Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (wwh27539@mindspring.com).


Superman #200

Superman #200

Cover date: October 1967

Writer: ?
Penciller: Wayne Boring
Inker: Wayne Boring
Cover: Curt Swan & George Klein

"Super-Brother Against Super-Brother"

This imaginary story begins many years go on Krypton. Rechecking his calculations, the scientist, Jor-El is disturbed when he determines that Krypton's core is approaching critical mass and will explode within days. Realizing that he has little time, the scientist begins to build a ship that will take his family to safety. But, to Krypton's amazement, a larger craft appears in orbit above Krypton and suddenly Kryptonopolis is reduced and teleported to a bottle inside the ship flown by Brainiac.

Immediately, Jor-El establishes contact with Brainiac who informs the inhabitants of the bottle that he had also determined that Krypton would soon explode. To save them, he had reduced the city in hopes of enlarging it on a new planet. Realizing the immediacy, Jor-El implores Brainiac to return to save more of Krypton's population, but before he can maneuver the ship, Krypton explodes.

The last survivors of Krypton are devastated and try to heal their grief over the next few weeks. Sympathetically, Brainiac shrinks himself and becomes friends with Jor-El. On one visit to Jor-El, Brainiac announces that he doubts that he can ever enlarge Kryptonopolis. The rare element ZN-4 that is used to enlarge living things is in very short supply. He explains that he can enlarge himself only because he is an android, but will devote himself to finding another source for the element.

Life continues in Kryptonopolis, and within a few months Lara gives birth to a second child. At the Sun-Temple, the Naming Ceremony is performed with Brainiac serving as the child's Godfather. Standing before the people of Kryptonopolis, Brainiac proclaims that he names the child after the scientist that created him, Knor, and the boy's father; he shall be called Knor-El. As the years pass, both El boys grow and become quite proficient athletically and academically. Kal pursues a career in science and Knor trains to become a lawman.

One day, Brainiac astounds Jor-El when he announces that he has finally located a source of ZN-4, and sets course for the lone planet which will serve as their new home. But, as fate would have it, Brainiac detects a meteor speeding toward his ship and, when the blaster ray malfunctions, is unable to destroy avoid a collision which disables the ship.

Desperately, Brainiac pilots the disabled ship to the closest planet only to find that the collision has shorted-out the element transporter. Hurriedly, Brainiac transports the city to the planet's surface while his ship enters a crash dive smashing into a gigantic skyscraper and ending Brainiac's life. As Brainiac's ship burns in flames, the Kryptonopolis lies in a deserted field on earth.

The citizens of Kryptonopolis erect a memorial to Brainiac, and Jor-El begins to investigate their new home. Physically the inhabitants are similar, however outside of the artificial gravity and the environs of the bottle, any Kryptonian would possess amazing powers. On the view screen, Kal and Knor watch as crime breaks out across the world and wonder how this can be. Searching Brainiac's memory banks, Jor-El discovers that Brainiac was only able to transport enough ZN-4 gas to enlarge one man. But, who would that be?

In answer, Jor-El designs a tournament for all eligible men of a test combining strategy with athletic ability with the winner becoming earth's Superman. As the tournament comes to a close, only the two El brothers survive. The final challenge of each brother must face, are identical fighting robots. They metal monsters immediately begin the battle and Kal quickly deduces that he can defeat the robots by deactivating the robots photoelectric eyes, however, Knor has found several pressure points. Before Kal can complete his actions, Knor has defeated his robot.

Disappointed, Kal congratulates Knor, who is then presented with the ceremonial blue and red-caped uniform. Using a jetpack to fly to the neck of the bottle, Knor releases the ZN-4 gas and is restored to his full size for the first time in his life and testing his powers discovers that he truly is a super man.

Quickly, Knor begins the tasks assigned him by the High Council. First, he builds an underwater citadel to house Kryptonopolis and keep it safe. Then, he establishes a new identity for himself, and as Ken Clarkson begins work at a huge newspaper, the Daily Planet, to allow him to be close to the word of all emergencies÷ the first of which is a prison break. The new Superman crashes through a heavy lead door with his bare hands, then captures the criminals, and saves the warden from being shot by an errant bullet. Back at the Planet, Clarkson returns with the scoop.

Kal-El and Jor-El monitor Knor's successes from their bottle not knowing that alien forces are doing the same. When an alien craft lands outside of Metropolis, Superman goes to investigate nd the invaders expose Knor to Green Kryptonite. The rays have dire effects and Knor falls to the earth, riddled with pain. After hours of being unable to locate Knor on his viewer, Kal decides to take drastic action. Rushing to his lab, Kal retrieves a cylinder of synthetic ZN-4 gas that he had created, then flying to the neck of the bottle with his jet pack, he releases the gas, enlarges and leaves the bottle city to search for his brother.

It does not take long before he finds the alien ship, and sees his brother lying in pain. Overcome by grief, Kal assails the invaders who react by presenting a second piece of Green Kryptonite. To their amazement, Kal triples in size. Trning, he rips the ship to pieces and captures the invaders. Rushing to Knor, Kal finds that the effects are temporary, and Knor soon recovers. In this version, Green Kryptonite acts like Red Kryptonite producing unexplained effects. When the Green Kryptonite effects wear off, Kal returns to normal size and the two brothers repair the alien craft, put the invaders on board and fling the craft into space. Sadly, Kal realizes that he cannot return to the bottled city. "Why not stay," asks Knor. Earth can use an extra super-hero".

Shortly, at the Montreal Star in Quebec, a new reporter is hired and the headlines begin to roll in. Holding up the newspaper, the editor shows the banner which reads, "Hyperman captures Hold Up Mob", to the staff in the newsroom. "I don't know how you do it LeBlanc," laughs the editor. Charles Leblanc simply turns and walks from the office "He'll never guess that I am Hyperman," laughs LeBlanc. Then Kal-El dons the uniform of Hyperman to begin his patrol over Canada.

So, in this tale, there are two supermen, Superman, of Metropolis hero of the America and Hyperman, of Montreal, hero of Canada.

4Story - 4: Centennial issues are important in any title and Superman #200 was intended to be a very special celebration. So special that the editors re-wrote the Superman origin. Here Kryptonopolis is placed in the bottle by Brainiac, not Kandor, Kal-El has a brother, and Green Kryptonite has the effects of Red Kryptonite. Still Kal-El survives to become a superman, just not the Superman. The story does drag a bit, and since it does not fit into the normal continuity appears strange. Yet, it is as plausible as any other Superman story. This issue was also supposed to commemorate the cooperation between Canada and the United States. Superman aficionados will know that the original name for the Daily Planet was the Daily Star, a newspaper from Toronto, Canada. Since Siegel and Shuster were from Cleveland, this was a common newspaper for them, and one of the newspapers that the daily Superman strip was first offered to.

4Art - 4: Like Curt Swan in Superman #423 (1986), this was Wayne Boring's swan song on Superman. After three years of drawing the Superman Newspaper strip, and since drawing Superman since 1940, Boring returned for this last interpretation of the character. Boring would draw several more Superman stories, however this would serve to be his last, best effort on the character. Boring and Swan have many similarities; perhaps as many as they do differences. While Swan's Superman was lithe and fluid, Boring's was rigid and stiff. While the editors unceremoniously replaced Swan with John Byrne, Boring was routinely replaced by Curt Swan. For Boring, this was a very solid effort and deserves to be recognized as the end of a very long career on Superman.

4Cover Art - 4: The cover to this issues was drawn by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. It is an adequate cover, depicting the conflict between Kal-El and Knor-El when they battle for supremacy and to determine who becomes the Superman of earth. It is a good cover, but still, seemingly out of place due to the oddity of the story.


Pre-Crisis Superman Comic Book Reviews

1938-1949

1950-1959

  • 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”

1960-1969

1970-1979

1980-1986

Compilation Volumes

Miscellaneous

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