Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (email@example.com).
Superman #173Cover date: November 1964
Writter: Jerry Siegel
Penciller: George Papp
Inker: John Forte
Cover: Curt Swan-George Klein
"The Triumph of Luthor and Brainiac"
One day in Metropolis, a spacecraft landed on the roof of the Daily Planet building. Hearing the commotion, the ever-curious Jimmy Olsen investigated, and heard a recorded message repeating: "Calling Superman! Your aid is needed desperately on Planet 2H-Galaxy 489! Come at once!" Looking around, he pondered his options. Even knowing that Superman was away on a mission, and that his signal watch was being repaired giving him no opportunity to contact the Man of Steel, Jimmy climbed inside the craft, whose door immediately slammed shut. Just as quickly, the ship lifted off, heading into space guided by remote control.
The craft sped through the galaxy, finally approaching a distant planet. Jimmy was excited; anticipating how proud Superman would be, knowing that he had solved a crisis single-handed. However, that optimism was short-lived when the ship landed, Jimmy climbed out the escape hatch and saw Lex Luthor and Brainiac, two of Superman's deadliest foes, emerge from a strange lizard-shaped building. "Our trap has caught a mouse, instead of a rat!" sneered Brainiac.
"Why are you here instead of Superman? Speak - Before I send you to the Phantom Zone," demanded Luthor. "Talk - Before I dwindle you to the size of a flea, with my shrinking ray," yelled Brainiac. Groaning, Jimmy could only admit that he did this to show Superman that he could handle an emergency, but this does nothing except infuriate the two. Lifting up the Phantom Zone projector, Luthor grimaced. "Since you insisted on butting in, you'll get what we had in store for him," and was about to send Jimmy to the Phantom Zone when Brainiac interceded. "First, let's take him to our private sanctum! Some things there will interest our guest."
As they walked down an alien street, the inhabitants of this world looked on Luthor and Brainiac with great awe and respect, regaling them for their criminal skills. Soon they come to a building with a sign proclaiming it "The Luthor-Brainiac Hall of Fame". Inside were statues of their friends, Joker, Clayface and Mr. Mxyztplk, and their "Rogues Gallery" featuring images of all of the Justice League of America and Legion of Superheroes. "But the most dangerous of these desperadoes are the abominable Superman and his skulking partner, Batman," says Luthor.
Proceeding down the hall, they come to a series of statues. "Here's one of our most popular exhibits," says Luthor with a laugh. Before them are statues of Sun Boy, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Bouncing Boy and Chameleon Boy as they would appear in their seventies. They are old, wrinkled and bent and the image startles Jimmy. They then go on to view several machines. One turns tame creatures wild, and another is an element changer that Luthor uses to turn lead to gold. Laughing with a horrible glee, Luthor then tells Jimmy that they can use that machine to transmute other things... like putting Jimmy's head on the body of an alligator.
Then, suddenly, Brainiac threw a force field around Jimmy. "Let's see if our impulsive visitor's odic ancestroid genes are vulnerable to Fate Z... the worst destiny that could conceivably happen to any living being!" And with that, a radiant shadow emerged from Jimmy's body and flashed away from him. Just as suddenly, the two get into a violent argument over who will ultimately have the privilege to inflict Fate Z upon Jimmy. Like the two connivers they are, they agree to a contest. But first they turn on a space monitor to see if Superman is yet aware of Jimmy's disappearance. Before him, Jimmy sees Clark Kent removing his shirt to become Superman. Gasping, Jimmy cannot believe it. "So that's his alter ego! It's unbelievable!"
Brainiac and Luthor turn Jimmy over to Rombo, a robot jailer, and proceed to a huge coliseum filled with alien spectators to witness their amazing contest. Using a special weapon that first reduces a planet in size and draws it to them, and then shoots heat bolts to destroy the world, the two battle to see who can destroy the most planets in five minutes. At the end of only a few minutes, Brainiac had destroyed 89 worlds, while Luthor had destroyed only 72. "This is ghastly," mutters Jimmy in total shock. With half a minute to go, Luthor has zoomed ahead with a score of 351 to 311.
The prisoner robot, acting oblivious to the contest, offers Jimmy a "last meal". But when Rombo opens the panel in his chest for repairs, Jimmy takes the opportunity to throw his soup into the robot's chest shorting out it's circuits. With the robot incapacitated, Jimmy opens the doors on his cell, then the doors of all the other cells freeing the prisoners. As they prepare to escape the prison, Jimmy oddly decides to remain. In the mean time, Luthor has won the contest and is returning to treat Olsen to Fate Z, and Jimmy decides that he must do something.
Hurriedly, the two villains return to the prison to find the cells open, the prisoners gone and Jimmy standing at the element changer. As they approach, Jimmy presses a button and turns the gold bar into... Green Kryptonite. Suddenly, Luthor stumbles and screames in pain. "So you know! Okay, Jimmy! Go easy on me..." yelled Luthor.
Transforming the Kryptonite again, this time to a harmless jewel, Jimmy told the pair to unmask, revealing Superman and Batman disguised as Luthor and Brainiac. "I noticed on the monitor that though the spectators were sweating because of the heat bolts, Luthor wasn't sweating - which meant he was wearing a disguise mask. I guessed Superman was masquerading as him to teach me a lesson." "Right," said Superman. Having returned from an important mission, Superman had watched Jimmy just walk right into the spacecraft with his telescopic vision. Racing the space ship to the planet, Superman prevented a tidal wave that would have caused mass destruction, then "arranged" for the charade to teach Jimmy a lesson.
Jimmy then explained that he realized Brainiac was really Batman since Brainiac had green eyes, but the "imposter" had blue eyes, just as they had been in the photo of Batman in the Rogues Gallery. "Clever deducing, lad!" compliments Batman.
Oh, says Superman. "That space monitor picture of me switching to my secret identity of Clark Kent was a faked tape, of course." "Of course," laughed Jimmy. "I realized that once I caught onto the hoax. Clark Kent supposedly you! What a laugh." The three broke into uproarious laughter, but Superman's laughter became the loudest. "I couldn't resist revealing the truth about me to Jimmy, knowing he'd laugh it off as a gag after Batman and I unmasked. It was just a little "private joke" I indulged myself in," he thought to himself.
Story - 3: This particular story was written by Jerry Siegel after his return to comics. At first glance, this story fits the mold of a typical Superman story from the 1960's. Here, an impatient Superman concocts an elaborate scheme to teach an impetuous Jimmy Olsen (or Lois Lane, for that matter) that it is better to think before leaping into a dangerous situation. However, in the end, Jimmy is allowed to appear, at least for a second, that he was able to solve the mystery and handle the tough situations.
This issue contained two other stories. The first was "The Untouchable Clark Kent", a story about an actor who believed he actually was the main character of his most famous role... a gangster, and that Kent was John Dillinger (drawn by Swan-Klein). This was followed by the first of a very short series of "Tales of Green Kryptonite", which told the story of one piece of Kryptonite from the time it was presented to Jor-El as a trophy, transmuted to Kryptonite, fell to earth and finally "found" by several individuals. It also featured Beppo, The Super-Monkey and Krypto. George Papp drew that story.
Art - 3: George Papp drew two of the three stories in this issue, and John Forte may have inked the stories (there will be more on John Forte in future reviews). In general, both Papp and Forte were not as well known for their work on Superman as they were on a number of other characters. Papp entered the comics field in 1938, at the age of 22, drawing stories like "Fantastic Facts" for the company that would soon become DC Comics. His first feature was Pep Morgan, a strip about an all-American athlete, done for Action Comics. In November 1941, Papp received Mort Weisinger's script and drew the first Green Arrow story appearing in More Fun Comics #73. That issue also premiered the first appearance of Aquaman, DC's answer to Timely Comics' Sub-Mariner, drawn by Paul Norris. In 1942, Papp entered the service, but after returning from WWII in 1946 he resumed drawing the feature, producing almost every Green Arrow story published over the next twelve years, as well as the Congo Bill and Clip Carson strips. In 1955, Papp began doing work for Superboy and The Legion of Super Heroes, drawing many important stories including the first appearances of Bizarro, Mon-El, and the ever-popular Beppo the Super-Monkey. Papp's work during the period from 1955 to 1970 was very consistent. While his Superboy was only a little more fluid than Wayne Boring's Superman, his figure work, especially his women, were very well drawn. Papp does hold the distinction of being one of the few DC artists to actually draw Batman with "eyes" showing through the cowl, as he did in this story. This work on these stories is very typical of his efforts from this period.
Cover Art - 4: The cover to this issue was another really nice example of Curt Swan and George Klein's cover work for the Superman title. Here, a startled Jimmy Olsen looks on as Clark Kent opens his shirt to reveal the Superman tunic beneath while Luthor and Brainiac gloat that they know his secret identity, and is a nice teaser for the story inside.
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
Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.