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Author Topic: Superman in the Silver Age  (Read 115549 times)
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Osgood Peabody
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« Reply #48 on: November 27, 2003, 03:50:33 AM »



"The Super-Outlaw from Krypton"

From Superman #134 (Jan. 1960).  Cover by Curt Swan & Stan Kaye.  Story by Otto Binder.  Art by Wayne Boring & Stan Kaye. Edited by Mort Weisinger

As you can see, the title on the cover is "The Super-Outlaw from Krypton" so the splash page "Super-Menace" must be just the heading for Chapter 1.  

One other little oddity about this tale - it is the only Superman issue from 120 to 150 that has never had any of its contents reprinted.  Since this spans about a 4-year run from the prime Weisinger years of 1958 to 1962, I find it rather odd that Mort never saw fit to include it in any of the numerous annuals and giants of the Sixties.


Our story begins with a disturbing splash page of our hero dislodging an entire skyscraper and hurtling upward with it while laughing mockingly, while its inhabitants peer out of their windows and question the Man of Steel's sanity.  On the next page, we see Superman answering an SOS from an ocean liner about to strike an iceberg.  He makes an unorthodox rescue by ripping the Transatlantic cable from the ocean's bottom and using it to tow the liner in to port.  The ship's captain is grateful, but puzzled by Superman's method, observing that the Man of Tomorrow has callously disregarded the fact that it will cost millions to repair the cable.

In the following days, we see this pattern repeated - Superman diverts a meteor from a town, but it crashes into a dam, causing massive floods.  He rescues some castaways from a giant sea creature, but leaves them marooned on an island.  His behavior becomes increasingly more bizarre, as he seemingly adopts the sea-creature as a pet and takes him through Metropolis, leaving behind a trail of destruction.  

The officials of Metropolis are becoming concerned.  Although there has been no injury or loss of life from these incidents, they are nonetheless alarmed by Superman's behavior.  They call upon an expert named Dr. Peabody (no relation, to my knowledge  :wink: ), and it is his opinion that the Man of Steel has lost his marbles and must be subdued immediately!  They call out for a world-wide kryptonite search, as they know that is the only way he can be captured.

Back at the Daily Planet, Lois is convinced that Superman can't be behaving this way, and that it must be one of his robots malfunctioning, while he's away on a mission.  She sets out to prove her theory, and with the help of Jimmy's signal-watch, lures the Man (or robot?) of Steel to a lab, where he is bombarded by "100 billion volts of man-made lightning", enough to short out any electronic device.  But alas, Superman shrugs off the fireworks, and mocks Lois, "Did you think I was a robot?  Now you know the truth!  I'm real!"

Our hero then flies to a mountaintop, and yells "My plan is working ... I'll keep on smashing, destroying, until I've achieved my goal!"  He then creates even more havoc - using his super-breath to blow hurricane winds through a tunnel, creating a massive car pile-up - yanking a subway off the tracks and swinging it wildly through the air.  Again, there are no fatalities, but the world is left wondering what Superman will do next.  

Has the Man of Steel gone off the deep end?  We'll find out in Chapter 2!

To be continued...
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Osgood Peabody
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« Reply #49 on: November 30, 2003, 03:06:25 AM »

As we begin Chapter 2, Superman continues running amok - now filling in the Grand Canyon with gigantic boulders (!!).  But at last, an explanation comes for his bizarre behavior - this Superman is an imposter!  As we read on, we find that the real Superman has been observing what's been happening from Kandor via an "ultra-scanning screen".  He then recalls the events leading up to his current predicament.

A week before, Superman visited his Fortress to make a routine check of the bottle city, and during his inspection of the air hoses, was surprised to pick up via super-hearing a voice screaming to him for help from within Kandor itself!  As the Man of Steel trained his microscopic vision on the stranger, he revealed himself to be a scientist named Kull-Ex.  Keeping Superman distracted with his story, Kull-Ex then trained his "exchange ray" on the Man of Steel, and the two instantly traded places!  In fact - their costumes were exchanged also, as Kull-Ex gloated to Superman, who now watched via the screen in dismay as he realized his super-powers are gone under the influence of the Kryptonian city's gravity (the red sun angle having not been introduced yet!).

Kull-Ex then completed his impersonation by molding a life-like Superman mask in the Fortress "chem-lab", and takes off on his mission of destroying the Man of Steel's reputation.  Now the big question puzzling Superman - why does Mr. Ex have it in for him?   Thanks to a pre-recorded tape left by the Kandorian scientist, Superman hears of the origin of Mr. Ex's vendetta against the El clan.  Back on Krypton, years before Kandor's abduction by Brainiac, Kull-Ex's dad, Zell-Ex, was working on an invention that would revolutionize transportation - an all-purpose vehicle capable of land, sea, air, or underground travel.  But before he can finish the project, fate intervenes - an artificial wind generate by one of Krypton's weather-control blows his blueprints out into the streets!

Some time later, Zell-Ex finished the invention, but as he entered the patent office, much to his dismay he finds that another scientist named Jor-El beat him to the punch.  Zell-Ex is convinced that Jor-El quickly put together his model after finding the wind-blown blueprints and accuses Jor-El of thievery, but Jor-El insists he came up with it on his own.  To compound the injustice in Zell-Ex's eyes, the product is mass-produced and became so commonly used on Krypton, it became known simply as "the Jor-El", just as the Ford car on earth was named after its inventor!

Zell-Ex swore revenge on his nemesis, but was never able to carry it out.  Brainiac shrank Kandor and its inhabitants, and Jor-El perished when Krypton exploded.  But then, by a strange twist of fate, it is none other than Jor-El's son that rescues the bottle city and brings it back to his Fortress.  Shortly thereafter, Zell-Ex, on his death-bed, solemnly commissions his son to carry out his revenge against the hated El survivor.

Superman, having now been filled on Kull-Ex's motive, is convinced that his father is innocent, but is baffled as to how to prove it.  He finds a "Jor-El" vehicle handy and attempts to break through the bottle to escape, but finds that Brainiac's glass is impervious to the drill.  He next attempts to use the vehicle to fly through the air tube that pumps in the city's air supply, but is blown backwards as the inward flow is too powerful.  Dejected, Superman returns to Kull-Ex's apartment and observes to his horror that angry mobs have broken into the Superman museum and are in the process of bringing down his statue!  The Man of Steel has become so villified that, at his approach, mothers now carry their children inside to hide in storm cellars!  And, perhaps the final blow, even Lois, Jimmy, and Perry at the Daily Planet are convinced that Superman is now evil and must be avoided.

At an isolated mountaintop, Kull-Ex brags of his victory, and as Superman helplessly watches from Kandor, he now realizes his reputation has been shattered, and he'll now be remembered as history's blackest villain.  And even if the Man of Steel could somehow escape, how could he avoid a world-wrecking battle with his super-powered opponent?

How will Superman get out of this one?  Stay tuned for the final chapter!


Bonus trivia challenge for you Silver Age Superman fans:

Since Superman's Kryptonian family name was El, Uncle Mort cooked up a few other Kryptonians with alphabetic surnames such as Kull-Ex in this story.  There were at least 4 others - 2 pretty prominent, 2 fairly obscure that appeared in the "Superman family" mags during the Weisinger era.  Just for kicks, let's see if there's anyone who can up with them, or maybe even others that I'm not recalling!
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« Reply #50 on: November 30, 2003, 04:03:35 AM »

Quote from: "Osgood Peabody"
Bonus trivia challenge for you Silver Age Superman fans:

Since Superman's Kryptonian family name was El, Uncle Mort cooked up a few other Kryptonians with alphabetic surnames such as Kull-Ex in this story.  There were at least 4 others - 2 pretty prominent, 2 fairly obscure that appeared in the "Superman family" mags during the Weisinger era.  Just for kicks, let's see if there's anyone who can up with them, or maybe even others that I'm not recalling!


read this:

http://superman.nu/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=221&highlight=list+kryptonians
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« Reply #51 on: December 01, 2003, 07:36:31 PM »

Shouldn't Van-Zee's name really be Van-Zed???
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« Reply #52 on: December 01, 2003, 10:35:23 PM »

I think they spelled it a few different ways depending on the story, DC does that sometimes.
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Osgood Peabody
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« Reply #53 on: December 02, 2003, 01:11:52 AM »

I think India was pulling our leg, your monkeyness -- the letter "zee" in the States goes by "zed" in every other English-speaking part of the world.

And yes, Van-Zee was one of the easy ones I was thinking of - in fact, he debuted in Lois Lane only a month after Kull-Ex did.

Hopefully, I'll finish off that story later this week (can't leave everyone in suspense like that, right?  :wink: )
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« Reply #54 on: December 02, 2003, 02:24:01 AM »

Quote from: "Osgood Peabody"
I think India was pulling our leg, your monkeyness -- the letter "zee" in the States goes by "zed" in every other English-speaking part of the world.

And yes, Van-Zee was one of the easy ones I was thinking of - in fact, he debuted in Lois Lane only a month after Kull-Ex did.

Hopefully, I'll finish off that story later this week (can't leave everyone in suspense like that, right?  :wink: )


Ah I see, remind me to ban him :twisted:
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« Reply #55 on: December 02, 2003, 09:47:28 PM »

<<Shouldn't Van-Zee's name really be Van-Zed???>>

That was the name of his counterpart from the Earth-BBC universe.

Little known trivia:

Before the Crisis, in the Earth-SCTV universe, Brewniac (their counterpart to Brainiac) came to Earth and started shrinking Canadian cities. Two inhabitants of the Bottle City of Toronto, the Mahken-Zee brothers, adopted the identities of Nightwing and Flamebird to help Hyperman (the Canadian Kryptonian) rescue the cities and return them to Earth... except for Quebec. They preferred to stay in the bottle, as the ultimate "separatists"...
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