Superman 234 (February 1971)

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Ok, here’s where it’s a little hokey. Both stories actually (there’s another history of Krypton back-up, which has a goofy villain reveal at the end). O’Neil has Superman trying to stop a volcano, but he doesn’t want to trespass on the land to do so. While I kind of get O’Neil making it “real,” he also makes it absurd. The villain’s the landowner who’s shooting his fleeing employees… pretty sure, even in 1971, you weren’t allowed to murder disobedient employees.

Otherwise, it’s a solid enough story. The sand-Superman is really creepy, Superman worrying about doing his newscast while fighting the volcano is amusing (though there’s a big plot hole when he talks, as Superman, and he’s still got his news commentary microphone on).

Nice artwork. Lots of thought balloons again, this time explaining how Superman’s thought process for combating the volcano.

Unfortunately, the back-up’s pretty weak overall.

CREDITS

How to Tame a Wild Volcano!; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Murphy Anderson. Prison in the Sky; writer, E. Nelson Bridwell; artist, Swan. Editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman 233 (January 1971)

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What a pleasure it is to read a Superman comic book where he’s not supposed to be perpetually thirty-one or whatever goofy age DC pins on him. The more mature Clark Kent, here becoming a television personality as the Daily Planet goes through changes, brings something else to the comic. I hate to sound like Joe Quesada, but a married Superman has different sensibilities.

The superhero antics–opening with a Kryptonite event–are a lot less sensational than the modern comics–it’s Superman versus gangsters. Gangsters in jets, but gangsters. The real boon to these scenes is the artwork. Curt Swan’s action sequences are fantastic. Even with O’Neil’s tight script–somehow, he gives Superman a lot of thought balloons but never makes them overbearing–it’s Swan who makes the issue feel like an experience.

And then there’s even a cute backup story featuring Jor-El and Lara getting together.

CREDITS

Superman Breaks Loose; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Murphy Anderson. Jor-El’s Golden Folly; writer, E. Nelson Bridwell; artist, Anderson. Editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

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