Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Superman #329

Superman #329

Cover date: November 1978

"I Have Met The Enemy... And He Is Me!"

Writer: Martin Pasko
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Frank Chiaramonte

"The Secret of the Talking Car"

Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Kurt Schaffenberger
Inker: Frank Giacoia

Cover: Ross Andru and Dick Giordano

Reviewed by: James Lantz

Click to enlarge

While Superman is entangled in the traffic light that was changed by the Kryptonoid in the previous issue, he realizes that heat from the entry into Earth's atmosphere awakened the Commensal micro-organisms that Jor-El had placed in suspended animation. The traffic light was changed because the Kryptonoid had assimilated the Superman robot's powers. The shape-shifter made some Commensals travel through an X-ray vision beam to the light. The micro-beings used their changing abilities to bend the light's pole and trap Superman. However, the Commensals cannot absorb the Man of Tomorrow's consciousness through the twisted light pole because of the indestructible fibers in his costume. They must make contact with his skin.

The Kryptonoid is reaching out to touch Superman. It wants to assimilate the Man of Steel into its collective consciousness. Superman uses intense cold from his super breath to hurt the creature. Using the suction power of his powerful lungs, Superman is able to escape the Commensals in the traffic light by spraying cold water from a fire hydrant. This stuns them long enough for him to escape.

Superman has noticed that the Kryptonoid is speaking with two voices: The collective of the Commensals and that of General Daniel Webster Derwent. The battle between the Kryptonoid and Superman has now been taken to the skies. The Man of Steel tries to avoid skin contact while using his super breath on the creature. Unfortunately, the Kryptonoid begins to adapt to the Last Son of Krypton's strategy and counter-attacks with heat vision.

Superman is now preparing to collide with the Kryptonoid, who has transformed into a flying wedge. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are witnessing the aerial battle. There is a sudden impact, and all that remains of Superman is an empty costume.

Clark Kent is naked inside the rubble of the telephone booth that the Kryptonoid had destroyed in the previous issue. During his collision with the Kryptonoid as Superman, he had taken his glasses after he had wrapped the Superman costume around the shape-shifter. He used the heels of his feet to create a hole from which Clark can exit. A surprised Lana Lang gets Clark an overcoat from the WGBS Wardrobe Department while he moves at tremendous speeds to retrieve his Superman suit. She has a lot of questions, but Clark has no time to answer them. He must find the Kryptonoid as Superman.

With the excuse of Clark Kent needing to change clothes in the wardrobe department, Superman begins to put a new plan into motion. He takes a tank of liquid helium from a nearby chemical plant. The Man of Tomorrow flies with the vat to Mooney Island, where General Derwent's secret lighthouse base is located. All our hero needs to do is lure the Kryptonoid to the helium. Once the creature is in the tank, Superman can place him in a state of suspended animation with his super breath

The Kryptonoid is in the Mooney Island Lighthouse Base trying to absorb the consciousness of General Derwent's assistant Colonel Gurney. Suddenly, shards of broken glass from a window come at the shape-changer. The Kryptonoid cannot assimilate the properties of the glass. The creature is then confronted by Superman, who is wearing a protective glass suit. The part of the Kryptonoid that is General Derwent reveals that he merged with the Commensal-infected Superman robot to get his revenge on the true Man of Steel for causing the accident in which Derwent had lost his arm.

The Kryptonoid has just turned some computer equipment into a giant ice-pick. Superman's glass suit has just been shattered. As the Man of Tomorrow battles the Kryptonian changeling yet again in the skies, he reveals the truth about Derwent's accident.

Superman was never at the Cactus Flats Military Base where the weapons testing took place. It was one of the Last Son of Krypton's robots, Number X-17. All of Superman's automatons had been behaving erratically because Earth's polluted environment had had adverse effects on their delicate systems. The Man of Steel had believed that X-17 was missing after he had ceased using the rest of the mechanical duplicates. This particular Superman robot had a dent on its belt buckle, which is in the exact same area in which the machine that the Kryptonoid had assimilated had been damaged. General Derwent had merged himself with the very thing that caused him to lose his arm.

Superman is now using his super breath on the maddened Kryptonoid. The composite being of robot, Commensal and human lands in the giant vat of liquid helium. With the Kryptonoid now in suspended animation, the Metropolis Marvel takes the creature to his Arctic Fortress of Solitude and returns to WGBS as Clark Kent to try and convince Lana Lang that he isn't Superman.

5Story - 5: Martin Pasko's writing style gives us a bit of different approach to Superman from those used by Cary Bates and Elliot S! Maggin. It's neither worse, nor better. It's merely not like the other writers of the time period. Pasko has provided a pretty solid two-parter that is fun, action-packed and very reader friendly if you happened to miss Superman #328. There are some pretty detailed explanations sandwiched into the story to help those who either never bought the last issue or who are first time comic book fans. If this is what Pasko's other Superman stories are like, I'll gladly recommend them to any new fan of the Man of Steel.

One thing I loved in particular about this main story was the fact that General Derwent later learned that it was the Superman robot with which he and the Kryptonoid had bonded that caused the accident that made his human body lose its arm. It was the perfect mixture of Moby Dick and The Twilight Zone and shows perfectly how hateful obsessions such as the General's can eventually end up biting you in the behind.

Overall, "I Have Met The Enemy... And He Is Me!" is an intensely incredible story. I'll be going through my collection of Action Comics and Superman as my parents keep sending the books, and I hope I find more stories as great as this one.

5Art - 5: I don't know how Curt Swan did it. He handled the art chores on both Action Comics and Superman in this time period, yet his style always remained consistent. Many artists (Jack Kirby is a great example of this) tend to draw a little differently from one issue to the next. Sometimes, as in Kirby's case, it's great and works well, and others could be better. Swan does a perfect job of giving us some extremely beautiful visuals without changing his style too much. He will always be a legend when it comes to Superman artwork.

"The Secret of the Talking Car"

Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Kurt Schaffenberger
Inker: Frank Giacoia

Our story takes us to Earth-Two. Clark Kent and his wife Lois Lane have taken their combined savings to purchase a new Sedan. Lois is bragging to her husband about his being Superman, and Clark is fascinated by the car's features despite having seen things from all over the universe. Clark even admires the vehicle from the Kents' bedroom window as moonlight shines on it.

The next morning, Lois cannot find her miniature tape recorder that is normally in her purse. Clark scans their entire apartment with his X-ray vision, but he finds no trace of the machine. Lois is looking out the bedroom window attempting to remember where she placed the recorder. She sees the car missing and asks Clark if he took it for a drive. Clark responds negatively. Lois and Clark's new Sedan has just been stolen, and that's not the only problem. Lois' tape recorder was in the car. She had left it turned on in case she had an idea worth writing about. Her revealing Clark's Superman identity has been caught on tape.

Superman is searching frantically for his and Lois' car. He's broken up a few auto theft rings, but there is no sign of the vehicle. He then gets an idea to follow two scents with his superhuman nose: Lois' new perfume and the smell of a new car mixed together. He follows the trail to Gotham City, where a bank robbery is taking place. Ridding his car of the getaway driver, Superman flies the automobile while driving it and takes the thieves to prison.

Lois' miniature tape recorder is now in her hands. The car thieves heard her recording, but they accidentally erased it when they recorded themselves laughing at Lois' words. They don't believe Clark really is Superman. They think that love is blind because in their eyes Lois married a weakling. If they only knew the truth.

5Back-Up Story - 5: I'm an odd duck. I tend to read the back-up stories in comics before the main tale. Books like Marvel's Tales To Astonish and the EC Comics anthology books are the exception to this rule. Otherwise, I go to the back-up first in case I'm subjected to something as god-awful as the one from the previous issue. Fortunately, that's not the case with "The Secret of the Talking Car." It's a very entertaining story. I love parallel universe stories. The episodes of the Superboy TV series that featured them are among my favorites in the show. I'm also a sucker for Earth-Two Superman tales. Something about them makes them fun for me to read, and this back-up is no exception to that rule. Too bad more comics aren't like is one.

4Back-Up Art - 4: Some things, like some panels with Lois before Clark put on his Superman costume, didn't look quite right to my eyes, which is why I deducted one point off for the art. Otherwise, Schaffenberger and Giacoia do a pretty solid job with getting the story across to the reader.

3Cover Art - 3: It's not as bad as the cover of Action Comics #489, but a single image would have been better than three panels. Perhaps something like the Kryptonoid in the Metropolis skies looming over the people in a menacing manner while an empty Superman costume floats down to the streets would had more of an impact on the reader.

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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