Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (

Superman #175

Superman #175

Cover 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!"

4Story - 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.

5Art - 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.

5Cover 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



  • 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”




Compilation Volumes


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