Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Superman #76Cover date: May/June 1952
Writer: Edmond Hamilton
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Stan Kaye
Cover Artist: Win Mortimer
"The Mightiest Team in the World"
"A great adventure can have many beginnings... and this one begins in Gotham City..."
After capturing the last criminal on Commissioner Gordon's "wanted list", Batman announces that he is going on a much-needed vacation. Dick Grayson heads upstate to visit relatives, and Bruce Wayne leaves for a coastal cruise. Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Superman quickly changes into Clark Kent. He has just delivered the fossil remains of a new dinosaur excavated in the Gobi Desert to the Metropolis Museum, but is late for a date with Lois Lane. During a night of dancing and dining, Lois says, "So, you start your vacation cruise on the Varania tomorrow evening. I'll come down and see you off, Clark!" "That'll be swell, Lois," says a hopeful Clark.
That next evening, Kent checks in on the ocean liner and is disappointed to learn that because the cruise has been overbooked, he must share his stateroom with another passenger, a wealthy gentleman from Gotham City named Bruce Wayne. As they each unpack, trying to appear calm, they are both wondering how they can protect their secret identities.
Out on the dock, a sniper fires an incendiary bullet at a fuel truck, which immediately bursts into flames. The sniper, wearing an asbestos suit, enters the flames to retrieve a packet of diamonds hidden in the truck's tanker compartment. Lois rushes off the ship to get a better look at the danger, but flames from the truck encircle her.
Inside their cabin, both Clark and Bruce hear the commotion outside and search for a way to change into their uniforms unseen. Even though they are still in port, Bruce says, "Mind if I turn off the light and turn in?" As soon as the light is switched off, both heroes begin to change. However, the light from the flames illuminates the whole cabin and each one realizes the identity of the other.
Realizing that they must act, they decide to discuss this later and join forces to combat the fire. While Superman grabs the fuel truck and flies it high into the clouds, Batman swings down to save Lois from the flames. High in the sky, Superman inhales water vapor from a cloud and returns to douse the flames. Once the situation has been handled, Lois rushes to tell Superman how excited she is to have met Batman.
Quickly searching the dock, the two detectives find a discarded asbestos suit, but learn that no one has left the area. Promising to protect each one's secret identity, the pair returns to the ship to warn the Captain that the culprit is most likely aboard. The Captain asks the two to stay on the ship, and offers them his cabin. On the lower deck, they find Lois Lane, who has also arranged to stay on board so she can be close to the story. She quickly took a reservation from a passenger who was so upset by the fire that she cancelled her trip.
Superman and Batman rush to their cabins to change back to Kent and Wayne just as Lois knocks on the door. Kent pretends to be seasick, and Lois leaves letting Superman and Batman return to the case. Superman asks Batman to pretend to be interested in Lois, hopefully distracting her from her own amateur detective work, but Lois overhears the plan. Turning the plot on Superman, Lois pretends to fall for Batman and sends Superman off to smooth out the rough waves and stop the ship from pitching.
As Superman lifts the ship above the waves and flies it smoothly over the choppy seas, he secretly searches all of the passengers for the diamonds. Using his x-ray vision, Superman spots a gun, and reads the cards in his wallet: John Smilters, Electrical Engineer. When Batman starts up a casual conversation with the man, he decides that the man is lying... "He is wearing leather soles, and high tension men always wear rubber soles for safety," thinks Batman.
That night, the ship is having a dance, and Lois asks Batman to demonstrate his acrobatic skill, but pretends to ignore Superman when he "juggles" several icebergs. Little did they know that Smilters had slipped down to the engine room and sabotaged the turbines. The ship comes to a complete stop, and while the Captain is telling Superman and Batman that a storm is on the horizon, Lois finds Smilters waiting for an arriving helicopter on the main deck. Just to be safe, Smilters grabs Lois as a hostage.
Superman decides that he must tow the ship to a safe port, so he throws Batman to the helicopter where he makes short work of the smugglers and flies the helicopter to port. They discover the diamonds, hidden in the lead bullets of Smilter's gun. With their job done, Superman and Batman now have to perform some quick tricks to maintain their identities. Leaving Lois on the dock, Superman and Batman quickly slip back on the ship and change to Kent and Wayne. "You got over your sea-sickness mighty quickly, Clark Kent. As soon as Superman and Batman leave, you and Bruce appear again."
That night, Superman flies Batman back to Gotham City, so he can make an appearance for the newspapers. The next morning, Lois reads the headlines and is positive that Batman could not be Batman. When the Varania docks, Lois and Clark are greeted by Superman, only Bruce Wayne has disguised himself as Clark to help Superman.
Changing back to their costumes, Superman and Batman decide that they will both ask Lois Lane to dinner to see whom she truly prefers. But, when they return to the crowd, they can only gaze in amazement as Lois walks off, arm-in-arm, with Robin.
Story - 4: This was a tightly woven little story (it was only 12 pages long) which introduced the first, of many, Superman-Batman team-ups. While the way each character discovers the other's identity was used several times in the DC continuum (i.e., Pete Ross discovering Superboy's secret identity when lightning flashed) it was a simple plot device to explain. While there were several inconsistencies that didn't make perfect sense, this was a fun read. Following their joint appearance in Superman #76, Superman and Batman next teamed up in World's Finest Comics #71. Following that, Batman, Robin and Superman became occasional partners and teamed-up in every issue of World's Finest for nearly 20 years. The origin of the Superman-Batman team is also told in World's Finest Comics #94 and in Adventure Comics #275.
Art - 4: This story was given to Curt Swan to illustrate rather early in his tenure on Superman. While not at the artistic peak he reached in the early 60's this was very solid work. His figures were very realistic, and artistically very sound, as was his pacing and story telling. Swan's splash for this story could well have been the cover, featuring Superman stopping a train with one hand while Batman swung down (from where, though? There was nothing to swing from...) to save Lois, trapped on the tracks.
Cover Art - 4: The cover to Superman #76 was done by Win Mortimer; perhaps the pre-eminent cover artist for DC in the 1950's. Mortimer drew most every cover for the Superman, Batman, Action, Detective and World's Finest titles as well as a number of other books in DC's stable during this period. This particular cover was not exactly related to the interior story (Batman did save Lois from a fire, but they were at a dock, not on a building), however was effective enough to be visually appealing. Mortimer, like Swan, employed a very solid technique, and was known for his excellent composition.
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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