Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Action Comics #489Cover date: November 1978
"Krypton Dies Again"
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Frank Chiaramonte
"Where There's a Will... There's a Fray"
Writer: Bob Rozakis
Penciller: Alex Saviuk
Inker: Vince Colletta
Cover: Ross Andru And Dick Giordano
Reviewed by: James Lantz
Years ago, the planet Krypton was destroyed. Kal-El, the child of Jor-El and Lara, arrived on Earth mere days after the death of his home-world. The burst of light from the explosion will arrive in the Earth's skies tonight at 10:17 PM Metropolis time. The special effects crew of WGBS Television is recreating the destruction of Krypton for tonight's newscast. Clark Kent is supposed to be broadcasting live from the observatory on Mount Olympus for WGBS. The transmitting equipment has arrived, but Kent has not shown up yet.
A commercial jet has come in for a landing at the Metro International Airport. The engines won't stop, and the craft is about to plow right through the airport's terminal. The timely intervention of Superman stops the plane and saves the lives of hundreds of people. In fact, the Man of Steel has relentlessly rescued close to a million people in the past six hours. Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White are worried about Superman. Even the Justice League has expressed concern for their comrade's recent obsessive behavior, but he tells them in the Kryptonian language (Kal-El is speaking his native language out of respect for his home-world on this Day of Mourning) that this is something he must do on his own.
Kara Zor-El, known to us as Supergirl, is in the shrunken city of Kandor. The Kandorians and Kara are wearing black headbands to honor Krypton on the Day of Mourning. Drygur Moliom, head of the Kandorian Science Council, shows his distaste for what he believes is Kal-El's lack of respect for Krypton. He believes Kal should be in Kandor mourning for his ancestors. However, Kara tells Moliom that Kal-El is saving lives on Earth in order to bring out into the open the menace responsible for Kandor's being torn from Krypton, miniaturized and placed in a bottle that is now inside the Fortress of Solitude. Superman is answering a challenge from the android with a 12th level intelligence - Brainiac.
Superman and Brainiac are now engaged in a heated battle. Neither combatant seems to be gaining ground. However, Brainiac has an ace in the hole. As Superman tries to hurl the android's ship out of Earth's solar system, Brainiac activates a special magnet that only attracts Kryptonian molecules. Superman is now attached to the roof of Brainiac's spacecraft.
It is now 10:17 PM Metropolis time. The entire world is watching as the vision of Krypton's destruction comes into viewing range of Earth's solar system. Many are wondering what Superman is doing on this solemn occasion. Had their eyes been able to see far into space, the people would see a horrifying sight. Brainiac is exposing Superman's unprotected superhuman eyes to the light from the Man of Tomorrow's home-world's deadly demise. As Superman is being tortured by Krypton's destruction, the android with a 12th level intelligence theorizes that the light will have the same effect on Kryptonian eyes as a solar eclipse would have on unshielded human eyes. However the damage from watching the explosion will be a million times worse for Superman.
Story - 5: WOW! I have to say that I was blown away by this story. After being bombarded by events like Infinite Crisis and continuity issues in the recent comic books, it's good to go back to the tales of my childhood and read a good solid adventure that centers around Superman without having to buy twenty different titles to understand what the heck is going on. Some things may seem dated or hokey by today's standards of storytelling, but this issue is what a Superman comic book should be like. It's fun and full of what the title promises - action.
I was just a boy when this comic book came out. Reading it made me feel like a kid again. Perhaps this can color my opinion of the story somewhat, but even as I got older, I found the work of Cary Bates and Curt Swan extremely enjoyable. They had a gift for telling a fun story that few creative teams have had in recent years. Sure, there is nostalgic value in "Krypton Dies Again". There's also a darn great story inside the pages.
Brainiac has always been one of my favorite villains in the comic books. This issue shows Brainiac at his most vicious. His plot to expose Superman to the light of Krypton's explosion is downright devious and evil. Had General Zod been in this issue as well, this Superman fan would have been an even happier comic book geek seeing two of his favorite foes battle the Last Son of Krypton.
Art - 4: Now before you flame me for giving Curt Swan's art a four out of five, let me point out that I said that some things seem dated in this comic. Well, the exterior and interior of Brainiac's ship look like they belong in a 1950's science fiction movie, and it doesn't look all that fearsome. One thing I love about the story "Panic in the Sky" was Brainiac's skull-ship. That sucker looked like it could destroy a city before Superman could blink. It showed the true menace of Brainiac. This is why I gave the art a four. The ship in "Krypton Dies Again" is hard to take seriously. One would expect that alien from The Flintstones to come out of the darn thing.
Aside from a campy looking spacecraft, the rest of the artwork is incredible. It's Curt Swan. What more could a Superman fan ask for in his or her comic book art? Swan is the king of Superman and Action Comics artists.
"Where There's a Will... There's a Fray"
Writer: Bob Rozakis
Penciller: Alex Saviuk
Inker: Vince Colletta
Ray Palmer, alias the Atom, is hidden inside a chandelier with a platinum watch. A thief is grabbing the watch along with the shrunken superhero. The Atom is dropped to the floor. The thief is about to step on the Atom, but the pint-sized hero shrinks down to a size in which his foe's shoe cannot make contact. The Atom then pushes the burglar with all his might. This results in the thief grabbing the Atom's head and flinging him against a bookcase.
We now flashback to earlier in the day. Attorney Jean Loring Palmer, wife of the Atom, is reading the last will and testament of Joseph Rakowski, one half of the comedy team of Rak and Rooney. Most of the people at the will reading are not happy with what Rak has given them. The comedian's platinum wristwatch, Oscar and photo album go to his agent Lou Edwards, his chauffeur Robby Thornton and his secretary Stephanie Majors respectively. Only Rak's former partner David Rooney seems to benefit from the will despite the fact that he and Rak never got along off-stage and off-camera. Rooney will receive the bulk of Rak's estate and one million dollars in cash. He'll receive everything in a week after a secret portion of the will is read to him.
Suddenly, Stephanie Majors' cat becomes agitated, and everyone in the room is chasing it. Once things are calm, Lou Edwards discovers that his platinum watch is missing. Everyone is searching for the watch, but nobody has it.
Ray Palmer is now nursing his head injury and discussing the watch's disappearance with Jean. Someone had thrown the time piece in the chandelier, where the Atom had been watching the reading of the will at his wife's request, while everyone was chasing Ms. Majors' cat. Now, that same person has taken the watch after knocking out the Atom.
Just then, Jean receives a phone call from Stephanie Majors. Someone has stolen Rak's photo album. Thinking that the Oscar inherited by Robby Thornton will be the next target, Ray asks Jean to call the chauffeur while he shrinks to the size of the Atom. The Atom travels through the telephone's connection and gets to Thornton's disorganized, messy home in no time. He finds the Oscar and the thief after Thornton leaves for a disco.
Thinking the Atom is the Oscar in the darkness, the thief grabs him. The pint-sized hero changes his weight to one hundred and eighty pounds. This takes the burglar by surprise. A flashlight is shined in Ray Palmer's face, and the fight begins. The thief subdues the Atom with a blanket and a bowl of mush. This doesn't last long. Through various size changes, the Atom makes his escape and knocks out the criminal just as Jean Loring Palmer arrives with the police. They turn on the lights and reveal that the thief is David Rooney.
Joseph "Rak" Rakowski suspected that Rooney would steal these mementos of his career. He left a stipulation in his will that his estate will be divided equally between Stephanie Majors, Robby Thornton and Lou Edwards if Rooney should try to take the Oscar, watch and photo album, and Jean Loring Palmer reads this part of the will to Rooney one week after while the comedian is taken to prison.
Story - 4: I'm ashamed to admit it, but I know very little about the Atom. He's not a character that sticks out in my mind from when I started reading comic books a little over thirty years ago. I've seen him in Superman and Justice League stories, but I am completely ignorant of his adventures beyond the casual viewing. Perhaps this is the reason I gave this back-up tale a four out of five. It does merit a five because it's a good and simple story. However, I had to knock off one point for feeling like I came into the middle of Ray Palmer's life with no back story. Some background information would have helped new readers like myself get to know the Atom better. I was left with questions about Ray and Jean for which no answers are given in "Where There's a Will... There's a Fray."
Now, my complaints about no background information on Jean and Ray Palmer don't change the fact that Bob Rozakis wrote a good story that's worth checking out on a rainy afternoon. Sure, it seems more like an episode of Ellery Queen than a superhero comic book, but I like Ellery Queen. If you want a decent back-up saga that goes from beginning to end without continuing in a million issues, read "Where There's a Will... There's a Fray." You'll be glad you did.
Art - 3: I've always loved Alex Saviuk's artwork, and he really did a fine job in this back-up tale. However, there is really nothing that stands out in this section of the comic book. It tells the story and nothing more. I guess I expected more from the art when I saw Alex Saviuk's name attached to the credits. Perhaps that's why I'm only giving it a three out of five. It wasn't the worst art I've ever seen, but Saviuk has done better.
Cover Art - 2: The background colors seem to be off on this. They just didn't look right for some reason. Superman also seems like a Polaroid that's out of focus. This makes the cover look strange. The side panels and narration captions also ruin what could have had the potential to be an eye catching cover. It isn't pure crap, but it could have used a lot of improvements. A single image of Superman in space surrounded by the explosion of a planet might have had more of an impact with the words "In This Issue... Krypton Dies Again!" at the bottom of the cover. Ross Andru is an amazing artist, but this cover doesn't really show off his true artistic skills.
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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