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.

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