Superman: The Man of Tomorrow Vol. 2

Superman: The Man of Tomorrow
Volume II
DC Archives (2006)

Reading this book is biographical archaeology. It reprints Superman stories
from Action Comics and Superman from 1959, when I was about seven years old and
reading sporadic issues. Many of the stories are so embedded in my memory
that I can just about determine which issues I saw and which I must have missed.
Some stories were reprinted later, but memories of the ones I first saw as
reprints when I was older seem to be filed in a different part of my brain and
somehow aren't nearly as vivid.
One oddity is Superman #127 (February, 1959), which I probably read
somewhat before I turned seven in late January. I distinctly remember the first
story ("When There Was No Clark Kent") and the third ("Titano the Super-Ape"),
but I don't recall the second story ("The Make-Believe Superman") at all.
I was definitely reading the Superman comic book at the tender age of
seven, but I seemed to be missing Action Comics. I must have been clear on the
concept that Supes appeared in more than one comic book, since I remember a
couple of the Action Comics stories from 1958 reprinted in Volume I of this
series, but none of the Action stories reprinted in this book ring any bells. Since
I had to husband my resources (i.e., my allowance was meager even for the
time), a comic book with three Superman stories in it probably seemed like a
better deal for my dime than a comic with just one Superman story and a couple of
back-up features I had no interest in. (Which meant that I missed Action #252
and the origin of Supergirl when it appeared, dated May of that year.)
What Stuck. These are images that particularly remained with me since I
saw them as a kid.
Superman #127. In the first story, "When There Was No Clark Kent," I
remember the panels showing the garden in a giant bottle on the roof of a building
on the second and third pages. Giant props are taking us into the Batman
territory of that period, and may have just seemed unusual in Superman. The
page-spanning panels showing street scenes outside Jimmy Olsen's apartment when it
becomes known Superman is living there were also impressed into my memory. Some
of the panels in the Titano story also stuck, particularly the ones of Lois
Lane demonstrating the props for Titano to imitate.
Superman #128 (April, 1959). The cover feature is a two-part story
written by Bill Finger, "Superman Versus the Futuremen." I've heard it argued that
this is the last Superman of Earth II story because a flashback panel showing
Superman's past indicates Superboy could not have existed in this version of
events. Locking Superman in a cage made of Red Kryptonite seems like a
non-standard usage of that substance, too (Finger's idea seems to be that this form of
Kryptonite doesn't weaken Superman or have strange effects on him, but it's
like steel would be to an Earthman and he can't break out). In fact, looking at
the story now, it's so "off" from the new version of Superman that editor Mort
Weisinger was developing and had already pretty well established, I have to
wonder why "Futuremen" was approved and published without some extensive
revision. Even the readers, or at least ones somewhat older than I was, had to have
noticed this was a different Superman than the one they'd been reading about
for the last couple of years.
I think the convoluted plot of Superman being framed to appear to be a
criminal "by super-villains from the year 2,000" in order to kidnap him into the
future went a little past me as a lad of seven, but the Wayne Boring-drawn
visuals of outer-space vistas towards the end of the story made their
impression. The scene of Earth with its oceans dried up stuck with me, as did the
resolution of the future Earth's water shortage problem by using Saturn's smallest
moons (which are actually lumps of frozen water ice -- a gee-whiz scientific
real-true fact known in 1959, though I suspect the story glosses over a few
potential problems with what Superman is shown doing). I didn't like stories where
the hero is the helpless victim of conspiracy and injustice and people just
won't listen when he tries to explain himself, as Superman was in the
"Futuremen" story, and anyway, I think I always felt Boring's art was a little too
weird to be comfortable with. I remember the story but I was probably more awed
than entertained by it.
I have much fonder memories of the short back-up story in that issue,
"The Sleeping Beauty from Krypton." Drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger and featuring a
wackily complex scheme by Lois to make Superman reveal his secret identity, it
reads like a story originally commissioned for the Lois Lane comic book. I
still vividly remember the splash panel showing... well, let Superman describe
it: "Great Scott! A sleeping girl in a rocket -- and she's wearing the native
dress of Krypton, my home planet!" A pretty girl in a rocket in space... when I
was seven, that was my idea of Romance! (I recall being disappointed when I
read the story and discovered that the splash was somewhat deceptive and there
was no such scene in space in the actual tale (not counting a wholly imaginary
flashback). The plot depends on Superman not recognizing Lois in a blonde wig
and being convinced that she's really his former baby-sitter from Krypton,
just arrived on Earth after years in suspended animation in a rocket. He doesn't
realize her rocket is a movie prop when he sees it, either.
I may have missed Superman #129, since I don't remember the first two
stories at all. The third story, "The Girl in Superman's Past," turned out to be
a Silver Age milestone (it's the Lori Lemaris story), but apparently no one
realized it was going to be important, and the story cover-featured is the
somewhat creepy "The Ghost of Lois Lane." (Creepy because Superman is genuinely
convinced he accidentally killed Lois and thinks her ghost is haunting him.
Creepier yet, he does not report her apparent death and remains silent while Perry
and Jimmy wonder why she hasn't come back to the office yet.) My memories of
the Lori Lemaris story seem to come from later reprints.
Now we seem to be coming to a period when I wasn't seeing Superman
regularly, as I don't remember anything else from the rest of this collection.
Perhaps things will pick up if there's ever a Volume #3 (which there darned well
should be -- one of the Action Comics reprints is continued and the second part
isn't in this book!).
But wow...the memories reading this book brought back... It was like
being seven again for a while (and I even got to read the issues I missed back


(Dwight R. Decker, Foreign Funnybook Language Wrangler)