Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Superman #80Cover date: January/February 1953
Penciller: Al Plastino
Inker: Al Plastino
Cover: Al Plastino
"Superman's Lost Brother"
One night, on his way home from the Daily Planet, Clark Kent stops dead in his tracks. His super-hearing had detected a strange hissing sound, and looking skyward, his telescopic vision lets him see that the sound is coming from a spaceship, high in the stratosphere. Quickly changing to Superman, he streaks miles above the earth to find the ship entering the atmosphere, out of control. Flying under the ship, Superman uses his amazing strength to slow the descent, then looks inside the ship to see an unconscious man.
Slowly, Superman guides the spaceship to the ground, and as soon as he has removed the unconscious man from the craft, the ship bursts explosively into flames and is completely destroyed. Superman cannot help but recall that this was exactly the way it was for him when he was sent to earth as a child. As if in a dream, Superman then notices a piece of paper drifting in the wind. Picking it up he see that it is a note for Halk-Kar, handwritten in ancient Kryptonian, which says, "Chart of space course to be followed so my son can reach earth." Looking even more closely, Superman realizes that the note was written by his father, Jor-El. Kneeling by the body of the man, Superman stares at Halk-Kar and notices that he bears a slight resemblance to the man. "I must have an older brother that was also sent to earth," realizes Superman.
Fearing another explosion, Superman drags the still unconscious man towards the woods and examines him with microscopic vision realizing that both the man's body and his clothes are definitely from another planet. Slowly, Halk-Kar begins to waken and Superman cannot halt his excitement as he asks the stranger if he remembers the name, "Jor-El". However, the groggy space-traveler has only gray memories of anything and only a very faint recollection of that name. Superman explains to Halk-Kar how he came to earth from the doomed planet Krypton. Still, shaking his head, Halk-Kar remembers nothing.
Feeling stronger, Halk-Kar stands and Superman suggests that Halk-Kar test his powers. Halk-Kar can lift a huge boulder, but does it with difficulty. He is fast, but tires easily. "It must be that your super-powers are weakened by your long sleep. They'll come back to you," says Superman, and the two take to the sky, heading to Metropolis. Halk-Kar thinks that he is flying, but the truth is that Superman is keeping him aloft.
At that very moment, the breaks on a large truck, carrying the new bell for the Metropolis City Hall, fail and the huge vehicle goes careening out of control. Seeing the situation, the two Supermen streak out of the sky. Halk-Kar attempts to stop the truck while Superman flies off to save the bell from destruction. It does not take long for Superman to see that Halk-Kar is having difficulty. Throwing the bell high into the sky, Superman speeds back to grab the rear of the truck and slow it down. "He can't see me back here - Which means his x-ray vision isn't working either," notices Superman. Done with the truck, Superman soars into the sky to catch the falling bell. "Quit playing around with that bell," teases Halk-Kar.
After Superman rejoins Halk-Kar, the owner of the trucking company comes running toward the two men to tell them that a racketeer named 'Wrecker' Ross had sabotaged his truck because he had refused to pay off the crook. "My brother and I will catch this 'Wrecker' character," boasts Halk-Kar. The next target will be the Bronson Steel works, warns the trucker.
Fulfilling the premise that Lois Lane can only arrive at the worst time, Lois arrives on the scene. Suddenly, she notices the other man dressed in alien garb, and Superman introduces Halk-Kar as his brother. "Gosh, I never knew Superman had a big brother like you," fawns Lois. Halk-Kar is more than pleased at Lois' attention, and Superman can only gawk at the display. "But Halk - Lois has been, sort of, my girl!" stammers Superman. In the commotion, Superman notices the bruises on Halk-Kar's wrists, received when he tried to stop the truck. "His invulnerability must be still weakened," thinks Superman.
At the Bronson Steel Works, the two Supermen speak with the owner. "Yes, 'Wrecker' did threaten us, but I didn't take it seriously," says Bronson. Suddenly, an alarm sounds, and the three men rush to the plant to find the racketeers at the controls of a crane preparing to spill molten steel. "They'll wreck the mill," screams Bronson in hysterics. Halk-Kar rushes to tackle the crooks that retaliate by turning and pulling their guns. Superman speeds toward the crane, but finds the controls jammed. Looking up, he sees Halk-Kar in trouble and uses his super-breath to blow Halk-Kar out of harm's way, then quickly returns to the crane controls. Before he can stop the crane, the crooks jump into a fast sedan and speed away with Halk-Kar in hot pursuit. However, Halk-Kar's strength wanes after chasing them only a short distance, and the car pulls away. Seeing that they were out-distancing the hero, the crooks quickly turn their car around and run Halk-Kar down, knocking him unconscious.
Frantically, Superman flies above the city using his x-ray vision to try to find Halk-Kar and the crooks. After a while, he locates the racketeer's hideout and bursts through the wall into the room. There, he sees Halk-Kar strapped to a chair, attached to a powerful generator with "Wrecker" Ross' hand on the switch. Seeing that Superman appears very nervous, "Wrecker" gives Superman an ultimatum. "You're going to leave Metropolis for good Superman! Because, if I ever see you again, your brother will get the current!"
Looking at the situation, Superman decides that he could leave, then return at super-speed, faster than the human eye can follow, to release Halk-Kar. But, before he can make a move, Halk-Kar screams, "No, Superman! Don't do it." Standing up, Halk-Kar strains against the chains tearing the links across his chest. "He gets the current," yells Ross, and a blast of electricity surges through Halk-Kar knocking him across the room.
Outraged, Superman rips through the crooks like an enraged bull elephant. Then, going over to Halk-Kar, he is surprised to see that his brother is still alive. Looking up, Halk-Kar says, "Now I remember everything!"
Halk-Kar was a native of the planet Thoron, a planet in a different star system that had attempted to make a rocket flight to Krypton. As he approached Krypton, his rocket failed, barely managing to land on Krypton. While there, he met the scientist Jor-El, who befriended him. Already aware that the core of Krypton was doomed to explode, Jor-El repaired Halk-Kar's ship and told him that he must get away if he was ever to return to Thoron. Jor-El then gave Halk-Kar a copy of the course he had mapped out to send his son away in space, saving him from Krypton's doom, telling him that if he used the same route, he could escape as well.
Halk-Kar had managed to launch his ship only minutes before Krypton exploded. The atomic rays emanating from the core overpowered Halk-Kar, placing him in a suspended animation that lasted until he reached earth. Since Thoron was such a larger planet than Earth, Halk-Kar did possess strength and abilities beyond those of a normal earthman, but nothing like that of a native Kryptonian.
Together, the two Supermen rebuild Halk-Kar's ship and launch it into space. As Halk-Kar makes his way home, Superman flies up behind the ship. "Goodbye Halk! Maybe I'll see you again someday on Thoron."
Story - 3: Following World War II, the editors at DC tried many different story lines to add variety to the title. This included many new stories involving other survivors of Krypton. Stories such as this lead, ultimately, to the introduction of the surviving cities of Krypton (Kandor and Argo City) and finally Supergirl. Like many of these stories, they are very simple, using many contrived plot devices. Common among them is the crashing rocket bringing the "orphan" to earth that was used in not only Superman's origin but Supergirl's origin and here with Halk-Kar. We also had a truck going out of control, a cruel gangster and a fawning Lois Lane seemingly infatuated with the new "super-man" on the block.
The other characteristic of this time period was the lack of a solid continuity producing large plot holes. From this story, it appeared that Jor-El had planned to send Kal-El away from Krypton all along with a pre-planned escape route. The origin of Superman, published less than 4 years earlier, had already showed that to be a snap decision when faced with the imminent doom of the planet.
Another interesting thing to note is how DC re-cycled their stories. In March 1961, DC re-used this story, almost exactly, to introduce another supposed "lost brother" when Superboy discovered an unconscious Mon-El in Superboy #89. Arriving in a small rocket, Superboy discovers a boy in suspended animation who possesses super-powers in earth's environment. Finding a letter from Jor-El in the ship, Superboy assumes the survivor is an older brother from Krypton, calling him Mon-El (Mon for Monday, the day he landed, and El for Superboy's family name). As it turned out, the boy was really Gar Land, from the planet Daxam. Mon-El went to become an important member of the Legion of Super Heroes, have a romance with Supergirl and become Valor in DC's present continuity.
Art - 3: This story is pencilled by Al Plastino. While many historians also give him credit for the inks on this story, I, myself, am not exactly sure that is true. For the moment, I will let the historians rule. Typical of stories from the early 1950's, this story has a dynamic splash page, but the rest of the story is rather lack-luster. Typical of Plastino, the backgrounds are sparse, and the figure inking not much more than outlining. Still, this story was important in the Superman mythos in that it introduced one of the first "super-relatives" of the Superman family.
Cover Art - 3: The cover of this issues was also done by Plastino and appears to be a different version of what became the splash page to this story.
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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