Superman #307 – “Krypton—No More” – (Gerry Conway/Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez/Frank Springer)
We start in the middle of the action (an old Stan Lee trick) with Superman smashing the shit out of a vinyl chloride plant north of Metropolis. A glowing guy called The Protector shows up and fights Supes.
Protector says he’s a mutant (another Marvel reference…everybody drink!) and his powers seem pretty adaptable. He flies, he’s super-strong, can turn his body into diamond, and can project a light-lance. After zapping Supes with the light-lance, Protector takes off. We get a quick flashback to how this all started (a worker at the plant asked Clark to investigate safety concerns, but he went as Superman instead). While touring the plant, Supes went nuts and started trashing the place, which is where we came in. Supes gets on a rant about Krypton’s destruction and how he doesn’t want to see the same thing happen to Earth. Then he attacks an oil tanker to prevent it from spilling its oil and polluting the ocean … the old “In order to save the village, I had to burn the village” argument. Supergirl shows up, but instead of stopping him (or helping him, as he asks) she tells him Krypton was a lie. It never existed and the two of them are just powerful mutants (there’s that word again!) born on Earth. All the Kryptonian relics in the Fortress of Solitude are revealed to be fakes. The Protector shows up there and Superman seemingly destroys him while Supergirl watches. And that’s basically it for the issue.
- This issue’s a little weird; a lot of the time, it seems like Gerry’s still writing in Marvel mode, and he was still writing stories over at Marvel at this point, so maybe things were starting to run together in his head.
- I’m not sure why Clark wouldn’t just see what he could do as a reporter. This whole “chemical plant causing cancer” thing has kind of a Silkwood vibe to it (although that had to do with plutonium). Karen Silkwood died in 1974, but the facts didn’t really start coming to public attention till 1979, so I doubt Conway had that particular case in mind. But there was plenty of other toxic shit being strewn about by corporations back then (though this story would precede Love Canal by a few months at least, I think), so Gerry probably didn’t have far to go for inspiration.
- Clark is shanghaied by Terri Cross, who says she’s taking him to
dinner. Terri Cross is a character that Gerry introduced a few issues back; she describes herself as a TV star groupie and seems to have attached herself to Clark. When she was first introduced in Superman #301, there was one panel where she looked exactly like Mary Jane Watson; even here, she still kinda looks like MJ…not sure if that’s on purpose or what.
- I’m also not sure what Terri’s purpose is supposed to be…a foil/catalyst for Lois? A viable romantic interest for Clark? Good luck on that front…Clark doesn’t seem to give a shit about her. And what is a TV star groupie anyway? Does she seriously get hot for random guys she sees on TV? On second thought, maybe she’s less MJ Watson and more Pamela Des Barres.
- Seeing Supes freak out and start wrecking chemical plants and oil tankers is a bit weird; maybe this is a throwback to the late 1930s Superman, who went after slumlords and crooked politicians.
- Supergirl is wearing her hotpants in this issue … sometimes you gotta love the 70s.
- Kandor apparently turns out to be the world’s best diorama instead of an actual city.
- Superman seems to accept being an Earth-born mutant a bit too easily for me. Brainwashing? Red kryptonite? Mid-life crisis? Who knows? I guess we’ll find out next issue.
This is not a continuation of the Superman #307 story; I guess the two titles had separate storylines back then. But this one also starts with Superman wreaking havoc on mere mortals. He’s flying above a Balkan republic called Borotavia and being attacked by their air force. Superman destroys the planes and warns the Borotavian Field Marshal not to “interfere” with any neighbouring countries. The marshal asks (quite sensibly) why it’s any of Superman’s business, and he says he’s a United Nations emissary; I’m not sure that’s what the UN had in mind when they created their Peacekeeping Force. Supes leaves and is monitored by a couple of guys who seem to be in a satellite above Earth. They zap Supes with some kind of ray and … nothing happens. In fact, he doesn’t even notice. At WGBS, Clark prepares for the newscast and we see a nifty new teleprompter on his desk. Just before he’s due to go on air, he reads about a tidal wave in the Pacific that threatens Japan and the east coast of the U.S. Clark blasts a spotlight, making it flare up with the “micro-second impact of a supernova”, whatever that means. It throws everyone in the studio into a trance, giving Clark a chance to switch to a pre-recorded tape and take off to stop the tidal wave. Supes shows up at the tidal wave, but before he can deal with it, he has to save an oil tanker…I wonder if it’s the same one he tried to destroy in Superman #307? Supes tries to cancel the tidal wave with a shock wave of his own, but that doesn’t work, so he tries a sonic boom. He mentions that he has some way of internally dampening the sonic forces around him, which is why there aren’t constant sonic booms wherever he goes. But the sonic boom idea doesn’t work either, so Supes quickly concludes this is no ordinary tidal wave. He zips up into space and smashes into the satellite where those two guys are. He fixes the wall where he busted in so they don’t asphyxiate and they tell him about the ray they hit him with earlier; apparently, it stole the “sonic dampening” power from inside him and that’s what they used to create the tidal wave.
- I guess Borotavia is a stand-in for any number of volatile countries
in that area, though I don’t think things were as intense over there in the 70s as they were in the 90s; Greece had some political instability in the 70s, but the names being thrown around here sound Slavic and the planes have weird pseudo-communist designs on them. Maybe they’re the same Commie-Nazis that attacked McBain on The Simpsons.
- Those two guys in the satellite … how the hell did they get up there? I’m pretty sure they aren’t with NASA (at least, I hope not), so did they actually build and launch their own satellite? Maybe one of them is Elon Musk.
- Back at WGBS, Clark joins Lois for lunch in the cafeteria. She gets
him to try some bean soup (which she says is based on the same recipe used for the famous “Congressional bean soup”), but doesn’t seem to like it much, saying it’s no beef bourguignon. I notice beef bourguignon gets mentioned a lot in Superman and Action; must be some kind of Gerry Conway in-joke. (Or maybe it’s a euphemism for sex, like “Netflix and Chill”?)
- Wouldn’t viewers notice the current newscast was exactly the same as the one they’d seen before? And what about the people in the studio? They’d have to notice Clark was gone … or do they stay in their “trance” the whole time. I have to say, all the weird ways that Clark finds to get out of WGBS when there’s a crisis can’t be good for business. Viewers must get tired of repeated programs and constant blackouts; plus, with all the weird shit happening at the studio, I think most of the employees would conclude the place was haunted and get the hell out of there.
- This is a very Scooby-Doo ending (seriously—one of the guys actually says, “It would have worked too, if you hadn’t interfered!”) I get the feeling this whole issue was written because some fan asked why Superman doesn’t cause sonic booms wherever he goes. Now if anyone asks, they can just point to this story and say “sonic dampening bullshit … it’s canon, baby!” Let’s hope next month’s story has a little more meat to it.