Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Superman: The Secret Years #2Cover date: March 1985
"Reach Out and Touch"
Writer: Bob Rozakis
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Kurt Schaffenberger
Cover Artist: Frank Miller
Reviewed by: James Lantz
After his drinking and driving accident, Ducky Ginsberg is confined to a wheelchair and can no longer live on the eighth floor dorm with Tommy Lee, Dave Hammond and Clark Kent. Billy Cramer has moved in to Ducky's place. He is sharing a room with Clark, while Tommy moves his things in with Dave. Clark, in the meantime, is investigating disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle as Superboy. He's had no luck in his search for any planes or ships that have gone missing in recent days. Also, the Boy of Steel must testify at the first trial of young criminal genius Lex Luthor. Luthor is sentenced to ten years in the state penitentiary. However, we can all be sure that this won't be the last time Luthor crosses paths with the Last Son of Krypton.
Billy is still writing exaggerated accounts of his times at Metropolis University. In spite of this, he has struck a friendship with Clark after an incident in a chemistry laboratory. Steve Power has sabotaged Clark's experiment to make it blow up in his face and cause him to stink to high heaven. Billy overhears Powers' talk about the prank and runs to Kent's aid. The concoction explodes, making the room smell extremely bad. Billy takes the brunt of the liquid meant for Clark. Knowing his Superboy costume would be revealed under his clothes if Steve Power's bomb had gotten him, Clark realizes that Billy has unknowingly saved his secret identity. To return the favor, the mild mannered student uses his super breath to give Power a taste of his own medicine. With his new shirt now ruined, Billy Cramer makes better use for it. He sends it to Steve in a plain brown wrapper. The odor overwhelms the bully. Billy Cramer is now one of Clark Kent's pals, but how long will that last?
Billy is continuing to write his folks. This time, he tells them he talked with Superboy about times in Smallville. In reality, Superboy was trying to fix a power outage that struck the Met U campus by repairing the water main, evaporating water with his heat vision and restarting the power station's generators. The Boy of Tomorrow didn't have time to speak to Billy. The next day, Billy and Clark are walking when Lori Lemaris loses control of her wheelchair. Clark's heat vision melts the tires to stop it before he catches her to prevent her falling. Clark is left speechless by Lori's beauty, leaving Billy to do all the talking. Yet, the young lady is fascinated by Kent. Billy and Clark discuss this before going to sleep. Billy even suggests that Clark and Lori double date with him. It looks like things could get very interesting for young Mister Kent in these days to come.
Clark is plagued by nightmares about Ducky's legs being pulled by Jor-El and Lara in an effort to show their son his failures. His troubled sleep worries Billy, but Clark refuses to say anything for fear of revealing that he is Superboy. Billy says talking about things is what friends are for. Clark ponders this after Billy's fanciful tales to his parents. However, Clark has a date with Lori the next evening. Billy and his girl Diane run into them as they are ending dinner. Billy wants to double date, and Clark hopes to see more of Lori. Yet, she must keep her very strict self-imposed curfew of 8:00 PM. This time, Lori's going home could work to Clark's advantage. Other search planes have vanished into the Bermuda Triangle. As if she could read his mind, Lori says that Clark seems miles away like he's out at sea. Young Kent does wonder about his amazing new girlfriend, for this isn't the first time she's acted in that manner. But that will have to wait. Superboy is going to need to work fast if he is to prevent anymore ships from being lost.
Superboy still has had no luck with the Bermuda Triangle mystery. In the meantime, Clark Kent's room-mates are looking for Dave's fraternity ring. Billy finds it in the lining of the lad's jacket. This gives Clark an idea. Superboy never thought to do a water level search for any vessels or wreckage. He finds a strange opening in the sky and water. Flying into the rift of tumultuous space, the Boy of Steel finds an entire community on an island. Superboy eventually learns from the people that do not wish to go back to the outside world. They are content with their life now, and returning to civilization would complicate things for the loved ones they left behind. Seeing their peace, the Last Son of Krypton wishes to learn a lesson from the survivors of the Bermuda Triangle. This leads Clark to tell Billy something that he never revealed to anyone, even his childhood pal Pete Ross (though Pete does know. Clark is unaware of this fact at this point in time). The mild mannered student shows Billy Cramer that he is Superboy. With that, Superboy takes Billy for a flight as we end with Billy writing to his parents that he met an old friend of Clark's.
Story - 2: Where did Bob Rozakis pull this story from? Granted, the moments that featured Lori Lemaris and Lex Luthor prevented it from being utter crap. However, a vast majority of this issue, like the previous one, can be summed up in two words: wasted potential.
I would have liked to have seen more on Ducky after the DUI in this issue. Rozakis handled the issue of drinking and driving in a slipshod manner, but I'd still like at least a few panels with Ducky just to see how the character is progressing. Instead, we get just a few lines of dialog, a dream sequence and a comic that mostly reads like A Day in the Life of Billy Cramer. Readers are left hanging to some degree about Ducky, and that just shows another example of sloppy writing on Rozakis' part.
This issue of Superman: The Secret Years leaves the readers to ask "Why?", and it's not in a good way that makes them curious about how the story will turn out. Why was the Bermuda Triangle used for this issue in such a poor manner? Why didn't we see more on Ducky, Dave, Tommy, Lex and Lori? Why was Billy Cramer even featured in this series? He seems to be a "red shirt" to me, but we'll see if I'm right in the third or fourth chapter. Anyway, what I mentioned a bit ago is just an example of the things that came to mind as I read this. Yet, one thing especially bothers me more than those points. Why did Clark choose to tell Billy, a young man who is a liar and a borderline stalker, that he is, in fact, Superboy? It comes out of nowhere, feels forced and sudden and is, in my humble opinion, out of character for Clark. With tales like this, it's no wonder Superman was rebooted after Crisis On Infinite Earths. I'll continue to read and review the rest of Superman: The Secret Years. I just won't get my hopes up after having them crushed by the mediocre to bad writing in it so far.
Art - 4: While it merely tells the story and nothing really stands out as it does in other Curt Swan books, the art is still great to look at and is the saving grace of this issue.
Cover Art - 2: This is slightly better than the previous issue's cover, but for some reason Frank Miller's style in this particular image does not work for a Superman title in my opinion.
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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