Action Comics #337: From Riches To Rags!"

Action Comics #337
"From Riches To Rags!"
May, 1966

Story: Leo Dorfman
Art: Al Plastino
Letters: Joe Letterese

Why does the Man of Steel start out as a millionaire, only to end up as a panhandler? Superman possesses powers and abilities far beyond mortal men, but why would he become a beggar? You'll never guess what causes him to go "From Riches To Rags!"

When the notorious Tiger Gang raids a millionaire country club, a limousine pulls up outside of the club, and the Man of Steel responds to the club manager's alarm! He whirls his super-hard metal cane, which opens the armored car like a can of beans! Superman asks his chauffer to hold his hat, cane, and gloves while he gives the Tiger Gang in the swimming pool a pop on their heads!

After the police arrive to take the Tiger Gang into custody, one of them wonders aloud why the Man of Steel would show up at the country club dressed like a millionaire. As he rides in the limousine, Superman wonders why he didn't rip the armored car open with his fingertips. He also wonders if anything like this will happen to him again. At the Daily Planet, Perry White mentions to Clark Kent that they must convince the mayor and city council to tear down the slums! The mild-mannered reporter agrees and knows who can do the convincing! The following day finds Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and other Metropolis reporters following a news tip. They see the Man of Steel living in a shack and cooking some Mulligan stew! The girl reporter wonders how Superman could have torn his indestructible boots like that. He informs the reporters that this is a dramatization for the need for slum clearance. The boots are copies of his real ones! Lois realizes the Man of Steel wants to persuade city hall to tear down the dilapidated houses. When the mayor and councilmen arrive in person, they see Superman... acting like a panhandler!

The sight of the world's greatest hero -- a beggar in the slums is enough to convince them to pass the slum clearance bill! The next day finds the approach of the bulldozers and cheers for the Man of Steel! None present realize he could have demolished the hovels himself and built modern homes at super-speed. Why did he make a grandstand play... as a panhandler? That afternoon, Superman arrives at a Metropolis television studio, and is introduced to Sir Jeffrey Winston, the famous British attorney. He is visiting Metropolis to do a television series about his greatest cases. This evening, Sir Jeffrey is reenacting a trial in which he proved his client was innocent, and that the actual killer was a man named Blade Murdock! The Man of Steel remembers the case. After Blade Murdock was executed, his brother, Gunner Murdock, swore to get revenge! Gunner Murdock has followed Sir Jeffrey to America and sent him a note, threatening to get him when he re-enacts the trial this evening! Superman has got a plan!

That evening, as the show begins, the murder weapon is shown to have been planted, and has the fingerprints of the real killer, Blade Murdock! In the audience, Gunner Murdock intends to have his revenge! RATATATAT! As the bullets shred the clothes, a familiar golden emblem and cape is now clearly visible! Superman is taking Gunner Murdock in for attempted murder! The following day at the Daily Planet, Perry White wonders why the Man of Steel didn't use his x-ray vision to spot Gunner Murdock's gun before he had a chance to use it! Why did Superman pose as a lawyer? The mild-mannered reporter knows a strange impulse is making him adopt a new role on each mission. One day later, Clark Kent flies out to cover an Native American ceremony. Princess Pale Flower and her people are about to perform a pole ritual used by their ancestors to drive away a draught.

The sacred pole is set up on a rock where the morning sun casts the shadow of the spear. They will dig for water there! Clark's x-ray vision shows the spear pointing towards an ancient riverbed with water-bearing strata below. As the crowd turns away, two men are intent on stealing the jade pole! The two thieves plan to make their getaway on motorcycle! Princess Pale Flower and her people notice the sacred pole is gone and mount up to follow the thieves! As they trail the culprits, the motorcycle makes its way across an abandoned pipeline! By the time the others cross the canyon on horseback, the thieves will be halfway to the border!

Knowing Princess Pale Flower and her people can't catch the thieves, Clark makes a change at super-speed, and returns to the village! Superman dons a war bonnet, then seizes the pipeline with his bare hands, and snaps it like a whip! The two thieves are taking off like a pair of guided missiles! The Man of Steel has saved their sacred pole. He is regarded as a Super-Chief! The two thieves have landed safely below in some trees, but they won't get far! BOINNGG TWANGG! Superman demonstrates his super-aim with a bow and some arrows!

The thieves are found, pinned to the trees! Princess Pale Flower thanks the Man of Steel for digging a well for them. He is given the war bonnet and is voted in as an honorary chief! As he thanks the princess, Superman wonders why did he borrow the head-dress, and why did he use arrows to catch the thieves? He is not Green Arrow! What will be the next startling role for him to try? Unbeknownst to him, Gunner Murdock has escaped from custody. Although he can't kill the Man of Steel, he can knock off mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent! The next day, as Clark Kent is at lunch with Lois Lane... BANG! Gunner Murdock delivers the payoff to the mild-mannered reporter! As the authorities nab the fugitive, the girl reporter sees her co-worker has been wounded! Clark was directly in the line of fire, so how can he explain that the bullet did not harm him? His dual identity would be revealed! He will pretend to be wounded. The ketchup stain on his shirt looks like blood!

Lois calls an ambulance, which takes them to Metropolis Hospital where she is a volunteer nurse! She will have the best surgeons on the staff to remove the bullet! At Metropolis Hospital, before Dr. Stacey and Dr. Vaughn operate, they will x-ray Clark first! Only the mild-mannered reporter knows his invulnerable body cannot be x-rayed. This will give away his Superman identity! He uses super-ventriloquism to page them out of the room for a moment! Clark changes to the Man of Steel at super-speed, and dons a surgeon's outfit. He greets Lois and the doctors, then tells them he will operate on Clark himself! The volunteer nurse reminds the doctor Superman is a graduate surgeon and has legal powers to operate! Behind the curtains, they hear the Man of Steel using super-hypnosis to put Clark to sleep! They hear him using his x-ray vision to guide his scalpel! Superman is an anesthetist, x-ray specialist, and surgeon all rolled into one!

As he completes his surgeon act, the Man of Steel knocks over a tray of instruments! As he feigns leaving for an important mission, he asks them to pick up the instruments, and enters through another window at super-speed to change back to Clark! The mild-mannered reporter is examined, thankful for the super-surgery which left no scar! He concealed his super-costume in his pocket and is now able to leave the hospital! Outside, the mild-mannered reporter wonders why he donned a surgeon disguise, and spots a group of children playing games in the park. They remind him of something he suddenly recalls... His telescopic-vision confirms his theory! If his guess is correct, he knows what role he will be playing next!

Changing to the Man of Steel, he flies to F.B.I. headquarters. He tells the district inspector to stop him from stealing! Unable to say any more, Superman must rely on the F.B.I. to stop him! If Superman is planning to commit a super-theft, it will probably be the gold shipment leaving Metropolis today. That afternoon, the gold shipment is being prepared. The F.B.I. has borrowed Kryptonite samples from every museum and scientific institute in the area. When the Man of Steal grabs the gold, the district inspector will open the hidden radio-controlled lead boxes! The Kryptonite rays will weaken him until the urge to steal wears off! Suddenly, up in the sky, it's not a plane or a helicopter! It is an aircraft unlike any ever seen before!

WHOOOSH! The flying vacuum cleaner with Superman at the controls vacuums up the hidden Kryptonite! The strange craft is made of lead to protect him from the deadly rays. The canopy is made of lead-glass! The Kryptonite is taken, but the gold is left behind! Out at sea, the Man of Steel recalls how his super-hearing detected the district inspector's plan, so he designed the vacuum-copter to outwit him. The Kryptonite is dumped at sea, where it will be harmless. Superman returns to the railroad yard, where he thanks the inspector for helping him. The urge to steal is gone and he is certain that was the last of the strange impulses! It was when he saw some children playing that he remembered the game of predicting your friend's future by counting his buttons!

His super-memory recalls the last time he played this game with his foster-parents. He had a strange reaction to a comet's light, causing him to recite a childish rhyme! The comet repeated its orbit after a number of years! It must have come from Krypton's solar system, or else it wouldn't have affected him! It was the comet affecting his sub-conscious to act out the rhyme of rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, and Indian Chief! Figuring he would be forced to act as a thief next, he came to the F.B.I. for help! They tried their best, but the Man of Steel outfoxed them! As he flies off, Superman recalls how the ancient wise men used to say that a man's destiny was controlled by the stars! He thought that was superstition, but now he's starting to wonder...

Bruce Wayne is a rich man and a Batman.

Blade Murdock and Gunner Murdock are killers, but Matt Murdock is a lawyer, and Daredevil, the Man Without Fear!

Oliver Queen is a rich man and uses a bow and arrow as Green Arrow.

The Man of Steel became a surgeon in Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #12: "The Mermaid Metropolis!"

Steve Chung
"From Riches To Reviews!"