Superman #350 (August, 1980)
“Clark Kent’s Vanishing Classmates!”
Writer – Gerry Conway
Penciller – Curt Swan
Inker – Frank Chiaramonte
Letterer – Ben Oda
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.40
Over the past couple of days we met a troubled young man called The Crumbler! I was planning on covering his third (of four) appearance today, however, gentle reader… I didn’t know it we could handle it!
Well, actually… his final two appearances are a two-part story, of which I only have one. No worries though, we’ll eventually finish him up, and in so doing, become the internet’s primary resource for all things Crumbler!
In the meantime… let’s check in on Clark Kent and Lana Lang as they attends their Class Reunion.
It’s the Metropolis University Class Reunion, and right out of the gate Superman’s got to save a life. Old classmate Art Borley’s “Welcoming Balloon” looks to have been made with some shoddy craftsmanship. Superman swoops in, and proves that he’s the B.M.O.C. (that’s Big Man on Campus, thanks Mr. Editor!) of a school that he, for as far as anyone knows, never attended!
After making the save, Superman pops into a storm drain so he can “Kent down”, arriving just in time to catch an old tormentor named Steve Power talking some spoo. Clark walks Lana away from the blowhard goofball… and so, the doof tries to… German suplex him?! It doesn’t go so well, and Steve-O winds up throwing out his back.
|That’s not vulgar at all… right?
This, of course, makes Lana suspicious. Clark is able to side-step her query by claiming to have slid his foot under a big ol’ root. Lana’s convinced… but still has her doubts. Having pulled a fast one, Clark takes the opportunity to wink at nobody in particular.
Later on, the main event of the reunion goes down. A speech by the honoree… a boring old Professor named Lemuel B. Tolkien. He starts rambling, and suddenly nine of Clark’s classmates… vanish!
Everybody starts freaking out, and Clark needs to figure out a creative way to duck out and “Supe up”. His plan is silly, but simple. He uses his heat-vision to cut a hole in the stage… then falling through it! Lana, bless her, thinks it’s just a faulty trapdoor the drama club used.
Superman flies out, and does a super-scan of the school. He spies a heat signature on the left side of the stage (stage left, ee-ven). He realizes that it belongs to the nine missing alumni. And so, he heads back into the auditorium… and claps his hands. Somehow that returns them to the proper “plane of reality”. Everything’s cool… for now.
Two weeks later, Lois Lane laments the fact that Clark Kent will be returning to the Daily Planet in a part-time role. She’s worried that their competition will resume. Her worrying is interrupted by the arrival of her date… Superman!
Lana’s annoyed that Superman never looks at her the way he does Lois. She doesn’t allow herself to worry for long though, she’s got some work to do. Turns out ol’ Professor Whatshisface is delivering another speech… this time at the Metro Science Center. He’s there to disprove Albert Einstein by showing off his new invention… the Genesis Machine. Holy smokes… Blast processing! 16-bit graphics! It totally does what Nintendon’t! Okay, okay, it’s just a little black box... which is somehow linked to the minds of the nine students who vanished during the reunion. Now here’s where it gets weird… and dumb. In Art Borley’s office (he was the guy with the hot-air balloon, remember?) a file cabinet vanishes. At that very moment, a television set appears at the Science Center. What the huh?
From here, Tolkien keeps making things vanish… and appear in front of him as something else. This has got to be the stupidest thing ever… like seriously, what is this?
The next thing to vanish? A forty-story office building. Something so big that it causes Superman to stop making out with Lois!
… and as usual, Lois is the last to know.
Superman arrives on the scene and removes his cape to use as a sort of trampoline to catch falling office drones. Among those worker-bees is… Art Borley.
What he doesn’t realize is… the eight (non-Art) vanished alumni have converged into this strange energy beast. We wrap up back at the Science Center, where Old Man Tolkien is concerned that something might be wrong with his dime store Cosmic Cube.
Well, that was a weird “milestone” issue, wasn’t it? Hardly even felt like one! Still fun enough, though!
Clark and Lana attending their class reunion is a decent enough framing device… and facilitates the introduction of Professor Tolkien and his ridiculous black box.
Now, Tolkien’s black box. I felt like I was missing something there… I mean, it affects Clark’s classmates… then causes Art’s filing cabinet to become a television set?! So ridiculous.
I think I’d have preferred it if this issue paid was more centered on the class reunion, and maybe left the sci-fi goofiness out. I think dealing with the characters… seeing how they receive Clark (and vice versa) would have been far more interesting than what we actually get. But, then again, this was written in a very different time… can’t really hold anything against it.
Overall… decent enough story. I’d say if you’re not a Superman competist, you can safely skip it and not miss all that much.
Letters Page (featuring Mark Lagasse… again!):