Friday, May 29, 2009

Superman Champions Universal Peace Part 1

Superman #2 continues with Clark being assigned to interview professor Runyan, a famous scientist who has had countless breakthroughs of one sort or another. Editor refuses to get specific. And why should he!? He's a busy man!

Arriving at the professor's lab, Clark learns that the man has developed what he calls the ultimate weapon of war, a gas that can penetrate any gas mask. Clark is understandably skeptical, and is rewarded for his lack of trust by the murder of the cutest gosh darn monkey you ever did see.

Accessory to simianicide. Not gonna look good on your superhero resume, Clark.

The professor demonstrates his nobility so that we can be sad when he dies (oops) by stating he will only give the formula to the "war department" if they promise to use it solely in matters of defense. The professor's good guy status having been established the story immediately introduces a group of, yes, thugs. The thugs kick Clark out because he's a sissy, but little do they know that listening in on other people's conversations is Clark's favourite hobby. Thus, when they demand the professor delivers the secret gas formula to them within 24 hours Clark is standing outside with his ear to the door. A yellow box informs us that this is super hearing, but if that's the case I think I have that power too.

Clark follows the men to their lair and vows to return later, but first he must write up his story on Runyan. Upon accepting the article from Clark, Editor receives a chilling phone call: Runyan has been murdered, and Clark thinks he knows who did it.

It turns out that one of the thugs payed Runyan a visit just as he was attempting to skip town, and seeing this as a breach of the threatener/threatenee contract the thug had no choice but to kill him. That's why I don't needlessly kill monkeys, its bad karma.

Listening in through their cabin window, Superman learns the evil men plan to use the gas (the formula for which they stole after killing Runyan) in the Boravian civil war. Shortly the men pile into their own personal plane and head towards the embattled country, with an unexpected guest clinging to the fuselage.

Upon the plane's arrival in Boravian airspace Superman tears through its roof and drops in on the arms dealers, demanding they hand over the stolen formula.

Oh, gross.

Quickly learning that it is in the possession of a man named Bartow (pictured above) Superman once again proves to be an imbecile when he assumes the controls so that Bartow can retrieve the formula for him.

You will win absolutely no points if you guessed that Bartow's next action is to shoot the controls, and leap from the plane because a child could have seen that coming. Yeah Superman, a child.

Superman of course leaps after him and the two land together. The Man of Steel takes the formula back, with Bartow saying that his boss will have him killed for not delivering it. At that moment a group of soldiers arrive, and attempt to rescue Bartow by both shooting and bayoneting his assailant. Their attacks have the usual effect, until a "rebel bomber" drops its payload on them. This sends the soldiers flying, and somehow manages to knock Superman out. What?? Well that was unexpected!

Next thing he knows Superman comes to in front of a firing squad, somehow standing on his feet. Seriously, how did they prop him up? To be fair I've never really seen Superman unconscious before, so maybe he goes stiff like those fainting goats. Whatever, Bartow is on hand to mock Superman and tell him that he's bringing the formula to the descriptively named Lubane the Munitions Manufacturer.

Having been told all he needs to know by Bartow, you might think Superman would rush off to Lubane's place to sock the munitions magnate in the kisser, or maybe grab Bartow and take the formula back. After all, there's nothing really stopping him, right? Wrong.

Superman has a need to showboat, and if he isn't constantly demonstrating that bullets don't hurt him, or leaving rescues to the last second then he isn't truly living. That's why he's so pissed at Bartow, Superman was going to waste 23.9 of the promised 24 hours before he saved Runyan, but Bartow broke the damn rules! With that in mind Superman sticks around and allows himself to be shot by the firing squad.

Who manage to knock him down!? Whoa! But Superman is, as noted, a showoff and was just hamming it up for the audience at home. The next page he's on his feet again, absorbing more shots into his barrel of a chest. One of the soldiers decides they must be shooting blanks, and in order to test this theory points his rifle at his own foot and pulls the trigger.

Okay, nothing I write here is going to top a guy shooting his own foot off and Shuster actually drawing a piece of exploded foot flying toward Superman. That's amazing, and should probably be in a museum somewhere.

So we'll stop here and finish next time, when Superman beats up a blimp and goes to court.

1 comment: