Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Superman #331Cover date: January 1979
"Lockup at 20,000 Feet"
Writer: Martin Pasko
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Frank Chiaramonte
Cover: Ross Andru and Dick Giordano
Reviewed by: James Lantz
Roger Corben, the cyborg with the Kryptonite heart known as Metallo, has just been defeated by Superman. He was trying to steal solar mirrors from the rooftop of S.T.A.R. Laboratories in order to seek out a new power source for his robotic body. Superman takes one of the lead-backed mirrors to shield himself from the Kryptonite radiation. He uses his heat vision to weld it to Metallo's chest. With Metallo's lethal piece of Kal-El's homeworld covered, Superman knocks out Corben and delivers him to the authorities.
Clark Kent and Lana Lang are reporting on Metallo's defeat on the WGBS Six O'Clock News. They also tell of tomorrow's opening of the Mount Olympus Correctional Facility, which will hold superhuman criminals and have special keys that use their various abilities against them to prevent escaping. The prison was designed and will be run by Carl Draper, a man who has been in love with Lana for quite some time. He apparently has known her for many years.
WGBS News Associate Producer Martin H. Korda is speaking with Clark about his image while Lana is trying to mend fences with Lois Lane. She wants to have dinner tonight with the Daily Planet reporter in order to clear up any misunderstandings between them, but Lois has a date with Superman. Lois' method of responding makes Lana feel like Lois does not appreciate the Man of Steel, and the WGBS news anchorperson admits to herself that she loves Big Blue.
It is opening day for the correctional facility. Lana is covering the event for WGBS News. She doesn't seem to remember Carl Draper, much to his disappointment. Lana interviews him and takes a tour of the prison, but that all becomes overshadowed by Superman placing the penitentiary in a plastic bubble with an anti-gravity platform and launching it into the air to make it more difficult for the inmates to escape. Should the Man of Steel be needed, he has placed a signaling device in a jeweled pendant. Draper is to press the stone in it to call Superman. A sound only Kal-El's ears can pick up will alert him of trouble.
That night, Larry Latimer, Draper's assistant, and Draper himself are watching the WGBS News. The interview with Draper had been cut to show more footage of Superman placing the prison in the sky. It looks as though the people of Metropolis have forgotten that Carl Draper had created the Mount Olympus Correctional Facility.
It is late at night in the superhuman penitentiary. The prisoners are sound asleep as a mysterious figure in a gray costume and mask takes the keys to the cells of the Atomic Skull, the Parasite and Metallo. With those keys, this person will possess the powers and abilities of those three villains.
Superman has just received a distress call from the Mount Olympus Correctional Facility. He speeds there to find Carl Draper on the floor. He says that he and Larry Latimer had a disagreement, and the assistant had hit him. Draper then tells the Man of Tomorrow that Latimer now intends to kidnap Lana Lang. Returning to Metropolis, Superman confronts the gray-costumed Latimer, who calls himself the Master Jailer, only to be overwhelmed by the super powers of three of his deadliest foes.
The Master Jailer has just imprisoned both Lana Lang and Superman in separate cells deep within Mount Olympus. The Man of Steel cannot escape because the Jailer used the Parasite's energy draining abilities to weaken him. The gray garbed villain is also face to face with Lana and speaking to Superman through a radio/video unit while he reveals the truth to both of his prisoners. It was a robot of Carl Draper that had called for help. The Master Jailer is in reality the genuine article. He's placed Superman in a cell without his powers so that the Man of Steel cannot interfere with Draper's plans for the love of his life - Lana Lang.
Story - 4: This may seem like a lost first season episode of Smallville, but it's a lot better than that. I wasn't expecting that much from this comic after not being all that impressed with issue #330, but I ended up enjoying it. Sure, I wish that some background into Carl Draper's relationship with Lana had been written into the story. However, considering that this is part one of a continuing saga, I'll let that slide and hope that Superman #332 provides the answers to the questions created by Draper's thought dialogue on page six. That said, Martin Pasko has given me an excuse to read the next chapter. (Not that I needed one, mind you.)
"Lockup at 20,000 Feet" may sound like something one wants to do to William Shatner after hearing him sing "Mister Tambourine Man" repeatedly on an airplane flight from Los Angeles, California to Paris, France, but it is a wonderful story that all the classic elements of the best Superman stories of the late 1970s. There's a lot of Superman battling the bad guys, in this case, Metallo and the Master Jailer, and we also have the Lois/Lana/Superman triangle. We all know how that turns out, but hey, it's still great to see.
"Why did you give it a four out of five if you liked it so much?," you ask.
Well, for me, the names of characters are important. They can make or break a character. Unfortunately, the Master Jailer just sounds lame when you say something like, "Superman was beaten by the Master Jailer." At least, it seems idiotic to me. What were they thinking with that stupid name? Paste Pot Pete in the Marvel comic books, for example, had his name changed to the Trapster because Spider-Man had laughed at him. Let's hope the Master Jailer does the same in the future.
Art - 5: What can I say that I haven't already said about the great Curt Swan? Many of the new artists could learn a thing or two from him. Nobody is better than Swan at visually telling a Superman story, and "Lockup at 20,000 Feet" proves this to the reader.
Cover Art - 4: There's a little too much of a brown background for my taste, and the angles seem to be a bit off. Aside from that, it's a great image. It's dramatic and makes the viewer want to buy the comic book, but if the positioning of the elements had been slightly different, the cover would have been better.
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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