Superman #327 (1978)

Superman #327 (September, 1978)

“The Sandstorm that Swallowed Metropolis!”
“Two Can Die as Cheaply as One”
Writers – Martin Pasko & Cary Bates
Pencillers – Curt Swan & Kurt Schaffenberger
Inkers – Frank Chiaramonte & Joe Giella
Colorists – Adrienne Roy & Gene D’Angelo
Letterers – Ben Oda & Jean Simek
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.50

Hey now, what’s this?  Just one of them really fortuitous cheap-o bin finds… I’ve got a OneNote document on my phone where I keep my list of which books I’m needing to pick up (as you may imagine, I need juuuuust about every issue of pre-1980 Superman and Action Comics), and the other day I came across this one.

I snagged it seeing I needed the issue, and when I got it home I was surprised to see the familiar image on the bottom right corner… this issue is something of a sequel (or next chapter) to Superman Takes a Wife, which we discussed earlier this month.  Like I said, fortuitous.  We get a couple of stories here, one from each main DC Earth… so let’s get right down “two” it.

We open with a splash page where Kobra… the deadliest man alive has unleashed a sandstorm on Metropolis that Superman is trying to stop… in the foreground are Ma and Pa Kent… but, isn’t this pre-Crisis?  Aren’t they… ya know, dead?  Well before we address that, lets go back in time a bit… Clark Kent enters his apartment at 344 Clinton Street.  Inside, he finds Kobra… the deadliest lisping man alive with some of his flunkies.  Apparently, in the previous issue, Ssuperman had taken his teleportation machine… which looks like a silly golden gun.  Anyhoo, the machine was a beacon to Kobra… and now he (like most of the other pre-Crisis DC Universe) knows that Ssuperman is, in reality, Clark Kent.

Kobra graciously decides to share his origin with Superman… and us, which is helpful, because I believe this is my first run in with him.  He found an amazing arsenal of weapons and gear via archaeological digs at the ruins of lost civilizations… among those ruins was the teleporter thingie.  Well, a UFO shows up and tractor-beams the teleporter away… which then somehow, in a roundabout way, wound up in Superman’s hands.

Kobra proves for all his power and dangerousness… he’s not the sharpest bulb in the shed.  He starts blasting Superman with his ray… then tries to ensnare him in some odd serpentine that appears to come from the palm of his hand… but in reality, it’s just from the glove that he’s wearing.

Kobra drops a smoke bomb and flings himself out the window.  One of Clark’s neighbors, Sam… who is kind of a jerk, was alerted by the racket, and bursts into Apartment 3-D… where he finds Clark (who had to change clothes in the record 1/10 of a second), who tells him that a burglar was there.  Sam is really dismissive of Clark, even going as far as calling him a cream puff.  What an ass.

Superman reflects on a conversation he had with fellow Justice Leaguers Batman, Aquaman and Green Lantern about Kobra.  The all speak of how dangerous he is… even Batman is like… dude, you don’t wanna mess with this guy!

The next day, we join Clark, Lois and Lana at the Galaxy Building.  I’ve said it before, but the pre-Crisis Universe is still something of a novelty to me… but here, Lana won’t stop referring to people as “luv”.  Is Lana like that friend of yours from High School who spends a semester studying in England, who comes home affecting an accent?  Was Lana overseas?  Or is this just a personality tick that falls flat?  Anyhoo… they are putting together a Superman documentary for the network, and are looking at photos of some of his heroic feats.  One in particular has him destroying a cargo plane that was full of explosives before it could crash into Metropolis… ya gotta wonder who was in position for such a photo-op…

At this very moment, Lois decides the room is becoming stuffy and opens the window… which, somehow, Clark realizes is a bad idea.  It’s too late however, as a torrent of sand rushes into the ajar window.

In the distraction Clark Supes’ up, and takes off to find out who or what is behind the sandstorm.  Of course, Lois… or maybe it’s Lana question Clark’s bravery in his disappearance.  Superman cleans up a fair amount of the grit, and traces it to a goofy-ass looking machine that is sucking the sand at the floor of the ocean up and blasting it all over the city.  Oh, wouldn’tcha know it… it’s Kobra!

… and he’s not alone!  Knowing that Superman is Clark Kent, Kobra… get this… went back in time… to fetch Ma and Pa Kent before they died… to bring them to the present, and force Superman to do his bidding.  I mean, seriously now… if you’ve got the power to travel through time, what more could you need?  You’re living the life Kobra… why you wasting time with sand?  Superman takes the opportunity to reflect on the passing of his foster-parents… including how their aging was, at one time, halted… to their tragic passing due to some exotic Caribbean disease.

Anyhoo… Kobra tells Superman that if he doesn’t comply he’ll… I guess kill his already dead parents?  Okay… well, he continues… Superman is to… collect all of the sand from Metropolis and deliver it back to the goofy-ass machine.  He does so by concocting a pipe and repository from some scrap iron and cloth.  I mean, we’ve got a couple of really innovative dudes here… and they’re both mucking about with sand?

During one of the drop-offs Superman looks inside the machine and notices that there is a filtration screen inside the sucker.  30 minutes later he returns with another batch… and when it’s sucked in… the machine explodes!

We learn, from Superman, that he saw bits of the toxin from the exploded plane… from the photos earlier… betcha forgot about those… and that Kobra was using the sand to… ahem… sandblast the traces of toxin off the buildings of Metropolis… and with Superman’s aid was filtering it into his device.  I mean, hell… Kobra, you’ve got Superman to do your bidding… why not just tell him to make Metropolis explode?

Well, no bad deed goes unpunished as they say.  Kobra turns his attention toward Ma and Pa Kent… and blasts them with his blasting ray of blastingness.  The bubble they inhabited shatters, and… two tiny Ma and Pa Kent figurines fall out.  Now, get this… Superman pulled the ol’ switcheroo.  In the midst of the goofy-ass machine getting blowed up real good, he took his parents to safety, and replaced them with statuettes… from… now, get this… the pouch of his cape… where he always keeps the statuettes.  It’s really adorable… and feels like this should be 1968 rather than 1978.

Kobra’s all, screw this… and flies off.  Superman heads to the Fortress of Solitude where he placed the real Kent-bubble.  It’s funny how it seems like every pre-Crisis issue features the Fortress.  Anyhoo, he… (I’m saying this a lot, but) get this… goes back in time with the bubble to before his foster-parents passed, and drops them off.  He flies off knowing that despite Kobra’s plans, the present and future will remain unchanged… ay yai yai.

Okay… enough of that Earth-One schmazz, it’s time to hop into Earth-Two… where we join the newly married Mr. and Mrs. Superman as they attempt to have a couch delivered to their third-story apartment… while they wisely watch from directly underneath it.  The wire snaps (natch), and the couch comes falling down… luckily one of them has super-quick reflexes, and saves them both from certain discomfort.

Well, Lois… is kinda ticked… after all, that was her favorite couch.  We’ve all got a favorite couch, right?  I mean, out of the dozen or so couches I’ve got littered around my house, there is one I consider my favorite.  Really, Lois… Clark tells the movers not to worry about it, after all… accidents happen.  The couple head to their apartment, and Clark reveals that his shirt and jacket took quite a trouncing from the springs of the couch.  Lois realizes how silly it was to be more worried about the couch than her own safety and they kiss in the elevator.  The End… oh, there’s more?  Okay…

Upstairs, Clark changes clothes as to not arouse suspicion, and Lois comments that now they are sort of like super-teammates.  Outside we see the moving man talking via walkie talkie to… Colonel Future!  I assume he’s called him at Shady Pines retirement home, if the last time we saw him is any indication.  Anyhoo, they’ve still got a bone to pick with the intrepid Mr. Kent… which means the couch drop wasn’t an accident after all!  Now, they’ve got to advance to plan… I dunno, W?  Clark hops into his car… starts it… and BOOM!  The C-F gang pulled the ol’ your car blows up when you start it gag!

LOVE this panel!

Well, Superman quickly evacuates the scene, and as the moving man is celebrating a job well done, he notices Clark Kent exiting the building as carefree as ever!  Whoops!  He thinks the bomb went off prematurely.

Now the C-F gang is kind of at their wits-end, so they decide, screw it… enough with the subterfuge… let’s just point a gun at Mrs. Kent’s head!  Clark reenters the apartment to witness the scene.  As to… not arouse suspicion, he places his hands in the air as if to submit to the baddies.

Lois gets behind her husband, and decides to… rip his shirt open, displaying the Superman emblem… and, damned if that ain’t a goofy looking “S”!  The C-F goons attempt to fill Mssr. Kent full’a lead… and that goes about as well as you’d imagine.  Superman superbreathes the geeks into the wall, knocking them out.

Superman ties the gangsters up by wrapping them with a metal pole.  Lois then walks over to the… what’s that thing called?  The thing that Seinfeld would “buzz” to let people into the building?  Yeah, that thing… Lois walks over to the Seinfeld-building-buzzer-thing, and tells “Clark” that it’s safe to come up.  Superman takes this cue to use his… get this… Super-Ventriloquism… then fly off and return moments later as Clark Kent… yeah, sure buddy… your secret’s totally safe!

Okay… so does anyone not know Superman is Clark Kent?  I was almost expecting the villainous C-F moving men in the Earth-Two story to be like “Yeah, tell us something we don’t already know!” when Lois popped her husband’s shirt open.  The bronze age can be so weird… I mean, in the Earth-One story, “The Deadliest Man Alive” Kobra finds out the secret identity… and nabs the Kents… from the past… to get Superman to do his bidding.  Isn’t this kind of like using a billion-dollar device to break into a bank to steal ten-grand?

While on the subject of Kobra… wouldn’t he, I dunno… threaten to level the Galaxy Building?  Kill Lana and Lois?  Broadcast that Superman is really Clark Kent?  So weird… Also… Superman goes into the past to drop off the Kents… so they can die… say what?  If dude can time-travel… then, nothing’s off-limits, right?  So damn weird.

Now… ahem… with all that out of the way… I still had a good time reading this.  You really gotta be in a pre-Crisis mood… that’s for sure… but, overall, a fun disposable issue of Superman.

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