Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (

Superman #181

Superman #181

Cover date: November 1965

Writer: ?
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: George Klein
Cover: Swan-Klein

"The Superman of 2965"

"Though Superman is the mightiest man on earth, even he cannot live forever..."

It is the year 2965, and students in a history class sit in amazement as they watch an ancient video-tape of Superman saving a primitive jet. But this is not the Superman they know, it is the Superman of 1000 years earlier, the ancestor of the present Superman, who, at that very moment, is being sworn in by the Federation of Planets to act as an interplanetary lawman. Wearing the original indestructible costume the very first Superman wore, this new Superman speaks the oath that his father had taken, and his father before that. "I vow to use my super-powers to uphold the principles of democracy and the enforcement of the law... never for selfish or evil ends!"

That afternoon, the Superman of Tomorrow is called upon for his first mission. A Plutonian astronomer has detected a rogue planet that has entered the solar system and is heading for a collision with Mars and Earth. Using his x-ray vision, Superman sees that the planet has a molten iron core and fashions a magnet large enough to move the planet into a path safe from any inhabited planets. Through the medium of Ultra News, by which people can instantly receive news from across the galaxy, people throughout the solar system watch the amazing feat as it happens.

While Superman is working to save two worlds, a pair of scientific crooks attempt to locate his secret fortress. Even though their eyes detect nothing in space before them, their sensors pick up a large object directly ahead. Suddenly, they pass through a force field and Superman's Fortress of Solitude becomes visible. However, getting inside is another problem. Once through the air lock, they are faced with great heat and powerful electrical fields that only an invulnerable Superman could survive. Superman quickly apprehends the two crooks and they are speedily tried by a judge of 2965... a super-computer. The criminals are sentenced to "slowdown" where the criminals are free, but can only move at one-tenth the speed of normal human beings. Not only are they easily monitored but even if they could commit a crime they could never escape.

Returning to the Fortress, the future Superman inspects the souvenirs of his ancestors, including green kryptonite. Reaching over, he casually picks up the green-glowing rock from its display with no adverse effects. Amazingly, the Superman of 2965 has come to be immune to all types of kryptonite. Only the chemical residue left in sea water by a past atomic war is toxic to this Superman, and he can never swim in these oceans.

Like the Superman of today, the Superman of 2965 maintains a secret identity. Behind the Daily Interplanetary News Building, Superman becomes Klar Ken T5477, news reporter. Reporting to the editor-computer PW-5598 (named in honor of Perry White), Klar is hurriedly assigned a story on Neptune. Muto, the interplanetary crime boss, and one of Superman's greatest foes, has returned and begun a planet-wide crime-spree.

Rushing to his office, Klar Ken T5477 prepares to leave when Lyra 3916 sweeps in. Lyra had hurried back from her assignment to review the Venusian fashion show so that she and Klar could go dancing. Klar apologizes and explains that PW has sent him on a rush mission to Neptune to cover the Muto story, and perhaps get a look at Superman. "Superman," says Lyra turning away and walking out the door, "that piffle-diffle? It's ridiculous the way that everyone glorifies him." Klar can only gaze in amazement that she dislikes Superman so much, but finds him so appealing.

Behind the Interplanetary Building, Klar becomes Superman, launches himself into space and prepares to do battle with crime just as his ancestors had done for the past 1000 years.

2Story - 2: This story is important for several reasons. First, it followed up a story from 1956 (Action #215) featuring Craig King, a reporter from the year 2956 who imitated Superman using scientific gadgetry. It also began a new series of stories occurring in the distant future. This allowed the writers and artists a great amount of latitude to make changes in a character that previously had been written in stone, and to take the character along new paths that they could not take the present day Superman. As such, this story was the inspiration for similar stories with Batman, and even Marvel's Spiderman and Dr Doom. However, this particular story was rather weak; more a sketch of what might be coming than a finished story really. The Superman from 2965 appeared in several stories of his own.

4Art - 4: The art for this story was typical of Curt Swan and George Klein from this time period featuring futuristic architecture, costumes and technology. While these elements now appear somewhat dated today, the art is still quite solid.

4Cover Art - 4: The cover was also done by the Swan-Klein team. It is a strong cover, which features Superman 2965 flying across a futuristic cityscape. What was unique about this cover was that comic-buyers of the mid-sixties had gotten used to a certain look in Superman and Swan intentionally changed the facial characteristics of the future Superman to make him look completely different.

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”




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