Thursday, September 18, 2008

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.

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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.

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