Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (

Superman #162

Cover date: July 1963

Writer: Leo Dorfman
Penciller: Curt Swan/Kurt Schaffenberger
Inker: George Klein
Cover: Kurt Schaffenberger

"The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue"

"One morning in Metropolis, on an imaginary day which may, or may not ever happen..."

Part I: The Titanic Twins... the publisher of the Daily Planet posts a notice of pay raises. Everyone got a raise except Clark Kent. Sliding next to Clark, Lois gloats. "Frankly Clark, those raises were given for getting scoops. You've got to be more dynamic... a go-getter." Clark tries to be gallant. "I guess I'm just a flop, Lois" he says out loud, but to himself he is amazed that everyone has gotten a raise by writing stories about his exploits as Superman.

When Perry offers to take everyone to lunch in celebration, Clark declines. Perry thinks that Kent is embarrassed but the fact is that he has been called to the Fortress of Solitude. When he arrives, he is greeted by Supergirl who tells him that the people of Kandor are anxious to speak with him. Turning on the view screen, the tiny people of Kandor, shrunken into a bottle by Brainiac, start off by complimenting Superman for his many accomplishments but then list his failures: restoring Kandor to it's original size, finding an antidote to Kryptonite, and wiping out evil. For the second time that day, Superman is faced with his shortcomings. Kandorians give Superman an ultimatum: "Within six months, if you fail, we will ask you to let one of us change places with you and try to accomplish them!"

Agreeing to the six-month trial period, Superman decides to take a bold move. For years he had been working on a brain-evolution machine, powered by the rays of every variety of Kryptonite, to increase his mental power a hundred times. Although Supergirl wants to test the machine on herself, Superman insists that the risk be his. Entering the chamber, Superman places the headband in position and tells Supergirl to adjust the machine to maximum power. As the power increases, Superman screams in pain, but before Supergirl can cut the power, it explodes. Staring in astonishment, two Supermen stand now before her, one in a solid-red costume and one in a solid-blue, each a hundred times smarter than the original.

Wasting not a moment, the two set to work redesigning Brainiac's enlarging ray and power source. Leaving Supergirl to guard earth, they fly Kandor to the fringes of the solar system and the two Supermen hurl fragments of "hyper-megneton", an element unknown on earth, together to form a small planetoid. The hyper-megneton then attracts the shattered remnants of Krypton, including every piece of Kryptonite, from the remote corners of space until it recreates Krypton.

Using Brainiac's ray, the two Supermen expand Kandor to original size, and in the presence of the yellow sun, every citizen of Kandor now has super-powers. Naming the new planet New Krypton, the people of Kandor use their powers to also recreate such wonders as the Jewel Mountains, the Scarlet Jungle, and the cities of Krypton. But, says Superman Red, "In this solar system, you will always be a planet of super-beings. Is that what you want?"

Part II: The Anti-Evil Ray... The decision is made. Kandorians decide that they should return to their original galaxy to live a normal life. In anticipation, Superman Red and Superman Blue had already placed the planet on an orbit which would return it to the original constellation.

Returning to the Fortress, they find the Bottle of Kandor in it's usual place. Supergirl had created a copy of the city to serve as a memento, and celebrates by checking off two unsolved super-problems. However, a mental voice breaks the celebration.

Lori Lemaris, and the people of Atlantis, had seen what the two Supermen had done for Kandor. For centuries, Atlantean mer-people had been considered freaks, hiding from the humans, and hoped that Superman Red and Blue could also help them find a new world. Remembering the Memorial World of Krypton, now unnecessary since New Krypton exists, the two Supermen, Supergirl and Krypto focus their heat vision on the polar ice-caps creating a waterworld. But how to transport the citizens of the underwater civilization of Atlantis through space to the new planet? Launching magnetic meteors in a spiral orbit between earth and the new planet, the two Supermen create an immense tunnel for the Atlanteans to "swim" to their new planet, "Hydra".

Returning to the Fortress, the two Supermen address their next task: erasing crime and evil from earth. As Superman Blue draws out the designs for an "Anti-evil ray", Superman Red is already building the device. After only a few seconds of exposure to the ray, giant Warrior ants lose all aggression and cease their battle. With their test a success, the two quickly construct many of the devices, place them in satellites, and launching them into a precise orbit above the earth.

Within seconds, criminals stop in their tracks, returning their loot. But there is more. In Russia, Prime Minister Kruschev orders his arsenal of missiles dumped into the sea. On Cuba, Castro releases all of his political prisoners. In space, Brainiac reconsiders his attack on earth. And Luthor creates a serum to cure every known disease. After the Supermen analyze the serum, they add a few drops to each of the major rivers of the world and miraculously the blind can see, the crippled can walk, and even Luthor re-grows his hair. As a reward, Luthor is paroled pledging to devote his life to science.

However, when they return to the Fortress they are horrified to see Supergirl releasing the criminals of the Phantom Zone. "She's gone berserk!" screams Superman Red.

Part III: The End Of Superman's Career... What had appeared to be a horrible mistake turned into a pleasant surprise. The "Anti-evil" ray had been so successful that even the Phantom Zone criminals had been reformed. Once released, they sought to travel to New Krypton and begin useful lives. Supergirl had also made this same decision. Unfortunately, to reach New Krypton, they would need a spacecraft. Miraculously, as if on cue, the Legion of Superheroes appear with a giant space arc to transport the travelers safely.

Once they have gone, Superman Red and Superman Blue receive a frantic call from Luthor. Mxyzptlk has been sighted in the skies above Metropolis. Streaking to the city, the two are astonished to see Mxyzptlk using his magic to create a monument to all super-beings on earth. "It's the least I could do to make up for all of the mischief I've done in the past," says Mxyzptlk. And, to surprise them even more, Mxyzptlk speaks his name backwards voluntarily returning himself to the 5th dimension.

With Kandor enlarged, Kryptonite eradicated and crime eliminated, the two Supermen realize that they are now free to marry. Lana Lang and Lois Lane have always been the loves of Superman's life but how to decide which Superman marries whom. The two decided to construct giant steel "L's". Standing on a distant Himalayan mount, they decide that whichever "L" is struck by lightning first would chose. As luck would have it, both are struck simultaneously. Sitting on the mountaintop, each is frustrated. "Frankly, if I had my choice, I'd marry Lois," says Superman Red. "And I'd pick Lana," says Superman Blue. "Then our problem's solved," they agree.

The Supermen each reveal the truth to the woman they love and both Lana and Lois readily accept their Superman's proposal. Later, the two couples meet in the park and each woman is surprised to see Clark Kent standing next to them. Soon, the confusion is explained and they decide to have a double wedding. After weeks of preparation, Jimmy Olsen arrives to be Superman's Best Man and Lucy Lane is Lois' Maid of Honor. Standing excitedly in the hallway, Lucy proposes to Jimmy and a triple wedding is performed.

But all is not well in the Superman Red household. Lois senses that her Superman longs for New Krypton and arranges for Superman Blue to build a "Super-Suit", with jet controls, to get them to the planet. On the fateful day, Superman Red, Lois, Krypto and the Super-Horse wave goodbye to Lana and Superman Blue and head off to their new life. Lana turns to Superman Blue and asks, " Be honest with me dear. Wouldn't you like to be with him on New Krypton?" "Frankly no," he says. "I've come to love my home here on earth."

Several days later, Superman Blue visits Perry White in the Planet offices to make an announcement. "Now that crime and evil are wiped out, earth has no need for a Superman, so I'm going to retire." Leaving his robots to take care of any disasters, Superman dedicates himself to science and his family.

Four years pass, and Jimmy and Lucy visit the Kents and their two children. Later, after they return home, they look in on New Krypton. Kal-El, Lois and their twins appear content in their way of life, with no regrets that they came to New Krypton. But, suppose this story had actually happened. Which couple do you think would be happiest?

3Story - 3: While this story was meant to be whimsical and very "up-beat", it often comes across as a too-good-to-be-true Superman tale. In this "imaginary story" Superman is able to have everything he might ever have wanted: he re-creates Krypton, enlarges Kandor, can marry both Lois and Lana, have children and live on both earth and Krypton... all at the same time. While it's fun to speculate on, it would truly be the end of Superman's career as we know it.

4Art - 4: This story was drawn by Curt Swan and George Klein at their artistic peak. Strangely though, while the interior art was predominantly by Swan and Klein, the editor of the book, Mort Weisinger, had Kurt Schaffenberger draw all of the faces of Lois and Lana throughout the story. This was something that DC editors had done rather routinely over the years. At points through Superman's history, the interior art were drawn by one artist and faces by another. For example, during Kirby's work on JIMMY OLSEN, both Al Plastino and Murphy Anderson drew Superman's face over a Kirby body. Often the appearance is strange, but adding Schaffenberger's faces to Lois and Lana was not a bad touch even though Swan's version of Lois and Lana was quite good.

4Cover Art - 4: The cover to Superman #162 was done by Kurt Schaffenberger. This was also a bit odd, since Curt Swan had drawn almost every Superman cover since number 117. The only other cover he did not do during that period was Superman #160, also drawn by Schaffenberger. The cover itself tried to capture the idyllic lives of Supermen Red and Superman Blue, each married to the woman of their dreams, living where they wished, as they wanted, in peace; truly, the embodiment of the American dream during the cold war of the early 1960s.

Pre-Crisis Superman Comic Book Reviews



  • 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”




Compilation Volumes


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