Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Action Comics #345 (1967)


Action Comics #345 (January, 1967)
"The Day Candid Camera Unmasked Superman's Identity!"
"The Exile of Steel"
Writers - Leo Dorfman & Jim Shooter
Artists - Al Plastino & Jim Mooney
Letters - Joe Letterese
Cover Price: $0.12

Now there's one wacky cover!

Lucked into this one just yesterday in a 50-cent bin... which should tell ya, it wasn't in the best of condition.  It's all in one piece... or at least it was before I read it, so I can't complain all that much.

I tell ya, there are certain books that I will buy in the worst of condition... and this iconic-covered oddity is definitely one of them.

Full disclosure, the cover-image above is one I found online... I found it a difficult-to-impossible task finding the "good side" of my copy.

Either way... happy to have it, and really happy to be including it in our #Action100 endeavor!

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We open and immediately learn that Perry White from the Daily Planet is quite the "comedy" fan.  He's really into Allen Funt and his Candid Camera antics.  Take this gag for instance, Funt watches while a man pretends to be a gorilla at the zoo... and everybody but the "mark" plays along as though it's really a gorilla.  Oh the fun!  Suddenly White's viewing is interrupted by a phone call reporting that there's currently a "hold up" at the Daily Planet.  Instead of, ya know... calling the cops, he just heads on down.  Upon arrival he sees that the entire Daily Planet Building has been flown off by Superman!


He shouts at the Man of Steel to lower the building, and so... he does.  As Perry reads him the riot act, we learn it's... just a prank, bro!  In other words, you've been Funted!  Impish Allen pokes his head out to inform the Chief that he's on Candid Camera... and the whole world will see him looking annoyed that somebody ripped his building out of the ground.  I think "annoyed" is the appropriate response, don't you?


Turns out this (this?) prank was one of the highest rated pranks in the history of the program... and so, Funt decides his next prank will also be aimed at a Daily Planet employee... this time it's going to be aired live, and the target... Clark Kent!


Meanwhile, back at the Planet, the staffers razz the Chief for his earlier Funting.  He returns to his office just as the phone starts ringing... and it's Allen Funt (I swear I've typed the word "Funt" more in the past five minutes than I have in my entire life), and he tips Perry off to his plan.


We later join Impish Allen as he has his hooptie fueled up.  The pump-jockey is shocked to watch as the vehicle begins to float away... but, how?!


Oh-ho, you've been Funted poor laborer!  Ya see, he filled his trunk up with all sorts of floaty gases... which, I suppose is as good an explanation as any... which is to say, it's ridiculous.


A little later, and Allen's jolly journey continues... this time, he chooses to terrorize some teen-agers who are attempting to vandalize a statue in Metropolis Park.  They toss snowballs at it (when did it snow?)... only to learn that it's alive... alive... ALIVE!


Relax lads, it's just a prank... Fiendish Funt let's them in on the gag... and even takes them out for burgers!


We next turn our attention to Clark Kent, who is on assignment for the Daily Planet taking in the "Gay Nineties" Exhibit at the Metropolis Fair.  Looks like the 1890's were... pretty boring.  Clark watches a reenactment of a 75-Round boxing match... and then watches a fat guy eat a big meal.  Also worth noting, there's a superhero gift-shop... probably to keep the little ones quiet.


Suddenly, some of the Gay Nineties cosplayers reveal that they are holding the place up (with, er, guns that is... they're not actually lifting the fair out of the ground).  Clark rushes off to the nearest phone booth... a Phony-Funty-Phone Booth.  At this point, Allen decides to reveal the "gag" (Was there a gag?  Did I miss it?)... opening the phone booth door, revealing... Clark Kent changing into Superman!


The people of Metropolis are shocked by the reveal!


Then... the story starts to go a bit "ca ca".  Clark continues to strip out of his business attire, revealing that he's not only wearing Superman's shirt and cape... but Batman's leggings, boots and utility belt.  Well, that explains everything!  Allen Funt just "outed" the Composite Superman!  Or not.


Ya see, Clark reveals that the pranker... has just become the prankee.  Since he's such a big fan of Candid Camera, Clark was watching on a tiny television... so he knew that he was the "mark".  In order to give Feisty Funt a jolt, he grabbed some superhero paraphernalia from the gift shop.  Oh-ho.  Funt's been Funted... and we're outta here.


But... we're not done.  It's time for some Action-Plus... before they even called it that!  It's a Supergirl story... in which she wound up on the planet Gaea... and somehow became President of their United States.  She is currently jailed for treasonous acts... and is awaiting her impeachment trial.


She is suspected of aiding nogoodniks of A.R.M. (The Adult Revolt Movement, if you're nasty) in their attempt to overthrow the government.  Linda's veep, Richard Malvin takes the stand... and proceeds to throw Supergirl right under the bus.  Linda loses her cool and calls Tricky Dick a liar.


The next day the verdict is read... and Linda is guilty-as-charged.  Her punishment... exile!  She, again, loses her cool... and proceeds to lash out at everyone around her before going off-planet.


Richard Malvin is later sworn in as President... and wouldn'tcha know it, all of his new appointments have ties to A.R.M.!  It's almost as though he... nooo...


Turns out Malvin was in cahoots with the baddies all along!  The government begins to fall apart... the Constitution is burned... and rabble-rousers are set to be executed!  A.R.M. doesn't mess around!


The attempt to hang the subversives... fails.  The ropes snap.  No worries, we'll just line 'em up for a firing squad... only thing, that doesn't seem to work either.


Turns out Supergirl has returned to Gaea to take down A.R.M. (I keep typing A.I.M.). We learn that this was all a dupe by she and her lawyer... and she explains that her absence was so prolonged due to some crisis in space.


The Gaeans are overjoyed, and we wrap up with them holding a ticker-tape parade in her honor.


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Okay... this was a lot of fun(t).

I don't know why, but I'm tickled at the idea of Allen Funt just terrorizing (and annoying) anybody who happens to fall into his path.  Dude seems like he could be a great Silver-Age super villain, don't you think?  People just trying to mind their own business... get pranked, humiliated... Funted.  I think we need an Allen Funt/Mr. Mxyzptlk crossover.  I think I'll put that in my "good idea" fan-fiction folder.

I only wish a few of these pranks occurred without cameras present... just to show Funt as an impish jerk who messes with folks for his own amusement.

The big "Superman is Clark Kent" reveal... ehh... suitably silly I suppose.  The explanation kinda neglects the fact that, ya know... Superman and Clark Kent look exactly alike, and this could only draw more attention to that fact, right?  I mean, Lois is already suspicious... and seeing him in half-dress, regardless of the flimsy excuse, is going to be a difficult image to forget.  Kinda like a lawyer telling a jury to dismiss something horrible they'd just heard about a defendent.  It just ain't that easy.  Then again, maybe I'm just thinking too hard.

Speaking of lawyers... we also have that Supergirl back-up.  It was, um... pretty good as far as backups go.  Being a fella who complains about decompressed storytelling, it would be silly for me to rattle the cage on a very compressed story, right?  Well... I'll just say that it felt like this one could've used a few more pages to "breathe".

Overall... had a great time with this.  Doesn't look like it's been collected... nor has it been made available digitally.  If you happen to come across it... definitely consider giving it a grab.

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