Action Comics #485 (July, 1978)
“The Experiment that Backfired on Superman!”
Writers – Denny O’Neil & Cary Bates
Penciller – Curt Swan
Inker – Josef Rubenstein
Letterer – Milt Snapinn
Colorist – Anthony Tollin
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.35
Well, wouldja look at that cover?
That’s one helluva sight, ain’t it? Not only for the awesome Neal Adams art… but, if you look at the top right corner… it looks like some newsstand “clearanced” this bugger out.
Now, I think many collectors might get angry when they see such a thing… and I’m fairly certain I used to feel the same way. Nowadays though, I kinda dig it. It makes it feel like the issue itself has a story. This must’ve sat in a spinner or on a tilted shelf for weeks… maybe months, until the proprietor thought to knock 30-cents off the price just to be rid of it. Maybe it sold for full-price, and the kid who bought it “repriced” it for a yard sale. Who knows, right? Still think it’s pretty cool.
We open with Superman answering the call of Professor Bolden, the same fella who experimented with using Green Kryptonite as an energy source awhile earlier. Now he has a new experiment… unfortunately, it’s been stolen by some crooks, who have decided to test it by using it against the Man of Steel himself! Superman plummets to the ground, shifting at the last possible moment to ensure a water-landing (as to not “scorch the town”). When he touches down, he’s still so extraordinarily hot that he instantly evaporates the lake! As he lay motionless, his mind wanders back to his first run-in with Bolden.
As mentioned, Bolden was trying to finagle a way into changing Green Kryptonite into an energy source… and ya know, with the ubiquity of the stuff, it’s not the worst idea ever! Anyhoo, if you’ve already read Superman #233, you know the deal… the K-Engine starts pingin’ out of control… Superman arrives to “put a lid” on it…
… it goes boom, sending Superman flying back before plopping into some nearby sand.
One of the Docs takes note that the Green-K appears to have been altered… in fact, it’s been transformed into iron… which proves to be harmless against the Man of Steel.
Superman takes a speedy global tour to check in on the rest of the world’s cache of Kryptonite… because it’s all over the place, and finds that it’s all been “reduced” to iron. Back at the Daily Planet, Jimmy and Lois are overjoyed to learn that Superman now has zero weaknesses. Morgan Edge, however, is a bit ill at ease.
Clark Kent is then sent off to do a television broadcast to cove the launch of a “mail-rocket” for the Postal Service. What could possibly go wrong? As Clark delivers the news, his x-ray vision tips him off that there’s a shady-looking creep hiding in the alley relaying information via a walkie-talkie. During a commercial break, CK “supes up” and confronts the geek… which leads to that famous scene of Superman chowing down on a harmless… though stale and lacking in salt, chunk of Kryptonite.
The baddie also reveals that the rocket will be intercepted and “heisted” by some jets… and sold to the highest international bidder. Good thing this guy wasn’t around when there were mass-produced consumer-quality drones in the world. Anyhoo, post-launch coverage, Clark uses the cover of exhaust to change back into Superman and halt the heist. He approaches the first jet, and learns that his heat-vision isn’t strong enough to cut into it… so he has to resort to a more physical approach.
He then noggin-knocks both sets of baddies, and once he’s sure the “Mail Rocket” is safe, proceeds to drag the planes toward Metropolis Airfield so the nogoodniks can be arrested.
He’s still a bit worried about his heat-vision’s lack of “oomph”… and begins to feel rather woozy when they pass over the spot where he was splatted into the sand… but, everything winds up right at the end. Morgan Edge even, much to Perry White’s annoyance, offers Clark a permanent gig on the news.
Then… he wakes up in the present, in that evaporated lake. He uses his super-breath to whip up a sandstorm to trap the thieves, and meets up with Professor Bolden to tell him he’s gotta go “back to the drawing board”. The End?!
Well… this kinda smells of “dreaded deadline doom”, don’t it?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m always down for a take on Kryptonite Nevermore, but… this was just a partial reprint of the first chapter. Superman gets a “faceful” of Green-K, it’s reduced to iron… his powers are a bit “off”, he gets woozy over the sand… and that’s it?! I mean, why bother to flash-back at all, if you’re going to leave out all the “good stuff”? No Sand Superman? No Giant Ants? No… resolution?
I mean, if you just read this… and not the original story, wouldn’t you wonder just why Superman felt woozy when he flew over the sand? Or why Superman’s heat-vision couldn’t cut through a tin can? Or why Green Kryptonite was turned into iron? The cover promises to share the story that “answers all your questions”… but, c’mon… I think it might make a reader ask more questions!
If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, you can check out one of the earliest episodes of the Cosmic Treadmill where we cover the entire “Sand Superman Saga” or “Kryptonite Nevermore!” story.
Overall… I mean, this has an awesome cover, and will likely cost you a fair amount less in the bins than Superman #233… so, if you’re interested in a partial retelling of the first chapter of this Saga, I suppose you could do worse. Otherwise, stick with the originals… or the (sorta overpriced) collected edition. This issue isn’t available digitally, however, Superman #233 is. It’s the same exact story, minus the framing sequence… plus a sandy cliffhanger (and a back-up).