Action Comics #282: "Superman's Toughest Day!"

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 ChungAction Comics #282
"Superman's Toughest Day!"
November, 1961

Script: Bill Finger
Art: Al Plastino

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a Man of Steel? Have you ever wondered what he does on his day off? Now you will find out as we travel around the clock with him when he has to experience "Superman's Toughest Day!"

At the Daily Planet, Perry White sees his mild-mannered reporter heading for the door. Today is Clark Kent's day off and the editor wonders just what does he do on his day off? You're about to find out just what the mild-mannered reporter does on such a typical day in his life. At his apartment, Clark opens a secret closet to reveal a "Clark Kent" robot and a "Superman" robot. "Clark" is to clean the apartment and substitute for its master on his date with Lois Lane. They will tour a plastic factory owned by a friend of the girl reporter! "Clark" is to act natural at all times, and if he runs into anything unexpected -- he will call his master! Superman streaks north to his Fortress of Solitude! The Man of Steel fits the giant key into the doorway secreted within an icy mountain.

The doorway swings into Superman's vast hideaway. The Man of Steel has got two chores at the Fortress. He must feed the beasts in his interplanetary zoo! Superman uses super-pressure to turn some coal into diamond, and provide food for the diamond-eating Zandrill from Vega! The Man of Steel peers into the Bottle City of Kandor, which was shrunk in size by Brainiac. The Kandorians are constantly supplied with air that is of the same composition as the air on Krypton. Once his chores are done, Superman heads back to Metropolis, and begins his patrol of the city. The freezing apparatus has broken down on a Happy Ice Cream truck -- and the ice cream is melting! The ice cream man will never be able to fulfill his orders today and will also lose an entire day's pay!

The Man of Steel seizes the Happy Ice Cream truck and soars up beyond the stratosphere -- into the cold vacuum of outer space. Superman guarantees the ice cream will remain frozen long enough for delivery! The Happy Ice Cream Man promises the Man of Steel a free cone for him anytime! Meanwhile, Lois Lane and "Clark Kent" are taking a tour of her friend's plastic factory. As the girl reporter and her friend wander about, the Clark Kent robot unwittingly rests his "hands" on a table where a plastic solvent has been spilled. The liquid dissolves its plastic "skin" and exposes its metallic hands! If Lois Lane ever sees them, she will know he is a robot -- and suspect its master's true identity! "Clark" keeps his hands in his pockets -- and the transmitter in his metallic body sends out a super-sonic message to its master! Superman overhears the super-sonic message pitched above the range of human ears. "Clark" is clever enough to stall the girl reporter -- until the Man of Steel thinks of a way to solve his problem! At the moment, he must answer the Metropolis Hospital signal flag!

A patient has a glass fragment in his brain, but ordinary x-rays can't reveal its location. Supermah's own x-ray vision has a much greater range than a hospital x-ray machine! He sees the sliver and tells the doctor to get ready to operate! The Man of Steel guides the surgeon during the delicate operation. Thanks to Superman, the patient will live! Back at the plastic plant, a worker asks "Clark" for the time! The robot can't refuse the worker without seeming rude -- yet he must not remove his robotic metallic hands from his pockets! What can "Clark" do? The robot solves this problem by using his x-ray vision to peer through the factory walls at a clock on a nearby building. The Man of Steel uses his x-ray vision and super-hearing to eavesdrop on his robot's response to the minor emergency! Superman is to be the guest teacher at the natural history class of a nearby public school!

The Man of Steel is now over Antarctica, where his x-ray vision has just found a prehistoric dinosaur graveyard! The creatures have been frozen in an ice floe for centuries! CRA-AA-ASH! Superman smashes through tons of ice with the force of a battering-ram. The Man of Steel will carry the dinosaurs to the schoolyard -- once he has borrowed some saddles from a friend who owns a dude ranch! The school children watch in awe as Superman works swiftly to create a Mesozoic Merry-Go-Round. Each of the pupils receive a unique natural history lesson as they ride on a Protoceratops, a Gorgosaurus, a Brachiosaurus, a Tyrannosaurus, and a Triceratops.

The natural history teacher thanks the Man of Steel for helping the students pass their test! For his part, Superman personally thinks that teachers are super for working in over-crowded classrooms! When the Man of Steel uses his telescopic-vision to check in on his robot, he sees"Clark" being asked to sign a guest book! The robot cannot refuse to sign it without appearing to be rude! "Clark" must think of a way to avoid exposing his metallic hands! As the robot pretends to whistle, "Clark" uses super-breath to blow a table fan off of the table! During the distraction, the robot signs the guest book at super-speed! As "Clark" places his hands back in his pockets, Lois compliments her co-worker on being able to write faster with a pen than with a typewriter! Pleased by the robot's ingenuity, the Man of Steel is free to answer another call -- this time from Metropolis' mayor. The mayor has got the measles and because he is quarantined, he cannot attend an urgent city council meeting! Superman knows how to beat the measly measles!

After a quick visit to a glass factory, where the workers once believed they were great glass blowers, the Man of Steel equips the glass bubble with a hatch and electronic equipment. Now, the mayor will be able to see the plans for the new school buildings and also be able to speak through a microphone with the council about them! As the mayor addresses the others in the council room, Superman comes up with a plan to aid his robot -- but he will only use it if "Clark" cannot get himself out of a jam! As his telescopic-vision focuses upon the plastics factory, he sees the girl reporter has gotten one of her heels stuck between two floor boards! His super-hearing has also picked up a distress call from a government missile base! The Man of Steel will answer the call, knowing that "Clark" will be able to solve this latest problem without revealing his metallic hands. The robot places one foot on a floor board and exerts pressure to bend it so that Lois' heel would slide out! At the missile-launching site, Superman learns a missile has just been launched -- but something has gone wrong with the mechanism -- and instead of traveling in a high arc, the missile is going in a low, straight flight! Although the missile is not carrying a warhead, there are skyscrapers and mountains in its path! If it crashes, lives will be lost!

The Man of Steel takes off after the missile at super-speed. He sees there is a skyscraper directly in its path! Superman uses his super-strength to clear a path and vows to repair the skyscraper later! The Man of Steel continues to fly at super-speed, when he bores a path through a huge statue erected in his honor -- and will be repaired later! Superman continues for thousands of miles, keeping pace with the inter-continental missile during its test run. Seeing it starting to slow, the Man of Steel knows it will drop right in the jungle below! At nightfall, the natives below look up in the sky, and see Superman seizing the now-inactive missile for the scientists back home. As the Man of Steel soars away, the natives see him flying towards the stars -- to the constellation they refer to as the sky-warrior! The tribal artist will draw what has been seen so that it will be known to their descendants for all time!

The tribal artist completes his painting of "The Sky-Warrior Catching An Arrow Shot From His Giant Bow!" Back in Metropolis, Superman uses his telescopic-vision, and sees "Clark" being asked to shake hands with Ed Somers, the foreman. Since the robot cannot refuse to shake hands with the foreman, it is now time for the Man of Steel to use his plan at super-speed! Now at the factory, Superman thrusts his hands into a vat of flesh-colored plastic, then withdraws them. The viscious clinging liquid is then cooled and hardened by a single blast of super-breath. Superman moves so swiftly, he can not be seen by the naked eye. As "Clark" begins taking his metallic hands from his pocket, his master vibrates back and forth, and slips the plastic "gloves" on the robot's hands at super-speed!

"Clark" now has the very unexpected pleasure of shaking hands with Mr. Somers. Since his robots have helped him out in times past, it was only fair for the Man of Steel to come to his aid! Later, as the city of Metropolis sleeps, Superman continues his nightly patrol for the entire world!

This story was reprinted in Superman #197 (80 Page Giant #36) (June-July, 1967).

I wonder how the Daily Planet functions when one of its staff has a day off.

It's just Perry White, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen.

Unlike Clark Kent, the robot "Clark" wears a yellow suit instead of the usual blue suit which is able to handle friction from super-speed, and is invulnerable to wear-and-tear.

Diamonds are a Zandrill's best friend and preferred meal.

Superman (George Reeves) used his x-ray vision to aid a surgeon in removing a sliver of glass from a blind patient in the Adventures of Superman episode, "Around The World With Superman!"

Dinosaur Island was the scene of many a battle in Star Spangled War Stories.

The Legion of Super-Heroes are able to travel through time in their Time-Bubble.

Thanks to Al Plastino, readers are able to see the Man of Steel's feats in this story.

Thanks to back issues and reprints, our descendants will be able to enjoy the story and art, as well.

Now was the Somers of "Clark's" discontent.

Thanks to its master, the gloves were on, and the robot was able to shake hands without a fight.

Steve Chung
"Superman's Toughest Review!"