Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (email@example.com).
Superman #169Cover date: May 1964
Penciller: Al Pastino
Inker: Al Pastino
Cover: Curt Swan-George Klein
"The Man Who Stole Superman's Secret Life"
It was a fine summer's day, and the guard standing at the gate of a high-security Midwestern arms plant was completely surprised when he saw Superman walking towards him and boldly requesting permission to photograph the secret prototype of a new spacecraft being built there. Reluctantly the guard allowed him enter, and watched him take a number of photos, but as Superman turned to leave, he accidentally bumped into a fence rail and uttered in pain. "Hey, the real Man of Steel wouldn't feel pain," yelled the guard now running after the imposter. "Brilliant deduction," sneered the fake Superman who then turned and punched the guard so hard that he knocked him out.
Making his escape, the fake Superman ran out the gate and stopped the first car that he saw on the road at gunpoint. Pulling the driver from the car, the fake Superman quickly sped off to a secluded spot where he changed into one of the driver's spare suits and emerged from the trees now appearing as a dead-ringer for Clark Kent. Realizing that the police would be looking for the car, this man hides the vehicle in the bushes and begins walking away foot.
Who is this man that looks just like Superman? In Smallville, many years ago, Ned Barnes grew up idolizing Superboy. By chance, Superboy saved Barnes from a fire, and when plastic surgery was required as a result of his burns, Ned Barnes asked that his face be reconstructed to look like Superboy. Unfortunately, his attempt to imitate Superboy backfired in a big way. Ned was nothing like Superboy, and his resemblance to the young Superman often resulted in humiliation from being picked on to being severely beaten. Over time, Barnes grew to actually hate Superboy, and then Superman.
Slipping past one roadblock, Barnes began hitchhiking and was soon picked up by a race driver on his way to Orville City for a big stock car race. The two were making good time travelling down the rural back roads, until several cows standing in the way blocked their path. Barnes got out to clear the road when he suddenly heard a name called out. Looking around, he saw a beautiful blonde-haired woman waving and running toward him. "Jim!", she screamed, throwing her arms around Barnes startled neck. "Jim White! You're alive...alive. Darling, you've come back to me." Surprised by the whole situation, Barnes begins to recoil, but saw a police patrol car approaching and quickly decided it best to pretend that he knew this woman.
Getting into Sally Selwyn's car with her, the couple traveled to the Selwyn Mansion. The more Barnes saw of this beautiful, wealthy woman, the more intrigued he became, and the more he put into his "performance". He had no trouble tricking the Selwyn family into believing that he was Jim White, returned from the dead. Later that night, at dinner, the elder Selwyn invited "Jim" to the stock car races as his guest.
Back in Metropolis, Perry White, Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent were circled around a television watching a horse race, and pulling for a horse called, The Daily Planet, who ultimately lost yet another race. Jimmy laughed, and told Perry that the horse has never won a race and never would. As the two bantered back and forth, Kent noticed the teletype and read the report of the man who impersonated Superman to infiltrate the secret arms plant. Slipping away, he changed to Superman and flew to the Midwest town to interview the detective investigating the stolen car.
Slowly, the trail of the imposter leads to Orville City and Superman follows that path arriving during the stock car race, just in time to see a car burst into flames. After dousing the flames, Superman decides to give the crowd a thrill and races one of the speedy cars around the track. Barnes suspects that it is no coincidence that Superman is in Orville City and slips out of the stands before Superman can spot him. After having no luck finding the imposter, Superman resumes his identity as Clark Kent, and calls Perry White to tell him that he is in Orville City investigating the phony Superman. Perry tells him that while he is there that he should stop in at the Ace Ranch, owned by the Selwyns. To buy a new horse to run under the name of The Daily Planet.
After a while, Barnes decided that the coast was clear, rejoined Sally and they drove back to the Selwyn ranch. The next day, Sally arranges a hay ride and during a romantic moment Sally told "Jim" that he's is the man for her and she wants to set a date for their wedding. Again, startled, Ned Barnes tries to stall.
Feeling the need to take a walk, Ned heads down a path just as Clark Kent arrives at the Ace Ranch to look for a horse. He sees a beauty named Dynamite and asks if he can ride it. Kent gets on and the bronco bucks all across the coral until Kent finally lets the horse buck him off. He lands solidly on the dirt just as Sally arrives. Seeing her "Jim" hit the ground, she runs to Clark trying to sooth the fall, tenderly kissing him. In a rush, all of the memories of their romance come flooding back to Clark Kent... the red Kryptonite, losing his powers and memory, of falling in love, and of having that love returned by a woman that loves him simply for himself.
Sally apologizes for the argument that she and Jim had, making Kent realize that the imposter must be there still. Superman uses his x-ray vision and locates New Barnes sneaking away, but is confused, wondering if Sally truly loves him, or Ned. The confusion remains when Clark Kent returns to his room to take a nap. Dreams whip through his head. Lois tells Superman that she loves him for who he is. "So do I," shouts Lana Lang. Waking up, Kent's mind is awhirl, but after a little thought, Clark decides that he should marry Sally. "I love her and she loves me. I may never again find a girl who truly loves me for myself!" he says.
Meanwhile, Ned decides that Sally deserves far better than he can provide, and swears to leave town but as he stands to retrieve his camera and photographs, he is confronted by two old friends that recognized him. "Big Tony, Gunner... what are you doing here?" stammers a surprised Ned. Tony has been watching events unfold and wants Ned to marry Sally for her money, or they will kill her. To prove their point, Gunner takes careful aim at Sally from a high cliff with a high-powered rifle. Outraged, Ned leaps at the men, knocking both of them over the side of the cliff to save Sally. Flying over the cliff, and seeing the aftermath of these events, Superman sweeps down to find the crooks dead, and Ned severely injured. He recognizes Ned Barnes and Barnes confesses that he had plastic surgery to get Superman's face, but that it only opened him to ridicule in Smallville.
Reaching up, Ned grabs Superman's tunic and begs him to protect Sally. "That girl who thinks I'm this Jim White worships me. Don't let her find out that I'm a skunk. Promise me that!" But before Superman can actually make the promise to him, Ned dies. Superman wants to tell Sally the whole truth, that it was he whom Sally had fallen in love with, but when he goes to see her he tells her instead that Jim was killed saving her from two gun-happy prowlers. Again, Sally breaks down to tears, having found her love only to lose him once again.
Flying off, Superman recalls all that has transpired. Suddenly, an image appears to him... a horrible image of him returning from a patrol to find the woman he loves murdered in the den of his home. It suddenly occurs to him that if he were to marry Sally, or anyone for that matter, he would make that loved one a target for his enemies. He could never do that... to anyone.
Streaking off into space, Superman tries to mend his broken heart, but mostly to forget. "How ironic that the mighty Superman can help everyone," he thinks, "but when it comes to my own happiness... I can't help myself." Back at the Selwyn Mansion, Sally Selwyn does not want to forget. She stares out of her bedroom window, tears streaming down her face, and swears that she'll never, ever, forget Jim White.
"Is this the end of Superman's hopeless love for Sally Selwyn, or will fate, in it's mysterious ways, make this only the beginning?"
Story - 3: Following the wonderfully sensitive first appearance of Sally Selwyn in Superman #165, DC editors quickly followed the story with a sequel. They claimed that the story was a result of popular demand, but response to the story in Superman #165 had just appeared in that issue' letter column! More than a way to revisit the character, I think DC editors looked at this as a way to end what was a dangling thread in the Superman continuity. In Superman #165, the story ended with Superman regaining his memory and Sally pining for the loss of Jim White. This story pretty much closed the door on that relationship, much as they had with every other pretender to the claim of Superman's Girl Friend. Lyla Lerrol was left to die on Krypton and Lori Lemaris was destined to live under the sea. Of all of Superman's romances, only Sally Selwyn had any real chance of actually uprooting Superman. She cared for Clark, or Jim White as she knew him, for himself. Not because he was Super, as Lois and Lana had always done, but because he was a strong, kind and gentle man. However, for the same reason that the pre-crisis Superman would never marry Lois, he decides that he can never marry Sally either. Some would offer that his motives are more selfish than noble on this point, but throughout Superman's history he has consistently shunned long-term relationships with any woman that was anything more than platonic. Unfortunately, as sensitive and good as the first appearance of Sally Selwyn was, this story sank to the level of a basic "comic-book romance story", full of coincidences, mistaken identities, and contrived situations. Overall, this story was nowhere near as good as the first. And, to answer the editor's question at the end of the story, this was the end of Superman's relationship with Sally Selwyn. She never appeared as more than a reference in another Superman comic.
Art - 3: Again, as sensitive and tender as the story and art for Superman #165 was, the second episode which appeared in Superman #169 definitely lets you down. Al Plastino did the art to both stories, but this one appears to be much more rushed, and much less inspired, than the previous job. Plastino's work of Superman #165 was far better than his work here.
Cover Art - 4: Neither the cover to Superman #165 or #169 dealt with Superman and Sally Selwyn. This cover focused on "The Bizarro Invasion of Earth", featuring an astonished Superman looking on in shock as Bizarro destroys a priceless statue. The cover was draw by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. This is a competent example of their work. However, the feature story in this issue was the Sally Selwyn story which was completely overlooked.
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.