Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Superman #155Cover date: August 1962
Main Story - Part 1: "Superman Under the Green Sun"
Writer: Bill Finger
Penciller: Wayne Boring
Inker: Stan Kaye
Main Story - Part 2: "The Blind Superman"
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Penciller: Wayne Boring
Inker: Stan Kaye
Cover Story: "The Downfall of Superman"
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: George Klein
Cover: Curt Swan & Sheldon Moldoff
Reviewed by: Tom-EL
Main Story - Part 1: "Superman Under the Green Sun"
The story opens with Superman flying somewhere out in space when he sees on an alien planet, a dragon-like beast is about to attack a group of people. He also notices that the people do not seem to notice that the beast is near. Superman dives down, diverts the beast's attention, and gives him a punch that presumably sends the beast miles away. He then asks the group this question: "What's wrong with you people? If I hadn't come along to stop this beast with my super-powers, it might have killed you!" It turns out that the answer is they didn't see the beast was near because they are all blind. One of the members of the group is a scientist named Kall who explains the situation.
Kall takes Superman to his laboratory where he meets Kall's daughter Pera, and another scientist, Aton. Aton explains that he has a twin brother, another scientist named Drago. Some time ago Drago went mad, and launched a bomb from his citadel that exploded in a fiery blast in the sky. The fallout from the blast affected all human eyes on the planet, causing people to go blind. The only people safe from the blast were Drago and his men because they were wearing protective safety goggles at the time. Drago wants all the people on the planet to be his slaves and work on a special project for him. When work on the project is finished, Drago claims he will then launch another bomb that will cause a blast, projecting an antidote fallout that will return sight to every person. Aton tells Superman that working from memory, he's been trying to find a combination of chemicals that will return sight to the people. Superman pledges to the group, that if there is an antidote bomb, he will tear Drago's citadel apart until he finds it and restore sight to the people. Superman asks what they know about the nature of this mystery project, and Pera tells him that all they know is they have to dig and Drago's overseers tell them where, but why they dig, that is the mystery. Superman then flies off to face Drago.
Drago sees Superman approaching and is prepared for him. Through his super-telescope, he has seen Superman's activities on earth and considered the possibility that he might come to this planet. Drago tells an overseer "I know many vital facts about Superman and therefore made plans to stop him should he arrive. Now watch what happens when I press this button..." Drago then throws a switch. In orbit around the planet is a space station that always stays directly between the planet and the yellow sun. When Drago throws the switch, two mechanical arms emerge from the station holding a giant blue filter, which effectively changes the rays of the sun from yellow to green when they reach the planet. Immediately, Superman totally loses all of his powers. He tests that by trying to move a boulder, which doesn't budge. His first thought is "How can I help these people now?" But after more consideration, he remembers his non-super-powered friends in the Justice League. Lack of powers doesn't stop them from fighting evil, and so if they can do it, so can he. His decision made, he then begins the task of familiarizing himself with the terrain of this alien planet.
Eventually, Superman comes across a group of slave workers, being directed by two of Drago's men riding flying machines that resemble large flying insects. He figures out that each overseer is wearing an electronic helmet. The helmet directs the image of what the overseer sees directly to the eyes of the insect craft, activating the craft's "brain", and in turn directing its movements. He manages to take control of one craft, and is able to fly close enough to reach over to the other overseer to give him a punch that knocks him out. Using one of the flying insect machines, Superman takes a long rope and guides all the blind slaves out of the digging area and to their freedom. He decides to hide them in a cave and realizes he needs to feed them. The people, still unaware that he has no powers, tell him their main source of food is seaweed, raised on underwater farms. But that's no problem for him they think, he can just swim down underwater, grab some seaweed, and bring it back. Superman finds some transparent plant pods suitable for use as a diving helmet. So he puts one on and dives into the water, finds one of the farms, fights off a big ugly fish with tentacles, and ultimately gets the food to the people back at the cave. Then he decides what his next job is - getting into Drago's citadel and releasing the antidote bomb. Superman also realizes that Drago's men will be looking for him.
Drago is angry, and decrees that he wants Superman taken - dead or alive! His men find Superman and are able to take him down with weapons that fire energy rings, causing temporary paralysis. Superman is placed in a clear chamber in the presence of Drago who says "I could kill you now, but I'd rather have the satisfaction of seeing the great Superman finally humbled!" Then a pellet drops into the chamber, and a moment later, Superman exclaims "I'm BLIND!"
Main Story - Part 2: "The Blind Superman"
The next day, Superman is just another blind slave, digging along with other slaves. He begins to think more about why exactly does Drago need so many blind workmen, and why is his project such a mystery? After several days, the heat of the sun and the pain of the overseer's stingers begins to take its toll, and Superman starts to feel like he's got no more fight left in him. He seems to just about give up all hope of turning this situation around... until he meets another blind worker. This blind worker (not aware that it's Superman he is speaking to) starts telling him not to despair. "A stranger from another world has come to help us!" He tells him that this "Superman" has promised to free them and and to destroy Drago's tyranny. This is just what Superman needed to hear. He thinks "I'm the one hope of these people, I can't let them down." He then decides that he is going to escape and finish what he originally set out to do.
Superman continues to formulate his plan. Then one night, as the overseers are leading the slaves past the river, he falls in, and the overseers believe that the rapids will finish him off. They don't, and by listening to familiar sounds, he makes his way back to the cave sheltering the people he freed. There he finds one of the flying insect machines. Believing that there must be some kind of repair tool kit on the machine, he looks until he finds it, and figures out how to reverse the function of the electronic helmet and the flying machine's brain so that what it sees will be sent to the helmet, which he makes into a receiver. Now Superman can see through the eyes of the craft, transmitted to his helmet. He goes to the citadel, gets past a guard and finds the main switch that activated the space station's blue filter. He reverses the switch, the filter retracts, the sun's yellow rays return, and Superman gets back not only his super-powers, but also his sight. Next he finds the antidote-bomb and activates it, which sends it into the sky and the explosion releases the fallout that will over time, restore the sight to everyone on the planet. Drago's reign of tyranny has ended.
Drago has no intention of being captured. He says "This is the only thing I can do" and a minute later the citadel blows up. Believing Drago is dead, Superman rounds up all the overseers and puts them in a specially made cage on an asteroid in outer space. He says to them "Exile is a just punishment for your terrible cruelty to the unfortunate blind people". Superman reveals to the people what Drago's mysterious project was. He shows them a globe with the dictator's facial features in relief carved into their planet. This was Drago's colossal monument to himself, the digging was planned to make the planet resemble the face of Drago. Drago was, as Superman puts it, shaping the planet into HIS image. Superman then reveals that Aton is not just the twin of Drago, he IS Drago. He figured it out seeing that Aton had a watch with a crystal, if he was really blind, the watch would not have a crystal so Aton could feel the watch's hands. The real Aton died earlier of the same family disease that Drago has now. Drago was playing both parts, and he never intended to release the antidote bomb. The people would think Drago was dead and then as Aton, he'd supposedly find another antidote to the blindness and the people would let the planet's features stand as a tribute to Aton. At this revelation, knowing that his dream of an eternal monument is now gone, Drago/Aton becomes so angry that he has a seizure and dies from his illness.
As Superman is just about to leave, Pera reaches up to feel the features of his face. She tells him it will still be a few hours before their sight returns, so she'll never see what he looked like, but she will never forget him. Evidently she got a good sense of what he looks like. A few months later, Superman goes flying by the planet, but the features have changed. The people finished the planetary landscaping project, but it doesn't look like Drago's face. In a tribute to their liberator, it now looks like him.
Cover Story: "The Downfall of Superman"
The second story is a short story involving Superman's efforts to trick a crook into revealing the location of a cave where he stashed stolen loot. It guest-stars real life pro-wrestler and Heavyweight champion Antonino Rocca, who wrestled in the 40's through the 70's, one of the organizations he wrestled for eventually became the WWE. Superman and Rocca have an exhibition match, and Rocca throws Superman out of the ring. Superman and Rocca are really disguised as each other to fool the crook, a big wrestling fan, into thinking Rocca is stronger, and hiring him to move a boulder which fell across the opening of the cave. Rocca's superior strength was explained by an appearance of Mr. Mxyzptlk, claiming it was his magic that made Rocca stronger. A little later we find out it is really Krypto in a Mxy costume with voice supplied by Superman's super-ventriloquism. Also making a cameo appearance are two members of the Legion of Adult Super-Heros, Cosmic Man and Lightning Man. They are there masquerading as two historic strongmen, Hercules and Samson, that Super-Rocca threw around in the ring. I read somewhere that Jerry Siegel liked stories with characters disguised as other characters and this story has plenty of that. I've sometimes thought that this story could be seen as a companion piece to the 1977 Treasury Edition story "Mohammed Ali vs. Superman" in that these are two stories about Superman facing real life fighters in the ring, even though one is a wrestler and one is a boxer.
Story - 5: I still remember this "Green Sun" story from when I first read it. I am 98% certain this is the first Superman comic I ever had, I know for 100% certain it's in the first 3 or 4. I was always a fan of "Superman on another planet" stories and I thought this one was over-all a very good science-fiction story.
Also, I suspect that this story was intended as a commentary on totalitarian states that use slave-labor. One of the evidences of that: The Aton/Drago character was drawn to look very much like Adolph Hitler. What I really liked was that at two points in the story, the Man of Steel lived up to his name and was able to rise to the occasion and pull from within himself what he needed to meet the challenge he was faced with. He has no powers and he's blind, but he still saves the day. It proves what we always knew about him, that he's not Superman because of the powers or the suit, it's his heart. That's one of the things I appreciate seeing in a Superman story.
The story only had two potential weak points, albeit maybe minor points, but they nag at me. Point 1 - Please direct me to any reference before this story was written that verifies Drago's belief that Superman would lose his powers under a green sun. When Drago says "I know many vital facts about Superman..." where did he get that particular fact? Or did he either just assume or somehow scientifically know that green sun radiation is the equivalent of red sun radiation in the way it affects Superman? I mean, I understand that it worked in the story, but exactly how would he know that? Point 2 - The fate of Drago's overseers. Shouldn't justice dictate that the decision of their guilt and incarceration be made by the planet's own judicial system, rather than Superman arbitrarily placing them in exile? This seemed to me to be somewhat out of character for Superman. Jerry Siegel wrote the second half of this tale, I know he originally wrote Superman as a little edgy in the early days, but by this time I always thought Superman recognized he was an agent of law-enforcement, but not judge and jury. Otherwise, I thought Finger and Siegel came together to write a fine story.
Art - 4: I will admit that I have never been Wayne Boring's number one fan, although I am respectful of his contribution as the primary link between Joe Shuster and Curt Swan as a Superman artist. At the time I came into comics, Swan was doing as many Superman stories as Boring was, and Swan's style seemed more defined and realistic to me. I will also admit that I would like to see how Swan would have handled this tale. But in this story, I was impressed with Boring's work. In the way that he he handled it, the landscapes, the characters, and architecture of this alien world, Boring and Kaye brought it all together.
Cover Art - 3: Not an elaborate cover, Superman being thrown out of a wrestling ring by Rocca. While I am certainly a fan of the Curt Swan-George Klein covers, there have been others that drew me more into a story, but I gave it a 3 because I have seen pictures of Antonino Rocca and I thought Swan did a decent job of capturing his likeness, otherwise it's a 2. Since the second story had a real-life person in it, I guess that's why it got featured on the cover, otherwise I'd say the Green Sun story should have been the cover choice.
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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