Thursday, March 30, 2017
Superboy #134 (1966)
Superboy #134 (December, 1966)
"The Scoundrel of Steel!"
"Krypto's First Romance!"
Writers - Leo Dorfman & Jerry Siegel
Artist - George Papp
Cover Price: $0.12
Got a couple of firsts today... we've got our first Imaginary Story (and it might not be the one you think), and it's our first Jerry Siegel story!
Let's get to it!
We open with a quick and dirty origin of Superboy. Really, it's just four panels. Today that'd be a trade paperback! Anyhoo... it's the story of how on the anniversary of Clark's arrival, his adoptive parents thought it would be a great idea for him to wear a costume made from the blankets found in his rocket ship, and fight crime. Wonderfully simplistic... we don't need to think much harder on that. Anyhoo, we interrupt the story in progress to start another... and IMAGINARY STORY!
We join Superboy's anniversary again... however, this time his first mission has nothing to do with stopping a runaway train, but instead... a chunk of red rock soaring through the sky. Superboy makes short work of this crisis, grabbing the crag... and sending it into space! As he returns home, he notices that his body is tingling... could the rock have affected him? A helpful editorial note tells us, that wasn't an ordinary meteorite... it was a chunk of Red K!
Superboy returns home, and it would seem a young hero's job is never done. He heads off to assist in a prison break at Alcatraz. The officers are happy to see him arrive, however... should they be? Instead of herding the baddies, he pushes the entire island to the mainland to aid in their escape!
Back at the Kent farm, Jonathan and Martha (or is it Eben and Sarah?) are huddled around the radio... crying. They cannot believe that their boy would behave in such a way. In mere moments, Superboy comes crashing through the living room window. He demands food, however, when it arrives... he tells his mother how he really feels about her cooking!
The next scene is pretty amazing. Pa Kent decides he's had enough of Clark's sass, and so he puts him over his knee for a paddlin'. It doesn't quite go according to plan.
The following morning, Superboy decides to attend school... in costume. He crashes through the window and demands that the teacher learn him something. She puts on a filmstrip about King Arthur yanking Excalibur out of the stone. Superboy has had enough and decides to lash out... and even teach his "classmates" a new poem.
Outside he rings the school bell which draws all of the students out of the building. Superboy's next trick is... using his super-breath to blow down the schoolhouse! He also finishes his poem... "No more teacher's sassy looks?!" I don't remember it going that way... growing up it was always "No more teacher's dirty looks" I dunno, maybe that was the New York variation.
Superboy returns home and has himself an apple. Pa runs in and threatens to call the police... to which, Superboy yanks the phone out of the wall. To further ensure his parents don't squeal, he proceeds to dig a moat all around the farm... which, would definitely buy him... what, a half-hour? When he finishes digging, he notices through the use of telescopic vision that the military has declared him public enemy number one (which seems to happen quite a bit). At the proving grounds, the soldiers are taking aim at Superboy statues... which they made really quick, right? I mean, the kid first appeared... yesterday!
Seconds later, Superboy arrives at the grounds... and topples all of the statues. The soldiers proceed to just riddle him with ballistics. That doesn't work out too well. Superboy swipes the statues and deposits them at the Kent farm.
Days later, Superboy flies out to the Rock of Gibraltar. He is met by a naval fleet, and so he lifts the entire rock out of the water and slams it down creating a terrific splash. As he heads home, he sort of gets his wits back about him. He doesn't understand what he's doing flying over the ocean... and so, he returns home.
He throws on his Clark Kent duds, and heads to school... oh wait a sec, the school is just a pile of rubble! The best part of this is, the teacher is conducting class in the middle of a field... with a chalkboard and all! Before Clark can mingle with the group, he is bum rushed by his father and some FBI agents. Pa Kent spills the beans about his son's dual identity... and poor Clark gets cuffed.
The FBI agent reads Clark his list of crimes... and somehow, the boy puts two and two together... realizing the meteor was Red Kryptonite. He recalls the events of the past few days, and comes to the conclusion that all of his crimes had to do with "rocks". Oooh. He begs the G Men to let him off the hook, and he will fix everything he'd broken... and, wow... they do!
After all is set right, Superboy knows that there's no going back to the way things were. His secret's out... and everybody is afraid of him. He decides to exile himself from Earth... and find his home elsewhere.
Our second tale (tail?) starts with Krypto taking off from Smallville and heading into space, where he destroys a bunch of meteors. We shift to the planet Mogar, where some Lanthian scientists are loading a dog into a rocket. The pup wears Lanthia's flag like a cape, so that these fellas can send her to the moon... and then claim it in the name of their nation. Sounds pretty solid, right? Oh yeah, and the dog will likely die upon impact... so, there's that.
Elsewhere on Mogar, we join Lanthia's arch-enemies, the (fruit?) Rollops. They are watching the doggy launch, and are lamenting the fact that their attempt at sabotage didn't work. Krypto notices the Lanthian craft, and decides to investigate. He sees what's about to happen to this "cute" dog, and decides to redirect the craft back to Mogar and lands it safely.
After landing (and an introduction... her name is Kolli, by the way), the Rollops approach with the goal of killing the pink pup. Krypto ain't gonna cotton to all that, and so, pulls the (cement?) rug out from under them.
After the Rollops run away, Krypto remembers that there is a planet with a super-power giving pond. He asks Kolli if she'd like some powers, and she's down with it. He flies her to the planet of Zena, and directs her to drink.
She laps up the magical water... and, wouldn'tcha know it, she's now got superpowers! She can fly, and even has x-ray vision. She sees a giant skeleton deep underground, and decides to dig it up so she can have a bone. Moments later, she bumps into Krypto... which, to his surprise, hurts him! He's lost his superpowers!
Krypto wracks his brain to understand what's going on. He concludes that because of Kolli's newfound powers, mixed with science, his powers have been stolen. Moments later a lightning-breathing dragon-ish thing attacks. Kolli launches into action while Krypto flees. Clumsily, Krypto runs into a boulder... and the boulder splits! His powers are back?
Krypto now realizes that as long as Kolli is nearby, his powers will be gone... and so, he decides to desert her on this dangerous planet. What a dog! We wrap up with both pups looking skyward crying over their losses and what might have been.
Now... if I were to tell you we've got a pair of stories, one has Superboy acting erratically due to exposure to Red Kryptonite... and the other is a romance story starring Krypto, which one would you think was the Imaginary Story?
Had a lot of fun with this issue... as ridiculous as it was. There's something to be said for the simplicity of the Silver Age. These stories just "happen"... there isn't a need to explain everything to the nth degree, things are just accepted. Superboy's origin is told in four panels... and it's ridiculous, but even looking at it with 2017 eyes, I accepted it and moved along into the story.
I don't have much experience with Imaginary Stories... and I'm not one who subscribes to the "aren't they all?" philosophy. I think the first time I saw that Moore quote I thought it was pretty mind-blowing... that sensation has passed. I think there is a marked difference between a silly story a writer wants to tell, and a story which adds to the overall lore of a character or franchise. Imaginary Stories are all in good fun... they're harmless, though, I will say that if I were a kid in 1966 waiting for the next issue of Superboy... and received a "fake" story, I'd probably be disappointed. Hell, maybe not... I dunno. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that if I plopped down $3.99 for an issue of a contemporary book, and it turned out to be a story that "didn't happen" or "didn't matter", I'd feel ripped off. I'm probably comparing apples to elephants at this point, so I should just move along.
Our main story provided so many moments that I actually struggled with what pictures to include. There was so much fun, and so many great lines... I think to get the full effect, folks are going to have to actually track down the issue. So weird, crazy, and fun. You gotta wonder if artists were chomping at the bit to draw Superboy as a delinquent. I would assume the creative team had a ton of fun here too.
The backup story... that "really happened". Oy. Lotsa leaps of logic here... and yeah, I understand how silly that sounds when we're discussing literal "puppy love". At the end of the day, this wasn't written for a dude in his mid-30's to unpack and analyze... it was fun, less fun than the Scoundrel of Steel, but fun enough. I think the neatest part was that it was written by Jerry Siegel. I have precious little from him in my (single issue, non-reprint) library. Even though the issue is ridiculous, it still feels like I'm holding a piece of history.
Overall... ehh. If you come across any Silver-Age book for a buck or two, of course I'm gonna say you should consider nabbing it. I doubt this has been collected, and as far as I can tell, it hasn't been made available digitally. A fun little book, worth a look if you happen across it. Just be prepared to disengage your contempo-comics fan mind.