Wednesday, October 06, 2010
The opening story is Superman's Neighbors. The plot concept is obviously cribbed from the famed Alfred Hitchcock movie, Rear Window. In that film, Jimmy Stewart plays a professional photographer with a broken leg, who passes his recuperation time by observing the other tenants of his apartment building, eventually realizing that one of his neighbors (Raymond Burr) has killed his wife.
In the Superman story, we learn that Clark Kent lives at 344 Clinton Street in Metropolis, and that one of his pastimes is to help out his neighbors with their problems. For example, he helps Joe Rollins, an artist, come up with an idea for a cover of a science-fiction magazine, and saves the dog of Ethel Cane from being run over by a truck. And when it comes to lame Tommy Snead, he helps the boy achieve his dream of being able to jump higher and run faster than the other kids, at least temporarily:
When a young woman spurns an offer of marriage from a man because she's in love with Superman, Clark arranges a date for her with the Man of Steel. She finds out quickly that she doesn't have his undivided attention:
But one of his neighbors turns out to be an amateur detective. Is he onto the fact that Clark is Superman? Nope, instead he suspects him of being a criminal, but Superman explains that Kent is helping him, which explains his mysterious comings and goings. And at the end of the story:
Comments: Superb characterization for Superman in an interesting, human-centered tale.
The second story features Luthor. Superman discovers that his uniform is causing weird changes around him, like turning metal into wood. It's because of a ray that Luthor's shining on him. But eventually he figures out what's going on and imprisons the crook. It's a short story (6 pages) even by Silver Age standards, and doesn't have much drama.
The finale is the cover story. Lois and Clark are amazed at a nightclub act featuring three strongmen who bill themselves as Hercules, Atlas and Samson. They demonstrate super-strength that Clark, using his X-Ray vision, can see is not phony. Lois spots their manager collecting the nights' gate receipts and follows him back to a laboratory, where she sees him give super-strength to a monkey using a ray machine. While the manager's away, she doses herself to great effect:
But Superman discovers that the effect is only temporary, and thus he has to save Atlas and company, as well as Lois, when their strength deserts them at a critical moment. It turns out the men had paid the manager $10,000 apiece for the treatments, in the belief they would be permanent. Superman catches the man before he can escape with their money.
Comments: One of the many stories in the Silver Age where Lois gains super-powers herself; I should try to catalog all of them.