Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (

Superman #80

Cover date: January/February 1953

Writer: ?
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."

3Story - 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.

3Art - 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.

3Cover 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



  • 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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