Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Action Comics #2Cover date: July 1938
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Artist: Joe Shuster
Reviewed by: Micah Nichols
Action Comics #2 starts off by filling in the blank left by the cliffhanger ending of Action Comics #1. To get you up to speed, In Action Comics #1 Senator Barrows was influenced by a crooked lobbyist named Alex Greer to pass a bill putting the U.S. at war with Europe. Superman captures Alex Greer and takes him on an unpleasant "joyride" hopping from building to building scaring the living daylights out of him.
In the first frame of Action Comics #2 we see Superman carrying Alex Greer under one arm heading down eighty stories. After striking the pavement causing it to crack and send fragments flying we see Superman push the idea of more of this harsh torture. "Say! Wasn't that fun? - Let's do it again!" Alex Greer responds with, "No! I'll talk! - The man behind the threatening war is Emil Norvell, the munitions magnate. You'll find him at his Lexington Park Estate!" Superman leaps to the top of the Washington monument to get his bearings and immediately dashes to Norvell's estate.
Meanwhile, Alex Greer gives Norvell a call tipping him off to Superman's surprise visit. "I can't explain over the phone Norvell, but you're about to receive a visit from the most dangerous man alive!" "Don't worry Greer! - I'll take certain precautions to make sure he doesn't remain alive long!"
After five minutes Superman steps through Norvell's window calmly confronting him. "Whether you like it or not Norvell, you're coming with me!" Norvell responds to Superman by telling him that he has "other plans" while simultaneously pressing a secret button behind him. Superman presses him "What are you holding behind you! Give it to me!" Norvell shouts out to his gang "All right boys! - He asked for it! Let him have it!!"
Instantly, several wall panels slide open and Superman is attacked with machine guns by a number of armed guards! Ignoring the bullets, Superman dashes at his "would be" murderers. One of the guards shouts "Good heavens! HE WON'T DIE!" Superman responds with "Glad I can't say the same for you!" A moment later, the guards are flying head first out the window with the machine guns wrapped tightly around their necks. As Superman confronts Norvell he says, "You see how effortlessly I crush this bar of iron in my hands? - That bar could just as easily be your neck!... Now, for the last time! Are you coming with me?" Norvell responds with "Yes! Yes! Immediately!"
Several minutes later Superman brings Norvell to a dock. "You see that steamer? It's the Baronta. Tomorrow, it leaves for San Monte. Unless I find you aboard it when it sails, I swear I'll follow you to whatever hole you hide in, and tear out your cruel heart with my bare hands!" Norvell states frantically that he will be on board.
The next day we see that both Lois and Clark are aboard the Baronta. This surprises Clark. "LOIS! Why, what are you doing here?" "Our Editor decided to have me accompany you to the war-zone and send back dispatches colored with my distinctive feminine touch!" In the next few frames we see several suspicious persons, including a group of sullen faced toughs who possibly intend to enlist with one of the armies as paid mercenaries, a woman of mystery named Lola Cortez who is an exotic beauty who fairly radiates danger and intrigue, and finally we see a pasty faced Emil Norvell who hurries up the gang-plank and quickly confines himself to his cabin. Half an our later the Baronta leaves port.
As Norvell nervously paces in his cabin he hears a knock at the door. When he opens it he sees none other than Superman! "YOU!" "Yes - I thought I'd compliment you on having had sense enough to show up!" Shortly after Superman departs we see Norvell giving orders to a hit-man to kill Superman. The hit-man seems confident that Superman is as good as dead. As Wuperman is gazing at the moonlight he whirls suddenly at the sound of footsteps. The hit-man, not alone, shouts "all together now - Get Him!" Superman braces himself against the rail, but it breaks sending him into the ocean. The thugs report back to Norvell who tells them they will get nothing and that they better keep their mouths shut or he would report them to the police. Superman swims up to the Baronta, but instead of boarding, he swims past it.
The next evening Norvell is attacked by his double crossed henchmen, but he is saved when Superman arrives. Superman shouts, "Here's where I settle a little score!" Superman gives the toughs the most severe thrashing of their lives, sending them in every direction. Norvell asks Superman why he saved him. Superman responds with "because the fate you escaped is pleasant indeed compared to the one I have in store for you." Norvell asks what Superman is going to do to him, Superman says, "Nothing, if you join the San Monte army!" In his own room, Norvell decides that he'll join the army, but that he'll escape at the first opportunity. After Norvell enlists he notices that Superman has also enlisted! Superman puts the word in with the sergeant to have his men moved to the front lines. Norvell asks if he's trying to get them both killed, but Superman says, "You'll see!"
Superman asks Norvell why he manufactures munitions when it means that thousands will die horribly. Norvell says that munitions are expensive and that men are cheap! At that moment a shell bursts overhead causing all the soldier to drop flat to avoid danger. "This is no place for a sane man, I'll die!" "I see! When it's your OWN life at stake, your viewpoint changes!" Shortly the soldiers retire to camp. Meanwhile sentries are puzzled by a dark shadow in the sky, passing it off as a bird. Superman speeds through the sky to a strange rendezvous.
Two men in charge in the enemy camp are speaking. "But the question is general, how strong are our lines?" "Impenetrable!" At that same moment Superman bursts into their tent taking their picture and easily escaping. Later that evening Clark Kent mails a package to Cleveland, Ohio ultimately leading to the front page of the evening news displaying the pictures Superman took.
Meanwhile Lois Lane and Lola Cortez have registered at the same hotel. "I'm a reporter down here on a news assignment, and you?" "A wealthy traveler." At that same moment, soldiers enter the hotel and state that they are there on official business. Lola, panicky, darts into an elevator and hides a document in Lois' room. The guards are given permission to search the hotel and find nothing in Lola's room, but find the document in Lois' room. She is sentenced to death at dawn for espionage!
Kent hears that Lois is to be executed and immediately goes to her rescue. Just as the soldiers pull the trigger Superman jumps in the way of danger. Superman swoops up Lois and takes her with him into the midst of a torturer's inquisition. Superman interrupts the torturer, lifts him up telling him that he's giving him the fate he deserves and hurls him out of sight. Untying the captives' bonds Superman says "You're free to flee! - Good luck!"
After depositing Lois near the Baronta, Superman advises Lois to go back to America. "But when will I see you again?" "Who knows perhaps tomorrow, perhaps never!" Superman heads back to his detachment to attend to Norvell, but he sights anti aircraft guns booming along the way as the camp is being attacked by a blood thirsty aviator. Superman leaps to the plane in a head on crash damaging its propeller sending the plan to earth. Norvell, seeing the crash, shouts "Good! That finishes my nemesis!" At that same instant Norvell is surprised to see that Superman is still alive!
Norvell begs Superman to let him return to the US. Superman says he can as long as he quits manufacturing munitions. After sending Norvell on his way Superman kidnaps both army's Commanders and tells them that he's decided to end this war himself by having them both fight it out one on one. They say, "Why should we fight we're not angry with one another?" "Then why are your armies battling?" After realizing that the war was taking place simply to sell munitions the war is halted. When Kent gets back to his editor he's told, "Since you've been gone there's been no Superman news, maybe he's retired for good!" "Somehow Chief, I've a hunch he'll make his appearance again soon!"
Story - 5: Action Comics #1 did a great job of setting up the story for this issue which turned out to be a lot more than expected. It seemed that the issue was going to be about Alex Greer, but he turns out to be nothing more than the lead in to an excellent story. Superman was ruthless throughout the issue to make his point. The Superman of the Golden Age is very similar to the Superman seen in DC's "New 52" comic boos, but he is also incredibly different. I'm not quite sure if I'm right on this, but I think he even killed all the men that Norvell got to attack him with machine guns. It sure sounded like they died. As Superman fans we always hear that Superman is "over powered," but in the early days, although incredibly powerful, he is obviously powered down. The most interesting part is that we see that Superman stops a war in a very human way. He doesn't kill the commanders, but just gets them to see how they are being used for someone's personal gain. Interesting to see him settle the war in such a non violent way in contrast to how he was during the entire issue.
Art - 3: I would give the art a higher score, but it is very primitive. Some of the frames look like a young child drew them. That wasn't consistent throughout, but it was obvious to see that Shuster was just getting started. Some of the panels looked very rushed. When I look at a Superman comic, the "S" says it all. In this issue the "S" isn't saying much, sometimes Shuster doesn't even bother drawing it. It's just gone. That letter hadn't gained its importance just yet.
Cover Art: Unfortunately this issue of Action Comics did not feature a Superman cover, as Action Comics was a collection of different stories.
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 LaneŠ DeadŠ 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!
- Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (Spring 1978)
- 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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