Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Superman: The Secret Years #4Cover date: May 1985
Writer: Bob Rozakis
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Kurt Schaffenberger
Cover Artist: Frank Miller
Reviewed by: James Lantz
"Where is Superboy?"
That is the question on the minds of people all over Earth and headlines in the Daily Planet. Planet editor George Taylor assigns reporter Perry White to investigate. Should White get the story of the Boy of Steel's whereabouts, the Pulitzer prize winning journalist will become Taylor's successor when the chief goes into retirement soon. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor has been secretly launching satellites into space. Governments on both sides of the Iron Curtain are nervous as they believe the opposition is preparing something big. At the same time, Superboy has taken refuge in the mountains of the island he found on the other side of a rift he had discovered in the Bermuda Triangle. He is attempting to come to terms with the deaths of those he's cared for. The Last Son of Krypton is extremely immersed in his grief and anger. This could cause more of his loved ones to be in grave danger if he does nothing to save them.
Metropolis Police Inspector Bill Henderson and Perry are looking for Superboy. Their only clue is the supersonic whistle the late Billy Cramer left behind. Perry takes it hoping it will lead him to the young hero somehow. He knows that Superboy is needed now more than ever, for Luthor has interrupted radio and television broadcasts. He has revealed that he's launched a total of thirty-six satellites into space. Should the Metropolis Kid fail to accept Luthor's challenge to a duel by 6:00 PM tonight, the maniacal genius will use his orbiting devices to destroy all life on Earth. Can Superboy be found in time to stop his evil nemesis, or will Lex Luthor finally triumph over his foe?
In his mountain refuge, Superboy's dreams disturb him. Jonathan and Martha Kent discuss the outside world's search for Superboy. Martha said that humans don't deserve her son. Suddenly, Jor-El and Lara burst through the living room walls saying that it is the Kents that didn't merit the young man. Violent conflict ensues. Kryptonite knitting needles hit Lara, but they have no effect. A piece of one is now embedded in Superboy's leg. However, his parents are too busy fighting to help him. The sound of the supersonic whistle intervenes. Billy Cramer is blowing it. The Kryptonite disappears as fathers and mothers cease pummeling each other. He orders them to stop making Superboy feel guilty over their deaths. Billy also perished because the Boy of Steel didn't get to the city in time to rescue him. However, thousands of other lives needed to be saved. Superboy became Superman when he decided to go for the greater good in order to become Earth's greatest hero.
Superman awakens to hear the supersonic whistle. Flying through the rift, the Man of Tomorrow finds reporter Perry White using it. White tells Superman of Luthor's challenge. He has two minutes to comply with Luthor. This gives the Last Son of Krypton plenty of time to deal with the three dozen satellites. Unfortunately, Lex has planned for this. Should one of his orbiting death dealers be disturbed, all of them will be activated. This gives Superman no choice but to duel Luthor directly. Upon finding Lex's hideout, our hero learns that his arch enemy created the space devices to give him abilities similar to those of the Metropolis Marvel. The only powers Luthor does not have now are super vision and hearing. However, the evil genius believes the fight between him and Superman will be a fair one. Both Lex and the Man of Steel are now physical equals. Who will come out on top in this battle of titans?
Lex's newly created superhuman strength has caused the televised battle between him and Superman to be a draw. Luthor is borrowing under a vein of Galenite to gain an advantage when he becomes buried under rock. Knowing he cannot allow anyone to die, even his greatest enemy, Superman saves him. This could prove to be the Man of Steel's undoing, for Luthor now has him in a choke hold. Superman falls to the ground and ceases breathing. As a result of his victory, Luthor destroys all his satellites. Suddenly, much to the surprise of the criminal mastermind, Superman is alive and well. He had stopped his breathing and heartbeat to simulate death. Now, Lex Luthor will go back to prison, but he vows that he and Superman shall have another confrontation sometime in the near future.
Perry White has gotten the story of Superman defeating Lex Luthor. He is now the new editor in-chief of the Daily Planet. Superman congratulates him and thanks him for calling him back into action before resuming his final school year at Metropolis University as Clark Kent. Kent saves Ducky Ginsberg from rolling down a hill dangerously in his wheelchair. However, unlike with Lori Lemaris, Clark merely grabs it. The two young men chat and eventually graduate together with Tommy Lee and Dave Hammond. The quartet celebrate by having dinner with Tommy's parents. This and some memories of Jonathan and Martha Kent before his Smallville High School Commencement Ceremony help Clark to learn to live in the present and move on with his life. One chapter has closed and another begins as young Mister Kent is hired by Perry White to be a reporter for the Daily Planet. With that, new adventures are just beyond the horizon for Superman.
Story - 4: There are some plot holes I wish to discuss. First, how would Superboy actually know the outside world was looking for him? Sure, he could make assumptions, but there is no actual mentioning of how he discovered the newspaper headlines shown in his dream. Secondly, the Kryptonite should have hurt Lara. It didn't make sense that the knitting needles broke on her skin. Aside from these major flaws, this final issue of Superman: The Secret Years is the best in the entire series. It's a pity the rest weren't as good.
Looking back on Superman: The Secret Years as a whole, perhaps it would have been better suited as an annual. Much of the final product in the first two chapters feels like filler material. There were elements I liked, but they were overshadowed by what felt like Bob Rozakis' attempts to prolong the story. I did like seeing Pete, Lori, and the overall conflict with Lex and Clark/Superboy/Superman and the Boy/Man of Steel 's inner turmoil. Plus, the character evolution of Billy was well done even if I didn't really care for him in the first issue. Overall, Superman: The Secret Years, while having a rocky start, is a fun ride that any fan of the Pre-Crisis era would love.
Art - 4: Throughout this series, the images have merely told the story. This issue is also like that. Yet, it was drawn by Curt Swan, and I love his style. He's still the best artist for the Man of Steel in my opinion.
Cover Art - 1: Something about Frank Miller's covers for this series, including this one, just doesn't sit well with me. The man has done great things for comic books. Unfortunately, this image is not one of those things.
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 Laneä Deadä 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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