Action Comics #314: "The Day Superman Became The Flash!"

Action Comics #314
"The Day Superman Became The Flash!"
July, 1964

Story: Edmond Hamilton
Art: Al Plastino
Lettering: Joe Letterese

A new discovery brings the Man of Steel the story of his five other possible lives! Here is the tale of Superman's possible lives on five other planets, a story that ends with "The Day Superman Became The Flash!"

As the Man of Steel patrols near a deserted island... WHEE-E A siren-arrow has been fired near him to attract his attention! Green Arrow, the Flash, the Atom, Aquaman, and Batman are waiting for him below! Aquaman presents Superman with a video-recording tape with a message for him! It was found by the Sea King while on patrol on the sea bottom! Aquaman informs his fellow Justice Leaguer that the message is from his father, Jor-El of Krypton! The Man of Steel's father died when Krypton exploded, and just after his infant son was sent to Earth!

The Sea King found the video-tape and record playback machine! Superman wonders why both items were not turned into Green Kryptonite! Jor-El's message reveals the scientist attached the tape-machine onto the rocket model's exterior instead of its interior because it might have broken loose, and injured Kal-El before he reached Earth's solar system, where he would become invulnerable! It did fall loose from the rocket and landed in the sea, where Aquaman and Topo, his pet octopus found it! Knowing that Krypton was doomed by the atomic reaction building at its core, Jor-El realized there was only enough time to build rockets for Kryptonians to flee their doomed world! When Lara asks what world her husband will send their son to, Jor-El heeds her suggestion to consult the computer-forecaster, which his friend, Zhan-Zar has been building.

Zhan-Zar's invention, if fed enough information, can form a high-probability prediction in audio-visual form! Feeding his question on coded tape into the forecaster, Jor-El asks if there is enough time to build rockets to save his fellow Kryptonians before Krypton's destruction... The forecaster replies there is a ninety-nine percent probability that Krypton will explode before the rockets can be built! Jor-El seizes the chance to decide where to send their infant son, if necessary! Feeding the coded data with astronomical data about the distant world of Xann, the scientist is about the learn the answer...

The answer to Jor-El's question is visualized on the great computer's screen! Once the small rocket lands safely, the metal disintegrates in the Xannian air! Kal-El is now on a world of giants, where he is adopted by a couple as a foster-child! Under Xann's yellow sun, Kal-El gains super-powers, and picks up his adoptive parents' helicopter as if it were a toy! Once Kal-El has learned their language, he promises to never reveal his super-powers to anyone! As the years pass, Kal-El finds he is a pigmy compared to the friendly inhabitants!

One day, the peaceful Xannian city is invaded by criminals making a daring raid, and who take hostages into their waiting helicopter! The Xannian people are helpless to act because if anyone dares to storm the citadel, the hostages will be doomed! Kal-El is not helpless and keeps his promise to never reveal his super-powers by donning a mask and a costume... In the sky, Kal-El is grateful for his small size because being no bigger than the birds, he will resemble one of them from a distance! He leads the flock towards the waiting citadel -- where he enters through a ventilation shaft! In a dungeon, he smashes a passageway for the hostages to make their escape -- and when they are safely away, he will deal with their captors!

The little man is too much for the giant criminals and all of Xann hails the unknown hero as "Birdman"! Although he wll never be normal-sized, Kal-El will help people with his super-powers! As Jor-El witnesses his son's life on Xann, he knows that despite having super-powers, Kal-El would not have a normal life there! The scientist gives the computer data on the world of Valair, and asks how his son would do there on a world with a yellow sun! Jor-El learns the planet Valair has no land whatsoever and is completely ocean-covered! With his super-powers, Kal-El could live his life beneath the sea... The youngster finds and tames a great whale as a pet... which he names Gorro!

As the years pass, Kal-El adjust to living beneath the sea, and develops telepathic powers like the other inhabitants... Finding an underwater volcano that will make the water of the region too hot for sea-life, Kal-El has Gorro and his fellow great whales guide the Narth-Beasts towards a different migration route... away from the hot region! In the underwater city of Valair... new light is given by shining creatures gathered by Kal-El! Soon, he piles up masses of rock and corral to be above the water... As he sits on his artificial island, Kal-El loves the underwater world, but he remembers the air, the land, and the sky -- at least he can come up and look at them to his heart's content...

Understanding his son would not be content on Valair, Jor-El asks the computer to show him how Kal-El would do on the planet Ntann! Analyzing the data of another world, the machine gives its audio-visual presentation... Ntann is a backward planet, where civilization has made little progress! With Ntann's red sun, Kal-El would have no super-powers there, but he would have foster-parents among people who may not know anything about science, but at least some of them are kindly! On Ntann, Kal-El grows up as an archer and creates powerful bows -- to unleash his lasso arrow upon runaway Ntann-Goats of his adopted people's flocks without having to chase them! His star-arrow will be used to signal at night -- thanks to a spark inside of the hollow shaft being fanned by the wind of its speed and sets tinder within it to blaze! TWWANNG!

Kal-El is sought out by the leader of the Ntann village! With these arrows, the vilagers could easily slay the leaders of the opposing village, and conquer it! When asked to become his second-in-command, Kal-El insists he did not make these for warfare! Regarded as a weakling, Kal-El realizes he must follow the marching men, and somehow foil their attack... As the armed men close in for a surprise attack, Kal-El fires off his iron-tipped alarm arrows to ring the bells in the towers! CLANG! CLANG! Hearing the warning bells, the villagers close the gates in time! There will be no attack, but Kal-El will not remain with those who would use his inventions for evil purposes! He will go away and live alone...

Realizing that no one from the great civilization of Krypton would ever be content on such a fierce and backworld planet, Jor-El asks about the world of Saruun! He learns the planet of Saruun has a satellite that remains between it and its red sun, causing a permanent eclipse there! The inhabitants of Saruun live on a world of unending night! Kal-El is found by a grim, but good-hearted man! His foster-father on Saruun was a lawman until a wound caused him to retire! He trains his foster-son to become the greatest lawman on Saruun! Years of intensive training pass until... Kal-El is ready to use all he has been taught to enforce the law! In order to prevent evil men from tracking him down and slaying him, he dons a mask and wears a disguise... one fashioned after the flying creature known as the Diro! The Diro uses his skill to foil thieves in the greatest city on Saruun, and all evil-doers fear him!

Although his son would make a great lawman on Saruun, Jor-El could not condemn Kal-El to live forever in darkness! There are only two possible worlds remaining... Gangor and Earth! One has a red sun and the other has a yellow sun, yet they are almost parallel planets that almost developed exactly alike! When asked about Gangor, the computer presents a possible life for Kal-El, where he is found and adopted by a couple of scientists! On Gangor, Kal-el grows up to become a brilliant scientist, and is asked by his adoptive father to try out the new energizing force they have discovered! If it works, it would enable everyone to have super-energy! Certain it will not harm him, Kal-El tells his adoptive father to turn it on! The force is unleashed and Kal-El relishes the wonderful feeling his entire body has received from the super-energy! He is going to try out the effect by seeing how fast he can run... but first, he will don the protective costume he has already prepared!

He is shielded by the protective aura that comes from the energizing-effect, and his costume is made of a special material that cannot burn from the heat of friction! The "S" he placed on the costume stands for speed! At his current speed, everyone else is moving slowly as if they were standing still! Kal-El prepares to go faster... and sees that even the fastest trains and planes cannot keep up with him! The wind of his speed has pulled a tree over -- and he must not go near any populated areas as he continues to speed up further... Even the practice shot from an artillery range is slower than him! Kal-El decides to really open up and see how fast he really is! He runs too fast and runs right off of his adopted world! Kal-El begins to freeze and suffers from lack of air -- Not wanting to send his infant son to that planet, Jor-El decides to try -- Earth!

When the scientist asks the computer to forecast his son's life on Earth, he sees that Kal-El would be happiest there -- as his adopted world's greatest hero! This is what the recording shows the Man of Steel! If the computer's prediction is correct, Kal-El is a Superman now! The Man of Steel finds those other lives on other worlds very strange, indeed! The Sea King reminds him that he was like Aquaman on that water world, like the Atom on the planet of giants, like Green Arrow on the world of archers, like Batman on the planet of unending night, and like the Flash on the parallel alien world! The Sea King smiles and tells Superman that he was a one-man Justice League of America!

On the cover of Action Comics #314 by Curt Swan, the Man of Steel has lost his super-powers and gained those of the Flash -- but he cannot control his speed, and will freeze to death when he reaches outer space!

As Super-Flash, he wears yellow boots, part of the Flash's crimson cowl with Mercury wings, red and yellow lightning gauntlets, but the rest is the familiar super-costume.

The cover of this particular issue appeared along with other Superman Family comic books on a piano in the Beatles movie, "Help!"

As "Birdman," the Man of Steel is wearing the traditional Atom costume, and his traditional red cape!

Oliver Queen spent some time on a island where he became Green Arrow.

Unlike Super-Flash, the John Wesley Shipp and Grant Gustin television versions of the Scarlet Speedster do not wear yellow boots to make them easier to see at night in Central City.

Items that survived Krypton's destruction were usually turned into deadly Kryptonite.

Kryptonians used computers to determine if a prospective couple were ideally suitable for marriage.

Zhan-Zar's computer-forecaster takes up a lot of space.

"Land Of The Giants" was a show produced by Irwin Allen.

The Golden Age Superman had his Secret Citadel outside of Metropolis.

"Birdman" was a animated series produced by Hanna-Barbera.

Like the Man of Steel, Birdman derived his power from Earth's yellow sun.

Kal-El's possible lives on the water planet and the world of archers had him wearing clothing similar to Aquaman and Green Arrow (without G.A.'s mask and cap).

Actor Justin Hartley portrayed Green Arrow on Smallville and Aquaman in an unsold pilot.

The Diro is a bat-like creature.

Kal-El's adoptive father on Gangor may have discovered the Speed Force.

The Flash's protective aura protects him and his costume from the effects of friction at super-speed.

The Man of Steel is faster than a speeding bullet and refers to the Scarlet Speedster in this story as the Fastest Earthman Alive!

In the Elseworld story, Superman: Speeding Bullets, young Kal-el is found by the Waynes, and becomes Batman.

Bob Rozakis, Denys Cowan, and Joe Giella did a series of back-up stories which featured young Kal-El as Bruce "Superman" Wayne.

Steve Chung
"The Day Superman Reviewed The Flash!"