Tag Archives: Superboy

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 161 – the deaths of Ma and Pa Kent, and Superman joins the invasion

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The cover of Superman 161 (May 1963) makes two claims about the stories it contains.  That Superman will go to war for the first time, and that the Kents will die.  Only one of those truly happens.

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Surprisingly, it’s the deaths of the Kents, as told an an Untold Tale by Dorfman and Plastino.  The fact that his adoptive parents had died shortly before he became Superman (either as a start to his career, or a change from Superboy) had been established right from the start.  But never had the specific circumstances of this been revealed.

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The story is told in flashback, as Clark visits his parents’ graves.  Jonathan and Martha Kent were on a vacation in the Caribbean, and came across a treasure chest belonging to Blackbeard.

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For fun, Superboy brings them back through time, and the Kents watch as the teen plays games with the notorious pirate.

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The Kents fall sick as soon as they get back.  Lana Lang helps the increasingly distressed Clark.  Luthor offers to cure the Kents, but when he fails, claims they aren’t worth saving anyway.  Asshole.

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By the time it occurs to Superboy to put his parents into the Phantom Zone, sunspot activity is preventing the machine to access the Zone from working.  There is nothing Clark can do except watch his parents die.

The coda of the story has him consumed with guilt, until he learns that the Kents were killed by a tropical fever, the spores of which were in the treasure chest they dug up and opened.

Really a pretty good story, avoiding any major villain plots or nonsense like that.

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I think far less of the cover story, despite being by Hamilton, Swan and Klien, my favourite creative team from the era.

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Perry White arranges for Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen to play soldiers in a film about an invasion.  But the abandoned island the film is being made on turns out to have soldiers in it, so the war becomes “real.”  Clark fears his identity being exposed, and is frustrated at not being able to use his powers, so Supergirl comes by and “gives” Clark temporary super-powers.

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A huge and preposterous set-up, and the conclusion reveals that the people they are fighting against are really aliens.  So Superman is fighting aliens, as he has done many times before.  He is not fighting to the death, as war would imply.  So nothing special about this story.

 

Superman 146 – the origin of Superman, updated

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With all the details being added to Superman’s backstory, it was no surprise when issue 146 (July 1961) was used to re-tell the basic story, adding in all the new information.

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Binder and Plastino adhere to the very brief, basic story told in the late 1940s, but add in Jor-El’s brother Zor-El, the attempt to build a space ark, and Krypto’s test flight.  Although Zor-El is mentioned to be Supergirl’s father, we do not see her story at all.

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I love that thud.

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The Kents find the baby boy, drop him off at an orphanage where he wreaks havoc, then adopt him.  Details are shown of how his costume was made from his blankets, and his glasses from the rocket window.  Scenes such as learning to fly with balloons are drawn directly out of Superboy stories from Adventure and his own book.

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Only towards the end , after the deaths of the Kents, does it contain a flashback to a story published in Superman, the people in Smallville saying farewell, and the Superboy cake.

This story also goes into the greatest detail yet on which powers are caused by gravity, and which from exposure to yellow sunlight.

Superman 131 – Mr. Mxyzptlk debuts, Superman’s future wife, and past deeds for present friends

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Gee, it’s so hard to figure out who is being implied as Superman’s wife on the cover of issue 131 (Aug. 59).

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The lead story of the issue, by Coleman and Plastino, is the first time a 5th dimensional imp has plagued Superman in over three years.  But by accident or design, the name was altered from Mxyztplk to Mxyzptlk, just at the right time for this to count as the first appearance of the Earth-1 Mr. Mxyzptlk.

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The story does not treat him as a new character, Superman knows exactly who he is, and even has a number of flashbacks, though not to real stories.  This story gives a very scientific reason for the backwards speaking to send Mxyzptlk back to his home turf.

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The imp has a warning alarm in his hat in this tale, preventing Superman’s usual tricks from working on him.

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So Superman has a tape of Mxyzptlk speaking rigged to play his name backwards.  This works, although only because of the scientific basis for the transfer.

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The cover story has some very nice art by Kurt Schaffenberger, but Robert Bernstein’s story does Lois no favours.

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She visits an enchanted cottage, where a chair will give her a vision of the future. She wants to see who Superman will marry, and is treated to a series of scenes of his married life, but the woman can never be clearly identified.  Lois watches all this with increasing jealousy of the unknown woman, who might well be her.  The vision over, she subjects a mystified Superman to a jealous tirade.

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Binder and Plastino share the final story in the issue, another Untold Tale of a day in Superboy’s life.

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Clark has, in his mind, a fairly uneventful day. He helps a toddler, saves the briefcase of a reporter, and comes to the assistance of a girl stuck in a mask at a party.

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The end of the story reveals to the reader that Superboy had spent the day helping Jimmy Olsen, Perry White and Lois Lane.  It’s not that much of a surprise, but a decent enough tale.

Superman 125 – Clark Kent at college, and Superman’s new power

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Superman does get a new power in issue 125 (Nov. 58), but it’s nothing like the cover implies.

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The second story in the issue, by Coleman and Plastino, is the first in a series of “untold tales” that will be featured over the next few years, and one of the better ones.

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As the title implies, this deals with Clark Kent at university, covering his identity with his fellow students, as well as a professor determined to prove he is Superboy.

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The story ends with Clark hooked to a lie detector, but passing the test when asked if he is Superboy.  He was not lying.  This story marks the first day he began to think of himself as Superman.

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Coleman also wrote the cover story, with art by Boring and Kaye.

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It’s a bit similar to the last time Superman got a new power, the cold vision.  Again there is an exploding object from space, in this case an alien ship, which causes his powers to change.

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In this story he loses his powers, but gains the ability to emit a tiny Superman, with all his powers, to do his super-deeds.

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Superman finds himself becoming little more than the carrying case for the tiny Superman, and begins to resent this new power.  Things get worse when it begins acting on its own volition.

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In the end, it sacrifices itself to protect Superman from kryptonite, though Superman wonders if he really sent it to its death.  If he has to wonder, he did it.  But he does get his powers back when the little one dies.

Superman 106 – Superman’s first deed, and Luthor’s power suit

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Luthor builds a super-suit with none of the flair of his later designs, in Superman 106 (July 1956).

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But the first story in the issue, by Hamilton, Boring and Kaye, is more important in the larger scheme of things.  A scientist is doing research on Superman, and his earliest activities as Superboy in Smallville.  Perry White decides to help him out, ordering his staff to find the earliest Superboy deed they can.

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Superman is quite suspicious about all this.  The scientist has a bad reputation, years earlier he had caused a panic with a false report of an approaching meteor.

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But as nothing the scientist is uncovering seems dangerous to him, Superman helps out, telling them all about his voyage to from Krypton to Earth.  Superman is now able to remember this, and even his parents, though of course he had no memory of Krypton in earlier tales.  From this point on, his super-memory will allow him to recall a huge amount of Kryptonian details.

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On the flight, baby Superman got out and played with a comet, which wound up diverting its path.  This was what the scientist was after all along.  His forecast years earlier had been right, but Superbaby saved the Earth without realizing it.

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Luthor’s super-suit is saved for the final story in the issue, by Coleman, Boring and Kaye.

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This suit is designed to harness the energy that Superman expends.  So the more Superman does, the stronger Luthor becomes.  Luthor causes all sorts of emergencies, charging his suit off of Superman, before confronting him.

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Superman theorizes, correctly, that the suit would also transfer his weaknesses to Luthor.  He exposes himself to kryptonite, which weakens Luthor as well, enough that Superman can remove and destroy the suit.