Friday, December 03, 2010

The Demon Under the Red Sun! (Part Two)

When last we left our hero, he was having trouble lifting a fellow who weighed "only" 500 pounds.

On this world zig-zagging through space populated by troglodytic descendants of its creators, the local sun is red and therefore Supes is S.O.L.  He has been declared an evil magic demon by the leader of the tribe whose runaway teenage lovers were returned to the fold by the Man of Steel.

As we begin Part Two, "The Test of the Talisman," we see a refreshing bounce-back by Superman.  True, he has no super-powers as he faces this mob of cave-man types.  But on the bright side, he doesn't have to pull his punches.  To praphrase Larry Niven, this Man of Steel is longer surrounded by Enemies of Kleenex!  And, indeed, he cuts loose with some of the voodoo-kung-fu moves he learned from his pal Batman.
And when he winds up for a pitch that will clock one of the guys chasing him, suddenly his hand is stuck to a pile of rocks.  The hand wearing Jimmy's signal watch.  This is where we learn that the famous Jimmy Olsen Signal Watch has a stainless-steel casing, for it has zoom-bang stuck to these rocks, which logically means that they are natural lodestones, magnetically attractive minerals.

I do wonder at the science expressed in the idea that supersonic vibrations can overcome magnetic attraction.  But again, this Kal-El is a scientist and the son of a scientist.  Anyway, it makes for a good introduction of magnetic rocks into the storyline, which is what is necessary here.

Overpowered, Superman is locked up in a pen once used to keep large beasts and now filled with their bones.  The two teens he befriended and saved wish they could help, but they dare not violate the tribal taboos.

Here we have the perfect exemplary of a group's reactionary identification and expulsion of "The Other."

Told he must pass three challenges to prove his virtue, the Man of Tomorrow surveys his enclosure.  It's filled with nothing but dirt, and the huge bones of these long-dead animals.  From this, our ever-inventive hero HATCHES A PLAN.

As you can see from this page, the plan to handle the first trial  involves a marksman who could put William Tell to shame.  However, Superman has learned a thing or three from his pal Batman, besides kung-fu-fighting.  What do you think of this shoulder-blade Batarang!

Next up -- the crawling spaghetti monster!  Well, Superman has got it covered.  Notice the horn Supes is evaluating in the last panel of the above page.  An empty horn.  Its hollow properties are like a megaphone.  Hmm.
 Sure enough, the savoir faire of the Man from Krypton is up to the job.  After calling this monstrosity a plate of spaghetti, he was going to shout "Yer mommy wears Army boots!" but that would have required a lot of army boots.  What drove off the beast was the hollow horn held under his arm, which amplified the "zee-zee-zee" emitted by the Signal Watch, which was on the so-casually crossed arm holding the horn.

But now comes the worst trial of all, the Dorito Challenge.

Actually, although the gleaming yellow triangles LOOK like Frito-Lay snacks, in fact they are radium or some other radioactive substance.  Evidently they are ineffective on the natives, but to Superman they are MURDER.

Note that, as with "The Two Ghosts of Superman," the Curt Swan cover art has been appropriated right into the comic story illustrated elsewhere by Al Plastino.

However, Superman has put together another Rube-Goldberg-type of plan.  First off, he remembers that he has well-wishers outside the stockade, the teenagers he saved.  He has them use the round slices taken from trees by the Purple Spaghetti Monster, and mount them as wheels underneath the platform on which he is to be tortured.  Then Jimmy's MAGNETIC watch is fastened underneath.  At a signal, friend Jaymarr holds up a lodestone, whoseattractive force rolls Superman right away from the clearing thus enabling him to "magically" escape.

(Unshown by the art is the seatbelt that tied Jaymarr to a ten-ton log, and which kept Jaymarr from being dragged toward the platform.)

Well, with that, Superman is released, and just-in-time,the zig-zagging planetoid curves back toward a yellow sun.  With his powers restored, our hero shakes the dust of this wacky place from his feet, confident that his demonstration of the principle of the wheel will guide these people back towards science.

One last thing remains for Superman, and that is vindicating the astronaut whose tale of a careening planet started this adventure.  And giving Jimmy back his watch, of course.

Come to think of it ... Recall that Part Two of this tale is, "The Test of the Talisman."  Now that you think about it, that phrase, though intended to refer to the yellow radium triangles, also is applicable to Jimmy's good ol' Signal Watch.  It played a big part in this adventure, and in every trial, its properties proved it a big help to Superman.  I'd say that this talisman (the watch) passed the test!

Well, do you agree with me that this story had its silly moments?  See you sometime next week!

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