Sunday, January 31, 2010

Superman and the Newspaper Wars

The second story in issue 5 gets off to a rip-roaring start when unpopular politician Alex Evell (his name makes me trust him) forces Zachary Collum (giving his name because Siegel did, maybe it'll be important!) to sell his paper the Morning Pictorial, under threat of his wife and son coming to harm.  Clark and Lois find this news unbelievable for an entire panel before we cut to a city council meeting where Representative Barnes is angrilly requesting a probe of Evell's actitivites.  "As a result, honest up-right Barnes is denounced in the Morning Pictorial as a rapscallion." and never heard from again, in this story at least.

The Pictorial's new agenda becomes even clearer when, in response to some thugs complaining to him about the cops busting up their various operations, Evel prints a headline declaring the police department guilty of "third degree methods."  Are papers allowed to print blatant lies?  I actually don't know.  If you value your sides you won't look at the article's author though.  Consider yourself warned!

Clark interviews the chief of police who confirms his suspicions of the article consisting entirely of lies, which then leads Clark to write an article of his own revealing the truth.  This in turn leads to Evell confronting Daily Planet publisher Burt Mason (who?).  Evell says that despite his outrage at the situation he will "consent" to buying the Planet, a piece of information that leads Mason (who?) to kick him out of his office.  Evell declares war.

And by God he means it: we next see Clark and Lois rushing outside the newspaper office to witness the still-in-process burning of a Daily Planet news truck.  The thug who commited this act of arson is casually standing in the street admiring his handiwork, and so is on hand to tell L&C there will be more damage if Burt Mason (who?) doesn't consent to selling his paper.  To make sure they understand he means business the thug then hilariously pie-faces Clark.  Lois is naturally dissapointed that her companion isn't a "he-man" and storms off.  Neither of the two think to call the cops.

Editor George Taylor fears for Lois' safety on the now-dangerous streets and orders her to remain in the building, while Clark timidly beats feet to get some "RED HOT NEWS".  Once out of eyeshot of his compatriots, Clark reveals himself to be none other than the Last Son of Krypton - Superman!

Superman muses to himself that the Planet is too conservative a paper to hire thugs, leaving him its only defender.  I would make a joke about the police not existing in this universe, but they've already been featured within this very story.  Whatever, Superman does what he wants!

We next see Superman as he observes the Daily Planet trucks leaving to deliver the latest edition. The trucks are not even able to split into their various routes before they find their path blocked by thugs driving Pictorial trucks.  The thugs emerge from their vehicles, promising to smash the skulls of the opposing paper's drivers. (wow!)  Superman ain't one to stand around during this kind of thing, so he leaps between the two newpaper deliveryman armies and begins to smash the thugs' trucks.  It's kinda awesome:

Next an armoured truck hurtles towards our hero, described as "tank-like" it is clearly being built up as a threat to Superman.  Of course, our man flips it over immediately without giving it a second thought.  Honestly, I'd be pretty bummed if I had bought an armoured Superman-destroying contingency truck only to see it be defeated within three panels, two of which are just Superman tossing it aside like it's made of paper.

Some of the thugs attempt to escape in a stolen Daily Planet truck, an egress which is quickly cut short when Superman places the truck on top of an industrial smokestack.  I guess the Planet didn't need that truck anyway.

Things go typically insane as a Pictorial thug attempts to run over a newsboy along with his stand, and another runs a Planet truck off a cliff.  These thugs are in no way anonymous mind you, they're all driving Pictorial trucks, their affiliation is clear.  Even if they manage to stop the Planet from being circulated for a day, they'll still have murdered in the name of Evell and his paper.  Did anyone think this plan through?  I'm not just talking about Evell either, I'm wondering if Jerry Siegel read this before sending it to print.

Naturally, Superman saves the aforementioned potential victims before any harm can come to them.  One guy does get thrown through a reinforced plate glass window and is never seen again, but Superman can't be expected to save everyone!  Come on!  He does take the window-throwing thug and, informing the man he had better tell his boss to cut it out, throws him through Evell's office window.

As the thug delivers Superman's message the Man of Steel hangs from Evell's window ledge, hoping to hear important secrets.  Unfortunately Evell notices his fingers gripping the ledge, and in an attempt to dislodge our hero smashes his digits with an axe.  This has the obvious effect on the axe, but surprisingly Superman turns tail and runs.  However an instant later he returns and listens in once more, knowing that Evell would never suspect him to return so quickly.  I guess Siegel knew the old "Superman hangs from window, overhears plot" gimmick was getting old, so he introduced a bit of utterly pointless spice!  Nevermind the fact that we've already borne witness to Superman's heightened sense of hearing, a power that should really make window-hanging obsolete.

From his position outside the window Superman hears Evell call Lois Lane, pretending to be from "Bentley Hospital", and asking her to come check on an injured Clark Kent!  The fiesty and concerned Lois breaks Editor George Taylor's house arrest rule and rushes to the hospital, where she is immediately (and typically) kidnapped by a thug.  Having overheard the plan Superman, instead of stopping the kidnapping in one of a million different ways available to him, clings to the bottom of the getaway car as it escapes.

The thugs take Lois into a room and prepare to shoot Superman should he attempt to save her, which he does.  As usual, Superman puts off the saving to make it as difficult as possible.  Just so we know that the guy whose head smashed into a curb while clinging to the bottom of a speeding car is invulnerable the thugs shoot him with an Elephant gun to no effect.  Ohhhh, he can't be hurt!  Now I get it.

At this point Evell is so desperate to kill Superman that he decides to burn the building to the ground, killing Lois and his own hired thugs along with him.  Naturally Superman saves everyone, and the betrayed thugs agree to testify against Evell.  That Collum guy (see?  Knowing that name was totally important!) from the opening gets his paper back, and Clark is hilariously denied a vacation because now that the Planet has competition he is needed more than ever.  Ha.  Ha.  Ha.

No comments:

Post a Comment