Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Superman #158Cover date: January 1963
"Superman in Kandor"
Writer: Edmond Hamilton
Penciller: Curt Swan
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Taylor
This tale was split into three parts about Kryptonian's escaping the bottle city of Kandor and it featured the first appearances of Nightwing and Flamebird.
Kandor was the capital city of Krypton, but before the planet was destroyed, Brainiac shrank the city, encased it in a bottle and placed it among the other bottle cities he had captured.
As this story opened, many men with the same powers as Superman began stealing components from science labs and rocket ships. At the Daily Planet, Lois, Jimmy and Perry White discussed that Superman was off helping Supergirl in space while the raids took place. When Superman returned, he fought several of these superpowered criminals and discovered they were evenly matched.
Superman realized that they could only have come from Kandor, so he picked up Jimmy Olsen and flew to his Fortress of Solitude where they zapped themselves with a shrinking ray. As they entered the bottle city they were met by Nor Kann, a scientist who knew Superman's Kryptonian parents and had discovered that another Kryptonian, Than Ol, was responsible for expanding Kandorian citizens to full size in order to steal from Earth.
In his shrunken state, Superman had no powers. The Kandorian's attacked him and Jimmy on sight, yelling that he was purposely keeping them small in the bottle. As they escaped into the bordering forest, their pursuers unleashed telepathic hounds that chased them. They made their way back to Nor Kann's home and discussed disguising themselves like Batman and Robin do so that they could help the Kandorian's without being attacked. Nor Kann suggested they name themselves Nightwing and Flamebird after two Kryptonian birds in his arboretum and wear clothing that matched each bird's colors.
Donning their new costumes and flightpacks, Superman and Jimmy Olsen, disguised as Nightwing and Flamebird, attacked Than Ol's secret base, where they learned the enlarging ray only moved an object's atoms farther apart instead of increasing their masses. The enlargement would only remain stable for a few hours.
Sporting leaden cloth caps from their utility belts to throw off the telepathic hounds, Nightwing and Flamebird slipped through the streets of Kandor in their Nightmobile. They cut through a jet motor with torches from their utility belts and narrowly avoided "deadly knockout gas."
Soon, Superman enlisted the help of Van Zee and Sylvia who were Kandorian doppelgangers of Superman and Lois Lane. Van Zee took over as Nightwing while Superman took Van Zee's place to infiltrate Than Ol's base. Than's henchmen soon discovered Superman's ruse and knocked him out with a wrench to the back of his head.
Meanwhile Jimmy Olsen, disguised as Flamebird, drove the Nightmobile with Van Zee as Nightwing to find the Superman Emergency Squad, a group of elite Kandorian police who dressed in costumes similar to Superman. They approached Than Ol's base and demanded he turn Superman over to the Kandorian Courts.
Just then Van Zee and Jimmy Olsen, dressed as Nightwing and Flamebird dropped out of the sky with their jetpacks, grabbed Superman and took to the skies again. Superman and Jimmy returned to the Fortress of Solitude and entered the Phantom Zone on a 30 minute timer to avoid the detection of the emerging Kandorian's. After they reappeared 30 minutes later, Superman showed Jimmy how dangerous the enlarging ray was by growing a small model of the Eiffel Tower to full size. After three hours it began to disintegrate and collapsed on itself.
In an unknown desert location, Than Ol used the enlarging ray on the entire city. When Superman arrived to warn them of their fates, the Kandorian's shot Kryptonite at him.
After a quick stop to Atlantis and an appearance by Lori Lemaris, Superman drilled into the Earth under the ocean so he could resurface and avoid detection by the Kandorians. They quickly found him and sentenced him to death by Kryptonite.
Just before Superman's execution, the city of Kandor began to crumble, just like the model Eiffel Tower. Superman flew into the sky and shrank Kandor back down to bottle size. In Kandor, the people erected statues of Flamebird and Nightwing and Superman vowed to find a way to properly return the city to normal size some day.
Story - 5: The story was broken up into three parts and followed a standard three act structure. Don't hate me, but I find Silver Age Superman comics about as hit-or-miss as modern comics, but this was a gem. It was the first appearance of Nightwing and Flamebird, although their histories were later changed more than once in the modern age. They became, and still are an important part of the story of Kandor.
Despite some oversimplification, a normal aspect of the age, the arc of the plot flowed smoothly. By the start of the third act for instance, Superman and Jimmy escaped from Kandor and stakes were suddenly way higher. Plus I'll appreciate anything that involves "deadly knockout gas."
Kandor of the Silver Age always worked as a concept because it allowed a visible emotional connection between Superman and the people of his home world without instantly adding thousands of superpowered beings to the ongoing continuity. As the conclusion of this issue illustrates, enlarging Kandor to full size simply doesn't last forever.
Art - 5: I find the hardest part of Kandor stories is keeping the names straight, especially when many of the faces look similar. In this case, Curt Swan did a wonderful job of keeping the look of the many Kandorian characters pointedly different.
The look of the original Nightwing and Flamebird won me over immediately. The Nightwing costume design borrowed a little bit from Batman, but not too much. At least they acknowledged it in the story. Flamebird was brightly colored in red and yellow, but only the mask and the cut of his cape were like Robin's outfit. Plus there's the Nightmobile and utility belts.
Cover Art - 3: Not the best cover design here. The picture described a scene that only sort of happened in the story and barely mattered. It featured several Kandorian's with the exact same face. The interior treated the character designs much better. The characters on the cover all have slightly different clothing, but the faces and hair color of three out of the four of them are completely indistinguishable.
If I didn't already know this was the first appearance of Flamebird and Nightwing, I probably would have skipped over it for a cover that grabbed my attention better.
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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