Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Action Comics #124Cover date: September 1948
"A Superman of Doom"
Penciller: Al Plastino
Cover: Al Plastino
Reviewed by: Daniel McIntosh
While working in the Daily Planet office, Clark Kent notices a report coming over the Teletype. The Teletype reads, "Danger of Atom-pile explosion at Elmdale atom plant is growing by the minute. City being evacuated." Clark believes this to be a job for Superman. Coincidentally the Editor of the paper calls his two ace reporters Lois Lane and Clark Kent into his office giving them instructions to cover this story. When Lois calls to Clark, "Let's go", Clark pretends to be sick as if he has gotten food poising or something to that effect. Lois then turns around to the editor and voices her sympathy for Clark's apparent ill condition and how he will be missing a big story.
Later in the office of the director of the Elmdale atom plant the director reveals to Lois Lane and the other reporters that the chain reaction from the explosion may in fact destroy the world. The phone suddenly rings to reveal that the atom pile will explode in five minutes. The director cries in fright that all is lost but Lois reminds him that Superman can save us. All of a sudden the door flies open with Superman asking "Am I being Paged?" The director proceeds to tell Superman how urgent the situation has become and that the atom pile is extremely volatile and is sensitive to movement. Superman proceeds to carve a platform out of the ground that the pile is resting upon and makes a hole in the ceiling that he can fly the atom pile out of the building and into space. Once away from the Earth the atom pile explodes hurtling Superman back toward the Earth.
Superman arrives back at Earth and is flying around when a bird passes him buy and suddenly bursts into flames and dies. Superman is completely taken by surprise. He proceeds to land and then notices all the fauna around him wither and die right before him. Lois Lane is in fact in an aircraft overhead and notices through Binoculars that anything that is in close proximity to the Man of Steel dies. Superman suddenly realizes that he is radioactive. Lois Lane runs the story in the next edition of the Daily Planet where all of Metropolis's criminals can read that Superman is now radioactive and cannot come close to living things. A group of gangsters believe this is their opportunity. The gangsters proceed to steal an armored car and take a hostage knowing full well that Superman will not approach, as he will kill the innocent hostage. Superman grabs some steel cable and in true rodeo style lassos himself the stolen armored car and takes it back to Police headquarters.
Meanwhile other thugs are attempting to escape. Superman uses his incredible singing voice and tunes his voice to the vibrational frequency of some old buildings to collapse them and block the escape of the thugs allowing the police to capture them. The thugs then capture Lois Lane and threaten to kill her unless Superman robs Fort Knox. Superman using his super intellect constructs a suit out of lead to shield Lois from the radiation. The lead suit covers every centimeter of his body and he uses his x-ray vision to see where he is going. The gangsters are lead to believe that the lead suit had failed and does not contain the radiation. Superman then hunts down the gangsters and surprises them by busting up their cheerful meeting. The gangsters then cry to the police that Superman has doomed them to death by exposing them to the deadly radiation. Superman then reveals how the lead suit had absorbed all the radiation from his body and that he is now safe to continue fighting crime with the police.
Story - 4: There is one really interesting point to note in this story and that is the fact that Superman can see through lead! All of us have seen Superman: The Movie with Christopher Reeve. And we should all remember that Gene Hackman who plays Superman's arch nemesis Lex Luthor informs Otis and Miss Teschmacher of the fact that Superman can't or has trouble seeing through lead. This is the method in which Lex traps Superman with the chunk of Kryptonite in the movie. So this is a really interesting point in the Superman mythos. I guess a really good competition question would be "Is there any Superman Comic that tells us that Superman has trouble seeing through lead?" I think even I would be interested in the answer to that myself. Maybe I will ask my local comic book dealer who has been collecting comics for over 40 years.
For those of you who remember our beloved Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman TV series where the New Nazis try to take over the world be irradiating Superman with a nuclear explosion or when Superman flies the nuclear devise into outer space in Superman II, it is great to go back and see where the writers for the these programs get their ideas from.
I guess being a scientist myself (a physicist in particular) I have to remind myself that this was written back in 1948, three years after they had detonated the A-bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Back then people knew very little about radiation and other things of scientific matter. That is why the writers could get away with such stories as Peter Parker being bitten by a radioactive Spider and becoming Spider-man or the group of scientists working on a space station being exposed to cosmic rays and becoming the Fantastic Four. But it is really great to go back and read something from our past as it gives us an insight as to how we, as the general reading public, saw the world back then and what we understood from it. Looking at it through those eyes you would have to say it is another enjoyable Superman story. I guess that in a lot of ways it is refreshing to get back to the nice simple stories that Superman started out with. Nothing too brooding or with complicated emotional issues, just Superman doing his job and saving the day. Good triumphs over evil! I guess that is one of my criticisms over today's stories is that they so complicate things that I really just turn off and don't remember the stories and just simply look at the artwork.
Art - 4: Given that the artwork in the comic books of this era were not credited (for reasons given in the review of Superman #42 by Wallace Harrington) it makes determining who the artist and the writing teams were in these issues quite difficult. For someone who has been dealing with or collecting comics for many years one can begin to recognize the artists who work on the comics. Artists usually have their own style. Styles like Wayne Boring's Superman with the rather over-sized chest or the incredible details in the hands or flying poses with Al Plastino's artwork. Usually the Overstreet price guide for comics is the best source for artist information, but is not the case for this issue. After looking at the artwork and comparing to other Plastino work, I would have to say that Plastino was the artist for this issue. I am a fan of a lot of modern artists. The likes of Alex Ross and Jim Lee to name a couple, but it is nice to look at the art that started it all. It is relatively simple in comparison to Lee and Ross' artwork but it is still great.
Cover Art - 4: As mentioned in the review of Superman #42, the covers to the comics in this era usually do not reflect the story that is told inside the comic. The cover on this one does however resemble a little more closely the story that is told in the comic as opposed to other issues of the Superman titles in this era. Superman is sweeping out of the sky with two crooks, one under each arm, dropping them off to two police officers waiting with the police van. Al Plastino looks to be the artist for the cover on this issue.
Pre-Crisis Superman Comic Book Reviews
- Action Comics #1 (June 1938)
- Action Comics #2 (July 1938)
- Action Comics #3 (August 1938)
- Action Comics #4 (September 1938)
- Action Comics #5 (October 1938)
- Action Comics #6 (November 1938)
- Action Comics #7 (December 1938)
- Superman Archives: Volume 1 (1939)
- Superman #1 (Summer 1939)
- Action Comics #8 (January 1939)
- Action Comics #9 (February 1939)
- Action Comics #10 (March 1939)
- Superman #13 (November/December 1941) - The Archer
- Superman #19 (November/December 1942) - Case of the Funny Paper Crimes
- Action Comics #60 (May 1943) - Lois Lane - Superwoman
- Superman #30 (September/October 1944) - The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk
- Action Comics #80 (January 1945) - Mr. Mxyztplk Returns
- Superman #38 (January/February 1946) - The Battle of the Atoms
- Superman #42 (September/October 1946) - The Death of Clark Kent
- Superman #45 (March/April 1947) - Lois Lane, Superwoman
- Superman #53 (July 1948) - The Origin of Superman
- Action Comics #124 (September 1948) - A Superman of Doom
- Superman #60 (December 1949/January 1950) - The Two Identities of Superman & Superman Fights the Super-Brain
- Superman #76 (May/June 1952) - The Mightiest Team in the World
- Superman #80 (January/February 1953) - Superman's Lost Brother
- Superman 3D (1953) - The Man Who Stole the Sun, Origin of Superman and The Man Who Bossed Superman
- Superman #87 (February 1954) - The Prankster's Greatest Role
- Superman #88 (March 1954) - The Terrible Trio
- Superman #89 (May 1954) - Captain Kent the Terrible, Superman of Skid Row, and One Hour to Doom!
- Superman #91 (August 1954) - The Superman Stamp and Great Caesar's Ghost
- World's Finest #88 (May/June 1957) - Superman and Batman's Greatest Foes
- Superman #115 (August 1957) - The Midget Superman!
- Superboy #65 (May/June 1958) - The Amazing Adventures of Krypto Mouse
- Action Comics #242 (July 1958) - The Super-Duel in Space
- Superman #123 (August 1958) - The Girl of Steel
- Superman #127 (February 1959) - Titano the Super Ape
- Action Comics #252 (May 1959) - The Menace of Metallo and The Supergirl From Krypton
- Superman #129 (May 1959) - The Girl in Superman's Past
- Superman #130 (July 1959) - The Curse of Kryptonite!, The Super-Servant of Crime!, and The Town that Hated Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #40 (October 1959) - Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl's Pal
- Superman #134 (January 1960) - The Super-Menace of Metropolis
- Jimmy Olsen #42 (January 1960) - The Big Superman Movie!, Perry White, Cub Reporter!, and Jimmy the Genie!
- Jimmy Olsen #44 (April 1960) - The Wolf-Man of Metropolis
- Adventure Comics #271 (April 1960) - How Luthor Met Superboy
- Jimmy Olsen #46 (July 1960) - Jimmy Olsen, Orphan
- Superman #141 (November 1960) - Superman's Return To Krypton
- Superboy #85 (December 1960) - The Impossible Mission
- Jimmy Olsen #51 (March 1961) - The Girl with Green Hair
- Jimmy Olsen #52 (April 1961) - Jimmy Olsen, Wolf-Man
- Superboy #89 (June 1961) - Superboy's Big Brother!
- Action Comics #279 (August 1961) - The Super-Rivals
- Superman #147 (August 1961) - The Legion of Super Villains
- Superman #149 (November 1961) - The Death of Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #57 (December 1961) - Jimmy Olsen Marries Supergirl
- Superman #155 (August 1962) - Superman Under the Green Sun and The†Downfall of†Superman
- Justice League of America #13 (August 1962) - Riddle of the Robot Justice League
- World's Finest #129 (November 1962) - Joker-Luthor, Incorporated
- Superman #158 (January 1963) - Superman in Kandor
- Superman #160 (April 1963) - The Mortal Superman
- Superman #161 (May 1963) - The Last Days of Ma and Pa Kent
- Superman #162 (July 1963) - The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue
- Superman #163 (August 1963) - Wonder-Man, the New Hero of Metropolis and The Goofy Superman
- Justice League of America #21 & #22 (August/September 1963) - Crisis on Earth-One! and Crisis on Earth-Two!
- Superman #164 (October 1963) - The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman
- Superman #165 (November 1963) - The Sweetheart Superman Forgot
- Superman #166 (January 1964) - The Fantastic Story of Superman's Sons
- Superman #167 (February 1964) - The Team of Luthor and Brainiac
- Superman #168 (April 1964) - Luthor - Super Hero and Lex Luthor, Daily Planet Editor
- Superman #169 (May 1964) - The Man Who Stole Superman's Secret Life
- Action Comics #314 (July 1964) - The Day Superman Became The Flash
- Justice League of America #29 & #30 (August/September 1964) - Crisis on Earth-Three! and The Most Dangerous Earth of All!
- Superman #173 (November 1964) - The Triumph of Luthor and Brainiac
- Action Comics #318 (November 1964) - The Death of Luthor
- Action Comics #319 (December 1964) - The Condemned Superman
- Superman #175 (February 1965) - Clark Kent's Brother
- Superman #181 (November 1965) - The Superman of 2965
- The Legion of Super-Heroes - Archives Volume 4 (1965)
- Superman #184 (February 1966) - The Demon Under the Red Sun
- Action Comics #338 (June 1966) - Muto - Monarch of Menace
- Action Comics #339 (July 1966) - Muto versus The Man of Tomorrow
- Superman #189 (August 1966) - Krypton Lives Again
- Action Comics #346 (February 1967) - The Man Who Sold Insurance to Superman and The Case of the Superman Imposter
- Superman #194 (February 1967) - The Death of Lois Lane
- Superman #196 (May 1967) - The Star of Steel
- Superman #199 (January 1967) - Superman's Race With The Flash
- Superman #200 (October 1967) - Super-Brother Against Super-Brother
- The Flash #175 (December 1967) - Race to the End of the Universe
- Justice League of America #63 (June 1968) - Time Signs a Death Warrant for the Justice League
- Superman #211 (November 1968) - The Name of the Game is Superman!
- Superman #215 (April 1969) - Lois Laneä Deadä Yet Alive
- Superman #224 (February 1970) - Beware the Super-Genius Baby
- Action Comics #393 (October 1970) - Superman Meets Super-Houdini! and The Day Superboy Became Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #133 (October 1970) - The Newsboy Legion
- Action Comics #394 (November 1970) - Midas of Metropolis and Requiem for a Hot Rod!
- World's Finest #198 (November 1970) - Race to Save the Universe!
- Action Comics #395 (December 1970) - The Secrets of Superman's Fortress and The Credit Card of Catastrophe
- Jimmy Olsen #134 (December 1970) - The Mountain of Judgement!
- World's Finest #199 (December 1970) - A Race to Save Time!
- Superman #233 (January 1971) - Superman Breaks Loose!
- Jimmy Olsen #135 (January 1971) - The Evil Factory!
- Superman #234 (February 1971) - How to Tame a Wild Volcano
- Jimmy Olsen #136 (February 1971) - The Saga of the D.N.Aliens
- Superman #235 (March 1971) - The Sinister Scream of the Devil's Harp
- Superman #236 (April 1971) - Planet of the Angels and The Doomsayer
- Jimmy Olsen #137 (April 1971) - The Four-Armed Terror!
- Superman #237 (May 1971) - The Enemy of Earth
- Superman #238 (June 1971) - Menace at 1000 Degrees
- Jimmy Olsen #138 (June 1971) - The Big Boom!!
- Superman #240 (July 1971) - To Save a Superman
- Jimmy Olsen #139 (July 1971) - The Guardian Fights Again!!!
- Superman #241 (August 1971) - The Shape of Fear
- Superman #242 (September 1971) - The Ultimate Battle
- Jimmy Olsen #141 (September 1971) - Will the Real Don Rickles Panic?!?
- Jimmy Olsen #142 (October 1971) - The Man from Transilvane!
- Jimmy Olsen #143 (November 1971) - Genocide Spray
- Jimmy Olsen #144 (December 1971) - A Big Thing in a Deep Scottish Lake!
- Superman #247 (January 1972) - Must There Be A Superman
- Jimmy Olsen #145 (January 1972) - Brigadoom!
- Jimmy Olsen #146 (February 1972) - Homo-Disastrous!
- Jimmy Olsen #147 (March 1972) - A Superman in Super-Town!
- Jimmy Olsen #148 (April 1972) - Monarch of All He Subdues!
- Superman #292 (October 1975) - The Luthor Nobody Knows!
- Action Comics #458 (April 1976) - Make Me a Super-Hero! and Masquerade of the Nutty Kid!
- Action Comics #484 (June 1978) - Superman Takes a Wife!
- Superman #328 (October 1978) - Attack of the Kryptonoid
- Action Comics #489 (November 1978) - Krypton Dies Again and Where There's a Will... There's a Fray
- Superman #329 (November 1978) - I Have Met The Enemy... And He Is Me! and The Secret of the Talking Car
- Superman #330 (December 1978) - The Master Mesmerizer of Metropolis!
- Action Comics #490 (December 1978) - No Tomorrow For Superman
- Action Comics #491 (January 1979) - A Matter of Light and Death
- Superman #331 (January 1979) - Lockup at 20,000 Feet
- Action Comics #492 (February 1979) - Superman's Secret Afterlife
- Superman #332 (February 1979) - The Eternity Cage
- Action Comics #493 (March 1979) - The Metropolis UFO Connection
- Action Comics #494 (April 1979) - The Secret of the Super S
- Action Comics #495 (May 1979) - Attack of the Ultimate Warrior
- DC Comics Presents #14 (October 1979) - Judge, Jury... and No Justice!
- The Superman Story (1979) - The Life Story of Superman
- DC Comics Presents #57 (May 1983) - Days of Future Past
- DC Comics Presents #67 (March 1984) - 'Twas the Fright Before Christmas
- DC Comics Presents Annual #3 (1984) - With One Magic Word
- Superman: The Secret Years #1 (February 1985) - Dreams and Schemes and Feeling Proud!
- Superman: The Secret Years #2 (March 1985) - Reach Out and Touch
- Superman: The Secret Years #3 (April 1985) - Terminus
- DC Comics Presents #80 (April 1985) - A World Full of Supermen!
- Superman: The Secret Years #4 (May 1985) - Beyond Terminus
- DC Comics Presents #85 (September 1985) - The Jungle Line
- Superman Annual #11 (1985) - For The Man Who Has Everything
- World's Finest #323 (January 1986) - Afraid of the Dark
- DC Comics Presents #97 (September 1986) - Phantom Zone: The Final Chapter
- Superman #423 & Action Comics #583 (September 1986) - Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?
- Showcase Presents: Superman Family - Volume 1 (October 2005)
- Superman/Batman: Saga of the Super Sons (December 2007)
- Not Brand ECHH #7 (April 1967) - The Origin of Stuporman
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