Action Comics #301: "The Trial Of Superman!"

Action Comics #301
"The Trial Of Superman!"
June, 1963

Story: Edmond Hamilton
Art: Al Plastino

Throughout his entire career, the Man of Steel has always stood for law and order! Now by a tragic twist of fate, he finds himself accused of murder! WIth strong evidence against him, the end of his crime-fighting career looms for the Man of Steel if the guilty verdict is decided in "The Trial Of Superman!"

A pair of green Kryptonite-tinged handcuffs lock upon the Man of Steel's wrists! They are just enough to reduce his strength and prevent escape, but not enough to harm him! It is a sad day at Metropolis' city prison when Superman is booked for the murder of Clark Kent! The captain could have kryptonite bars placed on the Man of Steel's jail cell, but prolonged exposure may injure him! The green kryptonite-tinged handcuffs will hold him! He is taken to his cell! As the prison bars close behind Superman, the citizens of Metropolis read about it in the Daily Planet. At the office of the Daily Planet, Perry White tells Lois Lane not to feel so bad! No one would believe the Man of Steel would ever do such a thing! The girl reporter cannot believe it herself... even though she saw Superman kill Clark himself!

Lois Lane and mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent were at an waterfront warehouse, where the girl reporter was confident the men they trailed were the same as those seen near the navy yard prior to the large theft! If only the two reporters could hear what they were discussing! Although Clark cannot change to the Man of Steel before Lois, he can overhear them. The men will be getting paid for the navy's new secret air-torpedo! They left it where Count X can get it, and when he certain it is genuine, the Count will arrive on the 19th, and pay them! No one knows who the Count is, and it would be unhealthy to find out! THUMP! The sound of falling crates informs the others they've got snoopers on the premises! The crates fell when the girl reporter brushed against them! When Clark is spotted at the door, he tells Lois to run for it! As the two reporters flee through the warehouse, they find their side of the warehouse faces the river... and there's no way out! Clark can't change to the Man of Steel to use his super-powers without revealing his secret identity! The girl reporter wishes Superman were here. She left word of their mission, but he hasn't arrived yet! When Lois impulsively kisses him goodbye, this gives the mild-mannered reporter an idea!

Clark uses his super-ventriloquism to make it seem the Man of Steel's voice is coming from another room! The girl reporter is relieved that Superman got her message, but his voice sounds angry -- She watches as Clark dashes for the door, but the door abruptly slams behind him! As he changes to Superman, the mild-mannered reporter makes it sound that his alter-ego is choking him, and begs the Man of Steel to spare his life because he will not reveal his secret identity! Lois overhears Superman's voice telling Clark he had been warned about staying away from Lois -- but when he saw her kissing the mild-mannered reporter, the Man of Steel is determined the reporter will never kiss her again! When the girl reporter finally manages to get the door open, she sees Superman hurling Clark out of the window, and into the river below! As Lois confronts the Man of Steel about his killing poor Clark out of jealousy, the two crooks run off! They too have overheard Superman killing Kent! With the reporter dead, he can never tell anyone what he had overheard! But how can the authorities arrest the Man of Steel?

The authorities have, and as Superman waits in his prison cell, a heartbroken Lois Lane tells her story at police headquarters. She heard Clark's startled cry, and when she entered the room,s he saw the Man of Steel hurl his body out the window! It is clear to the police captain that Superman was jealous of the mild-mannered reporter and when his x-ray vision saw the girl reporter kissing him, the Man of Steel went berserk! He was also afraid Clark would reveal his secret identity! When Lois asks what Superman said when they arrested him, the police captain says it was like he was in shock! Although they used green kryptonite-tinged handcuffs to hold him, the Man of Steel made no resistance! He gave his word that he would not try to escape, so the handcuffs will be removed for the trial! An officer reveals the recovery of the reporter's clothing, but their nets failed to locate the body, which must have drifted out to sea! This physical evidence and Lois Lane's story are enough to indict Superman for murder! The law process moves swiftly, as the court appoints Superman a defense lawyer who asks his client how he can possibly defend him if he won't give him the facts in the case! Now, in a Metropolis courtroom, an official announces the next case... the people versus Superman!

A jury must be selected, but in this instance, it's not that easy. When asked if he feels that he can serve on the jury and judge the evidence with an impartial mind, Mr. Dreyfus says if the Man of Steel did kill Kent, he must have had his reasons. Superman is a good guy and would not do anything wrong! Another potential juror admits being prejudiced in the Man of Steel's favor! She cannot see why anyone would prosecute someone who has done so much for Metropolis! When an unbiased jury has finally been selected, the prosecutor begins his opening statement, and the judge notices there are too many people trying to get into the courtroom! As the baliffs attempt to clear the aisles, the crowd increases... Knowing that the authorities cannot handle the crowd, the Man of Steel acts! Superman carefully lifts up the courtroom roof and informs the judge that he is not escaping! He must make more room or else people will be hurt!

The Man of Steel returns with planks he borrowed from a lumber yard, then removes the courtroom walls, and builds a vast stadium! The judge finds this most irregular, but there is nothing in the law books to cover such a situation! The trial proceeds, with Lois Lane as witness for the prosecution! The girl reporter cannot testify against Superman! Although she saw what he did, she cannot believe it! Lois has sworn an oath to tell the truth and the prosecutor wants her to tell the court exactly what she saw! The girl reporter weeps as she recalls hearing Clark cry out, "Superman, you're killing me!" When she got the door open, the Man of Steel was throwing his body out the window! "CHOKE" She cannot go on! When the defense calls Superman to the stand, the attorney reminds his client that, while there is no capital punishment in Metropolis, if found guilty, the Man of Steel will be sentenced to prison for life! Superman has nothing to say!

When the jury retires for deliberation, Lois tells Jimmy if she's the cause of Clark's death and Superman's imprisonment, she will never forgive herself! In the juryroom, the foreman points out it is their duty to render justice if they find the Man of Steel guilty! They must forget Superman's good deeds and punish him! How can the father of a small child tell him that his great hero is a criminal because Daddy just sentence him to prison for life! Another juror recalls the time astronomers predicted a dark star would collide with Earth, but the Man of Steel hurled a heavy asteroid to shatter it into fragments that would whirl away on a new course, and never touch Earth! For another juror who is also a mother, although cities and planets are important, her baby is most important! She will never forget the day her baby fell out the window! Nor can she forget what she saw when she ran frantically to the window! Superman was glad he was on patrol when he spotted the baby in time to catch him, and advise her to make the window safe!

The foreman feels the same way, but they are charged to solely consider the evidence! If they cannot do so, then how can law be maintained? The jury must put their feelings out of their minds! In the hushed courtroom, the members of the jury have reached a verdict. They find the defendant "CHOKE" guilty of murder in the first degree! When the judge pronounces sentence, he reminds the Man of Steel there is no capital punishment in Metropolis. The law requires him to sentence the defendant to prison for life! Since Superman has never broken his word, and if he promises not to escape or use any of his robots, he will not be confined with green kryptonite bars! The Man of Steel gives the judge his word! Days pass, with Superman remaining in his prison cell, but since he could not have killed Clark Kent, why is he remaining silent? The nineteenth is the day he has been waiting for! He must now get busy with his telescopic-vision and super-hearing! Count X has arrived at the warehouse as promised! He has tested the stolen navy-torpedo, and is about to pay them off as agreed! Their payment is in lead, for they have served their purpose! Dead men are unable to talk! Before Count X can fire off his tommy-gun, one of his intended victims sees the Man of Steel right outside the window! Since the Man of Steel has given his word not to leave his prison cell or use one of his robots, how is this possible?

Count X realizes Superman has never broken his word... until now! The Man of Steel warns them not to move! WHEEEE The authorities have arrived, but are surprised to see Superman! He tells them about Count X, the wanted master spy, and the stolen model of the air-torpedo in his automobile! The air-torpedo model is recovered from the trunk of the car! At police headquarters, the police chief cannot believe that Superman broke his word! As he and an officer check the Man of Steel's prison cell, they find the mild-mannered reporter, alive and well! He has been their prisoner ever since the trial began, disguised as the Man of Steel! He swapped places with Superman when he went out for lumber to enlarge the courtroom... so he would be able to catch Count X! The Man of Steel pretended to kill Clark, so that X would not change the time for the pay-off! The Count knew the reporter had overheard the time, so he would have changed it, if he had not believed the mild-mannered reporter was dead! As he is Clark Kent, he is not lying to the authorities when he says he was there all the time! So how did Clark -- the Man of Steel not break his word about leaving the prison cell?

Once Clark is released, Superman returns, and apologizes to the judge about misleading them about the "death" of Clark Kent! As he has made no false statements, and as his motive was the vital matter of national security, the Man of Steel is found guilty of nothing! The girl reporter recalls her suspicions about him being Clark Kent, she had thought that his "killing" Clark Kent might have been a trick to change identities -- but that could not be, because if he were Clark, he would have broken his word by leaving his prison cell! Lois is unaware that it was a trick to change identities and "dispose" of Clark Kent! Since the criminals knew the mild-mannered reporter overheard Count X's appointment on the 19th, he will never show up for their appointment -- unless Clark Kent "dies"! After throwing the scrap iron clothed in Clark Kent's clothes out the window in full view of Lois, Superman knew he would be arrested for "murder" and hold him with green Kryptonite unless he promises not to escape! He must keep his appointment on the 19th when the Count shows up! Recallin a scientific fact, the Man of Steel makes a super-speed trip for a certain type of acid! The acid paints an image on the glass that is normally invisible, but x-rays can cause the normally-invisible acid-marks to fluoresce and become visible! Whenever his x-ray vision strikes the window, the Man of Steel's image standing outside the window will appear!

When Count X made his appearance, Superman projected his x-ray vision from his prison cell. His super-ventriloquism makes the image "speak"! He has already called the authorities by projecting his voice coming from a police radio! While everyone believes that the Man of Steel was there, he never actually left his prison cell! He then donned his Clark Kent clothes, which he retrieved when he left the courtroom to borrow lumber, and changed identities in his prison cell! The girl reporter figures Superman whispered his plan to Clark before he tossed the mild-mannered reporter into the water, where he would remain hidden! The Man of Steel would never kill Clark out of jealousy and because he found out his secret identity! As Superman soars away, the girl reporter wonders what is making her happier... that her fellow reporter is alive -- or that the Man of Steel isn't a murderer!

Lois managed to tip over some crates and Clark had to dodge some gunbarrels.

Superman is the Man of Steel and in this case, "Clark Kent" was a man of scrap iron.

Mr. Dreyfus finds it okay for Superman to kill someone because he must have had good reasons to do so!

Leave it to the Man of Steel to raise the roof of a courtroom.

"To Tell The Truth" was a gameshow hosted by Clayton "Bud" Collyer.

Mr. Collyer was the voice of Superman on radio and in both the Fleischer and Filmation cartoons.

A mother is thankful that the Man of Steel does windows, especially when it comes to catching falling babies.

DC Comics has Count Vertigo.

Marvel Comics has Count Nefaria.

The Man of Steel's x-ray vision cannot penetrate lead.

X is a very useful letter for both Professor Charles Xavier and Marvel Comics.

For once, a prison cell rather than a storeroom or phone booth serves as a changing station for Clark Kent and Superman.

Steve Chung
"The Review Of Superman!"