Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Superman #234Cover date: February 1971
"How to Tame a Wild Volcano"
Writer: Denny O'Neil
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Murphy Anderson
"Prison in the Sky"
Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Curt Swan
Cover: Neal Adams
Reviewed by: James Lantz
"How to Tame a Wild Volcano"
Morgan Edge has ordered television newscaster Clark Kent to get video footage of a volcano eruption on Boki Island out in the Pacific. This is the first time in one hundred years that Mount Boki has acted up. Boysie Harker, owner of the island, will not permit the natives that work on his plantation to evacuate because he is too greedy to see the danger. He even goes as far as shoot at the canoes carrying the people. Superman's arrival stops this, but Harker orders the Man of Steel to not interfere with him. Otherwise, the planter will have him removed by the authorities for trespassing. Superman must find a way to save innocent lives without Harker seeing him.
While using a modified camera and a microphone in his cape to make it seem like Clark can broadcast Mount Boki's eruption, Superman goes to work on an underground tunnel that will divert the lava flow in a safer direction. Meanwhile, a lumbering sand creature in the form of Superman flies over the island. Before the new pathway can be finished, the Man of Steel loses his powers. They return shortly afterwards, but Boysie Harker orders our hero to go away. Superman will have to think of another method of stopping the angry volcano.
An airplane carrying United Nations delegates is about to crash as Superman ponders what to do next. He carries the craft to an atoll, and the passengers tell the Man of Steel that they want to declare a state of emergency for Boki within the hour. Unfortunately, the island has only twenty minutes before the volcano erupts. However, the storm that damaged the U.N. ship may provide Superman with the very thing both he and the officials need.
Superman has used his tremendous abilities to move the rainstorm clouds to Boki Island. This will give the U.N. time to do what they must, and it will delay the eruption of the volcano. Unfortunately, as Superman flies to help the natives, his sand double is above him. This causes the Man of Steel to lose his powers once again. His fall breaks the cannon that Boysie Harker had fired from his boat. The plantation owner is angry and attacks Superman, who has suddenly regained his powers. Boysie's confrontation with the Man of Tomorrow only results in the greedy man getting a head injury and being arrested by U.N. officials.
Clark Kent is now reporting on the volcano eruption and Boki Island's evacuation. Despite all ending well, something still nags at the mild mannered reporter. The sand creature, who now "sleeps" inside the dormant volcano," still poses a problem for Superman. As long as it is free to approach him, the Man of Steel's powers and very life may be in jeopardy. Our hero can't help but worry about their next encounter.
Story - 5: Before reading this portion, you might want to see the review for the previous issue that I posted in UNCLE JAMEY'S COMIC RACK on my MySpace page.
Now that the shameless plug is over, let's get on with the review of Superman #234.
This is a pretty basic story, but it works well. There's the "Superman versus the Forces of Nature" plot device with the added elements of the greedy plantation owner and the U.N. All in all, this one was simple, yet enjoyable.
One thing caught my attention as I read this and the previous issue. At this point in the comic books, Morgan Edge seems to be similar to J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man. He distrusts Superman because he believes absolute power corrupts absolutely. Too bad he never took that phrase to heart. Edge would later be exposed as the leader of Intergang.
Let's talk about the sand creature, shall we? I'm really finding its first two appearances well-placed into the comics. It started as a final page cameo in the last issue and evolved into a subplot for #234. I get the feeling we'll just be getting little tastes of this character until he confronts Superman. We'll just have to wait and see how "The Sandman Saga" progresses to be sure of this.
Art - 5: The Swanderson team has spoiled me. Their art is by far what helps make the story so great. They raise the bar of my standards when it comes to Superman visuals. Everything looks amazing, especially the sand creature. Like Boris Karloff in Frankenstein and The Mummy, there is something scary, yet sympathetic about him. I can't wait to see more of him in the next chapter.
"Prison in the Sky"
It is Council Day on the planet Krypton. A new member of the Science Council is to be elected. Two scientists are to demonstrate their inventions. The one with the creation that has most votes will be given the job. Picto-casts of the event are being broadcast throughout Krypton. Jor-El and Lara are watching from the Kryptonopolis Space Complex. Lara thinks Jor-El should be on the council for his anti-gravity work, but this year may be the final one in which Ken-Dal, Jor-El's chief, can be up for a council position.
Ken-Dal and another scientist named Tron-Et are showing the Science Council what they have created. The former has made a warp fuel that can take a vessel 17 light-years from Krypton in less than fifty seconds. It's composed of rare elements, but Ken-Dal hopes that manned space flights will be possible within two to three years. Tron-Et's device is called a Dissolver Beam. It can dissolve a cloud without harmful radiation, and it leaves a rainbow effect when it comes in contact with its target.
The votes have been cast, and Tron-Et has been elected. Upon being placed in the Kryptonian Science Council, he proposes that his dissolver beam be used to rid the planet of its condemned criminals in an effect to create more living space for the population. Feeling that this solution is barbaric, the remaining members must hear of other solutions to Krypton's overcrowded prisons when they next meet.
Jor-El has shown the Science Council a new suspended animation gas that he has discovered. It cannot only place a person in a form of stasis, but it can also wipe away the memories of his or her criminal past, making the person a functional member of Kryptonian society. All that needs to be done is shoot the sleeping criminal in space to serve his or her prison sentence. Upon the council's approval, Jor-El and rocket scientist Jax-Ur work on putting the system into motion.
Life-term prisoner Nali-Ilv has volunteered for Jor-El's first test flight. He is part of a criminal combine and won't reveal its leader's identity. The rocket is launched in order to begin its one lorax (seventy-three days) long trip. On the seventy-second day, the ship disappears. It is later found in orbit near the Vathlo Tracking Station area. The vessel then returns to Krypton the next day without a scratch on her.
Jor-El and Jax-Ur have landed the prison ship. Suddenly, Nali-Ilv punches Jor-El. He should have still been in suspended animation, but he has somehow gained superhuman strength and the ability to fly. Thinking that he must fix his blunder, Jor-El confronts Nali-Ilv only to discover that his adversary is actually Nali's twin brother Ed-Ilv. His "super powers" came from his using an anti-gravity belt like the one Jor-El used to end Ed's career as a supervillain. Upon his being captured, Ed-Ilv reveals that he was in the same criminal organization as his brother, and its leader is Tron-Et. The newly-appointed councillor used his position to spy new technology, including the anti-gravity belt designed by Jor-El. He also wanted his Dissolver Beam to kill any jailed members of his gang so they don't talk. Tron-Et even destroyed the ship carrying Nali and placed Ed in a duplicate.
A new Science Council election has been held. This time, Ken-Dal has won, and Jor-El's suspended animation space prison is approved. It's first inmate: Tron-Et, who will awaken in twenty-five years.
Back-up Story - 4: I took off one point for the far-fetched voting system of green squares and blue circles in the sky. Plus, the story starting more slowly than the previous issue's back-up. However, once it took off in the right direction, it became more interesting. So far, I'm enjoying these untold tales of Superman's home-world. I can't wait to read more.
Art - 5: Like Murphy Anderson's art in the last issue's back-up, the images provide the reader with some stunning science fiction visuals. In addition to that, Swan's Jor-El is very well done. You can really see how similar he is to his son.
Cover Art - 5: Another great Adams cover that grabs the reader's attention. It makes one wonder how the creature can make Superman lose his powers and screams to the buyer, "Read Me!" Why hasn't the comic book industry come to its senses and given this man more work?
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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