Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Superman #241

Superman #241

Cover date: August 1971

"The Shape of Fear"

Writer: Denny O'Neil
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Murphy Anderson

Cover: Neal Adams and Dick Giordano

Reviewed by: James Lantz

Click to enlarge

When we last left Superman, he had stopped a gang of thugs despite being completely powerless with a bruise on his head. I-Ching, the wise Asian mystic friend of Wonder Woman, had been saved by the Man of Steel. Superman doesn't wish for his abilities to return because he wants a normal life. However, Ching convinces him that the world needs him as he was. Superman must have his tremendous gifts back within his body.

Ching has begun the ritual that should restore Superman. The Man of Steel's soul travels through Metropolis until it confronts the mysterious sand double of our hero. The unearthly beings battle until the astral Kal-El emerges the victor. With body and spirit once again together, Superman has regained his superhuman powers.

Some days have passed since Superman's abilities were returned to him. We now go to New York, where Diana Prince, who is really Wonder Woman, and I-Ching are discussing the news. Superman has done many heroic feats lately, but he has also made some grave mistakes in the process. This concerns the Asian wise man greatly as he believes that the head injury that the Last Son of Krypton had received from the gang of criminals may be responsible. Fearing the worst, Ching tries to talk to the Metropolis Marvel. Unfortunately, our hero has become arrogant and refuses to listen. This causes Ching to take drastic measures. With the aid of black magic, Wonder Woman and Ching have found the unusual sand duplicate, who may be the only key to saving Superman from himself.

The mysterious sand being has agreed to help Ching and Wonder Woman. On the way to GBS owner Morgan Edge's apartment, the creature tells of its origins. It all began with the explosion that had rendered Kryptonite harmless to Superman back in issue number 233. The blast had opened a rift between this dimension and a place called the Realm of Quarrm. A mist-like life form had passed over the unconscious body of the Man of Tomorrow after the blast and later merged with the sand on which the Kryptonian had landed. Gradually, the organism took the shape of Superman, and a psychic link between the alien and Kal-El had been established. Once the Quarrmer was near him, Superman would gradually lose some of his abilities. This gives Ching an idea for a plan to stop Superman before he becomes too much of a problem.

Wonder Woman, I-Ching and the Pseudo-Superman are in the home of Morgan Edge. Edge is not there, but someone is secretly watching them from a hidden room. Also, another mist being from Quarrm has followed them. It has possessed the statue of an Oriental war demon in Chinatown as the trio puts their plan into motion. As Wonder Woman kisses the Man of Steel, his sand double approaches him. Superman flies away to find chaos in the streets. The other Quarrmer is wreaking havoc. The Last Son of Krypton has saved a boy from the creature's assault, but he is unable to defend himself. Superman has lost consciousness and is being carried away by gigantic beast. Can anyone save our hero?

5Story - 5: This was a pretty solid story from start to finish. I honestly could find nothing wrong with it. The cliffhanger made me want more. I wish more stories were like this one.

Who was watching Ching and Wonder Woman? Don't answer that. I want to find out on my own even if I do have my theories. That said, I'm extremely impatient for the next issue.

5Art - 5: I miss the team of Swan and Giordano a lot, but Murphy Anderson and Curt Swan do go together like peanut butter and jelly. They have given us another issue filled with stunning artwork.

5Cover Art - 5: What the heck ever happened to covers like this? Most of the newer ones seem more iconic rather than something that makes someone want to pick up and read the comic book. Adams has a way of making the viewer want to take a look inside. This one was downright stupendous.

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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