Tag Archives: Rokk and Sorban

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.

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World’s Finest 150 – Superman gambles with Batman’s life

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Hamilton, Swan and Moldoff take Superman and Batman to Ventura, the gambler’s planet, in World’s Finest 150 (June 1965).

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The story opens as Batman investigates a gambling island just off the coast of the US.  The games are entertainingly oversized, but all play fair, so far as Batman can tell.

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The whole island, and getting Batman there, are really just a lure for Superman.  Rokk and Sorban, two alien gamblers that Superman met the previous year in his own book, have set up a trap that forces Superman to come to Ventura to play games in order to keep Batman alive.

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As Superman is escorted around Ventura, the story delves into the laws and schooling of a planet where gambling is the central way of life.  It’s an enjoyable extrapolation.  On the other hand, one of the “games” is recognizable from the Legion of Super-Heroes story in which Proty sacrifices himself to revive Lightning Lad.  We are told that the person whose rod gets hit by the lightning “wins,” but not that the victory is death.

Superman manages to outwit Rokk and Sorban, winning Batman’s life.  He also exposes their cheating, which is highly illegal on this planet, and the pair get carted off to prison.

But they do return a couple of years down the road, so their sentences were not too severe.