Action Comics #261: "Secrets Of The Fortress Of Solitude!"

Action Comics #261
"Secrets of The Fortress of Solitude!"

Story: Jerry Siegel
Art: Wayne Boring

On the cover by Curt Swan, The Man of Steel is being attacked by
wax dummies of Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Jor-El, and Perry White, animated
by an evil force!

The Fortress of Solitude is The Man of Steel's home away from home!
One may wonder why it is hidden in the Arctic, or why there is very
little known about the items within The Fortress, itself? There are
surprises galore within... "Superman's Fortresses of Solitude!" On the
splash page, wax representations of Superman's friends and family attack
him, under the bidding of an emerald entity, which has endowed them all
with super-powers capable of destroying The Man of Steel!

Outside of Metropolis, a barker tells citizens to step right up and
see Superman's Fortress of Solitude, and one tyke asks his mom if this is
the real thing! Alvin's mom tells him that The Man of Steel has brought
his Fortress here from its top secret location, and is giving guided
tours, with the profits going to charity. Alvin then asks his mom why
there are two Superman robots on guard duty, and she tells him that since
Superman has so many enemies, the robots are using their x-ray vision to
check for smuggled weapons, which can damage the Fortress. A visitor
tells Superman that he's a welder who came on his lunch hour, and asks if
he can eat on the tour. The Man of Steel smiles and tells him to enjoy
himself. The visitor chuckles and offers him some coffee, which he
graciously declines. "Big Bob" Kruger, an oil man, asks for Superman's
autograph, which he is happy to oblige.

The Man of Steel leads the visitors through the Fortress, telling
them not to be frightened by anything they see, for the proper
precautions have been taken for the safety of visitors. Alvin's mother
gasps at the sight of The Rainbow Jewel, which invigorates those who gaze
upon it, and Superman offers to show the visitors an actual Kryptonian
city! Alvin is aware that the planet Krypton exploded, but not before
the baby who would become Superman escaped its destruction in a rocket.
He hands a magnifying glass to Alvin, and tells him to look at the city
in a bottle. The visitors see rockets passing through the sky over
Kandor. Superman next demonstrates the Wotsis, a creature that
compresses itself into a ball, then propels itself at its opponent like a
living cannon ball, with spikes of steel, that fail to harm The Man of

In the next room, Superman has recreated a 3-dimensional tableau of
the exact moment of Krypton's demise, and the rocket escaping the
explosion. As the tour continues, Alvin asks about what's behind the
locked doors, and Superman tells him that there are super-secrets which
no one must ever learn, and all visitors are forbidden! An alarm goes
off at the Fortress' entrance, and when Superman arrives, he sees one of
his robots holding a man aloft with one hand, and showing his master the
tiny transmitter, which is emitting a super-sonic signal, which is hidden
inside a hollowed-out book! He knows that when he returned The Fortress
to its normal location, the signal could have been traced with the aid of
this device, and Robot Y takes the book-owner to the police! The tour
begins again, but two men remain behind... the "welder" and the "oil

"Big Bob" pours the ink from his pen into the "welder's" thermos,
and the "coffee" becomes a deadly gas! The welder places the thermos
behind a statue, and if it is found before they are ready, he can claim
that he forgot it. The cowboy laughs as the robots were unable to detect
the dangerous chemicals in their component parts, but when combined, the
gas will cause an atomic blast within the hour, courtesy of The
Anti-Superman Gang! The two men's plot are witnessed by those who dwell
in The Bottle City of Kandor, who are unable to warn Superman because
their super-sonic signal is just so much static!

The Rainbow Jewel is the cause of the static, and is interfering
with the super-sonic signal! They must continue to try, for not only the
Fortress is in danger, but The Bottle City of Kandor, as well! The
visitors stop before the bust of Urko The Terrible, and wonder what the
story is with this character, but The Man of Steel prefers to keep it
under wraps. He knows that the visitors would be surprised to learn what
happened when The Fortress was originally placed in space, disguised as
a meteor... but one day inside The Meteor Fortress, a strange space-cloud
begins its approach, and to Superman's eyes, it appears to be alive and a

The cloud surrounds the Satellite of Solitude, and Superman sees
that some of the cloud has penetrated the Fortress. Urko The Terrible
announces himself, a cloud-intelligence which hates all other lifeforms,
including The Man of Steel! He tries in vain to get ahold of the smoky
menace, who gestures, and causes the wax figures of Superman's friends to
attack him, with super-powers capable of destroying even him! The Lois
figure speaks of bringing death to Superman, while the Jimmy figure wants
to destroy him, Jor-El's figure wants to wipe him out, and Perry's figure
cheers Urko , while Superman doesn't have the heart to fight those who
resemble his family and friends.

Since Superman is invulnerable to their attack, Urko urges his
troops to attack the Earth, but to wait an hour before doing so. The Man
of Steel knows that it will be an hour before Urko has enough control to
have the dummies function over a great distance from the space cloud!
The Man of Steel sends a blazing sun at the space-cloud by using his
super-breath, and although he tries to flee, Urko is caught and consumed
by the sun! The experience has taught Superman not to keep the Fortress
in Space, where there are mysteries. In Kandor, their efforts to reach
Superman are still being hampered by the Rainbow Jewel! The crooks are
getting ready to join the other visitors, while the "welder" wants to
gloat over the "coffee" which will destroy The Fortress!

The visitors are looking at a tiny flame-man, which is not alive and
was created as a memory of an adventure which Superman once had.
Although he doesn't tell the visitors about the specifics, The Man of
Steel remembers how he sought to place The Fortress in the center of the
Earth, but he is suddenly attacked by fire-people, who believe that he
means them harm! He overhears their telepathic cries of protecting their
home from the invading monster, and their fire-bombs have opened a
fissure, with an underground stream beginning to pour through! The
Fire-People attempt to flee, for fear of being killed...

Instantly, The Man of Steel digs a large crevice to divert the water
away from them, and The Fire-People regard him as a friend. They ask him
not to leave, for they admit their mistake, and apologize, but Superman
sees that the center of the Earth isn't as quiet as he thought! "Big
Bob" tells the "welder" to quit gloating and come back before their
absence is detected, and the "welder" grudingly obliges, hurling the top
of his thermos away! The tour has ended and the visitors depart, but two
of them are certain that the Fortress will be but a fond memory in less
than an hour! Within Kandor, contact is still being blocked by the
radiation of The Rainbow Jewel, a radiation which can only be blocked by
a lead barrier!

Superman uses the giant key to lock The Fortress, while The Mayor of
Metropolis thanks him for the millions earned for charity, a cause which
The Man of Steel is alway happy to help. He carries The Fortress back to
the Arctic, while at the Anti-Superman Gang Hideout, the hoods watch the
seismograph needle for the jump which will signify the atomic explosion
that will destroy The Fortress! The Anti-Superman Gang continue to watch
the needle, and in Kandor, Mars-Ol is told by Ra-Ho to try again, and
moments later... the needle jumps, and the leader of The Anti-Superman
Gang jumps for joy, for surely The Fortress has been destroyed, and he
wishes aloud that he could laugh in the invulnerable face of Superman
right now!

The hapless leader gets his wish, as The Man of Steel comes crashing
through the wall of their hide-out, and even so, the crook is happy that
the Fortress is destroyed. With a single wave of his hand, The
Anti-Superman Gang are knocked off their feet by the wind brought up by
the sudden motion, or is it because The Man of Steel tells them that The
Fortress wasn't destroyed at all? The leader thinks that Superman is
lying, for the needle jumped, but The Man of Steel admits that while
there was an atomic explosion, which occured after he threw the thermos
bottle into outer space, where the explosion couldn't harm The Fortess.
The leader groans and asks when Superman learned about the plot, but that
is his secret, as they are left with the Metropolis Police! In The
Fortress, Superman is grateful to the Kandorians who succeeded in
communicating with him, after he spotted a lead thermos bottle cap was
covering the Rainbow Jewel! It was thrown by one of the crooks, and
landed over The Rainbow Jewel, whose lead structure enabled them to
communicate, while cutting off the static! Thanks to a criminal's
carelessness, the warning went through, and Superman was able to save
them and The Fortress, as well as find the crooks' hideout. The
Kandorians are reassured that Superman will destroy The Rainbow Jewel so
that it will not prevent contact between them again!

The wax figures of Superman's friend and family would seem to be
fitting on a birthday cake, but by their reaction to The Man of Steel,
he'd better blow them off before they have a chance to destroy him!

Craig Shutt, a.k.a Mr. Silver Age, once did an article on The Many
Fortresses of Superman.

The Superman robot security guards would no doubt be a welcome
sight at airport security checkpoints. At least with these robots, you
wouldn't be waiting in line too long, and hopefully, any no-goodniks
would give up at the sight of The Man of Steel.

Could the young boy, Alvin, be a hint to the writer of the story
being Alvin Schwartz?

Superman's Fortress has attractions which would put Disneyland to

The two members of The Anti-Superman Gang manage to make the
coffee break a chance for even more mayhem against The Man of Steel!

Why couldn't any of The Kandorians leave The Bottle City and warn
Superman in person?

Urko is an emerald gas cloud, who wears a crest like Starman, a
uniform like that of Colossal Boy, and a symbol on his chest like Sunboy.
His mustache and beard is enough to give Oliver Queen a case of green

Urko was the name of the character played by Mark Lenard (Sarek
on Star Trek) on the short-lived Planet of The Apes TV show of the '70s.

Superman's code against killing didn't apply to the gas cloud
that was Urko. I'd love to have seen him come to Earth and wrestle with
Los Angeles' smog. He wouldn't stand a chance!

Thankfully, Anti-Superman Gang members love to gloat, giving
desperate Kandorians scientists enough time to point out the only way to
get a signal through, and as soon as the way is revealed, lo and behold,
there it is!

The Fire-People are armed with bazookas, and have no doubt
learned that water is bad from using their weapons on their surroundings.

You think The Anti-Superman Gang got started when the
members' girlfriends dumped them for The Man of Steel? I remember a
cover where Superman is at a kissing booth for charity, and there's quite
the line of ladies waiting for a chance to kiss him!

It's amusing watching the hapless hoods being intimidated
by the gravity of their situation, as Superman takes them to the air, in
the Wayne Boring classic style.

Steve Chung
"Reviews Of The Fortress Of Solitude!"