Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Superman #130Cover date: July 1959
1. "The Curse of Kryptonite!"
Writer: Otto Binder
Penciller: Al Plastino
Inker: Al Plastino
2. "The Super-Servant of Crime!"
Writer: Robert Bernstetin
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: John Sikela
3. "The Town that Hated Superman!"
Writer: Otto Binder
Penciller: Wayne Boring
Inker: Stan Kaye
Cover: Curt Swan (Stan Kaye?)
Reviewed by: Bruce Kanin
Story #1. The Curse of Kryptonite!
Between the Silver Age ACTION COMICS and SUPERMAN issues, my preference tended to be with the latter. SUPERMAN comics, for what seemed like at least the first half of the Silver Age, gave readers three distinct Superman stories (ACTION COMICS generally contained only a single Superman story).
These 3-story issues were a delight and tended to follow a pattern: whereas two of the stories generally were serious or whimsical tales that could stand on their own, one story typically contributed to Superman lore and often added to the Man of Steel's rich and growing history.
Such was the case with the first yarn in Superman #130, "The Curse of Kryptonite!" Here, Superman encounters an enormous boulder made out of Green Kryptonite. As the narrative writes, "like a drowning man facing death, Superman's flashing thoughts relive the facts behind Kryptonite..." While the painful rays of this dreaded mineral sink in, Superman reminisces to the destruction of his home planet, Krypton, which created Kryptonite as well as numerous situations in which he was able to escape or shield himself from the rock's deadly rays. The sequence even includes a seemingly unrelated but informative scene in which young Clark (Superboy) Kent melts his Krypton rocket's Plexiglas to create the famous "disguise" - his glasses!
Superman then thinks back to a recent new addition to the Superman Family (new for the Silver Age, that is) - Supergirl, along with a narrative "plugging" her appearances in ACTION COMICS. Finally, another member of the Superman family appears and rescues his master - Krypto, the Dog of Steel! In a scene that touched the heart of this dog owner, Superman and his faithful hound embrace, not having been together since the days of Superboy.
In the end, the Green Kryptonite is vanquished, but the story plants the seed for future tales with mention of the red variety of Kryptonite, which, per the narrative "distorts Superman's powers in fantastic ways!"
Story #2. The Super-Servant of Crime!
In this compact but fast-moving story, Superman is forced to do the bidding of a small-time crook, due to an apparent property violation by the Man of Steel. Of course, this bad guy is no match for the Caped Kryptonian, who grants several wishes in increasingly clever ways that provide no more than frustration to the criminal. In the end, the crook is jail-bound, and there is a neat twist that allows a local prospector (a good guy) his just rewards.
Story #3: The Town that Hated Superman!
Silver Age Superman stories often set up a situation that attempts to intrigue the reader until the mystery is cleared up - usually by the Man of Steel himself. This story is an example. Superman encounters a place where the Mayor has declared the Metropolis Marvel to be off-limits. Not only is he barred from entering the town, but anyone displaying any kind of affection for Superman - or even Super-paraphernalia such as a cape or a super-doll, is subject to arrest or fine!
Eventually, Superman and the Mayor traverse the time barrier to reveal why the Mayor despises the Man of Steel. It turns out that the Mayor and young Clark Kent were in the same Smallville orphanage waiting to be adopted. Due to an incident there, the mayor believed that the young Superman was responsible for his not being chosen by prospective parents and, as he puts it "... (growing) up alone, unloved, unwanted" because he was never adopted. As such, he hated Superman and as Mayor put down his edict that clearly exhibited his deep and longtime feelings.
In the end, Superman convinces the Mayor that he wasn't in fact responsible for his not being adopted. The Mayor realizes this and does a "180" - Superman becomes welcome in his town, after all.
Story - 3: The mix of stories provides for great variety and entertainment. Whereas the first story about Kryptonite advances the overall world of Superman, the other two are wonderful standalone tales that move quickly and keep the reader's interest. Moreover, Superman is prominent in all three stories - never a background player as he sometimes can be, to Lois Lane or Jimmy Olsen, in stories centering on them.
"The Town that Hated Superman!", though, is contrived, and that's what brings down the overall story rating. While an interesting idea, the thought that someone would outlaw the world's greatest superhero is a bit far-fetched. Moreover, one would think that Superman's secret identity is at risk: after all, it wasn't Superman back in that orphanage - it was the boy who would soon be Clark Kent. The mayor could have easily learned that it was Jonathan and Martha Kent who adopted the babe of steel that he encountered so many years ago.
Art - 4: Just as the stories provide a nice variety, so does the artwork - even more so. Though Al Plastino was not my favorite Silver Age Superman artist, he does a decent job. I wish his Superman didn't appear almost overweight and his action scenes not seem somewhat stilted and awkward, but he does just fine, overall.
To me, though, the Silver Age Superman is all about Curt Swan (my favorite Superman artist) and Wayne Boring (my second favorite from that era). Whether with inkers Stan Kaye, George Klein or much later, Murphy Anderson, Curt Swan's distinctive pencils always shines. His work was magical.
Though his style is quite different than Swan's, Wayne Boring's presentation of Superman was rarely, er, boring. There did tend to be awkwardness in his drawings that were akin to Mike Sekowsky of Justice League fame, but there's nothing like Boring's scenes of Superman seemingly walking on air. His portrayal of Superman made me "believe that a man could fly"!
Cover Art - 3: The cover features the third story, "The Town that Hated Superman!" and shows police from Cyrusville firing at a flying Man of Steel with rifles and what look like small missiles! Of course, they don't affect him, but the result is to create an action-packed and intriguing cover. Superman's thought bubble "The police are treating me like an outlaw! Why?" made this reader harken back to the Man of Steel's early Golden Age days when the Metropolis police did in fact regard him as a bad guy - not a hero. All that said, the background is not all that rich in detail as Swan's covers can be and Superman's eyes and mouth seem a bit too white, dropping the rating a notch. Still, I'll take a Curt Swan-drawn cover any day.
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
Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.