Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Action Comics #490

Action Comics #490

Cover date: December 1978

"No Tomorrow For Superman"

Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Frank Chiaramonte

Cover: Ross Andru And Dick Giordano

Reviewed by: James Lantz

It is the day after the people of planet Earth had witnessed the vision of Krypton's destruction. Clark Kent and Lana Lang are reporting about the historic night on the WGBS morning television news. During a commercial break, Clark's eyes begin to burn.

Rushing into a storage room in the middle of the newscast, Clark removes his glasses and notices that his burning eyes are getting worse. He has no choice but to change into Superman. The Man of Tomorrow feels like his insides are on fire. Every fiber of his being is seething with excess energy that must be unleashed now. Superman arrives at a construction site to demolish a building in thirteen seconds. The workmen on the site congratulate the Last Son of Krypton. He was scheduled to help them destroy the inferiorly constructed edifice tomorrow morning, but he tells the workers that he had to blow off some steam. The Man of Steel then promises to help the construction in their rebuilding efforts before he flies away.

In space, Brainiac witnesses Superman's actions from his ship's view-screen. He is revolted by the fact that Kal-El managed to do a good deed despite the fact that he seemed to have lost control of his superhuman abilities. Brainiac continues by saying that the worst is yet to come for Superman. Other Kryptonians have always feared Brainiac and his 12th level intelligence, but the android has exposed his foe to something far more worse than himself. It's a terror from which there is no hope of escape.

Superman's uneasy sleep in the Fortress of Solitude seems to confirm Brainiac's words as he dreams of the battle from the previous issue. The Man of Steel is magnetized to Brainiac's ship as the fearsome automaton makes him watch Krypton die again. Superman's screams shake the Fortress violently.

After Superman awakens, he ponders the attack he had suffered at the WGBS television studio. Brainiac's exposing the Metropolis Marvel to Krypton's destruction is the cause of the episode. Kal-El's eyes burn with the image of his home world's destruction. The vision creates an excessive amount of energy which must be released from Superman's body. The only way to unleash it is for Superman to use his super powers and abilities.

Superman is flying away from his Fortress when he suddenly yawns. Getting rid of the energy from his burning attacks has drained his superhuman stamina. He's now so tired that he nearly flies into the Aurora Borealis when another Krypton-Attack occurs. Superman plows a bunch of snow into the air, uses his heat vision to change the snow into water vapor and blows the clouds it created southward to an area of California that is in desperate need of rain. The Man of Steel was able to control his outburst this time. But how lucky will he be if it happens again?

The next day, two thieves are leaving the Metro Savings Bank. They remove their trenchcoats to reveal policemen disguises. They run with some stolen money to a getaway car made to look like a police vehicle. They discuss retiring to the French Riviera with the stolen cash while trying to blend in with real police automobiles that were responding to the bank's alarm.

Superman has suddenly stopped the thieves' car. He overheard their retirement plans and is now about to take them to the proper authorities. His keen hearing picks up the sound of Jimmy Olsen's signal watch coming from the bandits' auto's trunk. Jimmy had followed the false policemen for about a week in order to get pictures for the Daily Planet. He's able to snap a photo of Superman with the captured bank robbers when another eye-burning Krypton-Attack hits the Man of Tomorrow. This one seems a lot stronger.

Knocking out the thieves, Superman flies away from the scene. Brainiac's ship is not far behind our hero. The malevolent android sees that Kal-El has lost control of his actions. He takes advantage of this by using his spacecraft to pilot all of the Last Son of Krypton's movements. This puts Superman on a collision course with the Justice League Satellite, where Hawkman is now standing watch.

4Story - 4: I remember buying this issue when I was just a lad. The contents of the story escaped my memory until I read it for this review, but the cover got my attention back then. I'll get to that later. Right now, I want to discuss the writing in this tale.

The beginning of this comic kind of threw me off guard when I began my first reading of it. I had expected this book to begin where the previous one had left off. However, I found the story entertaining as it progressed. Why a four out of five? Well, I was left with a big question in my warped little mind, boys and girls. Just how in the name of Rao did Superman get back to Earth after being forced by Brainiac to watch Krypton's destruction? This point isn't really explained. Superman theorizes a bunch about the Krypton-Attacks and discusses his battle with Brainiac to benefit the readers that didn't buy the last issue, but he doesn't say, "I assume Brainiac returned me to Metropolis somehow," or "Brainiac beamed me back home like in Star Trek." The reader is left scratching his or her head in confusion for this particular plot hole.

Aside from that, "No Tomorrow For Superman" is a fun adventure from the 1970s. The incredible cliffhanger makes one curious about how the Justice League will handle Kal-El. It reminds me of the endings of some of the best Superman radio show episodes that are in the middle of the story arcs. It made me want more.

If you haven't scanned your local comic shop's back issue bins for this one, do so. You'll be glad you did.

5Art - 5: After reading last issue's review, someone mentioned that Curt Swan's art has a consistency that no modern Superman artist could ever hold a candle to. I have to agree with that. I still think Brainiac's ship is outdated for 1978, but that's only because I felt that his 12th level intellect would allow him to upgrade the darned thing once in a while. My views are no reflection on Curt's art as a whole. I'm willing to overlook the spacecraft and give the art the five it deserves. Swan's still the king of Superman artists. 'Nuff said.

5Cover Art - 5: Now, THIS is what a cover should look like. I still remember the day I first saw this cover on the comic rack of the local drug store when I was just a boy growing up in Ohio. It caught my eye then, and it still manages to capture my attention after all these years. Kudos to Andru and Giordano for such an outstanding image.

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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