Action Comics #311: "Superman, King Of Earth!"

Action Comics #311
"Superman, King of Earth!"
April, 1964

Story: Robert Bernstein
Art: Curt Swan and George Klein

On the cover, King Superman sits on his throne and is wearing an ornate crown, unimpressed that the gifts from the countries of the world
are not going to win any favors from him. As ruler of the world, his first command is for each nation to replace their flag with a Superman
insignia flag.

On the splash page, The Man of Steel is carving his image on the side of a mountain. Lois Lane and mild-mannered Reporter Clark Kent are watching him.  When she asks him if this Superman is an imposter, Clark knows that this is the real Superman, and there's nothing he can do to stop him! Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen are reporting on a story of a coronation in a tropical kingdom. Clark is bemoaning the fact that the people must bow whenever their king passes. When Jimmy tells him that they should bow also, the no longer meek Clark does not comply and tells the guards that he shouldn't have to grovel since he's an American.

The guards detain him and escort him across the border.  Jimmy is surprised that his normally meek friend is too proud to bow to anyone,
and has to cover the story by himself. Once out of sight, the mild-mannered reporter changes to Superman, a necessity since he had spotted trouble at his Fortress of Solitude. With Supergirl in the future at the side of the Legion, it's up to him to answer the call. His inter-galactic danger-detector has identified an unknown menace in the sector of Alpha IV, which is approaching the planet fast. Using his telescopic vision, he sees a swarm of Red Kryptonite in the area, and rechecking the detector, he sees that there's no error regarding the menace. Knowing that Red K always has a bizarre and unexpected effect on him, he decides to use an Red K antidote made from a piece which once made him into two beings, a good non-super Clark Kent and an evil Superman.

Using a powerful acid on the piece, he theorizes that the fumes will protect him from the Red K forever, but the next moment finds the Man of
Steel splitting into two men, Superman and Clark Kent. The Man of Steel turns to his alter-ego and tells him that there's no 72 hour time limit.
Their separation is permanent. The meek Clark tells him that maybe this time it is the reporter who has the powers, not him. Superman kicks down the Fortress's door and carries Clark outside to see if this is true. The Man of Steel is unaffected, Clark is blue with cold. Once back in the Fortress, Superman seals the Bottle City of Kandor, and contains the Emergency Squad inside.

The Man of Steel destroys his robotic dopplegangers. Clark sees that he's become ruthless. When the mild-mannered reporter seeks to use the Phantom Zone Projector, Superman crushes it, and nearly Clark's hand in the bargain. He stops short of killing him since he may be killing himself in the bargain. Superman flies Clark from the Fortress. The reporter is unable to withstand the cold air. The Man of Steel is reluctant to wrap him in the cape. Clark faints. He awakes to find himself on a coast-guard ship, left there by his alter-ego. The ship's captain tells him that Superman told him to listen for a radio message in an hour. Clark demands to be taken to the radio room at once.

He hears that Superman has asked for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Clark knows that the Man of Steel is up to something sinister. Clark is forced to ride in a helicopter, knowing that the hour trip would be one which he could travel in an instant as The Man of Steel. In Metropolis, he joins the others at The Daily Planet. Lois and Jimmy are ready to hear Superman's announcement. When he enters and is given a standing ovation from the world's delegates, Superman demands to be made King of Earth. Clark theorizes that the other day when he saw the king getting crowned, the subconscious mind has his super-self sharing this desire.

The U.N. believe this Superman to be an imposter. He removes his boot and slams it on the podium, shattering it. The Man of Steel demands to be made king in 48 hours or they will suffer the consequences. Across the nation, folks watch the developments on their black and white TV sets in disbelief. Once the Man of Steel has left, the delegates head to meet with their leaders. Clark heads to meet with the American one. He tells him that he has a plan to block Superman's desire to be made king.

Addressing the joint chiefs of staff, Clark opens a security vault containing weapons which contained weapons he considered too dangerous. Clark knows the combination since he shares their memories. Opening the vault, he sees the Green and Gold Kryptonite.  The mild-mannered reporter is not affected by it, thanks to the Red K. The joint chiefs are against him using it on Superman since the Man of Steel hasn't committed any crimes and is entitled to his rights. The following day finds the U.N. voting, with some saying "Aye", some saying "Nay" and others abstaining.

50 votes for Superman and 50 votes against him. The following day will find the deadlock broken. The Man of Steel plans to do some electioneering of his own.  He decides to show them what will happen if they don't elect him. The demonstration is to take place at 10 West Longitude and 250 North Latitude. One of the delegates tells the chairman that they will monitor Superman's progress from a military base. In the desert, The Man of Steel uses his super-breath to create an ice bridge to a nearby offshore island!

Clark sees it on TV and knows that The Red K must have amplified his super-breath to its utmost. At the U.N., the delegates ask for more time
to debate. He asks them to use a satellite to monitor his next feat at 50 East Longitude and 50 North Latitude in 60 minutes. Clark knows that coordinates as Red China. The telephoto lens is activated and in an area of Asia, soldiers see the Man of Steel heading for a mockup of New York City, which they have set up for a weapons test.

Superman dives past the target, but then the "city" begins to shake, as if in the throes of a massive earthquake. Clark knows that this is an implied threat. He, Jimmy, and Lois watch the U.N. big screen. When Superman arrives, Clark asks Lois to reason with him. The Man of Steel is reluctant, but agrees to see her.

At her home, she shows him pictures of trophies he's earned from grateful worlds. These mean nothing to him. A sweep of his hand, they are knocked off the counter. His only desire is to become King of Earth, and prepares to explode a nuclear bomb at the White Sands proving grounds. Clark and Lois are there at the proving grounds to watch the test. Superman arrives, intending to fly the warhead to the target mountain, himself. Lois sees the feat and compares him to a missile. Clark knows that his other-self has become a force for destruction.

The explosion shatters the mountain. The following day finds Superman unanimously elected to be King of Earth. Everyone is invited to attend his coronation. He then implies that those attending had better bring gifts. The following day at a marble quarry, he builds a palace and erects statues of himself. At his coronation, King Superman is arrogant, as members of other countries bring him gems and rare metals. He is unimpressed, demanding that they adopt the Superman banner as their official flag!

At the U.N., Superman Flags are flying, and the organization is dissolved by King Superman. Clark vows as citizens of a free world that they shouldn't bow to a tyrant like that. Lois is impressed by the now unrecognizable reporter. Dawn finds a massive wall and dome erected at King Superman's palace, designed to ward off Kryptonite bombs. The mild-mannered reporter is confident that even this structure cannot long withstand the cause of justice. Evening in the Daily Planet basement finds Clark, Jimmy, Lois, and Perry standing among old leaden press plates which will keep them from King Superman's sight. He proposes forming an anti-Superman underground to rebel against this dictator. Perry agrees but wonders if the reporter is the right man to lead them in the revolt. Clark wonders if he can successfully overthrow The Man of Steel, especially without the aid of his super-friends.

A stunning cover by Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff, who reigns as the Superman artist in my opinion.

Clark is not wearing his blue suit, but a purple one in this issue.

Red Kryptonite is such a bane for the Man of Steel, but fun for the readers.

Both sides are quite literally at war with one another.

Even though those lead plates would block his vision, wouldn't King Superman's super-hearing have caught their plans?

Even so, the Man of Steel would seem to be out of his mind, and believe the Daily Planeteers to be no threat whatsoever.

Steve Chung
"Superman, King of Review!"