Superman #234: "How To Tame A Wild Volcano!"

Superman #234
"How To Tame A Wild Volcano!"
February, 1971

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

Mount Boki has come to life once more -- with ash and smoke darkening the
sky... and the man of steel watches this, as the island natives flee from
the sight of the searing lava.  Superman has twice tried to save them,
but will he learn... "How To Tame A Wild Volcano!"

At the Galaxy Broadcasting Building, Morgan Edge calls for mild-mannered
reporter Clark Kent.  He is to cover the eruption of the Boki Volcano,
and the man who owns the island, who refuses to let any of his workers
leave there.  After changing clothes in a deserted alleyway, the man of
steel soars skyward --

Superman is now half a world away... ready to evacuate the area.  F-VOOM
VOOM  His super-hearing catches the sound of cannonfire coming from the
bay.  Two gunboats are firing shells at the natives rowing their canoes.
The man of steel seizes two of the incoming shells, just as another slams
harmlessly against his chest.  VLAMMMMVA

BAMETABAM  As Superman tells the crewman to cease fire, Boysie Harker
introduces himself as the owner of the island.  Since the workers are
under contract, Harker believes he has the right to enforce it.  When the
man of steel points towards the smoking volcano, the owner is
unimpressed, and tells Superman to stay away from his property.  It is
now up to the man of steel to save the natives without trespassing on the

With two hours left before Boki erupts, Clark Kent does a bit of
reporting via satellite for WGBS.  As the camera zooms in for a close up,
the mild-mannered reporter changes his clothes at super-speed.  The man
of steel is able to control the camera with his belt-buckle remote, and a
mini-microphone beneath his cape enables him to continue with Kent's

As Superman soars above the ocean, a sandy figure makes its way along
Death Valley, and pauses for a moment in the desolate area.  It raises
its arms and begins to rise at a wobbly angle.  The figure is now on a
course for Boki Island, drawn by an irresistible force.  The man of steel
has begun to tunnel beneath the ocean floor.  (Holy Cousteau, Batman!)

Knowing that volcanoes are formed by underground forces and rising rock,
Superman seeks to create a tunnel exit for the explosion to expend
itself.  His x-ray vision enables the man of steel to find where he needs
to go.  As the sand-creature soars over the waves, Superman suddenly
experiences great weakness and dizziness.  He is forced to return to the
surface once more.

Only Green Kryptonite had such an effect on him, but the radioactive
substance has been converted to iron.  VLAMM  The concussive force from a
cannon interrupts his thoughts, as Boysie Harker reminds him that he is
still on his property.  The owner is not willing to listen to reason, but
Superman is not ready to break the law.  If he doesn't act soon, many
will die.

The man of steel recognizes that there are still some moral laws which
are above manmade law, and he has fought many a tyrant who would exploit
them.  SPUT- ASPUT  An airplane on fire gets Superman's attention, with
those aboard thankful for his arrival.  The action ace carries the plane
some ten miles away towards an atoll.  (Holy No Trouble Atoll, Batman!)

On the atoll, the special delegation from the United Nations tell
Superman that they had come to observe Boki and Harker.  The U.N. is
expected to declare a state of emergency in an hour, but the man of steel
knows that the island has got only twenty minutes left.  When he learns
how the plane was damaged by a rough storm some eighty miles south,
Superman finds a way to buy some time.  With help from the storm, the
volcano could be cooled until the United Nations can intervene.

The enormous rain cloud is just ahead, with Superman creating a wind by
circling it at super-speed.  The storm cloud is now above the mouth of
the volcano.  It's up to Mother Nature now.

The hot and cold collision has caused a large downpour and a delay for
the eruption.  Before a return to reporting the story for Morgan Edge,
the man of steel decides to take a shower within the cloud.  Superman
suddenly experiences the loss of strength and is unable to remain in the
air much longer.  The sand-creature has stolen more of his powers.

Thousands of feet below, Harker Boysie sees the ships which have come for
his workers.  The island owner orders the cannon to be readied...
aimed... fi...  F-WAMB  Before the order can be completed, a falling form
smashes into the barrel, bending it out of shape.  With his cannon
ruined, Harker wants some pay back.

SWOT  One crewman injures his hand when he attempts to punch the man of
steel in the jaw.  K-YKK Another sailor injures his foot when he tries to
kick Superman in his cape.  Harker Boysie decides to do the dirty work
himself and charges headfirst into the invulnerable body of the man of
steel.  The action ace had not noticed any of this, as he has been busy
trying to remember how he wound up on the deck.

Clark Kent reports on the successful evacuation of Boki Island... with
the U.S. Navy taking Harker into custody, where he will be tried in an
international court of law.  The mild-mannered television reporter smiles
as he tells the audience that the volcano will erupt in an hour, but the
natives will all be safe.  As he turns towards the volcano, Clark wonders
about the mysterious creature he had seen in the sky... A complete
unknown... a dangerous menace which even Superman may be unable to stop.
Within the volcano, it rests... unharmed by the tremendous heat... Its
features begin to form on its structure -- as it ponders its next move...

On the cover of Superman #234, a mysterious sand-being has just stolen
the man of steel's powers.

"How To Tame A Wild Volcano!" is a fine story title, but it reminds me of
the movie title for "How To Stuff A Wild Bikini!"

Superman knows how to play the shell game with Boysie Harker.

This amazing new adventure of Superman shows how the character stands for
law and order, by not defying Harker's right as owner of the island.

The mysterious sand-creature takes its first steps in Death Valley and
you'll believe that it can fly.

Look!  Up in the sky!  It's a bird!  It's a burning plane!  It's

The man of steel soon has Boysie Harker and his crew over a cannon

As Superman gets his head together, Harker and the sailors get themselves
into the hospital.

Oh Boysie!  Never mind not tugging on Superman's cape... you should never
rush headfirst into his "S" emblem. 

In the Metropolis Mailbag, Martin Pasko of Clifton, N.J. writes:

"Dear Editor:

Once upon a time, a writer called Cary Bates wrote a story called "Flash
- Fact or Fiction?" in The Flash #179.  Ever since that time, fans have
known that Cary Bates knew better than to write a story of the calibre of
"Killer Kent Versus Super-Luthor" (which appeared in Superman #230) and
try to pass it off as a piece of quality comic work.

The Imaginary Story gimmick has been kicked around for over eleven years
in the Superman line, reaching its zenith in the only really good
"Imaginary" Tale.  "The Death of Superman," and hitting rock bottom with
Mr. Bates' latest catastrophe.  One gets the impression that it has been
kicked around for eleven years too many.  The pain, however, is somewhat
alleviated when one considers that the chance of having to endure
further such stories of a genre that has long since worn out its welcome
is very slim indeed.

Another substantial shot of novocaine is the consideration that when one
rereads "Killer Kent Versus Super-Luthor," it's a little easier on the
nerve-endings if one makes the sweeping (and rather condescending)
assumption that author Bates can't possibly be serious - that the whole
thing is another April Fool's Boo-Boo Contest.  I mean, the opening shot
of the Man of Tomorrow sitting, Mr. Mxyzptlk style, atop the Daily Planet
(?) Globe, with a bit of dialogue that once and for all exposes the true
inanity of "Imaginary Stories", was a tell-tale clue that the rest of the
magazine would be written in an extremely subtle, tongue-in-cheek style
(not the overt campishness of a Denny O'Neil, however).  The entire story
was pervaded by an indefinable, serio-comic quality I'm sure Mr. Bates
wasn't even aware of.

For those die-hard Supermaniacs who have been swallowing dutifully, like
Boy Scouts taking castor oil, the pap handed out by this magazine for the
past ten years, without so much as a whimper, I'll bet the sight of a
bald five-year-old named Lex-El wasn't nearly as ridiculous as it was for
me.  The incidents surrounding Jor-El's insanity were imaginative, but
apparently that part of the script which dealt with how "Clark Lang"
developed into a criminal was treated to a less creative segment of
writer Bates' brain.  By the time the whole thing degenerated into an
Untouchables-style wallow in '20's-gangland stereotypes, I was content to
"degenerate" into a wild, insane cackle, secure in the perverted
knowledge that I'd probably have no recollection of this farce by
morning.  And THAT, dear Editor, is no "Imaginary Tale"!!"

E.N.B. replies: "After that, we need soothing relief from this verbal
assault.  Quick - this is a job for Gary Skinner!"

Steve Chung
"How To Tame A Wild Review!"