Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Action Comics #394

Action Comics #394

Cover date: November 1970

"Midas of Metropolis"

Writer: Leo Dorfman
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Murphy Anderson
Cover: Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson

"Requiem for a Hot Rod!"

Writer: Geoff Brown
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Murphy Anderson

Reviewed by: Charlie Niemeyer

Click to enlarge

"Midas of Metropolis"

One day, Clark Kent is interviewing Cyrus Brand, the richest business tycoon in the country. Brand is showing off his trophies when they are suddenly interrupted by an explosion. Clark feigns fear to run off and change to Superman. He crashes through to find two men attempting to rob Brand's vault, but before he can do anything to stop then, Brand's security system activates and stops the robbers.

The next day, at an off-shore reef, Superman helps a salvage crew raise a ship carrying a $20 million shipment of cash. After securing the ship, he then goes inside and collects his fee of $500,000, half of what the salvage crew would have charged. Over the next few days, Superman performs several more super-feats, making sure to collect a reward for each one. Soon he actually has too much money to fit in the Metropolis national bank, so he quickly builds his own, the Superman Bank. The next day, Metropolis National's customers start closing their accounts and moving all of their savings to the Superman Bank. This gets Brand's attention because Superman has not only been getting his fees from Brand's companies, but he also secretly owns Metropolis National Bank!

Declaring war, Brand starts a bidding war with Superman over various holdings that he is interested in, with Superman coming out on top each time, and creating trophies for each victory. The final straw is when they fight over some oil wells. Brand is able to purchase some existing wells while Superman gets an empty property. Promptly, Superman tunnels into his property, creating a giant gusher of oil, which causes Brand's wells to run dry. Since he can dig a gusher at any time, Superman not only sells his well to Brand for $1 billion, but gives him his trophy as well. Promising to have the money in Superman Bank by the next afternoon, Brand takes a helicopter to a Lead Mine in the western mountains. Upon entering, we find out that the mine is actually a cover up for Brand's counterfeit money operation. Suddenly, the trophy rockets out of Brand's hands and crashes out through the roof, so that Superman can spot it with his telescopic vision.

Crashing into the hideout, Superman explains to Brand that he knew about the fake money because his x-ray vision made it glow. So, working with the US Treasury Department, Superman went through the entire charade in order to get the fake money out of circulation and to catch Brand in the act. The story ends with Brand in prison and Superman destroying the fake money with his heat vision.

3Story - 3: This was another very "Silver-Agey" story. Superman's plan did involve him having to make a few gambles, but they, fortunately, paid off. However, I have to wonder why Superman was looking at Brand's money bin with his x-ray vision in the first place. It wasn't hidden or anything. As the action that is the catalyst for the whole story, it seems kind of weird. Also, it is nice to see Lois in this story, but unfortunately she's just there to get mad at Superman and cry, which Superman doesn't even seem to notice. All in all, not a terrible story, but not a great one either.

5Art - 5: This story is saved by the art here. Swan's work here is amazing, and Anderson's inks are just right, letting a lot of Swan's pencils shine through, something he doesn't always do. The only slight problem is the way the vault at the beginning is drawn. I'm not sure if Superman crashed through from the outside or if he just dove down through the building down to the vault (which would be more property damage and would be tough to explain away to certain female reporters). Overall, great work.

"Requiem for a Hot Rod!"

Clark Kent and Lois Lane take part in a vintage car rally as part of a story for the Daily Planet, when they are suddenly forced off the road by "Coffin" Crowley in his hot rod. Using the kicked up dust for cover, Clark switches to Superman, saves all of the vintage cars in the rally, then switches back to Clark, pretending to have been thrown from the car and into a tree. With the drivers all shaken up, the rally is cancelled, so Lois and Clark head back to the Planet. On their way, they pass an abandoned air field that has been turned into a drag strip. Hoping to spot "Coffin," they investigate and spot him playing a game of chicken with another driver. After he wins and collects his bet, "Coffin" gloats over his victory (he's never lost) until he hears Clark calling him a phony. So "Coffin" challenges Clark to a game of chicken.

In their respective cars, they race toward each other. "Coffin" thinks to himself that his gizmo should be working, but Clark does not turn away. At the last second "Coffin" turns away. Clark then explains that "Coffin" always won because he would activate his reflective hood ornament, blinding the other driver and causing him or her to swerve away from the light. He only noticed this because normally, a driver would swerve in any direction, but each driver facing "Coffin" went to the right every time. Defeated, "Coffin" is forced to return his winnings and leave. When Lois asks Clark if he was not affected by the light because he's actually Superman, Clark reminds her that he was wearing sunglasses, so he wasn't blinded like the others.

On their way back to the Planet, Clark gets pulled over by a motorcycle cop. Turns out, the old car they were driving was holding up traffic on the highway because he was only going about 20mph! Clark thinks to himself that if Lois ever knew that Superman got a ticket for going too slow, he'd never be able to live it down.

4Story - 4: A simple little adventure story, and we got to see Clark be brave for a change and Lois act like a decent person (almost made it all the way though without asking if Clark's Superman too). This story is a definite step up from last issue's heavy-handed story. Did not read like it was only 8 pages either. Good work.

5Art - 5: Same art team as the first story, and the great work continues. Although, I do notice a few more "Anderson faces" than in the first story, but we still get Swan's pencils shining through. The expressions on the face of "Coffin" during his game of chicken are pure Swan and look fantastic.

4Cover Art - 4: Not bad. Very Silver-Age like. Weird choice to depict the very end of the story on the cover. Almost like what happens in the issue though, except everyone knew why he was burning the money in the story. Also, purple heat-vision?

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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