Thursday, December 11, 2008

Episode #49: Superman Meets President Kennedy!

To honor the late President Kennedy on the anniversary week of his assassination, the featured stories are two where President Kennedy co-stars. The date of November 22, when he died, has stuck with me. My father had a bank where one slot changed the month and the other changed the date. He left it at November 22 after that. A poignant coment about President Kennedy that I remember was in Anton Myrer's novel The Last Convertible. One of the characters worked on the Kennedy campaign. When Kennedy was elected, one of the characters, a fellow WW II veteran, said that it felt as if one of the young men who got sent to war had taken the reigns of power from the old men whe sent them to war. After he was killed it felt as if the old men had taken back that power.
The two featured Superman stories were The Superman Super-Spectacular from Action Comics #309, (February 1964 issue, which appeared on the newsstands on December 26, 1963)The cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Sheldon Moldoff. The story was written by Edmund Hamilton, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. IV. The other story was Superman's Mission For President Kennedy, which was originally published in Superman #170, (July 1964, originally published on May 7, 1964). The cover for this issue illustrated the other story in this issue, If Lex Luthor Were Superman's Father. Superman's Mission For President Kennedy was written by Bill Finger and E. Nelson Bridwell, and drawn by Al Plastino. This story was reprinted in the trade paperback Superman In The Sixties.
In The Superman Super-Spectacular, Clark finds a letter addressed to Superman from President Kennedy. Superman later flies to the White House, where the President asks Superman to retrieve a space capsule from the ocean, so that the astronaut who flew in space in that capsule can be honored on a new TV show Our American Heroes. After Superman accomplishes his mission he takes the capsule to Washington, he winds up on similar missions for other honorees of this TV show for its producer. At the end of the day, Superman flies back to the studio to meet with the producer again, where he finds to his surprise, that he is the first honoree of the show. Different people in Superman's life, starting with the now retired Police Chief Parker of Smallville, appear to honor him. Lois and Lana have a metal detector to find out if a Superman robot will impersonate Clark Kent, provingthat Superman and Clark are the same person. When Clark appears, and the detector remains silent, they figure their guess is wrong. At the end of the story, in a private room, Clark removes his disguise to reveal he is President Kennedy! Superman revealed his secret identity to him, because if you can't trust the President, who can you trust. It was a simpler story from a simpler time.
It was also one of the many bizarre silver age stories that could have been written today by Grant Morrison. Thinking about someone with a thick Boston accent impersonating someone with a midwestern accent is almost too much to suspend disbelief for a superhero story.
Superman's Mission For President Kennedy, according to the editorial note on the title page, was originally scheduled for Superman #168, but was pulled from the issue after the assassination. The first story mentioned also appeared after President Kennedy was killed, but was too far in the production schedule to be pulled, apparently. According to the editorial note, President Johnson requested the story be printed to honor the late President.
the story begins with President Kennedy watching a news report, done by Lana Lang, about Superman clearing an avalanche from a bike path in Europe. Some international students were biking together, but the report noted that the American bikers were not in as good physical shape as the other bikers from different countries. President Kennedy has a staffer contact Superman. The President asks Superman to inspire American youth to get in shape. The rest of the story shows Superman inspiring different teen athletes to get in shape, in typically ouotlandish silver age fashion. The story concludes with a Metropolis parade and fireworks, where President Kennedy thanks Superman for a job well done.
These stories were in good taste, and respectful of the President, but read today they are typical of some of the outlandish plots DC Comics could be known for.Mort Weisinger was known for these types of stories as well as some of the classic stories that are some of the all-time best Superman stories from this era.
Superman Fan Podcast can be found at Send e-mail to
My Pull List is my spoiler-free comic book review blog. It can be found at Send e-mail about this blog to
Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Episode #48: Superman In The Army!

This Veteran's Day, Tuesday, November 11, 2008 was the first Veteran's Day with my son Will in the Marines. He is now a Lance Corporal. On Friday, November 14, he enjoyed his first Marine Ball, celebrating the 233rd birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

The features for this Veteran's Day are two Superman stories involving the Army. The first story is The Super Sergeant from Superman #122, the July 1958 issue, approximately on sale on May 1, 1958. (It was the next story in the issue, after Superman In The White House, which was covered in the previous episode of this podcast.) The story was written by Otto Binder, pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye. It was reprinted in Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow Archives, vol. I and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I. The second story is Superman Goes To War from Superman #161, May 1963, originally on the newsstands on March 21, 1963. The writer was Edmund Hamilton, penciller was Curt Swan and inker George Klein. The only reprint of this story is in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. IV. If you would like to read these stories before you listen to this episode, check out these reprint editions.

The Super Sergeant opens at Camp Metropolis, the army base near Metropolis. At reveille Pvt. Jones jumps out of bed and flies to the ceiling. He then graps a towel and his toiletries bag and flies to the showers ahead of his bunkmates. In the showers he stands under scalding hot water without feeling a thing. At breakfast in the mess hall he uses heat vision to warm up his cold oatmeal and later bends the steel barrel of a rifle. Superman eavesdrops on Pvt. Jones, unsurprised at his sudden super-abilities.

Superman flashes back to the previous day, when he was testing a new invention for some scientists. A lightning bolt hits Superman, and he sees the energy bouncing off of him and flowing into Pvt. Jones. In the present, Pvt. Jones is ordered to carry out the trash. In response he throws the garbage can to the dump, miles away. The trash can almost crashes into the Daily Planet Flying Newsroom helicopter, which is piloted by Jimmy Olsen. But Superman saves the helicopter from the collision. After Jimmy lands the helicpter, he and Superman come upon Pvt. Jones, who is lifting a tank for a mechanic to work on it. Jimmy opens a lead box containing kryptonite, which begins to weaken Pvt. Jones. Superman stops Jimmy, but does not divulge his reasons for allowing Pvt. Jones to retain his superpowers.

After Jimmy returns to the Daily Planet Superman follows two civilians he suspects of being spies. Later, Superman returns to the Daily Planet, where Perry assigns him to cover the story of Super Pvt. Jones, as a soldier for a day. The Camp Commander introduces Clark to Pvt. Jones. Both men perform K. P. for a photo opportunity, with Pvt. Jones working at super speed and Clark as slow as a normal human. Pvt. Jones then sweeps out the barracks with his super breath. The camp Commander promotes Jones to sergeant. Clark secretly uses his x-ray vision and super-hearing to keep tabs on the spies, who are observing the super soldier. Sgt. Jones uses his powers during maneuvers, and Clark overhears the spies suspect that Sgt. Jones is Superman in disguise. To correct their assumption he arranges, as Superman, to engage Sgt. jones in mock battle.

The spies suspect that Superman has invented a way to transfer his superpowers to American soldiers, then flee to the coast. They take a raft and row to a waiting sub, which transmits the information to their unknown base. It is revealed that Superman was working with the FBI, who had blown the spies cover. Superman used Sgt. Jones to feed the spies false information, forcing their foreign government to cancel their battle plans agains the USA. Superman then retreives Jimmy's sample of kryptonite and exposes Sgt. Jones to its radiation, removing his super powers permanently. K. P. the next morning is not as enjoyable for Sgt. Jones as it was the day before.

In Superman Goes To War Clark finds himself as an extra in a war movie, along with Perry, Lois and Jimmy. The U. S. Armed Forces loan equipment and personell for the movie. The Daily Planet staff board a landing craft aboard a U. S. naval ship, to be part of a scene showing a mock invasion on an uninhabited island. Clark uses his vision powers to discover that the return fire is not coming from the movie crew because live rounds are being used. Fortuneately no damage or casualties occur. After the cast and crew have landed, the director asks for someone to approach the unknown forces with a white flag to attempt to solve this misunderstanding. They suspect that secluded troops are unaware that WWII has ended (which was a real-life occurence into the 1970's). Clark volunteers, but an artillery shell explodes near him, ripping a hole in his sleeve.

To protect his secret identity he uses his superr-ventriloquism to call Supergirl. She gets a first aid kit from Lois, to gove Clark a "life saving transfusion". She wraps a bandage around Clark's ripped sleeve and flies off for a mock emergency mission. Clark jumps out of the foxhole he was in and appears to have gained superpowers from Supergirl's transfusion of her own blood. Secretly changing to Superman, he demolishes enemy tanks, allowing the soldiers to escape unharmed. When he notices that the enemy all are wearing gas masks, he uses his heat vision to harmlessly cut the straps on a few soldiers. They begin to cough, and their reaction confirms his suspicions. Superman flies to an extinguised volcano crater and grinds minerals, releasing chlorine gas, and retrieves the exposed soldiers to the chlorine cloud. He had noticed that chlorine gas was in the tanks he destroyed.

One of the soldiers explains to Superman that they are aliens who were exploring space. Their spaceship was damaged near Earth, and they landed on this island. Superman helps them repair their ship so they can continue their journey. Superman changes back to his Army uniform as Clark and feigns disorientation, as the superpowered effects of Supergirl's "transfusion" wears off, when he rejoins Lois and Jimmy.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at Send e-mail to

My Pull List, my spoiler free comic book review blog, can be found at Send e-mail about this blog to

Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Episode #47: Superman For President!

Two appropriate Superman stories for this election week show Superman as the President of the United States. Superman In The White House was published in Superman #122 (July 1958, on sale approximately May 1, 1958). In case you would like to read this story before listening to this episode, this story can be found in two reprint editions: Superman:The Man of Tomorrow Archives vol. I and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I. The other story was Executive Action in Action Comics Annual #3, 1991. I could not find any reprint information for this latter story. So your best bet would be an online vendor or the back issue bins of your local comic book store.

Superman In The White House was written by Otto Binder and drawn by Al Plastino. The story begins with Perry White assigns stories for the Daily Planet's Patriot's Day issue. Clark is assigned a story on George Washington. Lois is assigned Abraham Lincoln. When Jimmy asks who he is assigned, Perry says to pick a president and let him know after lunch. On his way out the door Perry tells Jimmy to straighten the Superman picture hanging on the wall of Perry's office. As Jimmy thinks about Superman as President as he straightens the picture, it comes off the wall and hits Jimmy on his head, knocking him out. While he lays on the floor Jimmy begins to dream about Superman as President.

His dream begins with a glowing sign on the side of a building flashes the headline, "Superman elected President ... widest margin in history!" Superman is then sworn in as President, with Clark Kent sworn in as Vice-President. Superman hires Jimmy as his Press Secretary. Having Superman as President causes problems for the Secret Service. Superman flies out of the Oval Office window for a walk, and would be assassins unload on Superman in vain. The Secret Servicemen are going to resign, until Jimmy reminds them that Superman is vulnerable to kryptonite. Later, when Superman is speaking at a public appearance, the Secret Service frisk suspicious characters and confiscating green-k. Superman later throws a plane, filled with his aides to a UN conference, to its destination to save fuel. At another public appearance Superman shakes the hands of everyone in the crowd at super speed. On Opening Day of the baseball season Superman throws the first pitch in Metropolis, to a stadium in Tokyo. To pay off the national debtSuperman scours the sea floor for sunken gold. Superman christens a new destroyer, the USS Superman. When it gets stuck in the mud, he pushes it to the ocean.

After Jimmy awakens, he tells Clark about his idea. Clark reminds Jimmy that Superman is ineligible to run for president because he was born on Krypton, Then Clark winds at the reader and says, "Superman couldn't, but Clark could, not that he would want to."

Executive Action from Action Comics Annual #3, 1991 was a tie-in to the Armageddon 2001 DC event series of that year. That series involved the character Waverider traveling through time from 2001 to 1991 to find the hero who would become the villain Monarch, who killed all of the super heroes and conquered the world. Waverider could keep himself invisible, and would touch a hero and see his future, or possible future. His goal was to kill the one who would become Monarch and change the future.

In the Action Comics Annual, Waverider touches Clark as he and Lois are waiting at the elevator to go on a date. As Clark's future plays out for Waverider, after their date Clark finds a message on his answering machine. Ma Kent called to tell Clark that Pa had been hurt in a farming accident. Both Clark and Lois show up at the Smallville hospital. Ma informs them that Pa had been working on his tractor on an incline, and it tipped over on him. A doctor meets them and tells them that Pa Kent passed away.

After the funeral, Ma Kent sells the farm. Clark and Lois marry and Ma moves in with them at their Park Ridge suburb. Later Clark and Lois visit Pete Ross and Lana in Washington, D. C. Pete informs them that he has decided to run for president, and asks Clark and Lois to run his campaign. Soon after his public announcement, Pete is injured in an assassination plot. Clark jumps in front of the gunman to block the rest of the bullets, and his identity as Superman is exposed. In the hospital Pete asks Clark to run in his place. Eventually Clark/Superman decides to run for president. First Star Labs examines the "birthing matrix" that brought him to Earth. Then the Supreme Court, using the information gathered by Star Labs, ruled that Superman was born in the United States after his spaceship landed on Earth.

After the primaries, an unnamed political party nominates Superman as their nominee for president. His Vice-Presidential nominee is an African-American woman named Sarah Hemming. Of course Superman wins in a landslide. As Superman is sworn in, Lex Luthor meets with the losing candidate, Sen. Forrest, to plot Superman's assassination. Secret Servicemen barge in and arrest Luthor. Forrest had been wearing a wire for the Secret Service.

Early in his administration, Superman and Aquaman search the sea floor for shipwrecks. Using his heat vision, Superman cuts out a vault filled with gold to start paying off the national debt. The economy is given a boost as a result. Superman frees a diplomat who was kidnapped by terrorists. Later he initiates a reforestation project with the help of thousands of volunteers. Superman unveils plans to launch a series of solar power satellites around the Earth to provide cheap electricity.

Then Superman tackles a tougher project, international disarmament. After meeting with world leaders, Sueprman meets with the Justice League to ask for their assistance. He asks them to become more involved in world affairs by becoming weapons inspectors and assisting UN peacekeepers as nations reduce their armed forces. Guy Gardner rejects the idea and attacks Superman. After a brief battle Superman grabs Guy's ring hand. Superman's will power is greater, so the ring appears on Superman's finger. Hal Jordan and John Stewart take guy to Oa for punishment. Later, Hal returns to the Oval Office to offer Superman a Power Ring and become a Green Lantern. Superman respectfully declines, citing the quote about absolute power.

After Waverider disengages from Clark, Clark leaves Lois because of a "funny feeling". He flies to Smallville to find Pa Kent working on the broken down tractor on an incline. Just as the tractor is about to fall on him, Superman saves him. Waverider wonders if their contact left a memory in Superman's subconscious and made him react to this future event.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at Send e-mail about this podcast to

My Pull List is my spoiler free review blog of the comic books I read every week. It can be found at Send e-mail about this blog to

Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Superman and all related characters are copyright by DC Comics.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Episode #46: A Superman Halloween: "Red Glass"

When I began preparing to post episodes for this podcast, there were a few Superman stories that I immediately had in mind for specific times of the year. For instance, the story The Night of March 31st was a natural for the week of April Fool's Day. Another was the three issue story I will be sharing for this episode, Red Glass. It appeared in the Superman issues cover dated June 1991, and were published during the month of April, 1991. After you read the conclusion you may think that this story was also appropriate for April Fool's Day, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I could not find any reprint information about this story, so if you would like to read this story before listening to this episode, you will have to search for the individual issues in back issue bins or on ebay.

A note of caution: While the events of this story are not explicit, it might be too scary for small children who may be easily frightened. Use your discretion if you have preschoolers or young elementary age children, when you listen to this episode.

The specific issues were: Superman #56 (published on April 16, 1991, triangle #16 for 1991) cover titled Red Glass: First Symptoms, story titled Red Glass Part One: Breaking Up. The Adventures of Superman #479 (published on April 23, 1991, triangle #17) was cover titled Red Glass:Full Fever, story titled Red Glass Part Two: Falling Apart. Action Comics #666 (an appropriate number for halloween, published on April 30, 1991, triangle #18) was cover titled Red Glass: Crystalline Cure, story titled Red Glass Part Three: Picking Up The Pieces. The story was written by James D. Hundall, pencilled by Ed Hannigan, inked by Willie Blyberg, colored by Glenn Whitmore and covers by Andy Kubert. Dan Thorsland was the assistant editor and Mike Carlin was the editor of the Superman titles at this time, and is now an Executive Editor at DC Comics.

As noted above, these issues were published during the triangle era of Superman comics, when the various titles advanced a larger story in tight continuity. the triangle numbers were an aid to readers to guide them to the correct order each issue needed to be read in.

The story begins in Superman #56 with Superman stopping an attempted mugging. He is surprised to find that the intended victim is more afraid of Superman than she is of her would be muggers. She runs away from all of them, and the muggers beg Superman to spare their lives. Superman informs them that he doesn't kill. But the word kill comes out of Superman's mouth so loud that the sound waves vaporize the muggers and damages surrounding buildings. While citizens cower at Superman as he walks by, he is using his x-ray vision to follow the woman to a large building. When he arrives there Superman sees that it is a museum called the Museum of Dead Villains. Above the entrance is a huge piece of artwork of Superman standing over the bodies of his villains, with the title Superman's Day of Wrath.

Inside is the wreckage of Brainiac's robot skull ship, along with other relics. There are displays of Superman's villains with information how Superman killed them. One display holds Metallo's robot body, except for his cranium, which was vaporized by Superman's heat vision. Brainiac's display informs the viewer that he died by a blow to the head by Superman. The Prankster was dropped from space and vaporized in the atmosphere. Joker was placed in a cell on the moon, without food or water, and died after three days. Darkseid took the longest to kill, but not before the battle destroyed half of Apokolips. Superman finds a museum employee, who asks, "Why couldn't you have stayed away?" Apparently, Superman left the earth after killing all of his enemies. Nearby is a shelf of the skulls of many other Superman enemies, including Otis from the Superman movies of the 1970's.

Superman leaves the museum and meets Lois Lane on the sidewalk. She is a paraplegic because of the damage done to Joker's lair when he had kidnapped her. During Superman's battle with him Lois was left trapped in the rubble with her spinal cord crushed. And Lois is not at all happy with Superman for leaving her there. Superman has no recollection of these events, but this person does appear to be the real Lois. To be sure Superman uses his x-ray vision. But instead of x-ray vision, heat vision comes out of Superman's eyes, cremating Lois in her wheelchair. The citizens gather around Superman and almost riot against him. Thinking this is a plot against him created by Luthor, Superman flies to the LexCorp building. He finds Luthor in his penthouse office, now empty. Luthor is still alive, but Superman has bankrupted his corporation. Superman hears the ultrasonic signal from Jimmy's signal watch. Luthor tears the mask from his face to reveal a disguised Jimmy Olsen, who then opens his briefcase containing kryptonite. That ends the story in Superman #56.

The Adventures of Superman #479 picked up the story from there, with Jimmy exposing his pal to kryptonite. He explains that when Superman killed Lois he killed Jimmy's wife. They fell in love when Lois turned to Jimmy for comfort after her paralysis. Luthor and a group of people (former LexCorp employees?) gather around the slowly dying Superman. Superman fades to black. He wakes up to a Metropolis that is nothing but rubble. A full page panel shows the city looking like a bombed out city (ala Hiroshima or Nagasaki). The Daily Planet building has toppled in one piece almost. Supoerman finds Booster Gold, barely alive under the Daily Planet globe. Booster points to Superman and whispers "Murderer" with his dying breath. Superman flies away in despair, and in the background we see the bridges connecting Metropolis also destroyed. He sees a lone staanding figure, but when he land next to it, Superman only finds a standing skeleton. Next to the skeleton is a boom box, with weird dialogue coming from its speakers, ", come in please. This is Houston. Do you copy?" Superman does not understand, he doesn't know anyone named Houston.Superman is then attacked by Guy Gardner Green Lantern, and the skeleton turns into the Martian Manhunter, who joins the fight. Superman kills both heroes in the battle. Manhunter's last words are, "...trapped - moon red glass." The issue ends with the army approaching Superman, ready to attack.

Action Comics #666 begins with the army opening fire on Superman. He flies away, but multiple fighter jets target Superman with missles which knock Superman out of the sky. then what seems the entire arsenal of the army targets Superman, turning the ruins of Metropolis into a gigantic crater, with Superman at its center. He is still alive, and is attacked by Firestorm and Captain Atom, whom Superman kills, along with the new Doom Patrol, who follow them. The army is also killed in the battle's shockwaves. Superman is finally alone, and is horrified by his actions.

Wonder Woman approaches, holding a large piece of green kryptonite, and tells Superman that he must pay for his actions. Superman, in his guilt and grief, agrees and takes the kryptonite. As this scene progresses, the background changes from the ruin of Metropolis to a cratered area resembling the moon. Superman is now wearing an oxygen mask and the kryptonite changes to a NASA device. In a flashback, a NASA scientist briefs Superman about a radioactive anomaly on the moon and asks him to investigate. He approaches a new crater and finds a glowing red crystal spire rising from the crater's center. Superman touches the crystal, creating a telepathic link. The crystal is a sentient being. It was traveling through the solar systems eons in the past, looking for a suitable planet for its children. It found Earth too violent and unsuitable. It was affected by increased solar activity and hit by a meteor. It crashed on the moon and had been trapped there ever since. Its first attempt to telepathically contact Superman caused the horrific delusions he experienced, when he was actually tearing up the lunar landscape. Superman digs out the crystaline being at super speed, which thanks him. Superman is also thankful that the being helped him face his darkest fears, and show him how to survive the bad as well as the good.

The last panel hints at the next storyline. The next issue that will be published is Man of Steel #1, the monthly title, picking up the title of John Byrne's original mini-series. It would be written by Louise Simonson and drawn by Jon Bogdanove, the July 1991 issue, published on May 14, 1991.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at Send e-mail to

My Pull List is my spoiler free review blog of the comic books I read each week. It can be found at Send e-mail about this blog to

Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Superman and all related characters are copyright by DC Comics.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Episode #45: "Superman" #50: The Engagement of Clark and Lois!"

On October 23, 1990, Superman #50 (December 1990) was published. It was the concluding issue of the Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite four part story. It was written by Jerry Ordway, who also did the covers and art for Superman #49 and the main parts of issue #50. The other artists for issue #50 were Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Kerry Gammill, Dennis Janke, Curt Swan, and John Byrne.

The storyline begins with Perry White and his wife Alice at the grave of their son Perry, Jr., who died at the end of the previous storyline. After they leave Lex Luthor pays his respects, because Perry, Jr. was actually the son of Lex Luthor. Way back in an issue of World of Metropolis, which featured Perry White, he returns to find his finacee Alice had an affair with his former friend Lex Luthor. Perry and Alice mend their relationship and marry, and Perry, Jr. is born within a year. They think he is their son, but it's soon enough after the affair that, while their son is mortally wounded, that they find out that Luthor is the actual father. While Luthor mourns his only known offspring a red rock flies out of nowhere and bounces off the back of Luthor's head. When he picks it up, one side of the red rock is a face that is talking to him, Mr. Mxyzptlk. They make a deal that Luthor can keep the red rock, and, when he rubs it, will make himself as powerful as Superman. Of course, in Luthor's ego and vanity, he thinks he will receive super powers. What happens is that Superman loses his powers, thus, Luthor is as powerful as Superman.

Superman uses his friend Prof. Hamilton, and Starman, a hero who had his own title for w while, to fool Luthor and Metropolis criminals that Superman still has his powers. Starman uses his pwers to change his features to double as Superman, and provoke Luthor to throw the red kryptonite at him. Hamilton then analyzes it.

Lois also has a crisis, with her mother falling very ill. She had worked at a LexCorp chemical plant and was contaminated in an explosion. Luthor used his genius to create a serum to keep Lois' mother healthy, but devises monthly doses as a way of giving him leverage to control Lois. Now the serum is losing its effectiveness, and Lois' mother is falling ill as a result.

In the first pages of issue #50, Clark finds his mother's heirloom ring in his suitcase, after he and Lois had visited Smallville during the Fourth of July. Ma Kent, being as perceptive as mothers are, saw how Clark and Lois loved each other and hid the ring that had been in the Clark family for generations in his suitcase. When he treats Lois to lunch at Dooley's, on the ground floor of the Daily Planet building, she asks for time to think about it. Clark, ever the gentleman, agrees. Their lunch is interupted by a phone call by Luthor, who shares his condolences with Lois. She returns the favor by telling Luthor what she thinks about him and his serum. Clark grabs the phone and uses the red kryptonite as leverage to get an interview. He brings it back to Luthor and asks a blunt question: Why does Luthor hate Superman. Luthor answers that he cannot believe that a person as powerful as Superman would not use his powers to rule the Earth. He then calls for sevurity to throw Kent out, but not before he breaks the agreement with Mxy and tells Clark that the rock came from Mr. M. Clark's powers return on the sidewalk in front of LexCorp, and he tests them by giving the security guards hot feet. The issue ends with Clark in the hospital waiting room after hours as Lois visits her mother with sister Lucy and dad Sam. Sam gives his endorsement of Clark, and then she meets Clark in the waiting room. In the hospital parking garage Lois accepts Clark's proposal and they kiss.

Their relationship began to change in Adventures of Superman #457, where Lois goes to Clark's apartment to escort her to a banquet both had been invited to, even bringing a bouquet to Clark. He had returned after the Exile In Space story. Clark had been feared dead when Intergang did a hit at his apartment. The actual victim was a down on his luck private detective who was hired by a computer expert named Amanda, who was fired by Luthor back in Superman #2 (1987), when he refused to acdcept her conclusion that Clark Kent was actually Sueperman. She had hired the P. I. to gather evidence to prove her conclusion was correct. While everyone thought Clark was dead Lois had begun to rethink her relationship with Clark. She began to go beyond their professional rivalry, which began when he earned his job at the Daily Planet by scooping the story of the century by interviewing Superman. She really began to think of him as a friend, at least.

On the last page of Adventures of Superman #466, Clark and Lois kiss at her apartment. The next Superman issue, Action Comics #653, opens with Clark waiting at the elevator with a rose for Lois as she leaves the elevator. Superman #46 ends with the two of them kissing on a hill outside Smallville as the Fourth of July fireworks exploded overhead. The next issue, Adventures of Superman #469, opens with Clark and Lois spending time with Lana and Pete. Clark eventually revealed his secret identity to Lois at the end of Action Comics #662. After Superman #118 came Superman: The Wedding Album. In these last two issues DC rushes Clark and Lois to the wedding chapel.

One of the special features to Superman: Doomsday was the Superman creative team discussing their original plans to marry Clark and Lois in Superman #75. When the ABC show Lois and Clark wanted to have them marry on their show first, the DC creators decided to do the Doomsday story for #75. After the wedding on Lois and Clark and the show's cancellation, then the DC executives wanted to have Clark and Lois marry in the comics.

Next week for Halloween: Red Glass in Superman #56, The Adventures of Superman #479 and Action Comics #666 (appropriate for Halloween, huh?)

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at: Send e-mail to

My Pull List is my spoiler-free comic book review blog of the comic books I read every week. It can be found at Send e-mail to this blog to

Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Episode #44: A Superman Double Feature: "Lois Lane, The Super-Maid of Krypton" & "Superman Under The Red Sun"

One of the presents I received for my birthday at the end of September was Showcase Presents: Superman vol. IV. For this episode of Superman Fan Podcast I thought I would share two stories from this volume.

The first story is Lois Lane, The Superm-Maid Of Krypton from Superman #159, the February 1963 issue, published on December 20, 1962. I first became aware of this story while reading DC's Greatest Imaginary Stories. This story was not re-printed in this volume, but the cover to this issue was one of the covers included of other "imaginary stories" (As Alan Moore would say, "Aren't they all?"). This story was published during the Mort Weisinger era. The cover was drawn by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein, the artistic team for the story inside the issue. Edmund Hamilton wrote the story.

In this story Lois Lane's father is a brilliant scientist who theorizes that the Earth's sun is about to go nova. In order to not falsely alarm the population, he performs his research in seclusion. Unfortunately he proves his theory right, but too late to find a solution. All he can do is to launch his toddler daughter Lois in a spaceship to Krypton, using a power ray that will also give her super powers on her new planet.

She is found by a couple who are in a Kryptonian jungle searching for new animals for a Kryptonian zoo. When they return to their home in Kryptonville, her neighbors are Jor-El and his son Kal-El. Lois becomes Super Maid. After becoming a public super hero, her parents die when they contract Virus-X in a distant jungle. She leaves Kryptonville for Kryptonopolis and becomes a nurse at a hospital where Perry White is the grouchy hospital administrator, and Jimmy Olsen is an orderly, with different names of course. Kal-El is a doctor. Another doctor Lu Thoria becomes Super Maid's female nemesis. Super Maid also learns that radioactive pieces of her home planet, Earthite, weaken and may kill her.

Super Maid foils Brainiac's attempt to shrink a Kryptonian city and capture it. Lu Thoria uses Brainiac's technology to destroy Super Maid, but the super heroine, with help from an elderly Jor-El, defeat Lu Thoria and learn that her turn to evil came from a side effect from an experiment that exploded in her face. The find a medical cure which has the added benefit of restoring her hair, which she had lost.

Later, Super Maid and Jor-El are walking in a Kryptonian jungle and find a strange new version of Earthite. It acts like Red Kryptonite, except that Earthite removes her super powers permenantly, but give super powers to Jor-El.

The second story, Superman Under The Red Sun, is reproduced on the cover, which is why I decide to include it in this episode. It was published in Action Comics #300, May 1963, appearing on the newsstands on March 28, 1963. It also was a Mort Weisinger production, written by Edmund Hamilton and drawn by Al Plastino. The cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein.

Superman discovers a Superman Revenge Squad spaceship orbiting Earth. He chases it out of orbit, until they both travel fast enough to break the time barrier. Superman lands on Earth at 1-million A. D. The sun by this point is a red star, meaning that Superman has no super powers. The Superman Revenge Squad planned for this to happen, to permanently maroon Superman in the distant future, with no super powers. Superman discovers that he is alone on Earth. In the Hall of Telepathic History he learns that the people of Earth battled a deteriorating environment until giant space arks carry Earth's population to another planet.

Superman discovers strange new animal species populating the Earth, including some that float in the air. He uses one of them to carry him to the Fortress of Solitude, where he hopes to find the bottle city of Kandor to help him return to his own era. But even the city is gone, restored in some now distant past. All that is left is a miniature Kandorian home and rocket. Superman uses the still operating shrinking ray to shrink him enough to use the rocket to travel through the time barrier and return to his own time.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at Send e-mail about this podcast to Expanded show notes can be found at

My Pull List is my spoiler free review blog of the comic books I read every week. It can be found at Send e-mail to

Thanks for listening to the Superman Fan Podcast, and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Episode #43: Kirk Alyn & Gregory Reed: Superman Actors

Kirk Alyn was born on October 8, 1910, as John Feggo, Jr. in Oxford New Jersey. His parents were Hungarian immigrants. Alyn attended Columbia University. He is best known for portraying Superman in two movie serials, Superman in 1948, and 1950's Atom Man vs. Superman. Kirk Alyn began his acting career as a chorus boy on Broadway, and had roles in a number of notable musicals in the 1930's, Girl Crazy, Of Thee I Sing and Hellzapoppin'. He was also a vaudville singer and dancer. Alyn moved to Hollywood in the early 1940's to begin a film career, but was limited to small parts in movies until he won the role of Superman.
Kirk Alyn married actress Virginia O'Brien in 1942. They had two sons and a daughter, but divorced in 1955.
Like other Superman actors Alyn was typecast after he was finished portraying the Man of Steel. He starred in a number of other serials, Federal Agents vs. Underworld, Inc. (1948), Radar Patrol vs. Spy King (1950) and Blackhawk (1952). Alyn had a variety of small roles on film and television, and retired after his final film role, Scalps, in 1983.
Kirk Alyn did have a cameo in Superman: The Movie (1978), in the Smallville part of the film. When the teen Clark Kent races the passenger train across the railroad tracks, Alyn is the father of the young Lois Lane who told her something like, "Lois, be quiet and read your book." Playing his wife was Noel Neill, who began her acting career portraying Lois Lane in the first Superman serial.
Alyn portrayed Clark Kent as the traditional meek, mild-mannered reporter, pitching Clark's voice a little higher, and voicing Superman's lines in a deeper tone. Because of the limited special effects of the day, Alyn was not shown flying as Superman. Except for closeups in front of a blurry background, the flying Superman was an animated figure. Kirk, in costume, would either run behind a stage prop for take-off, or run from behind a prop after the animated Superman landed there.
Kirk Alyn published his autobiography, A Job For Superman, in 1974, which is now out of print. He died from natural causes in Woodlands, Texas in 1999.
Superman (1948) was a 15 part serial, as most were, and was produced by Columbia Studios. Thomas Carr and Spencer Gordon Bennet directed the episodes. Carr would also direct many episode of the 1950's Adventures of Superman TV show, which starred actor George Reeves. Kirk Alyn was uncredited, as DC Comics mandated that Superman was to be portrayed as a real person, so the actor plaing Superman would be uncredited. This was true also for the 1950's TV show. The first edisode, Superman Comes To Earth, was released on January 5, 1948. The serial quickly told the story of the infant Superman's escape from the doomed planet Krypton and being raised on the Kent farm, to Clark Kent joining the staff of the Daily Planet. Joining Alyn and Neill iin the cast was Tommy Bond as Jimmy Olsen and Pierre Watkin as Perry White. Carol Forman portrayed the villainess Spider Lady.
Spencer Gordon Bennet directed the sequel, Atom Man vs. Superman (1950). Lex Luthor (Atom Man) was portrayed by Lyle Talbot, wearing a bald cap. In this serial, Luthor menaces Metropolis with his deadly inventions, one of which could de-materialize a person and re-materialize him at another location (Star Trek's transporter beam twenty years early, maybe?). Luthor attempts to synthesize artificial kryptonite, placing his creation at the launch of a ship. Superman attends, and when he gets close to the kryptonite, he faints. Two ambulance attendants take Superman away, but they are really Luthor's goons. Luthor places Superman in a device which sends Superman to "the Empty Doom" (Phantom Zone). When Superman escapes the Empty Doom, the Daily Planet's headline reads, "Superman Returns". Atom Man vs. Superman is concidered by many to be the stronger of the two serials, although I have not viewed either serials, except for some episodes aired on the AMC movie channel on cable years ago.
Both movie serials are available on DVD, as well as all six seasons of the 1950's Adventures of Superman TV show, starring George Reeves.
Another movie serial based on a comic book that Kirk Alyn starred in was 1952's Blackhawk. Quality Comics was the original publisher, and the character was created by Will Eisner, Chuck Cuidera and Bob Powell in the Eisner & Iger studio. DC Comics bought the characters after Quality Comics went out of business. Spencer Gordon Bennet and Fred F. Sears directed this also fifteeen part serial, subtitled Fearless Champion of Freedom.
Kirk Alyn played Blackhawk, and Carol Forman protrayed Laska, a foreign spy working for a mysterious Leader. Blackhawk was the last aviation serial, filmed near the end of the serial era. I don't have any research to back it up, but I would guess that increased production costs and the rise of television combined to make serials extinct, but I digress.
The Blackhawks are an international squad, but all speak with English accents. They must prevent Laska from stealing the experimental super fuel "Element X". Some critics consider it a lackluster serial. It was made on a very slim budget, like most serials were.
While several actors named Gregory Reed are listed at, the Gregory Reed mentioned in this episode is not a real person, but a minor character in Superman stories who appeared in about a half dozen stories:
Action Comics #414, July 1972 (published May 30, 1972) Superman vs. Superstar
Action Comics #445, March 1975 (December 31, 1974) Count Ten, Superman--And Die
Superman #297, March 1976 (December 11, 1975) Clark Kent Forever-Superman Never
Superman Family #206, March/April 1981 (December 8, 1980) Strangers At The Heart's Core
Superman #399, September 1984 (June 14, 1984) The Man Who Saw Superman Die
DC Comics Presents Annual #4, 1985 (July 18, 1985) Superman and Superwoman: Welcome To Luthorcon III
I can only guess, but it seems Gregory Reed is an homage to George Reeves. (It seems since Reeves, every Superman actor must have a last name beginning with R.
The only Superman story I have read, although I don't have that copy any more, was Action Comics #445, Count Ten, Superman -- And Die. I was able to find a web site that had a plot summary of the story,, from which I sharing the plot here.
The story begins with Superman blasting through a mountain to assist a construction project, then flying to Metropolis. Back at Metropolis the actor Gregory Reed, dressed as Superman, and looking exactly like Superman, is giving a lecture. He is sharing with the audience his experiences when his face was horribly disfigured in an accident. Superman performed surgery to restore his face, and Reed requested that his features be made identical to Superman. After the lecture Reed answers reporters' questions, is hit by a pulse-bolt from space, and faints. It came from a spaceship belonging to the Superman Revenge Squad. The real Superman appears and takes the unconscious Reed to the hospital. Superman is then hit by another pulse-bolt. SR Ozega explains that the pulse bolt is a lethal poison that will kill Superman as soon as he uses his superpowers ten times.
Afther flying Reed to the hospital, Superman rescues skydivers from a vengeful pilot, stops an avalanche and repairs a railroad tressle. That's four super feats.
Lois Lane visits Reed in the hospital, and finds an unusually emotional Clark already there. The Superman Revenge Squad are monitoring Clark Kent (knowing Clark's secret identity) and Ozega explains that the emotions are a side effect from the pulse bolt.
Later, Superman removes a shark from Metropolis harbot, extinguishes a warehouse fire, stops a robbery and saves an airliner from crashing, now eight feats.
The next morning, Clark Kent is again emotional at the Daily Planet offices.
Superman prevents two cars from crashing head on, and then saves a boy who had fallen out of the window of a high rise building. After landing, Superman falls dead, and the Superman Revenge Squad leaves Earth orbit. After the ship leaves, Superman appears and reveals that Gregory Reed performed five of the super feats with the help of a super power pill Superman had invented. Superman and Reed fly away.
When the Superman Revenge Squad ships returns to its hidden base, it is destroyed as a reward for its failure.
The websites and had no plot summaries of the other stories, or reprint information, so I will have to try to find copies of the individual issues in back issue bins, and then share these other stories on future episodes.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at Send e-mail about this podcast to

My Pull List is a spoiler free review blog of the comic books I read every week. It can be found at http://mypulllist.blogspotcom. Send e-mail about this blog to

Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Episode #42: "All-Star Superman": The Review

Note: Superman Fan Podcast episode #11 looked at the first ten issues of All-Star Superman.

All-Star Superman issue #12 was finally published on Wednesday, September 17, 2008. It's hard to believe that issue #1, cover dated January 2006, first appeared on November 16, 2005. So it took almost two years for twelve issues to be published. However, the quality of the stories offset any potential loss of interest in the title, at least as far as I'm concerned.
Issues 1-6 were collected in All-Star Superman, vol. I, released in January 2006. Volume II is scheduled for publication in February of 2009. Check with the web site for information.

The All-Star line was supposed to be almost DC Comic's version of Marvel's Ultimate line. They would take DC's top heroes and put them in continuity free stories crafted by the industry's best creators. So far the only other All-Star title DC has published has been Frank Miller's and Jim Lee's Batman & Robin, which was published first but has had even longer delays between issues.

DC had previously announced that Adam Hughes was supposed to create All-Star Wonder Woman, but no publication date has been set. Plus Adam is recuperating from a recent injury to his drawing hand.

All-Star Superman won the 2006 Eisner for Best New Series, and won the 2007 Eisner for Best Continuing Series.

According to, Chip Kidd created the All-Star Superman logo design.

Bob Schreck was the editor, with Brandon Montclaire serving as assistant editor. Grant Morrison wrote this series, which was pencilled by Frank Quitely. Jamie Grant did the digital inks and colors. Phil Balsman lettered issues 1-8, and Travis Lanham lettered issues 9-12.

In an interview on the web site Comics Bulletin,, Grant Morrison talked about his preparation for All-Star Superman. He began his research by reading all of the Superman stories on his bookshelves, from the original Siegel/Shuster stories, through the '50's Weisinger era, the Schwartz/O'Neil depowered '70's, Byrne revamp, the Carlin/Jurgens '90's stories and recent stories. What impressed Morrison was not the differences between versions, but the similarities. He saw an archetypal soul of Superman which was a common thread through all of these diverse versions of the character.This core of Superman was what Morrison wanted to portray in the pages of All-Star Superman. He saw this story as a re-embergence of the pre-Crisis Superman, with 20 years of history that had not been seen before. Morrison began this story assuming most people were aware of Superman's origin and relationships with his supporting cast, so he jumped into the story.
Issue #1 began with a four panel, eight word summary of Superman's origin, and jumped into the story.
Issue #1: Faster: Superman saves a manned mission the the sun led by Dr. Quantum of the DNA Project. Luthor had previously converted a member of the crew into a walking bomb, set to detonate once the spaceship reached the sun. The close proximity to the sun overcharged Superman's cells with solar radiation and causing them to burst, meaning that Superman was dying. This was Luthor's ultimate goal in his attack on the sun mission. Superman ends the issue by beginning to tie up the loose ends of his life, first by revealing his secret identity to Lois Lane.
Issue #2: Superman's Forbidden Room: Superman treats Lois to a special birthday by taking her to dinner at his Fortress of Solitude. At the end of the issue he gives her his present for her, super powers for a day.
Issue #3: Sweet Dreams Superwoman: Lois spends a day with super powers, flying with Superman. They meet Samson and Atlas, who are a nuisance to Superman. He saves Lois' life by answering the unanswerable question, and then treats her to dinner at the undersea city Poseidonis, and then share a kiss on the Moon. At the end of the day Lois is still not convinced that Clark Kent is Superman.
Issue#4: The Superman / Olsen War: Jimmy spends a day as head of the DNA Project, where black kryptonite is discovered. It turns Superman evil. Jimmy uses the Doomsday serum to stop Superman.
Issue #5: The Gospel According To Lex Luthor: After Luthor is sentenced to the electric chair for his crimes, Clark Kent interviews Luthor in prison.
Issue #6: Funeral In Smallville: Pa Kent dies, witnessed by Superman from the future and some of his descendants.
Issue #7: Being Bizarro: Superman battles a carnivorous Bizarro World, where people are changed into Bizarro clones when a Bizarro touches them. Superman ends the issue on the Bizarro World.
Issue #8: Us Do Opposite: Superman escapes Bizarro World with help from Zibarro, the imperfect perfect Bizarro clone.
Issue #9: Curse of the Replacement Supermen: Superman meets two kryptonian astronauts who had been lost in space. They are not impressed by what Superman has done on Earth and begin changing Earth to a duplicate of Kryptonian civilization. They ridicule Superman and even defeat him in a fight. In spite of their treatment, Superman saves their lives when the minerals in their bodies begin converting to kryptonite, from exposure to a radioactive cloud in space. He beams them into the Phantom Zone, where they bring law and order to the Phantom Zone prisoners.
Issue #10: Neverending: Superman spends this issue tying up loose ends. He flies a bus load of perminally ill children around the world. Then he solves the problem of solving the problem of restoring the bottle city of Kandor, with help from Dr. Quantum. Superman creates a world without Superman in an infant universe, called Q Earth, in a special chamber of the Fortress of Solitude. He then prevents a subway train from derailment, defeats a senile villain driving a giant robot and saves a teen from committing suicide. Superman transports Kandor to their new home on Mars, uses his x-ray vision to catalog his kryptonian DNA, then gives human and kryptonian DNA to Dr. Quantum with instructions on how to combine the two strands lf DNA. Throughout the issue Superman intermittently writes his last will and testament in his giant diary, writing in kryptonian. At the end of the issue Superman takes the members of the Kandor Emergency Squad to the same hospital he visited at the beginning of the issue, to cure the children's terminal illnesses. The issue ends on Q-Earth, where two young friends create a new character, the Superman of Action Comics #1.
Issue #11: Red Sun Day: Luthor's execution does not go as planned, as he took a serum that gave him super powers before his execution. Superman gives final intructions to a Superman robot to serve as caretaker of the Fortress of Solitude. He wears a special space suit as he locks the Fortress behind him and takes the rest of his robots into space to battle the tyrant sun. One of the robots admits that Solaris hacked into its neural net to steal the super power formula, before it sacrifices itself in atonement. Superman succeeds in defeating the tyrant sun. Clark Kent then rushes into the Daily Planet offices, with the headline story of the century on his laptop, Superman Dead, before he collapses on the floor. The outer wall explodes as Juthor attacks the Planet offices.
Issue #12: Superman In Excelsis: The issue begins with a kryptonian skyline, as Jor-El hurries his son Kal-El into a flying car, during an earthquake. Jor-El says that he and all of Krypton is dead, and Kal has joined them. Jor-El presents Kal with a choice, remain dead or return to life to defeat evil "one last time". The scene changes to the Daily Planet offices, where Luthor lords it over the Planet staff. The scene shifts back to "Krypton" where Jor-El informs Kal that eventually he will not be alone because the people of Earth will "join him in the sun". Then Krypton seems to explode again. Clark revives, and shoots Luthor with a gravity gun. Jimmy Olsen realizes that Superman disguised himself as Clark, and brings him a spare Superman uniform. Superman engages Luthor in a street battle. Luthor sees the world through his super senses, realizes how Superman sees the world, and is overwhelmed by it, becoming a small man. Superman informs Luthor that the reason he hit Luthor with the gravity gun was to make Luthor's metabolism accelerate to compensate the increased gravity. And since gravity warps time, his powers are almost gone. "Brains always beats brawn", Superman mocks Luthor as he delivers the knock out blow. And in rebuttal to Luthor's claim that Superman sttod in Lex's way of saving the world, Superman informs the unconscious Luthor that he could have saved the world any time he wanted, if it really mattered to him. Streaks of light begin to break out on Superman's skin as his condition approaches the end. He kisses Lois and says "I love you Lois Lane, until the end of time", as he flies into the sun to save it by changing it back to yellow from the blue it had been changed to. In a Metropolis park a Superman statue is erected, where Lois informs Jimmy that Superman will return when his job is done. In a full page panel Superman is working in the heart of the sun, creating the machinery to keep the sun burning. At the DNA Project, Dr. Quantum answers his aide's question about a world without Superman that, now they know Superman's DNA, they'll think of something. He stands in front of a door that says Project 2, with the 2 inside a Superman shield.
All-Star Superman combined story elements from many silver age Superman stories. Writing in a giant Kryptonian diary came from the story The Key To Fort Superman. The twelve labors of Superman reminded me of his challenges in the classic story Superman Red / Superman Blue. A super powered Lois comes from various "imaginary stories" where Lois gains super powers through various means. Samson and Atlas remind me of the cover to Action Comics #279, shown in DC's Greatest Imaginary Stories, where Lois and Lana are dating Samson and Hercules respectively. Superman facing death happened in stories such as The Death of Superman the imaginary story where Luthor fakes rehabilitation to lure Superman into a death trap; and The Last Days of Superman, where Superman thinks he is suffering from Virus X, a kryptonian disease, when he is actually suffering from kryptonite radiation by a bit of kryptonite lodged in Jimmy's camera. The descendants of Superman are reminiscent of The Superman of 2965, a quartet of stories from the mid 1960's.
The stories in All-Star Superman were timeless stories that could fit in any continuity, except for current continuity with a married Sueprman. Most of the issues are self contained stories that advance a larger story, except for issues 2 and 3 about Lois' birthday, 7 and 8 about Bizarro world, and 11 and 12 involving Superman's penultimate battle against Luthor.
This series had no low points, but there were several high points to me. Clark revealing his secret identity to Lois at the end of issue 1, and Lois' birthday celebration in the next two issues, the death of Pa Kent is issue #6, Superman trying to tie up loose ends, and the final battle in issues 11 and 12, stood out.
After recent comments by a Warner Bro's. film executive about creating "darker" super hero movies, All-Star Superman would make the perfect "dark" Superman movie, without darkening his classic bright blue and red uniform. Superman fighting for his life is not an easy plot point to figure out, and a truly evil Luthor would be a welcome change from the campy Luthor of Superman I & II, and the less campy Kevin Spacey portrayl.
On my list of favorite Superman stories, which I first discussed in episode #1, I would have to rank the entire series of All-Star Superman as number four on that list. As far as a rating, I would have to give it 6 * ( * * * * * * ).

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at Send e-mail to

My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog where I review the comic books I read every week. E-mail about this blog can be sent to

Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Episode #41: Lex Luthor: Bald Evil Genius!

Lex Luthor's birthday is traditionally accepted to be on September 28, the day after my birthday. While he did not appear at the beginning of Superman's career in Action Comics #1, Luthor's history almost goes back as far. He first appeared in Superman and Action Comics on the newsstands during the month of February 1940.
Luthor's first appearance was in Superman #4, the Spring 1940 issue which appeared on the racks on February 15, 1940. He appeared in two stories, The Challenge of Luthor and Luthor's Undersea City. Both stories were written by Jerry Siegel, with art by Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy. The first story was reprinted in the following editions: Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told (1987) trade paperback and hardback, Superman Archives vol. I and Superman Chronicles vol. III. The second story has also been reprinted in the same Archives and Chronicles editions.
In The Challenge of Luthor an earthquake hits Metropolis. The cause is an earthquake weapon a scientist has invented and the U. S. Army is interested in. Luthor's gang attempts to steal the weapon, only to be foiled by Superman. Luthor, known only by his last name and with thick red hair, challenges Superman to a physical challenge. Superman describes Luthor as "the mad scientist who plots to dominate the Earth." This would be the best description for Luthor for most of his history. While Superman engages Luthor in these challenges, his gang succeeds in stealing the weapon. Superman finds Luthor's mountain hideout, and after being hit by the weapon, destroys the hideout and the weapon.
In Luthor's Undersea City Superman investigates the destruction of some oil wells and learns that Luthor is behind the plot. Lois Lane is kidnapped and taken to a domed city in the middle of the ocean. Superman battles a pterodactyl before overcoming the beast, destroying the city and saving Lois.
The next week Luthor made his first appearance in Action Comics in issue #23, appearing on newsstands on February 22, 1940. This issue also marked the first appearance of the Daily Planet instead of the Daily Star. In these early years of comic book history continuity had not been invented yet. Some speculation is that the newspaper name was changed to avoid confusion with the many real newspapers called Star. This story has been reprinted in Superman Archives: Action Comics vol. II, Superman In The Forties, Superman Chronicles vol. III and Superman vs. Luthor.
The story in this issue continued the story begun in the previous issue, about a war between two fictional European countries, Galonia and Toran, clearly in imitation of the early years of WWII. This story was also done by the creative team of Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy. It was untitled but carried the same headline on the front of the Metropolis newspaper, Europe At War, as did the previous issue of Action Comics. Superman discovers that Luthor is behind the breaking of a truce between the warring factions. Lois is kidnapped by Luthor and Superman finds her at Luthor's dirigible base. Superman destroys the dirigible and rescues Lois.
Luthor next appeared in Superman #5, the Summer 1940 issue, released on May 10, 1940. In Luthor's Incense Menace, he used incense to mind control businessmen, manipulating them to order massive layoffs to create economic chaos. This was the last story to feature Lex Luthor with red hair.
In Superman #10, the May/June 1940 issue, released on March 5, 1941, Luthor first appeared as the bald criminal genius we are familiar with. The Invisible Luthor was written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Leo Nowak. This story has been reprinted in Superman Archives vol. III. There is no explanation for the change, continuity not being an issue in the early years of the comic book history. There are several theories about why Nowak drew Luthor bald. He might have confused Luthor with the henchman posing as the professor in Superman #4, or with another golden age villain, the Ultra-Humanite. Another possibility might be the evil bald Superman from Siegel and Shuster's fanzine story Reign of the Superman. In this story Luthor uses an invisibility machine to extort money from Metropolis by making the city's water disappear. Superman foils the plot and Luthor escapes. Doesn't he usually?
During the 1960's development of the multiverse, the Earth-2 Lex Luthor was portrayed as having red hair. This Luthor met his demise in the 1986 mini-series Crisis On Infinite Earths issue #9, when Brainiac killed him when the two were arguing over leadership over a super-villain army.
Another version of Luthor in the multiverse was on Earth-3, where Lex Luthor was that Earth's only super hero whose enemies were the Crime Syndicate, an evil version of the Justice League. His wife was that Earth's Lois Lane. He was killed when his universe was wiped out by the wave of anti-matter that swept the multiverse in Crisis On Infinite Earths issue #1. The only survivor of Earth-3 was the Luthor's infant son Alexander, who the Luthors sent in a rocket into the multiverse. Alex would play a key role in Crisis and the more recent Infinite Crisis mini-series.
Adventure Comics #271, April 1960 issue, on sale approximately on February 25, 1960, we read about the origin of Luthors hatred of Superman. How Luthor Met Superboy was written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Al Plastino. Lex Luthor's family move into Smallville. Young Lex saves Superboy from a kryptonite meteor. In gratitude Superboy builds a fully equipped lab for Lex. After an early success Lex experiments to find a cure for kryptonite poisoning. He succeeds but a lab fire breaks out. The fumes cause Lex's hair to fall out, and he blames Superboy. Lex still wants to help Smallville so he continues his experiments. They flop and Lex blames Superboy for his failures. He tries to kill Superboy with a kryptonite trap, but Superboy escapes and Lex hates Superboy (man) for the rest of his life.
There is one place in the galaxy where Luthor is regarded as a hero. The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman was published in Superman #164, the October 1963 issue, released on August 1, 1963. The story was written by Edmund Hamilton, drawn by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. The cover shows the famous image of Luthor and Superman, both shirtless, fighting inside a wooden ring, with a red sun hanging in the sky. Luthor escapes prison and pirates a TV signal, challenging Superman to a fight, man to man. Superman agrees and builds a space ship to take them to a world orbiting a red sun. The light of a red sun renders Superman powerless. To make sure the odds are even, he even gives Luthor special shoes that compensate for the planet's heavier gravity. (Nothing is mentioned about the effect heavier gravity wll have on Luthor's arms in a fight.)
In the fight Luthor grabs an early advantage by giving Superman a black eye and punching his gut. Superman bounces back and knocks Luthor out with a solid shot to his chin. While Superman goes back to the space ship to get some water with which to revivie Luthor with, Lex escapes to a nearby jungle. He attacks Superman with some inventions he smuggled in his pockets. They are separated by a sandstorm. Luthor finds shelter while Superman is caught in the storm. Superman stumbles into a city, where he finds large beasts with water filled horns. Superman drinks just enough to refresh himself. Lex finds another community and is welcomed by the citizens when he scares off some flying beasts. Luthor finds ancient advanced technology that the citizens have forgotten how to operate. His genius figures the technology out and he uses it to search for water on this dry world, to no avail.
Superman catches up with Luthor. When the people learn that Superman is Luthor's enemy, they want to execute Superman. Curiously, Luthor convinces them to have him and Superman duel in the town's arena. After pressing an early advantage, Luthor hesitates and Superman defeats him. Luthor honors his challenge and agrees to return to Earth. During the return voyage Luthor points out an ice world orbiting a yellow sun. He suggests that Superman hurl icebergs to the previous planet, replenishing its water supply. Being a silver age story, the icebergs do not crash into inhabited areas, only low-lying areas. Luthor would return to the planet in Superman #167, and would be named Lexor in Superman #168.
In Action Comics #544, the 45th Anniversary Issue, Luthor's hatred of Superman would reach a new intensity. This issue also marked Brainiac's change from a green skinned android to a robot made of "living metal". Luthor discovers another hidden lab on Lexor which contains a battle suit. He also invents a "neutrarod" to stabalize the planet's unstable molten core. Superman returns to once again capture Luthor, who is a new father with his wife Ardora, whom he met in Superman #167 and married in Action Comics #318. Superman has coated himself with a special sun screen that shields him from the neutralizing effects of Lexor's red solar radiation. During Luthor's battle with Superman, he unleashes an energy blast from his battle suit which ricochets off of Superman and hits the neutrarod. It starts a chain reaction in the planet's core which destroys Lexor. Luthor's suit and Superman's limited invulnerability make them the only survivors.
In a number of stories showing Luthor's lairs, we see statues of his criminal heroes, Genghis Khan, Atilla the Hun, Captain Kidd and Al Capone. There is one "good guy" that Luthor admired. In Superman #416 (February 1986), released on November 14, 1985, we see a series of vignettes Luthor does some unusual things on his escape from prison on a particular day over the decades. Superman finally figures out the significance of this behavior. After capturing Luthor once again, he makes a detour to Princeton, New Jersey on the way back to prison. He takes Luthor to the statue of Albert Einstein. There, a teary eyed Luthor simply says, "Happy Birthday, sir." The name of the story was The Einstein Connection. The back story, The Ghost of Superman Future is a story that describes the end of Luthor's life.
The golden and silver age Luthor met his demise in the story Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow. In part one, Superman #423, Luthor finds Brainiac's robot head buried in the snow. It is the only thing left of his robot body. Brainiac's head activates and seizes control of Luthor's body. In part 2, Action Comics 583, during a battle at the Fortress of Solitude, Luthor briefly gains lucidity and begs a super-powered Lana Lang to kill him because Brainiac is controlling him. Lana obliges with a blow to his neck.
When the world of Superman was revamped with the mini-series Man Of Steel, Lex Luthor was reinvented as a genius criminal business mogul. The idea was inspired by Marv Wolfman. Luthor made his first appearance in Man Of Steel issue #4. Clark and Lois are invited to an event on Luthor's yacht. Terrorists attack the ship, only to be defeated by Superman. At the end of the issue Luthor attempts to put Superman on a personal retainer and attempts that he staged the whole thing to test Superman himself. He didn't figure on an angry Mayor of Metropolis deputizing Superman and ordering him to arrest Luthor. This begins Luthor's animosity toward Superman.
In the later mini-series World of Metropolis it is revealed that Luthor and Perry White were childhood friends growing up in Metropolis' Suicide Slum. their friendship ends when Perry returns from an extended time as a foreign correspondent to find that Lex had an affair with his fiance. Perry forgives her and later marries her. In later stories in the regular Superman titles it is revealed that their son Perry, Jr. was actually fathered by Luthor during the affair.
The single issue Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography reveals the dirty details about Lex's rise from poverty to riches. He has an abusive father, but Lex shows his criminal genius early. He hires someone to tamper with the brakes of his parent's car, and after their deaths in a car accident, collects a sizeable settlement from a life insurance policy. After graduating from MIT Lex invents the Lexwing, which establishes his fortune.
After the appearance of Superman, Luthor aquires a piece of kryptonite, and has a ring made with a kryptonite setting to keep Superman at bay. Unlike the silver age, in modern continuity, prolonged exposure to kryptonite is harmful to people. Luthor loses his ring hand to cancer, which would later return and prove terminal. Luthor fakes his own death and clones a new body to have his brain transplanted into. He returns to public life as his long lost son from Australia, complete with accent and long red hair. Luthor would lose the hair once again.
In recent years Luthor became president, only to be impeached and removed from office. He has since returned to his roots as a criminal genius.
There have been a number of "imaginary stories" featuring Lex Luthor over the years. In The Death of Superman, in Superman149, November 1961, Lex fakes rahabilitaion until he lulls Superman into a false sense of security when he springs a lethal kryptonite trap on Superman. Clark Kent's Brother, from Superman #175, February 1965, shows Luthor all but deducing that Clark Kent and Superman are the same person. Superboy realizes this and aranges for Clark to run away from home, and then Superboy would publicly leave to look for Clark. Lex decides to ingratiate himself into the Kent's lives in order to expose Superboy's secret identity. (NOTE: I mistakenly stated during this episode that Luthor planned to murder them, after not skimming this issue closely enough.) The Kent's were so kind to Luthor they killed his plans with kindness. When Superboy returns he confesses to all of them. They respect Luthor for his having the courage to admit it and he becomes part of the family. As adults, Luthor would sacrafice himself in order to save Superman from a deadly trap.
Another interesting imaginary story began in Superman #230, October 1970, Killer Kent vs Super Luthor finds Luthor the infant son of Jor-El, as Lex-El. Together they are the only survivors of Krypton's destruction. Only Lex has super powers, through a strange quirk, after their rocket lands on Earth. The landing of the rocket causes the crash of the criminal Kents, a Bonnie and Clyde couple. The Langs adopt their infant Clark, as Jor-El and Lex settle into secret identities in Smallville. Clark would follow his parent's example into crime, and become Superman's arch-enemy. this story was continued in issue #231. However, I do not have this issue, and the web sites and do not have plot summaries for this issue.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at Send e-mail to

My Pull List is my spoiler free review blog at E-mail about this blog can be sent to

Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Episode #40: Christopher Reeve: A Modern Superman!

To learn more about the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation go to the web site: At Superman dogtags are still available for purchase. 100% of the cost goes to Christopher Reeve's foundation for paralysis research. As of the writing of this blog, September 18, 2008, supplies were still avialable but limited.
Christopher Reeve would have celebrated his 53rd birthday on September 25, 2008. He was born in 1952. He passed away on October 10, 2004.
He got hooked on acting very young. According to the biography on his website, Christopher Reeve made his first appearance in the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. He graduated from Cornell University in 1974 and studied at Julliard under the actor and teacher John Houseman, whose most famous role was in the movie and TV show Paper Chase. At Julliard, Christopher Reeve's roommate was the actor and comedian Robin Williams, who remained friends. After a few tv appearances, Reeve's first film role was a minor role as a submarine officer in the 1978 movie Gray Lady Down.
After Superman, one of Christopher Reeves best movies was 1980's Somewhere In Time, co-starring Jane Seymour. He appeared in movie, TV and stage roles and was also a director.
Christopher Reeve was paralyzed in an equestrian accident in 1995. After he was able to return home he dedicated his life to campaigning for a cure for paralysis, and raising the quality of life for paralysis victims.
In 1998 he wrote his biography Still Me, published by Random House. Nothing Is Impossible: Reflections on A New Life was published in 2002.
Also in 1998 Reeve starred in a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's movie Rear Window. He appeared in two episodes of the TV series Smallville as paralyzed scientist Dr. Virgil Swann (a tribute to Superman artisit Curt Swan?). He informed Clark about his kryptonian heritage and told him that his original Kryptonian name was Kal-El. In an episode of Smallville after Reeve's death, Dr. Swann also passes away. Clark receives the kryptonian metal disc that Dr. Swann had come into possession of.
Christopher Reeve's last project was directing the film The Brooke Ellison Story, the true story of an 11 year old girl who became a quadraplegic in an accident and perseveres to graduate from Harvard University.
Reeve's widow Dana only survived her husband by two years, passing away on March 6, 2006 from lung cancer.
Christopher Reeve is survuved by his children, Will, Matthew and Alexandra, his mother Barbara Johnson, father Franklyn and brother Benjamin.
Some great resources about Christopher Reeve's role as Superman/Clark Kent are the documentaries and commentaries on the DVD's Superman: The Movie, Superman II and Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut.
The operative word that was Richard Donner's slogan in directing the movie was verisimillitude, which means, in regards to Superman lore, be true to the source material. The original script he inherited from Godfather author Mario Puzo was enough for two movies, but very campy. Donner hired Tom Mankiewicz as Creative Consultant to rewrite the script. Tom bought in to Donner's philosophy and got rid of most of the campy feel to the movie. For myself the parts that aren't campy are the strongest parts of the first two movies.
The documentaries and commentaries reveal the struggle to find the perfect actor to portray Superman. The producers wanted a "name" actor, but Donner wanted an unknown actor. A famous actor, to him, would distract an audience from believing they were really seeing Superman on the screen. A lot of actors who auditioned for the role could act but were not in Superman shape, and others were in great physical shape but could not act. Donner had a struggle convincing the producers and studio that Reeve was perfect for the role, and was proven right.
Christopher Reeve's philosophy in portraying Superman was to let the costume do most of the acting. He felt underplaying the role would emphasize the power of the character, as opposed to a more forceful and outgoing presentation. When Reeve discussed plaing the role of Clark Kent, Mankiewicz reminded Christopher that he was always playing Superman, but Superman was portraying Clark Kent, a real double role.
One of the biggest special effects struggles was to convincingly show Superman flying. Donner was impressed at how Reeve would angle his body and move his arms to portray the illusion of Superman flying. In the first scene that shows Superman, in the Fortress of Solitude, Superman flies straight toward the camera. When he banks to the right of the screen, stage left, that was not a planned move. Christopher improvised that moment. Donner said that after a moment of silence the crew broke out in applause in admiration at how well Reeve made Superman fly.
Ironically Christopher was not a comic book fan as a boy, although he did watch The Adventures of Superman George Reeves TV series. Also, Reeve was tall, but skinny. Donner hired former British weightlifting champion and Darth Vader actor David Prowse to condition Reeve, who also went on a high protein diet to bulk up for Superman. Reeve's natural hair color is brown, so it was dyed to black
What made Christopher Reeve's performance in the first two Superman movies so memorable? Reeve bought into the philosophy of verisimillitude, respecting Superman lore. Underplaying the role of Superman allowed the physical strengths of the character show through more convincingly than a more forceful performance.
Reeve effectively portrayed Clark Kent and Superman as separate people. The tow characters stood differently, spoke with different inflections, moved differently. In several scenes we see Superman peek out from under his Clark Kent disguise. During the mugging scene, Clark "faints" after catching the bullet in his hand. While Lois retrieves her purse Clark peeks over his glasses at the bullet in his hand. When Clark first enters Lois' apartment after her interview with Superman, when Lois turns her back to him while she talks, Clark removes his glasses and becomes Superman. He stands there holding Clark's glasses, with the expression on his face as if he's saying How I wish I could tell you who I really am.
Over the decades there have been several different angles on who's the disguise, Superman or Clark. The original golden and silver age Superman was the real person and Clark was the mild-mannered disguise. The Fleischer 1940's cartoons had a more asssertive personality in contrast, as did Goerge Reeves in the 1950's TV show, and Dean Cain in Lois & Clark. Although I didn't watch a lot of episodes of Lois & Clark I did enjoy Cain's more worldly Clark, who wandered the world as he struggled to find a way to effectively use his powers. The post-Crisis Superman begun by John Byrne was an earlier version of the disguise, so Clark can still have some sort of a normal life.
Christopher Reeve portrayed a traditional Clark Kent, a sometimes clumsy person who sometimes stuttered, the opposite of Superman's confident personlaity. His performance in the first two Superman movies holds up even today.

Learn more about the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation at

To contribute to the renovation of Jerry Siegel's boyhood home, through September 30, 2008 go to

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at Send e-mail to

My Pull List is my spoiler-free comic book review blog I write about the comic books I read every week. It can be found at Send e-mail about this blog to

Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Episode #39: The Superman of 2965!

The Superman of 2965 premiered in Superman issue #181 (November 1965), which appeared on newsstands on September 16, 1965, 43 years ago this past Tuesday. I briefly discussed this issue back in episode #2, My Favorite Comic Book Artist: Curt Swan. I mentioned this issue as one of the first Superman stories I have any memory of reading. He was another addition to Superman lore under the editorship of Mort Weisinger. George Klein inked Curt Swan's pencils on all four issues that this future Superman appeared in, and made his appearance different from "our" Superman. Edmund Hamilton wrote the first three stories. The first Superman 2965 story was reprinted in the back of Superman #244, the November 1971 issue. Later reprints of these stories placed the time as 2945, in order to not conflict with the Legion of Super-Heroes, who were in existence at this time in DC continuity.
This future Superman's secret identity was Klar Ken T5477, reporter for the Daily Interplanetary News. Working with him was Jay Senohl (Jay L-3388) in the later stories, a young reporter. He was obviously a future Jimmy Olsen. In fact, if you take the h out of Senohl, rearrange the letters and you spell Olsen. The equivalent for Lois Lane was Lyra 3916. The twist in her relationship with Klar and Superman was that she thought Superman was an egotistical show off, but she was in love with Klar. They were led by the editor, a computer named after Perry White, called PW-5598, and as gruff as the original P. W.
In the first panel of this story we see the Superman of 2965 flying by the memorials to his ancestors who also wore the Superman costume. It has survived for a thousand years because it was made of indestructible kryptonian fabric, of course. He is the seventh in the line of Kal-El, Superman. The story begins with this future Superman being sworn in by the Federation of Planets, comprised of the inhabitants of all of our solar system's planets. He takes the same oath that was spoken by his father and grandfather:
I vow to use my super-powers to uphold the principles of democracy and the enforcement of the law ... never for selfish or evil ends.
Superman goes from there immediately to his first super deed. A Plutonian astronomer discovered a rogue planet entering the solar system. His calculations determined that its path threatened Mars and Earth. Invulnerable to the vacuum of space as the original Superman, the future Superman uses his x-ray vision to determine that the rogue planet's core was made of molten iron. He creates a giant magnet to pull the planet into a safe path through the solar system. The citizens of the Federation were able to watch Superman's feat instantly through Ultra News, what we call today cable TV news.
While Superman is saving the solar system, two space-suited criminals discover Superman's Fortress of Solitude. In 2965 the Fortress was not located in an arctic mountain, but in an invisible satellite in space. They got close enough, or pierced a force field, to be able to see it, and successfully broke into it. Their path was blocked by incredible heat and electrical bolts that only Superman could cross. Superman easily captures these would-be burglars and turned them into the authorities. They were quickly tried by a judge, also a computer, and were sentenced to the "slowdown". They were zapped by a ray that slowed their movements to 1/10th of normal, so that they were easily monitored and would not be able to escape if they tried to commit a crime. I just wouldn't want to be stuck behind these guys in traffic.
Superman returns to the Daily Interplanetary News building and resumes his identity as Klar Ken T5477. Editor PW 5598 gives Klar an assignment, to cover the story of Muto, Superman's arch-nemesis, who is threatening the solar system.
Klar changes to Superman and flies into the solar system to battle his arch-foe, and that ends this first eight page story about the Superman of 2965.
The second part of this story was continued in Action Comics #338, the June 1966 issue, released to the newsstands on April 28, 1966. Titled Muto - The Monarch Of Menace, it picked up the story just before Klar Ken T5477 flew off as Superman after Muto. for whatever reason Klar uses a 30th century video viewer to look at a brief summary of Superman's past arch-enemies, beginning with Lex Luthor. Then, Klar's secret identity is almost discovered when Jay L-3388 (Jay Senohl in the original story) walked into the "records room" that Klar used to change into Superman. Klar then reminisces about his ancestors who had their secret identities revealed, Superman IV and Superman VII. (Since the original story seemed to indicate he was the seventh Superman, I guess DC's staff weren't as concerned about continuity at the time.)
While Superman searches for his arch-nemesis, Muto himself is on a planet with a gang of alien criminals. We learn his origin, and why he hates Superman. Superman 2965's father destroyed a comet that was threatening an inhabited world. When he shattered the solid core of this comet, the impact sent shockwaves through nearby space. The shockwaves opened a warp in space that a spaceship traveled through into an alien dimension. A pregnant woman gave birth in this alien dimension, which gave the child incredible mental powers but changed his appearance. He had the yellow skin and enlarged cranium we now know of as Muto.
The first place Superman flies to is "Weapons World", a place that the Federation of Planets has banished all weapons of war, since warfare has been banished by the Federation. Superman discovers that Muto and his gang is already there. Superman battles Muto across the planet until Muto melts part of a cliff, allowing the ocean to flood a valley. Superman sees a building with children playing outside nearby. He flies at super speed to rescue them, but discovers too late that the children are androids (a little bit of inexperience?). The tidal wave overwhelms Superman, and the radioactive traces in the seawater begin to slowly kill Superman. This thirteen page story also ends in a cliffhanger. This story was reprinted in Superman #247, the January 1972 issue.
The conclusion of this story occured in twelve pages of the next issue, Action Comics #339, July 1966, published on May 26, 1966. I have only found copies of the first two parts of the story. I have not yet found copies of the other two Superman 2965 stories, and so am going by the plot summaries on the web site In Muto vs. The Man Of Tomorrow Superman is rescued by the android children. Superman helps Atlanteans defeat one of Muto's gang, on Earth I presume, but the plot summary does not specify. Muto enlarges Metropolis citizens into giants. Superman restores them to normal, and defeats Muto by opening a space warp and sending Muto back to his home dimension.
The last Superman 2965 story was written by a sixteen year old Jim Shooter for World's Finest Comics #166, May 1967, on sale on March 9, 1967. The seventeen page story, The Danger of the Deadly Duo, contains the only appearance of the Batman of 2967, Bruce Wayn E7705, and Joker XX, with flashbacks of Superman VI and XV (another bit of inconsistent continuity with the original story), Batman VI, XV, XIX and Joker XIX.
The story begins with Muto and Joker XX running into each other as they attempt to rob the same place. After originally fighting they decide to team up. Superman encounters the Joker - Muto team, whose teamwork easily defeats Superman. He returns to Fortress Of Solitude as a dejected man. There he meets the Batman of 2965, who wants to avenge the death of his father, Batman XIX, at the hands of Joker's father, Joker XIX. This new dynamic duo encounter Muto and Joker, who escape. Batman is able to track them and battle them again. Superman beats Muto while Batman battles Joker, who is accidentally electocuted to death.
This was the final story about the Superman of 2965, and I could find no information about a reprint of this story or any collection of these stories. Perhaps a future Superman edition of Showcase Presents or the Superman: The Man of Tomorrow Archives of the silver age Superman stories.

Some comic book podcasts featuring Superman:
Comic Book Page: Back Issue Spotlight #11: Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes
Comic Geek Speak:
Episode #379: Superman in the Golden Age with The Golden Age of Comic Books podcast host Bill Jourdain
Episode #411: Superman On Trial: The hosts talk to two attorneys who are also comic book readers about the long history of Jerry Siegel's and Joe Shuster's legal battle with DC Comics.
Episode #423: Spotlight On Superman in the Silver Age
Episode #470: Spotlight On Superman in the Bronze Age
Episode #475: Superman I vs. Superman II
Episode #506: Spotlight On Superman in Other Media
Around Comics Episode #200: The Process Several members of the panel who have experience as comic book professionals discuss the creation of a comic book story.
And for fans of the Watchmen graphic novel, Half Hour Wasted: Who Reads The Watchmen by The Legion of Dudes is a series of episodes that looks at each chapter of Watchmen. As of the writing of this blog there are two episodes.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at
Send e-mail to

My Pull List is my spoiler-free review blog about the comic books I read every week. It can be found at E-mail to this blog can be sent to

Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and thanks, as always, to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Episode #38: Happy Birthday, Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl!

Kara Zor-El (Supergirl), Superman's Kryptonian cousin, has a birthday that is traditionally accepted as September 22. Her father, Zor-El, was Jor-El's brother. She made her first appearance in Action Comics #252, the May 1959 issue, released on the newsstands around March 31, 1959. She was co-created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino, who created this first Supergirl story, The Supergirl from Krypton.
Supergirl stories have been reprinted in the following editions:
Supergirl Archives vol. I hardcover, published on November 1, 2002
Superman In the Fifties trade paperback, October 1, 2002
Superman: The Man of Tomorrow Archives vol. I hardcover, May 1, 2005
Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I trade paperback, October 1, 2005
Showcase Presents: Supergirl vol. I trade paperback, November 28, 2007
Before Kara Zor-El made her first appearance, there were a number of comic book stories published that contained earlier versions of a Supergirl. The first appeared back in Action Comics #60, the May 1943 issue, released around March 16, 1943. Lois Lane - Superwoman was written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by George Russos, under the editorship of Jack Schiff. In this story, Lois Lane is injured in a car accident. While unconscious in the hospital, Lois dreams that Superman gave her a blood transfusion which gives her superpowers. Later in the story, "Super-Lois" rescues Superman from a criminal scientist who had captured him. She awakens post-surgery.
A similar plot was used in Superman #125, November 1958, released September 18, 1958, in a story titled Lois Lane's Super Dream, written by Jerry Coleman and drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger (NOTE: During this podcast episode I incorrectly identified the artist as Curt Swan.)
Claire Kent, Alias Super Sister, from Superboy #78, January 1960, published on November 19, 1959, was another version of Supergirl. Superboy rescues an alien woman whose spaceship was about to crash on Earth. After making a remark about women drivers, Superboy is changed into a girl by a zap from the alien woman's ring. Superboy returns to Smallville as Claire Kent, a visiting relative of Clark's. He patrols as Super-Sister, hearing chauvanistic remarks from Smallville's men. At the end of the story it is revealed that the events were illusions induced from "mento" rays from the alien's ring. She forgives Superboy, who learns to think before he speaks. The only reprint for this story I could find was in 80 Page Giant #1, August 1964, June 4 1964.
About a year before Kara Zor-El appeared, a "magical" Supergirl appeared in Superman #123, August 1958, on sale June 17, 1958. The story was written by Otto Binder, pencilled by Dick Sprang and inked by Stan Kaye. Even though the story was titled The Girl of Steel, this Supergirl only appeared in part one of a three part story. Jimmy Olsen received a magic totem, and his first wish was for Superman to have a super powered female companion. Unfortunately, she became a bane instead of a boon to Superman. They kept getting in each other's way until Supergirl saved Superman from a piece of kryptonite, which affected her as it would Superman. Somehow she crawled back to Jimmy and begged him to rub the totem so she would vanish, which he did.
The next year Kara Zor-El premiered in Action Comics #252. In The Supergirl From Krypton Superman found his cousin when he investigated an alien rocket that had crashed. Kara Zor-El lived in Argo City, which somehow survived the destruction of Krypton when the large piece of the planet's crust was thrown into space with a "bubble" of atmosphere. Like the rest of Krypton the ground under Argo City was turning green as it changed to kryptonite. To save themselves the people of Argo City covered the ground with lead sheeting to block the radioactivity. The citizens of Argo City were later threatened by kryptonite poisoning when a meteor shower punched holes in the lead shielding. Kara's father followed his brother's example by building a rocket for his daughter. Kara's mother made a super costume similar to her super cousin's, because they could watch him on Earth through telescopes.
Instead of taking her to Metropolis to live with him, because it would threaten his secret identity, Superman took her to Midvale Orphanage. He created a secret identity for her, complete with a dark wig, and Kara chose Linda Lee as her secret identity name, another addition to the lore of L L names in Superman history. Superman does not reveal Supergirl's existence to the world, but keeps her as his "secret weapon", until he trains her to the point where he feels she has enough control over her super powers. Linda Lee is eventually adopted by the Danvers family.
Supergirl makes her world premiere in Action Comics #285, February 1962, published on December 28, 1961, in the story The World's Greatest Super Heroine, written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Jim Mooney, who would be Supergirl's most famous artist. At the beginning of the story Superman informs Supergirl that she is skilled enough to reveal to the world. She returns to her adoptive parents until the scheduled time Superman planned to make his announcement. On a trip to Metropolis to see a movie, a bridge collapses under the Danvers' car. Linda Lee flies out of the car and carries it to safety, rescuing her parents. At first Supergirl was afraid that Superman would be mad at her for revealing her secret identity to her parents. Superman appears immediately to allay her fears. He saw the incident with his telescopic vision and commended Supergirl for her quick action. Superman then admonished her parents to keep her identity secret, to which they readily agreed. Back at the Danvers' home, Supergirl digs a tunnel from the basement into the nearby woods to protect her identity, similar to Superboy in Smallville. While the Danvers celebrated having a "super" daughter, Superman had a melancholy moment, wishing he could hug his late adoptive parents again. The next day at the Fortress of Solitude Superman beamed a television signal around the world introducing his cousin, Supergirl.
Supergirl eventually became a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and fell in love with Brainiac 5, but that is a subject for a future episode. Supergirl continued in mostly solo adventures in the back of Action Comics and in Adventure Comics.
Kara's Kryptonian parents reappeared in Supergirl's life in a two part story in the back of Action Comics issues #309 and #310, February / March 1964 issues, on sale December 26, 1963 and January 30, 1964 respectively. Part I was titled The Untold Story of Argo City, and part II was titled Supergirl's Rival Parents (The cover story for Action Comics #310 was The Secret of Kryptonite Six). Kara's adoptive father uses his engineering skilly to help Supergirl rescue her kryptonian parents from a "survival zone", similar to the Phantom Zone, they escaped to during Argo City's destruction. They were the city's only survivors. That is why years later, in Superman #338, when Superman restores Kandor to its normal size, Kara's kryptonian parents are there to greet her.
Supergirl did have several short lived comic book series in the years before Crisis On Infinite Earths. Her first solo series premiered on September 19, 1972 with the November 1972 issue of Supergirl #1. The editor on this first issue was Dorothy Woolfolk, and the cover artist was Bob Oksner. Trail of the Madman was written by Cary Bates, pencilled by Art Saaf and inked by Vince Colletta. The villain in the story was Nasthalia Luthor, neice of Lex Luthor (who made an appearance in All-Star Superman issues #5 and #11). Robert Kanigher was the editor of the remaining nine issues, through #10, the September/October 1974 issue. Supergirl would reappear in The Daring New Adventures of SUPERGIRL, the November 1982 issue #1 appearing on August 5, 1982. It would run for thirteen issues and be edited by Julius Schwartz. (NOTE: I also missed this series during this episode.) Supergirl reappeared with #14, the December 1983 issue, continuing the numbering of the previous series, and was edited by Julius Schwartz as well.
The silver age Supergirl met her demise in the famous mimi series Crisis On Infinite Earths, issue #7, October 1985, released on July 4, 1985. She was killed by an anti-matter blast from the villain Anti-Monitor, as she battled to save her cousin. Her death was mandated by DC Comics editorial staff, in preperation to the upcoming revamp of Superman. They wanted to return Superman to the status of sole survivor of Krypton.
Her death had an epilogue in Superman #415, the January 1986 issue, published on October 10, 1985. In the story Supergirl: Bride of - X? written by Cary Bates, drawn by Curt Swan and inked by Al Williamson, Superman discovers a previously unknown chapter of her life. This was among the last ten issues of the pre-Crisis continuity of Superman. He discovers an alien man at the Fortress of Solitude, cluthcing an unknown trinket near a statue of his deceased cousin. After a brief battle the alien, named Salkor, gives Superman a flashback through a mental link. Salkor finds an unconscious Supergirl floating in space. He brings her into his spaceship and returns to his home planet. In his lab he cures her of the effects from a "strange green radiation", with the only after effect being amnesia. She begins patrolling Salkor's home planet with him, taking the name Jasma. They fall in love and marry, and he gives her the object that is seen at the beginning of the story. She is weakened during a battle with a villain. Salkor takes her home, but finds her gone the next morning. He follows the signal from the trinket to the Fortress of Solitude. After a battle with a villain that had followed Salkor from his planet, Salkor and Superman watch a message Supergirl recorded to the two men she loved the most. She had left Salkor's planet when her memories returned, but she forgot her life on his planet. Her memories returned after a later battle, and she recorded the message to be activated when the two men were both near the trinket. Salkor returns to his home planet as a friend of Superman.
There have been several post-crisis versions of Supergirl, but the classic cousin from Krypton returned in Superman/Batman #8, the May 2004 issue, released on March 24, 2004. Similar to the Kara Zor-El of the tv show Smallville, she was sent in a rocket to Earth to watch over the infant Kal-El. But her rocket was caught in kryptonite and she was stuck in suspended animation while her cousin grew up. When her rocket was freed and she reached Earth, she found her cousin was now older than she was, and it was he who watched over her.
There is a lot more to the history of Supergirl, but we will have to hold the rest for a future episode.
Superman Fan Podcast can be found at
Send e-mail about this podcast to
My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog which can be found at
Send e-mail about this blog to
Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Superman WebRing

Superman WebRing The Superman WebRing
This site is a member of the best
Superman websites on the Internet!
Previous SiteList SitesRandom SiteJoin RingNext Site
SiteRing by



Total Pageviews