Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Superman vs. Congress

The comic misadventures of the world's mightiest man continue, as we once again see Clark Kent speaking with his still unnamed editor. It seems Editor is concerned about a lack of news, stating that he had to print the results of a card game on the front page.

Really? Really? That's all the news this pathetic paper can muster? How about "Star Reporter Kidnapped - Saved by Superman"? Nah, no one would buy that.

Editor gives Clark an assignment: to travel to San Monte South America and cover a war. Clark, his faith in anything Editor says understandably shaken after that front page, instead goes to Washington DC.

Attending a session of congress Clark's attention is drawn to one senator Barrows, who he sees talking to an obviously shady individual by the name of Alex Greer. His reporter instincts kicking in, Clark follows the two back to Barrows' hotel room where he listens in on their conversation.

Kids! Would you rather see Superman hanging from the ledge of a senator's hotel room window so he can listen to a conversation about the passing of a bill, or see him punch a giant robot in the nuts!? What?? The bill? Okay!

Barrows tells Greer off for speaking to him in public, and then they discuss the imminent passing of a bill. One with apparently sinister implications, though what they might be isn't mentioned. There's no way to make this exciting.

This all makes Superman very angry, probably because he'd rather be punching robot balls, so he confronts Greer outside and demands to know who is behind the corruption of senator Barrows. Quickly finding that Greer is a tough nut to crack, Superman grabs him by the foot and leaps to a telephone wire where he threatens the man with potential electrocution before leaping toward the capitol building, ostensibly to turn Greer in for his crimes. However, in a rare miscalculation Superman jumps short and the two men tumble quickly toward the pavement below.

Little Known Superman Superpower #1: The ability to stand on a telephone wire while holding a grown man and not have the wire bend, droop, or in any way react to his presense.

Here ends Action Comics #1! However, since I'm getting this from a collection and not from Action Comics itself our story does not end here. But let's look at this for a second: that's the best cliffhanger they could come up with? No kid is going to care about this crooked politician guy! And we've already seen Superman get shot in the frickin' neck, so I think it's safe to say he'll survive a little fall. If they wanted us to pick up next month's copy, they should have ended on the high note of the previous Lois story.

Whatever, Action Comics #2 starts with Superman and Greer still falling, but omits one rather important aspect.

You know, there isn't much you have to remember when drawing Superman. Dark hair, chiseled jaw, blue suit, red cape and...what else was it? Oh yeah, a fucking shield! Come on Shuster you created the guy, this should be easy!

Having survived the fall (surprise!) Greer now tells Superman that "the man behind the threatening war is Emil Norvell, the munitions magnate." So having skipped out on one story about a war, Superman discovers another! Unless this is supposed to be the same war. But that war already started, and this one is "threatening". Honestly, I have no idea what's going on.

While Superman runs to the vile Norvell's residence, Greer calls to issue a warning to a man with a telephone receiver for a nose. Thus upon his arrival Superman is met by three toughs with tommy guns, the results of which I shouldn't have to tell you. "Good Heavens!" exclaims one of the hardened criminals "He won't die!" Superman responds to this in a rather uncharacteristically dark manner when he shouts "Glad I can't say the same for you!"

Unfortunately we don't see our first Superhomicide here, as he simply wraps their guns around their necks and sends them runnin'. Finally alone with Norvell Superman threatens to break his neck (!!) unless he's on a ship to San Monte the next day, confirming that this is in fact the same war Editor asked him to cover. How the hell did Superman know to go straight to Washington after being instructed to go to San Monte? I guess the implication is that if there's ever trouble, you can safely blame crooked Washington fatcats.

Good God this story is slow. It's bullet point time!

-Clark arrives to board the San Monte bound boat and is surprised to find Lois there. Turns out Editor wanted her distinct woman's touch. Hey, so does Clark!

-Special attention is payed to the boarding of Lola Cortez, who is described as beautiful, mysterious, exotic, and dangerous. I wonder if she'll prove to be important??

-Superman greets Norvell in his cabin, allowing the weapons trader to sic some thugs on him.

-Superman is defeated when the ship's railing gives way and he falls overboard, causing the thugs to report him as dead.

-Norvell reveals himself to be the type of villain who wouldn't actually have any henchmen when he refuses to pay the men for killing Superman, instead threatening to turn them in to the police. How did he become a successful crime lord treating underlings like this? He'd have been dead his first day on the job.

-Speaking of which, once the ship arrives in San Monte the thugs attempt to kill their former employer, but Superman (who out swam the ship and got there first) saves his life.

-Why? Well, not because he's a hero and that's what heroes do, but because Superman has decided to take the time to teach this man an important life lesson. Sure could save a lot of lives in the time you're spending playing Ghost of Christmas Present here Superman. Just sayin'. Lot of lives.

-Norvell agrees to join the army, but secretly plans to dessert the moment Superman leaves.

-Anticipating this, Superman enlists too. Can hilarity be far behind??

Tune in next time to find out what can change the nature of a man, and to finally get to the damn action.

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  1. I like the humor in your work. I've been a Superman fan for years, and it's great fun to read your take on the early comics.

  2. Kind of you to say that!

    I can't take too much credit for the humour though, these comics are an easy target. Not that I don't respect them, of course.

    Hope you keep reading.

  3. I plan to! Do you own all the Superman back issues? Where did you get them?

  4. DC's Superman Chronicles for the most part. Great collections at a pretty darn low price on Amazon.