Thursday, September 10, 2009

Superman #215 Part 2

Welcome back to our second, and final, part of our review for Superman #215. In case you missed the first installment, click here to reminisce about the strange Kryptonian customs for dealing with grief and loss. At least I'm assuming their Kryptonian customs, otherwise Clark is just not quite right in the head.

For this story, we travel to the other extreme in Superman' life. That's right, it's time for a Superbaby story! This particular story is a reprint of the lead story of Superman #106 from July of 1956. It's our first story from the 50's here at the Random Longbox, so let's dig in and enjoy.

Superman's First Exploit
  • Writer: Edmond Hamilton
  • Penciler: Wayne Boring
  • Inker: Stan Kaye
  • Editor: Whitney Ellsworth
First off, I just have to say that I love the issues pencilled by Wayne Boring! He has such a unique take on how the man of steel looks, that I can't help but to study each panel. I have so many issues drawn by Curt Swan, that his Superman is burned into my brain as the gold standard for how he should look. So when I get an issue by Boring, it's a real treat.

This panel in particular is one I really enjoy. There's something about the confidence in his face and that stature of his posture that's intriguing. It's more relaxed than the earlier Joe Shuster work, but nowhere near as free-wheeling as the later Curt Swan stuff.

All things considered, I think I would have to put Wayne Boring in my top five Superman artists of all time.

As our story opens up, Superman is approached by Dr. Reese Kearns who is inquiring about exactly where and when his rocketship landed that brought him to Earth. Immediately suspicious, Superman uses both his x-ray and telescopic vision to look into the archives at the Daily Planet for a little impromptu research on the good doctor.

What he finds un-nerves him as he finds out that he is a disgraced scientist who worked the people of Metropolis into a panic over a meteor hoax. After finding out this information, Superman refuses to answer any of his questions and flies off.

Dr. Kearns is nothing if not persistent, as he shows up at The Daily Planet the next day and proposes a great contest to Perry White that the paper can run. The readers can send in their earliest recollection of Superman, and the earliest story will win the contest.

It seems the doctor will get his information one way or the other, as the contest is an instant hit. Stories come rolling in, mostly from his arrival in Metropolis. There's one story however, that was sent in from a lady from Smallville who remembers seeing a superbaby playing with lamp posts.

Superman decides to verify her story so that he can end the contest and figure out what Dr. Kearns is really up to. During the press conference to announce the winner, Superman is again pestered by Dr. Kearns. This time, he is challenged to think farther back than that, as he must have had earlier exploits.

Using his super-memory, he remembers all the way back to the day when Krypton itself exploded. He was in his rocketship on the way to Earth when something shiny outside the window caught his eye. Like any baby, he was instantly drawn to it. He used his mighty strength, even as a baby, to push the door of the rocket open so he could play with the meteor.

Once on the meteor however, he realized that what was shiny was not the actual meteor itself, but a strange crystalline alien.

Trying to pet it, the alien snaps at the superbaby and then flies off. Disappointed and now bored on the lifeless rock, he once again uses his superstrength to push off the meteor and propels himself back to this ship, changing the orbit of the meteor in the process.

Little did anyone know at the time, but the meteor that he was on was the same one that Dr. Kearns had calculated would strike Metropolis. By accidentally changing it's orbit, little Kal-El had saved the Earh, but inadvertently destroyed Dr. Kearns reputation when the predicted meteor never materialized.

Realizing that it was all a big misunderstanding, Superman publicly vouches for Dr. Kearns who soon regains his reputation as reputable scientist.


I think I may have found one of my new favorite golden age Superman stories. That's a pretty strong statement, as the Superbaby stories are not really my cup of tea. In this story, however, it didn't really bother me.

I liked how the story played with time, making you suspicious of the scientist the whole way through, only to have him vindicated when the seemingly unrelated chain of events from Superman's past are brought together.

It's actually kind of an elegantly straightforward story, that has some great twists and turns that are not needlessly complicated like so many of his silver age exploits were.

I can't wait for the Superman Chronicles trade paperbacks to get to this time period so I can start to read some more books from the early fifties. I've been enjoying the early stuff so far, but they haven't really gotten away from the gangsters and evil barons of industry just yet. I have to say that I really liked the little element of the fantastic that was brought in to this story.

All characters and artwork are (c) DC Comics

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  1. You may not realize it, but this was the very first story DC ever reprinted, as it also led off the first Superman Annual. Looks like Mort Weisinger agreed with your take on it!

  2. It little facts like this that make the internet so much fun, as there's always someone out there who can shed even more light on a fun little story from 50 years ago!

    I'll forgive myself for not realizing that it was reprinted in the first Annual, as that's the only one of the early annuals that I still need to get my hands on a copy of.