Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (email@example.com).
Superman #247Cover date: January 1972
Writer: Elliot S! Maggin
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Murphy Anderson
Cover: Curt Swan & Murphy Anderson
"Must There Be A Superman"
Deep in space, Superman sped toward a giant yellow spore-pod hurtling toward our galaxy. "There it is--- Just as the Guardians said!" he thought to himself. Changing course to intercept the pod, Superman realized that there were many red suns in this galaxy and felt his powers beginning to fade. Regardless, Superman decided that he had to go on and gathered speed in an effort to deflect the pod. Reaching an incredible speed he hit the pod, but bounced harmlessly away.
Rebounding from the impact, Superman saw a red sun moving out of the galaxy and an idea struck him. Quickly, he created a small, dense planet from meteors, and propelled it through a crowded solar system where it captured nitrogen and oxygen. After reaching a critical speed, he threw the planetoid in such a way that it would collide with the pod and begin orbiting the red sun. He was only able to observe the collision and the dispersion of the spores before radiation from the red sun finally sapped Superman's strength completely causing him to black out and fall into a peaceful unconsciousness.
For what seemed an eternity, Superman drifted in space. Tranquil. Quiet. In reality, only seconds passed before a green glow surrounded the Man of Steel and, in the speed of a thought, he was transported to OA, home planet of the Guardians of the Universe, and center for all Green Lanterns of the galaxy. Katma Tui, Green Lantern of Korugar, rescued Superman's body and following the instructions of a Guardian, placed him in the direct path of the light beam of the main power battery for all Green Lanterns.
In moments, the healing process had begun and in a state of semi-consciousness, Superman recalled that he had been asked to perform this task because the spores were yellow, the one color against which all GL power rings would be ineffective. Still in this semi-awake state, he also overheard the Guardians discuss Superman's effect on the growth of human culture and the words shook him back to reality. "My what?" asked Superman incredulously. "What are you talking about?" Politely, one of the Guardians led Superman down a long hall and spoke. "Please understand, Kal-El, we have always respected you. None-the-less, your actions have interfered with human social growth. Surely you must realize that your presence on earth directly contributed to the Terran's cultural lag." Superman was dumbfounded, and the Guardian seemed to let the subject drop, offering to show Superman through the Center of Green Lantern Operations yet hoping that they had planted a seed.
The Guardian led Superman into an immense room, which housed a sphere containing the stored complete history of the Galaxy. All the while, Superman wondered what the Guardians were getting at. Walking to the sphere, the Guardian initiated a program and before them appeared the record of a Justice League mission to the planet Kalyarna (Justice League of America #86), whose environment had become horribly polluted. Once Superman arrived, the people of the planet expected him to save the planet. But Superman told them, "You'll never solve the problem by handing it over to someone else." The JLA agreed to restore the sea's ecology, but insisted from that point forward the Kalyarnans must make the effort to maintain the ecosystem themselves, "Just as earth must do," explained Superman. After the scene ended, the Guardian led Superman outside into the light of the Oan day. Shaking hands, the Guardians said goodbye. "It has been a productive visit, Kal-El."
In space, there is no sound, but thoughts echo inside Superman's head like angry screams. "For years, I've been playing big brother to the human race. Have I been wrong? Are they depending on me too much, too often? Maybe I have been interfering unnecessarily. I decide what's right or wrong and then enforce my decision by brute strength."
Entering earth's atmosphere, a confused Man of Tomorrow performed a power dive over central California and streaked across the fertile plains. His super-hearing picked up a violent argument and investigating, Superman came across a migrant worker crew-boss assaulting a young Latino who had spearheaded a strike at an orchard. Everyone had agreed to strike for more equitable treatment but ultimately only the boy, Manuel, stood his ground. Once Superman arrived though, the workers felt a new sense of confidence and joined together behind Superman. "Let him have it, Superman. Give it to him good," they screamed. Suddenly, and unexpectedly, Superman turned to the crowd and asked, "Why don't you handle it?" Angrily, he told them that they were the ones that should settle these disputes and not to turn to him for help.
His behavior toward Manuel, though, was compassionate. Putting his arm around the boy, he led him through the crowd that parted as they passed, and asked the boy to tell him what had happened. As the boy told Superman that his father had sent him to California from Mexico for a better life, images of Jor-El placing him in a spacecraft flashed before Superman's mind's eye. "But here I am," continued Manuel, "just a field picker and life is the same as before." "You were the one with the courage to strike," said Superman, and lifting Manuel into his arms, he flew the boy to the migrant camp. At first, he was shocked to see the horrible conditions in which the workers live, but when the people ran to him and pleaded, "Now you have come to solve all our problems," Superman flew into a rage and told them that he was not there to do anything. "Nothing. Nothing at all," he yelled. "Whatever help you claim you need must come from yourselves."
Suddenly, a flock of birds rose into the sky, and the ground shudders beneath their feet. An earthquake began, shaking the very fiber of the people living into the decrepit village. Acting without thought, Superman bored beneath the earth's surface, smashing rocks to dust to absorb the pressure of the earth's shifting plates and reduce the damage. When he returned to the surface, he saw that the quake has reduced the shacks to rubble. Superman is unsure of what he should do only for an instant, and then rebuilt all of the houses in the blink of an eye. The people were overjoyed and ran to take a look at their new homes almost forgetting that Superman was there.
"Come back here, all of you," Superman yelled. "Let's get something straight. I rebuilt your houses but that was because an earthquake is something that you can't handle. But you must not count on a Superman to patch up your lives every time you have a crisis or disaster. You don't need a Superman. What you really need is a super-will to be guardians of your own destiny. Now, I have work of my own to do."
Wiping the tears from Manuel's eyes, Superman told him to remain strong, and lifted off setting his course for the WGBS building. As he approaches the building, Superman used his telescopic vision to read a bulletin coming across the teletype that a pleasure cruiser was endangered by a water spout in the mid-Atlantic. Instinctively, Superman reacted to the new emergency, streaking to save the boat.
Back on OA, several Guardians watched the course of events with interest. "Superman is troubled by an idea that never crossed his mind before, that earth must move forward unaided by outsiders from another world" said one. Nodding, a second Guardian agreed. "Our job was merely to plant the seed. We must let time take its course."
Story - 4: The 1970's were a time of great upheaval, and those concerns eventually reflected themselves in comics. DC published a number of stories dealing with ecology, civil rights and drug abuse during these years. In fact, some of the more notable stories in DC's history came from this period, including Denny O'Neill's wonderful series of stories in Green Lantern and Batman.
Art - 5: Curt Swan's pencils were inked by such great inkers as Stan Kaye and Jack Burnley in the 1950's. In 1963, George Klein began inking Swan's work and received much praise for that work. But, Klein left DC in 1967 for Marvel and for a period of several years, Swan endured the inking of such artists as Vince Colletta and Jack Abel. Then, in 1970, in another stroke of editorial genius, Julie Schwartz teamed Curt with Murphy Anderson. Schwartz had been the editor who first teamed Carmine Infantino and Gil Kane with Anderson in the early 1960's to produce some wonderful work on Flash, Green Lantern and the Atom. But it was probably this team that is most fondly remembered as creators of Superman. Over time, they became referred to as SwAnderson, and were often called the "essential" Superman team, creating the version of Superman that was used for the first Superman movie. Superman fans may argue over who was the better team, Swan-Klein or Swan-Anderson... they were very different, Klein's inking was slicker and Anderson's more that of the classic illustrator. To each their own, I suppose, but give me Anderson, any day.
Cover Art - 4: The cover to Superman #247 is a dramatic scene showing an agonizing Superman standing before eight Guardians who sit in judgement of Superman, and find him guilty of crimes against humanity. To my mind, more could have been done with the image, which seemed cramped, since a lot of the space was spent advertising the other stories in the issue. Still, it is a nice example of Anderson's inking over Swan.
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
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