Action Comics #281: "The Man Who Saved Kal-El's Life!"

Action Comics #281
"The Man Who Saved Kal-El's Life!"
October, 1961

Story: Robert Bernstein
Art: Al Plastino

As everyone knows, no Earthling ever visited Krypton prior to its destruction! Now, one man comes forth, claiming to have visited the planet when the Man of Steel was an infant! Is this man's true and does he have the solution to a mystery that has baffled our planet? You will be as surprised as Superman when you learn the strange story of... "The Man Who Saved Kal-El's Life!"

In the city of Metropolis, Paul Pratt studies a diagram of the Underground Museum of International Treasures. That very afternoon, he is among those entering the exhibit where each nation has contributed their rare treasures! The underground museum is supposed to be as difficult as Fort Knox with hundreds of armed guards positioned throughout the structure! As Paul Pratt takes an elevator down, he wonders what would happen if a thief did manage to get his hands on some gold statues? How would he manage to escape? The average thief would be caught within minutes! Paul Pratt is no "average" crook, as the world is about to find out! The Mexican Exhibit of Rare Aztec Gold Statues attracts his eye, and soon he is making a getaway! As Paul Pratt sprints into an adjoining chamber, a guard seals off all rooms on this level!

The two guards find no one in the adjoining chamber, believing they've just been tricked by an illusionist! Five minutes later, Paul Pratt finds himself some two-thousand miles away in Hollywood, California. He committed the robbery in Metropolis at 3 p.m. and is now standing on the corner of Hollywood and Vine at 12:05 p.m.! In Metropolis, the two museum guards have found the criminal's fingerprints in the Mexican exhibit! The Metropolis police department matches the prints to the mug shot of Paul Pratt! As a coast-to-coast alarm is sent out, Paul Pratt is arrested for throwing a rock through a restaurant window in Hollywood! At the police station, a wireless picture is checked against Paul Pratt! Since he could not have possibly pulled off a job some two-thousand miles away fifteen minutes ago, he could not possibly be the criminal!

As the mild-mannered reporter receives the news on the teletype, he makes a quick change at super-speed to the Man of Steel. Superman drops in on the Hollywood police department, since he had to do a job for Ted Mason, the motion picture producer! Both the Man of Steel and the Hollywood police department figure a mistake must have been made! The thief must have robbed the underground museum and planted Paul Pratt's prints there! He is being released after paying a fine for breaking a window and disturbing the peace! Superman finds it an incredible coincidence that Paul Pratt and the real crook have identical fingerprints! When Pratt leaves the police station, he tells the Man of Steel the truth because there is nothing Superman can do about it! Paul Pratt admits to pulling the robbery! Even the Man of Steel cannot pin a crime on someone who can be in two places at the same time!

As Superman heads into outer space, he gathers the materials he promised Ted Mason for his new science-fiction film and deliver it to him on location! Days later, on the outskirts of Hollywood, Paul Pratt is ready for his second job! A film star is throwing a lavish party aboard a dirigible! No one is wary of a stickup because how would a crook make his escape during an aerial holdup? Pratt, disguised as a waiter, begins the brazen stickup! As the crook heads along a catwalk, he is unaware the Man of Steel has been following his every move for days, hoping to catch him in the act of committing a crime! Paul Pratt presses a button on his belt, just as Superman arrives a split-instant later. Pratt has vanished right before his very eyes! The Man of Steel could spot him with his telescopic-vision, but he is nowhere to be found! Five minutes later, Paul Pratt is arrested for walking on the grass in Metropolis Park.

At Metropolis police headquarters, Pratt is identified as the man Hollywood wants for the dirigible stickup! Since the job took place two-thousand miles away and Paul Pratt turned up in Metropolis five minutes later, someone else must be impersonating him! The following day at the Daily Planet, Clark is reading about Pratt in the headlines, and Lois Lane greets a visitor. Professor Amos Dunn wishes to speak with the Man of Steel on an urgent matter! After entering the storeroom, and changing to Superman, Professor Dunn asks to be taken to his laboratory where they can speak privately! Professor Dunn believes he can solve these strange robberies which have apparently baffled the Man of Steel! It all began years ago when the professor communicated with Krypton! Now in Professor Dunn's laboratory, a photograph is shown to Superman!

Professor Amos Dunn -- as a younger man, along with Jor-El and Lara! The photograph was taken on his visit to Krypton, and the infant in the photo is the Man of Steel himself! Back when Superman was an infant on Krypton, Professor Dunn received strange radio signals from outer space! Later, the scientist learned these signals came from -- Krypton! Professor Dunn invented equipment which sent out signals of his own! Since the Kryptonians knew English, he and Jor-El were able to communicate. The Kryptonian scientist taught him how to build a device to instanteously travel across outer space to Krypton! Following Jor-El's instructions, he built a transmitter which could send matter anywhere. There is a sender -- and a receiver which is kept in Jor-El's laboratory! The device contains the Kryptonian scientist's dial settings for time and space. The day came when Professor Dunn set the time and space dials and entered the sender. CLICK! WHHIRRR!

Jor-El greets the Earth scientist on Krypton! He hopes that the journey will help the Kryptonian escape certain destruction! Professor Dunn is unable to move and feels his body too heavy to stand up! Jor-El knew the heavier gravity would affect the Earth scientist, so he invented an anti-gravity belt which will adjust Dunn to the different conditions! After Jor-El introduces Professor Dunn to Lara and Kal-El, he explains their desperate situation! Within the Earth-monitor room, Jor-El reveals that super-telescopes have been trained upon Earth! The Kryptonians can pick up any sight and sound on Earth on their monitor screen! Professor Dunn is stunned at the sight of Babe Ruth hitting a home run! Kryptonians have studied every aspect of Life on Earth! They can even speak their language! That is why Jor-El has brought Dunn here to aid his people! If Jor-El can convince his people to migrate, will Earth manufacture enough matter-radios to receive them? As the Earth scientist assures Jor-El that Earth would cooperate and welcome the Kryptonians, both men watch as Kal-El tips over a fish tank!

A fish-snake bites Kal-El on the leg! Jor-El is shocked by an electric fish, leaving his limbs temporarily paralyzed! Professor Dunn fetches Lara and performs an emergency operation on Kal-El. Although in a coma, the child begins to smile. Lara places a dream-helmet on her son's head! This invention of Jor-El is used on mental cases to learn from a patient's subconscious mind what their unexpressed ideas are! The dream images are reproduced on a nearby wall! They watch as Kal-El dreams about Al Capone, and realize the baby must have seen the mobster on the Earth-monitor screen last week! Kal-El is flying in the dream because his father told him Kryptonians would gain super-powers on Earth, due to the lighter gravity and yellow sun!

After dreaming of twisting the gangsters' tommy guns like licorice, and blowing up an ambulance's tires like they were balloons, Kal-El recovers. Jor-El thanks Professor Dunn for saving the child! The Earth scientist returns to Earth to prepare the matter-radio receivers! One day, Krypton's explosive process has accelerated greatly, and the planet is about to blow up! Jor-El and his family intend to escape via matter-radio! Unfortunately, the receiver Professor Dunn built is malfunctioning! It cannot be used until it is repaired! Jor-El's final message mentioned his infant son being sent to Earth in a rocket ship! Professor Dunn saw Krypton's destruction through a telescope! He did not know whether or not Kal-El had made it to Earth! Years passed --

The scientist heard about the amazing feats of Superboy. Professor Dunn was overjoyed to see the youth in Smallville resembled Jor-El! He decides to wait until the Boy of Steel was older before he told him about his origin! The Man of Steel now knows that Professor Amos Dunn knew his parents and saved his life! The professor wishes to see how the scar on Superman's right foot has healed! Once the boot is removed, the Man of Steel sees with his microscopic-vision the two tiny puncture marks where the fish-snake had bitten him! When he read about the robberies, Professor Dunn discovered although he destroyed the matter-radio years ago, the original plans were stolen by his assistant, Gerald Greer! After seeing a photograph of Dunn's assistant, the Man of Steel uses his telescopic-vision to locate Greer in a jewelry store with Pratt, who is disguised as a woman! Both are wearing belt models of the matter-radio sender! Greer had succeeded in making the equipment more compact! As Greer mentions their receiving machines located at their west coast hideout, Superman overhears his whisper!

As Gerald Greer and Paul Pratt disappear, the Man of Steel spots their receivers, and uses his super-speed to out-race the matter-radio wave across the continent! They are in for a big surprise! Greer and Pratt find themselves in an area of intense heat and radiation! Perhaps the time-setting on the matter-radio has taken them to the future! The glowing area makes them believe an atomic war has brought about the end of the world! They have been transported to a period in time when the nations of the world went mad and destroyed all human civilization! Their loot is no good to them now! They will both die horrible deaths from radiation poisoning! They are the last men on Earth with one million dollars in stolen money -- but they will not live long enough to enjoy it! Superman informs the two men they are looking at phosphorous he smeared all over the props on the movie location! The motion picture will show the futility of an atomic war where no one survives! He shifted the receiver to this location to show them the futility of crime! The following day finds Professor Amos Dunn admitting mankind is not ready for the matter-radio yet! Superman will store it in his Fortress of Solitude until Earth is ready! He thanks the professor for giving him the photograph of his parents! The Man of Steel will treasure this as his most prized possession!

This story was reprinted in Superman #212 (December, 1968).

This story was a remake of "The Man Who Went To Krypton!" from Superman #77 (July-August, 1952) by Bill Finger, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye.

Action Comics #281 is the Earth-One version and Superman #77 is the Earth-Two version.

One of the subtle differences is that Jor-L prefers wearing a red tunic and Jor-El prefers wearing a green one.

Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Superman himself have all been to Krypton before its destruction.

Paul Pratt resembles an older version of Jimmy Olsen.

Peter Parker is a super-hero and Peter Petruski is a super-villain in the Marvel Universe.

The matter-radio resembles weight-lifting equipment.

Professor Amos Dunn needs some more time on the matter-radio before he can stand up in Krypton's heavier gravity.

Superman once traveled back in time to the 1920s and met Al Capone.

Paul Pratt shares Jimmy Olsen's penchant for disguising himself in women's clothing.

Writer Alan Moore once pondered what present to give "For The Man Who Has Everything!"

Steve Chung
"The Man Who Saved Kal-El's Review!"