Tag Archives: George Klein

Superman 199 – the first Superman/Flash race

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An excellent cover for the first Superman/Flash race, by Shooter, Swan and Klein, which rushes through the pages of Superman 199 (Aug. 67).

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The two heroes are asked by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to do a race taking them three times around the world, as a huge charity event.  Both agree, and Clark Kent gets assigned by Perry White to cover the race, as does Iris Allen by her paper.  Iris is the wife of Barry Allen, but unaware that he is the Flash (or so we think).

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Two crime cartels, one American, one European, make a huge bet on the race, and each brings in a criminal scientist to help plot against the other.

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The Justice League show up for the start of the race.  Superman has Batman and Robin, Green Arrow and the Atom on his side, while Aquaman, Hawkman and Green Lantern are pushing for the Flash. The Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman are seen later, but we do not know which hero they are rooting for.  Supergirl is also at the starting line, supporting her cousin.

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The story has some excellent art, and makes the most of its varied locations.  There are some little problems along the way, such as the heroes running into a camel laden with figs, and some greater ones.  The Flash helps Superman when a kryptonite meteor is ejected from a volcano they are passing.

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And later, in a snowy Saskatchewan, Superman switches identities to tend to the Flash after he wipes out on the ice.  Should have had his winter boots on.

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The race has been very close, and as the heroes reach the final stretch through the US, both criminal groups put their plots into action, stopping the heroes and replacing them with impostors.  The ones betting on Superman replace the Flash, and vice versa.

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The impostors are meant to lose the race, but this results in both of them running more and more slowly, until they both come to a complete stop, realizing that neither is the real hero.  It’s a great scene, capped perfectly as the actual heroes race by them after overcoming their traps.

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The race ends in a tie, intentionally, to prevent either gamblers from winning their bets.  This would be a bit of a downer, except the final panel announces the second race, soon to take place in the pages of the Flash.

A really fun story, well-told, and the tie even makes sense in the context.

Superman 195 – Amalak returns

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Amalak is back with vengeance on his mind in Superman 195 (April 1967), in a story by Shooter, Swan and Klein.

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The story opens as Superman discovers that someone has trashed the Superman Museum, destroyed his monuments, and burned his name out of all documents and records.

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Heading to the Fortress with Krypto and Supergirl, they find it all smashed up as well, but miss the thief stealing Kandor and all the samples of kryptonite.

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Amalak relates how he teleported to survival after his last encounter, and has acquired a sidekick, a young man who is the sole survivor of his planet, demolished by a chunk of Krypton after its explosion.  Once again, Amalak chooses to have someone else do his fighting for him.  Their goal is to kill all the Kryptonians, and destroy all they had, to remove them from memory completely.

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Rinol captures Supergirl and Krypto, putting them with Kandor.  This is primarily to lure Superman.  But just before Rinol can kill the hero, Amalak steps in to do it himself.  Very unwisely, he admits to having used Rinol, and shoots him, which once again gives Superman an opportunity to get the upper hand in the fight.

Rinol helps Superman take Amalak down, and this time the space pirate gets imprisoned, where he stays until the mid-70s.

Superman 182 – the Toyman returns

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The Toyman makes his first appearance in over a decade, and his only major appearance during the 1960s, in Superman 182 (Jan. 66).  At least he gets a cover appearance out of it.

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Dorfman, Swan and Klein have given the Toyman a major haircut, and have him released from prison after stopping others from breaking out.  He goes into business selling Superman toys, but the toys have the property of forcing Superman to actually do whatever the toy does.  He markets this to criminals, explaining that there is red kryptonite and a transmitter in each of the Superman dolls.

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In reality, the Superman performing all the tasks is yet another of his creations, Robo-Toy.  Superman has been away in space throughout the early part of this story.  Once Superman returns to Earth, he sees what the Toyman is up to, takes the place of Robo-Toy, and rounds up the bad guys.

It’s not a bad Toyman story, really, and is the first time he is attributed with the knowledge needed to build robots that pass for human.

But aside from a cameo in a World’s Finest story later in the year, that was it for the Toyman for almost another decade.

Superman 181 – the Superman of 2965

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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.

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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.

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

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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 177 – the green kryptonite turns red, and Superman battles It

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Oh, will Superman be able to pull his hand out of the blob of concrete on the cover of issue 177 (May 1965)?

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The formerly green, now red, narrating piece of kryptonite returns in a story by Binder, Swan and Klein.  The series is now “Tales of Kryptonite,” as the piece is no longer green.

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The story is better than the average red kryptonite tale.  Superman gets exposed to the piece, but there are no visible effects from it.  He is feeling pretty lucky, until he finds that he can only speak or write in Kryptonian.  And while this is an annoyance for Superman, it’s far more important when he is in his Clark Kent identity.

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Superman attempts to have one of his robots take Clark’s place, but when giving him instructions in Kryptonian, it causes the robot to explode.  That’s one deadly mother tongue.

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Another piece of red kryptonite provides the solution.  Superman exposes Krypto to a piece that had once given Beppo the ability to talk like a human, and then has Krypto use super-ventriloquism to project his voice in Clark’s mouth.

As the story ends, a ray mysteriously transforms the red kryptonite into gold kryptonite.  This sets up the next installment, a couple issues down the road.

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The cover story, by Dorfman, Swan and Klein, has Superman facing a whirling amorphous blob that is stealing green objects from Earth.

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Superman is unable to make any physical contact with the entity, or communicate with it in any way.  He decides to make himself green, so that it sucks him in as well.

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He finds himself transported to another realm, where the creatures live in whirling green happiness.  Noticing that they all spin clockwise, he enters a creature and goes counter-clockwise, which gets him back to Earth.  After luring the one still sucking up green things, he reverses its spin, sending it back to its own plane.

Superman 176 – the Super-Pets travel through time, Green Kryptonite returns, and Superman speaks the truth

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Were chalkboards often used in courtrooms at the time Superman 176 (April 1965) came out?

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The Super-Pets, who were frequent guest-stars in the Legion of Super-Heroes series in Adventure Comics at this time, join Superman for a time travelling romp in a story by Dorfman, Swan and Klein.

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After a will leaves a huge bequest for an animal shelter, to be overlooked by the Super-Pets in a managerial capacity (the guy clearly has great faith in these animals), because of the nasty actions of an ancestor, Superman recruits the Pets to join him on a trip to the past, to learn more about the man.  Krypto, Streaky, Beppo and Comet all take part, while Proty II is said to be busy on a mission in the future.

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They find that the ancestor is a junk dealer who frequently abuses animals.  The story also tells a (highly fictionalized) version of the creation of the American Society for the Protection of Animals, as the passage of a law protecting them from being abused gets passed during their time in the past.  The story is not bad – largely consisting of the man trying to injure the Super-Pets, but having no success, due to their powers.

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The talking green kryptonite returns for a follow-up story by Binder, Swan and Klein, covering its “activities” now that Superboy has grown to Superman.

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It’s not as much fun as the first tale.  The kryptonite is on hand as Superman constructs his Fortress of Solitude, and is once again used in an experiment to nullify its effects.  The experiment works, although it makes the kryptonite deadly to humans.

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When the process wears off, it becomes deadly to Superman again, and he disposes of it in space.  But the rock passes through the cloud that changes green kryptonite into red.

The ending announces that there will be a follow-up story, which comes in the next issue.

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Dorfman, Swan and Klein fill in some Kryptonian history in this otherwise silly tale, which has Superman and Supergirl telling nothing but the truth for a single day, no matter what the consequences.

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Lois Lane and Lana Lang try to take advantage of the situation, asking Superman which of them he prefers, but he gets out of the situation by yelling his answer too loudly to be understood.  The story has a couple more instances of this kind of “out.”

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The most interesting part of the tale is the flashback explaining the situation.  We learn that, at one time, Krypton was under the domination of aliens called the Vrangs.  Though most Kryptonains went along with their enslavement, Val-Lor stood up to Vrangs and spoke the truth, even at the cost of his own life.  The Vrangian execution of Val-Lor prompted a rebellion, and sent the Vrangs packing.  In commemoration of this, all Kryptonians spend one day each year speaking nothing but the truth.

This story gets referenced a few times in later tales.

Superman 172 – the replacement Superman

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.