Superman #420 (1986)

Superman #420 (June, 1986)
“… And We are the Dreamers of Dreams!”
Writer – Elliot S! Maggin
Penciller – Curt Swan
Inker – Dave Hunt
Letterer – Gaspar
Colorist – Gene D’Angelo
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.75

I ever tell ya about the time I almost killed Superman?  No?  Well, check it out…

We start with Superman… he’s flying, though he’s not in space… he’s not in time either.  He lands and stands before everyone who means anything to him… be they living or dead.  The Sun on the horizon grows closer, and in it… a humanoid form.  A young boy ultimately steps out… and introduces himself to Superman as Chris… however, he did not come alone.

From the horizon enter four warriors on winged horses.  They sorta look like sky-jousters, armed with all manner of weapon.  Superman engages them in battle, only to find that his power of flight has left him.  He’s still strong though… at least strong enough to snap one of the warriors’ lance.

The warriors turn their attention to the Super-friends on the ground, and make their approach.  There is a terrible explosion… from which, Clark Kent sits up from his slumber.  It was all a dream… hoo boy.  He rolls out of bed and… puts on his glasses before reading the morning paper.  Hmm… two things.  First, dude shouldn’t need glasses to read… second, these Smallville paperboys are dedicated to their customers if they provide bedside delivery.

Why is Clark in Smallville?  Well, he’s visiting his good friend Wayne Kling… who makes his sole comic book appearance this issue.  Wayne is a high school social studies teacher, and Clark is there to give a speech in front of his class.  Things are going as well as could be expected during his presentation, though he did have to dodge a paper wad.  His attention is drawn to a boy in the front row… why, it’s the dream boy himself… Chris!

After class, Clark and Wayne head into the hallway.  Clark decides to take a break and do some Super-showing off with the high school football team.

After spiking the ball, we get back down to business.  Superman lands next to Chris and we learn that they both had the same dream last night… that is to say, Chris remembers the same thing Superman does.  While they chat, we return to Wayne as he turns in a sealed letter to the Principal, Mr. Herman.  What could that be?  Something tells me we’re about to find out!

Back outside, Chris continues his story.  He tells Superman that he has been able to “share” dreams for a long time now… ever since kindergarten, though when he tells anyone they (rightfully) look at him like he’s insane.  He’s kind of like Freddy Krueger or something… only lame.

Next, our story turns heavy.  Chris, inquisitive chap that he is, asks Superman why… for all his power, he hasn’t put an end to famine and war.  Good question… I think we all kinda want to see how Superman would answer that question… even though it’s impossible.  At this point, Superman dodges the question with the speed of Mercury… and takes Chris into the A/V room to watch a video.  Seriously… I guess sometimes ya just need to baffle’em with BS.  Chris tries to bring us back on topic, but Supes just ain’t havin’ it.

On the video screen we see a certain sealed envelope on a desk.  Superman goes on about the importance of one-sixteenth of an inch in an attempt to display how something so small can affect so much.  Ya see, the letter inside is Mr. Kling’s resignation… which comes to a shock to Chris.  A sixteenth of an inch is how we measure… human progress… and somehow that means that Superman can stop fighting, but not the conflict behind it… and somehow this equates to Kling’s problem.  Okay… maybe I’m just dense.  Anyhoo… the letter of resignation is knocked off the desk and into a garbage can.

At this point, Chris gets up to leave… probably from a mix of confusion and boredom… but before he does, he assures Superman that he’ll take care of Mr. Kling’s problem.  That night, Chris tries to stay awake long enough so that Mr. Kling falls asleep first.  He’s going to try and invade his teacher’s dream, it appears.

Clark puts Kling to bed… literally, he carries his sleeping pal up the stairs.  He then heads over to the Chris residence, where he puts the boy to bed too… he even tucks him in, which I don’t think is meant to look weird… but it kinda does.  Superman notices a photo of the boy’s grandfather, Police Chief Parker.  This is apparently significant for reasons we will never learn.  Maybe they were expecting Chris to get his own spin-off.

With everyone in bed, it’s time to get down to dreamin’.  It looks like our dreamscape is in the Wild West.  Kling is wearing a duster and a sidearm… Superman is dressed like Superman… and Mrs. Kling is the buxom waitress of the local milk bar.  Suddenly the street is flooded with students from Kling’s fourth period American History class!  Ruh roh…

The students begin to mutate into monstrous abominations… one of whom throws Mrs. Kling over their shoulder.  Another three dogpile atop Superman and look to be feeding off our man o’ steel.

The Wild West facade fades, and we are now in Kling’s klassroom.  He feels empowered, and commands the kids to knock it off… for.. he’s… a… TEACHER!  Oh lordy…

The next morning, Kling heads to the school office to withdraw his resignation.  Lucky for him, they misplaced it… ya know, in the garbage where most of his correspondence winds up.

We wrap up with Superman coaxing Chris out of the classroom by use of his Super-ventriloquism.  In the hallway he gives him a portion of a ruler made out of diamond freshly-pressed from a whole lotta coal.  Thankfully… the end.

So often I see late pre-Crisis Superman books get flak for being interchangeable or irrelevant… and a bunch of times I tend to disagree.  This, sadly, is not one of those times.  This was a pretty un-fun affair.

Lots of nonsense here… but let’s start with Superman deftly side-stepping young Chris’s question about why he doesn’t just end wars and famines.  Nice try, Supes… here’s a ruler… and an envelope… yeesh.  And does the secretary know that there’s a camera aimed at her desk?  You’d have to think there’s a giant early 1980’s video camera somewhere in that room, right?  If that’s the case, this A/V set-up should be common knowledge.  Just silly as hell.

The ending with Wayne dramatically throwing up his arms and proclaiming that he is… a teacher (!!!) was pretty goofy as well.  I’m probably definitely thinking too hard about this, but wouldn’t you figure that if an entire classroom had the same exact dream, they’d be just a bit less… I dunno, accepting of the entire thing?  It’s like, if that were my class, I’d definitely have some questions.  These boobs are just cool with it… thinking it’s all some sort of coincidence…

Not sure why they made a point of showing us the connection between Police Chief Parker and Chris Parker Hunt.  Not sure the significance of that was.  Perhaps this is something that gets followed up on at a later date.  I doubt it, since this issue is the one and only appearance of young Chris… ehh, who knows.  It’s also the only appearance of Clark’s good friends The Klings.

Overall… yeah, I really didn’t enjoy this.  I’m usually good for some pre-Crisis silliness, but this one was a bit of a slog.  I’d say this one is for Superman completionists (and/or dudes named Chris) only.

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3 thoughts on “Superman #420 (1986)

  • Reggie Hemingway

    That was awesome how Superman showed up a bunch of teenage football players, though. "What's the matter, sissies? Can't catch an old man just because he's flying at super-speed?"

  • Modemac

    Reportedly, this was the final published Superman story by Elliot S! Maggin.

    • Chris

      Such a disappointing way to go out! Maggin did so much fun stuff before this.


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