Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (email@example.com).
Superman #42Cover date: September-October 1946
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Penciller: Shuster Studio
Inker: Shuster Studio
Cover: Shuster Studio
"The Death of Clark Kent"
Beyond the Arctic Circle, on the bleak island of Bonogak, a number of men work frantically to move equipment. The scientific expedition of Professor Fergusson had placed their camp at the foot of a large glacier and instruments had shown that the weight of the melting snow would soon start a snow slide. Emerging from one of the igloos ran Clark Kent, who had been sent by the Daily Planet to report on the expedition. Using his x-ray vision, Kent confirmed the Professor's finding and thought to himself, "He's right. The whole lower layer is giving way."
"There's no time to lose," yelled the Professor. The men began pulling together important equipment, but Kent turned and began running away. "Come back! Where are you going?" screamed the professor. Kent kept running, yelling over his shoulder, "Let's save ourselves." Yet, out of the explorer's view, Kent quickly removed his parka and changed to Superman and saw that the snow slide has begun. Soaring into the sky, Superman pushed the glacier, forcing the wall of snow to collapse and save the camp.
Moments later, Kent re-appeared greeted a now-hostile mob. Professor faced Kent and sternly said, "No man likes to be told he's a coward. But in this wild country all our lives may depend on each man's courage. Your timidity may, in the future, expose others to danger. Therefore, I must send you back." Despite Kent's protests Fergusson insisted that he leave and has one of his guides escort him to the mainland. With three weeks to wait for the next ship, all Kent can do is wait, dejected. In a fit of Frustration, Kent decided not to wait. Walking behind a shed, he changed to Superman and flew back to Metropolis.
As soon as he arrived back in Metropolis, Superman changed back to Kent and began walking down the street in front of the Daily Planet Building. As luck would have it, Lois looked out her window at the Planet just in time to see Kent walking by and yelled out to him, "Yoo Hoo Clark! Back so soon?" Suddenly, the air is filled with a rumble as sewer gas exploded beneath Kent's feet. Lois could not believe what she just seen. "Clark's been killed," she screamed.
The power of the blast knocked a startled Superman to the roof of a nearby building and standing up, he realized that his Clark Kent clothes were burned and shredded. "Good thing I leaped away in time, or Lois would have recognized me as Superman," he thought. But then it struck him. "No human could have survived that blast. If Clark re-appears, she will suspect he's Superman!"
From the rooftop, Superman watched the gathering crowd searching through the blast. All they could find of the man caught in the blast was a small piece of hat. Superman realized that, for the first time since he arrived in Metropolis, he could not be Clark Kent, had no secret identity, and that he must find another. Quickly fashioning a new disguise with a fake moustache, Superman became "Kenneth Clarkson." Wandering the streets, Superman felt lost, and decided he needed another job where he could stay in touch with current events. Reading the Daily Planet, Clarkson decided to apply for work at the Star Employment Agency, and hopefully find another job as a reporter. The employment officer had an opening, and sent him to the Evening Gazette, a tabloid, to begin as a cub reporter. At the Gazette, Clarkson was interviewed by another gruff editor who agreed to try him out for a few days. As fate would have it, Clarkson's first assignment would be to cover Clark Kent's memorial service at the Daily Planet.
On the way out, Clarkson's super-hearing overheard the editor's plot to plan a hoax to upstage the memorial, and Clarkson's mind began to grind out a plan. At the service the next day, many reporters turned out to pay their last respects to Kent. In the middle of the service, a young reporter ran into the room waving a wire-report. "There's a giant sea-monster bigger'n a battleship heading into the harbor." The reporters were skeptical, still the room emptied when everyone ran out to cover the new story.
In the corridor, Clarkson changed to Superman and sped to the harbor. Beneath the water, Superman pulled together bits of seaweed and rubbish to create a sea-monster. "When Clarkson turns in his story, the Gazette won't print it knowing it's a fake and everyone will scoop them," chuckled Superman to himself. The fabricated sea-monster swam into the harbor then turned out to sea and all of the reporters hustled to turn in their stories. Just as predicted, the editor of the Gazette tore up Clarkson's story and fired him for fabricating a story. Laughing, Clarkson left and returned to the Star Employment Agency.
Just as the editor realized that the hoax had become reality and he had been scooped, Clarkson walked into the Agency and applied for another job. Before long, Clarkson was placed as a waiter at the Bilt-Ritz, a fancy uptown restaurant. On his first day, Clarkson amazed the other waiters by carrying huge stacks of plates on his tray, and was warned by the headwaiter to be more careful. Later in the evening, Clarkson saw Lois with Hal Hocum, another reporter from the Planet. Clarkson prepares to clear the table when he heard Hocum say, "Without Superman Kent wouldn't have had a chance as a reporter." "That rat," thought Clarkson, dropping his huge tray of plates in Hocum's lap. "Hal, you look silly with mashed potatoes on your head," laughed Lois. Fired again.
The Employment agency was disturbed by Clarkson's second firing, and when he asked for an outside job, he was quickly sent to be a door-to-door vacuum salesman. However, door after door was slammed in his face. Finally a middle-aged woman invited him in. After Clarkson made his sales pitch, the woman explained that she and her husband were so poor that he was about to transport an illegal load in his truck to raise extra money. Clarkson tried to not let that bother him, and leaned over to plug the cord into the wall socket when a short circuit in the socket sent sparks of electricity everywhere, burning Clarkson's clothes off again. Hearing the commotion, her husband, Joe, came running into the living room and was startled to see Superman standing there, immediately thinking that Superman was there for him. Confronting the poor man, Joe explained that he needed extra money and was going to pick up a load of crates for racketeer Pinky Redd out in the country. Lifting Joe into his arms, Superman leaped into the air. "You point out the place to me," said Superman.
As dusk began to settle, Superman and Joe flew over the rural areas outside of Metropolis. Suddenly, Joe pointed to a huge barn and he became so excited that his cigar fell from his mouth. In an instant, the barn exploded with fireworks and Superman realized that the gangster, Pinky, had been smuggling in fireworks despite the state safety ban. Sparks from the fireworks began to land on the corn crop and Superman lifted the barn and threw it in the river to cool it off and put out the fire.
After Superman flew Joe home, and arrested Pinky, he sped to the Planet building, entering through Lois' window. As he entered, she screamed excitedly that she has just received a telegram from the expedition. The expedition had read about Kent's death, but wired that it could not have been Kent because, "The real Clark couldn't have left them and arrived in Metropolis on the same day! Kent is still alive!" Seizing a wonderful opportunity, Superman leapt out the window. "Where are you going?" yelled Lois. "To find Clark and bring him back, on the same day," answered Superman.
Exactly one hour and twenty-two minutes later, Kent arrived at the Planet. "What's all this about my being dead," asked Clark. Ecstatic to see her partner alive, Lois ran up and threw her arms around him. "Oh Clark, it's so wonderful to see you again," she sighed. Holding Lois close, Kent looked over her shoulder... at us, watching him. "Being dead was a terrible nuisance. But I guess it was worth it - for this! Anyway, it's good to be alive again." With that, Kent returned to a wonderful welcome home hug.
Story - 4: A good trivia question for a Superman fan would be, "In the 60-plus years of Superman, how many times has Superman died?" Or Clark Kent, or Lois or Jimmy, or... well you get the idea. This story was special in several ways. First, it was one of the first times that DC published a "Death of Clark Kent" story, a plot device that writers use even today to entice readers. Secondly, it was also a story in which Superman lost his secret-identity and had to create another. That type of story had been used many times over the past fifty years to explore many aspects of Superman's psyche including the obvious question of why does Superman even need a secret identity? Lastly, this tale was amazing in that Prof. Fergusson called Kent a coward to his face. Lois Lane had abused Kent for years, but this was the first time another character had stepped up and actually called Kent on his perceived cowardice. Overall this was a fun story, exploring many possibilities of Superman's personality, yet ultimately having it return to be mild-mannered Clark Kent.
Art - 3: Very little of the art from the 1940-60's were actually signed by the artist that did the work. Dick Sprang never signed his work; rather Bob Kane's signature appeared on his Batman stories. On Superman stories, only Siegel and Shuster's name appeared in the credits until from 1939 until 1946, and after that there were no credits at all until the early 1970's. While the art for this story went uncredited, it appears to be the work of Ed Dobrotka, one of the many artists to work in Joe Shuster's studio in the mid- to late 1940's. Dobrotka's art was cartoony. In fact it is rather crude and simple considering the wonderful art by Sprang and Robinson that was being done on Batman during the same period. This story gets the job done. It is not slick, or fancy. What it does do is use many of Shuster's classic elements. Again, like many of the issues from this time period, the splash page, here showing Superman carving a statue as a memorial for Clark Kent, was very well done and could have been the cover.
Cover Art - 3: Like many of the covers from the 1940's, the image used had nothing to do with any of the stories inside. On the cover to Superman #42, Superman is performing as a one man band, playing the trumpet, drums, and bass while Lois listens or winces at the sounds he is making. It's a fun image, but does nothing to let the reader know of the stories inside.
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
Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.