Tag Archives: Edmond Hamilton

Superman 181 – the Superman of 2965


A new Superman gets introduced in issue 181 (Nov. 64), one living a thousand years in the future, a descendant of the Superman of today, in a story by Hamilton, Swan and Klein.


The story deals with the very start of his career, as he gets official accreditation to act as Superman from a ruling council of planetary leaders.  There is a bit of a drama to this story, as he fends off some criminals searching for his Fortress of Solitude, located in outer space, but most of this tale simply introduces the character.


The Superman dynasty has become immune to kryptonite, but the waters on Earth, so irradiated, have become toxic to them.


Like his ancestor, this Superman maintains a secret identity as a journalist, for an intergalactic future version of the Daily Planet, under the name Klar Ken T-5477, and is in love with another reporter, who is unaware of his double identity, Lyra 3916.

Once all this has been set up, Superman heads out to find Muto, the most wanted felon on Earth at the time.

This story continues a few months down the road in the pages of Action Comics, although by then the character is known as the Superman of 2966.


Superman 174 – Clark Kent imagines he is Superman, and Mr. Mxyzptlk becomes a hero


An interesting cover image on Superman 174 (Jan. 65), and the story, by Hamilton and Plastino, lives up to it.


Clark Kent is stunned when a man walks into his office, claiming to be Superman, and demonstrating his abilities.  He is even more shocked when he discovers that he himself has no powers at all.


Clark calls on Batman, wanting someone to confirm that he really is Superman, but Batman treats him as though he were just a snooping reporter.


Clark challenges the Superman claimant’s memory, getting Lana Lang involved as he recounts an event from Superboy’s life, but the “impostor” knows everything that Clark does.  Doubting his own sanity by this point, Clark heads to a psychiatrist.  After some discussion, the psychiatrist believes that Clark began fantasizing that he was Superboy because of him being a lonely and weak teen, and that the delusion has simply grown over the years.


Sadly, this story opts for a quick and easy “out,” as the Superman claimant turns out to be one of his robots, gone renegade.  The robot impersonated Batman, and also planted a red sun device in the heel of Clark’s shoe, to remove his powers.


Mr. Mxyzptlk switches sides in this story, by Siegel and Plastino.


He decides to become Super-Mxyzptlk, and follows Superman around, jumping ahead of him whenever there is trouble, and using his magic to save the day.  For a change, he is genuinely not trying to be a pest – but he is anyway.


I do enjoy the ending, in which Bizarro pops up, joining others in a celebration of Mr. Mxyzptlk’s heroism.  He builds a statue of the imp, but of the Bizarro version he knows – Kltpzyxm.  Mxyzptlk is taken aback by the statue, which he considers insulting, but in reading the inscription gets transported back to his own dimension.

Not the greatest story, but it’s neat to see Bizarro defeating Mxyzptlk, even accidentally.

Superman 172 – the replacement Superman


There’s a new Superman in town in issue 172 (Oct. 64).


Hamilton, Swan and Klein are the creative team on this tale, which sees a comet with gasses deadly to all, even Kryptonians, approach the Earth.  Superman knows he may not survive the encounter with it, so he recruits a potential successor from Kandor, Ar-Val.


Superman diverts the comet, and survives his contact with it, but loses his powers.  The panels of Clark Kent grieving as he hears the crowds cheer his replacement are excellent.


Ar-Val proves to be pretty useless as Superman, simply wanting the glory of it.  He ignores Jimmy Olsen, who warns him that Brainiac has busted Luthor out of prison.  Luthor got shot during the breakout, and Ar-Val simply insists that Luthor must be dead.


Superman wants to step up, but has no powers.  Jimmy Olsen provides him some of his elastic serum, while Legion of Super-Heroes members Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Invisible Kid temporarily charge Superman with their powers.  As he is no longer allowed to wear a Superman costume, he dons a really awful “Former Superman” costume.


It is fun to see the hero formerly known as Superman fight Luthor and Brainiac with a wildly different set of powers.  But the villains get the best of him in the end.


Ar-Val finally shows up, but the Former Superman winds up sacrificing himself to save him.


Ar-Val finally realizes what a washout he is, and with the aid of Kandorian scientist Nor-Kan, he revives Superman, using his life force, but winding up turned to stone.

Superman indicates at the end that he wants to find a way to revive Ar-Val, but this never actually happened.


Superman 171 – Rokk and Sorban debut, Mr. Mxyzptlk’s idiomatic curse, and Superman trapped on a red sun world


Superman’s not doing too well on the cover of issue 171 (Aug. 64).


Rokk and Sorban make their debut in a story by Dorfman and Plastino.


They demand that Superman murder an innocent person, threatening to destroy the Earth if he refuses.


Superman decides that the best way out is to kill himself, there by saving the Earth.  He crawls into a cave full of kryptonite, but the aliens transmute it into ordinary rock, and insist that he kill someone other than himself.


While all his friends know about the situation, only Lana Lang tries to take action, entering a chamber that will slowly kill her by turning her to crystal.  Jimmy and Lois Lane just stand around feeling sorry for Superman, as he cures Lana.


Superman pulls off faking the murder of Clark Kent, but the aliens are also aware of his other identity.  But the game is up, anyway.  Superman learns that the two had placed a wager on whether he would actually kill, and his refusal to do so wins the bet for Sorban.  They mention that they are from Ventura, the pleasure planet, also called the gambler’s planet, a location also used in Legion of Super-Heroes stories.

Superman is just glad the whole thing is over.

Rokk and Sorban return the following year in the pages of World’s Finest.


Siegel, Swan and Klein bring back Mr. Mxyzptlk for another round of silliness.


In this story, Mxyzptlk places Superman under a magic spell that makes any idiomatic phrase come true is some fashion, so when he says he is as hungry as a horse, a hungry horse suddenly manifests.


Much of the story consists of these idiomatic “jokes,” until Superman tries undoing the magic by saying his name backwards.  In this case, he has to say “Le-Lak,” though in other stories, “Namrepus” works as well.


The cover story, by Hamilton and Plastino, closes out the issue.  Superman is aiding a scientist by flying out instruments to monitor a distant planet, but the planet’s sun turns red while he is there, trapping him and leaving him powerless.


Superman falls victim to the cavemen inhabiting the world, losing his costume to them.  Much of the story details his simple survival, with no powers, on this alien world.


Astoundingly, the scientist is able to construct a rocket to bring him, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen out to the planet, where they rescue Superman.  Considering this planet orbits a distant star, there must be some heavy space warp or teleportation devices on the ship.

Superman 168 – the hero of Lexor


Leo Dorfman joins Hamilton, Swan and Klein for an all-Luthor issue of Superman, number 168 (April 1964).


The story follows on the ending of the previous issue, with Luthor now living on Lexor, and in a relationship with Ardora.  Superman comes to the planet to bring him back to Earth, and sees how the Lexorians idolize Luthor, and despise him.

There are also some colourful crystals which grab Superman’s attention.


Then suddenly Superman steals them.  Ardora happens to be on the scene, and sends out a cry.  Is just being on Lexor enough to turn Superman into a villain?


It’s certainly enough to turn Lex into a hero.  He creates a machine to give him temporary super-powers, and adopts the disguise of the Defender, to keep Ardora safe from any criminal reprisals.


He even captures Superman, although he learns that the reason he was stealing the crystals.  Although pretty, they give off radiation damaging to people’s brains.  This explains the downfall of the previously advanced civilization on this world.  Luthor allows Superman to leave with the crystals, but makes him vow to not reveal his secret identity.


But the people of Lexor are clamouring for Superman to be captured, and Lex sets out with a spaceship equipped with red kryptonite, to bring the fugitive back for Lexorian justice.  Things do not go as planned, as Luthor winds up heading back in time, winding up in San Francisco at the turn of the century.


Superman is also hunting for Lex, and, not finding him on Lexor, uses a time viewer to track him.  Superman follows him to the time and place, but cannot actually find Lex.  He gets a job at a newspaper, using the name Clark Kent.  This is so amazingly stupid.  The editor of the paper is Luthor in disguise.  Superman has just revealed his identity, as Luthor knows this newbie reporter is really Superman.  But the story skirts this, having Lex assume Superman was using the name of one of his friends.  Historical personages Lillian Russell and Diamond Jim Brady appear in the tale.


Superman gets exposed to red kryptonite, painted onto a fire engine.  He loses his powers, but is still alert enough to realize that the red kryptonite must have been brought there by Luthor, who must be aware that Superman is around.


Luthor captures Superman and brings him out to an island in the bay.  He tries to bring them both back to the present, but the machine malfunctions, and transports only Lex, and a chunk of the island.


This sets off the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, which the powerless Superman is helpless in.


When the red kryptonite wears off, Superman heads back to the present.  He sees that Ardora is still pining away on Lexor, and eventually finds Luthor on the same island he had been on in the past.  Alcatraz.

The two halves of this story were not intended to be published in the same issue.  The change came about because the story that was meant to be included with the hero of Lexor tale had Superman working with the recently assassinated John F. Kennedy.  The story was pulled, but a few issues later, apparently at the request of Lyndon Johnson, the story was run.

Superman 167 – Luthor learns Brainiac’s secret


A great cover on Superman 167 (Feb. 64), as we reach the apex of the 1960s Superman stories, in this issue and the following one.


It’s Hamilton, Swan and Klein who reveal new information about Brainiac, and set up a number of characters, places and events that will have long repercussions.  Luthor breaks out of prison, and invents a scanner that allows him to learn about alien worlds.  He winds up tuning in to Colu (although the planet is not named in this story), and learns that Brainiac is not an alien, but an android, created to be the operative of the Computer Tyrants.  To help disguise his mechanical nature, the Tyrants provided him with a son.  Only called Brainiac 2 in this story, the boy, Vril Dox, runs away from Brainiac at the first opportunity.


Luthor heads to the planet where Superman has imprisoned Brainiac and frees him, revealing that he knows Brainiac’s true nature.  He also takes advantage of this to implant a bomb within the android’s computer brain, to prevent Brainiac from turning on him.


Together they scour the galaxy gathering resources for their new device to kill Superman.  While doing this, they stop off on the planet where Luthor is considered a hero, now called Lexor in his honour.  Luthor meets a woman who is very interested in him.  Her name is given as Tharla in this story, but she will later be called Ardora.  They also pass Brainiac’s world, and see a monument to the revolution that overthrew the Computer Tyrants.  Although not stated in this story, it was Vril Dox (Brainiac 2) who lead the revolt.


Returning to Earth, they hit Superman with a shrink ray, and toss him into a bird cage.  He escapes by using his Clark Kent clothes as a rope ladder, while Brainiac decoys Luthor into sitting in front of a mind control machine.


Brainiac forces Luthor to remove the bomb he had implanted, and also wipes his mind of the knowledge that Brainiac is an android.  Keeping that a secret is so important in this story, which is a bit odd, as soon everyone will know about it anyway.


While the villains do succeed at putting Superman into a deathlike trance, they wind up getting captured by the Superman Emergency Squad and taken to Kandor, where they are prosecuted by Nor-Kann.  Although they are both sentenced to the Phantom Zone, they bargain their way out of it, promising to bring Superman back if left to go free.  They keep their word, and are allowed to head off into space, with Luthor returning to his new hot babe on Lexor.

I consider this the best Superman story from the 1960s, rivalled closely by the one that comes next.

Superman 164 – the planet where people love Luthor


Hamilton, Swan and Klein craft a Superman/Luthor story in issue 164 (Oct. 63) that heads in an unexpected direction.


Little time is wasted getting to the cover sequence.  Luthor challenges Superman to a battle on a planet with a red sun, where Superman will have no powers, and they can fight as equals.  Superman accepts, but finds the challenge much more difficult than expected.  A storm separates the two men, and the next day they both finds themselves lost and wandering in the ruins of a formerly great civilization.


Luthor understands the machinery still lying around, unused, even though the inhabitants of the world have lost that knowledge.  He is able to use their weapons against Superman, but cannot help their depleted water supply.


Still, by the time Superman finds Luthor, the people already think he is the greatest thing they’ve ever seen, and cheer him on in his battle with Superman.  Luthor lets himself lose, and even Superman can tell this is happening, but cannot understand why.  As they head back to Earth, Luthor points out a planet of ice, which could supply that of the planet they had left, and asks Superman to do so.


Superman is amazed, but does as Luthor asks.  He shows Luthor a picture of the world, and the statue they have erected of him.

This planet, called Lexor when next seen, would become Luthor’s own personal heaven and haven.