Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Superman: The Secret Years #3Cover date: April 1985
Writer: Bob Rozakis
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Kurt Schaffenberger
Cover Artist: Frank Miller
Reviewed by: James Lantz
Superboy is flying to leave Metropolis for good. His reasons for this stem from the events of recent days. Billy Cramer has matured quite a bit since learning that Clark is Superboy. The Boy of Steel even feels more free to talk to Billy now that the truth is out. He'd even given his new friend a supersonic whistle that only Superboy can hear. This helps the Last Son of Krypton save those he probably would not have rescued without Billy's aid. However, things are not all wine and roses for young Clark Kent. Lori Lemaris still won't tell him why she must always leave him at 8:00 PM every night, and worse yet, she'll be returning home to her family for good. Superboy will have to work fast if he is to solve the mysteries of the life of Lori Lemaris.
Tensions have arisen with Clark Kent and his friends. Pete Ross has come to town to watch a basketball game and visit Clark, who is unaware that his high school chum knows he is Superboy. The fact that both Billy and Pete are unwittingly trying to keep Clark's double life a secret creates jealousy and rivalry between the two lads. Saving a fireworks factory from burning turns out to be less tiresome than going with his pals to a match for the Teen of Tomorrow. Plus, our young hero discovers Lori is talking to someone via radio. The only other unusual thing in her trailer is a tank of sea water where a bed should be. Superboy may get the shock of his life should he discover that his girlfriend is an enemy agent.
In spite of now knowing that Lori is a telepathic mermaid from Atlantis, Clark is gravely hurt because she must return home even though they worked together to save innocent people from a flood. Billy wishes to help the mild mannered student after calling Superboy with the supersonic whistle, but he angrily shuts him out in both of his identities. Clark simply refuses to discuss his feelings with anyone. Has Superboy's broken heart created a rift between him and Billy Cramer?
A tsunami is about to hit the island of Pandango. Rioters are preventing aid from getting to women and children. As the Boy of Steel makes his rescue attempts, Billy blows the supersonic whistle. He is trapped in a burning building in Metropolis. He went in to help get a woman's baby out of the flames. Firemen later discover that the child was with a neighbor. Meanwhile, Superboy's super breath only strengthens the tidal wave, and heat vision will scorch the inhabitants. Superboy's only option is to go under water burn part of the island that's underwater and lift Pandango to another location. As he does this, Billy continues to blow the whistle. However, the blaze and its smoke overcome him. When Superboy returns to Metropolis, CPR does not help Billy Cramer. He is dead. Now, Superboy believes that because he has been unable to save his friends and family, being a superhero is not worth the effort. He now wants to hang up his cape for good as he pays his final respects to Billy Cramer.
Story - 3: In all honesty, this was edging close to a four as Bob Rozakis did seem to fix problems evident in the previous two chapters. Yet, while the story was a more interesting and entertaining read, there are still some things that could have been handled better. For example, I like the fact that Billy seems to have matured somewhat since Clark told him he is Superboy. However, he seems to have changed or evolved as a character without much, if any, explanation. It's as sudden as Clark revealing his secret identity in the previous issue and comes out of nowhere. Still, it's good to see he's not an irritating borderline stalker even if my prediction of his death came true.
We got more of Lori Lemaris, and Pete Ross finally makes an appearance in this series. The rivalry between him and Billy is done well. However, I would have liked to have seen Lana Lang in this issue. Her reactions to Clark's friendship with Billy and romance with Lori could have provided some interesting drama in young Mister Kent's life. That in addition to more delving into the aforementioned character development of Billy would have made for a perfect comic.
I understand DC and Marvel are competitors. That's just normal in the comic book business. I like both Marvel and DC equally. However, certain elements in Bob Rozakis' story seem to be going in the direction of the Stan Lee and John Romita Senior classic "Spider-Man No More" from The Amazing Spider-Man #50. At this point in the mini-series, I'm not certain if I like that. We'll just have to wait and see how the rest of this pans out in the next issue.
In the past two to three years, I've been re-acquainting myself with Doctor Who. I love the revival show, and I have been watching the classic series a bunch lately. I've even had reviews published in the Fish Fingers and Custard fanzine (Shameless plug). What's my point? Well, the supersonic whistle Billy used to call Superboy reminded me of the dog whistle Tom Baker used as the fourth incarnation of the Doctor to call the robot dog K-9. I had qualms about this plot device upon my first reading of this book, but I warmed up to as I saw it in my second and third perusals. The whistle gave a bit of Silver/Bronze Age whimsy to the story. That helped me to enjoy it more.
While there was room for improvement, Superman: The Secret Years #3 is perhaps the best of this series so far. This is what I expected from the previous two issues. We'll see how things wrap up eventually, but I'm not as cynical about this story as I was before.
Art - 4: Again, it just tells the story, but Curt Swan did a fantastic job with what he does best - drawing the Superman universe. Still, the inks prevent the art from being a perfect five. Something about them feels out of sync with Swan's style.
Cover Art - 1: This image, like the ones for the first two chapters, does the exact opposite of what a comic book cover should do. I personally feel it was a horrible choice as it repulses the viewer instead of attracting them to buy it.
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!
- 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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