Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Superman #141Cover date: November 1960
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Penciller: Wayne Boring
Inker: Wayne Boring
Cover: Curt Swan and Stan Kaye
"Superman's Return To Krypton"
Part I: Superman Meets Jor-El and Lara Again
On patrol late one afternoon, Superman notices Professor Galsworthy, a noted astronomer, frantically waving his hands outside his laboratory. After he lands, Galsworthy rushes Superman inside and the two confirm the professor's observation. Speeding into space to the edge of the solar system is a gigantic creature, as big as a planet. Streaking off, Superman reached the creatures and approached to investigate. However, as Superman closes in the creature suddenly reverses its flight and speeds off at incredible speed.
In an attempt to follow the creature, Superman streaks off, flying faster and faster until, amazing even himself, he crashes through the time-barrier. As things come to clarity, Superman sees a giant planet before him... one orbiting a red Sun... and he realizes that he has somehow arrived at Krypton before it exploded. Under the red sun, Superman's powers begin to fade and he strains to make a difficult landing on Krypton's surface finding that all of his powers are gone. Suddenly it occurs to him. "Since I can't fly away under my own power, I'm trapped here on Krypton! I'll perish when this world explodes."
His panic is broken by some loud noises, and looking through the brush, Superman sees a space ship looming above him. Since Krypton had no space travel prior to his being sent to earth, he investigates to find a Kryptonian movie crew on location filming a science fiction film. Even on Krypton his costume appears odd and he is mistaken for a movie extra and is told to board the ship. As he enters the cramped space he faces a hauntingly beautiful woman, sitting at the center of attention, who slowly turns and stares at him. "Don't be nervous," shouts the director. "This space ship is only a prop and can't really fly higher than any normal airship. You'll be perfectly safe."
The make believe spaceship shudders, lifts off then suddenly goes out of control and begins to fall back to Krypton. Acting swiftly, Superman switches on the emergency rockets. "If I still had my super-powers, I'd have done something more spectacular," he thinks. After the ship lands, Superman cannot help but stare at the beautiful woman who only casually glances back at him as if he weren't really there.
The director announces that production will be shut down for a few days until they can borrow a fire-breathing space creature for an important scene. In the mean time, they will pay the actors to wear their "space" uniforms wherever they go as publicity for the film. With no cash, Superman agrees, and makes his way to Kryptonopolis. Among the throngs of people, Superman has to keep reminding himself that he is actually alive on Krypton. But the biggest surprise occurs when a viz-screen lights up and announces "Here we see the famed scientist Jor-El and his bride-to-be, Lara, entering the palace of marriage! Soon they will be man and wife."
Locating a jet-taxi, Superman speeds to the Palace of Marriage and proceeds down a hallway to the ceremony. Along the way, Superman stares in awe. It is a Kryptonian custom to place statues of the parents of both sides along the halls of the Palace and even a stranger notices his resemblance to several of his ancestors. As if in a dream, Superman watches his mother and father marry, then leave for their honeymoon. It occurs to him to introduce himself, but decides that he would spoil the moment if they knew what the future would hold. Instead, Superman checks into a Sky-Hotel and spends a sleepless night watching the hustle and bustle of normal Kryptonian life. "I've got to escape from this doomed world! But how? How??"
Several days later, he makes a decision. "I want to be with my mother and father. Somehow I must become their close friend without revealing my real relationship to them." First Superman builds a gadget, which resembles an earth gyroscope, then uses this as a pretense to go to Jor-El's home. Suddenly he is standing face-to-face with his parents. After a few awkward moments, Jor-El inspects the device and tells the young man that he has promise finally asking Superman his name. Before he can think, he blurts out, "Kal-El", but because El is a common ending for a Kryptonian name no one questions his answer.
Explaining that he wears his odd costume because he had been an actor, Superman confesses, "I'd much rather be an assistant to a great scientist like you." Jor-El tells his son that the missile base where he works is holding application exams tomorrow and provides a memory pillow to help Superman study for exams while he sleeps. The next day, Superman passes with flying colors and is assigned to Jor-El.
Very soon afterwards, Jor-El invites his new assistant to a dinner party and there he sees the actress that was on the movie set. "I'll bet her initials are 'L.L.'", Superman says to Jor-El. " Of course you know her initials. Who doesn't? Lyla Lerrol is Krypton's most famous emotion-movie actress," laughs Jor-El. "Astonishingly, every girl who ever meant anything to me has had those initials," thinks Superman. The night passes with flirtation, furtive glances and admiration from afar. Finally, Lyla speaks and Superman melts. "Tell me about yourself, Kal-El," asks Lyla. But Superman is reluctant to reveal his secrets, and makes a quick excuse to exit, hail a jet-taxi and leave. Lyla rushes out and stares at the jet-taxi speeding away. "He's deliberately avoiding me. Now he interests me more than ever," thinks Lyla.
Part II: Superman's Kryptonian Romance
Both Superman and Lyla put their energy into their work in a hope of forgetting the other person. At party after party, Lyla turns down the wealthiest men on the planet because she cannot forget the man in the "absurd space costume." Several days later, Superman visits Jor-El and Lara, and there are odd feeling between all of them. "I can't explain it, but I have the strangest feeling whenever I see Kal-El," says Lara. After some idle conversation, the doorbell rings and Lyra Lerrol unexpectedly enters. "Lara, when you invited me to drop in, you said nothing about another guest." Immediately Superman realizes that his mother is inadvertently playing cupid, but he does not mind.
The two couples decide to go to a mind-art center where a mento-ray freezes the artist's mental images and places them on a canvas. Then they all travel to a Kryptonian zoo where they see the fire-breathing creature the movie company plans to borrow for the film. Even though he is very attracted to Lyla, Superman is determined not to fall in love with her. Not knowing this, she is hurt that he seemingly avoids her when all the other men of Krypton throw themselves at her feet.
Amid the confusion of the moment, a two-headed beast suddenly escapes. Jor-El and Kal-El spring into action, teaming up to lasso the beast. Once the beast is captured, Superman sees that Lyla has fallen and rushes to her side. Carefully he takes her into his arms, and unable to stop himself kisses her passionately, much to the glee of Jor-El and Lara.
In the days that follow Superman and Lyla are inseparable as they explore the wonders of Krypton. From the beauty of Rainbow Canyon, to the spectacle of Jewel Mountain, the two notice no one except each other. The only thing that can disturb two hearts beating as one is a sudden, dramatic earthquake and far beneath the surface of Krypton, a chain reaction begins that will be the undoing of the planet. Lyla sees the concern in Kal-El's face. "What torments you, my love? Tell me! Let me help you," she implores. But no one can ease the pain of knowing that he is helpless to save the ones he loves.
The next day, Kal-El greets a haggard Jor-El at the missile base. Jor-El confides to him that he is positive that Krypton will be destroyed by an internal explosion, and that he hopes to convince the Science Council to fund a project to build a fleet of space ships to evacuate every inhabitant to a planet he has been studying... Earth. Together they use a super-telescope and view New York, Metropolis and a town called Smallville where they watch a young man named John Kent save a beautiful woman named Martha from Snark McGill, the confidence man.
Quickly, the two scientists direct the construction of a huge space arc using Robo, a giant robot. With permission from Ken-Dal, they formulate a fuel which will power the ship, and once the ship is complete, Jor-El invites all those who wish to leave to join him. Lara, Kal-El and Lyla head off to Kandor to board the ship, but as they approach a beam crackles through the air reducing the city to a miniature treasure inside a bottle. Staring through the glass bubble of Jor-El's speeder, Superman sees only a hole where Kandor had been. Since Ken-Dal and Robo were both in Kandor, "and Ken-Dal never revealed the secret of his rare fuel to anyone else. Another arc can't be built in time. We're all... doomed!"
Part III: The Surprise of Fate!
Several days later, Superman and Lyla sit under the radiance of Krypton's three moons. Even knowing that the end is near, Superman realizes that Lyla loves him for himself... an ordinary mortal. "If I'm doomed to die here on Krypton, I'd be a fool to waste our last days being miserable," he thinks. Together, they go to Jor-El's home and announce that after Lyla finishes shooting on her next movie, they will marry. Once the pair have left, Lara tells Jor-El that she had a dream in which they had a son who became Kal-El. "If we do, I'll name him Kal-El... after our friend."
The next day, Jor-El takes Kal-El to the Gold Mountain to determine just how much time they have. Earthquakes rumble beneath their feet, and boulders crumble under the strains of the planet putting them in dire danger. Finally the tests are complete and they prove the worst. Krypton will soon be totally destroyed.
Hurrying back to the Missile Base, Kal-El receives a message to return to the movie set for the filming of the final scenes. He calls Lyla, and she is ecstatic. "In a day or so, we'll get married immediately!" she screams with pleasure. That night, Lyla and Superman dance under the stars at the Sky Palace, a nightclub which floats high above Krypton. Everyone can see how much the couple are in love, and Jor-El toasts them. "Love like theirs and ours will always exist in the Universe," says Jor-El. "To this moment," says Lyla, "To the four of us," says Lara, ..."No matter what tomorrow brings," adds Kal-El.
At the set of "The Space Explorers" the director sets up for the final shot with the space creature borrowed from the zoo. Kal-El sees Lyla and slips behind her, "may a lowly extra kiss Krypton's loveliest, most glamorous star?" Lyla turns, but as their lips meet they both sense an impending doom. "Suddenly I'm afraid," whispers Lyla. "I don't know why! I feel as though something awful were going to happen."
Almost on cue of the premonition, a camera falls striking the fire-breathing creature who leaps past Superman into the fake space ship. As the creature leaps against the rocket tubes, its muzzle falls off allowing super-powerful flames to erupt into the tubes, propelling the prop into space above Krypton. Lyla stares screaming. "Kal-El's in there." But in an instant the ship is out of site. "I'll never see Kal-El again! Never again...ever!" she sobs.
Inside the ship, Kal-El is helpless and can only look through a porthole as Krypton fades to a speck. Ultimately, the ship is attracted by the gravity of a yellow sun, and with his powers restored, Superman leaves the confines of the tiny ship. "If I return to Krypton, I will lose my super-powers again. Fate cannot be changed. It's impossible for me to save Lyla or my parents," laments the man of steel.
Using his incredible super-speed, Superman smashes forward in time, and as he emerges he is just able to avoid a swarm of Kryptonite meteors, all that remains of the once mighty planet Krypton. Heading back toward earth, his thoughts return to Krypton and Lyla. This memory is not one he will soon forget, but seeing Metropolis brings him to reality and makes him think of his other life, and other friends. "It's good to have a second home," he thinks.
Story - 5: This story was written by Jerry Siegel, and has arguably been called "one the best comic story of the 1960's". How Siegel came to write this story is rather complicated, though. Everyone knows that Siegel and Shuster created Superman, and sold the character to DC for the paltry sum of $800. Over the years, the Siegel/Shuster team had been well-paid for their work, but still they did not actually own their character and in 1945, while Siegel and Shuster were both serving in the military, DC launched a Superboy comic without consulting, or compensating, either of the creators. When they returned from the service, Siegel and Shuster successfully sued DC for compensation and supposedly received $100,000 from the company, but that was essentially the last straw. When their contract came up for renewal in 1948, DC refused to re-sign the team. Not only were they "fired", but DC took their names off of the credit for the strip.
Art - 5: Overall, from start to finish, I feel that this may be Wayne Boring's best work on the Superman character. Not only is this full of strong-jawed, heroic men, beautiful women, alien cities and space ships, but it is empathetic to the Superman character and the situation he finds himself in. It is also very touching to see the tender way Boring depicts Lara, Superman's mother, in such a reverent way.
Cover Art - 5: The cover to this book was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. It is a wonderfully emotional shot of Superman approaching Jor-El and Lara's home on Krypton. Jor-El and Lara are sitting in front of the house when they see an odd man they somehow recognize. The faces and the poses are perfectly crafted to illustrate both the confusion and irony of that situation.
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.