Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Action #305: Sippin' Nitro, Burpin' Trouble!

Here are the last two pages from "Why Superman Needs a Secret Identity!" from October 1963.

Superman has lost his Clark Kent identity during the rescue of his friends from a mad bomber.  He tries a different street name, but his new persona doesn't have a history.  He can't provide information about previous employers, or a childhood he didn't have.  What's left?

How humiliating!  The Man of Steel forced to become a bum on Skid Row, because there's nowhere else to turn.  Then he's run in for vagrancy!  Sheesh!

I have two comments about this sorry sequence of affairs:

The cop that runs Superman in looks like a self-portrait by artist Curt Swan!  LEFT IMAGE:  Close-up of cop.  MIDDLE IMAGE: Photo of Swan.  RIGHT IMAGE:  Swan self-portrait from 1983.

Secondly:  In this story the fictional character Superman is a wonderful type of how a true hero might act.  His only concern is for the people he serves.  His saving mission is not only worth casting his own identity aside to save them, he's also willing to live among them as their apparent equal.  Not only that, he doesn't turn up his nose at living with the bums and cast-outs, if that keeps him near to the people he has sworn to serve.

Hmmm .... what other true-life hero might this also describe?  HINT: He is risen.

In this story, our hero has a brainstorm and figures out one way to neutralize the liquid nitro -- by taking out of its danger zone!  He quickly converts a glass test tube to a kind of super-straw ...

... and while all eyes are on the clock for the end of Benny the Blaster's countdown, Clark ever-so-carefully actually SIPS THE NITRO from the flask into his super-stomach.

Quick!  When can you see Clark Kent burp?  Why here, of course!  *excuse me* -- It must have been something I ate!

Then we get to see a rare example of Clark Kent nabbing a bad guy.  In the final panel of this fine tale of alternative choices, Perry reclines in his Isolation Ward hospital bed reading the headline nobody expected to see:  CLARK KENT CAPTURES MAD BOMBER.  When Perry says, "Of course you were never in any danger," he's referring to Benny's vial, which evidently didn't contain nitro -- after all, it didn't explode.

Of course, unknown to Perry and Jimmy but known to us, Clark Kent's physical safety wasn't being threatened, even by the REAL NITROGLYCERIN.  No, it was the security of the Kent persona  that was threatened.  And after these examples of what could happen to Superman without Clark Kent, we can only say, "Whew!" and be glad for that ol' staple of the Silver Age, bulletproof continuity.

Perhaps one day we will check later issue's letter columns for any readers' comments about this story.  In the final panel, such comments are invited.

The bottom half of this page is an ad for Tootsie Rolls.  To me, the tongue-twister is rather lame.  I prefer the one that goes, "I'm a mother-pheasant plucker, I pluck mother pheasants.  I'm the pleasantest mother-pheasant plucker whoever plucked a mother pheasant."

Believe it or not, I can reel THAT ONE off pretty fast!

See you on Friday for some of the middle pages of this wonderful comic from DC's Silver Age.


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