Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Clones, Kidnappings and a Museum Tour

To celebrate the 500th issue of Action Comics (cover dated October 1979), DC opted to do the obvious--recounting the life story of Superman. To their credit, though, they did the obvious in a very entertaining manner, merging the biographical information together with an evil plot involving clones and hidden explosives.

Metropolis is opening a Superman Museum. Because a huge amount of the proceeds are going to charities, Superman agrees to be there and take a group through a guided tour, recounted important parts of his life as they pass by various exhibits. Of course, most of his closest friends--Lois, Lana, Perry, Clark (or a robot Clark, at least) are there with him.

The biographical part is done very well. Its fun to see all the key moments in Kal-el's life all presented in Curt Swan's always nifty art work. Everything important (from Krypto to the various forms of Kryptonite to the origin of his costume to the bottle city of Kandor, etc.) is there--Superman even mentally muses about aspects of his life involving his secret identity, so we readers get to see all the stuff he's not sharing with the museum visitors. If you knew nothing about Supes
going into this issue, you'd be reasonably well-read on the subject by the time you finished this 64-page story.

But while Superman is giving his tour, Lex Luthor is up to no good as usual. His plan involves a clever way of actually getting a cell sample from Superman, growing a clone, replacing Supes with the clone and blowing up the museum.

Of course, his plan is foiled. Superman ends up in a cell lit by a red-sun lamp that renders him powerless, but he depends on his brains rather than his powers to escape and get the upper hand on Lex. The finale is a one-on-one fight with the Superman clone.

Writer Martin Pasko ends the story with a nice bit of narration, explaining that it's not Superman's planet of origin that makes him who he is (after all, the pre-crisis DC universe had quite a few survivors of Krypton's destruction running around), nor his powers, nor his intelligence. But rather it's "the ability to use all that God-given power and long-nurtured wisdom in the name of kindness... ethics... morality.. the things men call good... to wield that power in the pursuit of justice and in that pursuit, to vanquish evil."

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