Archive for February 21st, 2011


Comic Cover Roulette: Adventure Comics #140

For the long version of what Comic Cover Roulette is, read the first post. (Actually, read it anyway. It’s cool.) But here’s the short version: back in the Silver Age, comic book writers would often be given cover art and assigned the job of writing a story to fit. Now, I’m picking out some classic covers and doing the same thing. This time I’m tackling Adventure Comics #140, with a cover by James “Win” Mortimer. I’ve never read this issue.

“Six Superboys on the Moon!”

Back in the days before Clark Kent came to Metropolis, when Superboy is still protecting his hometown of Smallville, Kansas, he sees a strange vision in the sky. There seems to be a flash of light coming from the surface of the moon itself. Using his telescopic vision, he looks up to the moon’s surface, where he sees, of all things, himself. The distant Superboy seems to be a bit confused, flying across the satellite as though aimless.

At first, Superboy is intimidated at the prospect of flying into outer space. He has never left the surface of Earth under his own power before, although he has often speculated about his ability to break free from Earth’s gravity and wondered just how long he could hold his breath. Finally, he decides to take the chance. With a running start, he launches himself into the air and, for the first time since he fell from Krypton as a baby, leaves the cradle of Earth behind him.

Superboy flies to the moon, where he sees his double juggling a set of bowling pins. As the second Superboy seems him approach, he hears a voice in his head: “What took you so long? I’ve been waiting.” Superboy is stunned, of course, both by how perfect the duplication is, and by the fact that this creature seems able to communicate with him in the vacuum of space. The two speak for a short time, the other asking Superboy how well he has accomplished his “boring” task of tracking his speed. Before Superboy can answer, a third Superboy appears over the horizon, zooming in to the spot where the other two are having their conversation. The first duplicate isn’t very surprised. “Sorry,” he thinks, “I thought you were him. Which one are you then?”

“I… I’m Superboy,” the real Superboy thinks.

Soon, even more Superboys begin to arrive from across the surface of the moon. Superboy soon finds himself facing six different versions of himself. One of them, the one with the bowling pins, laughs as he realizes the truth. “Why, this must be the original Superboy,” he says. He explains to Superboy that he and his brothers are creatures from another dimension who have been observing Earth for some time. They have decided to come to take the world over, using the form of its most powerful hero. They have set up base on the moon in order to test their newfound abilities. Each of them has been testing a different aspect of Superboy’s powers, and believe they have mastered them.

The six Superboys challenge the real boy of steel to six duels. If he can defeat each of them using the power he has chosen to master, they will leave Earth alone. Superboy accepts the challenge, and the battle begins. One by one he defeats the others – flying faster than one, jumping higher than the next, lifting heavier stones than the third, seeing farther with his telescopic vision than number four, and using his freezing breath to lower the temperature farther than number five. As each of the Superboys is defeated, he says a unique, incomprehensible “magic word” and disappears. Soon, the only Superboy duplicate remaining is the first one he encountered, the one who was juggling the pins.

“And which of my talents did you try to master?” he asks.

The duplicate begins to laugh. “Why, the most important one of all – fun! My brothers just don’t know how to have any. I never wanted to invade stuffy ol’ Earth in the first place. Now, thanks to you, they’ve got to abandon their scheme. This is the most fun I’ve had in ages, Superboy, so as far as I’m concerned, you’re the winner!”

“Then you’ll go away and leave Earth alone?” Superboy asks.

“I won’t invade, I’ll keep my word,” the duplicate says. “But you’ve been an awful lot of fun. I just may come back and play a game or two with you again.”

The duplicate winks at Superboy and says his own magic word: “Kltpzyxm!” He vanishes without a trace, leaving Superboy alone on Earth’s cold, distant moon.

If you’d like to suggest a cover, go right ahead. Find it online (I suggest using the marvelous database at and post the link — any cover that has Superman on it is fair game. These characters are, of course, ™ and © DC Comics. I don’t own ‘em, I don’t claim to own ‘em, and I have no intention to use any of these stories for any monetary gain. This is just for funsies. Please don’t sue me.

February 2011

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