Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Action Comics #492Cover date: February 1979
"Superman's Secret Afterlife"
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Frank Chiaramonte
Cover: Ross Andru And Dick Giordano
Reviewed by: James Lantz
A creature in the form of a spiral is spinning through space in search of sustenance. Superman has just changed the course of a comet in order to prevent it from destroying three inhabited planets. The Man of Steel has now encountered the spiral being. The alien's energy tentacles grab the Last Son of Krypton and pull him into its whirl pooling center.
Superman has just fallen out of bed in Clark Kent's apartment. Thinking the spiral alien was just an intense nightmare, he showers, compresses his Clark Kent clothes into the pouch inside his cape and flies to the WGBS television studio. He is unaware that Phantom Zone criminals Jax-Ur, Faora and General Zod are secretly observing him.
Superman is about to land in the WGBS storage room when he sees an envelope with an S symbol on it. Clearly there is a message inside that is meant for him. He reads the letter with his X-ray vision and discovers something diabolical.
At 2:00 AM, a satellite-capsule was launched with Lois Lane inside as a prisoner. Another capsule was launched six hours later. This one has Lana Lang within it. The orbit on Lois' ship is deteriorating as Lana's is reaching space. Superman saves both women mere seconds before the satellites collide with one another. However, Lois does not live long after the Man of Tomorrow gets her and Lana to the hospital. Apparently, the stress of what had happened was too much for the star reporter's heart.
The next thing Superman hears is the voice of Lana awakening him. He is surprised to learn that he's married to her and that ten years have passed since he saved Lois and her from the satellite collision. Lana says that it's an important day for Clark Kent because he has an exclusive interview with some astronauts that are returning from a mission to Mars. The interview will be broadcast on a new global link that will send it transmitting even to the NASA base on the moon.
Befuddled by his surroundings and the strange turn of events, Superman flies to WGBS and questions his very sanity. Suddenly, the Man of Steel is grabbed by beings with strength equal to his own. They take him to what is later revealed to be the planet New Krypton. Superman was brought there to celebrate the first anniversary of when he freed the bottled city of Kandor. The Kandorians then colonized the planet that is now New Krypton. As a result, the Kandorians are now celebrating their first year of independence with Superman.
We now move ahead a few more years. Lana and Clark's son and daughter are helping their mother prepare a cake for their father's birthday. Clark blows out the candles and abruptly leaves the house as Superman. He's becoming increasingly more worried about the gaps in his memory. He is pondering them when he hears three missiles prepare to attack his family's home. Both the Man of Steel and the house's defense shields destroy the warheads. However, when Superman returns inside, he discovers something horrible. Destroying the bombs left Superman's body covered with a radiation that kills Lana and both of his teenaged children.
Feeling like there is no reason for living, Superman decides to commit suicide. He flies to a secret cavern where he has hidden the Ultra-Nikru Cannon, the deadliest weapon ever constructed on Krypton. Moments before the cannon's laser can hit him, Superman realizes that something is amiss. He cannot end his life.
The Man of Steel has discovered that he is inside the creature Zod has called the Spiral-Scourge. The mad general, Faora and Jax-Ur were telepathically communicating from the Phantom Zone with the creature in order to make Kal-El experience the Ytrrym Effect. The Ytrrym Effect happens when a Kryptonian is on the brink of death, and it causes one to live moments of what would be their life in the future.
Superman has sent the Spiral-Scourge into the path of the comet that he had defected earlier. Afterwards, he tells the phantoms of Jax-Ur, Faora and General Zod where their plan had gone wrong. They simply forgot about the Last Son of Krypton's oath to never take a life - even his own. Superman's incredible memory reconstructed the events as he had experienced them, and he saw the three Phantom Zone prisoners observing everything. Superman is safe, but it's only a matter of time before General Zod and his followers come up with another plan to defeat him.
Story - 3: I really wanted to give this one a higher rating. I honestly did. It's not a bad story. In fact, it's rather good, but there are many elements that are revealed far too soon in this issue. For example, had Zod, Faora and Jax-Ur been revealed as the villains and had their plan been unveiled toward the end of the book, there would have been a lot more suspense, and it would have been probably one of those comics that stays in your mind forever like the ending of the episode of The Twilight Zone "To Serve Man." Unfortunately, in "Superman's Secret Afterlife," it feels like Bates put the revelation somewhere in the middle of the tale, and it really lacks the impact of the previous three issues of Action Comics.
Aside from that, the story is good. I did enjoy seeing into the possible future of Superman. It's always great to see Zod and the Phantom Zone prisoners. All the elements that I found were great about the Superman comics from the 1970s and 1980s Pre-Crisis era are there. Pieces of the comic just needed to be written and arranged differently in order for it to be a perfect five out of five.
Art - 5: I happened to look through a box of comics that my parents had sent from my collection that I had left in their home in Ohio. One of the comics inside was Action Comics #545 that featured a new Brainiac drawn by Gil Kane. Now, Gil is a great artist, but one can feel that Curt Swan's style is missing from the book. Curt's art really shined in this particular era of Superman and Action Comics stories, and "Superman's Secret Afterlife" is no exception to that rule. The images, particularly the ones in space, are simply breathtaking.
Cover Art - 5: It's dramatic and makes the reader curious about what the heck's going on inside. This is what a comic book cover should do. The more iconic, cinematic images used today are beautiful, but they can't hold a candle to the ones of the past in my opinion. This comic's cover is simply incredible.
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
Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.