Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Action Comics #395Cover date: December 1970
"The Secrets of Superman's Fortress"
Writer: Leo Dorfman
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Murphy Anderson
Cover: Curt Swan and Dick Giordano
"The Credit Card of Catastrophe"
Writer: Geoff Brown
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Murphy Anderson
Reviewed by: Charlie Niemeyer
"The Secrets of Superman's Fortress"
We start off with flashbacks to the early history of Superman's Fortress. First we see him carving the Fortress, then bringing in his trophies, then installing the giant door, then bringing Jimmy as the first visitor, then showing Lois the "Lois Lane Room." As they are leaving, Lois asks about a door marked "Visitors Prohibited." Superman tells her that that is one room that must remain secret. He takes her home, then flies back to visit the room.
Accessing a memory tape, Superman remembers investigating a space-ship wreckage on a remote jungle planet. He sees some natives being chased by giant dogs. Superman carves a new cave in the mountain wall for the natives to hide in. Then, he allows the giant dogs to attack him while he creates a net out of some vines. Capturing them in the net, Superman then flies the creatures to a distant mesa. This act is witnessed by Captain Althera and her soldiers. They are all a race of amazon women from the planet Vrandar, a planet where women dominate and men are just slaves. Althera seems to admire the Man of Steel, which is a no-no (men are not to be thought of as anything but slaves on Vrandar), so she denies her admiration and changes the discussion to ways to get more slaves to mine the Ergonite on the planet. The Ergonite actually supplies energy to Vrandar.
Returning from the mesa, Superman spots the women with his telescopic vision and listens in with his super-hearing to see what they are talking about. Before they can go over their plans, they return to their space-ship, which his super-hearing can't penetrate since it is lined with lead (what!?). So, Superman returns to the natives and vows to protect them from the Vrandars. They thank him, and begin climbing a nearby Rangtree to get some fruit for lunch. But, Althera and her troops arrive, blasting the tree with a bio-magnetic ray that keeps them stuck to the tree. Before the Vrandars can capture the natives, Superman uproots the tree and flies them to safety. Again, Althera is impressed by Superman, which upsets her second-in-command.
That night, Superman watches as Althera carves his figure into a nearby rock, then punches it repeatedly before breaking down and crying. Based on this, Superman believes she is torn by her emotions because she has fallen for him, but is not allowed to. In fact, he also admits to himself that he has fallen for her as well. Turning to go, she ends up in a trap set by the natives, but Superman rescues her, stating that he has sworn to help anyone in danger. Althera believes he is also a Vrandar and decides that he will be her mate. Superman kisses her and declares his love for her. She is so startled that she knocks her helmet off, revealing that instead of hair, she has a full head of feathers. At this moment, Superman reveals that he is actually Kryptonian, which means they can't be together, causing them both great sadness. So, Superman mines enough of the Ergonite so that the Vrandars can leave, and they promise never to return to the planet. After they leave, Superman finds one of Althera's feathers on the ground. We then see that it is also in the secret room, Superman laments over them not being able to be together.
Story - 2: Before I even get into the review, I just have to get something off my chest. Since when did lead ever stop Superman's super-hearing? X-ray vision? Yes. Super-hearing? No! Sigh! Other than that, this was just a really weird Silver-Age type story that didn't really match the title. Yes, it was about the secret room, but the title indicates that it would be all about the Fortress, which is basically ignored after the first few pages. Also, granted it was a short story, but Superman sure was quick to declare Althera to basically be the only girl for him, like he's also done with Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris, Lois Lane and several other women that he later discovered he could not be with for one reason or another. Why was Althera so special that she gets a special, secret room in the Fortress (which apparently sticks around because it is also in the cutaway shot of the Fortress is Action Comics #500)?
Art - 5: The art on the other hand is great. Anderson is still allowing Swan's pencils to really shine through. There isn't really anything else I can say. It is great.
"The Credit Card of Catastrophe"
We see Superman visiting a fortune teller in her carnival tent. Superman calls her out on her act, so, in return, she gives him a "credit card" that grants the holder 3 wishes. Skeptical, Superman flies off. The next day, while covering a baseball game for the Daily Planet, Clark notices that the overcrowded bleachers are about to collapse. While racing to switch to Superman, he realizes that he's lost his powers. Without thinking, he wishes he had his powers back, and suddenly finds himself flying up and repairing the bleachers with his heat-vision. Once the task is complete, the powers go away again. Looking at the card, Superman sees that he's used one wish.
Next day, Clark is covering the filming of a World War I movie when a flaming balloon gets blown toward the film crew. He goes to change to Superman, but his powers are still gone. Wishing they were back, he is able to fly up to the balloon and fly it away from the film crew before is powers fade out again. Checking the card, he sees that the 2nd wish has been granted. The next day, while on the Metropolis Ferry, Clark overhears a message to Superman on the captain's radio about icebergs off the Alaskan coast crushing an oil drilling platform. With his powers still gone, he wishes he was there and suddenly finds himself in Alaska. Using super-speed, he quickly smashes the icebergs into ice cubes before his powers can fade out again, then catches a helicopter ride back to Metropolis.
Days later, Superman finally tracks down the fortune teller, who promises to return his powers if he promises to do something for her. At first he declines, but then wonders what the world would be like without a Superman, and gives in. Once his powers are restored, she has Superman bring her half of the gold in Fort Knox. He soon returns with the gold, and drops it on her. It turns out that it was Supergirl in disguise and that she was conducting an experiment on Superman. After she reveals how she tricked Superman, and he reveals how he saw through her disguise, it turns out that her experiment was a failure because he ended the experiment too soon, the party pooper.
Story - 2: Man, another bad story. First of all, Superman keeps forgetting that his powers are gone. How does someone who is constantly using his powers forget they are gone? Also, apparently, this was a quiet time in Metropolis since Superman was only needed those 3 times. And I like how he asks himself who will protect the world if there was no Superman, considering all of the other super-heroes on Earth. And again, did Supergirl really have nothing better to do than mess with Superman and follow him around for 3 days, thus taking away 2 of the most powerful heroes on Earth? Sheesh!
Art - 5: The Swanderson team save this story with their art again. Although, one has to wonder if the image of Superman riding a helicopter from Alaska to Metropolis was Swan not paying attention, or in the script.
Cover Art - 3: The art is pretty good here although this cover does seem a bit rushed. After a couple of months of having lots of people and backgrounds, this time we are treated to 2 people, a big rock and some trees, and not detailed trees either. Also, this cover is misleading about the story inside. The story has nothing to do with how mighty Althera is. We really don't even see her being mighty in this issue at all.
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 Lane Dead 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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