Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Action Comics #495

Action Comics #495

Cover 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

Click to enlarge

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.

4Story - 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.

5Art - 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.

3Cover 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



  • 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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