Monday, March 28, 2011

Superman Fan Podcast Episode #171: MegaCon 2011 Preview!

At the time this episode was recorded, MegaCon 2011 would occur Friday, March 25, - Sunday, March 27, 2011, at Hall D at the Orange County Convention Center, located at 9800 International Drive, Orlando, Florida. Stan Lee and William Shatner are the special guests.

Other media guest that catch my interest are Star Trek actors Robin Curtis, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis, Babylon 5 and Lost actress Danielle Rousseau and TV actors John Schneider and Lou Ferrigno.

Comic book guests that interest me include Allan Bellman, golden age artist on such Marvel/Timely tiles as Captain America and All Winners, Sergio Cariello, artist on the Long Ranger title as well as the Picture Bible and Son Of Samson, Frank Cho, creator of Liberty Meadows, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Geoff Johns, Terry Moore, Denny O'Neil, George Perez, Phil Noto of Orlando,Tim Sale, Mark Waid, Roy Thoimas, Billy Tucci and Renee Witterstaetter. I also look forward to buying the next copies of The Wellkeeper by Derrick Fish. Copies are also available at

I ope to also meet podcaster and now central Florida resident Scott Gardner, co-host of the Two Two Freaks podcast.

All I could find about the beginnings of MegaCon was on wikipedia. The convention began in 1993, and is run by Elizabeth Widera and Christine Alger. This will be the fourth year I will attend MegaCon. I first attended this Con in 2005 with my son, as part of his 15th birthday. The previous year I took him to an Orlando Predators Arena Football game at the old Orlando Arena. After the game he told me that it was the best birthday present ever. After MegaCon he told me it was even better. That year I really didn't know what I was doing or how to really enjoy it in the most organized way. We did catch most of the Joe Quesada panel. He happened to be the guest of honor that year.

We went back in 2006, and this time I knew more about what I was doing. I got the program as I went into the convention hall, which had a list of panels. My son and I picked a few panels to go to, some we attended together, and others separately.

I didn't go the next three years, and wasn't planning to attend last year, until Jeffrey Taylor, co-host of the From Crisis To Crisis podcast, posted on facebook that he was looking for someone to room with who was going to MegaCon. He stayed with us that weekend, and we got to sample his excellent cooking. He came to MegaCon to accept an award from the Project Fanboy, for favorite fan comic book website. Last year was the first time I attended all three days of the con, and was also the first time I learned that I could attend it for free with a media pass, since I produce a weekly podcast. However I found out too late for last year's convention, but made plans to apply in time this year, which I did. This will be the first year I'll attend with a media pass.

While there are a lot of listeners who have a lot of experience attending Cons, I want to share a few tips I've learned in the few years I've attended MegaCon. The first tip should go without saying, but there's always one person in a crowd who misses it: take a shower first. With the crowd of people who will be there, clean bodies will be much appreciated, especially on Saturday when it will be the most crowded. I've been in my local comic shop when another customer has walked by, carrying a strong whiff of body odor behind him. Let's try not to live down to the cliched comic book fanboy stereotype.

Something else I do when I know I'm going to spend the entire day on my feet, I poweder both my feet and shoes to help keep them as dry as possible. I also wear two pairs of ankle socks to cushion my feet. Heel and arch supports in my shoes help as well.

About two weeks before the convention opens, MegaCon's website will post the complete list of their panel schedule for the weekend. I print it out and decide ahead of time which panels I want to attend. There will be some that overlap, and I have to pick between them.At the convention center, before I go into the exhibit hall, I pick up the brochure which also has the complete panel schedule, just to check and see if any panels change. It will also have a map which indicates where all of the exhibitors will be located.

The panels I plan on attending this year are:

Friday, March 25, 2011:

Crime Noir Panel: Jimmy Palmiotti, Frank Tieri, Darwyn Cooke and Dave Johnson, hosted by The Rat Pack Comics Podcast.

Spotlight On George Perez: A Q & A with the legendary comic book artist.

Comic Writers On The Art Of Writing For Comics: Dennis O'Neil, Roy Thomas, Jim Valentino, Mark Waid and Darwyn Cooke.

The New York Connection: A small group of friends in the comic book industry from the New York City area: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Frank Tieri, Nelson DeCastro and Joe Jusko.

Saturday, March 26, 2011:

Words And Pictures, The Art Of Stroytelling In Comics: Layout and timing in comics with Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, Terry Moore, Billy Tucci, Dan Panosian and Mike Perkins

A Spotlight On DC Comics: Geoff Johns, Dan Didio, Steve Scott, Rob Hunter and Ethan Van Sciver.

The Many Faces Of Mark Waid: A Q & A with the legendary comic book writer and editor.

The Art Of The Cover: A behind the scenes look into what goes into making the perfect cover with J. Scott Campbell, Amanda Conner, Joe Jusko, Frank Cho, Michael Golden,Dave Johnson and Tim Sale.

Sunday, March 27, 2011:

The Future Of Comics And New Media: Where are we headed with digital comics, shrinking numbers of book stores and how the internet and fans can shape the failure and success of a book, with Terry Moore, Jim Valentino and Darwyn Cooke.

Superman's Father: A Q & A with actor John Schneider.

Spotlight On Amanda Conner: A Q & A about her artistic style and amazing career.

The Do's And Don'ts Of Comics: Blake Nelson, Nelson DeCastro, Paolo Rivera, Steve Scott, Allen Bellman, Howard Chaykin and Frank Tieri discuss how to present yourself, be the perfect hire and balance a schedule.

Creator Owned Comics: The future of comics and a behind the scenes look at creating your own book with Terry Moore, Billy Tucci, Jim Valentino, Ron Marz, Brian Pulido and Jimmy Palmiotti.

I also hope to buy a new Supemran t-shirt to replace my old ratty one.

MegaCon 2012 is scheduled for the weekend of February 17 - 19. The dates flip from year to year between late February to March, depending on open dates at the convention center. I also hope that Jeffrey can return to MegaCon, and his co-host Michael Bailey can attend for the first time, and I can finally meet him.

Next Episode: MegaCon 2011 Interviews!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups or pages on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at Check it out to discover other fine Superman podcasts.

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library at

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

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics. Any cover art displayed with the show notes is done for entertainment and educational purposes only. I post these episodes to share my enjoyment of Superman comics and do not earn any money from this podcast.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Episode #170: A Superman Fan Review: All-Star Superman - The Movie!

All-Star Superman, the animated DVD movie which adapted the 12 issue comic book mini-series of the same name by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, was released on February 22, 2011. I know I'm a little late to the party, but, better late than never.

I finally got the DVD about two weeks ago. I had told my wife how I had eyed the movie while I was grocery shopping earlier that day, but had resisted the temptation to pick it up. (We're on a tight budget in order to pay off our debt and help our daughter in college.) She had to get a few things at the store herself later that day, and when she came home she gave me the DVD. Yes, I know I'm spoiled.

Comic book writer Dwayne McDuffie wrote the script for the animated adaption, having previously wrote the script to the earlier DC animated movie, Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths. It was sad news indeed when it was announced that Dwayne had passed away the day before the DVD's release, because of complications from a surgical procedure. Some later blogs paying tribute to McDuffie suggested he may have had some heart issues.

Voice Director Andrea Romano did a great job of finding a great cast to voice the characters in this movie. James Denton was more than adequate as Clark Kent/Superman. He almost ranks up there with Tim Daly, of Superman: The Animated Series, as one of the top Superman voice actors. Christina Hendricks was able to catch the spunk and drive of Lois Lane. Anthony LePaglia made Lex Luthor seem very menacing. I prefer his performance over Gene Hackman's campy portrayal in Superman: The Movie. (That was one of the few weak points of that movie, for me.) Having played Lou Grant in two TV series, Ed Asner was a natural to portray Perry White. It's one of those things where you wonder why no one thought of it earlier. Matthew Grey Gubler perfectly caught Jimmy Olsen's youthful energy as the Daily Planet's photographer, and Alexis Denisof made a perfect genius Dr. Leo Quintum.

Dwayne McDuffie crafted an excellent adaption of the original miniseries. Some scenes from the comic book title were left out because of the movie's time limit. Most of those scenes that were left out were touched on in small ways, which was nice to see. I'll leave it to you to discover what they are. While the animators didn't copy Frank Quitely's art style exactly, the animation certainly was similar to the art of the comic book, down to the short Superman cape. That was similar to many silver age Superman stories, which wasn't my favorite. I prefer the long Superman cape, as in Christopher Reeve's Superman costume from the movies.

The first part of the movie was very similar to the comic book mini-series, down to the four panel, eight word summary of Superman's origin. Towards the middle of the movie, the story begins to diverge from the comic book, while remaining faithful to the spirit of the original story. A few plot points were completely different from the comic book plot, but the movie still felt like an All-Star Superman story.

Overall, I'd say that this animated movie ranks up there with Superman: The Movie and Superman II as the best Superman films. All-Star Superman, both the comic book and movie, debunk the idea of Superman being outdated and too old fashioned for today. Some people feel that the Man of Steel is too bright and shiny for a dark and cynical modern world. My answer is: and the problem with that is what, exactly? All-Star Superman was a dark movie, without violating Superman's status as a symbol of hope.

The Man of Steel is faced with putting his affairs in order, and accomplishing his final missions, in whatever time he has left. Superman isn't sure he will be able to do it, but will keep trying until his dying breath. It was very easy to get drawn into the emotion of the movie as Superman battles his slowly weakening body.

One of the things I think people miss about Superman as "the big blue boy scout" is his toughness. He isn't the over the top dark vigilante that is all to common in today's comic books. Part of his mid-western farm boy upbringing was the attitude of get the job done, no matter what. Crops and cattle didn't wait for anyone. They needed to be take n care of. As Superman, Clark Kent brought a tenacity that, as long as he breathes, he won't give up the fight. All-Star Superman was a perfect example. "Brains beat brawn every time."

The comic book and movie do what the best Superman stories always do, find a way to challenge Superman both physically and emotionally, and still win the day in the end. While I haven't seen Batman: Under The Hood, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse or Justice League: Crisis On Two Worlds, I would rank All Star Superman equal to Justice League: New Frontier as the best DC animated DVD movies, and give it 5 Superman Capes out of 5.

Next Week: MegaCon 2011 Preview!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups or pages on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at Check it out to discover other fine Superman podcasts.

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library at

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

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics. Any cover art displayed with the show notes is done for entertainment and educational purposes only. I post these episodes to share my enjoyment of Superman comics and do not earn any money from this podcast.

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

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Episode #169: Superman Family Of Comics Cover Dated May/June 1955: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #5 & World's Finest Comics #76!

Note: As I've been rating these silver age Superman stories, I've used the same rating system as the podcast Superman Forever Radio, up to 5 Superman Shields. In an effort to be a little more creative and not such a copycat, from now on I will rate these stories up to 5 Superman Capes.

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #5, May/June 1955, was published around March 22, 1955. It contained 32 pages for the cover price of 10 cents. Mort Weisinger was the editor, and the cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. It featured the third and final story of the issue, The Story Of Superman's Souvenirs! All three stories were eight pages long and were done by the same creative team, writer Otto Binder, penciller Curt Swan and inker Ray Burnley. They have also been reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman Family vol. I.

The Boy Olympics began at the back loading dock of the Daily Planet. Jimmy Olsen watched as workers loaded the delivery trucks, and handed out bundles to newsboys for their paper routes. Tommy Blair asked one of the dock workers if the Daily Planet had any openings for more newsboys. He was told that there were no openings, and he was the fifth City Sentinel newsboy to ask for a job.

Curious, Jimmy asked Tommy if the City Sentinel was going out of business. Tommy replied that publisher Cal Dawson was out of money and planned to shut down the Sentinel next week. Jimmy promised to ask his boss, Perry White, to hire a few more newsboys. but Perry was cold to the idea, and if the City Sentinel was on the skids, that was just business.

Sadly, Jimmy had to break the news to Tommy and some of his fellow newsboys. Later, Olsen saw a sign of an Ice Olympics exhibition, which gave him an idea. He gathered Tommy and some of the other City Sentinel newsboys and pitched his idea for a Boy Olympics. They were excited about it, and some of the acts they came up with were, tandem roller skate race, bike jump through a fake brick wall and a boy cannonball. Tommy wondered how they would pull it off without costumes, props or a location to perform.

Jimmy activated his signal watch, and, after Superman came, told the Man of Steel about his idea. Superman had one question for Olsen, what would Perry White think of one of his reporters helping the competition. Jimmy hadn't thought of it, but his mind was made up. Risking his job was worth saving the jobs of the newsboys. Assured that Jimmy's heart was in thee right place, Superman went to work, using scrap materials to build a stadium. (I'm glad Superman didn't have to worry about zoning laws or building permits.) The Man of Steel planned to donate the stadium to the city after the Boy Olympics was over.

Olsen helped the Sentinel newsboys practice their acts. We saw them practice their tandem skate team and the bike jump through fake bricks. Jimmy almost forgot to get to work on time. In fact, Superman flew Jimmy to his desk at the Daily Planet with seconds to spare. The time Jimmy spent with the newsboys began to affect his work. Perry was on his case on a daily basis.

Jimmy helped one newsboy rehearse the boy cannonball act. Jimmy shot him into the air, then the boy opened  the parachute he held in his hand and floated safely to the ground. Then a boy and girl practiced a balancing act on the back of two large dogs. (I don't think there are any breeds of dogs big enough for anyone to safely perform such a stunt.) A newsboy was about to test a jet scooter, built by Superman, on a loop track, when Perry White approached. To hide his identity, Jimmy put the boy's helmet on his head. Perry liked the idea of a fundraiser for the City Sentinel.

While Perry watched, Jimmy rode the jet scooter for several loops on the vertical track. Olsen got off the scooter very dizzily. Perry wanted to see the face of the person responsible for the fundraiser, because he might hire them (as a possible replacement for Jimmy, I wonder?). Superman used his x-ray vision to fuse the chin lock, so he told Perry that he needed a special took to remove the helmet. As Jimmy and Superman walked away, Perry wondered aloud how the show would succeed without any advertising.

After Superman removed the helmet, Jimmy agreed with Perry, wondering how they would advertise the show. Just then, a courier approached and gave Superman a package filled with money and a note. It came from an anonymous donor, who gave enough money to cover the advertising expenses.

Enough publicity was generated by the billboards, signs and ads to fill the small stadium to capacity. One act that was shown in a panel was a pair of tap dancing stilt walkers. After the show, the newsboys carried large baskets of money, and superman carried City Sentinel publisher Dawson to the box office. The newsboys had raised enough money to keep the Sentinel in business. Jimmy informed Dawson that his newsboys were all of the performers.

Perry White approached them, and discovered that Jimmy had been behind the Boy Olympics. Olsen was sure he would be fired, but, surprisingly, Perry was proud of his cub reporter. Healthy competition is the lifeblood of America, and brotherhood its heart, White said. (If only more businesses operated with that philosophy.) Dawson apologized to Perry for refusing his many offers of help, explaining that it would have felt too much like accepting charity. Quick thinking Jimmy realized that Perry had been the anonymous donor who had paid for the show's advertising. White was quick to shush Jimmy before Dawson could hear him.

The next day's edition of the Daily Planet carried the banner headline, Welcome Back City Sentinel! You Can't Keep A Good Paper Down!

This wasn't a big story. It was a simple, down to earth tale. It certainly relates to the present, with our high unemployment. Perry White played a small but important role in the story. When he asked how the show would succeed without advertising, it was a subtle but clever clue that he was the anonymous donor. Perry showed himself to be a tough boss, but with a big heart. Jimmy showed himself to be not just Superman's pal, but the Sentinel newsboys' pal as well. He really went out of his way to help the newsboys keep their job. I was a little surprised at the risks the newsboys took to put on a show: the boy cannonball who held a small parachute in his hand, the jet scooter on a vertical loop track and the stilt dancers.

I give this story 4 Superman Capes out of 5.

The Brain Of Steel began with Perry White introducing the Daily Planet editorial staff to a new piece of equipment, "Scoop", a business type electronic computer. It was about the size of a large entertainment center, as were the computers of the 1950's. As part of their training on how to use Scoop, Perry had Jimmy type a question for Scoop to answer. Jimmy typed, How much are 2 apples plus 2 oranges? Scoop's answer, displayed on a monitor screen, was 4 fruit.

One piece of equipment that was part of Scoop was an emergency band radio. It broadcast a police alert about a jewelry robbery, where a 21k emerald was stolen. Scoop displayed its value as $8,000.00, to assist a reporter writing a story about the theft.

While this was going on, Clark and Lois were visited by a Professor, who demonstrated his invention of indestructible plastic handcuffs. He cuffed Clark and Lois together, and tested a file, acid and a blowtorch on the chain that linked them together. It withstood everything. Unfortunately, he forgot to bring the key to the handcuffs, and had to go back to his lab to find it. While Clark and Lois waited, Jimmy brought chairs for them. Lois thought that this was a perfect opportunity to discover if Clark Kent was really Superman.

Scoop's emergency band radio broadcast an alert about a tenement fire. Scoop displayed a method to deter the flames from spreading through an updraft, through using large whirling blades over a broken skylight. That gave Jimmy an idea. He rushed to the roof of the Daily Planet building, where he and Jumbo, making his 6th appearance, flew the Flying Newsroom helicopter to the site of the fire. Sure enough, the downdraft from the Flying Newsroom kept the flames from spreading so that firefighters could bring the blaze under control.

Back at the Daily Planet offices, Jimmy told Clark and Lois about how Superman never showed up for the emergency. Clark's seeming disinterest made her question if her suspicion that he was really Superman was correct. Scoop's emergency radio broadcast another alert for a painter who had become entangled in ropes as he was painting a flagpole on a building's roof. Scoop again displayed a plan of action to save the painter.

Clark used his telescopic vision (and x-ray vision, also?) to check on the Professor, who was still searching for the key to the handcuffs after an hour.

Meanwhile, Jumbo and Jimmy were able to drop a rope ladder from the Flying Newsroom to the painter, cut him loose from the tangled ropes and fly him to safety.

After Jimmy and Jumbo returned to the Daily Planet, the emergency band radio in Scoop broadcast yet another emergency, a freight train had brake problems and was beginning to go too fast. Scoop displayed another course of action, involving thermite. (Perhaps Jimmy could borrow some from Batman, but then Frank Miller wouldn't draw Batman for another 30 years.)

Clark was able to use his telescopic and x-ray vision to find the missing key in the Professor's lab, under a book on top of a counter. Kent used his x-ray vision to set the book on fire. (I'm glad there was no one in Clark's line of sight between him and the Professor's lab.) The Professor extinguished the flames and found his key. He rushed to the Daily Planet offices and freed Clark and Lois from the handcuffs. The experience seemed to unnerve Clark so much that he headed for the First Aid Office. Lois dismissed her suspicions that Clark could have been Superman.

Jumbo and Jimmy had flown ahead of the out of control train, and dropped the thermite, which ignited and heated up the tracks to slow down the train. Unfortunately, the thermite had also sparked a forst fire. Fortunately, Superman showed up and extinguished the flames before the fire burned out of control.

After Jimmy returned to the Daily Planet offices, we discovered the "real Scoop". With each emergency broadcast, Clark used his x-ray vision to manipulate Scoop's electronic parts, in order to display the correct course of action to Jimmy. The reason this worked, in perfect comic book science, was because x-rays are electronic in nature.

Lois decided to test Scoop for herself and asked it, Is Clark Kent Superman? Clark used his x-ray vision to manipulate Scoop one more time. Scoop displayed the answer, My dear woman, I'm not that good. Answer: unknown.

Later, when he was alone, Clark couldn't resist asking Scoop the same question. Scoop displayed a formula and the answer Unable to work out of simple handcuffs through formula ... Clark Kent is not nimble-witted enough to be Superman! Clark was relieved at the answer, even though he wasn't sure he liked the answer.

This was another fairly clever story about Clark Kent using he super powers secretly, in order to protect his secret identity.  Once again, Jimmy was able to save the day without Superman's help, or else with only minor assistance as in this story. I'm not sure using x-rays to manipulate a computer would work in today's comic book stories, but we still have unusual comic book science to make the heroes' powers seem plausible. Also, I'm not sure that using a helicopter to hover over a broken skylight to prevent an updraft would actually work in real life. But we are talking about comic bool science, after all.

Because of the unusual comic book science aspect of the story, I'm knocking 1/2 point off my rating, and I give this story 3 1/2 Capes out of 5.

The Story Of Superman's Souvenirs began with Jimmy Olsen relaxing at home after a hard day's work at the Daily Planet, looking over his collection of Superman souvenirs. (I wonder if Jimmy ever got married, would his wife make him put them away, or store them in his basement or attic?) He heard a special report interrupt the regular program on his radio, alerting listeners that Killer Burke was on the loose and had been sighted in the Temple Square area. That got Jimmy's attention, because that was where he lived. (Another of the nicknamed criminals in the Jimmy Olsen title.)

Killer Burke was closer than Jimmy realized, when he crawled in Jimmy's window. Burke yanked the phone line out of the wall to prevent Jimmy from calling the police. Olsen reached to activate his Superman signal watch, but realized he had left it on his desk after polishing it. So Jimmy was trapped in his own home with Killer Burke.

Burke noticed Jimmy's souvenirs, and his attention was drawn to a machine gun. He grabbed it, intending to use it against the police to aid his escape. Olsen discourage him from taking that souvenir, and shared the story behind it. A criminal had attached a machine gun to his motorcycle, and fired it at Superman when he tried to capture the crook. The Man of Steel took the deflected bullets, squeezed them into metal balls, and tossed them into the gun barrel, jamming it. So the machine gun was rendered useless.

A small meteorite caught Burke's attention next. He thought he might be able to drop it on top of a police car to help his escape. Jimmy informed him that it was a lightweight fake. Superman had made them out of scrap metal, in order to scare a wanted criminal off an island, where the crook had sought asylum with the tribe who lived there. The fake meteors scared the bad guy into his boat and back into the ocean, where Superman nabbed him.

Burke next saw a suit of Superman armor, which looked exactly like the Man of Steel. He thought he could wear it and escape the notice of the cops. Jimmy encouraged him to take it, but that made Burke suspicious. He demanded that Jimmy tell him the story behind it, at gunpoint. Lefty Orton had worn it to walk right past police officers. But he found he couldn't get out of it. He was stuck. Orton had no choice but to walk into a police station and give himself up before he suffocated. Superman appeared and freed Orton from his armored prison. The Man of Steel had put a secret lock on it that only he could open.

Finally, Burke grabbed an invisibility belt that had been invented by Lex Luthor, and demanded that Jimmy tell him the story behind it. Jimmy informed Burke that Luthor had invented it just before Superman broke into Lex's secret hideout. Luthor was able to evade Superman's notice. Burke ignored Jimmy's pleas not to take it, but Burke put it on and activated it as he walked out of Jimmy's door.

Burke walked past some police officers who had been looking for him, but suddenly began yelling for help. The officers heard the calls for help, bout couldn't see him. They followed the sound of Burke's voice, and were surprised to find an invisible man. Jimmy showed up and deactivated the belt, and Burke's vision returned. Jimmy finished the rest of the story. Luthor had escaped his hideout, but then found he was blind, because when he was fully invisible, light bent around him, and no light rays struck his optical nerve. Burke was mad at Jimmy, but Olsen reminded him that he had been in too much of a hurry.

The next day, Jimmy relaxed at home with a copy of the Daily Planet, with the top banner headline, Superman's Pal Captures Gunman Without Superman's Help! Jimmy thought to himself that Superman did help, through his souvenirs.

This was another variation of the plot where Jimmy outsmarts the crook, with little or no help from Superman, but this was an original variation of that plot. So far, I can't get enough of this plot. I look forward to reading how Jimmy is going to get out of this one. Plus we got some cool stories behind some of Superman's souvenirs. I give this story 4 Capes out of 5.

World's Finest Comics #76, May/June 1955, was published around March 29, 1955. It contained 32 pages for the cover price of a dime. The editor was Jack Schiff, and the cover was drawn by Win Mortimer. The Superman/Batman story of the issue was the twelve page tale, When Gotham City Challenged Metropolis. This story was reprinted in World's Finest Comics Archive vol. I and Showcase Presents: World's Finest vol. I.

The story began in Gotham City, with some bank robbers fleeing to the bank building's roof, and escaping on the helicopter they had landed there. The Bat Signal was answered by Superman, who flew out of the Batcave. The Man of Steel quickly captured the bank robbers.

In Metropolis, some crooks heard the news report about Superman capturing the bank robbers. They figured that it would be safe to rob the Ice Show, with the Man of Steel out of town. When they attempted to steal the diamonds from one of the skaters during the show, these criminals were captured by Batman and Robin, on the ice.

The next day's Daily Planet  top headline was, Superman And Batman Exchange Places In Great Contest.

In flashback we were told how the competition came about. Gotham City and Metropolis were both competing for the same electronics convention. The convention committee couldn't decide between the two cities, and in true committee fashion, decided to allow the heroes of both cities decide through a competition. Whichever hero accomplished the most super deeds in 24 hours would win the convention for his city. To make it fair, both heroes would switch cities.

In Metropolis, Lois Lane showed Batman the Superman signal. He thought the S could be changed to a B, and later talked with a scientist who was scheduled to appear at the convention. Lois was suspicious of Batman's motivations, and expressed her reservations to Perry White. He told her to stay on the story, as Clark was in Gotham City covering Superman. (How convenient.)

At the Batcave, Clark Kent admired Batman's equipment. Using his x-ray vision, he noticed a dangerous crack in the Batcave's ceiling. Using scrap steel girders, he reinforced the ceiling. Then Gotham City's Superman signal called the Man of Steel to the site of an underground fire in come electrical cables. With his x-ray vision, he saw a gas leak, which was approaching the flames. Just as the gas ignited, Superman ripped the gas line out of the street, allowing the explosion to extinguish itself harmlessly in the sky.

Batman caught an escaped convict to tie the competition at 2 super deeds. Superman heard that Batman had accomplished another one to go up by one. In Metropolis, Batman stopped some thieves from stealing a tank by electrifying the machine. Lois saw him talk with the scientist again. After she left to write her story, we learned the reason for Batman's interest in the scientist. He told Batman about an experimental generator that would be demonstrated at the convention. The scientist informed Batman that the generator would produce minute lryptonite rays. Batman was concerned that the underworld would use it as a weapon against Superman.

By this point the score was tied at 4. To protect Gotham City from a severe thunderstorm, Superman flew a long copper wire into the sky to act like a lightning rod. After the storm had passed, some women requested that Superman build a road to Rock Mountain, where a monument to Gotham City's founders would be carved. Instead, Superman brought Rock Mountain to Gotham City, and carved the monument on the mountaintop himself. The score was once again tied.

In Metropolis, Batman and Robin performed a trapeze act high above the streets of Metropolis, to raise money for a hospital fund. With the financial goal reached, Batman won the competition, and so the convention would be held at Gotham City.

Lois was a sore loser, and had a talk with Superman. She convinced him to count his repair of the Batcave as one of his deeds, so he went to Gotham City to discuss it with Batman.

In Gotham City, the generator was started at the electronics convention. Outside, Batman and Robin saw Superman approaching in the sky. As the Man of Steel approached the convention center, he fell out of the sky because of the generator's kryptonite rays. Quickly, Batman and Robin moved an awning underneath Superman to break his fall. Just before he hit the canopy, the Man of Steel's powers suddenly returned. When the heroes investigated, they found that the generator exploded, because it was unreliable, and wouldn't be rebuilt.

The convention committee did a recount, and with Superman's repair of the Batcave being counted, the competition was declared a tie. So half of the convention would be held in Gotham City, and the other half in Metropolis. Superman would carry the convention center between the two cities.

This story was a variation of a common Silver Age theme in World's Finest Comics, Superman and Batman competing against each other. Some of the super feats were a bit outlandish, like pulling the gas pipe out of the ground to extinguish the fire, carrying the mountain and, later, the building. I did like Batman's motivation to win the competition, to spare Superman from being exposed to the generator's kryptonite radiation. It was an okay story, and I give it 3 Capes out of 5.

Elsewhere in DC Comics cover dated May or May/June 1955, 27 issues carried that cover date.

Next Episode: A Superman Fan Review: All-Star Superman - The Movie!

In two weeks: MegaCon 2011 Preview!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups or pages on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at Check it out to discover other fine Superman podcasts.

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library at

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

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics. Any cover art displayed with the show notes is done for entertainment and educational purposes only. I post these episodes to share my enjoyment of Superman comics and do not earn any money from this podcast.

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

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Episode #168: Superman Comics Cover Dated August 1958: Superman #123 & Action Comics 243!

Superman #123, August 1958, was published around June 17, 1958. It contained 32 pages for the cover price of 10 cents. The editor was Mort Weisinger, and the cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. The blurb on the cover read, A Great 3-Part Novel: The Girl Of Steel! However, The Girl Of Steel only referred to the title of the first part of the three part story. This was an era in Superman comic books when an issue usually did not contain one story, but, at this point, three short Superman stories. So one full length story was a big thing back then, and this issue was no different, for several reasons. It was written by Otto Binder, pencilled by Dick Sprang, famous for his silver age Batman stories, and inked by Stan Kaye. The story was reprinted in several editions, The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Supergirl Archives vol. I, Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow Archives vol. I, Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I and Showcase Presents: Supergirl vol. I.

Part I, The Girl Of Steel, began with Superman rescuing flood victims in a heavy rainstorm. Jimmy and Lois covered the story in the Daily Planet's Flying Newsroom helicopter. Lois parachuted out of the Flying Newsroom to cover the story on the ground, assuming she was able to find any. Her parachute failed to open, but Superman was quick to rescue her and carry her back to the Daily Planet's helicopter. While she was carried in his arms, Lois told the Man of Steel how she wished she could be his wife. Superman reminded her for the millionth time that he couldn't even consider it because he was in constant danger.

Jimmy felt sorry for him, and thought to himself that if he had a magic wish, he would wish for a Supergirl to keep him company.

Sometime later, Olsen joined Superman at the site of a cave in. Superman rescued an archaeologist who had been studying ancient Native American artifacts. He was unhurt, but had only been trapped by the cave in. Superman declined his offer of a reward, and told him to give Jimmy a souvenir instead.

That evening, the archaeologist kept his word, and presented a small magic totem to Jimmy. He translated an inscription for Olsen, which stated Once every century magic totem grants three wishes. when jewel is rubbed under full moon. But the archaeologist didn't believe in such superstitions.

Jimmy really didn't either, but, just for fun he rubbed the jewel and spoke his wish for a Supergirl to help the Man of Steel. Then he went to bed. He didn't see the strange glow fill his room and a Supergirl appear out of nowhere. The totem spoke to this Girl of Steel. It said that it had granted its last three wishes a century ago, and it was time for its magic again. It then ordered her to join Superman as his helper in the morning. Supergirl flew out the window into the night sky dominated by a full moon.

Superman's day got off to an early start when he had to rescue a plane that was suffering engine trouble over Metropolis. Before he could reach the plane, the Supergirl rushed by the Man of Steel so fast he was buffeted by the turbulence her speed caused. As she helped Superman bring the plane safely to the airport, Supergirl explained her origin to him, in proper superhero etiquette. She wrapped her arms around Superman's neck, and explained that Jimmy thought he was lonely and needed a lifelong companion. Superman didn't want to rush into things, obviously, and told her she was an impetuous sort.

Together, they flew to the Daily Planet offices, as Jimmy was telling Lois about the magic totem he had brought to work, and his failed Supergirl wish. Superman introduced Supergirl to them. Jimmy was thrilled, but Lois was, of course, heartbroken. After they flew away, Lois was tempted to rub the jewel to cancel the wish, but couldn't bring herself to do it. Since Superman would never fall for her, she wanted him to be happy.

As it turned out, Supergirl wasn't the perfect teammate to the Man of Steel. She may have had his powers, but she didn't have his experience. When she used her super breath to help Superman blow out a fire on a warehouse roof, she blew too hard and blew the next warehouse's roof off. Together they caught the roof and re-secured it to the building. Later, at a bank, she used her x-ray vision to help Superman melt the time lock on a vault to free a trapped employee. Her x-ray vision was too intense, and the vault door exploded. Luckily, no one was hurt, but Superman had to repair the vault door. And when an elevator fell out of control in a building, she bumped heads with Superman while they stopped the falling elevator car.

The final straw for Superman occurred after he had changed into his Clark Kent identity. Supergirl flew overhead, and saw Clark walking with Lois. Supergirl used her x-ray vision to look through his disguise to see his Superman uniform, and waved to Clark, saying, "Hi, Superman!" That was all it took to convince Lois that  Clark was indeed the Man of Steel. Later, Superman explained to Supergirl the damage she had done, and asked her to leave him alone while he went on patrol.

Superman raised some flooded railroad tracks to save an approaching train, when some crooks, who had followed the Man of Steel in an airplane, dropped a piece of kryptonite onto the tracks. Supergirl swooped down and removed the kryptonite, telling Superman that since she was not from Krypton, she was immune to the radiation.

She had lied to Superman so that he wouldn't worry about her. Since she was an exact duplicate of the Man of Steel, except for gender, she also had Superman's weaknesses. At a safe distance from the Man of Steel,m she crawled away from the kryptonite and somehow made it to Jimmy's apartment. She told Jimmy that she had been exposed to a lethal dose of kryptonite, and asked him to rub the totem's jewel to cancel the wish. To end her suffering, Jimmy did, and Supergirl vanished.

The next day, Jimmy gave the sad news to Clark and Lois. She found a note on her desk, written by Clark, asking to maryr her. Lois was touched by the offer, but politely declined. Since Superman would never agree to marry her, Clark's proposal meant that he was not Superman. Once again, his secret identity was safe.

For more information about Supergirl, go to Episode #38: Happy Birthday, Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl!

Part II: The Lost Super Powers began as Jimmy lay in bed reading that day's top headline story, How Jimmy Olsen Conjured Up Super Girl With Magic Totem. He tried to think of a better wish for Superman and decided to sleep on it. That headline also attracted the attention of two burglars, who broke into Jimmy's home and stole the totem. At an unknown location they rubbed the jewel and made a wish: for Superman's powers to disappear. Then they buried the totem.

When Clark Kent awoke the next morning he stubbed his toe as he got out of bed. Then he almost scalded himself with hot water in the shower. Clark then tried to lift heavy weights and fly. When he failed at both, he realized that he had lost his superpowers. His first hunch was to contact his pal, Jimmy Olsen. Smart thinking, Superman.

Superman went to Jimmy's home and explained his predicament. Jimmy searched for the totem and discovered that it was missing. Superman was concerned that the underworld would find out. He determined to keep his appointments for that day to avoid raising any suspicions.

The crooks who stole the totem posed as press photographers in order to confirm that Superman had indeed lost his powers.

Superman's first appointment was to serve as the target for a gun club at their firing range. The crooks posing as paparazzi caught Jimmy climbing over the fence to the firing range, holding a bullet proof vest. The crooks convinced Superman to take his shirt off to make it more dramatic. So Superman stood in front of the gun club members shirtless but still wearing his cape. The club members fired their guns and Superman was unharmed. What they didn't know was that Jimmy had hidden a giant magnet on the firing range earlier, and the magnet was strong enough to attract the bullets. The crooks were convinced that Superman was still invulnerable.

Later, Superman was part of a parade, and held a flag over the parade route. The crowd couldn't see that the Man of Steel was strapped to a clear pole, which was held by Jimmy at a window of a nearby building. The crooks flew in a helicopter close to Superman, but couldn't find any wires holding him up, and didn't notice the transparent pole holding the Man of Steel.

Jimmy later helped Superman at an exhibition of his superpowers at an auditorium. Olsen used a welding machine to melt a steel plate from backstage, imitating Superman's heat vision. Jimmy used a bellows to imitate Superman's super breath at a shooting gallery stunt. Remaining backstage, Jimmy used a computer to solve calculations to imitate Superman's super mind, providing the Man of Steel the answers.

The crooks, convinced that their plan failed, dug up the totem and took it back to their hideout, where they had a piece of kryptonite. Superman found the crooks, and found that, since he had no powers, he was immune to its effects. The thieves surrendered to Superman, who then returned the totem to Jimmy. Olsen immediately rubbed the jewel and cancelled the wish, and Superman's powers returned.

Part III: Superman's Return To Krypton began immediately after the last panel of the previous chapter. Jimmy felt bad because the second wish had caused Superman so much trouble. Superman wasn't angry with his Pal, but was touched that he would be so unselfish with his magic wishes. The Man of Steel told Jimmy to use the last wish on himself.

Superman's attention was drawn to some pictures of his home planet of Krypton which were on the wall of Jimmy's home. Kal-El was drawn to a rendering of his kryptonian parents. So Superman wouldn't hear his wish, Jimmy typed it on his typewriter. Superman vanished in an instant, and was whisked through the time barrier.

He found himself on his home planet of Krypton, which he recognized from his super memory. After seeing some of the sights, he walked to a particular address. Instead of his parents, Superman found another family living in the home. He then walked to where his father's lab was, but only found an empty lot. Superman finally found his father, walking along a street. Kal-El also discovered that he was invisible when his father Jor-El walked through him.

Superman followed Jor-El to a robot shop, where his mother Lara worked. Kal-El noticed that there wasn't a wedding ring on his mother's finger, and realized that he was watching his parents before they were married.

Back at Jimmy's home, Olsen discovered that he had made a mistake when typing his wish. Jimmy meant to write, Superman will meet his parents. What he wrote was, Superman will mate his parents.

The Man of Steel followed them to a building, where he discovered they were supporters of Kil-lor, who planned to overthrow Krypton's ruling Council and serve as the planet's dictator. A squad of Krypton Bureau of Investigation (KBI) men broke into the hideout and arrested all three of them. Jor-El claimed that he and Lara were working undercover for the KBI. The squad's commanding officer asked to see the ID stamp on Jor-El's palm, but it was blank Jor-El claimed that Col. Jax-Or of the KBI could confirm his identity. The KBI officer said that Jax-Or had died that morning.

So Jor-El and Lara were tried along with Kil-lor and sentenced to 100 years on a prison satellite. They were put into suspended animation on a small satellite which was just big enough for all three prisoners. Special crystals were placed on their heads, which would wipe any criminal tendencies from their minds. They were launched into orbit, and Superman found himself swept into orbit with them.

Once they were beyond Krypton's gravity, Superman discovered that he had become solid again. He flew the satellite to a nearby asteroid and freed his parents, but did not reveal his true identity as their future son. Kil-lor also revived, and escaped, discovering they had superpowers beyond Krypton's gravity.

Kil-lor battled Superman to a draw, while Jor-El and Lara discovered they also had superpowers. Superman informed them that it was possible because they were beyond Krypton's gravity. Jor-El mentioned that Kil-lor wouldn't be able to conquer Krypton with his superpowers. Superman replied that that Kil-lor could still bombard Krypton with rocks from the asteroid. Kal-El explained that if super heated radioactive rocks collided, they would cause a nuclear explosion.

Kil-lor used his telescopic vision and super hearing to spy on them, and decided to try it out himself. He used his x-ray vision to heat two rocks white hot, and smashed them together with his super strength. The collision had an unexpected result. The ground around Kil-lor began to glow with a green tint, and he grew faint and eventually died. Superman watched from a safe distance, having tricked Kil-lor into recreating the destruction of Krypton.

Another side effect of the impact was that Jor-El's and Lara's KBI ID's appeared again. Superman theorized that exposure to one of Kil-lor's weapons had wiped out their ID earlier, and the radiation created by the now late Kil-lor had restored them. In comic books, the cure to radiation exposure is more radiation exposure.

Jor-El took the opportunity to propose to Lar, and she accepted with a kiss. So Superman got to watch his parents get engaged. Just before they flew back to Krypton, Superman suggested that they aim for one of Krypton's oceans, where they would fall harmlessly into the water. I guess Kryptonians were a lot sturdier than humans are. After they fly away, Superman was returned to Earth.

Jimmy asked how things turned out, and explained to Superman that he meant to type meet but typed mate. The Man of Steel mentioned that it explained why he met his parents when they were so young. He enjoyed playing cupid for his parents.

Now that the three wishes were used up for another century, Jimmy stored the totem with the rest of his souvenirs. Superman replied that it was just as well, since wishes didn't always turn out as expected.

If I was Superman, I would make a mental note: No more magic totems for Jimmy. It was unclear how Lois learned about the translation tot he second inscription, unless Jimmy told her off panel. But then Jimmy would have had to have learned about it off panel as well. It was also flimsy how Clark was able to convince Lois so easily that he wasn't Superman, and without kissing her. I wondered how the crooks could catch Jimmy with a bullet proof vest, but miss the giant magnet. At Superman's stage performance, I couldn't help but wonder if any of the stage crew were backstage to see Jimmy imitate Superman's powers. It was interesting to see Jor-El and Lara have superpowers when they were beyond Krypton's gravity. Later stories would establish that Superman would lose his powers when exposed to the light of a red sun, like Krypton's. Finally, there's no way around it, Superman tricked Kil-lor into killing himself. The Man of Steel knew exactly how to recreate Krypton's doom, and Kil-lor, in his greed, fell for it. While the first part of the story, about the first Supergirl, was fun, my foavorite was the final chapter. It was very touching watching Superman, Kal-El, have a reunion with his Kryptonian parents.

Overall, I have to give this story 4 Superman Shields out of 5.

Action Comics #243, August 1958, was published around June 26, 1958. It contained 32 pages for the cover price of a dime. The editor was Mort Weisinger, and the cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. The Superman story was the twelve page tale The Lady And The Lion, written by Otto Binder, pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye. This story was reprinted in Superman: The Man Of Tomirrow Archive vol. I and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I.

At the Metropolis zoo, Superman entertained some orphan girls. He lifted an elephant, and stuck his head in a lion's mouth. After the exhibition, Superman was presented with a plaque as a token of appreciation from the orphanage.

The Man of Steel took his plaque to the Fortress of Solitude to place on the wall with his other awards. Superman thought that he would soon need to build more space for his trophies. His telescopic vision spotted an earthquake on a Mediterranean island. Superman flew there at super speed, and saved a woman from a collapsing temple. He discovered that this was the ancient temple of Circe. The woman wasn't Circe, but a descendant.

The woman told Superman that her powers weren't magic, but came form an ancient formula that could transform men into various animal forms. The only reward she could give the Man of Steel was a drink from her fountain of sweet mineral waters. As Superman took a drink from a cup, she told Superman that she deemed him worthy to be her companion for life. Of course, the Man of Steel declined, and flew away. Circe informed him that if he did not return for an antidote before morning, he would become the creature he most resembled in personality.

As Clark Kent began work at the Daily Planet the next morning, he watched his own hands transform into cat's paws. He looked in the mirror and saw that his head had changed into that of a lion, with a full mane. He quickly changed into Superman, just before Perry White entered the office. Perry agreed to keep Superman's transformation a secret.

Superman flew back to Circe's island, only to find that she had left Earth in her spaceship. She left a message on a wall, challenging the Man of Steel to find which world she had traveled to.

Too ashamed to show his face in the skies over Metropolis, Superman burrowed underground, reappearing through the floor of the Daily Planet, near Jimmy Olsen's desk. Lois entered, holding two review tickets for a new play for that afternoon's performance, and invited Superman to go along with her. She was shocked at Superman's appearance, but still wanted to take him with her, regardless of how he looked. He explained how he came to be in his present condition.

At the theater, Lois realized that she forgot to pay attention to the title of the play, which turned out to be Beauty And The Beast. Both Lois and Superman became caught up in the play. In the scene when Beauty kissed Beast, Lois kissed Superman on his furry lips. Unlike in the play, Lois' magic did not work. When the lights came on, the audience saw a lion headed Superman in the balcony, and thought it was a clever publicity stunt.

Superman kept his next appointment, in spite of his appearance, and entertained some orphan boys at the zoo. He had previously told the boys that they would be able to safely put their heads in a lion's mouth. What they didn't know was that, in this case, they put their heads in Superman's mouth. In spite of his humiliation, he was glad to bring some joy to the boys.

Later, Superman overheard an unemployed lion tamer try to get a job with a circus, but his lion was too sick to perform. At super speed, the Man of Steel switched places with the lion, and performed the act. When the act was over, he switched the lion back to its cage. The circus owner signed the lion tamer to a contract.

The Man of Steel then saved some filmmakers in Africa from being attacked by a wild lion. The other lions treated Superman as the new alpha male, but he pretended to cower before the old alpha male to restore the natural order to the pride.

Superman returned to the Fortress of Solitude and peered through a telescope to search the stars for Circe, to no avail. A kryptonite detector alarm sounded when he walked near it, and Superman deduced that Circe's formula had traces of kryptonite in it, and that she came from Krypton. He used his microscopic vision to search the libraries in the bottle city of Kandor until he found the formula for the antidote.

The Man of Steel returned to the Daily Planet offices, hiding his head with his cape. He then revealed his normal face to everyone, and gave Lois a big kiss, to repay her for her earlier kiss when he needed a morale boost.

I was surprised that I liked this story as much as I did. When I saw the cover with a lion-headed Superman, I thought this would be another silly silver age Superman story of one of his strange transformations, like when he had an ant head. The emotions of Lois and Superman at the play were touching and sincere, and the anguish he went through as he brought happiness to others, despite his appearance, gave this story more meaning than it would have otherwise had.

When Circe tried to trick Superman to trick her, as would happen in many classic Superman stories, I had to wonder: what was it with Mort Weisinger? Was this how he saw marriage, being tricked into a lifelong relationship? I have to wonder if that's how he got married, by being tricked into it?

Surprisingly, I give this story 4 Superman Shields out of 5.

Elsewhere in DC Comics cover dated August or August/September 1958, 35 issues were published with that cover date.

Next Week:  Superman Family Of Comics Cover Dated May/June 1955: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #5 & World's Finest Comics #76!

Join the Superman Fan Podcast and My Pull List groups or pages on facebook, and follow the podcast and blogs on twitter @supermanpodcast.

Superman Fan Podcast is a proud member of the League Of Comic Book Podcasters at and the Comics Podcast Network!, and is now a proud member of the Superman WebRing of websites, and the Superman Podcast Network at Check it out to discover other fine Superman podcasts.

Superman Fan Podcast is at . Send e-mail about this podcast to

The theme of this podcast is Plans In Motion, composed by Kevin MacLeod, and part of the royalty free music library at

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

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics. Any cover art displayed with the show notes is done for entertainment and educational purposes only. I post these episodes to share my enjoyment of Superman comics and do not earn any money from this podcast.

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

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Episode #167: Superman Family Of Comics Cover Dated March/April 1955: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #4 & World's Finest Comics #75!

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #4, March/April 1955, was published around January 20, 1955. It contained 32 pages for the cover price of 10 cents. The editor was Mort Weisinger, and the cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. It featured the issue's third story, King For A Day. The same creative team worked on all three stories in this issue, writer Otto Binder, penciller Curt Swan and inker Ray Burnley. Each story was eight pages long. This issue was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman Family vol. I.

The first story of the issue was The Disappearance Of Superman! It began with a plane flying out of control over Metropolis. Jimmy saw the plane in danger from his desk at the Daily Planet, and activated his Superman signal watch. He wondered if the Man of Steel would show up this time - or not. When it was apparent that Superman would be a no show once again, he rushed to the Daily Planet's roof, where he and Jumbo (making his fifth appearance) took to the air in the Daily Planet's Flying Newsroom helicopter. They pursued the plane, and maneuvered in position to drop a ladder and allow the plane's pilot to climb to safety. His plane crashed harmlessly on an uninhabited hill.

Back at the Daily Planet offices, Jimmy looked over his list of recent events where Superman had not made an appearance: a broken bridge cable, warehouse fire, jewel theft, a charity show and a witness at a criminal trial. Jimmy could come to only one conclusion, Superman had disappeared. He glanced at Clark Kent's desk and thought how Clark, who was on vacation, was missing the big story. Olsen began his investigation in the Daily Planet's "back numbers" file room, what most newspapers call the "morgue", where they file past editions of the newspaper. Jimmy found Superman's last reported appearance at a chemical plant emergency. He let Jumbo remain at the Daily Planet and piloted the Flying Newsroom solo to the chemical factory.

Jimmy interviewed a security guard, who explained how Superman saved the employees by smashing a hole in the roof. The Man of Steel created a vortex, which sucked the poisonous fumes high into the atmosphere, where they could dissipate harmlessly. Today, we would be concerned about damage to the ozone layer. The guard provided Jimmy with a clue about Superman's next job, an emergency on Beaver Mountain.

At Beaver Mountain, Jimmy interviewed a hunter. He told Olsen that the Man of Steel saved him and his hunting partner from a wildcat, which had been raiding their traps. The hunter also told Jimmy that Superman mentioned his next appointment with the Mayor of Stantonville. In town, the Mayor told Jimmy that a miner interrupted a ceremony where Superman was laying the cornerstone of a new hospital. The miner needed the Man of Steel for an emergency at Gulchville, where some other miners were trapped underground. It seemed odd to the Mayor because Gulchville was a ghost town.

So Jimmy made one more stop in the Flying Newsroom helicopter. Sure enough, Olsen found Gulchville deserted. He was about to return to the Daily Planet offices in Metropolis, now that his trail had become cold. As a last resort Jimmy activated his signal watch. He was surprised to hear Superman's voice calling for help. Jimmy followed the voice to a mine shaft, where he found the Man of Steel trapped behind a pile of rocks, including a piece of kryptonite.

When Jimmy pulled Superman out of range of the kryptonite, Superman filled Jimmy in on the rest of the story. He had carried the miner to the mineshaft, and barged through an apparent avalanche. Superman found the "trapped" miners laughing, just before the kryptonite radiation hit him. The Man of Steel had barged into a trap set up by mob leader Joe Cobb, who had disguised himself as the miner needing his help. With Superman trapped, Cobb planned a crime spree throughout Metropolis.

While Jimmy used the Flying Newsroom to drop the kryptonite into a deep lake, Superman returned to Metropolis and captured Cobb and his gang. Then Jimmy wrote the story for the next edition of the Daily Planet, right?

Not exactly. Jimmy told Superman that he decided against writing the story, so that crooks would think that the Man of Steel overcame the trap himself, so that other criminals would not try the same trap again. That meant a lot to Superman, who appreciated the fact that Jimmy was giving up on not just a news story, but also the publicity for saving the Man of Steel.

Jimmy's reward for his troubles was to get chewed out by Perry White for missing the big story of Superman smashing a crime wave. Keeping his promise to Superman, Jimmy only commented that he was searching for Superman. That gave Perry a big laugh. He told Olsen that one headline people would never see would be Jimmy Olsen Saves Superman. Perry White didn't know how close to the truth he was.

But that didn't get Jimmy down too much. Superman had shown his appreciation to Jimmy by printing a copy of the Superman Gazette, with the headline and story Jimmy Olsen Saves Superman.

In the story, using the Flying Newsroom helicopter to save the pilot of the out of control plane seemed unrealistic today. First of all, while I'm not an expert in aviation, I wonder how a helicopter could fly as fast as a small plane. Also, if the plane was out of control, how would the helicopter be able to maneuver into position to drop a ladder so that the pilot could climb into the helicopter to safety?

Jimmy didn't catch the coincidence of Clark's vacation and Superman's disappearance, but then that's one of the conventions of Superman lore.

Otherwise this was a great story about Jimmy's detective work saving Superman. For the Man of Steel, it was an example of never letting your guard down. Unless there would have been any lead in the mine, he could have used his x-ray vision to sopt the trap ahead of time. I have to give this story 4 Superma Shields out of 5.

The Hunted Messenger began as Jimmy rested his sore feet as he sat on a park bench, during a futile search for a news story for the next edition of the Daily Planet. Superman flew down to Jimmy, only to say goodbye because he was called out of town for a few days. Then Jimmy's last chance for a news story flew away.

Later, Jimmy stumbled across a mugging, but didn't activate his Superman signal watch. Instead, he pulled a special fountain pen out of his coat pocket. He hit one one mugger with a shot of compressed air from the fountain pen, and got the other with a squirt of tear gas from the same pen. I bet James Bond wanted a pen like this. After the muggers ran off, Jimmy took the victim to a doctor.

While the physician tended to his wounds, the man clung to a plainly wrapped package. Jimmy offered to deliver the package for him while he recovered from his wounds, but the man refused. The package was too valuable. Now, that's showing dedication to your job! The doctor introduced his patient to Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy's reputation changed the man's mind, and he was glad to accept Olsen's offer. He informed Jimmy that the package was worth $10,000, and needed to be delivered to 721 Dillingham Street.

As Jimmy walked to his destination, he glanced into a storefront window and noticed two men who were clearly following him. No other pedestrians or motorists were on the street, so the men saw their opportunity, and rushed to rob Jimmy. Olsen grabbed the frame of an overhead awning, and planted the heels of his shoes on the muggers' chins. He then jumped into a taxi, but the criminals caught another taxi and followed him.

Jimmy got out of the taxi at a Metropolis restaurant. One crook guarded the front entrance while the other mugger covered the back. There were too many people in the restaurant to attack Jimmy inside the building. At a table, which we could assume wasn't near a window, Jimmy reversed his coat, put on a regular tie, unfolded a hat form his coat pocket and put on a pair of glasses. He walked out of the restaurant and the crook didn't recognize him.

Unfortunately, Jimmy had trouble remembering the address. Was it Damminghill or Hammingdill. Eventually he stumbled upon Dillingham street, but had trouble remembering the correct house number. Eventually he stumbled on the correct address, 721 Dillingham Street. He gave the package to the man who lived there, only to discover that he had only been a decoy. The man collected valuable books, and the latest one he purchased was from a bookseller named Colby, who always delivered the books himself, and used a decoy to distract would be thieves. The collector realized that Jimmy did not match the description of the decoy Mr. Colby had described to him, and pulled a gun on Olsen. The man didn't believe Jimmy's story about the decoy being mugged.

Just then, the muggers barged in on the collector and Jimmy. Olsen got the best of the crooks again, and the collector held the muggers at gunpoint while Jimmy called the police.

Jimmy's reward for his front page story was to get a chewing out by Perry White over inaccuracies in news stories. The address was printed as Gillingham Street, which did not exist in Metropolis. Sometimes, Jimmy couldn't catch a break.

Some captions were a little heavy handed, but weren't too distracting. Otherwise, it was a great story about Jimmy thinking fast on his feet, without Superman's help, even if he had trouble remembering addresses. I give this story 4 Superman Shields out of 5.

King For A Day began with public protests in the tiny nation of Doraynia, which caused the dictator Kobla to flee the capital. Prime Minister Zormio promised to get rid of Prince Ortho, who the citizens clamored to return to rule the country, and allow Kobla to return to power.

At the Daily Planet, Clark and Jimmy read a report about the unrest on the newswire teletype. Unknown to Jimmy, Superman had assisted the young Prince Ortho to attend a private school (I assume near Metropolis). Clark secretly wrote a note to Jimmy and signed it as Superman. He asked Jimmy to go to Greenleaf Academy to inform the Prince of the revolt in his homeland.

Jimmy found the Prince on the school's tennis courts. Foreign agents of Prime Minister Zormio had been following the Prince, and used the opportunity to throw a booby trapped tennis ball into the court. It would detonate when the Prince hit it with his tennis racket. Superman had been following the Prince as well, and caught the tennis ball and detonated it in his bare hands. The Man of Steel then took a tennis net and wrapped up the spies in it, to take to the police. So it was game, set and match, Superman! (I never can resist a bad pun!) Of course, the Man of Steel refused the Prince's offer of a reward. Instead, the Prince gave the royal ring to Jimmy, to be given to Superman  so that he could sell it and give the proceeds to charity.

Clark and Jimmy flew to Doraynia to cover the Prince's coronation for the Daily Planet. The ring was stuck on Jimmy's finger. After the plane landed in the small (Eastern European?) country, Clark went to the telegraph office to wire the Daily Planet that he and Jimmy had arrived. Because of the ring, Jimmy was mistaken for the Prince and whisked to the palace, treated like a king.  Clark followed Jimmy to the palace. Servants garbed Olsen in the royal robe and served Jimmy a king's feast. He got another surprise when he was met by a young girl who had been betrothed to the Prince in an arranged marriage. Now they would be married. Jimmy learned that there were drawbacks to being a Prince.

Clark happened to be near Jimmy in the dining hall, and, with his vision powers, was able to spot a poisoned milkshake being presented to Olsen. Clark asked Jimmy if he could have the milkshake, because he was thirsty. Jimmy was more than happy to obliged, and Clark drank the entire milkshake, obviously to no ill effects. Zormio thought his agents had goofed while poisoning the drink.

During a crown fitting, Clark blocked an assassin's attempt with a sword with his hand. The sword snapped in half. Later, Zormio had Jimmy smoke a ceremonial pipe which had been poisoned. Again, Clark was able to recognized the poison, and was able to remove it at super speed, so that Jimmy took a harmless puff. Clark suspected Zormio of being behind the assassination attmepts, but bided his time until he could catch the prime Minister hred handed.

The now desperate Zormio forged a document that implicated the Prince in selling out the country to a rival nation. Jimmy Olsen was arrested. The legal process worked very quickly in Doraynia, as Jimmy was sentenced to the firing squad immediately. At the last moment, Superman swooped in to block the firing squad's bullets and save Olsen. The Man of Steel captured Zormio and forced a full confession. I'm sure that he and Kobla would soon receive their own taste of Doraynia's swift justice.

The real Prince arrived at Doraynia's airport. The stress had loosened the ring on Jimmy's finger, and he gave it to Clark to present to Superman. Being a Prince was more dangerous than he had imagined.

My only reservation about this story was that I doubt that Clark would have been able to get so close to the "Prince", but Jimmy could have easily granted Clark such close access. Otherwise it was another great story. It was fun to see Clark use his powers in secret to protect Jimmy. Reading it again at this time had a little more resonance, with all of the political unrest in the Middle East right now. I have to give this story 4 Superman Shields out of 5, also.

World's Finest Comics #75, March/April 1955, published around January 27, 1955, contained 32 pages for the cover price of a dime. Jack Schiff was the editor, and the cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye, who were also the art team for the Superman and Batman story as well. The title of that story was Superman And Robin!, written by Bill Finger. When I saw the writing credit my interest in the story increased, because I have fond memories of reading many of his golden and silver age Batman stories. I wan't disappointed, but more about that later. This story was reprinted in World's Finest Comics Archives  vol. I, Superman In The Fifties, Showcase Presents: World's Finest vol. I and Batman Annuals vol. II.

The story began with a familiar scene, of the Bat Signal appearing over the Gotham City skyline. Robin entered Commissioner Gordon's office through the window, in proper superhero etiquette, followed by Superman. They share with Gordon the reason Superman took Batman;s place. In a flashback, Batman and Robin stopped the Purple Mask Mob at a lab. One of the thieves doused Batman with a chemical powder. The gang escaped out the window to their getaway car. Batman followed them, but a coughing fit threw him off balance, and he fell to the ground.

Batman awoke in a room, with Robin and Superman watching over him. Fortunately the fall was short, and his only injury was a broken leg. Superman agreed to take his place while Batman recovered, and Clark Kent would also take a temporary assignment at the Gotham Gazette, owned by the same company that owned the Daily Planet. Dick Grayson would work as a copy boy, so that the two heroes could be close together in case they needed to go into action in their hero guise. To cover for the disappearance of Bruce Wayne, Dick would spread rumors that Bruce was on vacation.

Later, an armored car was on a road, when the road dropped down like a ramp. The armored car ended up on a line of abandoned subway track, and the road raised back up, leaving no trace of the armored car. That ramp had been built by the Purple Mask gang, who robbed the armored car.

After news of the missing armored car came out, Superman and Robin sprang into action. The Man of Steel spotted the underground trap with his x-ray vision. He ripped the trap door open, and Superman and Robin captured the gang. They were unable, however, to get any information out of them about the rest of their gang.

The new Dynamic Duo returned to the Batcave, where Batman used his down time making room for torphies honoring the exploits of Superman and Robin. Batman suggested that the next time they catch members of the Purple Mask gang, bring a crook's wristwatch as a trophy. Later, Superman and Robin captured the gang when they attempted to rob a luxury liner. Batman watched the action on TV, as a camera crew happened to catch the action live. Superman and Robin returned to the Batcave, and Batman suggested for the next trophy, bring him a shoe.

On the next day, a member of the Purple Mask gang, hooked a man who carried a payroll onto some helium balloons. The man floated into the air, and was captured by other members of the Purple Mask gang in a dirigible. Clark Kent saw the action form the Gotham Gazette building. Superman and Robin rushed to the building, and Superman used a girder from the water tower to fashion a harpoon to capture the airship. Superman brought the shoe to Batman, who examined both the watch and the shoe. He found dust in the watch which showed traces of dog hair, and from the shoe he found traces of red clay and pine needles. Batman was able to pinpoint the area where the gang was hiding out. Superman and Robin were then able to find the gang and capture them.

The new Dynamic Duo returned to the Batcave, and Superman removed the cast on Batman's leg. Batman was shocked that Superman would remove the cast so soon, because his leg had not had enough time to heal yet. Then Superman and Robin gave Batman the real story.

Superman had appeared soon after Batman fell. He examined Batman with his x-ray vision, and found him uninjured, but Batman did have traces of that chemical powder in his lungs. Superman recognized the chemical as a slow acting poison that was activated through physical activity. Batman needed to rest so that the poison would be able to pass out of his system harmlessly. Robin knew his partner, and told Superman that Batman would sacrifice himself to capture the Purple Mask gang. And so they put the cast on Batman's leg so that he would take it easy until he was recovered from the poison. Superman checked Batman with his x-ray vision and found that Batman was fully recovered. Batman was deeply touched to have such caring friends.

While I'm not sure there would be a toxin that would have the effect described in the story, my only reservation about the story was how the Purple Mask gang could build such a ramp on a road without attracting the attention of the authorities. Otherwise, this was a fun and clever story. Batman showed how he could solve a case from his wheelchair, with only two simple  pieces of evidence, while Superman and Robin did the legwork. This story was a variation of a silver age World's Finest plot, Superman taking a new partner to replace Batman, this time Batman's partner Robin.  I give this story 4 Superman Shields out of 5. This was a great month of Superman stories to read.

Elsewhere in DC Comics, 30 titles carried the March or March/April 1955 cover date.

Next Episode: Superman Comics Cover Dated August 1958: Superman #123 & Action Comics #243!

In two weeks: Superman Family Of Comics Cover Dated May/June 1955: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #5 & World's Finest Comics #76!

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