Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman ComicsMany thanks to reviewer Seth Isaacs.
DC Comics Presents #80Cover date: April 1985
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Pencils: Curt Swan
Inker: Dave Hunt
Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes in: "A World Full of Supermen!"
Somewhere in space, five Legionnaires (Element Lad, Phantom Girl, Ultra Boy, Shrinking Violet, and Chameleon Boy) appear through a stargate. They were expecting to arrive on 30th Century Earth, but have apparently overshot their destination. Looking around, they see a large asteroid with it's top flattened off like a mesa. On the asteroid's mesa is a full-scale replica of the city of Metropolis.
Meanwhile, a shadowy figure is monitoring the Legionnaires on a computer screen. The figure decides to investigate them further, and initiates a tractor beam, which pulls the Legionnaires towards the city.
The Legionnaires aren't very thrilled by this, and Ultra Boy breaks free of the tractor beam and flies ahead of the other Legionnaires to break up the machinery controlling the beam. He's about to smash it when a blurry blue and red figure pushes him away from it at super-speed. Ultra Boy punches his assailant in return, but hurts his hand in the process. The figure slows down, and Ultra Boy realizes that he is fighting Superman. Superman punches him, knocking him out.
Meanwhile, the four other Legionnaires are still in the grip of the tractor beam and being pulled down to the city, when they realize that it is getting very hot all of a sudden. That's when they see Superman flying up to attack them, using his heat vision on them to make things very uncomfortable. Element Lad quickly creates a lead cocoon, which forms around the four Legionnaires, to shield them at least temporarily from Superman's heat vision.
The Legionnaires realize they can't stay where they are, so Element Lad opens a small hole in the cocoon. Shrinking Violet shrinks down to fit through it, and Chameleon Boy flies through it as a fly, while Phantom Girl simply phases through it. When they get outside, they're startled to see that they're not just fighting one Superman, but four.
Meanwhile, the figure monitoring the battle is revealed. It is Brainiac, one of Superman's arch-enemies. He has at this point identified the five heroes as members of the Legion, and formulates a plot in his computer brain through which he can use them to destroy Superman.
On Earth, in Metropolis, Clark Kent is just wrapping up the nightly news broadcast. He's about to leave the production studio, when he feels a pain in his head. Someone is sending out an ultra-sonic frequency beam that only he as Superman can hear. Clark changes into Superman, and flies off into space to track down the source of the beam.
Getting back to the Legion, Chameleon Boy turns himself into a globular creature and envelops three of the Supermen. Unfortunately he doesn't have the strength to hold them for very long, but just as they get free, Ultra Boy, recovered from being knocked out, returns. He punches one of the Supermen so hard that it breaks, and it is revealed that the Legion is fighting robots. Realizing they aren't really fighting Supermen, the Legion makes short work of the Superman robots, who apparently don't have all of the real Superman's strength and invulnerability. They then free Element Lad from the lead cocoon, where he protected himself from Superman's heat vision by turning the air around him into freon gas.
The Legionnaires then float down to the street of this replica city, where Phantom Girl speculates that maybe this is some kind of Anti-Superman testing ground. The words are barely out of her mouth when an entire squadron of Superman robots shows up to attack the Legion. However the Legionnaires are prepared. Element Lad turns some of them into helium gas, while Chameleon Boy turns into a large brick like alien and smashes them. Ultra Boy likewise smashes them, while Phantom Girl goes intangible, reaches inside them and breaks their wiring.
Meanwhile, the ultra-sonic frequency has led the real Superman to the asteroid. He is unsure of whether someone needs help or if he's being lured into a trap. Brainiac observes his arrival via computer screen, and comments that everything is in place for Superman to die this day. Superman flies over the replica of Metropolis, and scans it with his X-Ray vision. He quickly finds the five Legionnaires have taken refuge in the replica Daily Planet building. He also sees another squadron of Superman robots heading towards the Planet building, and joins them, not realizing until it's to late that they are going to attack the Legionnaires.
The Legionnaires make short work of the Superman robots and attack the real Superman as well. Superman doesn't fight back and tries to convince the Legionnaires that he is the real deal, but the Legionnaires aren't listening and attack him as well. With the aid of Ultra Boy's super-strength, the Legionnaires are able to knock Superman out.
Once they've knocked out Superman, Brainiac teleports in with an electronic floating chair next to him. Brainiac is protected by a force field so the Legionnaires can't get at him. He reveals that he has been using a mild form of mind control on the Legion, subtly conditioning them so that they would attack anything or anyone that looks like Superman. Brainiac then picks up Superman, and places him in the chair, which he reveals to be a molecular disassembler, which will strip Superman's molecules of their binding elements and disperse him throughout space. He turns on the chair and sparks begin to appear around Superman. Considering himself safe within his force field, Brainiac feels safe enough to switch off the program that was mind controlling the Legionnaires.
Freed of Brainiac's influence, Ultra Boy tries to punch his way through the force field to no avail. At that point Element Lad walks up to the force field and tries to talk to Brainiac. At first Brainaic doesn't want to be bothered, but Element Lad points out that the chair seems to be malfunctioning, the same sparks that are disassembling Superman seem to be flashing around Brainiac as well. Not wanting to be disassembled himself, Brainiac turns off the chair, and that is Superman wakes up and threatens Brainiac. Realizing that his odds of winning now are slim, Brainiac blows up the chair and makes his escape amid all the smoke the explosion caused. Element Lad reveals that the chair didn't really malfunction, he just used his powers to make it look like that was the case.
Superman thanks the Legionnaires for their rescue, and the Legionnaires head off to try and find their way back to the 30th Century.
Story - 4: This was a well-written Superman team-up. It had plenty of suspense, Brainiac certainly had a good plan to destroy Superman, a plan which almost worked but for some clever thinking on Element Lad's part. The battles between the Legion and the squadrons of Superman robots were well paced and well thought-out. The only minor quibbles I have that keep this issue from getting 5 shields, is that it's not completely explained how a stargate brought the Legion to the 20th Century to begin with. Also, I didn't like seeing Superman get beaten by Ultra Boy so easily. Those minor issues aside, I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable comic, and if you can find a copy for under $2.00 (which shouldn't be to hard), it would be worth your while to acquire it.
Art - 4: The artists do an excellent job here. The battles between the Legion and the Superman robots were well-depicted, highly detailed, and flow from panel to panel. Brainiac is threatening, and of course with Curt Swan handling the pencils, Superman simply looks like Superman.
Cover Art - 2: I wasn't terribly impressed with Eduardo Barreto's cover. It really doesn't appear to me like it has a center to it that grips your attention. Others might disagree with me, but this is far from my favorite cover. Just don't let it dissuade you from the excellent story contained within.
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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