Action Comics #233: "The Land Of A Million Supermen"

Action Comics #233
"The Land Of A Million Supermen"
October, 1957

Story: Jerry coleman
Art: Wayne Boring

On the cover of Action Comics #233, Mild-mannered Clark Kent is told
by the border guards that as a stranger to the kingdom of Borgonia, he is
to wear an imitation Superman costume or else the penalty will be death.
Clark wonders what the guard would think if he knew that he was talking
to the real Superman, while a picnicking family watches his predicament
from the other side of the border.

Superman is up against quite a mystery, in the kingdom of Borgonia,
where its subjects must wear copies of The Man of Steel's costume under
penalty of death, for there is a miniature copy of the planet Krypton, in
"The Land Of A Million Supermen!"

Reporters Clark Kent and Lois Lane are aboard a plane, bound for a
foreign country where they'll cover a news story, and the mild-mannered
reporter tells his collegue that they're passing over Borgonia, which he
recalls from a previous visit, and thinks that Superman should do
something on that return visit. The plane continues to make its way,
then begins to lurch, which the stewardess attributes to some engine
trouble, but Clark's x-ray vision shows that there's a leak in the gas
tank, and that a forced landing in the mountains would be too much for
the plane to take. Not able to change to Superman in front of Lois,
Clark pretends to be a coward in order to save the passengers. As Clark
leaps from the plane with a parachute, the plane has run out of gas, and
he releases the parachute, while using his super-breath to guide the
plane past the moutains for a safe landing. Once on the ground, Clark
finds himself in Borgonia, while the plane has landed in the neighboring

Clark is detained by a pair of guards who are wearing Superman
suits. In the guardhouse, he is told to don a Superman suit, which Clark
tells them would be silly, but the suit is thrown at him by the
disgruntled guard, who tells the meek reporter that these are the
commands of their great leader...Torm. Clark had heard of a dictator
running the country, but didn't think it was this bad. When he asks what
would happen if he doesn't wear the Superman suit, Clark is told that
he'll be immediately executed. Not wanting to reveal to the guards that
he is bullet-proof, Clark dons the costume, and enters the city, where he
sees a Superman baker, a cab driver, and policemen.

All the citizens are wearing Superman costumes, and Clark can only
wonder what Torm's motives are. Looking up into the sky, Clark sees a
blur of red and blue, and wonders if this is yet another Superman?
Ducking behind some shrubbery, Clark removes the copy of his costume, and
Superman leaps into the air, where the jet-propelled red and blue colored
missile which was roaring at super-sonic speed is stopped by the
invulnerable form of The Man of Steel. With his super-memory, The Man of
Steel recalls the angle at which he traveled upward, and if he goes down
the same angle, he'll reach the point from which it was fired. Two men
clad in Superman costumes greet him on the ground.

Gault and Henrik are two members of Torm's cabinet, but are secretly
heads of the underground which seek to overthrow him, and restore
democracy to Borgonia. The red-and-blue missiles were sent to give the
impression that there was a Superman in their country, and that when The
Man of Steel would learn of this, he would come and aid them in their
efforts to overthrow the tyrant Torm. When asked why Torm wants his
subjects to wear Superman costumes, Gault tells him that they don't know
either, but Torm demanded all citizens don costumes when news of the
missile sighting reached him. Torm has begun another project,which
Superman soon sees with his telescopic-vision. Even The Man of Steel is
impressed by the sight of the huge model of Krypton, which he wants to
see close up!

Assuming the role of Clark, he asks why the model of Krypton is
being built, and is told by the construction workers to leave or else be
reported to Torm, himself! At night, the model of Krypton casts a green
glow, and Clark can only wonder about the significance of the replica of
the dead world of his birth. In a meeting, Torm has summoned his aides,
and reveals the secret of his million Superman costumes, which has a red
"s" in a yellow shield on the cape. The men are shown a copy of
Superman's true uniform, which has a yellow "s" in a yellow shield, and
Torm hopes that the real Superman won't notice this discrepency until it
is too late. When wearing his real uniform, The Man of Steel will be
identified by Torm's secret agents so that they can trap him!

When asked how they'll trap him, Torm tells them that they'll have
his fingerprints and threaten to reveal his secret identity unless he
does what Torm wants with the Krypton model. In the morning, Superman
only has to don his glasses and wear his own uniform to blend in with the
citizens of Borgonia, and he deals with what he intended to do on a
return visit by checking on the rebuilt foundations which are holding the
bridge up, as The Man of Steel had heard about geologic shifts. Diving
underground, Superman sees the shifting rock, and forces it back into
place, where the bridge will be safe for years to come. Once his task
has been completed, Superman returns to town, where Torm's secret agents
soon spot The Man of Steel in their midst, with the yellow "s" in the
yellow shield.

A woman asks Clark to pick up the marbles which have fallen from a
tear in the bag, and he obliges. The marbles are for capturing his
fingerprints, and Agent 58-L hands over the bag of marbles, while another
agent approaches Clark and tells him that Torm wishes to see Superman at
the palace immediately. Arriving at the palace, Torm shows Superman the
exhibit of the two Superman costumes with the different "s" on the capes.

When asked why he was brought here, Torm asks The Man of Steel to
step into the next room, where he sees the magnified pictures of his own
fingerprints which were taken from the marbles he picked up. Torm taunts
him by telling him that his secret identity could be exposed, then offers
Superman the copies of the pictures of the fingerprints, which Torm keeps
in his safe. When asked what's to prevent The Man of Steel from using his
heat-vision to burn what's inside the safe, Torm tells him that he is
aware that the heat of his x-ray vision is useless against the lead safe.
Torm wants Superman to do him a small favor by taking the model of
Krypton into space and make it explode as the original did, arranging it
so that the fragments will fall towards a pre-determined spot.

Torm claims to admire Superman so much that he wants to own
fragments from the Krypton model which were exploded in the same way the
original was, and since Torm has the prints, The Man of Steel doesn't
have much choice in the matter.

As Superman soars with the model of Krypton, Torm gloats about the
real reason why he wants the model destroyed, and how its destruction
will make him one of the most powerful men in the world. Suspicious of
Torm's intentions, Superman takes great pains to avoid direct contact
with the model once it explodes, in case the fragments turn out to be
made of the same minerals as the planet Krypton. He drops the model so
that the fragments will fall where Torm indicated, but if the fragments
turn out to be Kryptonite, he will be far enough away. Taking aim with a
huge meteorite, Superman hurls it against the model of Krypton, which
shatters from the impact, and The Man of Steel can only wonder if it will
be Kryptonite which will give Torm power to weaken him.

The fragements begin to fall towards Earth, fragments from the
coal model and the pressure generated in the explosion caused the carbon
to turn into diamonds! Superman returns to Torm, who reneges on giving
back the fingerprints, reminding The Man of Steel that it is his land and
property that they are on. Knowing the trick that Torm is playing,
Superman heads outside of the three-mile limit where the land has no
owner,then dives down, boring like a human drill beneath the diamonds.
Gripping the bedrock which supports the land, The Man of Steel knows that
the area will sink into the underground river. The diamonds are swept
from sight by the river current, and Torm vows to publish the
fingerprints in every paper in the world! Superman smiles and tells Torm
to meet him at the palace and learn otherwise.

At the palace, The Man of Steel tells the dictator that perhaps he
used his super-speed to send the contents of the safe a 1,000 years into
the future and back again so that its contents would be destroyed, but
Torm calls the bluff and opens the safe, making it simpler for Superman's
heat-vision to burn the evidence. Torm vows to banish Superman from
Borgonia, but The Man of Steel doubts that this particular threat will
come to pass. Superman visits Gault and is told that Torm has fixed the
voting machines so that no matter what the vote is, Torm will be the
victor, and that even with Gault running against him, the dictator
regards it as a joke. The Man of Steel vows that on Election Day, the
joke will be on Torm! At the polling place, Superman adjusts the voting
machines so that they'll give an accurate record of the vote, and that
the people will get the candidate they voted for. At The Daily Planet,
Lois compliments Clark on his scoop, and the mild-mannered reporter
smiles, for he now knows the secret of "The Land Of A Million Supermen!"

A fun cover by Curt Swan, where mild-mannered Clark Kent gets a
rude awakening at the border.

A spectacular splash page by Wayne Boring, which has The Man of
Steel staring at a large model of the planet Krypton (which resembles a
Sputnik satellite) and the various Borgonians wearing Superman costumes.

Clark is wearing a purple suit rather than his traditional blue
suit in this story.

Gault and Henrik's Superman missile is reminiscent of a totem
pole, which in terms of Silver Age stories, would remind Marvel readers
of The Fantastic Four villain, Toomazooma!

It was interesting to see what Clark would do to make "The Great
S-Cape" from Borgonia. (Holy Steve McQueen, Batman!)

One wonders if it was Agent 58-L or Superman who lost their
marbles, especially when it came to the question of removing the
fingerprints from Torm's safe? Why didn't he freeze it with his
super-breath or use his super-strength to remove the incriminating

A game of bowling... Superman-Style, with the use of a meteor
and the fine art of Wayne Boring.

Torm's confession of wanting the fragments of the exploded model
of Krypton makes as much sense as rationalizing the reasoning behind a

The Man of Steel makes sure that the people of Borgonia have
their votes count where they want it to.

Steve Chung
"The Review Of A Million Supermen"