Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

World's Finest #199

World's Finest #199

Cover date: December 1970

"A Race to Save Time!"

[Reprinted in Superman vs. The Flash]

Writer: Denny O'Neil
Penciller: Dick Dillin
Inker: Joe Giella
Cover: Neal Adams

Reviewed by: Charlie Niemeyer

Click to enlarge

We start off with a recap page that reads like the "We have already seen..." stuff from the old Batman show, which ends with the arrows flying at Jimmy. Just as they are about to make contact, he begins fading away and they pass through him. He ends up moving forward in time to Spain during the Spanish Inquisition, where his fade-in turns into proof of his witchcraft. He is, again, sentenced to be executed.

In the present, Superman and Flash continue on their trek and pass into the Andromeda galaxy. They enter an orange sun system that causes Superman to weaken (Superman's powers weaken by half under the rays of an orange sun. - Editor) just as they encounter a swarm of Anachronids. Superman is soon knocked unconscious and is dragged away by his cape, while Flash is caught by his medallion which strangles him and causes him to pass out.

Back in the past, Jimmy escapes, but ends up walking into an Inn full of soldiers and is recaptured. Meanwhile, in the present, Superman and Flash find themselves on the other-dimensional planet from last issue, where the sun has just turned red again, and Flash's medallion hanging on a rock, out of reach. Standing over them are Kru-El, Jax-Ur, General Zod and Professor Vakox, all criminals from the Phantom Zone. They explain that the planet exists in a dimension on the far side of the Zone, and they were able to break through to it. Vakox then built the Anachronids to screw up the time stream so that the dimensional barrier between the Phantom Zone and our universe would be destroyed, freeing all of the criminals in the Zone.

Meanwhile on Earth, more time disruptions occur: an old trolley car shows up in Metropolis, Peter Fonda turns into Rudolph Valentino in a movie being watched by Bruce Wayne and Alfred in Gotham, and the mini-skirt display at Diana Prince's boutique changes to a display of antique dresses. Superman gets an idea though. Since the medallion is supposed to be like a Green Lantern's ring, it should be able to be controlled by willpower. So, directing their willpower at the medallion, the heroes will it to them. Then Superman uses it to create a saw to cut through his ropes. But, before he can free Flash, Zod shows up to kill Superman. After blasting the medallion to pieces, Flash is able to kick Zod's weapon out of his hand. Then Superman and Zod begin to tussle, with Zod getting the upper hand because Superman is so used to having to hold back. They dive for Zod's weapon causing it to fire, injuring Flash so that he is temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. Superman is finally able to knock Zod out, but not before twisting his ankle. Figuring that Zod and the others were at whatever place controls the Anachronids, the heroes follow Zod's footprints by crawling (and keeping the race going, of course).

Back in the past, Jimmy is situated in a guillotine while the executioner sharpens his blade. In the present, Superman and Flash finally show up at the villains' base and see Vakox and Jax-Ur playing 6-level chess. Distracting them with a thrown stone, the heroes quickly take down the Zoners in time to see that they only have 30 seconds before the universe is completely disrupted. Crawling up the stairs as quickly as they can, the exhausted heroes finally get to the control room and with less than 3 seconds left, Flash reaches up to throw the master switch (and win the race).

The Anachronids slow down and blow up, Jimmy fades out and returns to the present, the Roman soldier fades out back to his own time and the Guardians breathe a sigh of relief. Inside the Zoners' base, Kru-El discovers the heroes and blasts them, but Superman is able to stand and deflect the blast because the weird sun has changed to yellow again. Superman knocks out the surprised villain, destroys the machinery, vows to keep an eye on the planet in the future, then flies off with Flash back to their own dimension so that the Guardians can seal the doorway forever. The End.

3Story - 3: Another fun issue by O'Neil, who still managed to get Batman to cameo in both issues of this story even though he is no longer headlining. However, when you look a little closer, you do see some flaws. Apparently, if you take away the heroes powers, they turn into weak whiners. Also, while Jimmy mentions at least twice that he can't understand what anyone is saying in "old Spanish," he did understand when the leader asks everyone to pray for the condemned. Also, after the sun was constantly flipping between red and yellow last issue, somehow Vakox is able to calculate that this time it will stay red for 7 hours. And the final part of the race wasn't really all that fair. Flash basically had to drag half his body like dead weight while Superman could still crawl on his hands and knees. And yet Flash still won! Wow.

4Art - 4: Still pretty good this issue. And small things like Flash looking disappointed when he has to mention that he's tired and can't break through his ropes, and Superman keeping an eye on Flash during the last part of the race (when, if you think about it, he should be focusing on saving the universe), made it that much better. I do have to wonder though why Jack Kirby had to have his depictions of Superman's S-shield fixed in Jimmy Olsen while Dillin's was still allowed to look poor here. In some cases, it looks almost identical to what I have seen of Kirby's. Beyond that, I really have no complaints. Very solid work.

4Cover Art - 4: This is another great Neal Adams cover, with a great layout. We not only see the race, but also we get reactions over the final outcome. Dock 1 point for the scene not happening in the issue.

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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