Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

World's Finest #198

World's Finest #198

Cover date: November 1970

"Race to Save the Universe!"

[Reprinted in Superman vs. The Flash]

Writer: Denny O'Neil
Penciller: Dick Dillin
Inker: Joe Giella
Cover: Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson

Reviewed by: Charlie Niemeyer

Click to enlarge

Jimmy Olsen is getting ready for bed after staying up all night to cover a political convention. As he steps into the bathroom to get an aspirin for his headache, he actually finds himself falling through darkness before landing in a Roman chariot 2000 years ago (strangest sentence I have ever written).

The chariot hits a bump which apparently throws Jimmy off, then goes through the same "gap in time" and ends up in the streets of Metropolis, where the Roman Centurion begins attacking cars thinking they are dragons. All of this excitement catches Superman's attention, so he swoops down, lets the Centurion break his sword on his chest, then takes him away to get medical attention. Suddenly, the image of one of the Guardians of the Universe (bosses of the Green Lantern Corps) appears requesting Superman's presence on their home planet of Oa immediately.

Using a convenient space warp, Superman and the Centurion reach Oa in less time then it takes to read this sentence. The Guardian tells Superman that the Anachronids, beings that move at faster-than-light speeds, have passed into our universe. Turns out anything moving at those speeds can disrupt the flow of time, but thousands of Anachronids could destroy time (which also explains Jimmy and the Centurion's adventures). The only way to save the universe is for 2 beings of human mass to travel in the opposite direction at the same speeds to counteract the Anachronids. As is turns out, in the DC Universe of 1970, there are exactly 2 human-sized beings that can move at super-speed, Superman and the Flash! The guardian gives Superman a medallion for the Flash that will give him unlimited endurance, but also provide him with a mental map of the course and provide a "track" for him to run on.

Superman goes to Earth, fills Flash in on what's going on and the two decide to have a little fun with this mission by making it a race. So they race off at top speed and before long race out of our solar system.

Meanwhile, in 15 BC, Jimmy is brought before a Roman General who orders that Jimmy be executed.

In the present, the heroes cross paths with the Anachronids, who immediately blast them, knocking out Flash. Superman attempts to catch an Anachronid before realizing that Flash is unconsciously heading head-first toward a yellow sun. (Editor's Note: Due to a necessary impurity, Flash's green medallion, like a Green Lantern's power ring, is powerless against anything yellow). Superman catches the hero in time to see the Anachronids blast the sun, causing it to Super-nova. Flash wakes up at this point so they try to outrun the Super-nova, but end up getting blasted to a planet in another dimension. Superman notices the wierd looking sun (looks like a donut) change from yellow to red (Editor's Note: Kryptonians lose their super-powers under a red sun) just as he gets knocked out and carried away by four familiar looking phantoms. When he comes to, he is attacked by an alien creature. He goes to defend himself, but the sun turns red again, allowing the creature to gain the upper-hand. Meanwhile, Flash, having searched all over the rest of the planet, finds Superman about to be hurt by the creature and uses his super-speed to create a dust storm to disorient the creature. Now free, Superman waits for the sun to turn yellow again before knocking the creature out. Superman then theorizes that if they fly at the wierd looking sun, they might be able to get back to their own universe. Also, if they move at twice the speed of light, they can get through the sun before the heat can harm them.

This works, so they set off to try to catch one of the Anachronids again. When they do so, they find that the Anachronids are robots, but it soon disintegrates because it is not built to move at sub-light speed. While trying to figure out who built the robots, the heroes decide to resume their race.

Meanwhile, in 15 BC, Jimmy is tied to a tree. Five archers take aim and fire their arrows at him.

To be continued...

4Story - 4: Julie Schwartz announces the beginning of his editorial reign on World's Finest by getting rid of Batman and giving Superman a rotating group of guest-stars, starting with Flash. O'Neil wastes no time sucking us in and keeps things at a pretty good pace throughout.

I am surprised that the Roman Centurion armor was strong enough to not only protect the man inside from the rigors of space, but also from the friction of travelling at super-speed from Earth to Oa. He is also a quick learner, since he's able to learn English from the Guardians in the time it takes for Superman to super-speed back to earth, get Flash, and both of them to start their race.

Poor Jimmy just can't catch a break and is sentenced to death for no apparent reason, although I guess him just appearing out of thin air probably made it look like he was a witch or something. The cliffhanger at the end is awesome. How can he be saved when our heroes don't even know he's stuck in the past? And, since I've never read these issues before, I'm anxious to check out the next issue to see what happens.

4Art - 4: I will admit that I have never been a fan of Dillin or Giella. I just don't like Dillin's style, and Giella's inks are too loose for my tastes and he usually covers up the penciller's work so much that it looks like he also did the pencils a lot of the time. But in this issue, I thought the art looked great. The inks are tight, and enough of Dillin's style shows through without it looking too Giella-esque.

5Cover Art - 5: This cover is amazing. The stars of the issue look great, Batman makes a cameo and we've got an honest to goodness crowd. And the background looks like space, which is where most of the race takes place anyway.

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”




Compilation Volumes


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