Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Cover date: April 1963
Penciller: Al Plastino
Inker: Al Plastino
Cover: Kurt Schaffenberger
"The Mortal Superman"
Dr. Carew, the world famous scientist, invited Clark Kent to his seacoast laboratory to witness a new method of extracting gold dust from seawater, however Kent is unimpressed. "What did it cost you to produce that pinch of gold dust?" asked Kent. Proudly, the scientist pulls out his records and announces that it costs him $543 to produce an ounce of gold. "But an ounce of gold is worth about $40," says Kent, shaking his head. "So your process would lose a fortune every day." Nodding, Carew explains that the reason it costs so much was that the gold had to be separated from some odd red particles. Pouring the gold into his hand to let him observe, Kent's whole body tingles, a sign that he has been exposed to Red Kryptonite.
As he drives back to town, Kent waits for the inevitable odd effect that Red Kryptonite produces when he is exposed to its radiations. Nothing occurs until he reaches the Planet's offices and changes into Superman. Perry White greets the Man of Steel with bags of fan mail. Superman begins to read the mail and suddenly sneezes. "Superman doesn't get colds," mutters Jimmy Olsen under his breath.
Super-hearing picks up a scream on the street, and using his x-ray vision Superman sees a truck outside the Planet building stranded with a flat tire. Flying down to the truck, he is amazed that not only can he not lift the truck, but he barely has enough strength to blow up the tire. When the truck leaves, and errant brick falls off hitting Superman in the toe, and amazingly he feels pain. The final insult is the worst. He can no longer fly.
Realizing that he has lost his super-powers, Superman is left in a tough situation. He is supposed to appear at a benefit show that night with the main attraction being him being shot by a machine gun. Without his invulnerability, he will surely be killed. At the benefit, Superman is truly scared, and Lois has to drag him out onto the stage. Only his impenetrable costume protects him from the bullets. Fortunately, none fly at his head.
The audience becomes restless when Superman leaves before he is to be set aflame with acetylene torches for ten minutes. Jimmy tells Perry that Superman has "chickened out" when a blue and red figure leaps into the flames. Jimmy sees that the figure has actually caught fire and rushes to put out the fire when Superman appears. Rather pathetically, he explains that he set a dummy on fire to "spice up" the act since everyone had already seen Superman avoid flames. Perry, Lois and Jimmy just shake their heads. They cannot believe what they are hearing.
Fearing that his powers are gone forever, Superman becomes desperate. He tries and fails to locate Supergirl, nor can he contact the Superman Emergency Squad. What he can do is find his old friend "Frosty" Jones, a pilot on his way to the Arctic Circle. Frosty follows Kent's directions and flies over the Fortress of Solitude. Kent suddenly opens the door and jumps out, parachuting to the Fortress below. In an instant, Kent is caught in a horrible storm, and uses every ounce of his strength to climb to the door of the Fortress, calling out to his robots and the Kandorian Emergency Squad for help. But, the robots decide to ignore him because his voice is wavering, not the strong voice of their master, and the Kandorians ignore him because he has no costume and is obviously not super.
Making his way to an abandoned igloo, Kent tries to survive the storm, but collapses in the snow. On patrol, Krypto flies over and sees the collapsed form. Kent does not know if his faithful dog recognizes him or not, but Krypto lifts Kent and takes him to the only safe place in the area, Frosty's Arctic airstrip. After he recovers from exposure to cold, Kent boards a plane to head back to Metropolis. With Krypto flying along side the plane, Kent feels fortunate that he survived and decides that he has to do something immediately to get his powers back.
Back in Metropolis, Kent makes a hurried trip to Prof. Potter, the eccentric scientist, as Superman. Together they work side-by-side searching for an antidote for the Red Kryptonite effects. After some time, Prof. Potter suggests that large doses of acetic, ascorbic and citric acid would help, but Superman has created his own elixir, and insists on trying it first. Swallowing it Superman suddenly gets a horrible headache.
Deciding that he had better try Prof. Potter's solution, Superman leaves to buy the chemicals he needs, but observes several crooks breaking into The Metropolis Museum of Natural History. The Crime Syndicate, hearing that Superman had been weakened, had issues a two million-dollar bounty for Superman's capture, and this crime was committed to intentionally lure Superman there. Superman rushes in to stop the crime, and is confronted with crooks using blow darts. Most of them are stopped by Superman's impenetrable costume, but one nicks his neck. Feeling dizzy, Superman stumbles out of the building to the docks behind the museum, and falls into the river. Weak and sick, his body washes up on the shore of "Hobo Jungle" the next morning and the poor men fish his body out of the river. Quickly, the hoboes turn Superman over to Rocks Haney, the gangland boss, to collect their reward. When Superman regains consciousness he finds himself in a huge barred cell, and outside the cage workmen were frantically placing thick plexiglas plates on all sides. Paying $5000 a ticket, criminals flocked to attend a dinner in which desert would be the death of Superman by lethal gas. Rocks stands before the gathered throng, proclaiming this a great day for organized crime in Metropolis, and places the vat of sulfuric acid into the plexiglas cage.
Superman asks Rocks for a last meal, "a few lemons, two ounces of vinegar and a pound of cooked spinach." Rocks thinks that Superman has lost all of his sense, but orders the meal brought. All of the criminal watch in disgust as Superman eats the meal, and the moment he finishes his last gulp the gas pellets are thrown into the acid and a huge toxic cloud fills the cage. Suddenly, Superman is free. Crashing through the glass, the criminals get a whiff of the deadly gas and pass out. Moving to the dais, Superman picks up a glass of champagne and toasts the crooks, "To a world without evil!" he says defiantly.
At the Metropolis jail, Superman explains what had happened to Lois, Jimmy and Perry. The lemon contains citric acid, the spinach ascorbic acid and the vinegar has acetic acid, the components of Prof. Potter's cure. The criminals thought that they were giving Superman his last meal, but they were actually returning his powers.
With the crooks captured, all is again right in Metropolis. Superman leaps into the air and waves to his friends. Jimmy gets quiet, thinking about what might have happened, and Lois turns to him. "A world without Superman, Jimmy. I can't even begin to think about it."
Story - 4: I have always liked Red Kryptonite stories, and this was no exception. They were stories that let the writers "play" with Superman, putting him in situations that he would never normally be in, or changing his powers in some form or fashion. This story really put Superman in a tough place: super-powers gone, stranded in the Arctic, then pursued and captured by criminals eager to murder him. It was a nice little story. It also included Prof. Potter, an odd character that appeared as the eccentric scientist. This character also had a role in the original Superman TV show.
The second story in this issue was The Super Cop of Metropolis, well drawn by Curt Swan and George Klein, where Superman was deputized to expose the theft of nuclear weapons.
Art - 4: This is actually one of Al Plastino's better efforts in the 1960's. The story is well paced, has a number of locales, and calls for some skillful story telling which Plastino carries off very nicely.
Cover Art - 5: Editor Mort Weisinger commissioned Kurt Schaffenberger to draw this cover which was a rarity, since Curt Swan had illustrated every other Superman cover since #117. As a note, Schaffenberger, who drew Capt. Marvel in the 1940's, became well known as the Lois Lane artist in the late 1950's and early 1960's. The editors loved his version of Lois and often called upon him to draw the heads on the bodies of Lois Lane and Lana Lang in many a story, so you would get a Curt Swan body and a Schaffenberger face. This was an excellent cover, though, with a great shot of a caged, tortured Superman and the glaring laughter of Rocks Haney.
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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