Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Classics - Action Comics #329

Some comic books hold up amazingly well when you re-read them.

This one, not so much.

Published in 1965, I remember really liking this issue of Action Comics. Perhaps it was the crazed look on Superman's face on the cover, perhaps it was the cool Krypton design on the shield, or perhaps it was the fact that Superman fights against a deadly knight (hey, I was 9 years old - I was crazy about knights).

Whatever the reason, I liked it. Superman finds himself outmatched by a powerful knight in unbreakable armor who's wielding a sword that can cut through anything - even Superman's indestructible costume.

Of course, eventually the Man of Steel discovers the (surprisingly pedestrian) secret behind the knight and defeats the mastermind behind the attack.

Imagine my surprise in reading this comic for the first time in more years than I'd care to admit, only to realize that the story is just silly.

The secret behind the knight's power ends up being a cheat, and Superman's solution isn't much better.

Even the cover is misleading. Superman says that he's been robbed of his super-powers (he wasn't), it promises a duel to the death (no one dies), and it promises "A Great 'Imaginary' Story of Supergirl" - but it's not an imaginary story.

That's actually the best part of the comic. The Supergirl backup story (drawn by Jim Mooney, I believe) has the Maid of Steel being trapped and taken to a distant world, where she tries to learn more about The Circle of Evil, a society that's tracking down and killing heroes across the universe.

The story wraps as she's forced to confront the incredibly powerful Drang the Destroyer, who has all her powers and more! Oh, and for some reason, her powers are gone!

The surprising thing is that it was a continued story - a rarity at DC - and two characters are killed in the story! Granted, they're evil, but it's still very unusual for DC.

Sadly, I don't think I ever read the next issue of Action Comics, so I have no idea how Supergirl survived. That's the great thing about reading this again - it reminded me that I need to track down Action Comics #330.

And since I didn't see it in 1965, that issue has nothing to live up to.

Grade: (Superman) C- ; (Supergirl) B+



Anonymous said...

Even though Superman has always been my favorite heroic character,
I didn't collect his titles regularly. The stories could be very hit or miss, and at a young age I didn't like continued stories guarantee I'd ever see the concluding chapter as I stalked the newstands.
Usually it was the premise of the
cover, drawn by the amazing Curt Swan, that grabbed me. I just had to buy and read that particular issue, to find out what happened! DC got my 12 cents, again!

Sam Kujava

Chuck said...

Sam, it was much the same for me - in the '60s and early '70s, I bought most DC comics based on the cover. There were exceptions - JLA, Flash and Green Lantern were automatic buys - but Superman, Batman and most others I picked up based on the cover.

Joshua Lee said...

Color me intrigued.
That's a Kryptonian Shield? I don't suppose you could tell me in which volume is this story is reprinted? I would very much like to know.

Chuck said...

Sorry, Joshua, I'm not sure which collection includes that issue. Maybe Amazon has the answer?