclers of intergallactic villainy, Matt, 13, is crowded into a scruffy back room in the old Smithsonian Castle for a week-long, museum-sponsored seminar on the art of drawing adventure comics.

Sal Amendola, a prominent practitioner and executive for DC Comics (Batman, Superman, etc.), leads the course with blackboard demonstrations of proper explosion technique and space suit design.

But for the highly technical challenges, like arming lunar bank robbers, Air and Space Museum curator Kerry Joels is on hand to lend expert advice.

"I was thinking of lasers," Matt offers tentatively.

"Where would they get the power source?" Joels asks. "They could use bombs, but then they'd blow themselves up, too, and they're in it for the money, right?"

Matt nods. They both frown.

"What about something like high-tech electronic cattle prods?" Joels suggests. After he explains to Matt what a cattle prod is, they agree on the dastardly solution.

Superman, beware.

"What these guys are doing is the next generation of scientific dreaming," says Joels, as Matt returns to his drawing table.

"Art is often on the cutting edge of science," Joels adds, citing literary figures such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. "The experimental artists of the 19th century were at or before great discoveries in physics."

Amendola, a 14-year veteran in comics who has taught in a variety of settings, stresses that fantasy art provides a creative escape for inventive minds.

"I wanted to be a cop when I was a kid, but I was too short," says the softspoken, 5-foot-3 artist. "I didn't have the aptitude for math, or I would have been an astronomer. With comics I could make my own world, where I was astronomer, cop, whatever I wanted to be."

Several of his current students, who range in age from 13 to 15, have enough talent to consider going pro, says Amendola, "but they sure better not do it for the money."

Chris Hoge, for example, has established himself as a class standout with his emerging series on the mission of the NASA space explorer Dagorah to Pluto, where a robot "200 times smarter than humans" rules with an iron hand.

Chris, 15, draws clear, bold figures with sophisticated perspective but says he plans on computer science as a career.

Like many of his classmates, he cites the "Star Wars" movies as major influences on his work. He adds with obvious pride that he's also seen the Stanley Kubrick classic, "2001: A Space Odyssey," though he "didn't understand the ending."

Instructor Amendola says his pupils "know a lot more possibilities" because of the recent popularity of science fiction films. "A dozen years ago, space was still a total fantasy. These kids know what they want to draw."

Robin Porter, 14, is in the midst of a lunar space colony saga involving an indigenous subterranean culture of "little E.T.s."

She includes a businesslike woman engineer in her story who provides a sharp contrast to the typical comic-book buxom beauties, who are either being saved from grisly deaths or undertaking Olympic feats in bikinis.

"If they're going to have a colony on the moon, you'd think there would be some women scientists," explains Robin.

Greg Cullen, 13, has serious aspirations as an artist but zany predictions for the 21st century.

In his comic world, it's the year 2016, and the Earth has received an SOS from a distant and mysterious realm: the Planet of Headaches.

"A mad scientist has taken over," says Greg, "and with some sort of machine, like a silent dog whistle, is really making things terrible."

Under such dire circumstances, only the U.S.S. Tylenol can save the hapless migraine victims, adds Greg. "I call it space comedy."