Superman #116: "Disaster Strikes Twice!"

Superman #116
 "Disaster Strikes Twice!"
 September, 1957

 Story: Unknown
 Art: Al Plastino

 What happens when Clark Kent returns to Smallville and finds that events from his own past are repeating themselves in the present? Even Superman is perplexed when "Disaster Strikes Twice!" As the mild-mannered reporter enters the office of the Daily Planet, he has learned that his old home town of Smallville is commemorating Superboy's departure with a special anniversary! He has already agreed to attend -- but how can he be in Smallville as Superman -- and be at the Daily Planet as Clark Kent? The mild-mannered reporter has also been invited to the celebration and he asks Perry White for his week's vacation now!

 With the request granted, the mild-mannered reporter sheds his outer garments in the store room, and becomes the Man of Steel! Superman soon arrives in seconds over the skies of Smallville, and is welcomed by the mayor! A full week of festivities have been planned in his honor and there are visitors from all parts of the world in attendance! Later, the mayor also welcomes Clark Kent and learns that the general store run by his father has been restored! Later, the Man of Steel re-appears at a warehouse, where he sees every object related to the Boy of Steel's feats have been collected -- and visitors are being given a guided tour! All of these objects bring back memories to the Man of Steel!

 Clark used to work with his foster father, afternoons when school was over! He sees Lana Lang entering the general store and ordering some licorice candy! Clark's super-hearing picks up a strange hissing sound outside. He uses his x-ray vision and sees a giant balloon model of a soldier -- leaking a powerful stream of air! It is floating towards a parked truck loaded with sand, down the street! If he doesn't act fast, the air stream will cause a sandstorm! Clark must change to Superman -- without making Lana suspicious! She always suspected him of being Superboy! Clark heads to the cellar for the licorice! Seconds later, Superman soars skyward! He knows just what he needs to do! He snaps off a steeple...

 SNAP He will repair the damage later -- but now he must borrow the thread, punch a hole in the upper end of the spire, and...sews the hole in the giant balloon at super-speed! Once the balloon leak has been repaired... the Man of Steel breaks into the dark cellar -- and repairs the wall at super-speed! Lana finds Clark in the cellar and is asked if she still thnks he is the Man of Steel! It is a childish notion that she admits she will never outgrow! Once Lana is gone... Clark recalls the last time the same situation occurred several years ago -- and solved it in the same manner! The Smallville regiment had returned from overseas... when a balloon model sprung a leak, and the stream of powerful air was about to hit the sand in the parked truck!

 Once the Boy of Steel repaired it, there was a formal ceremony to welcome the troops! They each claim to have been inspired by the example of Superboy in their own hometown! The tribute makes him happy knowing that his deeds have such meaning for his neighbors! Later, as the Man of Steel attends a ceremony in his honor... the words Superboy engraved with his own finger -- and helped build the Smallville Library! The Man of Steel's super-hearing picks up a strange clattering noise on the street below, and as he gazes into the distance... the giant robots created by Professor Caswell are on a rampage, and are about to cause destruction in a dozen different directions! Seeing a giant bowling set he made to give an athletic demonstration on Superboy Day years ago! He can use this against the robots as he did the last time the same emergency happened! Now at super-speed, Superman grips the giant bowling ball, and hurls it with unerring accuracy! KRASSSH He had to aim the shot perfectly -- to send the pins flying at the right angles that would bowl over each of the robots! That's exactly what the Boy of Steel had done several years ago!

 Who activated the robots again -- and why was this same emergency re-enacted? When this happened last time, Superboy had just made the giant bowling set as part of an athletic exhibition... that he was giving to raise funds for a new hospital! The mayor proclaimed this as Superboy Day, a holiday that Smallville would honor forever, in regards to all the Boy of Steel has done for them! Why are these emergencies happening? Someone must be behind these re-enactments -- but who-- and why? As the Man of Steel returns to town... he is reminded that the name of Superboy will always be remembered by the generation who grew up with him, but there is a whole new generation of children who have never seen him in action! He is asked to give them something to remember him by! After Superman has constructed a special platform... the children climb aboard for a super piggy-back ride! The children are having fun and one wishes that he lived in Metropolis where Superman lives! As he accepts the child's compliment, the Man of Steel spots another emergency!

 An old circus train is out of control and an automobile is stalled directly in its path! This same situation happened years ago! He must do what he had done years ago... melting the train tracks with the heat of his x-ray vision! Once the Man of Steel repairs the track... he remembers how he has been busy in outer space, and just returned to Smallville... the Boy of Steel; spotted the same emergency and melted the train tracks with his x-ray vision! The Man of Steel spots a pattern in these re-enactments! Seeing the old circus train has been re-painted, he uses his microscopic-vision for a clue on the ones behind these emergencies! Having spotted the guilty parties with the paint on their hands, he now listens with his super-hearing! They are some of the most respected citizens of Smallville! Superman must listen further to learn their plan!

 After hearing the rest of the details, he knows they must be shown how wrong they have been! Having heard Mr. Wendley's birthday is tomorrow, Superman presents him with a small gift! The bat and ball in the Man of Steel's hands reminds Wendley of the time he was the star slugger of Smallville! Wendley and his friends have been re-creating certain emergencies that he had faced as the Boy of Steel! In re-experiencing those days as Superboy, the Man of Steel was reminded of the happiness he had known! They had hoped when Superman was reminded how much affection he had for Smallville -- he would decide to remain and never return to Metropolis! In doing so, they were threatening lives merely to satisfy this whim! They knew that Superman could repeat the necessary rescues! As the Man of Steel departs... he reminds Wendley he no longer has any use for the bat and ball, because he can't turn back the clock! They must all face new responsibilities, and enjoy life through them! Thanks to Superman, Wendley and the others have learned that true happiness is to be found in the present, and not in the past!

 In addition to the giant bowling set and the giant balloon soldier, there is also a motorized purple dragon in the warehouse.

 Lana Lang suspected Clark Kent of being Superboy and years later, she arrived in Metropolis, and vied with Lois Lane for the Man of Steel's affections.

 Superman went off on a steeple chase and dealt with an impending threat by using some Rilton Thread.

 Clark was successful in keeping Lana Lang in the dark with the secret of his dual identity.

 It's the Brave and the Bowler when the Man of Steel pins down the rampaging robots.

 The name of Superboy is remembered by a whole new generation of children who grew up reading the reprints and back issues, as well as the syndicated television series with John Haymes Newton, Gerard Christopher, and Stacy Haiduk.

 Back in 1957, Superman was melting objects with the heat of his x-ray vision rather than heat-vision.

 Thanks to back issues and reprints, readers can visit Metropolis and Smallville, where the Boy of Steel and Man of Steel had their adventures illustrated by Curt Swan, Wayne Boring, and Al Plastino.

 Steve Chung
 "Review Strikes Twice!"