Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Superman: The Secret Years #2

Superman: The Secret Years #2

Cover date: March 1985

"Reach Out and Touch"

Writer: Bob Rozakis
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Kurt Schaffenberger
Cover Artist: Frank Miller

Reviewed by: James Lantz

Click to enlarge

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.

2Story - 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.

4Art - 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.

2Cover 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



  • 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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