Action Comics #368: "The Unemployed Superman!"

Action Comics #368
"The Unemployed Superman!"
October, 1968

Script: Otto Binder
Art: Ross Andru (Pencils) and Mike Esposito (Inks)

Crime has ended.  All natural disasters have suddenly ceased on Earth.
How could the planet reach such a state with all of its problems and
dangers now at zero?  On such a world, what would the Man of Steel do?
He will soon find himself making an important decision when he becomes...
"The Unemployed Superman!" 

On his annual trip through deep space, the Man of Steel heads for
Krypton, his birthplace.  This particular Krypton was created by him and
Supergirl.  It is the anniversary of the planet's destruction... the
instant after Kal-El was sent to Earth in a tiny spaceship.  Upon his
landing, a photoelectric eye has begun activating the android
Kryptonians.  Superman is greeted by androids of his parents, Jor-El and
Lara.  After his departure, the Man of Steel begins draping miles of
wide, black metallic ribbon (created at a factory on the duplicate
Krypton) through the meteors caught in the planet's gravity, and are now

He will always honor Krypton all of his life, but now, Superman returns
to Earth.  Having spent a month in space, the Man of Steel wonders what
awaits him in Metropolis.  The Tuxedo Gang are about to begin their
job,which Superman believes to be stealing some box-office receipts.  The
Man of Steel is surprised when the gang removes their tuxes, and have
begun their "job" as construction workers.  The Tuxedo Gang may have
reformed while he was away, but Superman sees an armored car parked by a
nearby bank.

Using his x-ray vision, the Man of Steel sees that the guards are
unarmed.  They decide to take a coffee break, leaving the doors on the
armored car open.  "Banker" Blake comes walking up and closes the doors,
reassured that the bank's money is now safe.  Later on his patrol,
Superman sees that all squad cars are parked at police headquarters.
Since there hasn't been a crime committed in a month, they see no reason
to waste gas.  The police have been busy sorting out the loot returned
voluntarily by criminals, while the other officers are playing checkers.

During his flight, the Man of Steel sees a fire engine racing through the
street, and plans to aid them with the fire.  The engine parks, then the
men spray the children with hoses, and it is learned that there hasn't
been a fire in a month.  RRR-U-U-M-M-B-L-E!  Super-hearing picks up the
sounds of an earthquake, but when Superman arrives to save lives, he sees
that it's just a movie company filming the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
The director tells the Man of Steel that there hasn't been a natural
disaster in a month.

Standing on the summit of Mount Everest, Superman is able to see half of
Earth, and sees that things are trouble-free.  If this continues, he will
be out of a job.  The Man of Steel remembers when he saved a tribe from
becoming extinct, and dragged their entire island out of the path of a
typhoon.  The previous year saw Superman being honored in a parade with a
gold cup in honor of his 10,000th super feat.

Since no one has need of the hero, he returns to his other job as a
mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper.  Perry White
greets Clark from his vacation, and has a special assignment for him. The
front page is to cover the Master Chess Tournament.  With no weddings or
sports, there is not much left to cover.  It's been a month since anyone
has fallen ill.  At the tournament, the Planet reporter stifles a yawn,
while the chess champs are figuring out their next move.  During a
fifteen minute break, a player promises Clark Kent even more excitement
than he's seen before.  While waiting for the players, the mild-mannered
reporter sees a cat being chased by a dog through a window.

When the two animals have gone, Clark uses his power of total recall to
place the chess pieces back where they were, at super-speed.  The players
return to the match, with the Planet reporter having performed his
super-deed of the day.  On the street, a group of children see some
ice-cream cones coming down to them from the sky.  Mr. Mxyzptlk has
returned from the 5th dimension, with Clark Kent believing that he's the
one responsible for the state of the world that's driving Superman crazy.
Claiming his innocence, the imp proves it by saying his name backwards,
and returning to his own dimension.

The ice-cream cones have disappeared, but if Mxyzptlk were responsible
for what's happened, Earth would be back to normal now.  At night, Clark
Kent is heading for home, when a sudden darkness falls over Metropolis.
His super-vision sees that the sun has been eclipsed by a giant comet,
which has torn a rift into the Phantom Zone.  This is a job... for
Superman... at last!  High above Earth, Jax-Ur has freed himself from the
Zone, and plans to live on Earth.  The Man of Steel recognizes the
prisoner who was given a life sentence for blowing up an uninhabited moon
of Krypton.  Superman is not about to have Jax-Ur loot the world, but the
scientist claims that they are on the same side.

Despite possessing the same powers as the Man of Steel, Jax-Ur prefers to
serve his time in the Zone, and hopefully earn a parole from the
Kandorians.  The rift has closed, with no other escapees, but a
disappointed Superman was hoping for a fight from Jax-Ur.  After flying
to his Fortress of Solitude, the Man of Steel orders his robots to use
the Super-Weapons from the war world of Angru on him.

The hoop-caster fires red-hot hoops, with Superman enjoying the exercise.
The giant cleaver, the trillion volt boomerang, and the diamond-drill
rocket are fired in unison.

WHAMMMM  BLAMMMMMMM  KABOOMMMMM  The combined force of an earthquake,
tornado, and 100-megaton bomb strike, but serve only to almost muss the
Man of Steel's hair.  Since they have done wrong by using weapons on
another, the robots activate their self-destruct buttons.  The display of
violence has ended, with peace reigning over the planet.  A sentinel, one
of those who has changed Earth... by disposing of all evil.  With his
super-powers, the Man of Steel could endanger what they have achieved.
The sentinels command Superman to leave the planet and exile himself on a
world with a red sun.  If he does this, he will be powerless and marooned
for the rest of his life.  When the floating diamond with the atomic halo
tells him that he's no longer needed on the planet, the Man of Steel
agrees to leave.

After gathering together some trophies from his past exploits, Superman
knows that he'll be missing his friends... Perry White... Jimmy Olsen...
Lois Lane...  The sentinel reminds him to take along his spacesuit and
parachute pack.  With his work done on Earth, Superman flies through the
skies of Earth for the last time.  He is told that Kandor will be taken
care of... and Supergirl will be joining him in his exile soon.  Now in
the vast depths of space, the Man of Steel realizes that he's left the
planet without so much as a goodbye to his friends.  Now on a planet
which circles a red sun, Superman is now powerless, but a mere mortal. 

On the cover of Action Comics #368, the Man of Steel learns from the
headlines and the weapons in the wastebasket that he is no longer needed
on Earth.

The Grand Comics Database credits Ross Andru and Mike Esposito for this
story, but the art looks more like Curt Swan and Jack Abel to me.

Even in a world such as ours, we can't afford to waste gas... literally.

Disaster movies were very popular in the 1970s.

As drawn by the uncredited art team, Clark Kent bears a striking
resemblance to Tony Randall from "The Odd Couple."

Jax-Ur looks like my late grandfather, who got a bit upset when people
told him that he looked like American-International actor Fred Clark.

By the end of the issue, the Man of Steel has got a couple of creasing
worry lines on his forehead.

This Review Is Dedicated To Marc Miyake

Steve Chung
"The Unemployed Review!"