Superman #297: "Clark Kent Forever... Superman Never!"

Superman #297
"Clark Kent Forever...Superman Never!"
March, 1976

Story: Eliot S! Maggin and Cary Bates
Art: Curt Swan and Bob Oksner
Editor: Julius Schwartz

With the threats facing Metropolis, the mild-mannered reporter has to
tell himself to keep walking... he is no longer the Man of Steel -- From
now on, it's... "Clark Kent Forever -- Superman Never!"

At the Olympus Observatory, four members of Inter-Gang have finished
their adjustments on a giant telescope.  It is now a deadly weapon which
is capable of drawing energy from orange-type stars -- and will enable
the criminal combine to place Metropolis under their power.  After the
countdown, a burst of orange flame is sent towards the unsuspecting

Clark Kent is flying the WGBS helicopter when he spots the deadly flame
heading for Metropolis... and knows that this will be the last job for
Superman!  With the helicopter on hover, the Man of Steel soars at
super-speed.  On the ground, Morgan Edge wants to know what's going on
with the orange flame coming from the giant telescope.  Steve Lombard
tells his boss not to worry... because his binoculars show that the
Action Ace is on his way to stop the threat.  Superman unleashes his
super-breath at the oncoming flames.

This causes the flame to split into two and there are only two heartbeats
left for the Man of Steel to try something else.  The Action Ace's
super-speed pulls forth some water to counter the flame, but it has no
effect.  Superman now executes a power-dive towards the open sea, with
only one heartbeat left for the citizens of Metropolis...  His
invulnerable body plows along the beach... sending the sand skyward --

The Man of Steel propels himself and the sand across the skies above
Metropolis... meeting the orange flame head on-- keeping it from striking
the various buildings.  The flame weakens Superman, but the sand smothers
the threat before long -- and the Ace Ace is now free to trace it to its
origin at the observatory.  In the next five seconds, an Inter-Gang
technician sees something coming towards them before he and his three
cronies are placed out of action.

After untying Professor Milius, the Action Ace returns to the hovering
helicopter, and Clark Kent is able to land the Flying Newsroom.  Steve
Lombard smiles as he sees "Clarkie" through his binoculars, and Morgan
Edge hopes that Kent managed to take some pictures.  On the ground, the
owner of WGBS asks for the camera from the mild-mannered reporter, who
knows that he couldn't have caught Superman on film.  He made a point of
using his x-ray vision on the film before changing clothes.  Before the
newscast, a film technician tells Edge that the orange flame must have
messed up the camera film.  While Morgan Edge chomps on his cigarette
lighter, two members of Inter-Gang read about the capture of their men.
Despite this setback, it turns out that the Man of Steel has done exactly
what they wanted him to do, and Metropolis will soon be theirs.

In his apartment, Clark Kent hang his Superman uniform in the secret
closet.  The time has come for him to learn what it means to truly be an
Earth man.  For the next week -- and perhaps longer than that -- there
will be no Man of Steel!  He will learn what it means to be the
mild-mannered reporter in the mean time.  Clark takes the elevator down
to the ground floor, and finds himself sharing the ride with May
Marigold.  The girl is holding a strange plant called a Grandfather
Cactus... As the girl explains to her neighbor how the white strands look
like hair, Clark pricks his finger on the plant.  May is sorry that the
reporter got hurt on the sharp spikes, and Clark can only stare at the
blood on his finger.  He then realizes for the first time how cute May
Marigold is, too.

In an apartment next to Clark Kent's, Xviar is contacting his homeworld
for further instructions.  As planned, the Man of Steel is learning what
it's like to live life as a mere mortal, and his masters approve of
Xviar's progress.  The agent uses a device to pass into the adjacent
apartment and searches for all the hidden areas containing Superman's

At a midtown restaurant near the Galaxy Communications Building, Clark
asks Lois if they should place their order before Steve Lombard arrives.
She sees the sportscaster make his entrance and the mild-mannered
reporter is quenching his thirst when the Slinger slaps him hard on the
back.  Lois Lane smirks when Steve compliments her on the new outfit, and
chides "Clarkie" for his table manners.  She gasps when the mild-mannered
reporter rises to his feet, then shoves the table onto the startled

The girl reporter doesn't know what to make of Clark's abrupt actions,
while the sportscaster plans to punch him out if this happens again.  As
the reporter walks along the street, he notices for the first time how
much the air has become polluted.  The other people on the street point
towards the subway, where a river is running through it.  Knowing that
hundred of lives are at stake, Clark plans to come out of retirement, but
he is no longer wearing his costume.  As he struggles with his emotions,
the fire department arrives, and informs the public that no one was hurt.
The underwater tunnel is being worked on by people in scuba gear.  One
man turns to see Clark Kent leaning against a lamppost, relieved that no
one was in danger.  He realizes that the world has gone well before there
was a Man of Steel, and resolves to continue the experiment.

At the Fortress of Solitude... the last city of Krypton exists within the
Bottle City of Kandor...  Two Kandorian scientists had observed how the
mild-mannered reporter had not changed into Superman.  both men watch
their visual computer screen and see how the Action Ace would have dealt
with the crisis.  A gust of super-breath would have forced the flood back
into the tunnel.

The tunnel would have been dried out in seconds and the water would be
sent back into the river below.  Heat-vision would seal the leak shut,
but the scientists can only wonder why he didn't do it.  At 344 Clinton
St., Clark Kent greets Lois Lane at his door, and sees that she's brought
some groceries.  The girl reporter has decided to cook dinner for him,
and in the hours that follow, the mild-mannered reporter learns that
there's a lot he didn't know about Lois.  When she asks how he liked the
beef bourguignon, Clark smiles, and they head for the couch.  As the
credits roll for the Johnny Nevada Show, both find that they only have
got eyes for one another.  The broadcasting day has ended, but their
relationship has only just begun.

In the morning, Steve Lombard comes to work, and sees Lois Lane placing a
flower on Clark's desk.  When he starts to compliment her on her new
outfit, the Slinger sees that she isn't paying any attention to him.
It's a pretty lovely day for Lois and a pretty confusing one for Steve.
Days pass... with Clark Kent reporting a story at the Arco Meat-Packing
Plant... where people are protesting about the rising cost of meat.  As
the police arrive on the scene, the mild-mannered reporter is surprised
to see that Superman has just appeared, and succeeds in calming down the

Only Clark and the man in the costume knows that he's not the real Man of
Steel.  Gregory Reed was filming some scenes at Monarch Studios when he
saw the commotion.  The reporter interviews "Superman," who is grateful
that he didn't have to use his super-powers to prevent a possible riot.
Clark admires Greg's bravery for pulling off his stunt.  Among those
watching the scene are members of Inter-Gang.  They wonder why Superman
hasn't burst into flame and figure that the Man of Steel hadn't done
anything super.  The criminal combine had spent eighteen million dollars
in rigging a telescope to become a weapon, and they want results.  Morgan
Edge is in no mood for back talk from his employee.  He is the boss at
WGBS and when he says that Clark Kent is going to a report from Chile...
that's just what's going to happen.  When the mild-mannered reporter
starts to answer his employer, Edge cuts him off.

Clark has had enough and pulls the cigarette lighter from his boss's
mouth.  He doesn't want to go to Chile and he's not going to.  After
dumping the cigarette in a glass of water, the reporter has his
opportunity to get his opinion across to his employer.  Impressed by
Kent's resolve, Mr. Edge offers him a raise, and congratulates him on his
choice of replacement for the assignment.  Steve Lombard is not a happy
man.  When he gets his hands on "Clarkie," he's going to find out what
made Edge send him to Chile.  Lois and Clark are sharing an elevator when
the Slinger bursts in on them.  The elevator doors close and the car
descends three floors...  When they open, a smiling Clark escorts Lois
from the elevator, leaving a stunned Steve nursing a sore jaw.

Later that day, the mild-mannered reporter meets with an informant about
Inter-Gang.  At the suburban home of Professor Pepperwinkle, Clark
borrows an invention from the eccentric scientist.  An hour later, the
reporter is using a acetylene torch to burn a hole through the roof of a
truck.  After lifting the section off with a suction cup, Clark grabs
ahold of the invention, and dives in.

The last thing the three members of Inter-Gang were expecting was a visit
from the WGBS reporter.  As the armed men charge towards the lone figure,
Clark activates the Professor's anti-gravity invention.  Now all four are
floating in mid-air, with the reporter using his experience at flying to
overcome his assailants.  The three men are no match for someone who has
been flying since he was a baby.

With all three Inter-Gangsters knocked senseless, Clark Kent is now able
to seize the records from Inter-Gang's rolling office.  Back at his
apartment, he tells Lois about Inter-Gang's plot to use a telescope to
turn Superman into a living bomb, and have his super-powers cause the
destruction of Metropolis.  No longer in the mood for shop talk, Lois
accepts Clark's invitation to see the view from his apartment.  In the
adjacent apartment, Xviar has gathered the jewels necessary to channel
the Man of Steel's powers, and to destroy the entire Earth.

On the cover of Superman #297, the mild-mannered reporter is being beaten
by a trio of bank robbers, while the Man of Steel asks if Clark thinks he
can get along without Superman.

Even with a giant telescope, the Inter-Gangsters should have seen
Superman coming for them.

As rendered by Curt Swan and Bob Oksner, May Marigold is really cute.
Me, I wonder how Clark is able to tell the twins apart.

When it came to the Grandfather Cactus, the mild-mannered reporter got
the point when it came to his power loss.

When it came to Steve Lombard, Clark no longer had to hold his water, and
turned the tables on the Ol' Slinger.

Now a mortal man, Clark Kent can appreciate the cuteness of a pretty
face, notice how polluted the air has gotten, and suffer guilt when lives
are in danger.

After some beef bourguignon, Clark and Lois are able to share a sofa.
(Holy Couch Potatoes, Batman!)

Was Gregory Reed a tribute to George Reeves and to Christopher Reeve?

The Inter-Gang boss resembles Nixon wearing the Joker's purple suit.

The owner of Galaxy Communications usually has an edge, but even he
underestimated the strength of the mild-mannered reporter. 

With an assignment in Chile, Steve Lombard will not be wearing a leisure
suit, and should think twice before hassling "Clarkie" again.

Professor Pepperwinkle appeared on "The Adventures of Superman"
television series.

This Review Is Dedicated to Rich Goldberg (who requested it!)

Hope both he and you folks on SAR enjoyed it.

Happy holidays and hopes for a better, brighter new year in 2005!

Steve Chung
"Clark Kent Forever... Superman Review!"