Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Superman #88Cover date: March 1954
Writer: William Woolfolk
Penciller: Wayne Boring
Inker: Wayne Boring
Cover: Win Mortimer
"The Terrible Trio"
One day, at an amusement park on the outskirts of Metropolis, a strange round man stepped in front of a mirror and began laughing hysterically at his distorted image. This is Oswald Loomis, better known in criminal circles as the Prankster. In another part of the park, a bespectacled man rode a carousel duck remembering his battles with Superman using his amazing toys. This is Winslow P. Schott, also known as the Toyman. By a strange coincidence Lex Luthor was also at the park shooting targets at the arcade lamenting his most recent defeat at the hands of the Man of Steel. But, it must truly be fate that they were all brought together when they all decided to go down a huge slide and collided with one another in a heap.
Rushing outside the tent, Luthor pulled the trio into a huddle. "This chance meeting may be the luckiest thing that ever happened," says Luthor. "It's Superman, you know. He's always interfering," grumbled the Toyman. "Why don't the three of us combine out talents and fight Superman? He's had trouble beating any one of us. How could he defeat all three?" posed Luthor. Nodding in agreement, the three decide that the fairest way to proceed is to pull lots from Luthor's hat, the winner to decide who plans the first crime. Laughing with glee, the Prankster pulls the longest straw.
The very next day, a crowd gathered in downtown Metropolis to view a dazzling display of jewels in a store window. Walking past the store is Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet. Looking down at the street, Kent notices a wallet attached to a string, and when he leans over to take a closer look the policeman standing on duty begins laughing. "Don't try to pick that up, mister," he chuckles. "See the string attached? The kids will yank it out of sight before you can even touch it."
Before Kent can even stand up, Lex Luthor steped from an alley and lifted his hat. A choking gas poured into the crowd making the spectators cough and wheeze. Quickly, Clark Kent changed into Superman, scoops up Luthor and hangs him from a telephone pole. But while Superman is busy capturing Luthor, the Prankster runs out and pulls the wallet. The string was not held by children, but ran to a detonator setting off dynamite which blow a whole in the wall exposing the jewels. Gleefully, Prankster and Toyman make their escape with a priceless model of the Metropolis Bridge encrusted with precious stones.
Turning, Superman rushes to stop the two first using his super-breath to pin the Prankster against a wall, then suction-breath to pull the bridge to him. Seeing Superman grab the jeweled bridge the Toyman releases a swarm of tiny Superman dolls that fly away in all directions. However, these toys are more than dolls, they are really small grenades, which explode on contact with whatever they touch. Responding quickly, Superman protects the bridge, setting the grenades off with his teeth, even opening his mouth wide and swallowing the toys whole.
While Superman is busy with the grenades, the trio escapes in Luthor's jet-mobile, all the while arguing over who is more important. The Toyman says, "The next job is mine and I've already figured out what it will be!"
Several days later, Clark Kent and Lois Lane discuss the trio at the Planet offices. Lois tells Clark that she thinks the trio has given up after their first defeat but Kent feels differently. "They're waiting for the right opportunity to strike again," he thinks. And then, he sees it... the Jack in the Box contest with a million-dollar prize! Changing quickly, Superman speeds to the contest headquarters where three heavy crates are being delivered. But the contents are Luthor, the Toyman and the Prankster. With the touch of a switch, the tops fly open and the three criminals are propelled to the second floor with powerful springs. Inside the office, the Toyman begins trying to open the safe while the other two take hostages. In seconds, Superman arrives frightening the Toyman who drops his torch cutting a hole into the floor, weakening the joists and causing the huge safe to crash through the floor. In an instant, Superman zips out the window to the floor below, catching the safe before it crushes the secretary below.
Foiled again, the three hurriedly flee in one of Luthor's rockets. "I think that I left my stomach a couple of miles back down there," says the Toyman wearily. "Frankly, I'm disappointed in your crime schemes," bellows Luthor. "You both have inflated reputations!"
Next it is Luthor's turn. Using a worldwide radio system, Luthor challenges Superman to handle a group of floating land mines that he has strategically placed over each nation's capital holding each city in a billion-dollar ransom. Superman arrives in an instant and rapidly dispatches some of them, kicking several of them to the moon to explode harmlessly in space. But as Superman approaches one of the last ones he suddenly feels weak and collapses on the surface of the mine. "It's coated with synthetic Kryptonite," gloated Luthor. Leaning over his huge console, Luthor throws a degravitation switch, and the mine begins to float out into space. "It... It's hard to believe it," stutters the Prankster. "I guess Luthor's a genius after all," sighs the Toyman.
The mine floats further and further out into space and Superman desperately searches for a means to escape. Using his x-ray vision, he triggers the explosive mechanism within the mine causing a blinding explosion which scatters the synthetic Kryptonite to the four corners of the solar system and Superman clear of the deadly particles. After he gathers his strength, Superman turns and flies back to Luthor's headquarters.
"Now will you two imitation masterminds admit that I, Luthor, am the only real genius? My success in defeating Superman proves that I am the greatest..." But Luthor's diatribe was interrupted by another voice. "Was I defeated?" laughs Superman entering the open window. In seconds, Superman has used the draperies to capture and tie-up the trio, and takes off flying to Metropolis prison with the trio hanging from his back like a sack of laundry. "I...I don't understand," stammers Luthor. "My plan was fool proof! What could have gone wrong?"
"Ha Ha Ha! You thought you were a genius!" laughed the Prankster. "Luthor got us all captured by Superman. Ha Ha Ha!" chimed in the Toyman. Superman could only smile. "The Prankster and The Toyman are so happy that Luthor can't gloat that they don't even mind going to prison. What a prize package of conceited hams these three are!"
Story - 5: From Superman's inception, it became increasingly difficult to find a villain powerful enough to stand up to his ever-growing powers. Luthor was Superman's second true, and longest lasting nemesis, beginning his reign of terror in Action #23 and Superman #4 using brains to combat Superman's brawn. The first was the Ultra-Humanite (Action #13), a fiendish mad scientist, paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair who headed a ring of evil enterprises with the goal of world domination. The first costumed villain to appear in the title was the Archer in Superman #13 but he appeared only once. After Mxyzptlk (Superman #30), the next real wave of costumed villains began with Action Comics #51 (August 1942) introducing the Prankster, the clown prince of the underworld (although he and Joker might have to fight for that distinction). Less than a year later, Action Comics #64 (Sept 1943) introduced readers to Winslow P. Schott, a bespectacled, bulbous-nosed former toymaker who used toys as a motif in his crimes and became known as the Toyman. Schott had reformed in the 1970's and a new Toyman (Jack Nimball) appeared until Schott killed Nimball and resumed being the Toyman (Superman #305). For years, Luthor, the Prankster and the Toyman remained the major trio of villains to battle Superman.
Art - 4: Wayne Boring drew this story at the peak of his run on Superman and this is a very typical, and strong, example of his work. Boring was known for his highly stylized cityscapes and space scenes, and this story showcased his ability on both fronts.
Cover Art - 5: The premiere cover artist for DC during the late 1940s and well into the 1950's was Win Mortimer. For a period of almost ten years, Mortimer did nearly every cover for Superman, Action, Batman, Detective, and World's Finest as well as a host of other books. Mortimer also found time to do interior work on these titles as well as draw the Superman daily newspaper strip from 1950-5. The cover to Superman #88 is an excellent example of Win's wonderful art, showing Luthor, the Prankster and the Toyman setting various traps for the Man of Steel.
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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