Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Superman #175Cover date: February 1965
Writter: Edmond Hamilton
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: George Klein
Cover: Curt Swan-George Klein
"Clark Kent's Brother"
On one imaginary day that might have been... Superboy finished building a cabin cruiser as a gift for Martha and Jonathan Kent to take their dream vacation in the Caribbean. He was disappointed when he returned home to find that Ma Kent was ill with a cold and could not go on the trip, but his disappointment was short-lived... Superboys lamp-signal glowed indicating that Chief Parker, head of the Smallville police force, needed his help. Superboy soared into the sky and several people took special interest. Lana Lang watched with admiration, Pete Ross with envy, and a young Lex Luthor with pure hatred, for it was really Luthor that had caused this disaster. Streaking into the Chief's office, Superboy saw the man being struck by bolts of force, however no sooner had Superboy appeared than they disappeared, and the startled Boy of Steel was left to wonder what has happened.
The next day, a terrifying vortex appeared over Pete Ross, then a sphere of force appeared around Lana. Each time, Superboy sped to their rescue only to have the effect vanish as soon as he arrives. Curious, Superboy flew above Smallville searching for anything odd, and suddenly realizing that each event had been designed to draw him to a point. In an instant, he saw electronic eyes placed at crucial positions in the town and using his x-ray vision, discovered Luthors laboratory. Before him, Superboy watched Luthor triangulate his paths with all of the flights originating from the Kent's house. If Luthor exposes my identity, all my enemies in the future will strike at me through Ma and Pa Kent! To prevent that, I... I have to leave them.
Sadly, Clark gathered a few belongings, sneaking out of the Kent's house and out of Smallville, vowing never to return. The next morning, Superboy went to Lana and Pete to explain that Clark had run away from home and that he was going to find him, no matter how long it took. "If he never comes back, it'll be fine with me", says Pete Ross. That may be the way Pete feels, but the Kents are distraught and it takes time to heal this wound.
Luthor, on the other hand, is ecstatic. "So, Clark Kent and Superboy are both gone... I'm almost sure now they're the same person", he pondered. But to make sure, Luthor sought to get the Kents to confide in him. To accomplish this, Luthor first applied for a job at the Kent store replacing Clark. Once hired, he used his scientific skill to automate the stores ordering, and to avoid counterfeit money. Over time, the Kents are taken by Lex, and offer to adopt him. At first, Luthor sees this as an opportunity to make sure of Superboy's identity, but then he changed his mind. They're good to me, thought Luthor, I'll try to be a good son to them.
In the mean time, Superboy has traveled to the Arctic and prepared to build a fortress as a home, but can't help feeling homesick. Using his telescopic vision, he saw his heartbroken parents crying, and decided to go return for a short visit, but when he flew through the window he was startled when Ma Kent screamed out his name with Luthor in the room. Amazingly, Luthor confessed that he had wanted to discover Superboy's identity, but since Ma and Pa Kent were so kind to him, he could never hurt them. In a startling moment, Lex and Superboy shook hands, to form a surprising alliance. "I'll use my scientific to help you", swore Luthor.
The next day, Lana was thrilled that Superboy had found Clark and returned to Smallville. Pete Ross, on the other hand, is anything but thrilled. "I hoped he'd never come back. I'll hate him for life."
Several years passed, and the loyalty of the two brothers only became stronger. After finishing college, Luthor was offered a position at the Metropolis Scientific Foundation, and Clark a job as cub reporter at the Metropolis Daily Planet. The news brought joy as well as sadness to the Kents, and seeing Martha's tears Jonathan suggested that they all move to Metropolis. "You know we've been planning to sell the store and retire", he said. Getting the help of Lana Lang, who had already moved to Metropolis to be a TV reporter, the family found a new home, and with some aid from Superman, soon settled in.
After several weeks, the Kents visited each son at their new place of work. At the Planet building, Clark introduces them to a young reporter named Lois Lane and Jonathan suggests Clark bring her to the house. Outside, Martha Kent gave Jonathan a stern lecture. Lana Lang is the ideal wife for Clark, she said. "Hummph," mumbled Jonathan. "Women think they're the best matchmakers... but you'll see that it's Lois Clark goes for."
Several weeks later, Pete Ross and Lana Lang dropped in for a visit at the Kent home, and immediately Lana began asking Clark about the new Superman, hero of Metropolis. "Lana still can't see me for Superman," fumed Pete, who strolled into Lex's laboratory. Flattering Luthor, Pete Ross gained access to some of Luthor's more dangerous inventions and planted a device which will ultimately wreak havoc.
Several weeks later, the destruction began when the Sub-Treasury Building mysteriously disappeared and a Kryptonian Flying Magnet suddenly appeared in the sky destroying the 1st Metropolis Bank. In her haste to get the story, Lois Lane rushed to the scene. Seeing Lois in danger, Superman rushed to grab the magnet and protect Lois, but the device was studded with green Kryptonite, paralyzing Superman. Falling from the sky, Superman landed directly on Lois, and feared that he has killed her. Fortunately, she suffered only a concussion and was taken to Metropolis Hospital.
As soon as she left, Superman sped to the Fortress to find the door blasted open and several Kryptonian machines stolen. Fearing the worst, Superman returned to Metropolis and went to Lois' hospital room. Sitting beside her, Superman said, "When I thought for a moment you were dead, I realized how much I love you... I'm secretly Clark Kent and I want you to marry me as soon as you're back on your feet." Ecstatic, Lois agrees. Sadly, Lana Lang who had opened the door to hear his confession and proposal closes the door quietly. Wiping away the tears, Lana slipped out of the hospital, swearing never to reveal his secret.
At Clark and Lois' wedding, Pete Ross proposed again to Lana. Realizing that she would never marry Clark, Lana reluctantly agreed, but soon after they were married, Lana discovered blueprints for the machines that were looting Metropolis in Pete's pockets. When she confronted her husband, Pete Ross angrily confirmed her worst suspicions. "Now I and my syndicate have weapons that even Superman can't defeat. I always hated him and now I'm going to destroy him!"
While Superman prepared defenses against his stolen weapons, Pete Ross used fourth dimensional-tongs to search space for Green Kryptonite. "...enough to kill Superman," he laughed at Lana. Lana realized that she had to warn Superman, but Ross, knowing she still cared for Superman, locked her in the apartment, cut the telephone wire, then drove off to his own hidden base where he prepared for battle.
Needing a way to lure Superman to him, Ross went to Clark and Lois' suburban home. When Pete told Lois that Clark was hurt and she must come at once, she knows something is wrong and tries to warn Superman with her signal-watch. Before she could even push the button sending out the signal, Ross drew a strange gun and stunned Lois. Taking her back to his hideout as a hostage, he set off the signal and Superman arrived at blurring speed to find, "Pete Ross! And I never guessed..." said Superman. At the touch of a control, lead doors opened exposing Superman to huge amounts of Kryptonite radiation.
Meanwhile, Lana was frantically trying to escape from Ross' apartment. As a last resort, she set a wastepaper basket on fire, and the smoke brought the fire department. Lana was soon freed and, with fear in her heart, raced to Lois and Clark's home, but found only an open door and an empty house. Desperate, Lana went to the Kents, and after explaining what Pete was about to do, Martha turned to Lex. "Lex, you've worked for years on that machine to give you a temporary charge of super-powers... could you use it now?" Lex knew that there was a major flaw in his machine, but said "I'd do anything for Clark! I'll... I'll do it!"
Standing inside the machine, Lex flipped a switch and felt a terrific power flow through him. Stepping out, Lex grabbed a spare costume, and the second Superman blazed across the sky searching for Clark and in a moment burst into Pete Ross cavern hideout. Since Lex was not born on Krypton, Kryptonite had no effect on him. Desperately, Ross shot a Kryptonian Death ray at Lex, but the energy was deflected from Luthor's now-invulnerable body to strike Pete directly, killing him instantly. "I haven't much time, and I've got to make sure that these machines aren't used for evil again," said Luthor smashing all of Ross' stolen weapons. Then, grabbing Lois and Superman, he flew from the cave.
"Is Superman dead," wept Lois. "No! Away from that Kryptonite he'll recover," said Lex weakly. Flying them to a distant cliff, Superman began to recover just as Luthor began to disappear. The defect in his super-charging invention was that it ultimately dissolved the cellular bonds causing his body to evaporate like dust in the wind.
At the memorial ceremony, the family said their sad farewells to Lex Luthor Kent. In comfort, Lois turned to Lana offering friendship. In grief, Clark turned to the small bust of Lex marking his memorial. "Fate is strange!" said Clark. "When we were boys, I feared Lex would grow up into a lawless criminal... but instead he grew up to be the finest person of us all!"
Story - 4: The wonderful thing about these "imaginary" stories is that they allow the writers to run free. Here, Martha Kent's illness prevented the Kents from travelling to the Caribbean and dying of an ancient Caribbean plague (which occurred in Superman #161). Pete Ross was not Superboy's friend nor did he discover Superboy's identity. And Lex Luthor, who turned to crime blaming Superboy for causing his baldness, became Superman's greatest ally. So, the Superman history we know is turned on it's ear making for a really fun and interesting story.
Art - 5: The art in this issue is actually above the normal standards seen with Curt Swan's work from the time period. There are three wonderful splash pages in this story, and the faces and body poses are wonderfully expressive. Overall, this is an exceptionally well drawn story.
Cover Art - 5: The cover is an wonderfully ironic "Imaginary" cover showing Lex Luthor pretending to be Clark Kent so Lois Lane will not discover that Clark is really Superman. Swan and Klein capture a wonderful interchange between Luthor and Superman with great skill. Amazingly enough, there was unused cover for this story (which was published in Superman Annual #11) which I actually like even better than the cover used.
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.