Archive for the 'Comic Cover Roulette' Category

19
Mar
11

Comic Cover Roulette: Superman #178

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 Superman #178, with a cover by Curt Swan and George Klein. I’ve never read this issue.

“When Superman Lost His Memory”

On assignment for the Daily Planet, Clark Kent is sent out to a mountain range near Metropolis to cover a meteor strike where strange set of markings  has been discovered in the rock. Clark is a bit disgruntled, having to put aside an investigation for a pair of notorious con artist he’s been chasing down that he believes are planning to come to Metropolis, but he takes the assignment without complaint. Once in the mountains, Clark is shocked to discover that the markings are actually Kryptonian in origin. He is distracted from the tour group by his attempt to translate them – the writing is in an old dialect, but he can make out some of it. Before he finishes the translation, though, he finds himself exposed to a slice of red Kryptonite clinging to the side of the formation. He stumbles away, dazed, across a mountain road where he is hid by an oncoming truck.

Tumbling off the side of the mountain, he falls into a set of power lines that burns through his clothing, revealing the Superman costume beneath. His glasses melt into his face and his wallet falls away, burning with the scraps of clothing. The men in the truck get out, stunned to realize that they just struck Superman. One of them, despondent, suggests they make a run for it. His partner, though, points out that there’s no use trying to run away from Superman. They agree… but they’re a little stunned when Superman doesn’t immediately come after them. Instead, he calls up to them for help getting to the top of the cliff. When one of them comments that he could just fly up, he floats to the top, stunned at his ability. Every time they try to approach the man of steel, they are faced with an intense heat that forces them backwards, and none of them can understand what’s going on.

Realizing that Superman has lost his memory, the two men decide to use Superman to their advantage. Convincing him that he’s their partner, they use his powers to set up a thrilling string of robberies. Superman, who by now is covered in open flame , turns out to be the perfect person to help them melt open bank vaults, thwart museum security systems, and steal entire armored cars. At each turn, they are closely trailed by the police, who can’t understand how these two criminals have a partner as difficult to capture as Superman would be – or for that matter, where the man of steel is and why he isn’t chasing the hero.

The crooks decide to go for one last caper, the biggest of their careers – they’re going to steal the gold from Fort Knox. When they make their play, though, they find themselves surrounded by armed guards. One of the crooks casually tells Superman to kill them, but Superman rejects his order and knocks out the two criminals. When they wake up, they find themselves in prison, where Superman is back in his own uniform, giving a police statement. The Red Kryptonite, which of course has a different effect on Superman every time it is used, caused him to superheat and lose his memory. The effects have worn off now, though, and he the crooks – who he recognizes because of a piece “Clark Kent” was writing – are going to jail. The leader sadly proclaims that it was rotten timing that caught them – Superman got his memory back in the middle of the Fort Knox job. Superman, however, tells them that his memory didn’t return until a good hour later – it was his command to murder police officers that turned him on his “partners.” Even under the influence of Red Kryptonite, he says, he would never do such a thing.

The scientist studying the strange meteor is surprised to get a visit from Superman explaining its origin. The Kryptonian inscription reveal it to be a chunk of a memorial from Krypton’s distant past – a wall upon which was inscribed the names of law men – heroes – who died in the line of duty. Superman asks the scientist to take care in preserving such a sacred artifact. The scientists thank him and offer to have Superman as a guest of honor when it becomes a museum exhibit. Tossing a glance in the direction of the Red Kryptonite far away, Superman politely declines.

If you’d like to suggest a cover, go right ahead. Find it online (I suggest using the marvelous database at www.comics.org) 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.

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14
Mar
11

Comic Cover Roulette: World’s Finest Comics #136

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 World’s Finest Comics #136, with a cover by Dick Dillin and Jim Mooney. I’ve never read this issue.

“The Batman Nobody Remembered!”

Batman has been on the trail of one of his most frequent foes, the mad scientist Dr. Hugo Strange. Having barely escaped a deathtrap that involved placing him in a vibratory chamber that almost shook him apart, Batman captured Strange and turned him over to the Gotham City Police Department. He is still shaken up from the trap, though, and is feeling ill when he returns to the Batcave. He collapses in the cave, alone. When he wakes up, he looks around to see that the cave has changed mysteriously. While most of his familiar equipment is still there, much of it has been altered in subtle ways, with the Bat design altered just slightly to look more like a bird. He is interrupted by Robin, who comes down into the cave and acts with surprise. “Who are you?” he asks. “How did you get into the Ravencave?”

Startled by Robin’s reaction, Batman is momentarily overcome when his young partner attacks. Robin manages to activate the cave’s automatic defense systems, and Batman is forced to slip past his own traps to escape the cave. Robin is startled that this man has escaped from systems he believed were impregnable, and loses Batman in the woods outside of Gotham City.

Batman is startled to find that his communication systems do not work. The cellular system linked to his cowl is unable to link to any satellites, and he cannot contact anybody for help. Finding some clothing and using money hidden in his utility belt to buy a bus ticket, Bruce Wayne makes the trip from Gotham City to Metropolis to turn to one man he believes can help him – Superman. As he arrives in Metropolis, he changes back to his uniform and heads to the roof of the Daily Planet building, waiting for Superman to make an appearance. When the man of steel arrives, Batman is surprised to find himself, again, attacked by an old friend. He’s fast and agile, and has trained himself to evade Superman if the two of them ever were to find themselves on opposite sides of the law, but between surprise, fatigue, and a lingering tremble from Strange’s trap, Batman is finally captured by Superman, who brings him to the newsroom of the Planet.

Waiting for him there are Robin and James Gordon, Commissioner of Gotham City. Robin contacted the Justice League and told him about this strange “Batman” who was running through the “Ravencave.” With his appearance in Metropolis, Robin and Gordon have come to place him under arrest… but first, the unmasking. Superman pulls off Batman’s mask just as Lois Lane snaps a photograph of his real identity, shocking everyone. Robin in particular is distraught to see the man he has been chasing is, in fact, Bruce Wayne. Bruce is confused as well, a confusion made only worse moments later when Robin’s partner – who had been overseas on a mission – makes his belated appearance. Wearing a costume similar to Batman’s, but with the bat motif exchanged for that of a blackbird, the hero introduces himself as Ravenman. Lois Lane, ecstatic, rushes off to print the story, exposing Bruce Wayne as a costumed villain called “Batman.” Superman, however, doesn’t think things are so simple.

Superman takes Batman to his Fortress of Solitude, determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. Ravenman, he says, has been his friend for years, and he has long known that Ravenman is really Bruce Wayne. Who, then, is this “Batman?” As Batman begins to question his own sanity, Superman says he has a theory. He places Batman into a device similar to an MRI machine. The device hums and whirrs, studying Batman, and finally displaying a bizarre readout – coordinates for Batman’s location in four-dimensional space. Superman explains that when he captured Batman, he felt strange vibrations inside his body. The device has confirmed his suspicion – Batman has been vibrated into an alternate reality. Strange’s trap shook his body at just the right frequency to cause a shift from his own world to another one where Bruce Wayne’s crimefighting alter ego took the form not of a bat, but a raven. Superman promises to help Ravenman and Robin construct a cover story for the strange appearance of Bruce Wayne in a “Batman” costume, then summons another member of the Justice League. The Flash, who has often been able to travel from one dimension to another by altering his own vibrations, manages to help Batman make his way home. As he settles in to the Batcave, he feels bad for causing the potential trouble for that Bruce Wayne of another world, but is extremely happy to be home.

If you’d like to suggest a cover, go right ahead. Find it online (I suggest using the marvelous database at www.comics.org) 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.

25
Feb
11

Comic Cover Roulette: Superboy #162

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 Superboy (Volume One) #162, with a cover by the classic team of  Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. I’ve never read this issue.

“The Super-Phantom of Smallville!”

(Special Note: In the Silver Age, Superboy’s dog Krypto not only had all of Superboy’s powers, but also a human-level intelligence. Although he could not talk, he frequently communicated his feelings to the reader via thought balloons. Contemporary Krypto does not have this ability – he’s a good, loyal dog with Superman’s powers, but not higher-level intelligence. For my little story, I will be using the more contemporary incarnation, because apparently while I have no problem accepting a dog that can fly, survive in the vacuum of space, and shoot laser beams from his eyes, when you add in the fact that he can think, Snoopy-style, that is where it gets too silly for me.)

Having Krypto to pal around with has certainly gone a long way towards helping Superboy feel like less of an outcast on his adopted world. While the dog isn’t quite the same as having human interaction with another Kryptonian, being able to roughhouse with someone that he doesn’t have to worry about hurting is very therapeutic. On the other hand, it can also be pretty destructive, so when Superboy feels like spending some quality time with his pet, they head out to the woods north of Smallville where they won’t accidentally injure anybody or damage property.

Superboy and Krypto are participating in an old-fashioned game of fetch, although it’s a little different than most kids play with their pets. You may throw your tennis a few dozen yards away for the dog to fetch. Superboy throws his into orbit. Krypto makes a run into space, retrieving his ball, and Superboy throws it back for him again and again. Superboy also has to bring a rather large bucket of tennis balls with him as well – Krypto doesn’t quite know his own strength, and about every third ball winds up ripped apart in his jaws because he isn’t always careful when he gets excited.

After one such game, Krypto returns not with his ball, but with a small device. As Superboy throws a real ball back into space for Krypto to fetch, he examines the device. It’s the same size as the tennis ball, painted the same color green, and even covered in a spongy material that feels like the surface of a tennis ball. It’s heavier, though, denser, and there’s a metallic sheen to the stitching. Superboy uses his X-Ray vision to investigate the inside of the ball, but his power triggers a charge inside the device. It explodes, and Superboy finds himself spinning head over heels. When he regains his senses, he cannot see his own limbs, and when he tries to touch anything – the trees, the ground – he simply passes right through it.

As he watches, helpless, a strange being that looks exactly like Superboy arrives and picks up the remains of the device. He flies off and Superboy pursues him. Moments later, Krypto returns with his ball, only to find his master gone. Surprised, he flies for home.

Back at the farm of Jonathan and Martha Kent, the doppelganger is accepted without question. Superboy watches, helpless in his phantom state, as the duplicate sits down for dinner with his parents. Clark tries to talk to them, to tell them the truth, but whatever trap his duplicate used on him prevents anybody from seeing or hearing him at all. As he pleads to deaf ears, Krypto bursts into the room, shocked. He sees his master, but his super-sensitive nose betrays the truth… the boy at the table may look like Superboy, but he doesn’t smell like Superboy, and the nose never lies. He begins to growl at the fake, barking madly. Jonathan puts the dog out, and Krypto obeys (because, even though he’s powerful enough to tear Jonathan to shreds a thousand times over, he’s still a Good Dog). As he sits on the porch, brooding. The Phantom Superboy drifts outside and “sits” in midair next to his dog. He talks to the dog, not expecting it to do any good but hoping it will at least make him feel better. To his surprise, Krypto’s ears perk up. The dog’s super-sensitive hearing can detect his voice. It seems faint, like he’s not sure where it’s coming from, but it’s definitely working.

Shouting as loudly as he can, Superboy leads Krypto to his bedroom window, where the duplicate has retired for the night. Before their eyes, he transforms, melting out of Superboy’s shape and into the form of a hooded creature with tentacles protruding from his cloak. He takes out a device that looks like a large calculator with a bigger screen. When he touches the face of the device, it turns on and a hidden camera begins to record him. He isn’t speaking English, but on his journey to Earth from Krypton, the onboard computer of Superboy’s rocket subliminally tutored him in many galactic cultures. He recognizes the language as Interlac, and can easily understand what the alien is saying.

“Mission status report. Phase one is complete. Superboy found the device we constructed based on the remnants of Krypton’s Phantom Zone technology and fell into the trap. He will be invisible and undetectable for as long as the device remains functional. I have successfully masqueraded as Superboy, fooling the human family we observed him residing with on our earlier scouting mission. Tomorrow, I will begin the task of seeking out the rest of this world’s metahumans and eliminating their threat.”

Superboy’s heart nearly stops – an alien invader is planning to hunt “metahumans” (whatever those are) and murder them in his name! He can’t let that happen. He finds the Phantom Zone device stashed underneath his bed and stares at it, trying to figure out how to deactivate something he can’t touch.

Then it hits him.

Flying back outside, where Krypto is waiting outside the open bedroom window, Superboy leans over directly into Krypto’s ear and shouts a command as loudly as his super-lungs can scream: “FETCH!”

Hearing the signal, Krypto leaps through the window and begins searching the room with his own X-Ray vision. The alien tries to stop him, but Krypto is much faster – the fake has duplicated Superboy’s form, but not all of his powers. Krypto finds the Phantom Zone device under the bed and champs his jaws shut on it. The timing is perfect – Krypto bites too hard and the device is destroyed. Instantly, Superboy pops back into view and becomes solid again. The shapeshifter transforms into a giant monster, leaping at Superboy through the window, but despite his size he is unable to change his mass. The result is a monster that weighs far less than it should, and something Superboy and his faithful dog easily defeat.

The alien retreats to his ship, planning to leave Earth, but not without issuing an ominous warning: “You aren’t the only super-powered being on this planet, Kryptonian! We will be watching! And if the day comes when Earth becomes a galactic threat, you shall face a power beyond imagining!”

The alien blasts off, and Superboy shrugs. “Maybe you will come back some day,” he says. “But if you do, Krypto and I will be ready.”

If you’d like to suggest a cover, go right ahead. Find it online (I suggest using the marvelous database at www.comics.org) 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.

21
Feb
11

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 www.comics.org) 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.

17
Feb
11

Comic Cover Roulette: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #108

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 Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #108, with a cover by Curt Swan and George Klein. I’ve never read this issue.

“The Midas of Metropolis”

Superman’s pal, Jimmy Olsen, is chosen to be a contestant on a new game show, Lose it to Win It. The circumstances of the game are simple: Jimmy is given one million dollars. A camera crew will follow him for 24 hours and record everything he does. If, in that time, he can spend all of the money, he will be given another million to keep. If he fails, he loses everything. The rules stipulate that he cannot give the money away to anybody – he must purchase a good or service with each transaction – and he has to make each transaction himself. That means, he realizes, no help from his buddy Superman.

As Jimmy leaves the studio, he stops for a hot dog and soda while the camera crew continues to interview him. He laughs at the challenge as he pockets his change, insisting, “All I’ve got to do is spend money! How hard can that be?”

As it turns out, a lot harder than he thinks.

For hours, Jimmy wanders from store to store, buying expensive clothes, televisions, computers, electronic equipment, appliances, and more. Seeing that he still has over $900,000 left to spend, he realizes it’s time to step up his game. Jimmy winds up purchasing cars, a boat, and even a helicopter, which he uses to return to the offices of the Daily Planet. With time running out, he runs the numbers and discovers he still isn’t yet halfway to spending his million.

As Jimmy continues his spending spree, a group of crooks who have heard about the game devise a plan to get their hands on his money. One of them kidnaps Jimmy’s girlfriend, Lucy Lane, with a few hours left before the deadline runs out. The terms of her capture are simple: drop off all the money he has left at a special drop in Metropolis’ Centennial Park, or Lucy dies. Oh – and no interference, of course, from Superman.

Jimmy desperately runs through his options in his head, but in the end can think of no other way to save Lucy. Still followed by the camera crew, he finds his way to the drop location and leaves the money. Shortly thereafter, the crooks arrive to get their reward, only to find themselves bathed in light. Overhead, Jimmy and the camera crew are filming their pick-up, just in time to get grabbed by the police. They tell Jimmy he’s screwed up, and he’ll never see Lucy again, but a quick burst of speed reveals that Superman has already discovered their hideout, rescued Lucy, and dropped their accomplices off to the police.

Jimmy returns to the television studio, his 24 hours up, only to discover that – since the criminals did briefly get their hands on the money – it counts under the rules of the game as “purchasing a service.” Jimmy is briefly jubilant, but his joy crashes a moment later when he learns that his total expenditures only add up to $999,999.45 cents. He’s embarrassed when he reaches into his pocket and pulls out the change from his hot dog – the last bit of money he failed to spend in time. But at least it will make for a great episode of the show.

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.

11
Feb
11

Comic Cover Roulette: Superman #173

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 Superman #173, with a cover by Curt Swan and George Klein . And no, I’ve never read this issue, either.

“The Triumph of Luthor and Brainiac!”

Metropolis is abuzz with news of a comet that is passing in very close proximity to Earth. Keller’s Comet only approaches Earth orbit once every 350 years, and on this pass the Earth is actually going to move through the comet’s tail. S.T.A.R. Labs asks Superman to fly into the comet as it approaches Earth, using their equipment to take material samples and energy readings. He agrees, of course, but when he’s in the tail of the comet he sees a small robotic satellite, something that is clearly not of Earthly origin. As he approaches it, the robot explodes. The blast is not particularly strong, but the robot is atomized – nothing remains of it. Superman searches for its point of origin, but finds nothing. Eventually, he returns to Earth.

Meanwhile, we turn our attention to Superman’s pal, Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy wakes up to find himself in a cell on Mars, alone with no memory of how he came to be here. He doesn’t have to wait long to find the answer. As he wakes up, he is greeted by a pair of fiends – Brainiac and Lex Luthor, looking exceedingly pleased with themselves. They reveal their plot to Jimmy – the robot that exploded in the comet was of their design. It did not detonate, but rather broke apart into billions of microscopic nanorobots, each equipped with a camera. The nanobots won’t last long, only until they run out of energy they drew from the comet, but until that happens they will give the villains enough eyes to watch every man, woman and child on Earth. The reason for this plot? Discover the secret of Superman’s true identity. Jimmy is horrified, but also confused. What do they need with him? Luthor smiles. “It’s not you we need, Olsen… it’s this.” He holds up the one thing he took from Jimmy – the signal watch he can use to summon Superman.

The lifespan of the nanobots is very short, so they needed some way to ensure Superman would go into action while the nanobots were active… and how better than to send him to the rescue of his best pal? Luthor activates the watch and they turn their attention to the viewscreens. Brainiac’s computers filter through feeds from billions of nanobots until they locate what he is looking for: Superman’s insignia… and they happen to find it on the chest of Clark Kent, who is changing his clothes in a supply room of the Daily Planet offices. The villains rejoice even as Superman bursts into their Martian hideout.

As he begins to battle the villains, Superman suddenly feels his power begin to wane. At the same time, Brainiac, Lex, and Jimmy begin to feel bursts of power. On the viewscreen, they see everyone on Earth exhibiting weaker versions of Superman’s powers! The comet, Brainiac reasons, must have reacted with Superman’s Kryptonian energy signature when he flew through it. It is now diffusing his power, temporarily spreading it all over the world. The empowered Jimmy and de-powered Superman battle the villains, barely claiming victory. Lex boasts, though, that even in defeat they have won! They saw Clark Kent change into Superman’s costume. They know his secret.

Jimmy begins to laugh. He tells Lex that Clark was wearing the costume to take publicity shots for the Planet later that day. As he was at S.T.A.R. Labs when Superman returned from the comet, he must have absorbed the Man of Steel’s powers earlier than most people. Now that the comet’s energy is fading, Clark and the rest of the world are going back to normal. Clark, as evidence, puts his glasses back on. Without Superman’s powers, he says, his eyesight is again becoming poor.

The Justice League arrives to take Luthor and Brainiac into custody and bring Jimmy and Clark back to Earth. Once Jimmy and Clark are alone, Clark thanks Jimmy for his quick thinking. There is no photo shoot planned, and Jimmy realizes the truth about Superman’s identity. But he swears to Clark that – pal that he is – he’ll keep his secret no matter what.

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.

08
Feb
11

Comic Cover Roulette: Action Comics #407

Welcome to Comic Cover Roulette, a new semi-regular feature (defined as “whenever I feel like it”) here at Evertime Realms. Back in the day, some comic book editors (Julius Schwartz was reportedly the master of this) would have his artists draw up a comic book cover first, usually based on the most outlandish idea they could think of, then assign writers to come up with a story to fit it. This was a practice that resulted in a lot of Silver Age comics that had ridiculously convoluted plots and incredibly silly situations in order to justify the cover image, often in a single panel of an otherwise unrelated story. It was a time when comics didn’t concern themselves so much with things like continuity, stories didn’t continue over into the next issue, and writers were interchangeable. I imagine a lot of writers got frustrated with this practice, being unable to really cut loose and tell their own stories, but simply as a writing exercise, I bet it’s a lot of fun.

So what I’m going to do in this feature is sift through mountains of old comic book covers — I’ll probably spend most of my time with Superman comics, since he’s (in the words of Bibbo Bibbowski) my fav’rit, and try to come up with a story to go with one each time. This will of course work better if it’s a comic I’ve never read before, but I won’t discount a comic in my collection if I get a good idea. And in those cases where the cover mentions the title, I’ll even stick with that.

For my inaugural edition of this feature, I’m going to use Action Comics #407 from December 1971, with a cover by the legendary art team of Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. I’ve never read this comic, I have no idea what the story actually was, but here’s my take on this cover…

“The Fiend in the Fortress of Solitude”

Clark Kent is at work in the offices of the Daily Planet (this one of those rare instances where he’s actually at work instead of walking across the country or getting kittens out of trees) when he receives a telephone call from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. There’s a brave young man, Chris, suffering from a terrible ailment, and his one wish is to make a visit to Superman’s legendary Fortress of Solitude. Since it is well known that Clark has a personal friendship with Superman, the Foundation is hoping he can help out. Clark agrees to arrange a tour of the Fortress, and even promises to write a story about Chris’s visit for the paper.

Clark and Chris take a helicopter to the North Pole, along with Chris’s father and a representative for the Foundation. As they get off the copter near the enormous key to the Fortress, a figure appears from the sky — Superman himself has arrived to give them a personal tour! Clark watches, trying not to grin at his cleverness, as Superman lifts the key, unlocks the Fortress, and ushers the visitors inside. As they tour the incredible Arctic lair, Superman directs them to a cage made of Inertron, a nearly-indestructible metal developed in the 31st century by Superman’s friends in the Legion of Super-Heroes. As they examine the cage, the representative from the Foundation trips Clark and shoves him inside. Clark plays along, unwilling to expose his secret identity, and the representative presses a hidden button under his coat. As he hits the button, an incredible pulse of energy bursts forth and the lights in the Fortress die. From a lead-lined compartment in his belt, he takes out a shard of Kryptonite. The green glow illuminates Superman, fallen and still.

Gloating over his triumph, he reveals his plan — to sneak into the Fortress and steal some of the alien and future technology contained therein to make himself the world’s greatest super-criminal. The button released an electromagnetic pulse that shorted out the computer systems throughout the Fortress. Clark, weakened in the cage by the exposed Kryptonite, realizes that the EMP has also shorted out the Superman robot he had been controlling remotely to give the tour of the Fortress. The villain tries to force Chris and his father into the cage at gunpoint, but Chris escapes and his father runs after him. The villain rushes behind, exclaiming that he only needs one living hostage in case Supergirl or somebody else shows up, and he already has Clark Kent in the cage. He takes the chunk of Kryptonite with him, and Clark is left with a dilemma — go after them as Superman and risk his identity, or let the boy and his father die.

For Clark Kent, of course, this is no choice at all.

Clark changes to Superman and rushes after the criminal, but as he approaches, the Kryptonite again takes effect. He stumbles to the ground, and the villain raises his gun to shoot him and finish the man of steel. Before he can pull the trigger, though, Chris leaps at him and knocks the Kryptonite from his hand. The shard falls down one of the many crystalline shafts that litter the walls of the Fortress, and Superman makes quick work of the would-be world conqueror. As they return to the cage where they left Clark, they find the mild-mannered reporter unconscious in the cage. At super-speed, Superman put Clark’s clothing on the fallen robot to cover his tracks. Now, as the robot slowly reboots and begins to move again, Superman explains that Clark must have tripped and hit his head in the darkness. His secret is safe, Clark’s reputation is maintained, and Chris is left with a story that his friends will never be able to top. Now if only the Make-a-Wish Foundation will improve its screening process…

Well guys, that’s it for the first-ever Comic Cover Roulette. I do intend to do this pretty regularly, maybe once a week, so be on the lookout for more. And if you’d like to suggest a cover, go right ahead. Find it online (I suggest using the marvelous database at www.comics.org) and post the link — any cover that has Superman on it is fair game. Hope you enjoyed it!

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.




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