Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Superman #212

Superman #212 (On Sale: October 15, 1968), AKA 80 Page Giant #G-54, has a cover by Curt Swan and Mike Esposito in an issue devoted to stories of Super-babies.

We begin with "The Man Who Saved Kal-El's Life" reprinted from Action Comics #281 and by Robert Bernstein and Al Plastino. Criminal Paul Pratt commits several large robberies, but shows up thousands of miles away within minutes which establishes an alibi. Superman is approached by Professor Amos Dunn, who explains that he traveled to Krypton many years ago and met Jor-El.

Using a matter transmitter, Dunn was transported to the distant world where he saved baby Kal-El from a deadly snake bite. Jor-El hoped to use the transporters to save the population of Krypton. However, the destruction came before the devices were ready to work. Jor-El was forced to send Kal-El to Earth in a rocket, and he and the population died in Krypton’s destruction.

Dunn kept the plans to the matter transmitter and believes that his assistant Gerald Greer is using the device with Pratt to escape after the robberies. Superman confirms this and catches the crooks, taking the matter transmitter to his Fortress for permanent storage.

Next is "The Rejected Super-Tot" reprinted from Superboy #90 and produced by Jerry Siegel and George Papp. While on an ocean cruise with his adoptive parents, baby Clark Kent jumps overboard and is lost. He is found eventually and turned in to the Smallville Orphanage. His identity is unknown, so he is adopted by another couple. However, his powers make him a handful especially since no one realizes he has them. The couple returns the baby to the orphanage.

After several other similar adoptions and returns, the Kents come to the orphanage. Clark hears his mother’s voice and screams for her. The Kents once again adopt Clark and take him home.

"The Babe of Steel" is reprinted from Action Comics #284 and is the work of Robert Bernstein, Curt Swan and George Klein. After receiving a strange message from a disembodied figure, Superman uses Red Kryptonite to change himself to baby size. As a baby he continues his regular patrols, but he must convince people of his real identity. His altered form is to facilitate entry into the Phantom Zone. A hole has opened in it due to the Aurora Borealis that is only large enough for a child to enter. The warning came from Mon-El, Superman’s friend who is stuck there due to lead poisoning. Superman learns the hole is growing, so he summons Krypto and Supergirl to assist him in closing the rift and preventing the villains from escaping.

Next is "The Girl Superbaby" from Action Comics #260 and created by Otto Binder and Jim Mooney. Using her telescopic vision, Supergirl spots an old man drowning. She flies to the rescue and creates a water spout which saves the man. The man has become young as the waters were a fountain of youth. Having been exposed herself, Supergirl becomes a baby.

The superbaby chases a butterfly into the trunk of a car belonging to two jewel thieves. They drive to their hide-out, located where Indians claim spirits live.

Supergirl exits the trunk and sprays shaving cream in the crooks faces, preventing them from seeing her. The thieves take target practice on a scarecrow. Supergirl collects the bullets and makes a lead ball. She throws the ball and inadvertently saves Superman from a kryptonite meteor.

Supergirl’s play continues to make the thieves believe the place is haunted by an Indian spirit. The crooks prepare to leave, but Supergirl has created a smoke signal to the authorities. The thieves are caught, and Supergirl returns to normal without ever having been seen.

"The Grandson of Steel" is reprinted from Superboy #77 and produced by Otto Binder and John Sikela. While cleaning the attic, Jonathan Kent finds a marionette which reminds him of his father who was a puppet master. When Clark was Superbaby, the Kents left him in the care of his Jonathan’s parents for a day. Edith, Jonathan’s mother, used Clark to model clothes for Hiram’s marionettes. Then, unknown to his grandparents, Clark performed super feats in the costumes. Hiram spotted Clark each time, but thought he was dreaming. The feats inspired Hiram to create new acts for his puppet show. When the Kents returned to pick up Clark, Hiram and Edith never suspected he was Superbaby.

Next is "Lois Lane's Revenge on Superman" reprinted from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #32 and drawn by Curt Swan and George Klein. Superman is accidentally exposed to a youth potion given to Lois by a dying man. The potion transforms the Man of Steel into Superbaby. Lois then makes the baby Superman perform embarrassing tasks for her in exchange for the antidote. When he has had enough, Lois offers to hand over the antidote, but spills it instead. Superman gets angry which restores him to normal. The real antidote to the potion is anger, which Lois successfully tried to instill in the Man of Steel to revert him to normal.

We end with "The Unwanted Superbaby" from Adventure Comics #299 by Jerry Siegel and George Papp. Baby Kal-El is sent to Earth by his father Jor-El and found by the Kents. The couple turn the baby over to the Smallville Orphanage where they soon discover his super-powers. Although they wish to adopt the child, the Kents wishes are denied by the government who tries to capture Superbaby.

Superbaby escapes and flies to a small island, whose evil ruler King Rolf resembles Jor-El. Rolf corrupts the child and uses him to overthrow the government of Simbovia.

Years pass before Superboy realizes that he is being used. He turns in the evil king, but is forced to surrender himself too. Instead, he escapes into space and becomes the hero of Zordal. Superboy misses Earth however, and returns to visit. While en route, Superboy passes a Gold Kryptonite meteor which robs him of his powers permanently. Superboy becomes stranded on Earth and is finally adopted by the Kents where he becomes a powerless Clark Kent.

Edited by Mort Weisinger (E. Nelson Bridwell)

2 comments:

Dave Potts said...

Keller said:
"`The Babe of Steel' is reprinted from Action Comics #284 and is the work of Robert Bernstein, Curt Swan and George Klein. After receiving a strange message from a disembodied figure, Superman uses Red Kryptonite to change himself to baby size. As a baby he continues his regular patrols, but he must convince people of his real identity. His altered form is to facilitate entry into the Phantom Zone. A hole has opened in it due to the Aurora Borealis that is only large enough for a child to enter. The warning came from Mon-El, Superman’s friend who is stuck there due to lead poisoning. Superman learns the hole is growing, so he summons Krypto and Supergirl to assist him in closing the rift and preventing the villains from escaping."


I just read this story in Showcase Presents Superman, Vol. 3, and the really stupid thing about it is that there is never any reason given for it to have been necessary for Superman to enter the Phantom Zone. He turns himself into a baby so that he can pass through the rift into the Zone, but he doesn't do anything in the Zone that has any effect towards sealing up the rift. He just goes into the Zone, reveals to the reader that he turned himself into a baby so that he could pass into the Zone and back out again, and then he goes back out of the Zone, and he, Supergirl, an Krypto seal up the rift from the outside. But there was never any need for him to enter the Zone, so the whole transformation into a baby was pointless! Clearly, they thought of the "Superman turns into a baby" idea first, and then came up with an explanation for it — which isn't necessarily a bad way to plot a story — but in this case, they didn't think it through enough to realize that their explanation didn't really give a reason for it!

-Keller said...

Reminds me of the Tomb Raider movie. The plot was completely pointless. Laura Croft's father hid pieces of this artifact around the world so Laura would have something to hunt down and destroy. If he had just destroyed them in the first place, as you or I or any sane person would have done, there would be no plot at all. Totally pointless, just like Superman turning into a baby.