Deck Log Entry # 232 A Forgotten Gem: Superman # 172 (October, 1964)---Part Two

Previously, in "The New Superman":

 

After a deadly green comet robs Superman of his powers, his hand-picked successor, Ar-Val of Kandor, takes over as the New Superman.  When Lex Luthor and Brainiac team up to enact a scheme of villainy, Ar-Val refuses to accept the gravity of the situation.  With the lives of Lois Lane and Lana Lang at stake, the original Caped Kryptonian has no choice but to confront the two evil-doers himself, armed only with the super-powers borrowed from four members of the Legion of Super-Heroes---as the Former Superman!

 

And now . . .

 

With Saturn Girl's power of telepathy, the Former Superman tracks impressions of Luthor's thought-waves to the abandoned mine-pit which conceals Brainiac's spaceship.  The ex-Man of Steel lands the chopper just outside the diggings and approaches on foot, unseen, thanks to the power of Invisible Kid.

 

Unfortunately, the guard-robots, disguised as excavating machines, are equipt with sonar sensors.  One of them detects the footfalls of the invisible hero and scoops him up in its shovel.  The Former Superman counter-attacks by using Cosmic Boy's super-magnetism to make the giant robots crash into each other.

 

With the mechanical sentries destroyed, he is free to force his way into Brainiac's ship.  Caught by surprise, Luthor and Brainiac recognise the face of the old Superman, if not his new costume.  The rats start looking for a hole to slip into when the chunk of green kryptonite Brainiac holds up has no effect on the caped lawman.

 

The Former Superman uses his Elastic Lad power to ensnare the villains in his rubberised arms.  However, a swift-computing Brainiac, suspecting that their adversary is no longer invulnerable, steps on a hidden floor switch.  Instantly, the chamber fills with knock-out gas.  The Former Superman is overcome, to the evil delight of Luthor and Brainiac, protected from the gas by tiny nose filters.

 

Hours later, the ex-Man of Steel awakens on a lab table.  But the effects of the gas leave him too weak to move.  His Legionnaire powers have faded away.

 

A triumphant Luthor is ready to launch phase two of his revenge against the original Superman.

 

 

 

Just about the same time, in Metropolis, the New Superman surveys the city from atop the new government house and plans the next step in promoting his own legend.

 

He holds a press conference outside the Daily Planet building where he invites the gathered print and television journalists to accompany him on "A Day with the New Superman".  The assembled newsfolk think that's a swell idea.  Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen and Lana Lang are among the attendees.

 

But, before the replacement super-hero can even show them where he eats breakfast, an emergency arises.  The giant globe atop the Planet building comes loose of its mounting and plummets toward the group on the street.  Not to worry, though.  The New Superman flashes upward and snags the massive sphere in mid-fall.

 

"What a catch!" says Lois Lane admiringly.  "I must admit even Superman couldn't have acted faster!"

 

One of the newsmen speculates that the decorative sign was dislodged by the wind.  Jimmy Olsen's not so sure, though.  The Planet globe was designed to withstand gale-force winds.  It would take a tremendous suction, like from---oh, say---a pair of super-lungs to bring it down.  Suspicious, Olsen decides to keep an eye on Ar-Val.

 

Next stop, the Metropolis Zoo.  The New Superman announces that he intends to expand the zoo and provide it with even rarer animals than those rhinoceroses in that cage over there.  As he and the reporters look at the rhinos, Jimmy watches Ar-Val.  He sees the Kryptonian's eyes narrow and focus on the cage bars.

 

Sure enough, seconds later, two enraged rhinos burst through the cage and charge at the group.  The New Superman easily handles the creatures before they can harm anyone---just as Jimmy expected would happen, after deducing that Ar-Val had used his heat vision to soften the metal of the cage bars enough for the rhinos to break through.

The junket moves on to a local trainyard, where yet another calamity is averted when Ar-Val uses his own invulnerable body to keep an oncoming train from derailing on a defective section of the tracks.  "It's lucky I spotted the broken rail," he says.  Not so lucky, thinks Jimmy Olsen, who was watching through the telephoto lens of his camera and saw the New Superman secretly break the rail by stepping on it with his super-strength.

 

The cub reporter is already mentally draughting his article on how Ar-Val is staging accidents, then saving the day, in order to boost his reputation as a champion super-hero.  But, then, something else interrupts his train of thought.  A young boy tells Lois Lane and Lana Lang that a stranger paid him to give them what looks like a blow-up of a photograph.  When the girls look at it, Jimmy sees their faces blanch.

 

When the Jimster asks them what's wrong, their replies are unconvincing.

 

"It's nothing, Jimmy . . . just a picture!" says Lois.

 

"That's . . . er . . . right . . . it's nothing," says Lana.

 

But they don't show the photo to Jimmy, and at Lana's urging, the two gals rush off like there was a bargain-basement sale at Bloomingdale's.  Olsen has the presence of mind to get a magnified view of the photo in Lois' hand through the telephoto lens of his camera.

 

To Jimmy's alarm, he discovers that the blow-up is essentially a ransom note.  It depicts the Former Superman helpless in the villain Brainiac's clutches, with a note written beneath:  "LOIS---LANA---IF YOU WANT YOUR PRECIOUS SUPERMAN ALIVE, COME OUT ROUTE 44 IN ONE HOUR---TELL NO ONE!  LUTHOR"

 

Olsen pulls the New Superman aside and informs him of his suspicions that the original Man of Steel has been overcome by the two super-criminals and is being used as a hostage to lure Lois and Lana into a death trap.  However, Ar-Val doesn't take Jimmy's concern too seriously.  (He's probably heard what a doofus the red-headed reporter is in his own magazine.)

 

Jimmy shows grit.  He threatens to tell the other newsmen how Ar-Val deliberately created those emergencies just to get more front-page headlines as a hero.  The glory-grabbing Kryptonian relents.  He agrees to take Jimmy and follow Lois and Lana on Route 44.

 

 

 

In the air, the New Superman and Jimmy Olsen spot Lois and Lana's car proceeding peacefully down Route 44.  Jimmy starts to wonder if his imagination was working overtime---until their car passes a power-shovel.  The huge machine suddenly hauls up the automobile in its scoop! 

 

Ar-Val, finally thinking like a real hero, decides to follow the power-shovel and see where it takes the girls.  Hopefully, that will let him rescue the original Superman, as well.

 

The robotised digging machine brings Lois and Lana to the villains' mine-pit hide-out.  Luthor and Brainiac drag them out of their car and into the spaceship.  Inside, the original Superman has recovered enough strength to stand up on shaky legs.  His expression turns to one of dismay when he sees the prisoners hauled in by the laughing criminals.

 

"There's your hero, the great Superman . . . weak as a baby from the gassing we gave him!" gloats Luthor.  "Ask him to save you . . . ha, ha!"

 

With a rush of wind announcing his arrival, Ar-Val lands at the entrance to the ship and suddenly things aren't so funny, anymore.  Luthor knows that this Superman has real super-powers.  But Brainiac isn't so easily cowed.  The space pirate grabs a lance from a hidden recess---a lance made of green kryptonite.  The green-k radiations might be enough to kill the New Superman on the spot; they will certainly incapacitate him.

 

Brainiac hurls the glowing javelin at Ar-Val.  The Former Superman, summoning up every bit of strength he has left, throws himself between the lance and Ar-Val, shielding him from the deadly radiations.  The sharp tip of the weapon strikes home---in the back of the ex-Man of Steel!

 

The old Superman slumps to the floor, the green, glowing spear jutting upward.  Taking advantage of the momentary shock, Luthor and Brainiac flee the spaceship.  But the new Superman is a fury unleashed.  "You murderers!"

 

He overtakes the evil pair outside and is about to plaster the quarry walls with their helpless forms when Jimmy Olsen reminds him of Superman's code against killing.  Instead, Ar-Val wraps a girder around the two would-be killers.

 

However, when the New Superman reĕnters the ship, he learns that the adjective "would-be" is likely misplaced.  The Former Superman is stretched out on the lab table, unmoving.  He's mortally wounded.  While Lois and Lana tearfully await the worst, Ar-Val is not ready to give up.

 

When Jimmy Olsen points out that Brainiac must have used some super-scientific technique to heal Luthor's gunshot wound, the New Superman examines the space pirate's sophisticated equipment until he spies the Z-ray device.

 

"This apparatus resembles the 'healing ray' used by Kryptonian surgeons," he says.  "Let's try it!"

 

He's right on the money.  After the former Man of Steel is placed under the curative Z-ray, his injury immediately begins to heal.  While Superman recuperates, Ar-Val steps outside, his expression cast with guilt.

 

He confides his recriminations to Jimmy Olsen.  He wanted to be Superman his way.  When the original Superman came to him for help---begged him for help---he turned him away like a worthless has-been so that he could, instead, make himself more popular.  And after all that, Superman saved his life.

 

Jimmy nods, knowing that's the kind of man his pal is.

 

 I'm not worthy to be Superman, declares Ar-Val, and he flies off.

 

At the Fortress of Solitude, Ar-Val uses the Kandorian monitor to consult with the scientist Nor-Kann, an old friend of Superman's father, Jor-El.  Urgently, the New Superman brings up the matter of the green comet.  Nor-Kann admits that he knows the method Jor-El devised for reversing the effects of the comet, but the consequences are too terrible to use.  Nevertheless, Ar-Val insists that he reveal the secret.  "A great emergency demands it!" he declares.

 

Back at the ship, the Z-ray has completed its work; Superman is completely healed.  In the meantime, Supergirl arrives from a mission and takes Luthor and Brainiac to prison.  When a solemn-faced Ar-Val returns, he snatches up the original Man of Steel and flies off with him.

 

Minutes later, Superman finds himself in the Fortress, chained to a pillar, while Ar-Val arranges four generators from the laboratory and sets them to a certain frequency.  The New Superman throws the master switch, then stands next to his predecessor while coruscating waves of energy bombard them.

 

This was Jor-El's invention, Ar-Val explains.  A method for restoring super-powers stolen by the green comet---by transferring them from another super-being's body!

 

It's working!  Superman feels his super-might returning.  But Ar-Val reveals the catch, the reason why Jor-El said this method could never be used:

 

"The shock of this force will not only remove my super-powers, but my life, too!  This force, as it drains away my powers, turns the atoms of my body to stone!"

 

Superman tries to stop him from making such a sacrifice.  But, by the time he is mighty enough to break the chains binding him and stop the process, Ar-Val is too far gone.  His body is almost completely petrified.  With his last gasp, he apologises for failing to make good as Superman.

 

Afterward, Superman places Ar-Val's stone form in a glass shrine, vowing to, someday, find a way to revive him, for:

 

"You were too eager for fame and made mistakes, but at the end . . . you proved to be the finest Superman of all!"

* * * * *

 

 

"The New Superman" is steeped in the trappings of the Superman mythos.  Anyone who knew Superman only from the television series would recognise Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen and Perry White in this story.  Oh, and kryptonite, if he'd seen enough episodes.  But for the faithful fans of Superman, issue # 172 included considerable threads from the tapestry that Mort wrought.  Lana Lang.  Jor-El and Lara.  The Fortress of Solitude.  Kandor.  Lex Luthor.  Brainiac.  The Legion of Super-Heroes.  And Supergirl gets a mention.

 

But, most prominently on display in Superman # 172 is one intangible element of his Silver-Age depiction:  that the Man of Steel is not a simple tower of virtues, like some über-Boy Scout, but has a complex personality.  He feels the same range of emotions as the rest of us.  In short, his humanity.

 

When Mort Weisinger took over the editorship of the Superman family of magazines, he knew he had one big problem:  his star was near-omnipotent, with enough super-powers for a half-dozen heroes.  Instilling drama in Superman's adventures would be quite a reach, and it would be difficult for readers to identify with him.

 

One solution was to emphasise Superman's humanity.  Many of the tales Mort commissioned dealt with the things that made him just like you and me.  While an exploding H-bomb wouldn't muss his hair, Superman was vulnerable to his emotions---love, anger, loyalty, regret, despair, generosity, and all the rest.  The readers could identify with that.

 

When Weisinger wanted a story like this, his favourite go-to guy was Edmond Hamilton.  Of all the writers in Mort's stable, Hamilton was the most effective at inserting genuine emotional drama in his Superman scripts.  (Jerry Siegel took the same approach, but his style was more florid, with a tendency to take the emotional content over the top.)  Hamilton would base a character's motivation around a logical emotional reaction to an event which would, then, propel the rest of the story to its conclusion.

 

Because of Hamilton's skill at this, when Weisinger took over World's Finest Comics in 1964, he assigned Hamilton as the regular writer.  Hamilton liked to focus on the friendship between Superman and Batman and the feelings which resulted from that.  That's how he got around the uneven power-balance of the World's Finest team, Superman's vast array of super-powers to the Batman's none.

 

In "The New Superman', Hamilton gives us a Man of Steel whom, for all of his nobility, is more self-centered than he realises.

 

 

 

With the menace of the green comet, Superman is thinking selflessly when he seeks his replacement.  He wants the best man available to take over as the world's protector, if it comes to that.  And he means it.  That's the sense of duty in him.

 

That's why he doesn't expect how he feels after the worst happens and Ar-Val takes over as the New Superman.

 

As I mentioned last month, occasionally, Superman has been seen to envy ordinary men who can enjoy normal lives, and making the idle wish that he was not burdened with super-powers.  (Denny O'Neil would make more hay of this in his sand-Superman series of tales from 1971.)  But, not really.  The fact of the matter is Superman likes having his powers.  Sure, one reason for that is, without them, there's a sense of diminishment, like when a normal person loses an arm or a leg.

 

But the stronger reason is Superman has a bit of an ego.  He enjoys being able to do things other men cannot do, even with the massive responsibility it imposes.  Edmond Hamilton shows us this in "The New Superman".  The newly powerless Man of Steel isn't excited about his chance to live a normal life now and proving his self-reliance.  No, when he changes to Clark Kent for what he believes will be the last time, he's miserable at the prospect of being an ordinary joe for the rest of his days.

 

When Ar-Val receives public acclaim for his early success as the New Superman, do we see Clark pleased that his hand-picked successor is doing so well?  Huh-uh.  Instead, he's even more depressed, perhaps even a little jealous that he's not getting the cheers, anymore.  To be sure, Superman is genuinely modest.  But modesty requires having something to be modest about.  Kent doesn't adjust well to the undistinguished status of being just another guy on the street.

 

It takes the danger to Lois and Lana to shake Superman out of his self-pity.  Ar-Val's refusal to acknowledge Luthor's threat pushes Clark to start thinking like his old super-self.  The values instilled in him by Ma and Pa Kent are embedded so deep that he can't do anything else.

 

 

 

Those deeply held values represent Superman at his best.  Despite being heir to the same petty emotions as the rest of us, he's able to rise above them when it matters.  Desperate to keep Lois and Lana safe, Clark Kent goes down on his knees to persuade Ar-Val to protect them.  Here, any traces of ego go right out the door; Clark doesn't hesitate to relinquish his pride to prevent harm to the ones he loves. 

 

The more striking example of Superman's selflessness comes later, of course.  We're shocked when the mortal Superman throws himself in front of the kryptonite lance meant for Ar-Val.  The ex-Man of Steel risks his own life to save the man who'd ignored his pleas for help.  Shocked, but not surprised.  As Jimmy Olsen says later, "That's Superman's code."

 

But the moment which truly underscores Superman's compassion and unselfish concern for others usually gets by the readers of this tale.

 

The Man of Steel knows that the green comet will likely prove fatal to him, yet he confronts it, even though it will not menace the Earth!  No-one on Earth is in danger from the comet; it will completely pass by our world.  Yet, he heads spaceward to intercept it because it might engulf other inhabited planets.

 

Superman goes to what he believes will be his doom to save people he doesn't even know, people who aren't even from Earth.  Aliens.  And it never occurs to him not to do it.

 

 

 

To readers of Jimmy Olsen, the words "mature" and "competent" are not usually associated with the bow-tied cub reporter.  But, here, the Jimster certainly earns his keep as "Superman's pal".  It's Jimmy who comes up with the plan to give some of the Legionnaires' powers to the Former Superman, so his best friend will stand a fighting chance against Luthor and Brainiac.  It's Jimmy who catches on to the fact that Ar-Val is using his super-powers to make himself look more like a hero and, then, uses that knowledge to get Lois and Lana rescued.

 

This was the way Edmond Hamilton wrote Jimmy Olsen in his World's Finest scripts, in which the young man often appeared as Superman's partner, to counter-balance the presence of Robin, the Boy Wonder, at the Batman's side.  The impulsive, conceited bonehead Jimmy Olsen would not do here.  So, Hamilton depicted him as capable and resourceful, the same as he was in the Nightwing and Flamebird stories that took place in Kandor (and which were also written by Hamilton).

 

 

 

And there's plenty to say about the New Superman himself, Ar-Val.

 

Ar-Val is a tragic figure in the classic sense.  He starts out as a pretty impressive guy.  During the Superman-replacement trials, he masters the use of his super-powers in a brief time, even to an awareness of the collateral damage that an improper super-act might cause.  He also shows he's got an exceptional intellect.  After the original Superman is mortally wounded by the kryptonite lance, Ar-Val is intelligent enough to recognise Brainiac's healing ray and properly operate it to save the ex-Man of Steel's life.

 

Ar-Val is honest and eager to do a good job as the new champion of Earth, and he has all the prerequisites to do so.  But he also has a fatal flaw, as all tragic characters do.  His head is too readily turned by the fame and acclamation that comes with the job.  He doesn't realise until it's too late that fame was not why his predecessor devoted his life to being Superman.

 

Now, some of you might think, as did someone else who reviewed this issue on line, that Ar-Val's way of atoning for his mistakes was too harsh.  After all, once his eyes were opened to his misjudgement, he managed to save Lois and Lana and the Former Superman, and he brought Luthor and Brainiac to justice.  Couldn't Ar-Val have chalked the experience up to one hell of a lesson learnt and have gone on to be a better Superman?

 

Sure, maybe.  But I look at it this way:  what guided Ar-Val's final actions was that he finally grasped the lesson of Superman, and in doing so, realised that he could never live up to that lesson as much as the man who set the standard.  The Earth---the universe---would be better protected if it had the original Superman back.

 

You see, it's more than just having super-powers.  There are plenty who argue that Supergirl is every bit as good as Superman.  She's honest and smart and resourceful---and has the same super-powers.  Now, yeah, some of that is from folks punching their equality-of-the-sexes ticket.  But a great many genuinely don't see a difference.  Yet, there is---at least, in their Silver-Age incarnations.

What Supergirl and all the other super-doers who might feasibly replace Superman don't have is his extraordinary upbringing.  Supergirl spent the first fifteen years of her life as an ordinary Kryptonian girl in Argo City, raised by her parents, Zor-El and Allura.  On Earth, after her time in the orphanage, she became the foster-daughter of Fred and Edna Danvers.  By then, she was a fairly experienced super-heroine.

While the Zor-Els and the Danvers were good parents, neither couple had to take on the task of preparing their child to become a super-powered champion of good from almost the very beginning.  Not the way that burden had fallen on Jonathan and Martha Kent.

 

As the foster-parents of baby Kal-El, the Kents foresaw a daunting responsibility.  They raised a super-powered child with no template to guide them.  As soon as they discovered their new son's incredible abilities, they determined to make him the protector of humanity, someone who would aid all of mankind.  To this end, they schooled him in the proper use of his powers while, at the same time, undertaking the immense effort to keep little Clark's specialness concealed from the world.

 

Most of all, the kindly couple provided their son with a moral compass, one of decency and compassion.  That all life has worth.  That the rule of law outweighs the rule of force.  That one does the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do.

 

The Kents taught by example.  Think about this for a moment.  They could have gone the route that Wolf and Bonnie Derek did with Super-Brat by teaching their boy to steal incredible wealth for them.  But they didn't.  Certainly, no-one would've blamed them if, after a few slow months at the general store, they had asked Clark to squeeze a couple of lumps of coal into diamonds to tide them over.  But they didn't do that, either.

 

In the strongest possible way, Jonathan and Martha Kent taught Clark self-reliance, fairness, and moral behaviour.  As boy and man, the Caped Kryptonian was the most powerful being on the planet.  He could have had anything he wanted simply by taking it.  But he didn't.  And in such restraint, he demonstrated to the people of the Earth that things such as honesty and a moral code were even stronger than an abundance of super-powers.  That is the lesson of Superman.  The Kents gave the world a champion it could trust and have faith in.  No other hero, or heroine, can claim such a heritage.

 

That's why it takes more than super-powers or the desire to do good to be Superman.  When Ar-Val finally understood the lesson of Superman, he knew that he had failed to live up to it.  The only way to make up for that was to return the original Superman to his rightful place.

 

The irony is, in sacrificing his life to restore the World's Greatest Hero, Ar-Val did, indeed, prove worthy of being Superman.

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Eric L. Sofer said:

Commander, your assessment of Superman is excellent. Not anyone could be Superman; not even any Kandorian. Only Kal-El could be Superman, and your reasoning is flawless. . .

Always glad to have you chime in, my friend! Thank you for the kind words.

Introducing Green Lantern's power ring was the story's major stumbling point.  The creation of the Justice League of America essentially destroyed the central conceit that each DC editor's heroes lived within their own self-contained universes.  (Before that, the idea that the DC's earth was populated by other-editor super-heroes was limited to Superman and Batman, due to World's Finest Comics.)  Not only the existence of the JLA, but also the fact that JLA writer Gardner Fox often made use of characters and conventions from the League members' parent series (e.g., Jean Loring appearing as the JLA's attorney or relying on the fact that the Blockbuster was friends with Bruce [Batman] Wayne).

Like it or not, that turned all of the editors' stables into one big DC universe.  From that point on, often, when a super-herro was faced with an earth-shaking calamity, there would be a thought-bubble or a footnote mentioning that the rest of the Justice League was away on a space mission at the time of that particular disaster, and the title's star could turn to it for help.

The situations when it wasn't explicitly stated, it was assumed.  The threat of the green comet in "The New Superman" was one of situations.  It could've been assumed that the rest of the JLA was embroiled on another case, and Superman couldn't turn to his fellow members for help.  But the inclusion of G.L.'s power ring undercut that assumption.  Clearly, Green Lantern had to be available, in order for the Man of Steel to borrow his ring.

More damning, it wasn't even necessary to include the power ring.  The Superman canon already included a method, Zak-Kul's enlarger ray, to bring Ar-Val and Bran-Een to normal size.

With regard to alternate methods of thwarting the green comet, I can actually think of plausible (albeit, some, just barely) arguments for why they wouldn't work against the comet.  But there should have been a scene, or thought-bubble, informing the reader of those arguments.  Because your overall point is well-taken, Fogey:  so many weapons and scientific devices, used in other stories, are available to Superman that would readily resolve a particular issue's problem.  One can't excuse all of them away.

You're right, my friend, there is no good answer.  It's just one of those things Weisinger and company hoped we look the other way from.

Fraser Sherman said:

IIRC, the pills turned out to be kryptonite tainted so when Superman took one he actually lost his powers. I'm sure someone in this thread has a sharper memory.

Your memory is sharp enough in this case, Mr. Sherman.  The story which the Fogey indicated---at least, I think he meant to indicate, even though Bill Finger wrote it (the second Superman-Batman team-up in World's Finest Comics written by Edmond Hamilton was "When Gotham City Challenged Metropolis", from WFC # 76 [May-Jun., 1955])---was "The Reversed Heroes", from WFC # 87 (Mar.-Apr., 1957).

In this tale, we learn about the super-power capsules Jor-El created to restore his son's powers, if he ever lost them.  He was unable to put them into baby Kal-El's space rocket before the launch.  However, the box containing them was blasted into space when Krypton exploded.  It eventually landed on Earth, where it was discovered by criminal Elton Craig. 

When Superman is overcome by the green-kryptonite encrusted box, he manages to wash the kryptonite off the box.  But, just as you remembered, when Superman takes one of the super-power-capsules within, for a quicker recovery to full strength, he discovers that kryptonite dust seeped inside the box and contaminated all of the capsules.  While they still bestow temporary super-powers on normal earthlings, they temporarily erase the powers of a super-powered Kryptonian.

At the end of the tale, the box of remaining capsules is turned over to the Batman for safekeeping in the Batcave.  So, once the green comet eradicated Superman's powers, the capsules were available to, in theory, restore the now-powerless Man of Steel's super-might.  Which goes to the overall point in the Fogey's post.

Now, Edmond Hamilton did write the sequel to "The Reversed Heroes".  That was "The Super-Batwoman", which appeared in World's Finest Comics # 90 (Sep., 1957).

In regard to Jor-El's super-powered capsules, if Superman had access to them in #172, taking one would have restored his powers but they would have also returned his weaknesses thus the kryptonite-contaminated pills would take away his powers a moment after he regained them!

btw, I read "The Reversed Heroes" when it was reprinted in WFC #223 (Ju'74) and enjoyed it a lot. For some reason Elton Craig fascinated young me and I thought that he was a major villain! And I never understood why, if everyone knew his real name, he wore a mask! Still this was a pivotal issue to me as it also reprinted "The Composite Superman!" which was the first time that I ever saw the Legion of Super-Heroes!

Fraser, you're right about Superman asking for help, and that does violate the general conceit of Superman solving his own problems in his own book. I agree with you; but still, in this story, both Green Lantern and the Legion are called upon for assistance, so it was a precedent in this story. I could go silly, of course... Superman could have whipped up a gigantic super net or super spear to catch the comic from a distance and slow it or stop it, or even fling it into a sun in a system Superman never visited. It seemed ever so slightly a gap. Just putting a time limit on the approach might have been sufficient. (Shucks, he MIGHT have asked a squad of Daxamites to help... except  that I'm sure it was a comet with a lead core. :) )

And the capsules were laced with Green K. When Superman  took one, it robbed him of his powers. But Green Kryptonite doesn't affect NON-SUPER Kryptonians... so it might have worked. After all, those capsules removed the powers of a super powered Kryptonian... not necessarily a pseudo-Kryptonian (and let's face it... that's what the capsules did to Batman and Robin.)

Commander, thanks for straightening me out on the writers. I hate getting those wrong... surely MY memory can't be failing me! :D :D :D 

As you and the Commander note, this isn't as easy to handwave as most "call for help" issues.

Fraser, you're right about Superman asking for help, and that does violate the general conceit of Superman solving his own problems in his own book. I agree with you; but still, in this story, both Green Lantern and the Legion are called upon for assistance, so it was a precedent in this story. I could go silly, of course... Superman could have whipped up a gigantic super net or super spear to catch the comic from a distance and slow it or stop it, or even fling it into a sun in a system Superman never visited. It seemed ever so slightly a gap. Just putting a time limit on the approach might have been sufficient. (Shucks, he MIGHT have asked a squad of Daxamites to help... except  that I'm sure it was a comet with a lead core. :) )

And the capsules were laced with Green K. When Superman  took one, it robbed him of his powers. But Green Kryptonite doesn't affect NON-SUPER Kryptonians... so it might have worked. After all, those capsules removed the powers of a super powered Kryptonian... not necessarily a pseudo-Kryptonian (and let's face it... that's what the capsules did to Batman and Robin.)

Commander, thanks for straightening me out on the writers. I hate getting those wrong... surely MY memory can't be failing me! :D :D :D 

Great Curt Swan art as always.  When the story is good, its a double bonus.

I'm not knowledgeable about this period in comics history, so I may be way off base here,  but I had the impression that Stan Lee had the idea for a "Marvel Universe" fairly early on.  Could it be that DC's continuities became a "DC Universe" in response to Marvel having a "Universe".

I don't know — Mort Weisinger and Julie Schwartz both had interconnected universes before Marvel did it (it's really remarkable how often Weisinger works his creation Aquaman into Superman stories) so it's just as possible they ramped up from there.

The Baron said:

I'm not knowledgeable about this period in comics history, so I may be way off base here,  but I had the impression that Stan Lee had the idea for a "Marvel Universe" fairly early on.  Could it be that DC's continuities became a "DC Universe" in response to Marvel having a "Universe".

When Stan Lee and company began the Silver Age the Marvel heroes were initially free-standing characters. "New York is in danger and only Ant-Man can save the day." 

Going by the on-sale info from Mike's Amazing World, in December 1962 the Hulk guested in Fantastic Four #12 and the FF guested in Amazing Spider-Man #1. April 1963 saw Ant-Man guesting in Fantastic Four #16. June 1963 had Spider-Man guesting in the Human Torch story in Strange Tales Annual #2. July 1963 had Doctor Doom's appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #5, a retelling (not a reprint) of the FF appearance from ASM #1 and the full-blown crossing-over in Avengers #1. At that point Marvel definitely had a single universe.

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