Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Episode #114: Clark Kent's Forgotten Girlfriend!

This episode is a little late for Valentine's Day. I should have scehduled it last week, and the Curt Swan tribute episode for this one, but I got my dates mixed up. Better late than never, but not when it comes to giving my wife something for Valentine's Day. The featured story of this episode was the second story of Superman #165, November 1963, published around September 19, 1963. It contained 32 pages and had the cover price of 12 cents. Mort Wiesinger was the editor, and the cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein.

The first story of the issue was Beauty And The Super Beast, reprinted in the trade paperback Showcase Presents: Superman vol. IV, and was written by Robert Bernstein, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. It began with Lana Lang covering the excavation of Circe's tomb (a Greek mythological figure who turned some of Odysseus' friends into swine with a magic drink). while Lois Lane became the first woman in space in a Mercury style space capsule called Lady Planet. Superman hit a meteor that threatened to collide with Lady Planet, but for some reason his punch was only strong enough to deflect it, not destroy it. Lana is at Circe's tomb as it was opened, a glass coffin which contained her perfectly preserved body. When the coffin was opened Circe revived. She had only been asleep, imprisoned by an ancient magician. After Lana mentioned Superman, Circe swore revenge on the Man of Steel for spurning her advances when he visited the past.

At Superman's appearance at an auditorium, Circe transformed Superman's head first into a lion, then a mouse. She relnted and returned him to normal when he asked her to let him fulfill a promise to excavate the foundation to a new city hall. Circe commanded him to walk to the site as a common man, then climb a crane to dive into the ground. He does and pushed a plug of bedrock the size of the intended foundation into space. After Superman again spurned her proposal she ordered him to juggle upside down. While he juggled he used the balls to disarm a mini-tank that attempted to rob a bank. Circe gave up her attempts to force Superman into matrimony and returned to the past. The scene was viewed by the Superman Revenge Squad orbiting Earth in their spaceship. They returned to their headquarters to face the consequences for their failure.

Superman viewed their departure with his telescopic vision as he flew over Metroipolis. He met Circe outside the city. She was actually Saturn Woman, accompanied by her pet Protty II. In a flashback, Superman noticed he was weaker when he hit the meteor, but his powers returned when he flew upside down. Using his telescopic vision and his super hearing, the Man of Steel eavesdropped on the Superman Revenge Squad, learning that they had zapped him with a counter energy ray, which had caused his weakness. Superman used his super ventriloquism to tell Krypto to travel to the 30th century and get Saturn Woman's help. (If we could harness Superman's super-ventriloquism it would transform the communications industry.) Superman deduced that he could keep his superpowers when he remained upsdie down. She disguised herself as Circe, and Proty II transformed itself to the lion and mouse heads over Superman's face. The crew of the Superman Revenge Squad was demoted to the Krypto Revenge Squad.

The main feature of this episode was The Sweetheart Superman Forgot, written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Al Plastino. It was reprinted in the trade paperbacks Superman In The Sixties and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. IV. The story began when Clark read on the news teletype machine that an unknown object was on a collision course for a satellite. Superman caught it just in time and threw it toward the sun, but not before being exposed to some red kryptonite on the object. After he flew back into the atmosphere he was mysteriously compelled to remove his Superman uniform and hide it and his Clark Kent identification. (Let's hope noone found the stash, or Clark and Superman would probably never be able to explain the coincidence away.)

Clark walked along the road, and the final effect of the red kryptonite was amnesia. He walked to a barn and asked for a drink of water. A beautiful blonde gave the amnesiac Clark a drink of warm milk, then he fainted. Her father put Clark in a bed to recover from what he suspected as sunstroke. Clark dreamed he was dressed as a theater usher who flew after a dragon that jumped out of a movie screen. When he awoke Digby Selwyn and his daughter Sally introduced themselves to the amnesiac Clark, who blurted out his name as Jim White (unknowingly mentioning the names of his closest friends, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White). Their butler assisted "Jim" with using an electric razor (since as Superman he never needed to shave, at least in the silver age).

The Selwyn's showed Jim around their property on horseback. They found a pitchfork stuck in the ground near some dynamite at the site of an underground waterpipe installation, as a thunderstorm approached. Jim lassoed the ptichfork with a rope and dragged it to a safe distance away before the pitchfork was struck by lightning. That night Jim was plagued by another nightmare about being chased by red and green rocks (red and green kryptonite). The next day Jim was given a job at the family timber company, working for a man named Bart. He yelled at Jim for releasing a deer caught in one of Bart's mink traps. Sally rode a horse by at that moment and told Bart to remove his traps. Bart then ordered Jim to ride a log down the river to a nearby mill. He then caused the log to roll, sending Jim into the river. As Sally helped Jim out of the water, Bart asked her to be his date at that evening's dance. She declined, saying that Jim was his date. Jim said he didn't know how to dance, but Sally told him she would teach him that afternoon.

That night Jim and Sally won the dance contest, so she must have actually taught him how to dance that afternoon. Afterwards they kissed passionately, but Jim didn't feel he deserved to ask her to marry him. Sally told him she would never forget that kiss. Sally showed Jim her father's land, and mentioned that when he retired her father would need somone like Jim to run things. Jim wanted to build his own future and decided to enter the rodeo to win the $5,000.00 prize for being able to ride the bucking bronco Black Terror.

The next day a man put some "loco weed" in Black Terror's feed, which would drive the horse wild when he was ridden. Jim was throw off the horse and landed on his back. He was taken to the hospital, where doctors told him he might be crippled for life. After he was released Sally took him to her father's home. In his wheelchair Jim told her to forget about him, but Sally said she wanted to marry him. She knew of a doctor in Europe who might be able to operate and restore the use of his legs. Bart eavesdropped on the conversation.

Jim wheeled himself to a secluded spot to think and was met by Bart, who mocked Jim. Jim wheeled himself to the cliff edge overlooking a river. Bart rolled a fair sized boulder down the hill to scare Jim, but the rock knocked Jim out of his wheelchair into the river to drown. Bart made a quick exit. Sally was overcome with grief and vowed to never love again.

Clark awoke in a glass booth underwater. He had been found by Aquaman, who brought him to Lori to care for until he revived. With his memories returned he retrieved his Superman uniform and Clark Kent identification and returned to the Daily Planet offices. A female reproter for a school newspaper asked Lois Lane if Superman would ever marry, and Lois doubted it. Clark doubted that a woman would ever marry him for himself, without knowing he was really Superman. Apparently he had no memory of his time as Jim White, even as Sally continued to grieve over her lost love.

This was one of the more tragic Superman love stories, but we should have known it couldn't last. After all, her initials weren't L. L.

Next Episode: The Legion Of Super-Heroes!

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