Superman #405 (March, 1985)
“The Mystery of the Super-Batman”
“Yes, Lowell, There is a Superman”
Writers – Craig Boldman & Bob Rozakis
Artists – Alex Saviuk, Kurt Schaffenberger, & Karl Kesel
Letterer – Ben Oda
Colorist – Gene D’Angelo
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.75
Found another great pre-Crisis Craig Boldman Superman story… let’s get right into it!
We open with a thief hot-footin’ from the Metropolis City Museum with a messenger-bag slung over his shoulder. On the way he bumps into a poor unfortunate just sitting on the steps (he’s important!) He hops into his waiting ride and shows off the loot… a gilden pan flute! Suddenly a batarang (?) slams into the hood of the car… wrecking it real good. A batarang? Wrong city pal… or is it? We see that night Lana Lang is reporting on the strange amalgamated Super-Batman who made an appearance earlier that day.
Clark is watching Lana’s report, and he thinks back to earlier that day. He and Lana were preparing to run a story on a prized new acquisition at the Museum… and wouldn’tcha know it, it’s a gilded pan flute! Now Lana, being a goofball thinks it wouldn’t be any problem to just give the pipes (which originated with a CULT that worshipped Pan) a toot! This causes Clark to recoil in pain.
This is back in the time where Clark was very much a wimp when not in costume, so Lana just takes this as another account of his softness acting up. Clark returns to his apartment and takes one peek in the mirror… only to find he’s sprouted horns! Next stop, the Fortress of Solitude!
While up north, Superman does some Pan-research. He deduces that if he were to give the pipes another play, his hornyness will subside. He uses his telescopic vision and sees that the magical instrument had been stolen… again… He’s gotta go fetch it, but he can’t with these damn horns! What’s a man to do? Well, if that man has a Batman exhibit in the next room, you borrow it’s cape and cowl! He quickly nabs the no-goods, and keeps the pipe for good measure. He takes it home and gives it a toot… and nothing!
Clark notices that the gold is flaking off of the flute… meaning he’s got some bogus goods! He decides to go out on patrol at Super-Batman… to maybe strike some fear into the hearts of the baddies. This doesn’t go quite as well as he’d hoped. He gets laughs and scoffs rather than trembling. He chases a pair of geeks who just held a young couple up… and he, get this… bursts a fire hydrant to soak the guys… then freezes the water… encasing these fools in ice! Super-Batman does not mess around!
The next day, Clark shows up at the Galaxy Building for his live report… in which he’s gotta jump out of a plane! No big deal, right? Well… right. Clark (somehow) pops a helmet over his horns and hops from the plane. Morgan Edge is absolutely shocked that his “jellyfish” Kent showed some real guts.
That night, Superman uses his “mind’s eye” to play back what went down the other day. He is able to see that the poor hobo (derelict is what Supes calls him) the crook bumped into during his escape pulled the ol’ switcheroo. Super-Bat’s next stop is the jail cell of the baddies… nice of the police department to let these guys bunk together, right? They’re hesitant to spill the beans on their boss, but Super-Batman convinces them that they were patsies (see?) and the big boss left ’em hangin’ out to dry (see?).
We learn that Wesley Wood is the middle-man between the thugs and a fella called Frederick Forrest. Super-Batman enters through the window and… get this, uses his spooky voice to (unsuccessfully) try and strike some fear. As he approaches, Wood plays the pipes and knocks Superman to the ground. Luckily, he didn’t just grab the cape and cowl… he’s got some goodies from the world famous utility belt to boot! He snags Wood and gets the goods on the real man behind the “Big Crime Wheel”. As Superman takes Wood to the clink, he hopes that he’ll eventually be able to scare at least one person!
Well, when Superman pays Forrest a visit… be does so without the cowl. It just so happens that Forrest is a pretty big fan of Pan… and wildly superstitious to boot! He retrieves the Syrinx, and relieves himself of his heady dilemma.
Our second feature is a Christmas story! You know how I love Christmas stories! Well this one features an irritating little twit named Lowell. Ya see, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus (which he proudly declares in front of his younger sister… the jerk) nor does he believe in Superman! Like he’s really reading Perry White the riot act here. Pictorial evidence just isn’t enough for this clown!
Clark Kent pops his head in to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, as he’s set to return home to Smallville to spend the holiday with Lana’s parents. He leaves, and figures he’ll do a quick patrol… then return to give ol’ Lowell a shock.
It turns out that this is probably the worst day in Metropolis history… as everything that could go wrong, has! The streets have changed to an ice skating rink, and traffic has turned into bumper cars… A pair of kids are having a snowball fight while standing next to a downed live power line… a woman accidently burns her Christmas tree down… and a senior citizen passes out while shoveling his driveway. Man, this is taking longer than he thought!
Just as Lowell and family were getting ready to split… with Lowell giving some passive-aggressive barbs to Perry. I mean, really… slap this little bastard! Well, lucky for the Chief, Superman has finally arrived… and offers to give Lowell a lift. Which he does… and sadly, it doesn’t end with Lowell splattered all over the sidewalk!
This was a silly but fun story… the kind that totally wouldn’t work these days. I mean, Superman gets enchanted by Pan’s Pipes and sprouts horns… so he has to fight crime while wearing the Batman cowl he keeps on display at the Fortress… that’s amazing!
The only problem with an issue like this is… outside of “I really enjoyed it”, there just isn’t a whole lot to say about it. I did really dig Superman getting frustrated that his Bat-costume wasn’t quite striking the same fear into the crooks as it does when Bruce wears it… that was pretty funny! I will say, this Boldman fella… he hasn’t let me down yet. The pre-Crisis Superman is more or less a mystery to me, and I’m pleased to say I’ve enjoyed my education thus far… a lot of the thanks to that goes to Craig Boldman. Definitely a name to keep an eye out for while trawling the bins!
The back-up story… man, that Lowell was a punk! I was hoping Superman would bobble the twerp just to put the fear of God in him. What a smug little brat… should’ve had his shoes heat-visioned for a few seconds. How real does Superman feel to ya now, Lowell? I will say that I enjoyed the art on both stories, however… I gotta say it tickles me that the streets of Metropolis literally turn into a ice-skating rink come Christmastime!