Epic Beards of Review: Superman No. 172

In all her infinite grace, my fiancée was willing to allow us to have a superhero wedding.

Though she’s not nearly the level of nerdery I embrace, together we went all out and had the wedding I’d never dreamed possible. The ladies wore capes with our own super-insignia and the groomsmen all grew facial hair as “secret identities.” We had a Supa Hero IPA from Clown Shoes Beer. My wife painstakingly hand-made table toppers, whirly hearts and votive candle holders from comic book pages. Our cake had a Daily Planet topper and the Legion of Doom was our card box.

SupermanA year or so later, we’re also making a kid. Doctored some pretty nifty baby shower invites and plans to have “first photos” taken in a wrecked spaceship a la Superman. Though the wife has put the kibosh on an heroic name (Clark, Bruce or Lando) that won’t stop me from teaching my kid, boy or girl, about their heritage.

A pile of coverless comics were passed onto me when I was ten from my father. Among them was Superman No. 172, October 1964 with writing duties by Edmond Hamilton and art by Curt Swan (and a Giant Superboy that was my brother’s) were among my favorites.  They were from his childhood, specifically age ten, which was lost upon me until I re-read this issue.

I shall not wait as long with my progeny.

“The New Superman” starts off with a full page of people gawking over just that: some blond Superman streaking across the sky. Clark Kent looks skyward, dejected muttering that he’s just a reporter for the rest of his life. I’d have been more upset that the usurper was prettier.

The tale begins in earnest when The Daily Planet tasks Clark to investigate that an astronomer from the Metropolis Observatory has discovered a green comet! With his total-recall memory as young Kal-El hearing of this from his father not long before Krypton exploded. Though not heading straight for Earth, Superman must save countless other worlds from this menace.

In his super-preparedness, our hero summons two would-be champions from the Bottle City of Kandor, enlarges them with a ring borrowed from Green Lantern and sets out some tests to find which will succeed him if Superman’s task proves too daunting for the Man of Steel. It’s one thing to use your powers, but another completely to use them correctly. Of course, once you get a taste of power…

A veritable who’s who of co-workers, sidekicks, heroes and villains really make this piece a highlight of my childhood. Supes even employs new powers and a snazzy new costume! All these silly plot-lines and the callous way our new hero flaunts his power show our Superman as the hero he really is.

Even without powers, I’ve got a wife who loves me and a half-dozen longboxes of proof to show my kid how super we really are.