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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