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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Superman WebRing

Superman WebRing The Superman WebRing
This site is a member of the best
Superman websites on the Internet!
Previous SiteList SitesRandom SiteJoin RingNext Site
SiteRing by



Total Pageviews