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 Superman...beats 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!