Action Comics #445: "Count Ten, Superman -- And Die!"

Action Comics #445
"Count Ten, Superman -- And Die!"
March, 1975

Story: Cary Bates
Art: Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger
Editing: Julius Schwartz

Will a deadly beam from outer space cause the death of the Man of Steel?
Or will he meet his end while saving the life of a young boy?  Oddly
enough, both of these scenes are correct, and are the handiwork of the
Superman Revenge Squad -- who yearn to tell their victim to "Count Ten,
Superman -- And Die!"

A blasting area some 2,200 miles outside of Metropolis is the sight of a
sudden KRASSHSSHHHH!  A new tunnel has been made through the heart of a
mountain, but as the workers are about to give their thanks, the Man of
Steel is on his way to an important lecture.  The audience at the
Metropolis Civic Center are listening to the heroic speaker before them,
just as Clark Kent is making his way to his seat, and Lois Lane chides
him for missing most of the lecture.

How can the mild-mannered reporter and the Man of Steel be in the same
place at the same time?  As Clark explains to Lois about the mountain of
trouble he ran into, Gregory Reed recounts how his face was disfigured in
an accident on the Superman TV series.  Plastic surgery would not have
helped him -- but the Man of Steel performed an operation with equipment
and medical techniques from Krypton.  Now, as they can all see, Reed's
new face has been modeled after the super-surgeon's face -- the hero he
had portrayed on television for many years.  Lois is amazed at the
actor's recovery, how he has become an exact double of Superman, and even
managed to imitate the hero's voice.  Clark tells his fellow reporter
that Greg Reed has devoted his spare time to make personal appearances on
behalf of many charities.

Lois wonders how Clark would refer to the actor as "Greg", but he admits
that he's never met the man, and keeps to himself that it was Superman
who has had that pleasure.  After thanking the audience for their
applause, the actor directs them to make their donations to the Heart
Fund outside in the Civic Center Garden.  The two reporters head for the
lobby, and see the crowd gathering around Greg Reed, as if they were in
the presence of the real Superman.  Lois asks Greg if he had ever
wondered what it would be like to have the powers to go along with the
costume.  As a matter of fact, the Man of Steel had promised the parents
of a dying girl that he would put on a super-show for her, but was called
away on an emergency.  He contacted the actor -- and gave him a pill
which would grant him super-powers for a period of twelve hours.  In this
way, Superman was able to grant the girl's last wish.

SSPLASSHH!  Lois and the other spectators see the actor sent into a
fountain by an unseen force.  At the punch bowl, Clark Kent knows that
this is a job for the real Superman.  With the people's attention on Greg
Reed, the mild-mannered reporter is able to make a change of clothes at
super-speed, and head to the side of his double.

A spaceship is hovering above the planet, directly over the Civic
Center... a spaceship belonging to the Superman Revenge Squad.  THWAK!
The Captain strikes one of his crew for firing the puls-bolt at the wrong
man.  Their instruments had detected the Man of Steel's presence in the
garden, but their monitor spotted Clark Kent at the punch bowl.  The
recipient of the puls-bolt was a costumed imposter, and the ray will have
no effect on Earthlings.  With the real Superman now in the garden, the
invisible puls-bolt is fired once again.

As the body of Greg Reed is pulled out of the fountain, Lois is grateful
to see the real Action Ace on the scene.  The actor is still breathing,
and Superman will take him to the nearest hospital for treatment.  The
puls-bolt has hit its target, and the fateful countdown can now begin.
Each time the Kryptonian performs a super-feat, the puls-flow within him
will grow in strength... until on the tenth super-feat, the lethal energy
will poison his invulnerable body.  Once the tenth feat has been
accomplished, the Man of Steel will drop dead.  As the spaceship roars
away, the Revenge Squad prepares their scanners to monitor the various
super-feats to come.  Taking Greg Reed to the hospital will be the first

Two hours later, a trio of parachutists are taking a leap from a plane,
only to find themselves betrayed by their former fourth partner.  With
their hands glued together, and unable to reach their ripcords, the three
of them will experience their final jump.  Luckily for the trio, the Man
of Steel wants to join their skydiving team, and begins by pulling on all
three ripcords.  While they are off to a safe-landing, he will be off to
arrest their former partner for attempted murder.

In the past two hours, Superman has prevented a mountain avalanche, and
repaired a railroad trestle before it could collapse.  The parachute
stunt is the fourth super-feat.  Lois Lane has come to visit Greg Reed in
his hospital room, and finds Clark Kent concerned about the actor's
welfare, as well.  He tells his fellow reporter how the doctors have
placed him under an oxygen tent, but his condition remains critical.  The
actor could die at any moment.  As the mild-mannered reporter begins to
weep openly, Lois tries to comfort him, and tells him not to lose hope.

The Superman Revenge Squad have been monitoring the movements of Clark
Kent, and are aware that the puls-flow is responsible for the reporter
inability to control his emotions.  Once the tears have begun, they will
be impossible to stop.  As for the state of the actor struck by their
puls-bolt, it would seem that the puls-flow is also harmful to humans.
Later that evening, a two-ton shark is sent out to sea by the Man of
Steel, who also uses his super-breath to put out a fire, foils a
late-night robbery, and averts an airplane crash.  These super-feats are
numbers five, six, seven, and eight in the series.

The next morning, at the Galaxy Building -- where Steve Lombard is
escorting a female admirer...  The former football star learns that the
woman would like to meet his co-anchorman on the news, and wonders what
she could possibly see in "Mr. Square".  As he assures her that she's not
missing anything, how "Clarkie" puts on a good act on the air, the
weeping reporter passes them in the hallway.  Steve Lombard continues to
ridicule the co-anchorman, when the woman sees how these words have hurt
Mr. Kent.  As the former sports star tries to reassure "Clarkie" that he
wasn't serious about what he just said, Steve sees firsthand just how
sensitive the mild-mannered reporter can be.  Incensed by his behavior
towards poor Mr. Kent, the former admirer of Steve Lombard spurns him.

SCREEECHHHH  ERRKKKKK  WHOOOSHHH!  When an automobile heads in the wrong
direction on the freeway, it is the Man of Steel who prevents the fatal
collision.  With the ninth super-feat recorded, only one more use of
super-energy will be necessary for the Superman Revenge Squad to have
their revenge.  As they watch and wait, a young boy falls from the
terrace of a building, and only super-speed enables the high-flying hero
to catch him in time.  The moment when they are safely on the ground, the
child watches in horror as Superman collapses lifelessly to the pavement.

SR-Ozega reports their success to the Revenge Squad Base.  The base has
been monitoring their progress very closely... and are preparing a warm
welcome for them when they return.  As the spaceship begins its trek back
to homebase -- the prone form of the Man of Steel comes to life once
again.  Greg Reed's death-scene would have earned him an Academy Award,
as well as convincing the Revenge Squad of their mission's success.  Five
of the super-feats were performed by the actor, while the other five were
done by Superman.  The super-power pills enabled Greg to successfully
carry out the role, but he wonders how his friend was able to find out
about the Revenge Squad's sinister plan.

While pulling the unconscious actor from the fountain, he had seen a
reflection of an object floating in the air high above the garden.
Recognizing it as a Superman Revenge Squad spaceship, and overhearing
their plans, it was then that he let Greg in on the act.  The dummy under
the oxygen tent and the crying act performed in his other identity were
enough to carry the charade.  The only difficulty was in coordinating
their actions so that the Revenge Squad never saw two Supermen in action.
Since he hadn't performed the necessary number of super-feats, the
puls-flow charge has been drained from his body, and the pill's effects
have just left the actor.  Only one question remains -- why did the Man
of Steel let the would-be killers off scott-free?  In the years he has
battled the Revenge Squad, Superman has learned one thing -- they know
how to take care of their own.  Now in another part of the galaxy, on the
planetoid which acts as the base for the Superman Revenge Squad...
SR-Ozega's spaceship is approaching.  The Supreme Sire gives the
returning Squadders their well-deserved reward -- for such a miserable
failure.  SR-Ozega's and his two Squad-ers never know what hit them.

On the cover of Action Comics #445 by Nick Cardy, Lois Lane is looking at
her watch, and wonders what's keeping the Man of Steel from arriving for
their date.  Unbeknownst to both her and Superman, a second Action Ace
wants some action of his own.  (Holy Double-Date, Batman!)

The colors on the cover are very well done, from the purple sky, to the
brown floor of the junkyard.

Cary Bates provides the readers with a couple of interesting
possibilities, while the art team of Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger
meld together perfectly for another adventure of the one and only

Gregory Reed first appeared in Action Comics #414: "Superman Vs.

Both George Reeves and Christopher Reeve devoted their spare time to
making personal appearances on behalf of various charities.

As Edmond Hamilton once wrote, "Do good to others and every man can be a

One wonders why the Man of Steel hadn't offered the super-powers pill to
his fellow crime-fighters?  Perhaps they declined the offer, preferring
to rely on their own natural abilities and skills.

Maybe it's me, but I really enjoy it when Clark says, "This is a job for

The three Revenge Squad-ers are blue-skinned aliens with pointed ears,
and wear yellow-colored uniforms in the style of Mr. Mxyzptlk.

When it comes to skydiving gear, parachutists prefer purple.

Clark's act of showing his sensitive side puts a kibosh on the blossoming
relationship between Steve Lombard and his female admirer.

I would guess that the Superman Revenge Squad have their headquarters in
a solar system with a red sun, in order to prevent any surprise visits
from their super-powered nemesis.

After seeing what happens to those who have failed the Revenge Squad, I
can only wonder how they manage to keep their cannon fodder... errr...
membership alive.

In the "Superman In Action" letters page, Bob Rodi of Oak Brook, Ill.

"Dear Editor:

The Flash-Superman team really has something, and it's always been one of
my favorites.  It has to have something to hold my interest (four of
their five previous team-ups have been more or less races between them).
The latest effort in Action #441, "Weather War Over Metropolis," was
excellent, from a sensational Cardy cover (Nick is the best cover man
since Infantino) to the smooth, stylized art of Swan and Oksner.  "Oscar
Asherman" looks like somebody's editorial assistant who has a similar
name, and I'd like to know if this was intentional or not.  (Silly
question!  It could hardly be coincidence!)

The introduction of a rival reporter ought to be good for some more Clark
Kent insight, and I  suggest you keep Dale Smith around.

The Superman-Flash switch was nicely done... they should be experts at it
by now.  In Superman #223, I believe, they both got amnesia and
unconsciously adopted each other's life styles.  (Sorry, E.N.B., but I
beat you to the punch with this round's Trivia Tidbit.)

"The Mystery Of The Wandering Dog" was excellent, also... Elliot Maggin
has come out of his slump (a very short slump, I should add) with the
latest Green Arrow-Black Canary team-up.  Of course, I've been reading
for years, and I knew from the start the dog was Krypto.  Still, it was
nice to see him again.

Mike Grell draws the Arrow-Canary team better than anybody I know, even
Neal Adams.  Please keep him on Green Arrow and you won't find a better
back-up feature anywhere."

E.N.B. replies:

"Congratulations on noticing the similarity between the two Ashermans,
Oscar and Allan.  But did you spot Dale Smith's resemblance to a certain
TV newsman?  Hint: The comedy team of Smith and Dale did a skit about a
certain Dr. Kronkhite.  Notice the pronunciation?"

Robert Greenbergerber of Jericho, N.Y. writes:

"Dear Julie:

A few short words on the Superman story in Action #441.  An excellent,
well-paced story.  Only one thing was missing: action.  There just wasn't
enough of it.

Opposite that, Green Arrow had just enough action and intrigue.  I
guessed last issue that Demian was Krypto.  You had promised his return
once before.  Mike Grell's art was fine.  Elliot S! Maggin's script was
fun.  One of those two was responsible for a whopping mistake.  On page
5, panel 2, we see an aged Green Arrow and Black Canary.  BC wears a wig.
If you age a blonde wig several decades, it shouldn't turn white. Who
will claim the error?  Will it be the artist, the writer, or the editor?"

E.N.B. replies:

"No buck-passing!  We all saw it and should have caught it!  And after
realizing what a goof we made, we're the ones with the extra white

This Review Is Dedicated To Mark.

Steve Chung
"Count Ten, Superman -- And Review!"