Monday, July 20, 2009

Superman is a Criminal and Should be Stopped

We begin, as usual, with Clark being assigned a story. In this case Chief has an inside tip that there might be "some excitement" down at the truck drivers' union meeting! Hey Chief, here's another inside tip: union meetings aren't exciting!

Not even when a member of the audience stands up and demands the chairman step down, only to be punched in the Goddamn face by said chairman . Let's put this in perspective: to you and I someone getting punched in the face at a union meeting would be very exciting. We'd tell this story to everyone we know, heck we'd probably even stop people in the street to share the news! But Superman spent the last couple days fighting herbivorous dinosaurs and talking to faces on missiles, I don't even know how he can stay awake for this crap.

The driving force of the story at this point is that "notorious racketeer" Gus Snide is trying to muscle his way into the union. After the, *ahem*, "excitement" at the meeting the punchy union chairman Carlson gives Clark an exclusive interview, but when he receives a phonecall informing him that his daughter has been kidnapped he quickly ushers the intrepid reporter out the door. However, Clark (who is secretly Superman!) uses his powerful ears to overhear the hushed telephone conversation.

Clark realizes that the kidnappers could not have known he was on-site unless they themselves were nearby, and quickly locates them in a car across the street (brilliant!). The kidnappers have decided to stab the little girl in her face because...well, because otherwise they wouldn't be evil enough.

Go ahead and try to figure out the perspective on that car interior. Also: Whoops, forgot to draw the knife!

Superman blocks the knife with the palm of his hand, and having secured the little girl in his arms kicks the villains' car into a telephone pole. The two men make their escape on foot, with Superman allowing them to escape and lead him to their boss, Gus Snide.

Upon hearing that his men have been beaten by a strong man, Gus correctly assumes that Superman has butted in. It's nice to see that Superman is gaining some notoriety here, and cute that the henchmen assume he's nothing but a myth.

Superman listens to the men plot to kill Carlson, before pulling Snide out the window and threatening to kill him if he doesn't listen to what he has to say. But the message Superman has to deliver may just shock you to your core!! He wants to join Snide's gang.

Snide doesn't buy it, and neither should we! See, Superman actually plans to gather evidence to bring them down from the inside because this is one of the arbitrarily chosen times that Superman decides punching isn't the answer. Snide poses a test to the Man of Steel: kill the union chairman, and you're in the gang! Uh oh!!

Kidnapping Carlson from his home Superman brings him back to Snide, who requests Superman kills him with a revolver. Our hero does him one better and throws the man out the window where he will fall to his gory death! Satisfied, Snide lets Superman in the gang.

But what of Carlson? Did Superman really kill him? No, Superman doesn't kill people unless you count all those times that he has done just that! Instead, he just threw Carlson high enough that he could catch him later! Carlson, when caught, is not at all happy with Superman and takes a swing at him. At this point Superman explains that he's a friend, and not out to kill him at all! Obviously there was no time to explain this earlier and save the man from potential heart attack. On top of this Superman is described as coming up with the window-throwing plan on the spot, so what the hell was he going to do in the first place?! "They asked me to kill him, so if I just bring him back with me maybe they won't know the difference. Another brilliant ruse!"

Back at Snide's we learn that with Carlson out of the way he plans to become head of the union and make all truck drivers strike, so that food distribution is halted and...people pay him money to end the strike. Whatever.

No one actually checks to see if Carlson is dead, and Snide doesn't become head of the union anyway. Instead he just forces a strike by having his thugs deny drivers' access to their trucks thus making his earlier pre-occupation with Carlson entirely unneeded.

Thankfully things get insane at this point (it's about time!) when Superman reports the plan to the police, who quickly put a stop to the attempted forced strike. As the paddy wagon makes off with the thugs up the officer driving the truck and frees all the criminals. What? Why did he even report it then? What a jerk.

His intentions are made even less clear when he usurps Snide as the gang's leader, and...continues the racketeering scam. Yes, seriously.

Okay, so Superman isn't really coming off too great here. But to be fair to the man we do see him anguishing over the pain he's causing as he watches milk meant for starving babies get poured onto the street. I'm sure there will be a big payoff as to why he's allowing this! I am also in the market for any bridges you might have for sale.

Snide, angry at losing his leadership role, sends a tip to the police resulting in a raid on Superman's criminal operation as Snide himself flees with the money. Superman and the other thugs all immediately vow to testify against Snide and give their confessions, following which Superman busts through the wall of the building in order to pursue the, uh, criminal mastermind. Fleeing police custody after having held a city for ransom...that's our Superman!

We cut to Snide in his getaway car, his gloating cut short as he notices Superman running up behind him on foot. Unwilling to give the ill-gotten money up, Snide instead opts to drive off a cliff into the ocean. Naturally this suicide attempt is cut short when Superman tosses the car back out of the ocean, and procures both Snide and the money from the air-borne automobile before it can touch down again. That would have been cool in a less dull story. He then turns both over to the police...THE END.

What...what the hell was that? Okay, okay, Superman became head of the crime syndicate so that Snide would betray everyone and thus he'd have testimony against him. That makes a sort of twisted sense, and starving a city/killing babies was undeniably worth it. But we've all seen Superman kill in cold blood before, so there was nothing stopping him here from just popping Snide off. He also clearly has no respect for the law given his actions in this story alone, so again...just kill the guy. But okay, I'm probably too hung up on the killing here. After all, Superman's alter-ego Clark Kent is a reporter and could have easily busted this op wide open with all the information he had as the leader of it. In fact, that's a pretty big part of the reason he became a Superhero/reporter I think. Superman just likes to do things the hard way.

What an insane, yet strangely dull, way to end Superman #4!

Next time: Superman hates slot machines! So much!

Friday, July 17, 2009


Why is The Spectre in Fun Comics? And that's certainly not the Ultraman I know and love (okay, neither is that).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Superman vs. The Economic Crisis Part 2!

Superman arrives at the bridge just in time to throw a boulder at a detonator, thus preventing the explosion of factories all over the city! Punching the thug in charge of the now-destroyed detonator into a tree, Superman threatens to strike him again if he doesn't give him some info. Actually, that's not entirely true but it's what the thug assumes. It's pretty clear Superman just wanted to punch him again, as he doesn't offer an alternative.

Superman doesn't trust this thug's train info, and so brings him along to check no doubt hoping to find an excuse to cave his face in with a titanic right hand. Fortunately for the thug's face the two find a section of the tracks missing, and a train quickly approaching! Superman's attempt to stop the train by warning the engineer leads to the single funniest panel in Superman history:

Poor engineer, so starved for human contact.

So Superman does the only thing he can, and stops the train using his bare hands! At the last possible second, naturally. The engineer wants to thank him, and asks who he is (does no one read newspapers? He's pretty recognizable!) but Superman ain't got time for no chattin'.

He fears he has lost the thug, but quickly finds him calling Calhoun from a drug store. Emerging from the store the thug is dragged into an alley by our hero, where he quickly divulges Calhoun's location...the Barton Manor! Done with his whipping boy, Superman knocks him the heck out with a Vulcan nerve pinch.

But first there's a loose end to tie up! Remember, if you will, that there was yet another thug whose car Superman destroyed. Well this thug is tampering with a steel mill in order to prevent the workers from workin', but Superman's intervention causes him to fall into a vat of molten ore. Total waste of time, but at least it allowed us to see a man die horribly!

Superman next arrives at Calhoun's place and finds the evil man talking to himself about how much he'd like to beat up The Last Son of Krypton! Wuh-oh! Calhoun's a crafty one though, and quickly offers Superman a drink. Of poison!! Superman downs the drink, and Calhoun gloats about how he has just sealed his own doom. The next panel shows Superman sitting at Calhoun's dining room table, with Calhoun screaming at him about how it's been two minutes and he should be dead by now.

So what, did these two idiots just sit in silence awaiting Superman's death? That must have been awkward.

Superman then threatens to force the poison down Calhoun's throat unless he tells him why he was sabotaging industry. It turns out that the hints last issue were accurate, and Calhoun does in fact work for a mysterious man even more powerful than him! Luthor, right!?

No! It's no less than J.F. Curtis. Another brilliant reveal!

Curtis has been promised mad cash by an unnamed foreign country to destroy America's economy, and his next step is to destroy the stock market somehow! It goes without saying that this was a pretty big deal back at the time of writing, as people had not yet forgotten the Great Depression. Of course since this is a children's comic it doesn't go any deeper than that.

To begin our typically rushed conclusion Superman tucks Calhoun under his arm and rushes off to Curtis' home, where he enters through the window. He always enters through the window. If I don't mention how Superman entered a room it's because he did it through a window.

Curtis offers Superman the chance to work for him, allowing Superman to nobly refuse! Curtis kills Calhoun with red bolts of electricity, and threatens to do the same to Superman if he doesn't yield. Superman gambles everything and refuses to yield, allowing his body to be bombarded by deadly red lighting bolts! Of course they have no effect other than charging his body with the world's worst static electric charge, which he uses to kill Curtis. Stop killin' people all the time, Superman!

And so our story comes to an end, with almost nothing having been resolved. Hey Superman, why don't you go deliver a static shock to the foreign nation that hired this guy to wreck America? Nah, that's not important.

Next time: Superman the gangbanger!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Superman vs. The Economic Crisis!


Clark is tasked with interviewing Paul Dorgan eminent sociologist about his fantastic theories, and brand new book. Upon his arrival at the man's apartment Dorgan tells Clark that no, he cannot view his manuscript and to just print that there are evil people trying to stop the return of national prosperity. Good God, this story could have been written today!

No sooner is Clark out the door than he hears a gunshot ring out from within Dorgan's apartment. Re-entering, he finds Dorgan dead of an apparent suicide, and within his hand a scrap of paper...

His name is what!? I need to know! They couldn't possibly use Luthor for a fourth time in a row, could they? Guess we'll see.

Clark returns to the Daily Planet to learn that in the half an hour he's been absent the whole world has gone to the dogs. Editor George Taylor informs him that airplanes are crashing, ships are sinking, and the business world is in a panic.

Based on this Superman decides that there might be something to Dorgan's claims, and heads back to the author's apartment to do some snooping. However, excitement awaits within when Superman finds that a THUG is searching the apartment alongside him! The thug pulls a gun and shoots Superman killing him instantly.

No, you know what happens. Superman then demands to know who the thug is working for.

Meanwhile some free-range thugs observe from another building, and after a quick call to their mysterious boss they report a burglary within Dorgan's apartment. Whoever this boss is, he's devious!

The police arrive and Superman bravely busts through a wall to escape. See, when other people commit crimes (such as breaking and entering!) they deserve to go to jail. But Superman is really strong, and thus above such things.

Then stop breaking the law!

The police do manage to arrest the thug, but as they walk him to the car his thug friends shoot him so he can't turn stoolie.

The men flee in a car, easily eluding the bumbling police. Superman, however, is a different case entirely! He leaps in front of the car (causing one of the thugs to remark "Look! A man in the sky!" Almost got the catch phrase right, buddy) and, in order to prevent their escape he...tears up the road in front of the car. He then does the same behind them.

It goes without saying that this destruction of public property is entirely unnecessary but Superman's gotta be flashy. Feeling he hasn't done enough yet, Superman then throws the thugs' car off a cliff they happen to be next to, threatening to do the same to them if they don't tell him who their boss is. One of them gives in immediately and tells Superman that he works for...are you ready for this big reveal? Barney Calhoun!!!!!

Who? That's the pay off to the mystery? WOW.

Superman rushes off to discuss things with Calhoun, while one of the thugs falls off the cliff he left them on and dies. Awesome! The other calls Calhoun to warn him of Superman's arrival.

So it is that when he enters Calhoun's apartment Superman finds it empty, apart from a dictaphone which informs him that some auto plant is next on the hit list. Either Calhoun is calling himself and leaving messages about what to blow up, or he's working for someone else.

Calhoun then calls Superman on the phone and tells him to leave him alone because he is mean. Superman refuses, and the phone blows up killing him instantly. I mean it this time! Really!

At the auto plant Superman finds a guy setting some explosives, and threatens him into revealing the plot behind the bombs. Apparently every plant in the city will explode unless Superman prevents an explosion under the Western Boulevard bridge. I don't think that's how explosions work.

Can Superman stop the explosions? Is Calhoun working for someone even more sinister than himself? Will anything happen in this story? All these questions and more, answered...

Next time!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Superman vs. Jurassic Park

Carried from their destroyed plane by a giant green pterodactyl, what fate awaits Clark Kent and Lois Lane??

Fortunately for Clark, Lois has been knocked out in the attack thus allowing him to beat up the pterodactyl mid-air. Unfortunately, this leaves him with nowhere to go but down.

Upon landing in a deep jungle Clark dons his Superman costume, and notices that while Lois appears to have regained consciousness she remains dazed and unresponsive.

Deciding that the only way to cure her is to procure some water from a nearby stream, Superman rushes to do so.

Returning to Lois with his cupped hands full of life-giving water, Superman finds her about to be attacked by a giant yellow rat. What? Well hey just be glad we've moved past generic thugs at last, okay??

Superman has never been more excited for a fight, and gets so distracted in throwing this rat out to sea (where it dies) that he doesn't notice Lois being taken away in an airplane until it's too late.

Following the plane to a nearby city, Superman is ordered by Luthor's disembodied voice to offer no resistance or Lois will be killed. Luthor sends Lois to the "green laboratory" where he promises her senses will be returned. At this point Superman must be feeling pretty sheepish, after all this is bound to be a little more effective than his "water!" plan.

Luthor gives Superman a tour of the fantastic city, which you will remember was raised from the ocean floor during the last update. As it happens this is the lost continent of Pacifo, and Luthor stole the world's oil supply in order to raise it to the surface. That doesn't explain the earthquake at all, so I'll just assume it was included to be "exciting".

Next, Luthor shows Superman that he has recreated dinosaurs (a good forty years before John Hammond!) and plans to loose them on the world in order to break its spirit. WOW, that would be a brilliant plan in a world without guns!

What are those anyway, an iguana and some half-baked hornless triceratops? (leptoceratops says google!) "The cities of the world will tremble when their parks are slightly less aesthetically pleasing after my vicious herbivores have eaten all the foliage!"

However, Luthor is not without mercy and offers to spare the world the minor inconvenience of having to clean their streets of tons of dinosaur poo if Superman agrees to help him with some unspecified task. While Superman considers the offer his superhearing picks up a pair of guards discussing the fact that when Luthor sends people to "the green laboratory" he wants them DEAD.

Wait a minute, that's where Lois was sent!

Superman smashes some walls, kills some guards, and saves Lois from her fate. Luthor takes this to mean Superman will not, in fact, be helping him out and takes The Man of Steel and Lois to a giant arena. Meanwhile, AMERICA notices the strange city and sends pilots to check it out with orders to gas the place at the first sign of trouble.

Back in the arena Superman is attacked, what IS that? What's going on with its anatomy? Apart from its broken leg, it appears to be nothing less than a man in a suit. Also, take it from me: Licking babies is never the solution to your problems! Don't do what Superman does.

Superman bodyslams the tiny t-rex putting a stop to the fight almost immediately, which causes Luthor to order his guards to turn their deadly green rays on Superman. Remember those? From the first Luthor story? Continuity!

At this point those U.S. planes from earlier show up and start dropping gas everywhere without any provocation or reason whatsoever. I suppose it's possible they saw Superman and Lois being held at gunpoint and decided to help, but then why drop GAS? That's one out of control air force.

Luthor flees into a laboratory and begins to lower the city beneath the ocean once more. I already thought Luthor's dinosaur-releasing plan was retarded, but now it's clear he didn't even prepare for the eventuality that someone might attempt to stop him. This is just terrible super-villainy!

Superman, Lois cradled lovingly in his arms, chases Luthor who sets the leptoceratops and guy-in-rubber-t-rex-suit on him. Superman leaps away, and for whatever reason this causes the dinosaurs to attack Luthor instead. And as we all know Luthor died here and never appeared in a comic again.

Smashing the city's glass dome Superman destroys it and all the wonders of science contained therein. Another job well done, Clark Kent takes Lois to a doctor to deal with whatever it was that was supposed to be wrong with her.

Well shoot, that was easy! He must have given her some water. Lois doesn't remember what happened after the pterodactyl attacked, so Clark just tells her they crashed on a beach. Clark then writes a story on the crazy island (which should really prove to Lois that he's a God damn liar) and Editor George Taylor praises him for another brilliant scoop. This prompts Clark to make the funniest joke in history which I will recreate here in its entirety: "I bet even SUPERMAN couldn't have done it better!"

Oh go to Hell, Clark.

Next time: Superman races a train! Thugs do naughty things! A crime lord is called and warned of Superman's approach! Someone commits suicide! Yes, it's the most generic Superman yet!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Where Will Luthor's Face Show Up Next??

One by one the oil wells of the world are drying up, and Clark Kent is sent to Oklahoma to find out why! Rushing to the scene as Superman, The Man of Tomorrow quickly notices he's picked up a tail in the form of a Superman-seeking missile. Unable to shake it, Superman instead opts to mount the missile and attempt to disable it, a task which he is all too suited for.

The missile's radio control circuits removed, the now-familiar face of Luthor appears before Superman's eyes. How does he do that anyway? I assumed when his face was on a stalagmite that he had simply built a monitor into it, but then he appeared in a tree and all logic went out the window.

Luthor's head tells Superman to keep his nose out of the "oil well mystery" or he'll wake up dead, before the missile impacts upon the ground and explodes. Superman is unfazed by this, and doesn't give in to threats anyway, so he is immediately on his way to Oklahoma once more. Upon arrival he is greeted by an earthquake that threatens to topple every oil derrick on the field!

You're holding up an entire oil derrick with your bare hands Superman, what exactly do you expect this regular human to do? Hold the ground so it stops shaking? Lay offa him, he can look if he likes!

Following Superman's oil-well rescue, Lois Lane arrives by plane. Initially disappointed that she missed seeing the object of her desire, she quickly forgets him as she and Clark Kent learn that the entire west coast is being flooded by a steadily rising ocean. On Clark's insistence the two reporters abandon the oil story, and begin to head for the coast.

They don't make it two steps however before they are stopped by a pair of men, and forced into a car. We are informed that these men were sent by Luthor to bring Lois and Clark to his secret hideout, as he remembers them having futzed with his world domination plans before. Clark, intent on keeping Lois from learning he isn't a wuss, knocks her out with a Vulcan nerve pinch before ripping the steering wheel off the car, tearing the breaks out, getting shot in the face to no effect, clonking the kidnappers' heads together, and leaving them in the car as it wildly careens off a cliff.

I like this panel, it's dynamic. No joke here, move along!

The thing about Superman is that he could walk away from such confrontations without any problem, it's not as if anyone could stop him. But no, he always goes that extra murderous mile. It's the little things that count.

When Lois awakens Clark feeds her a story about the men letting them go with a warning to stay out of Luthor's business. Lois, of course, will have none of that. The two charter a private flight to the coast, where they witness an "ancient" (sure doesn't look it) city encased in glass rise from the ocean. The glass begins to fold back, but before the reporters can figure out why they are attacked by the goofiest goddamn flying beastie this side of The Giant Claw.

The pterodactyl shreds the plane, kills the pilot, and carries Lois and Clark towards a mysterious island.

And here we must break. If you still have a craving to read about comics, I suggest you give The Random Longbox a visit for reviews of comics spanning the history of the medium. And then come right back here, because you don't want to miss...

Next Time: Lois and Clark brave . . . the Savage Land!?

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Monday, June 29, 2009

With the Contest Over, Superman Formulates a Plan

The military developed an earthquake machine, Luthor kidnapped its creator and attempted to steal the machine itself but Superman prevented him from getting it, and now the two of them are involved in a battle of man vs. machine! Superman won the first round, a race around the world, can he win the rest? Let's find out.

The next contest is to see who can rise higher in the sky before returning to the Earth: Superman, or the plane he just beat in a race around the world. Superman uses his muscles of coiled steel to leap straight into space alongside the plane, where the lack of gravity strands both it and its two pilots with no way down. Superman, however, kicks his legs as if in water and swims his way to the ground, securing himself the victory. That's how space works, right? It's thick, sort of like a molasses? Yeah!

Imagine being those two pilots! When you sign on for a fun contest against the planet's mightiest hero, you don't exactly expect to be left to slowly suffocate/freeze in the cold embrace of space.
And their families! "Sure dear, go have fun with that Superman. I know you'll be safe in his hands!"

Next Luthor uses electromagnetism to lift a giant boulder, knowing full-well that Superman couldn't possibly do the same. But somehow, someway, the man who just leapt straight into outer-space finds it within him to lift not only the boulder, but Lex's remaining plane over his head as well.

At this point Luthor gets desperate and simply chucks a grenade at Superman to see "who is the most vulnerable". When the grenade fails he fires a canonball, followed by deadly gas at our hero. Hardly a fair contest! Shouldn't they at least take turns? Superman is slow to cotton to the BS he's being fed, but eventually he has enough and offers to find out which cracks first: Luthor's skull or his plane's hull. At this point Luthor wisely cedes the victory.

Handing over that scientist dude who invented that earthquake thing, Luthor leaves a very confused Superman in his wake.

Hah yes, it's ALMOST as if you just had a contest where the loser had to do exactly what Luthor just did. But, no...this is a mystery that will be forever unsolved.

Superman's doubts were not unfounded however, as the contest was merely a distractionary measure to allow Luthor's henchmen to steal the earthquake machine without Superman's interference. Of course, if Luthor would simply learn to hold his tongue and stop telling Superman every time he's going to steal something then he wouldn't need to arrange these games.

This is amazing. Do you see that panel there? What idea do you think the professor's words gave Superman? Do you think maybe it's to use the professor's self proclaimed ability to recreate the machine in some way? Perhaps to build another one and fight fire with fire?? Well NO, the idea it gave Superman was to destroy the original machine.

Yeah, I'm serious. He needed outside input to come up with that.

So with that plan having been formulated, the professor tells Superman that Luthor held him captive in Satan's Canyon. Arriving at the canyon Superman is met by falling boulders triggered by Luthor's earthquake machine! These pose no threat to our hero. Following that he falls into a pit and is beset by wolves, which post no threat! Emerging from the pit he is hit by a gas which... knocks him out immediately? Well, okay I guess.

Here things get really rushed: Superman's lifeless body is shot with the Earthquake machine causing him to be buried, he once again uses his ability to "flail about" to burrow to freedom, once above ground he kicks a wall which destroys the earthquake machine which was theoretically sitting on top of it but there is no time to show that because Superman has to pose majestically while wishing he could kill Luthor who somehow disappeared but there's no time to dwell on that because now we're back at the professor's lab and he's committed suicide, hold on suicide? Why would he com-THE END!

All he can see is miles of red fabric.

They probably should have devoted the entire issue to those goofy trials instead of shoving them into a story about an earthquake machine, at least then the ending wouldn't have had to be rushed onto a single page. But hey, at least Superman's plan worked.

Next time: Luthor! Again!?

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Superman vs. Luthor at the FUNlympics!

Earthquakes are a rare sight in Metropolis, so when Superman #4 opens with one The Daily Sta-...sorry, The Daily Planet's editor sends ace reporter Clark Kent out to cover it. Clark suspects something is afoot, and so delegates the job to his good friend Superman.

Yes, it's The Daily Planet now and no longer The Daily Star! As us prideful Canadians know Metropolis was initially based on Toronto, and The Daily Star was named for Toronto's own Daily Star (now known as simply The Star). As the story goes the creators were concerned with copyright issues regarding using established newspaper names, and opted to change their fictional one to avoid potential lawsuits. The change first appeared in the Superman newspaper comic strip, followed by Action Comics #23 and Superman #4. You might notice that I missed this when summarizing Action Comics #23, and in that case I ask that you look at something distracting while I make my escape.

Superman saves people from the earthquake, including a kid trapped under a massive steel girder:

Notice that he's lifting that girder between his legs. The resultant shuffle to the side before awkwardly dropping it must have looked real super! Also, I'm fairly certain that kid is dead.

Reporting back to the Planet Clark Kent reveals that he somehow learned the source of the earthquake while offpanel: a military device designed to create earthquakes that went haywire! Clark immediately heads out to interview the machine's inventor, who welcomes him with open arms. Then he shouts "Meddler!" and strikes Clark in the back of the head with a blackjack, which is completely awesome. Following this he throws Clark's limp body out the window of his apartment building. In broad daylight.

Now this seems like an absolutely moronic thing for a scientist trying to keep a secret to do, but it isn't at all and you are the stupid one for thinking it! What it actually is is an absolutely moronic thing for a thug trying to keep a secret while pretending to be a scientist to do. Either way you don't really want the attention that dumping a body out of your window and onto the street is likely to bring. I guess what I'm saying is that I just want my hired thugs to be written a little more intelligently!

Clark Kent, now Superman, grabs hold of the building and begins the ascent back to his point of origin. Meanwhile the evil thug reports in to a mysterious red-haired man via a video screen embedded in his suitcase. The red-haired man notices Superman outside the building via his own suitcase, and sends a "weird plane" to drop a bomb on him!

Superman catches the bomb and tosses it back at the plane, adding yet another hit to the list of things that don't pose a problem to Superman. So far nothing DOES pose a problem, and I can see why they would eventually introduce Kryptonite.

The plane destroyed, Superman returns to the lab to find it empty apart from a talking suitcase. Superman recognizes the man in the suitcase as his brand new arch-enemy: "LUTHOR! The mad scientist who plots to dominate the Earth!" Luthor reveals that he has kidnapped the real professor, but he has thus far failed to force the man to build him an earthquake machine.

Having admitted incompetence to his super-powered foe, Luthor next all but gives away the next step of his plan when he states that he "may be more fortunate with the army itself!" Is he trying to be foiled? Come on.

So yes, Luthor next sends his men to the army camp containing an already constructed earthquake machine with the intention of stealing it. Superman, thanks to Luthor's subtle clue, is on hand to stop them! WOW!

As the men try to flee in their autogyro, Luthor makes them blow up real good so that Superman can't follow them back to his lair. Which is pretty effective at establishing him as evil, in this otherwise goofy story.

Suddenly, a tree with Luthor's face challenges Superman to a series of tests! Science vs. Muscle, loser retires from crime or crime fighting, whichever they like more. Superman has never been led astray by a tree, so he immediately agrees.

You might think it was stupid of Superman to agree to this, but he could still be written dumber! At least he isn't punching the tree and claiming victory. You half expect him to though.

Shortly, Luthor arrives in a nice red plane and tells Superman that the first challenge will be a race around the world. Superman vs. airplane! What oddly lighthearted fun from the man who just blew up his minions so Superman couldn't find him.

And so the race is on! WOO!

This. This is the weakest burn of all time.

I hope your intelligence doesn't feel insulted when I tell you that Superman wins in no time at all! It wasn't too obvious was it? Luthor is impressed by the fact that his opponent hasn't even broken a sweat, and lays down the next challenge: Who can fly higher in the sky? The airplane, or Superman using his mighty jumping ability?


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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Correcting an Egregious Error

In an earlier update I made the claim that Superman #4 consisted of reprints of stories already seen in Action Comics. I was dead wrong! Reading Action Comics #23 in order to witness Luthor's first appearance I uncovered this ad:

Which explicitly states that Superman #4 contains all new stories! HELL YES! This also means that Luthor appeared in Action Comics and Superman in the same month, clearly they had big plans for the red-headed charmer. If only he had stuck around...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lex Luthor is a Bad Man

The incredible debut of the man known only as "Luthor" continues!

Luthor's minions, having kidnapped Lois instead of Clark out of sheer laziness, bring her back to Luthor's dirigible which is floating high in the stratosphere. Perhaps Luthor is used to such bungling, as he immediately takes Lois as an acceptable Clark substitute. However, he doesn't have time to question her about Clark's knowledge of his operations so he has her sent away.

By God, imagine if he had enough time to conduct three minutes of inductive reasoning! He'd realize the only guy who knows about him is the dude in the blue and red long undies who also looks exactly like Clark Kent. Good thing he's so busy sitting around...doing...all kinds of things. Like hey, check out that subtle Nazi iconography projected onto the back of his chair! He spends hours arranging for shit like that!

Also, in case you didn't know it Luthor has a full head of beautiful red hair. Makes for a dashing figure, doesn't he?

Locked in a guarded room Lois immediately notices that her guard is not under Luthor's hypnotic influence. The very same hypnotic influence that hadn't been mentioned at all prior to this exact moment! Wow! Lois threatens to expose his lack of hypnosis to Luthor unless he delivers a letter to Clark Kent.

Normally in a situation like this the guard would be willing to help Lois because the only thing making him be evil in the first place was the hypnosis, but in this case he simply doesn't want Luthor to know his hypnosis doesn't work on him. He still wants to work for him though! So what, is he afraid of hurting Luthor's feelings? "Oh no sir, your hypnosis is the best! Why, I do believe I'm feeling more like a chicken as we speak!"

Of course, none of this is important as we never see this particular guard again once he's delivered the note.

Once that note is delivered Superman sets off for Luthor's airborne fortress. Now, we all know The Man of Steel can leap a tall building in a single bound but did anyone suspect he can leap straight into the stratosphere? Well he can, and he does! That's 6 miles at the least. What a badass.

Having jumped onto Luthor's dirigible Superman punches some guards, while Lois is menaced by some dude trying to extract info from her. Superman uses his "x-ray eyesight" (his WHAT!?) to find Lois' exact location and puts his fist through a wall and straight into the mean man's jaw. So, I guess he's got x-ray vision now. Huh.

Luthor then shows up as the big Asian face again and tells Superman to submit or he'll hurt Lois. Despite being there to protect her, Superman inexplicably acquiesces to these demands and allows himself and "the girl" to be brought before Luthor, where the evil leader reveals his plot to rule the planet: incite a world war and take over after every country is weakened.

Lex Luthor, please report to the burn ward.

Following this Superman allows himself to be chained to a wall and shot with a laser. Because he's an idiot.

So this laser see, it's slowly killing Superman. But too slowly for Luthor! So he just gives up and decides to point the laser somewhere else -- at a city! Superman can't allow this so he grabs the laser and tries to shoot Luthor with it, but instead he just kills a few of his henchmen. Luthor then shoots Superman with yet another laser which Superman announces is "sapping [his] strength!" Immediately after saying this he simply punches Luthor's laser, ending the threat.

This establishes two things: One, that Luthor has at least two lasers capable of destroying entire cities and thus has no real need for the roundabout world war domination plan and two, that Superman is stronger than a city.

Also, the laser's ray is specifically pointed out to be green. A green laser hurting Superman! And this is before Kryptonite was invented! That's kinda cool.

Seeing he's in a bit of a pickle Luthor offer Superman unlimited riches, as long as he doesn't harm him. Obviously our hero would never agree to this, and instead he beats up a few more guards and then punches the dirigible's engine causing the whole thing to come crashing down to Earth. I'd like to take this time to mention that there were a great number of people on this craft, and apparently all of them were under hypnosis. That's a whole lot of innocent casualties! Especially since Superman already had Luthor at his mercy. And yes, Luthor is assumed to have died in the crash.

Clark then speaks to the two warring factions once more, and is able to convince them that there was in fact a third party attempting to prolong the war using the crashed dirigible as evidence. That's just flawless! "There is a man trying to prolong the war for his own ends! Don't believe me? Well a blimp just crashed!" The war is thus ended.

Clark's editor is amazed by him nailing another scoop, and Lois thinks about how much she'd like to see Superman again, THE END.

Next time: Still more Luthor! B-b-but he's dead!?

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hero House - A Review

This is unusual. Today I'm reviewing something that only relates to Superman in the scantest of senses: they're both about superheroes. I hope this doesn't freak anyone out too much.

Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured the Slayer attending college for the first time, and being introduced to a whole new set of real life challenges in addition to the supernatural ones she had grown used to. She was hot shit in Sunnydale, but had to start fresh in this new environment.

Justin Aclin's Hero House follows a similar premise. In this case, small town superhero Turbine the Turbo Teen (a name intentionally chosen by Aclin to be corny, fear not) finds himself lost among a sea of people who simply don't care about his past accomplishments when he begins attending a big city college.

There, Superheroes are commonplace enough that they've formed their own frat based around training the protectors of tomorrow. This is the titular Hero House, which the former Turbine quickly finds himself a member of, under a much less flattering pledge name.

Hero House is a balance of drama and comedy. The villain's cartoonish scenery-chewing reaches a near 10 on the Nicholas Cage scale, while at the same time having some very real consequences to the characters.

This graphic novel does have a thorn in its side, however. It takes tropes already firmly established in the public mind and doesn't flesh them out fully. One character's problem with his gigantism is introduced, and then solved, in all of three pages. This rush towards a pay-off is also likely due to the fact that the book is an introduction to a new series, and needs to pack as much information into its 50 pages as it possibly can.

Hero House will be available at San Diego Comic-Con at the Arcana Comics booth, and then it will be in the September Previews for items shipping to comic shops in November. It's definitely worth your time to pick it up.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In Which a Huge Debut Occurs

As you may or may not know the issues of Superman covered thus far are simply reprinting earlier Superman stories from Action Comics. Superman would eventually become its own stand-alone comic, but we haven't reached that point yet. (Edit: I was very wrong about this!) I mention this because Superman #4 begins with a story centering on a character who had been introduced in an Action Comics story that the publishers had not seen fit to reprint in Superman. The fools!

I however couldn't do that to ya'll, as this character is someone you'd want to witness the first appearance of. So today we will be looking at Action Comics #23, the first appearance of "L.L." (Lori Lemaris? Lana Lang? Lois Lane? Linda Lee? Hmmm...)

We join events already in progress, as Clark Kent and Lois Lane are covering YET ANOTHER WAR. That's creativity! Lois n' Clark are caught in a bombardment which knocks Lois unconscious, allowing Clark to become Superman and throw the shells back from whence they came. Regaining consciousness Lois is disappointed to learn that she missed Superman saving their sorry asses. Because, in case you don't get it, she loves that guy.

Our heroic reporters are next seen speaking with the head general of the Galonian forces General Lupo, who tells them that he has an impending appointment to discuss peace with his Toran opponents. Yes we have seen this before, but rest assured that this is merely the calm before the storm of insanity this story is preparing to unleash upon us.

Someone blows up the approaching Toran diplomats, allowing the war to continue. Clark suspects it was done on General Lupo's orders and asks him what the hell is up wit dat!? The General denies any involvement, but a departing Clark's supersensitive ears overhear him making a suspicious phone call.

And so it comes to pass that Superman follows the general as he drives up to a mountain, exits his car and disappears. Superman is utterly dumbfounded "No entrance anywhere!" he shouts "What happened to him is beyond me!" immediately following this statement he shoves the rock blocking the hidden entrance out of the way. Was he just being sarcastic or what?
Also, special attention is called to the fact that Superman used his "bare hands" to move this rock. If all this attention needs to be brought to the amazing power it requires for Superman to move the the hell did Lupo do it!? That guy must work out.

Having busted into this secret cave hideout (and why does the evil leader of an evil army need to be evil in secret?) Superman observes from afar as Lupo stares at a stalagmite with shiny lights swirling upon its surface. Suddenly, the lights coalesce into a giant Asian guy's face! Lupo informs the face that the war has been prolonged, and it happily disappears.

Superman takes this opportunity to emerge from his hiding spot and threaten to crush Lupo's skull if he doesn't tell him what the hell is going on. I love when he does that! Lupo reveals that Luthor's plan is to send planes to bomb a neighbouring country and bring the entire continent into this war. "Who" asks Superman "is Luthor?"

That's right friends, we just got our first glimpse of Lex Luthor! EVER! And he was a giant Asian face on a stalagmite! What an entrance.

Lupo is about to reveal Luthor's identity (he's Luthor...what the hell more do you need?) when the "incredibly ugly vision" appears once again before him, and shoots some totally sweet lasers out of its eyes. Luthor does not allow for traitors.

The evil face turns its laser eyes on Superm-hold on. Luthor had laser eyes before Superman did! DAMN!

Anyway he lasers our hero to no effect, before Superman punches the stalagmite in its stupid face destroying it once and for all. Unfortunately, this must have been a load bearing stalagmite as its destruction leads to the collapse of the cave. Superman escapes from certain doom here in the dorkiest possible way.

Seriously, "flails about"? What is he, a dandy?

Upon his emergence from the earth's bowels fortune is, as always, on Superman's side. The planes sent to sow the seeds of war across the continent happen to be directly above him. He leaps onto one plane, beats up its gunner and uses the mounted machine gun to shoot down others. Running out of bullets he simply grabs two planes and smashes them into each other (!!) before flying his commandeered plane into the last remaining one.

Having prevented the war's expansion, Clark Kent now wishes to put a stop to it all together. He informs the two factions of a third party's plan to prolong the war, but his information is dismissed as mere fantasy. Why? Because he is entirely unwilling to cite his source. "Superman told me..." or "My investigations of General Lupo's activities revealed to me that..." aren't good enough? Why is he being so secretive? Oh right, because otherwise the story would be over.

The diabolical Luthor somehow learns of Clark's attempts to end the war OR SOMETHING I DUNNO, but he orders his followers to kidnap the reporter for knowing too much. They then proceed to...not do that at all...

Unable to kidnap anyone but the first person they happen to see, Luthor's hired muscle fail him once again. Seriously, I love that one of them is even pointing out that they've got the wrong person. "D'uhhh, hold on! This woman isn't Clark Kent!"

Next time: Luthor's glorious flowing locks of beautiful red hair! Would you dare ask for more??

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sidetracked by Images

First of all, if you're reading my blog and not reading Comics Make No Sense then you might consider remedying that! Second, if you're reading my blog...thank you!

Today I've decided to focus on a few of the things included in these issues of Superman that I've thus far glossed over or ignored. These early issues of the book don't just contain Superman, they also have Ripley's Believe It or Not "inspired" facts, odious funnies, vague health tips, and even short stories that aren't always about Superman! I won't be posting those short stories though, as the last thing this place needs is more text.

To start, here's an image of Superman taken from the end of a story in issue 3. that Superman? Since when does he wear a toga? I'm fairly confident in saying that's just some Roman centurion they've recoloured to be Superman! Lay-zee.


I guess weights had yet to be invented in 1948. And what the heck kind of goal is that anyway? Finally, you'll be able to make people regret politely shaking your hand!


Not everything I post today is for the purpose of mocking it. This for instance, I can't make fun of. It's just good advice! Just posting it as an example of the kind of thing old comics contained.


No doubt Ripley's work was immensely popular at the time, and the folks at DC were not above ripping off others! That beard fact is interesting, but a google search turns up nothing on the primrose colour changing. Guess I'll need to conduct the experiment myself.


And finally here's a terrible comic that will make you a worse person just for having looked at it:

Yeah, and there's more where that came from! Pray I never post them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Seen it All Before

Remember when Superman saved that boxer from suicide and then wasted months of his life helping him win the title back? Well get ready for some sweet, sweet continuity! Clark covered that story so well that he's earned himself a promotion, and Lois a demotion. She'll now be covering the "lovelorn column", while Clark will be doing something else that isn't specified because I guess it just isn't important. Does this mean that Clark used to be in charge of that column? I'd understand him writing in to it, but covering it himself?

Seeing Lois' anger, Clark attempts to smooth things over by offering to listen to her troubles at "some gay place". Probably not the best way to convince her of his manliness, but Clark's new at this dating thing. Lois rejects the offer in a manner so cold their editor emerges from his office to comment on it. "The less I see of that worm, the better!" I don't know if I've made it clear just how much Lois hates Clark in these comics, but that quote should help drive the point home.

Shortly after Clark slinks off with his tail between his legs a woman comes in looking for the lovelorn editor! It seems Lois' first minute in her new job will provide her with a way out of it, as this woman's husband has taken to hanging out at "Joe's Joint" and become a violent smuggler as a result. The lady wants her husband back, but Lois is more interested in the smuggling ring, and what uncovering it will do for her job.

Cut to Clark grousing about how mean Lois was when she shot him down. To be fair to Lois with the amount of times Clark has asked her out she's likely learned that kid gloves just ain't gonna cut it. But wait! She wants to go on that date after all, and would it be okay if they had it at Joe's Joint? Of course it would!

At the Joint Lois quickly spots the woman's husband, a man by the name of Lew, and while dancing with Clark gives him a dazzling wink. Seeing his chance to score, Lew asks to cut in on the reporters' dance. Clark takes umbrage at this request, and is pie-faced for his trouble. Whoa...I swear this has happened before.

Yep, it has! Superman #1 on the top, #3 on the bottom. At least he redrew the art, I guess.

Lois steals a piece of paper from Lew, revealing that some smugglin' is transpirin' that very night. She then storms out of the building, leaving Clark behind because he's a sissy and she hates him. Just like...Superman #1. Huh.

However, Lois' act of sticky fingery did not go unnoticed by Lew's companions and the three men take our intrepid reporters to a boat at gunpoint. Here Lois is accused of being a detective, while Clark begs the thugs not to manhandle her. Sadly, Clark is knocked overboard and assumed dead. Hey! Just like Superman #1! This is the most creative story yet!

Of course, Kent didn't truly drown and instead swam so quickly he reached the boat's destination before it. Just like Superman #1.

Despite the fact that Superman arrived first, the three men are allowed to drag Lois into an empty warehouse where they reveal that they smuggled jewelry so that they wouldn't have to pay customs. The ultimate scheme!!! When Lois asks why they'd reveal this to her, we already know it's because she's about to die.

However, before any triggers can be pulled The Man of Steel bursts through the warehouse's wall. Superman leaving rescues to the last second just so that he can make a dramatic entrance is pretty old hat at this point, although you'd think he would be less eager to play it this way when it's Lois who is danger.

Fortunately for Superman (who loves to show off!) Lew is so shocked by his entrance that he accidentally fires his gun straight at Lois. And here we get our very first "faster than a speeding bullet" moment.

That's history, folks!

I'd feel just awful if I didn't point out that Superman stepped in front of a hail of bullets to save Lois' life once before. Can you guess where that happened? Yeah, Superman #1.

Superman then beats up the thugs, and takes 'em off to Jail. Lois begs him to stay with her, but Superman simply says "Sorry -- I can't remain!"

That's all sorts of romantic, until you realize why he couldn't stay. See, Lois returns to the Daily Star to turn in her story on the jewel smugglers, only to find that Clark Kent scooped her and his story is already in print. That's right, he couldn't remain because he had to rush home to steal her story from her. Lois is for her part surprised that Clark is even alive. These two sure do treat each other like shit! THE END.

Well that was certainly a lazily written tale. Hey, remember the lady that wanted her husband back? Well neither did the man who wrote this story!

NEXT TIME: Superman #4 begins!

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Superman's Manager Part 2

Recap: Superman has a manager, but this is news to Clark Kent! An interview is arranged between Clark and Superman, which Lois worms her way into attending. Clark and Lois stop by a nightclub, where a song is sung about Superman...

Which Lois is enthralled by, because she loves anything to do with that Superman guy. Meanwhile Superman's manager and a guy in a Superman suit treat us to some fantastic expository dialogue revealing that the guy in the suit is, in fact, an actor with a repertoire of staged tricks designed to give him the illusion of super powers. It's pretty clear at this point that Siegel assumes his audience is comprised entirely of idiots. Sure we've read previous issues wherein Superman's identity was apparent, and sure this one opened by flatly stating that Clark Kent is Superman, but if we aren't bluntly told that this faker isn't the real deal we might just fall for his tricks!

It's also important to note that the part of Fake Superman will be played by Ronald Reagan. The things people do before they're famous.

The skinnier the actor, the more convincing the hoax!

Back at the club Lois slips a roofie into Clark's glass(!!) before sneaking off to conduct the interview herself. Of course the drug didn't truly effect a man with an immune system like Superman's, so he's quickly on her trail. In case you're wondering, instead of loathing her to the core of his being for drugging him and stealing his story Clark laughs it off with a "Double-crossing a pal, eh? Just like a newspaperwoman!" Even when no one's around, he just can't drop the pathetic loser act. Perhaps it's natural?

Lois shows up for the interview and, after the initial shock of a (gasp!) girl being assigned to the story has worn off, is introduced to Superman who lifts a desk above his head and bends a steel rod. Lois is unconvinced, as she has met the real Superman in person. She quickly exposes their hoax (cardboard desk, aluminum rod), and as she begins to storm out of the room is stopped by the wicked manager.

Alas, she knows too much and must be killed! Fake Superman protests for the length of a panel, but is swayed to the side of murder by the time we reach the next one where he is already in the process of throwing her out the window. Typical Reagan, am I right??? Hi-yooo!

Real Superman shows up just in time to catch Lois, and having done so wastes no time in leaping through the window from which she was thrown. The evil men have already begun their escape via elevator, but -- though it may be hard to believe -- Superman is really really strong so he just pulls it back up the shaft. He then carries Lois and the two men to a police station, where Lois presses charges for attempted murder. The end!

Yeah, who cares that her spine's broken? You caught her!

Next time: Smugglers!