Action Comics #327: "The Three Generations Of Superman!"

Action Comics #327
"The Three Generations of Superman!"
August, 1965

Story : Edmond Hamilton
Art: Curt Swan and George Klein

On the cover, the Son of Superman watches in horror, as a laughing Grandpa Superman and his grandson play leapfrog. Kal-El II crashes
through a brick wall. Superman has aged and retired, Jor-El II is his successor, and Kal-El II is his impish grandson.

On the splash page, Superman is now in his old age, with his son continuing on as his successor. He is living life in quiet retirement.  His grandson, Kal-El II, shares an adventure with Grandpa. The retired Superman is delighted to see his grandson fly and lift him by his beard..  Kal-El's father believes that his father is indulging his son too much.

In the future, folks still look up in the sky and see the flying figure of Superman. In this unknown age, it is the son of Superman. Kal, the grandson of the original Superman, enjoys his grandfather's stories. When asked by his son if Kal had been bothering him, the elderly Superman says no. He was delighting in telling the boy about times before he had retired. In his opinion, although Jor-El has equaled his own fame, he hasn't topped it. Jor-El regrets that repeated exposures to Green Kryptonite weakened his father so that he had to retire. The following day finds young Kal asking his grandfather about why he went by the name Clark Kent. He tells his grandson that this was the name he used to protect his loved ones from criminals. Kal is unfamiliar with the phrase's meaning. Grandpa Superman tells the young boy about those who would break the law. In order to uphold the law, it was he who had to deal with them.

Criminals such as Luthor and Brainiac were very dangerous. As time passed, folks learned better and crime disappeared. Jails were emptied, prisons were torn down, to be replaced by hospitals. His story told, Kal leads his grandfather into the backyard where they play crooks and lawmen. He is to chase Grandpa Superman, whose powers are weakened. His grandson's are at full strength. Kal's mom sees her son whirling his grandfather and tells the young boy to be careful.

When Kal's mom leaves, Grandpa Superman offers to play catch with Kal, who reluctantly agrees. Before he knows it, Grandpa must catch a
massive boulder, which even he is barely able to hold onto. Jor-El arrives on the scene and tells his father not to spoil Kal, who regrets not having any fun. Telling his wife that he must attend to a mission in space, Jor-El listens as his father offers to watch over Earth in his absence. He tells him not to spoil Kal too much. The next day finds Kal without a playmate.

Flying over the futuristic city of Metropolis, Kal goes on patrol and wonders if he will ever have any of the adventures that his grandfather did? He sees a group of oddly-dressed men carrying away steel girders. Using his telescopic-vision, he sees that the men are wearing masks, as well as stealing the girders. This theft makes them crooks. Kal heads for home to tell his grandpa. Grandpa Superman is reluctant to believe that there are any criminals left. He figures that Kal must have imagined it. His stories may have made quite an impression on his grandson.

Kal insists that he did sees the men stealing.  They were wearing odd clothes and masks, which makes Grandpa figure that the boy must have seen
some industrial workers. He asks Kal to lead him where he first saw them. At the construction site, Grandpa Superman notes the deep impressions of the workers' footprints, and knows that no ordinary workmen could have done this.  Using their telescopic-vision, grandfather and grandson soon spot their construction of a new fortress. Grandpa Superman is determined to unmask them. Using their x-ray vision, neither he nor Kal are able to penetrate their disguises, which no doubt contain lead. Grandpa Superman knows that honest men would never hide their faces, and it seems that crime has returned! Ordering his grandson to stay back, Grandpa Superman soars towards the mystery men.

Downward soars the elderly Man of Steel, who is struck by one of the workers. The punch sends him flying for half a mile, where he is about to collide with a hard surface. His invulnerability not what it used to be, such an impact could cripple him. Kal catches his grandfather in time. Grandpa and grandson compare notes on the mystery marauders, whose strength is too much even for Grandpa Superman. Kal suggests that they use trickery instead.

Grandpa Superman smiles at his grandson. Kal is overjoyed at teaming up with his grandpa to catch crooks. Having seen the footprints, Grandpa Superman knows that the crooks can't fly, having walked with the girders. He thinks of a way to imprison them. With the aid of his grandson, Grandpa Superman shapes a stone block with their bare hands. They use their heat-vision on the wooden waste scraps within the fortress.  Much smoke is made, but no actual harm is done.  In moments, the masked workers head inside to put out the fire.  The duo move with the stone block to jam it into the door. Grandpa Superman is unable to bear the burden.

The stone block lands with a thud. This alerts the masked workers, who emerge from their fortress. Grandpa Superman orders Kal to fly away. The elderly Superman is caught by them, and attempts to go down fighting as to not disgrace the Superman name. Kal arrives to haul his grandfather out of harm's way. Grandpa Superman's hand tearing one of the worker's uniforms off, revealing circuitry, and the true nature of these mechanized marauders.

Once in hiding, Grandpa Superman theorizes that the automatons are controlled via radio-waves, and by the unearthly metals they are composed
of. The elderly Man of Steel knows that they come from a distant planet, as well as the fact that they can be beaten. Kal is given instructions, while Grandpa makes plans to use the minerals and materials he will gather. Kal's actions are observed on a monitor by the aliens who sent the invasion-machines to Earth. They were designed to construct a fortress base for the conquest of Earth. The aliens are intrigued by Kal's actions. Grandpa Superman uses the materials to construct a jamming-ray generator. Seeing this, the aliens order their machines to stop him. The machine men head off to destroy the jamming generator. Grandpa Superman has completed his work and is about to turn on the machine. Kal warns him about the approaching machine-men.

Grandpa Superman tells Kal to fly with the generator out of their reach and turn it on. He barely manages to make headway against them. The generator is activated. It emits a low hum which freezes the marauders in their tracks ending their threat. Grandpa Superman deactivates their internal mechanisms and disconnects their circuitry so that the jamming ray is no longer needed. His actions impress Kal very much.  He sees the very essence of what made his grandfather known as Superman. The aliens are mortified at having their plans undone by an old man and a child.

Upon returning home, Grandpa and Kal are greeted by the returning Superman and his wife. They wonder where the two have been. When Kal
tells his father about their adventure, Jor-El reassures his son that there are no longer any criminals whatsoever. This dismays Grandpa, who stands there in utter disbelief. Jor-El tells his father that the tales of his adventures have gone to Kal's head. Now, the boy is imagining all sorts of things. Grandpa Superman promises Jor-El not to spoil his grandson. As Jor-El tells his wife that their son will forget those imaginary adventures, Grandpa Superman shares a knowing wink with his grandson, who barely manages to stifle his laughter.

The Super-Family that plays together, stays together.

Grandpa Superman and his son wear the distinctive red and blue, while grandson Kal wears it as a play suit.

Grandpa Superman has such a long beard which would make Charlton Heston's as Moses look like a goatee.

The elderly Man of Steel is obviously delighted and grateful that his grandson is eager to hear tales of his adventures as Superman.

It's unknown what happened to Grandma Lois or Lana for that matter, or Jimmy Olsen or Perry White.

One wonders if this Superman has a Fortress of Solitude, with robots to handle emergencies in his stead?

Between Grandpa's experience and Grandson's enthusiasm, they make for a winning team.

The fact that Jor-El doesn't want his son to be spoiled by tales of catching crooks and such makes me wonder how well this Superman would
cope in his father's time.

Steve Chung
"The Three Generations of Review"