Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Action Comics #495Cover date: May 1979
"Attack of the Ultimate Warrior"
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Frank Chiaramonte
Cover: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez
Reviewed by: James Lantz
The towering form of the ancient Kryptonian Dwalu warrior holds the unconscious Superman by his cape over some falls not far from Smallville, Kansas. With his Xaka sword in hand, he drops the dormant Man of Steel into the waters below. In the meantime, Lois Lane is speaking into a tape recorder. She is recounting the events that brought her and Clark Kent to Smallville to investigate a mysterious alternative Super S that could have been used by Superboy had he not chosen the more familiar, iconic shield he now wears as Superman.
Lois continues by telling of the apparitions that visited her and Police Chief Douglas Parker in the Kent home where Clark had grown up. Parker acts as unofficial caretaker of the farm since Clark's parents passed away. Lois believes that the ghost takes the form of any military figure that is on the mind of the person it visits. Parker is an American Revolutionary War buff, and Lois' uncle was a General in World War II.
Superman has revived and returned to the Kent home as Clark. In the meantime, Chief Parker asks if Lois and Clark have romantic feelings for each other. Neither one of them wants to admit that they do. Clark has done a drawing of the Dwalu and places it in the secret basement shelf where he has kept the alternate S and the Prisma Jewels from Andromeda.
It is now nightfall at the Kent home. Lois is talking to Chief Parker in the living room while an energy entity exits from the basement walls. It heads for Clark's bedroom, where the Man of Steel sleeps and dreams of his helping the planet Zoltam. A dragon-like creature called the Gnmod attacked the planet once every year leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. Superboy had collided with the Gnmod. This caused a deafening noise. The Zottams' power spire began to glow ominously, and it exploded shortly afterwards taking the Gnmod with it. The Zoltams explained that they use sound as a power source. Superboy's impact with the Gnmod created an overload in the main conduit.
As a result of saving their homeworld, The Zoltams gave Superboy the planet Prisma Jewels from Andromeda. However, what he did not know is that the astral essence of the Gnmod had hidden itself inside the Boy of Steel's trophy. It needed a decade to become strong enough to battle the foe that had beaten it. It was the Gnmod that assumed the ghosts of the Revolutionary War Soldier and the World War II General. Now, it has become the Kryptonian Dwalu warrior. This time however, the Gnmod is in a solid form that is strong enough to battle Superman.
Lois and Chief Parker have heard a scream come from Clark's room. They enter to find a burning hole in the mattress where Clark should be. Kent is actually near the falls outside of Smallville battling the Dwalu-shaped Gnmod. The gigantic warrior had used energy from his Xaka sword to teleport him there. The conflict becomes more heated as Superman is seriously injured. He must grab the sword in order to defeat his foe or die trying.
Using his cape like a lasso, Superman takes the Xaka sword and sends it on a trip around the world at superhuman speed. It arrives in Superman's hand just as the Dwalu/Gnmod places him in a crushing bear hug. With the Xaka blade now in Superman's hand, the Dwalu is forced to destroy himself.
The Gnmod is now in an astral form. It is in Superman's debt, for the creature's ghost-like self can now move on to its race's next phase of evolution. However, the Gnmod warns Superman that it will not be the Man of Steel who will be the superior being when they next meet. Superman cannot help but wonder if the Gnmod made a threat or not. All he can do is wait and see.
Lois is looking at the burned area where Clark had slept a few mere hours ago. She is crying because she misses him. Clark, who is under the bed, is touched by her sentiment. Lois becomes overjoyed and hugs Clark. The mild mannered reporter says that he had hidden there when he heard a hissing noise come from the ghost. Chief Parker then shows a message that was burned into a throw rug. (Clark wrote it with his heat vision.) It reads, "Your friend is safe! Forgive me! I must leave this place forever!"
Things have calmed down a bit with the haunting of the Kent home resolved. Chief Parker comments on the hug Lois had given Clark and their feelings for one another. Lois says that she would merely miss a good news reporter and valuable colleague, Parker winks in disbelief before going downstairs to prepare his famous pancakes.
Story - 4: My theories for the haunting of the Kent farm were pretty much correct, and they gave this book the makings for a pretty solid story. However, some things are unclear. Where did the Gnmod come from? Had it visited other worlds? Why in the name of Rao did Clark draw a sketch of the Dwalu? Perhaps my first two questions were answered in a Superboy comic. I sheepishly admit that I haven't read much of the Pre-Crisis Boy of Steel, but I'll hopefully get around to it one day. Just the same, it would have been nice to have all the information at hand in this issue. I'll give Bates and company the benefit of the doubt and hope the reasons for Clark's drawing come out in a future Action Comics or Superman tale. Anyway, despite having some unexplained elements in its pages, Action Comics #495 is a fun read for any fan of the Man of Steel.
Art - 5: I have yet to see an issue drawn by Curt Swan where the artwork was pure crap. Everything he puts onto the page really looks incredible, and this comic book is no exception. I know I keep repeating myself, but Swan will always be the best Superman artist in my opinion. Let's hope DC does a series of omnibus volumes of his work. Lord knows it's well overdue.
Cover Art - 3: This image captures the attention of the reader, but the Smallville sign with Superman on it distracts the eyes too much. It makes Clark's confrontation with the Dwalu look like background art. I honestly feel the sign is completely unnecessary for the cover. There are other ways to show that this issue takes place in Smallville.
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!
- 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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