Monday, February 06, 2017

Superboy #100: Ma and Pa Kent’s Incredible Delusion!

             This is the cover story for Superboy #100, from October, 1962.  The cover and story art are by the inimitable Curt Swan, from a script by Super Creator Jerry Siegel.

            The story begins as Superboy saves a bunch of naval vessels from the explosion of a South Seas volcano.  He returns home to the summer cottage of the Kents, only to be confronted by the cover scene.

            “What the heck?!?” as Cecil the Seasick Sea-Serpent would say.  “Umm, wait here,” Superboy temporizes while trying to figure out the cause of this sudden, strange obsession.  In his secret hideout, the statues of Jor-El and Lara have been stripped of their outfits.  That’s the source of the Kryptonian costumes the Kents are wearing, proof that they have come down here.  But, Superboy’s various space trophies don’t seem booby-trapped.  What caused this wacky flight from reality?  Can he snap the Kents out of it?

     Soon we readers learn that they’re impostors, Phantom Zone criminals set free by the volcanic explosion which opened our story.  (Note that Jerry Siegel came up with this idea thirty-five years before Superman The Movie and Superman II narrated the Phantom Zone’s rupture by a nuclear explosion.)  The criminals, Doctor Xadu and Erndine,  hope to maneuver the Boy of Steel into revealing the location of the Phantom Zone Projector (here called the Punishment Ray), so they can imprison him and let the other crooks out.
            Kryptonian scientist Dr Xadu made his first appearance in April, 1961’s Adventure Comics #283, in the story “The Phantom Superboy!”  Erndine is his wife.

      The panel that depicts these two villains casually pulling off their supposedly lifelike Kent masks makes the adult in me say, “Huh?”  You start to wonder, how dense is Superboy not to figure that these are NOT the Kents?

  • ·         By their distinctive smell – aftershave, laundry soap, etc
  • ·         By their voices
  • ·         You didn’t notice that their glasses are PART OF THEIR FACES?

       To mess around with Superboy’s head some more, they work at the Kent store and deny their previous Kryptonian dress-up act.  But look closely at their faces.  As the customers sweat, the Kents’ phizzogs are dry.

            After flying his foster-foster parents around in a “rocket” and returning them, Superboy finally picks up on the fact that they’re not wilting in the summer heat.  Aha! Finally he thinks to use his X-ray Vision! 

            Kal-El confronts the pseudoKents and finds out what they want.  In return for the Kents’ location, he sets up a real rocket so the evil pair can travel to the planet Exon where, he tells them,  he’s hidden the Projector.
            PSYCH!  By a series of tricks, he’s gotten them to land on a red-sun planet, where their powers will be useless.  Now he can rescue Ma and Pa Kent!

            In the denouement, Superboy has found his foster parents, and filled them in on his punishment for those bad ol’ Zoners.  Good riddance to bad Kryptonian rubbish, we say!


            As promised on the cover, also included in this issue are various “artifacts” which are reprints of interesting Super Features.

             Of course, to us pre-teens, the long-removed years of 1939 and 1949 were really ancient history!

             This two-page center spread looks like the layout for an otherwordly amusement park!  Judging by the tiny depiction of Jor-El working on his rocket, this map is by Al Plastino.

             This pictogram mentions some of the many survivors of Krypton:  Argo City, Supergirl, and Krypto.  Beppo the Super-Monkey isn’t mentioned, despite having been introduced in 1959’s Superboy #76.
            Note the blue-line images in the background?  They’re bleed-through from the next page.

             This page fills out the “special anniversary” material.  The first, third, and final panels have tracings in blue pen, when an earlier owner of this comic decided to emulate the art.  That’s what is bleeding through onto the previous page.

            Well, that’s our survey of (part of) Superboy #100 from 1962.  See you next Monday, friends!
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© by Mark Alfred