Friday, December 14, 2012

Action #328

This was an issue that I didn't have back in the 1960s, but picked up on ebay.  You can see the entire premise for the story on that cover, and given that premise, the story practically writes itself.  Of course Superman doesn't really blow up Metropolis, and to add some drama, it's not hard to guess that there will be some scenes of Superman almost clapping his hands together:

But finally he does:
But, no surprise, it turns out to be a hoax on the mobsters, because Superman had cottoned to their scheme when they tested the explosives.  They timed the test for when an underground nuclear test (remember those?) was planned out West, but like the idiots they are, they didn't adjust for the time zone difference and so their blast went off too early.

BTW, that's one of two things that definitely establish that Metropolis is somewhere in the Eastern US; here's the other:
TV and radio station call letters start with a W east of the Mississippi, and a K west, with one interesting exception.  KDKA, the first radio station in the US is based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Superman catches the mobsters and threatens to clap his hands in front of them if they don't sign a confession.  Fortunately they don't seem to have heard of his code against killing.

Comments: It's an interesting premise, although as noted the story is very predictable.

The Supergirl story is an oddball one.  It starts out with some aliens landing and contacting the authorities to tell them:
They reveal that she's been faking her superpowers and when Superman is summoned to be a character reference:
And she's got a third eye in the back of her head:
Faced with all this evidence, the authorities let the aliens take her back to their home dimension.  But once there, the aliens reveal that they had set up the whole thing as a hoax:
Well, if she won't fight, she'll be marooned in that alien dimension forever.  They intend to restore her superpowers, but for some reason they don't work here, and so she is forced to rely on her wits to defeat the beasts, which she does.  Given this result, she is taken to meet the king:
He had been turned into the beast by a wicked sorcerer.  But Supergirl discovers that he is kind and gentle and seems to be falling for him, despite his ugly appearance. Apparently she has forgotten all about the "contest of peril" which had killed the other heroines.  Anyway, the king's assistants tell her that there is a legend that what was lost will be regained if a maid from another planet kisses the king. Conquering her revulsion for his appearance she does so, but instead of restoring his looks, it returns her superpowers.

Angered, the "kind and gentle" king orders his assistants thrown in the dungeon.  They decide to kill him rather than face imprisonment, but Supergirl saves him with her rediscovered powers.  And later:
But as far as I can tell, that never happened.

Incidentally, the whole "beauty and the beast" subplot had previously been used in Action #243, which (no surprise) had been published almost exactly 7 years before this issue:
Update: Diane points out in the comments that WBAP in Dallas/Fort Worth is another exception to the rule; Wikipedia indicates that there may be others.


Kid said...

Isn't it strange how circulation was much wider when comics were for kids, and seems to have fallen the more they're aimed at adults. Any connection, I wonder?

Diane said...

There's at least one other exception to the K/W call letters: station WBAP in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. I believe it's also one of the oldest stations in the United States.

Pat said...

Kid, there are so many variables that it is hard to say. Children today have so many more options than we did for entertainment. Video games, hundreds of TV channels, DVDs of their favorite movies that they can watch over and over again, the internet....

Plus comics are a lot more pricey than they used to be, even adjusted for inflation. Of course, if they had stayed aimed at kids, they might not cost as much.

Joseph Friedlander said...

I always had the impression (before the 1978 movie set Metropolis in New York) that Metropolis was Chicago and Gotham City was New York. Smallville definitely has a friendly Midwestern ambience. And Clark Kent works for a 'great metropolitan newspaper'-- that implies one of the biggest cities in the USA. Bruce Wayne was allegedly a descendant of "Mad Anthony" Wayne--wealthy Dr. Wayne, his father, gave off an ambiance of an established East Coast family, etc.

JohnJ said...

I believe there are some exceptions in Iowa as well. WOC-AM is still on the air in Davenport, right on the Mississippi, although their tv station changed its call letters to KWQC several years ago.

Did anyone else notice how Metropolis seemed to be some distance from Smallville in the early seasons of "Smallville" but by the end Smallville was practically a suburb of Metropolis.

Pat said...

JohnJ, that is a very common phenomenon in fiction in general; writers love to place their characters in the country and yet at the same time they discover that proximity to the city is important for various plot points.