Tag Archives: Leo Dorfman

Superman 218 – Superman’s forgotten family

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Superman discovers a wife and child he knew nothing about in the Dorfman, Swan and Abel story in issue 218 (July 1969).

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Superman and Lois Lane spot an infant in a Superman costume, playing with diamonds.  They find the mother, who insists that she is Superman’s wife, and the child their son, who created the diamonds himself, out of coal.  Superman is certain that she is wrong, but she shows him a wedding certificate and photo album, even an engraved ring.  The boy has all of Superman’s powers, and when Superman exposes the child to kryptonite, he begins to turn green.

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From the information the woman, Larissa Lenox, gives them, Lois Lane theorizes that Mr. Mxyzptlk used his magic to remove Superman’s memory of his marriage and child, and then just sort of hovers around the fringes of the story, stressing over Superman having a wife.

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Superman spends a while racing after his son, whose desire to play with full sized versions of children’s toys causes some chaos.

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But Superman is really just playing along to spring his trap.  The child is really Mr. Mxyzptlk, and Larissa nothing more than a magical construct. Superman suspected something was up from the start, as the diamonds the child had supposedly created were polished and faceted.  When Superman crushes coal into diamonds they come out as rough hunks of diamond.  The kryptonite he exposed the child to was fake, there was no way it should have caused a reaction.

It’s kind of unfortunate that the story cues us in to Mr. Mxyzptlk so early, as I doubt I would have figured it out without that.

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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 179 – the outlaw Fort Knox, and the tale of gold kryptonite

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Dorfman and Plastino helm the cover story of Superman 179 (Aug. 65), in which criminals have a big hidden bank vault of their very own, to deposit their ill-gotten gains in.

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The criminal Fort Knox is introduced at the top of the story, but then set aside as the tale becomes about Superman performing wishes randomly chosen from coins thrown into a fountain.  The bad guys have rigged the contest, ensuring their victory.

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The winner asks for the largest diamond, a ton of gold, and money from the largest bank.  Jimmy Olsen expects Superman will use word play to fulfill the requests in a manner different from the intent, and expresses his ideas to Lucy Lane, but Superman fulfills the requests at face value, to Olsen’s puzzlement.

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With the set up of the bank at the top of the story (and on the cover) it really isn’t too hard to see where this is going.  The villain takes his winnings to the bank, where they promptly turn into a knockout gas.  Superman went along with the greedy wishes simply to uncover the location of the vault.

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The fourth and last of the Tales of Kryptonite is still narrated by the once green, then red, now gold, piece of the toxic metal, but Binder and Plastino introduce a Kandorian couple as well.

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Jay-Ree and Joenne are among the Kandorians who see the gold kryptonite in the Fortress, and volunteer to risk their lives to dispose of it.  They send it into the Phantom Zone, but lose their powers in the process.  At the end of the story, they are living in a doll house in Clark Kent’s apartment, although I imagine they wound up back in Kandor eventually, as we never see them again.

The mysterious ray that changed the kryptonite from red to gold is credited to a nuclear reaction, which doesn’t quite make sense.  But all in all, this story is the most disappointing of the run.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.