Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Action Comics #4Cover date: September 1938
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Artist: Joe Shuster
Reviewed by: Micah Nichols
Issue #4 doesn't take its sweet time to break into a thrilling story. The first frame shows us a drunken driver speeding down the street. At the last second he strikes a pedestrian! As a crowd gathers around the man, Superman springs into action as he saw the tragedy from afar. The hit-skip car stalls on a train track, meanwhile the train conductor sneaks a sip of his flask. As he sips he notices a man running faster than the train, so fast that he passes it! Telling his coworker what he saw, the man instantly suspects him of drinking.
Superman beats the train to the stalled car, but the driver struggles to stay in. At the last second Superman pulls the driver out who has died of a heart attack. Superman jumps into the Pull-man Car and takes cover when someone enters.
Superman overhears the Coach of Cordell University telling some men that he will lose his position if he loses the game. He then offers the men a wealthy sum to play on the team to insure Cordell's victory! He also tells them to "get" the opposing team's best players at the beginning of the game.
The next day Clark Kent examines Cordell Football photos and discovers that Tommy Burke has a very similar build to himself so he dons some make-up grease-paint and states that Tommy's mother wouldn't be able to tell the two apart! Meanwhile the real Tommy Burke is told by his girlfriend that she will not go with him to the movies because he claimed that he would be a big football hero and has been a substitute who hasn't gotten to play one game in the seven years he's been playing.
Angry from the news, Burke walks home unaware that he's being trailed and states that he will show Mary, he'll make the team and be famous! Clark reveals himself and shouts, "Don't move!" Tommy is astonished to see himself! Clark uses a hypodermic needle on him so that Burke loses consciousness! When Clark gets Tommy back to his apartment he explains that he is going to take his place for a few days on the team. Clark goes to the locker room, instantly greeted with mocking about being a bench warmer! Clark goes for the wrong locker and is attacked by its owner "Say! What th' blazes you doin' in my locker!" The team is noticing that Burke can really take a beating without so much as a flinch, but suddenly Clark lightly taps the football player sending him across the room knocking him out cold! Oliver Stanley, the coach, rushes into the room demanding to know who did this! When he finds out that Burke is causing trouble he kicks him off the team!
In the locker room Clark decided that he was gonna suit up and play anyway and show coach Stanley a thing or two! Coach Stanley orders the team to get him off the field, but Superman barrels though dragging the entire team behind him! Instantly Coach Stanley says, "Burke! Have you been holding out on me?"
Coach Stanley and the team decide to let Burke play in their last game which decides the championship. Coach Stanley is so excited that he calls the Sports News! Dale University (their rival) hears the news and talks about making their star player disappear.
The day before the game coach sends them all home with strict rules not to drink or smoke! Thugs from Dale University sneak into Burke's apartment and tie him up, but they are unaware that Burke is under the influence of a sleep-inducing drug and that Superman is observing them from the molding overhead.
When the kidnappers drive off Superman races in pursuit. Burke is brought into a deserted house and awakens confused. The thugs tell him he is tied up until after the game is over and gag him before Tommy has a chance to explain that he is not the one that will be playing. Observing from the window Superman smiles because the thugs have taken Tommy off his hands and don't seem to mean any physical harm to come to him.
As crowds come to the stadium the next morning, Coach Randall is surprised to learn that Burke has not disappeared because Coach Stanley is introducing him to him! When Superman and Randall are alone Superman lets him know that he knows all about the dirty work he's been pulling and threatens to expose him if he doesn't come clean.
The thugs with Dale University decide the only way to get "Tommy" is with a knife during the game. During the first play Superman receives the ball and takes off! Meanwhile the REAL Tommy has struggled free of his bonds and is on his way to the stadium!
Superman scores touchdown after touchdown, but his teammates are far from delighted and want to do something about it. Meanwhile Tommy is also upset about Superman being an impostor and thinks about calling a cop, but at that instant he hears his girlfriend's voice in response to her date not feeling like he's getting enough attention. "You may be a tennis champ, but compared to my Tommy you're a lilly!" Realizing that he is now idolized by the crowd, Tommy catches their enthusiasm and cheers himself on!
On the field Superman feels a knife snap on his though skin and attends to his two attackers. Meanwhile Coach Randall sends his resignation to the Dale University President.
Back in the locker-room during half-time, Superman meets up with Burke and says they need to switch clothes and that Burke is to carry on now. As the second half commences, the ball bounces near Burke - he chases it about awkwardly and desperately. When he finally snags it, every player on the field piles onto him! Later when he regains consciousness his girlfriend says the he was wonderful, splendid even "but you must promise you'll give up football! It's too dangerous!" "Give up football? You don't know what you ask, but I'll do it for YOU!"
Story - 5: This issue seemed to have the perfect amount of excitement throughout and had a cute little unrealistic happy ending (as most of these early issues do). We have yet again another example of Superman in disguise as someone to save the day while Clark is in disguise to get the story. This third disguise stuff can get confusing! To top it off he was in disguise as a real person who was also in the comic! I'm not a football fan, but the issue did keep me on my toes. It's a little strange that Clark uses a hypodermic needle on someone! Where did he get that? Although it's not part of the story, I especially enjoyed the "acquiring super-strength" lesson at the end. It instructs children in the knowledge that lifting a chair is hard, but if you lift smaller things and gradually work your way up to a chair, one day the chair will be a cinch! HA!
Art - 3: Shuster is the root of all Superman sketches, but his drawings can be very... I don't want to say lazy (but I'm going to) in the early days. Tommy's girlfriend Mary looked exactly like Lois. Hairstyle, color, face shape, the only difference was the dress color. It can be pretty hard to tell some of his characters apart in this issue.
Cover Art: Excellent cover, lots of emotion, but this cover has nothing to do with Superman as it is for another story within Action Comics.
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!
- 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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