Tag Archives: Jerry Siegel

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 173 – a kryptonite’s tale, and Jimmy Olsen a captive


After the great Luthor/Brainiac story a few months earlier, I’m sure many were excited about the cover of Superman 173 (Nov. 64).  I wonder how many were as thrilled after they had read it.


Beppo, the Super-Monkey gets to appear in this book, as a new, but short-lived, series launches, “Tales of Green Kryptonite.”  Binder and Plastino follow a single chunk of the toxic rock from its creation through its first years on Earth, with the kryptonite itself narrating the story.


After an opening sequence on Krypton, with Jor-El and Lara, we follow the rock as it lands in the African jungle.  Beppo is the first to come across it, but gets away from the substance before it kills him.  The rock gets found by Lana Lang’s archaeologist father, and brought back to Smallville.


The kryptonite gets stolen from the museum, and Superboy has his first encounter with this specific piece, but is rescued by Krypto.


Young Lex Luthor uses it as he works on a cure for kryptonite, as this story is set before he loses his hair and turns evil.  Though both Lex and Superboy are not aware of it, Luthor had indeed found a way to suppress the effects of the radiation.  Superboy, not realizing the situation, thinks the kryptonite must be an imitation, and throws it out the window.

An interesting idea for a series, there is another installment a couple of months down the road.


Siegel and Forte provide the cover story for the issue, which opens as Jimmy Olsen decides to get into an alien ship that lands on the roof of the Daily Planet, requesting help from Superman.


The ship turns out to be a trap, and Jimmy is brought before Luthor and Brainiac at their new base.  They proudly show Jimmy their statues of Superman’s and Batman’s greatest enemies, as well as demeaning statues of the Legion of Super-Heroes, shown as elderly and out of shape.  How villains amuse themselves in their spare time, I guess.


But Jimmy is not as dumb as he seems, and clues in that this is all a giant hoax on him.  He spots that the supposed Brainiac has blue eyes, instead of green, and guesses (correctly) that the Luthor and Brainiac he is facing are really Superman and Batman.  They were trying to convince Jimmy that he takes too many risks.


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 170 – the John F Kennedy story, and Lex Luthor courts Lara


Despite the absurdity of the cover scene on Superman 170 (July 1964), there is actually no need for it to be an Imaginary Story.


The issue opens with the delayed story that has Superman working for John F Kennedy on his program for improving the health of American youth.  Bill Finger and Al Plastino put this story together, and it was pulled because of the president’s assassination.  At the request of Johnson, the story was run in this issue, despite Kennedy having died.


Lana Lang is doing a television special on how Americans are behind Europeans when it comes to health.  Apparently nothing has changed in 50 years.  Kennedy gets Superman to promote health among the youth, and he does so over the next few pages.


But eating well and working out is not just for the young, and Clark Kent has to fake weakness as Perry White puts the Daily Planet staffers through their new health regime, despite the complaints of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.


The health program serves Clark well when the staffers get trapped during a hike, and Clark can claim its Kennedy’s workout program that has increased his strength enough for them to escape.  Supergirl cameos, along with her fan club, and Jimmy Olsen’s.


Now for the cover story, by Siegel, Swan and Klein.  Luthor escapes from prison, and decides to head back in time to Krypton, woo and win Lara, and by doing so prevent Superman from coming into existence.


The plan works pretty well at the start.  Luthor claims to be the hero of the planet Marlat, with some faked movies to back up his story.


He wins the trust of the Krytonians when he warns them about Brainiac coming to steal Kandor. No one believes him, until it happens.  But once it has, the council are happy to listen to Luthor.


Lara is quite taken with him, despite being engaged to Jor-El.  Luthor arranges for Jor-El to get trapped while on an exploration, and quickly wins over Lara.


They get to the wedding ceremony, and Jor-El is racing frantically to stop them, as if this were The Graduate.  But fate intervenes, as Luthor’s anti-gravity device wears out, and he collapses under Krypton’s higher gravity.  He has to admit that he is really from Earth.  Once he has admitted being a liar, they brain scan him, and find out that he is from the future, and send him back to Earth.

So really, there was no need to make this an Imaginary Story, outside of making the reader think there was a possibility of Luthor’s plan succeeding.

Superman 169 – Mr. Mxyzptlk gets lockjaw, Sally Selwyn returns, and the Bizarros invade


The cover of Superman 169 (May 1964) announces “The Bizarro Invasion of Earth,” as well as “The Great DC Contest.”  But guess what, the two are really one and the same!


But first, Siegel, Swan and Klein open this issue with a Mr. Mxyzptlk story, in which the imp comes down with a case of lockjaw.  Unable to speak, he figures this is the perfect time to head to Earth and pester Superman.


But there is nothing much to this tale.  Simply Superman’s attempts to overcome the lockjaw.  Eventually Superman resorts to a disc that makes thoughts audible, a pretty extreme way to get out of the situation.


Siegel also brings back Sally Selwyn in this issue, with art by Al Plastino.  The story recaps the romance she had with Superman while under a red kryptonite spell of amnesia, but also introduces a new character into the mix, a man who has hated Superman since they were teens, and who got plastic surgery in order to resemble him, so he could impersonate Superman for criminal benefit.


Since this man looks like Superman, he also looks like Clark Kent, and Jim White, the name he adopted under the red kryptonite spell.


So Sally runs into the criminal, and thinks he is really Jim.  The guy is confused, but Sally is rich, and his mob cronies are hunting him, so he goes along with her assumptions.  But he acts nothing like Jim did, and Sally begins to get concerned.


Then she runs into a really confused Clark Kent, and also assumes him to be Jim.  Her kisses prove extremely potent, as they restore Superman’s memory of their time together.


Finally Clark has a woman who loves him for himself, and he decides to ditch Lois and Lana and marry Sally.


But then the bad guys attack him, thinking he is the criminal guy.  Lots of confused fighting, but the bad guy dies, extracting a promise from Superman to tell Sally that he really was Jim White.  So Superman, being too noble for his own good, goes along with it, and tells Sally that Jim White has died.

While the narration at the end of the story hints that more is to come with this star-crossed couple, as it turned out, this was Sally Selwyn’s final appearance.


Siegel and Plastino close out the issue with the Bizarro story, which is also the big contest.


The story itself is pretty bland for a Bizarro tale, as he and some others come to Earth to “fix” things.


The beginning and end of the story insist that something is unique about this tale, but frankly, it’s all but impossible to spot that the story avoids using the letters “d” and “c.”  The contest element is explained on the letters page, that there are one of each letter that did make it into the story, and readers are meant to write in when they find it, with prizes drawn from the entrants.


Superman 165 – Circe’s revenge, and Superman’s forgotten love


There is a lot more deception taking place on the cover of Superman 165 (Nov. 63) than is apparent, thanks to a well-crafted story by Bernstein, Swan and Klein.


Lana Lang is broadcasting an archeological dig, which uncovers and opens the tomb of Circe.  She claims to have been spurned in the past by Superman, and is seeking vengeance.


Her magic is effective on Superman, giving him the head of a lion, and then a mouse.  She commands him to perform silly tasks, which he does, although he still manages to fight crime at the same time.


But this is another of those stories in which nothing is as it seems.  Superman had actually been the victim of a successful attack by the Superman Revenge Squad, which prevented him from using his powers.  He discovered that they would work so long as he was upside down – a position which Circe’s tasks kept putting him in.  Of course, Circe wasn’t really the mythological Greek woman, it was Saturn Girl, aided by Proty II, who did the animal heads.


Siegel and Plastino add another ill-fated romantic interest in this story, which sees Superman fall victim to red kryptonite, removing both his memory and his powers.


With no idea who he is, Superman adopts the name Jim White, and gets a job as a lumberjack, and winds up falling in love with Sally Selwyn, the boss’ daughter.


Things get hot between the two pretty fast, to the annoyance of another lumberjack, also interested in Sally.  When Jim proposes, this prompts the other man to attack him, leaving Jim paralyzed from the waist down.  Sally still intends to go through with the marriage, but Jim falls into the river, and is carried out to sea.


Sally believes him to be dead, and he would be, if not for Aquaman and Lori Lemaris.  Lori uses her telepathic powers to help Superman’s memory, and the red kryptonite effect wears off under her care.  But now Superman has no memory of his time with Sally.


So as Clark ends the story wishing there was a way to know if a woman would fall in love with him, instead of just his powered identity, he has no clue that Sally has done just that.

Sally Selwyn returns in a few months.

Superman 152 – the Robot Master


Superman’s friends have a big secret in issue 152 (April 1962), in a story by Siegel, Swan and Klein.


Clark Kent comes to the Daily Planet one day, only to find that Lois Lane is writing an article exposing his identity as Superman.  Lois acts disdainfully towards him, as does Jimmy Olsen, who is preparing to expose Supergirl as well.


After Perry White joins in on the lynch mob, Superman uses his x-ray vision (as per the cover image) and discovers that his friends have been replaced by robots.  He calls on Supergirl for help, and they bring the robots to the Fortress to study them.  They are under the control of someone called the Robot Master, but the robots act of their own accord as well.  In the Fortress, they each check out the room dedicated to the person they based on.


The Clark Kent robot joins them, as they begin fighting amongst themselves over which one Superman likes best.  The robots wind up ripping each other apart.  Superman and Supergirl do not notice that the Clark Kent robot starts removing pieces of the damaged ones.


In a somewhat nonsensical ending, the Robot Master is revealed to be the Legion of Super-Heroes.  This story comes just before they begin their own series in Adventure Comics, the next place Cosmic Boy, Lighting Lad, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy and Sun Boy appear.  Brainiac 5 gets a cameo in a Supergirl story between the two.

The reason for this bizarre hoax was to commemorate Supergirl’s arrival on Earth.  Of course it was.  It’s all so clear now.


Inside the robots were tiny figures of the Legion, and the super cousins.  They get displayed on a very large shelf, making them look even smaller.