Sunday, March 04, 2012

Superman #173

The opening story is The Untouchable Clark Kent.  The premise for the story can be gleaned just from this opening panel:
The former Hollywood star who can't get a role anymore is something of a cliche in DC comics; those of you with long memories may recall that the villain in the original Clayface story in Detective #40 had a similar motivation. And spotting the inspiration for the tale isn't difficult either; the Untouchables TV show had just finished its successful run on TV.

Babson is still wacko, and thinks that Clark is John Dillinger and Lois his moll.  He recruits them into his gang at the point of a gun.  They head to his hideout, which turns out to be where the old movie company that Babson worked for has a cache of weapons.  There are several sequences that follow where Clark has to protect both Lois and his secret identity.  For example:

Hmmm, super-aiming must be another one of those superpowers that time forgot.  But when he breaks the window with his first blast, Lois convinces herself that Clark didn't actually shoot out the candles, but that the draft from the broken window did it.  The solutions get even more elaborate:
Of course, that doesn't explain Lois' first question about how he could make a bomb.  With the pest now out of the way, Superman/Clark goes into action.  Knocking out Babson with some gas, he:
Now, using the power of mental suggestion, he convinces Babson that they actually pulled a robbery, at the end of which Clark/Dillinger engages in a little gratuitous violence:
This shocks Babson out of his delusion.  Clark explains that he must have dreamed the whole thing while under the influence of the knockout gas.  He and Lois are still impressed with his acting abilities, and Clark manages to get him a job on TV, where he wins an award for his portrayal of a judge.

The second story is the first of the Tales of Kryptonite series that I discussed several years ago.  This was an exceptionally wacky set of stories told in first person from the standpoint of a chunk of Kryptonite.  You can get an idea for the stories from this panel:

Green K that not only thinks, but even tries its hand at telepathy.

The third story is the cover feature, and it's a doozy.  The stage is quickly set:
 You can see the fly heading rapidly for the ointment right there.  Jimmy muses as he flies to the distant galaxy:
Heheh, always the optimist, that Jimmy!  It turns out that it was a trap set by Luthor and Brainiac, who had planned to project the Man of Steel into the Phantom Zone.  Initially they're inclined to do the same to Jimmy or to shrink him into nothingness, but then Brainiac gets an idea:
Jimmy's odic ancestroid genes are indeed vulnerable, and so the only question is who gets to do it.  Luthor and Brainiac engage in a contest to see who can destroy the most worlds, with the winner to get the honor of inflicting Fate Z on the cub reporter:
Mwahahahaha, we're so evil! Luthor makes a great comeback to win the event.  But Jimmy manages to escape from his cell and when the villains return he uses a metal transmuting machine:
Yep, Luthor is actually Superman in disguise, and he's been teaching Jimmy a lesson.  Jimmy figured it out when he noticed that all the spectators at the world-destroying event were sweating, but Luthor didn't perspire at all.  And he realized that Brainiac must be Batman because:
Except, of course as we all know, you can't see Batman's eyes through his cowl; he's got some sort of covering on the slits that lets light in only one way.

One thing that I did find very amusing in this story is that while Batman and Superman are just presented pictured normally in "Luthor's" rogues gallery, Superman apparently couldn't resist poking some fun at his old buddies the Legion of Super-Seniors:
And the cover scene? Superman knew that once he revealed himself, Jimmy would realize that scene of him changing into Clark Kent was just another part of the gag.  Great kidder, that Superman!

Overall comments: This issue features pretty much the entire Superman lineup of creators; the stories are written by Leo Dorfman, Otto Binder and Jerry Siegel and illustrated by Curt Swan, Al Plastino and George Papp.  It's an entertaining issue, if a little too much on the goofy side.

Update: Robby Reed covered the Tales of Green Kryptonite story in this issue a month or so back.


Anonymous said...

The premise of a "former Hollywood star who can't get a role anymore" seems oddly similar to George Reeves, whose career was ruined by typecasting.

NES Boy said...

Since you mentioned the Tales of Kryptonite feature, I'd like to bring up Dial B For Blog, which covered these stories near the end of its recent run, and will be back soon to review the Avengers movie.

Anonymous said...

The display of the 30th century LSH as if they were elderly in the year 1890 is strange.
Where did they get ideas like this from?

Ed said...

Sun Geezer looks like Julius Schwartz.