Friday, March 30, 2012

Superman #200

I believe this was the last of the Imaginary Stories published in Superman; it may have been the last anywhere in Weisinger's domain.  (Correction: My commenters note that there were several Imaginary Stories after this one, including in Superman). Note that rather oddly there is no cover hype about this being the 200th issue.  This is somewhat strange; only  a few months later DC would publish Batman's 200th ish with great fanfare.

In the story, Jor-El, Lara, and Kal-El survive the destruction of Krypton.  Brainiac, who's a good guy in this story, shrinks Kryptonopolis instead of Kandor, in order to save it, but is unable to do the same for the rest of the planet:

Krypton explodes before that happens.  And the element which powers his enlarging ray has also burned out, so he cannot expand Kryptonopolis on another uninhabited planet until he finds more.  So the El family ages, with little brother Knor coming along a few years later to become a buddy for Kal.

Eventually Brainiac finds the expanding element, but before he can use it his ship is hit by a meteor and crashes on Earth.  Fortunately, he had transferred a little of the element to Jor-El, who realizes he can enlarge one person to send out to the planet to become its protector.

And so, Kryptonopolis has a contest to see who will become Superman:
The contestants are eliminated one by one, until only Kal and Knor are left.  Note in particular that this segment echoes the origin of Wonder Woman, who was selected to take Steve Trevor back to the USA in a very similar competition.   In the finale, contrary to the cover scene, both men have to battle robots:
But Knor succeeds just before Kal can blind his robot, and so Earth ends up with the little brother, who goes to work for the Daily Planet as Ken Clarkson.  His initial outing, foiling a jailbreak, goes successfully, but the next time around some aliens are prepared:
Fortunately Kal managed to synthesize some of the expanding element, and so he tries to rescue Knor.  And when the aliens expose him to the Green K, we get a surprise:
Of course, if you're paying attention, you're probably wondering why the Green K killed Knor, but had a Red K effect on Kal.  It turns out that Knor was just rendered immobile by the Kryptonite.  When they both recover from the effects they send the aliens packing, and afterwards, Kal heads northward:

There is a note at the end of the story saying that just as this is Superman's 200th issue, it's the 100th anniversary of Canada being a "United Federation" (actually a Dominion).

Comments: Overall the story seems a little light, with few of the twists and turns that usually took place under Weisinger's editorship.

As noted earlier, there is not a lot of hype about the 200th issue, unlike the forthcoming Batman #200, which included a long conversation between two Bat-fans, a reprint of the first page from Detective #27 and a cover hyping the "200th Smash Issue".  There is some mention of it in the letters page:
But Chet Barker's math is wrong; at that point it was over 29 years since Action #1.


Anonymous said...

It does seem odd that they would run a routine imaginary story instead of something special to commemorate the anniversary. An 80-page Giant, with reprints of classic stories (e.g., first appearances/origins of major Superman Family characters) would have been appropriate. The "19 years" comment in the letter column was probably a typo, and I don't know if it was the fan or the publisher who made that error. BTW, this issue is a perfect example of my pet peeve with imaginary stories. They would make arbitrary and meaningless changes from canon/continuity, then congratulate themselves for it. Captions would say, "Surprise! In this story, Brainiac is a good guy!" "Surprise! In this story, green Kryptonite affects Superman like red Kryptonite!" So what? The story doesn't have to fit into any continuity, so the changes are no big deal.

Anonymous said...

Since "nineteen" was written as a word, not a number, it seems more likely a math error than a typing error. But then, maybe the original letter wrote it as a number and the publisher changed it. Probably no way to know now. Anyway, what's ten years between friends?

Ray "!!" Tomczak said...

This may have been the last imaginary story of the Weisinger era, but not the last one in Superman. #300 was an imaginary story in which Kal-El lands on Earth in 1976 (the year the story was published) and averts a nuclear war in 2001.

Anonymous said...

Superman #230 (1970) was an imaginary story. (Surprise!! In this story, Clark Kent is a bank robber and Luthor is a super hero!!!) It may have been one of the last issues before Weisinger retired. Superman #207 (1968) was an anniversary issue, an eighty page giant with reprints and a cover celebrating the character's 30th year of publication. Maybe DC decided it would be overdoing it to have two big event/anniversary celebrations only seven issues apart.

Anonymous said...

Superman 230 was fun because it piled so many changes on top of each other--Jor-El blew up Krypton! Lex-El was his son! The Kents were Bonnie and Clyde! All arbitrary (anonymous has a point about that) but at least they didn't stint on ideas.
There was a Superboy imaginary story in the 1970s that has Kal crashing in the jungle and growing up as a super-Tarzan. I don't know if that was the very last before they started classifying them as computer simulations or alternate histories.

Anonymous said...

World's Finest #172 (Oct. 1967), #178, and #180 (September and November 1968), and Superman #215 (April 1969) had imaginary stories. All were edited by Mort Weisinger. A series of imaginary stories about the sons of Superman and Batman continued into the 1970's in WF, but, IIRC, most of those were published when Murray Boltinoff was the editor.