Retro Review: Action Comics #415 (August 1972)

One day in Metropolis, TV newsman Clark Kent gets an unexpected visitor. 
Behold the crack reporter, nothing gets past Clark. The strange visitor lunges at the mild-mannered newsman and rips open his shirt, revealing the famed chest-symbol of Superman. Luckily, Clark is alone in his office, meaning his secret is safe... and he can fight back. 
He kicks the brute out of the window. 
As the monster lunges away, Clark faces a more pressing problem - worried WGBS colleagues have heard the fracas and are trying to get into his office to check he's safe. Time for a super-speed save. 
Metropolis trembles as the creature stalks the streets. 
Superman, meanwhile, comes across a dying man  
It turns out Kryptonian super-science is better than we knew. 
Enter the green Goliath and his... hostage?
Predictably, a fight ensues. Less predictably, Superman gets a lecture. 
The failed fellow has pulled a similar trick now, disappearing from the Fortress of Solitude as his creator fought his saviour. He's outside in the snow, and his fatal flaw is manifesting. 
Ulp. Superman, though, has a lot more experience than a newborn pseudo-human covered in pink fried eggs.  

Cue happy ending. 
Or rather, a creepy close, as the beautiful mute follows her master back to an empty world so he can satisfy his ego by creating the perfect mate for her. Wouldn't it be kinder to leave her on Earth, where she could meet similar human types, maybe learn sign language?  

More likely, the unnamed scientist has taken a shine to her and is rushing her home for a few decidedly non-clinical experiments. 

That apart, I really enjoyed this story from writer Cary Bates, penciller Curt Swan and inker Murphy Anderson. The opening is a grabber, so much so that I can let go the fact that a Frankenstein Monster lookalike is hardly going to seem especially outlandish to a man who has been all across time and space. 

I do like the explanations as to why the scientist 'attacked' Clark in the first place, why he grunted, and why he whiffed a bit. 
And of course, a thousand million points for the 'How ironic'. Sadly, there's no '>choke<'. 

Bates might have informed us as to why the 'humanoid' wants to be brought back to life to spread the Protoplasmic Plague. Maybe he's just a wrong 'un. 
Mind, this panel is a tad ambiguous, perhaps he thinks the plague is already free and he can help if he's alive - though dissection would surely prove more useful. 

And the moral of the story - don't judge a person by their looks - is a bit of a hard pill to take. It's not just the scientist's appearance that alarms Clark and has him jumping to conclusions, it's his behaviour. Rushing at Clark, menacing Metropolis... who wouldn't assume he's a real monster? And if we are talking looks, well, even the scientist considers himself an 'ugly green freak'. 
I'm curious as to why the Frankenstein comparison is never directly made by anyone in the story. The way the Daily Planet splash tiptoes around it is just daft. 'Famous movie monster' indeed! Just a few months after this, DC introduced the Spawn of Frankenstein strip, so presumably someone had checked out the copyright situation.
And today Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, is a regular in the Superman title. 

This is peak 'Swanderson' art, with Curt Swan going bigger than he was often wont to, and Murphy Anderson adding his own strength and sharpness. The art is hugely accomplished and likeable, with standout scenes including that rooftop 'romance' of monster and maiden and Superman's struggle against the space cancer. 

Nick Cardy's cover is as clean, powerful and all-round gorgeous as any of his Seventies work, daring potential buyer to pass this one up on the newsstand. 

As Bronze Age Superman stories go, Meet the Metropolis Monster is horribly good fun. 


  1. A very funny and imaginative history.

    I miss Earth-One Superman, his cousin and his rich, imaginative universe so much...

  2. Me too, it's like we're time travelling together!

    1. Former anonymous again.

      Back when I was a little kid in the 80's I was a big Superman fan. I didn't buy any comics but I loved the movies, the cartoons... However I got into Marvel and forgot about Superman for many years until I became a grownup and I took an interest in the character again. I decided to read more Superman books and I started off with "Man of Steel". So Post-Crisis Superman should be my Superman, right?


      "Man of Steel" wasn't bad per se, but... it didn't click with me. There was some good stuff, but I couldn't help but feel something was amiss. It felt so... dull! Something was missing. Then I read Pre-Crisis issues and I realized what was missing, exactly.

      "My" Superman is the Pre-Crisis version. Or the Post-Nineties. I don't like a Superman can't care less for his heritage. I deeply dislike that dystopic, unfeeling, DULL Krypton. And I hate that "Sole Survivor from Krypton" nonsense!

      I used to think John Byrne's Superman was very harmful to the mythos but not a bad story in and of itself... until I found out Byrne's opinion on Lois Lane. It'd been up to him, he 'd have removed Lois, replacing her with Lana. Geez, he hated mild-mannered Clark Kent, cunning scientist Lex Luthor, Lois, Kara, Krypto, Superboy, the Legion, Kandor, the Kryptonian lore, Superman being friends with Batman... Sure he liked Superman? So now I think he nearly ruined the character and his mythos and I definitely don't care for that Superman.

      So, yes. I love Pre-Crisis Superman. Although Post-Dark Age Superman is cool, too.

    2. It's really interesting to hear your Superman story. I began reading in the early Bronze Age, I think my first new issue was Action Comics #406, which I wittered on about here: When Byrne came in I was excited to see what had been changed, but dismayed as the details emerged. The new Krypton was horrible, Clark not caring about his past, a whiny Lana... pretty much what you said, really. I came to like having the Kents around, and after Byrne left, again, as you indicated, some of the old riches returned and promising new wrinkles to the Superman Legend emerged. The only break I've had was around the time of Loeb/McGuinness and conduit. But how could I stay away forever?

  3. I think the best part of this is that Cardy cover. Just brilliant!

    This is one of those lesson stories for kids - the physically beautiful being could be the bad guy while the ugly person might be wonderful. So kudos for shaping some morals. That said, 'the Monster' living out his dream with the lass is a bit off.

    And the story gets a bit busy with how things will get crazy but that was the format of these one in done Bronze Age stories.

    Thanks for covering! lol be these!

    1. It is nice to look back. I loved your review this week of Supergirl's day as an Amazon, at Supergirl Comic Box Commentary. Fun times!


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