Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Superman #240

Superman #240

Cover date: June 1971

"To Save a Superman"

Writer: Denny O'Neil
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Dick Giordano

Back-Up Story: "The Man Who Cheated Time"

Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Michael Wm. Kaluta
Inker: Michael Wm. Kaluta

Cover: Neal Adams and Dick Giordano

Reviewed by: James Lantz

Click to enlarge

Superman, despite his decreased powers, has rescued a woman and her two children from a burning building. The landlord has asked him to save the structure, but it falls on the Man of Steel as he makes the attempt. News of Superman's failure is all over Metropolis. The public is teasing him, and the criminal element is using this to its advantage. With tremendous effort, the Last Son of Krypton is able to stop a bank robbery. However, he is constantly worried about the continuing loss of his abilities.

I-Ching, an Asian wise man who has become a friend to Diana Prince, has entered the office of reporter Clark Kent. Ching is aware that Clark is Superman and wishes to aid him in regaining his superhuman gifts. Knowing that Ching went to speak to Kent, an underworld spy has others in his gang follow the mild mannered anchorman to Ching's home. The criminals watch as Ching puts Superman into a trance-like sleep and use this moment to attack both the mystic and the Kryptonian. The dormant body of the Man of Tomorrow is bruised as Ching is knocked unconscious. This rouses our hero from his slumber. He has no powers, but Superman takes on the group of thugs. Now, with the bad guys out of commission, Superman is pondering whether or not he needs his special abilities to be a hero.

4Story - 4: It honestly deserves a five because the story itself is fantastic. However, it honestly feels like some things were left out that really could have enhanced this incredible chapter to "The Sandman Saga." It would have been great to see more of the supporting characters' reactions to Superman's failure. Lois, for example, was so curious about why he took so long to save the people from Quig in issue #238, yet she doesn't even appear in this book. Her reporter's instincts would want to get to the bottom of things and follow every lead to the truth about the Man of Steel's problem. That particular element could have probably given this twenty-two pages instead of fifteen. Still, I really enjoyed this one in spite of a few things missing from the overall content.

5Art - 5: When I reviewed issue #237, some folks had mentioned how great and overlooked the team of Curt Swan and Dick Giordano is. I have to say you were all right. It's a pity these two fine artists didn't work together more often. Their collaboration gives every page some clean and amazingly lush visuals. Thanks to everyone who pointed out how amazing their images are in this tale.

Back-Up Story: "The Man Who Cheated Time"

Under Krypton's Scarlet Jungle, there is a bunker filled with condemned inventions, including something called a Tempor. Its creator Mal-Va and his assistant Zol-Mar had worked many hours on it. However, Zol's intentions for the machine are rather unusual. He plans to use it to go back one thousand years into Krypton's past to become the right hand man of General Dar-Nx, the planet's ruler in that period. Zol-Mar will have devices from his present and take credit for their conception to aid him in his quest. His methods of acquiring them include theft, deception and even murder.

We now come to the day the Tempor is being tested in front of Krypton's science council. Everything starts out well until Zol-Mar, fearing that Dar-Nx's men will believe he's a spy and kill him, uses something called the Ilusicon to assume the form of Dar-Nx himself. However, the machine's activation causes an energy flux that sends the Tempor into the future instead of the past.

The Kryptonian Science Council has hereby forbidden time travel as Mal-Va's experiment is considered a failure. The Tempor is to be placed in cold storage. What everyone in the demonstration chambers does not realize is that Zol-Mar did go fifty years into the future as computer readings suggested. However, Zol-Mar arrived exactly one day after the planet Krypton had exploded.

5Back-Up Story - 5: The last issue's back-up left a bad taste in my mouth, and I expected the worst from this. Fortunately, this was a lot better than I had anticipated. The ending especially impressed me. It was an overall stupendous piece of storytelling.

5Back-Up Art - 5: I'm a big fan of Kaluta's work. It was a real treat to see his stunning visuals accompany this story. His style is incredible as usual.

5Cover Art - 5: If any cover dares the viewer to read its comic book, this one does it. This is perhaps the best image Adams has done for the Man of Steel.

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”




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