Superman #233: "Superman Breaks Loose!"

Superman #233
"Kryptonite Nevermore!"
January, 1971

Story By: Denny O'Neil
Art By: Curt Swan & Murphy Anderson

With powers far beyond those of mortal men, Superman is at the forefront
of heroes on Earth.  But what happens when "Superman Breaks Loose!"

The Man of Steel is flying towards the proving grounds in the western
United States, where Professor Bolden is about to begin his experiment.
If successful, Bolden's Kryptonite-Engine could provide electricity for
millions of people.  The switch is thrown and the power flows through the
cables connected to the invention.  The emergency alarm sounds, as the
engine is unable to handle the Green K chain reaction.  Superman had
foreseen such an event and has made a lead-coated shield to cover the

K-RASSH!  Keeping the shield in front of him at all times, the Man of
Steel heads for the radioactive pile... KA-VLOOMP  The explosion knocks
the shield from his grip... and Superman receives a potentially fatal
dose of Green Kryptonite radiation.  The impact drives him backwards and
onto the sand.  Minutes pass, as the scientists arrive to check on the
Man of Steel.

They help him to his feet and see that he's a little shaken.  The
professor's assistant rushes towards them with some Kryptonite.  As
Bolden tells the man to stay back, they see that the blast has turned it
into iron.  The professor is skeptical, but the Man of Steel knows that
if he were this close to Green K, he'd be out cold.  A workman shows them
that the Kryptonite kept in a vault has also been turned to iron.
Superman wonders if this has happened to the rest of the Kryptonite on
Earth.  After saying goodbye to the professor and his staff, the Man of
Steel intends to find out if this is so.

The Daily Planet and other newspapers carry the story of how all the
Kryptonite on Earth has been changed into iron.  At the newspaper
offices, Jimmy Olsen is glad that his pal only has to worry about magic,
while Clark Kent conceals his desire to jump for joy.  Morgan Edge, the
owner of the Daily Planet and President of the Galaxy Broadcasting System
is less than pleased with the news.  He does not trust a man who has no
weaknesses and is all-powerful.

Edge is there to give Kent his assignment, as well as a portable
television transmitter for covering the launching of the mail-rocket.
The mild-mannered reporter wonders why this is necessary when he works
for a newspaper.  Since he is one of Edge's employees, he will follow his
boss's order to the letter.  As a newspaper reporter, Clark could change
to Superman with no problems, but as a broadcaster, millions of people
will be watching him.  The television reporter sets up the camera and
presses the button for the studio technicians to get ready.  The
television viewers in Metropolis see Clark Kent reporting for WGBS-TV on
the launching of the transcontinental mail-rocket.  This will be able to
speed up delivery from Metropolis to Los Angeles.

After rocketing to the stratosphere, the mail-rocket will descend for a
trip lasting only ten minutes.  Clark's x-ray vision sees a suspicious
looking character talking on a walkie-talkie.  As the news broadcast
breaks for three minutes of commercials and station breaks, the
mild-mannered television reporter changes clothes at super-speed.  The
Man of Steel is grateful for the commercials and a few yards away, the
shady character continues to talk to his boss via walkie-talkie.

When confronted by Superman, the thug tells him that they are planning on
robbing the mail-rocket -- and selling it to the highest bidder.  The
hood doesn't mind spilling the beans, then smiles as he pulls out some
Kryptonite from a lead container.  Now it is the Man of Steel who smiles,
then reaches for the "Green K," and proceeds to chew on it.  Although it
is a bit stale and unseasoned, Superman considers it to be a delightful

TAPP!  A flick of the wrist from the Man of Steel, and the thug is out
for the count.  With the three minutes almost up, another super-speed
change takes place, and Clark Kent is on the air for the final countdown.
The smoke and dust from liftoff keeps the mild-mannered reporter hidden,
enabling him to change clothes once again.

Since the mail-rocket wasn't stolen before takeoff, Superman figures that
the boss is planning to steal it when it passes through the clouds.  Two
jets are on an intercept course, unaware that they are the ones who are
about to be intercepted.  Confident that nothing can hurt him, the Man of
Steel swoops in, to the shock of the two men flying one of the jets.
VA-BLAM  VA-BLAM  The 50 caliber cannon opens fire on the flying figure.

Not bothering to dodge the blast, Superman rides with the impact, then
proceeds to use his heat-vision to fuse their electrical system.  For
some unknown reason, his heat-vision is not penetrating the jet's hull.
R-RIPP  The Man of Steel is forced to use some tougher methods.

The two men in the cockpit see a most unexpected passenger, just in time
to have him knock their heads together.  With the jet set on automatic
pilot, Superman deals with the other plane, and is unaffected by the
cannon shells.  Now using his x-ray vision to pinpoint their location,
two super-fists smash through, and knock out the other two in the

The mail-rocket is still on course, leaving Superman to tow both planes
over the site of Professor Bolden's experiment.  The Man of Steel is
suddenly seized by weakness, as he feels his strength being drawn from

Now past the site, he feels more like himself once more, and figures that
there must be some lingering radiation in the surrounding area.  At the
city room of the Daily Planet, Jimmy congratulates Clark on his
broadcast, while Lois still prefers Walter Cronkite.  Morgan Edge agrees
that Kent did a fine job, and this is why the reporter will be working
for WGBS-TV on a regular basis.  Clark is grateful, but feels that the
Daily Planet is his proper place.  Perry White has need of the
mild-mannered reporter, but Morgan Edge is the boss, and what he says...
goes.  Clark can only wonder if Superman will be able to act during the
commercial breaks.

In the desert, the sun beats upon a figure in the sand, and ever so
slowly, it begins to move...  It is a being created from the earth and
energy... made in the image of the Man of Steel...  It lives now and
begins to head towards the mountains... and to the places beyond...
Moving slowly, deliberately towards a dreaded destiny...

On the cover, the Man of Steel breaks loose from Kryptonite chains.

The splash page promises a return to greatness, as an old majesty appears
in a stunningly new tale of thrills, tragedy -- and heroism!

With the creative team of O'Neil, Swanderson, and Schwartz, the promise
is kept.

With some discussion of the Superman/Sand Creature story on SA-GA, I
thought that the time was ripe for a review of this classic story.

Professor Bolden's experiment causes all the Kryptonite on Earth to be
turned into iron.

Wouldn't it have been interesting if all of Earth's iron had been turned
into Green K, as well?

The mail-rocket serves to provide speedier delivery from Metropolis to
Los Angeles, but what about the other cities in the United States?  I'm
sure that folks working in comics during the 1970's would have
appreciated having the local mail-rocket drop into their laps.  Yup, the
mail would really be through the roof by now.

While you and I have to take care of business during the commercial
break, the Man of Steel has more serious work to do.  Yup, what we do is
important for our digestive system, but this is Superman!

The Man of Steel helps to take a bite out of crime, and no doubt causes
the hapless thug to lose his lunch in the bargain. 

I love this sequence by O'Neil and Swanderson, with Superman chewing his
"meal" like it was an apple.

The epilogue with the Sand-Creature was eerie and very scary.  I'm sure
I'm not alone in thinking that the Man of Steel was going to have a tough
time of it when they met.

I first read this story in Superman From The 30's To The 70's and was
grateful to have the chance to savor the stories from decades past.

At my second Wondercon, I had the pleasure of meeting Julie Schwartz and
Murphy Anderson. Both men were kind enough to sign my copy of the book on
the "Superman Breaks Loose!" splash page.

Steve Chung
"Superman Breaks Review!"