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.

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

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