Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (

Superman #165

Superman #165

Cover date: November 1963

Writer: Jerry Siegel
Penciller: Al Plastino
Inker: Al Plastino
Cover: Curt Swan-George Klein

"The Sweetheart Superman Forgot"

One day in the Daily Planet newsroom, reporter Clark Kent tore a bulletin off of the newswire and read with horror that an unidentified object was on a collision course with the Telstar communications satellite. Quickly Kent changed to Superman and sped into outer space but as he approached the strange capsule bearing down on the satellite, he felt a tingle... the familiar tingle caused by Red Kryptonite. Intercepting the capsule and hurling it into the sun, Superman feared that one of his cosmic foes has sent the Red Kryptonite as a booby-trap. Wanting to act before the Kryptonite's effect manifested itself, he turned to fly back to earth hoping to reach the Fortress of Solitude where he could weather the always unpredictable effects. But, before he could reach his arctic home, he felt compelled to land, remove and bury anything that identified him as Superman or Clark Kent. Even as he placed his uniform and wallet in the hole he had dug, Kent was still reassured. "Red K once gave me amnesia and another time it made me lose my super-powers", thought Kent. "So I don't have to worry about those effects, since Red Kryptonite only produces each effect once."

However, as Kent began walking down a lonesome road, the heat beat down on him making him weak and thirsty. "I've just realized it... I've lost my super-powers!" he muttered. And then, suddenly, "Who am I? What am I doing here? I can't remember anything!" Sadly for Kent, this hybrid form of Red K repeats past effects, and does not wear off for weeks.

Robbed of his memory and his powers, Kent wandered aimlessly until he came across a farm. Stumbling up the path, Kent saw what he thought was a young boy milking a cow, and asked for some water. But when the boy turned around offering him a ladle of milk, Kent saw that he is wrong. "Why, you're not a boy... you're a girl...a very pretty girl!" Before Kent could finish several swallows, he was overcome with fatigue and fainted at the girl's feet.

Superman tossed and turned, delusional with the effects of a strange nightmare. In this dream, he was dressed in a red and blue uniform working as a doorman in a movie theater. Suddenly, a winged monster flew out of the screen and he flew off after the monster. Waking from the dream, Superman found himself in the Selwyn mansion with Digby Selwyn and his daughter Sally watching him with great concern. The elder Selwyn asked his name, but Superman could not recall anything. Not wanting to admit that he could not remember, he invented a name: Jim White, a composite name formed from Jimmy Olsen and Perry White.

Later that day, the Selwyns took Jim out on horseback to show him the property. As they headed back to the mansion, they noticed a storm brewing on the horizon. Digby Selwyn then saw a metal pitchfork sticking out of the ground near dynamite where pipelines were being constructed. Shouting a warning, Digby and Sally started to leave before the dynamite exploded but White, wanting to repay the hospitality the Selwyns had shown him, tied a lasso then rode off toward the pipeline. Roping the pitchfork, White dragged it away. In thanks, Dibgy Selwyn decided to hire Jim White.

The next morning, White/Kent awoke in a cold sweat after another nightmare in which red and green rocks came at him from every direction tormenting him. After he recovered, Sally took him to meet Bart Benson, foreman of the Selwyn Lumber Company to begin his new job. Things began out on a bad note since Benson had eyes for Sally himself, although mostly for her money, and felt threatened by Jim. In the forest, Benson worked White furiously trying to make him quit. Instead, White worked hard until he found a deer caught in a foot trap. Benson had set the traps and was just about to punish White for letting his prey go, when Sally rode up on horseback. Touched with White's kindness, she told Benson to, "stick to logging and stop trapping helpless animals."

Angry that White had made him look bad in front of Sally, Benson tried to humiliate White, making him ride the logs down the river. Once on the beam, Benson spun the log throwing White into the river. Pleased with himself, Benson approached Sally, who was helping the drenched White from the water and asked her to go to the barn dance with him. "Sorry Bart! I've already decided to go with Jim!" This enraged Benson even more.

At the dance that night, Sally and Jim had a wonderful time. Sally thought that Jim was brave, kind and handsome, while Jim thought that Sally was beautiful and simply wonderful. Together they won the dance contest, then stepped outside to celebrate. Alone with only the moon watching, the couple kissed. Suddenly embarrassed, Jim told Sally that he was sorry. "I'm in love with you", said Jim, "but I don't have the right to ask a girl like you to marry me."

Sally told White that she was already wealthy and doesn't need a man to provide for her, but White/Kent was full of pride and wanted to build his own future. Seeing a poster offering a $5,000 prize to the person that could ride the wild bronco, "Black Terror", White decided to enter the rodeo. If he could ride "Black Terror", he could use the money to help start a business. Using the $50 he had won from the dance contest Jim White bought Sally a cheap engagement ring, but Sally was so much in love that size did not matter. Unfortunately Benson had overheard all of this and was angry not only at losing the dance contest but also that Sally had fallen for White. Vengefully, Benson set out to insure that White does not win by putting locoweed in Black Terrors feed.

At the rodeo, White mounted the bronco and once the gate was opened "Black Terror" lived up to his name. Sally rooted Jim on, but Benson hoped that White would "fall and break your neck already!" Benson got his wish when "Black Terror" bucked White from the saddle, landing him hard on the ground. White was rushed to a hospital where doctors determined that he was crippled for life. Relegated to a wheel chair, White was released from the hospital going home to the Selwyn mansion. Hoping to make White happy, Sally was eager to set the wedding day, but Jim was angry and depressed. "Forget about me!" he screamed. "Never! I love you Jim", wept Sally. "Nothing can change that. Please marry me right away." "I can't stand the pity," yelled White. "Pity has nothing to do with it. I love you, darling," sobbed Sally.

Realizing that he needed to consider all that had happened, White began wheeling himself toward a secluded spot near the river, but suddenly, Benson stepped in front of White's path. "Hello, White" Benson sneered. "How's it feel to be half-a-man?" Infuriated, White told Benson to move aside, and despondently wheeled himself to the river. Watching from a hill above the water, Benson decided to scare White by pushing a bolder down the hill, aiming to barely miss him. But, it was Benson's aim that was off and the boulder struck White's chair knocking him into the river, then disappearing beneath the raging water. Hearing the news, Sally was heart-broken. Looking at a photo of Jim White she swore, "I'll never love anyone else til the day I die."

Several days later, Superman awoke in an air-filled chamber beneath the sea. Lori Lemaris told him that Aquaman had found him while patrolling the inland waters and brought him to Atlantis to recover. He had been in a delirium for a week, but in that time the effects of the Red Kryptonite had subsided and his super-powers had returned. Swimming to the surface, Superman recovered his identity and returns to work with no memories of what had happened the prior two weeks. "Where have you been," asked Lois. "I can't tell you, Lois. I was on a secret mission with Superman," explained Kent.

Settling back into the daily grind, Clark walked in on a young school reporter interviewing Lois for a school story. "Do you think Superman will ever marry?" she asked. Without much thought, Lois told the girl that she doubted he ever would. Clark Kent is far surer. "I'm too busy handling emergencies to fall in love," he thought to himself. "I'm always afraid girls won't love me for myself... It would be nice if there were such a girl."

At the Selwyn mansion there was just such a girl. Sally Selwyn lay awake, staring at the bedroom walls. "Jim, my love for you will never die," she sobbed.

5Story - 5: Tucked away in the back of Superman #165 is this wonderful story by the creator of Superman that contains many interesting twists and hints to Supermans true character. As I have mentioned in other reviews, I have always liked Red Kryptonite stories for the simple fact that it allowed the writers to expand Superman and explore his reactions to unusual situations. But this takes Superman to a new place altogether. The first thing to notice was that Sally Selwyn was the only female love interest Superman had whose initials were not "LL". There was Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lyra Lerrol, Lori Lemaris, then Sally. Obviously, there was something very different, and very special, in Sally. Superman always worried whether any woman would love him for himself. However, Sally fell in love with Kent for himself, although he wasnt really Kent or Superman but a kind and manly combination of the two... gentle, forthright, honest, courageous and individual. Lacking the knowledge that he was Superman, White took on a whole new personality, independent of Kent or Superman. As such, this may be the most accurate version of what Clark Kent would really be like as a man. Without being Superman, Jim White was able to share a true commitment with Sally. Tragically, when his super-powers returned, Superman went back to the dual life he led with no memory of Sally or the love they shared. Fortunately, Sally Selwyn does return to find Clark Kent again in Superman #169 (May 1964), but that story will be left for another review.

This story was actually the second story in the issue. The lead story in this issue was a two-part tale called Beauty and the Super-Beast and Circes Super-Slave in which Superman battled the Superman Revenge Squad. Curt Swan and George Klein drew that story.

4Art - 4: The art in this story is by Al Plastino and while it was intended to be a back-up and contained very little Superman per se, it was very well paced and drawn. Plastinos treatment of Sally was flattering, his treatment of Kent was sincere, and his portrayal of Benson made him the perfect villain... one who exists in every day life, having no super powers to battle Superman, but proving to be the classic protagonist for Jim White, the every-man.

4Cover Art - 4: The cover to this issue was by Curt Swan and George Klein and illustrated the first story in the issue, Circes Super-Slave. It was a nice cover, however over time it was the second story in this issue that became more important and it might have been fitting had it been the subject of the cover drawing.

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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