Action Comics #324: "The Secret Life Of Clark Kent!"

Action Comics #324
"The Secret Life Of Clark Kent!"
May, 1965

Story: Leo Dorfman
Art: Al Plastino

The mild-mannered reporter has always posed as a timid soul, one who could be pushed around. But now, Clark is able to use his fists openly in - "The Secret Life Of Clark Kent!" Clark Kent is at Metropolis Airport, and begins a strange assignment. He and other reporters are flying to a secret rocket base to cover the rehearsal for Operation Moon-Launch! The mild-mannered reporter knows this is the secret project to land a group of astronauts on the moon! He also knows he will not be able to contact Perry White. The base's location is so secret, the airplane's portholes are sealed to keep their destination hidden!

Hours later, the plane reaches the cloud zone, and approaches Base X! After landing, the reporters are briefed at a remote plateau. They are shown the spider-vehicle that can climb crevices and craters on the moon! As the reporters press forward, one deliberately jostles Clark into a puddle! SPLUSH! The mild-mannered reporter could knock the bully down with one finger, but he must maintain his meek cover behavior. The bully had heard of Clark Kent and assumes him to be a weakling. Moments later, as the legs of the spider-vehicle are being demonstrated, Clark uses his x-ray vision to trigger an electronic relay, and causes one of the legs to THUMP the bully into the puddle! SQUUSSH!

Later, the reporters have a ringside seat for the test launch of the moon-rockets, and are sent up in a balloon! They will have a bird's-eye view of the rocket as it zooms past! As the rocket is launched, the balloon drifts towards the flight path of the rocket! The turbulence caused by the rocket's flight tosses the balloon about like a rubber ball! Within the balloon gondola, the suction created by the passing rocket breaks the faulty lock on the door, and Clark Kent tumbles through. As the reporters watch, the mild-mannered reporter pretends to fall! If they saw him fly, it would give away his secret identity! Beneath the clouds, Clark sees a beautiful, fertile valley in the middle of a barren wilderness area.

The mild-mannered reporter sees a horse and wagon caught in a raging river! He must save them before they are swept over the falls! Clark plunges into the river and tries to save them! Underwater, the mild-mannered reporter works at super-speed to fashion a ramp of stone from the river bed so that the horse can find footing! Clark guides the horse and wagon to shore, where he is thanked by the Quakers! On the river bank, Elizabelle introduces herself, and asks which village in the valley Clark is from. The mild-mannered reporter is given dry garments to change to from the wagon!

As the mild-mannered reporter changes clothes at super-speed in the undergrowth, Peter Fry can tell from the time-piece on his wrist that he comes from the world beyond! They of Crater Valley have been cut off from the outside world for centuries! Peter Fry is the only one who knows there are others besides themselves! It began centuries ago when the King's soldiers were oppressing the Quakers! To avoid such wickedness, they abandoned their homes, and left the world behind! Months later, these ancestors roamed the forests and mountains when they found a vast, fertile crater to be their home! The clouds trapped by the valley walls would shelter them from prying eyes! As the last wagon rolled through, a landslide crumbled the cliff! The Quakers are sealed off and the pass was the only way out of the valley! Now, their children would never learn of the evil world beyond!

Years later, villages arose, and new generations were born. The youngsters believed only barren wastes lurked beyond the cliffs! Even Peter Fry believed the outside world a legend, until he saw a metal bird smashing itself against the cliffs! The men who flew the silent bird were dead! Peter Fry buried them hastily and saved only a few objects which he keeps hidden in a chest! Clark remembers reading about an exploration team in a glider that disappeared in this area! Since leaving the crater is impossible, Peter Frye invites Clark to stay with them! He has shown a skill with horses and their village could use a blacksmith! The mild-mannered reporter agrees to stay. To keep the outer world a secret, he removes his wristwatch, and speaks in Quaker fashion! After Elizabelle returns to the wagon, she is happy to learn there will be a new face in the village, and sighs when Clark lifts her easily into the wagon! Clark wonders if Fry's niece and the L..L.'s in her name means that she will be an influence on his life like Lois Lane and Lana Lang are. In the village smithy, Clark Kent tries out for his new job as blacksmith. The Quakers sigh as Clark drives each nail into a horse-shoe with a single blow! The mild-mannered reporter finds it refreshing to be admired for his strength for once instead of being scorned for his timidity!

The envious eyes of Luke Robb are watching, too! Elizabelle gave him her locket as a friendship token! Yet her eyes are upon the stranger! She asks Luke not to quarrel and heads off to help prepare the village harvest festival, with Clark Kent as the guest! At the festival, Luke Robb attempts to impress Elizabelle by carrying heavy logs for the barbecue fire, but she is more impressed by the sight of Clark carrying a huge tree trunk! The festivities are interrupted when Luke Robb shoves Clark aside when he starts to sit next to Elizabelle! Unlike the bully at the rocket base, Clark does not have to pretend to be meek and timid! As Clark tackles Luke Robb, the downpour begins, and Peter Fry tells Luke to stop with the fisticuffs! Luke Robb may be the strongest man in the valley but he is unable to lay a hand upon the interloper! Clark ends the brawl with a glancing blow of his super-fist which appears to be a terrific uppercut to those watching. Clark Kent is applauded for giving the braggart what he deserved! Elizabelle demands Luke Robb to to give her locket back! The bully can only wonder where Kent got such strength!

Once the rain ends, Elizabelle asks Clark to carry her locket as a token of her admiration of his strength and courage. The mild-mannered reporter obliges her request! After the festival, Peter Fry shows Clark his chest of momentos from the outer world! He kept it cached beneath some rocks to keep his people from finding it. As they listen to the transistor radio, Peter Fry worries there is more violence, greed, and evil in the outer world than ever before! He has heard about Superman, who fights for truth and justice! Clark promises to explain another time and knows that one of his robots must be covering for him while he is away! Clark can't blame Fry for keeping his people isolated. The valley is the only place free from greed and war. The mild-mannered reporter covers the cache with a boulder so that the secret is safe! Peter Fry heads for home and knows the drenching rain has given him a chill!

As both men leave, Luke Robb steps from hiding. He now knows Clark Kent comes from the outer world! Luke must get at the chest and see the evidence for himself! When he announces that he has discovered evidence of the outside world, Luke Robb will be a hero, and Elizabelle will favor him once more! He decides to bring a book along as proof of his discovery! That evening, at the Fry home, Elizabelle tells Clark to watch over her uncle while she fetches the herb-doctor! As soon as Elizabelle leaves, the mild-mannered reporter deduces the best way to cool down Peter Fry's body is a short flight through the evening air. First, he must change to the Man of Steel! Superman's plan works, but the patient revives briefly from his coma. Seeing Clark in a strange costume, he learns that the strange visitor to the valley is the Superman he's heard about. The Man of Steel possesses super-strength, super-hearing, invulnerability, and other powers!

Since Peter Fry is better, the Man of Steel flies him home! His telescopic-vision reveals Elizabelle returning with some neighbors! He hides and listens in while Fry tries to explain about Superman! The villagers regard Fry's story as delirium! The villagers still believe in 18th century superstitions. Clark is not ready yet to leave the valley. It is the one place on Earth where he can live as Clark Kent, without pretending to be a coward! Peter Fry has a relapse the following day! His fever is worse than ever and he may be dying! After telling Elizabelle to watch over the blacksmith shop, Clark heads over to the Fry home! He finds Luke Robb at Peter Frye's sick-bed. Luke is there to help Fry. He admits eavesdropping on their conversation about the outer world. The book he took from the chest may help them now! Clark recognizes the volume on first aid and surgery. There is much in the book that Luke Robb does not understand, but it shows how fevers are often cured by a transfusion of blood! Luke offers every drop of his own blood if it can help his friend!

In the other room, Clark uses Elizabelle's sewing needle to get drops of blood from Luke Robb and Peter Fry. Using his microscopic-vision, the mild-mannered reporter sees Luke and Fry have the same blood type! Clark re-shapes his watch crystal into two super-strong hollow glass needles. He uses his heat-vision to convert the rubber heel of his shoe into a sterile rubber tube. The transfusion works! Peter Fry's fever is going down! Luke Robb's healthy blood is overcoming the infection and Fry will recover! Luke Robb cannot understand how Clark created those strange devices so quickly. He wonders if all men from the outer world have such strange abilities. Clark decides to leave the valley before they suspect him of witchcraft! Clark tells Luke he is leaving the valley by a secret way which only he knows. Before he goes, the mild-mannered reporter asks Luke to pledge that he will never tell anyone what he saw today! Luke Robb promises and will also respects Peter Fry's wishes, too! He owes him much, especially since their pioneer families have been close since the days of his pioneer ancestor, Don Robb! Clark gathers his belongings and asks Luke to tell Elizabelle he is a wanderer who can't stay put for long, but he may come back one day!

After changing to the Man of Steel, Superman vows to come back one day. The valley will be a peaceful haven for him whenever he grows tired of being meek Clark Kent, and return to the one place on Earth where he can be himself! The mild-mannered reporter returns to the rocket base, explaining how he survived by falling into a snow bank, and how the Man of Steel flew him back! In the press dining-room, the bullying reporter reminds him of someone, and Clark decides to check! It turns out his name is Dan Robb, who was named after an ancestor who was a Quaker! The mild-mannered reporter now knows he is a distant relative of Luke Robb in Crater Valley! Days later in Metropolis, Perry White congratulates Clark on being the only reporter who got a close-up photo of the robot vehicle exploring the moon once it landed by a rocket. The mild-mannered reporter credits his alter-ego with enabling him to take the shot! The biggest scoop he hasn't written is the story of the lost Quaker colony in Crater Valley! Clark wonders when he will have a chance to go back there again!

In the Metropolis Mailbag, Cary Bates of Dayton, Ohio writes:

Dear Editor: The cover of the February ACTION was very good, in spite of the often-used theme of Superman being marooned on a planet where he has no super-powers. After I got into the story, the thought of the theme's familiarity never entered my mind. The plot was handled very well. Once again, the Man of Steel proved he is a super-hero even without his powers. Let's have more stories of this variety!

The Editor replies:

Your wish is our command. See the great 2-part novel, "Clark Kent's Single Identity," in the June SUPERBOY. You'll see what happens when Clark is without his powers for WEEKS! - Ed.

An amnesiac Clark Kent was loved for being himself by Sally Selwyn in "The Sweetheart That Superman Forgot!" from Superman #165 (November, 1963).

Clark Kent and Lois Lane came across a prehistoric tribe living in a canyon in "Caveman Clark Kent!" from Action Comics #169 (June, 1952).

A spider-vehicle proved popular for Marvel Comics.

A toy company wanted Marvel Comics to promote their Spider-Mobile toy in the 1970s, leaving readers to wonder what does a guy who swings from building to building on webs need with a car?

Captain Kirk and his landing party claimed to be from the valley in "Return of The Archons" (February 9, 1967).

Clark Kent had to watch himself and remove his time-piece before entering the village.

Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) spend the entire series trying to escape from the Village.

Peter Fry had something he had to get off his chest.

Steve Chung
"The Secret Review Of Clark Kent!"