Cover Date: Jan.1963
Written By: ?
Inks: George Klein
It's no exaggeration to say this
one's got everything. It begins and ends with all-out
battles against superman armies and along the way
includes a visit to Kandor, the origins of Nightwing
and Flamebird, Superman and Jimmy Olsen's imprisonment
in the Phantom Zone, the enlargement of Kandor on
Earth (giving the entire populace super-powers!)
and the near-execution of Superman by his own people!
This magnum opus unravels in a
standard-size issue full of enough twists and turns
to fill a year and a half's worth of modern comics.
And all for twelve cents! Boy, did kids in the Silver
Age have it good, or what?
I recently found it in a small-town
antique shop for a whopping four bucks, and even
with that kind of inflation it's still a bargain.
I: Invasion of The Mystery Supermen!
returns from a mission in space to discover a team of
super-powered mystery men stealing rare elements and scientific
instruments. They conk Superman over the head with a lead
block, confounding his x-ray vision long enough for them
to slip away.
On a hunch, Superman (with Jimmy Olsen
in tow) flies to his Fortress of Solitude to find its
massive door smashed off its hinges from the inside! Testing
a theory that the raiders came from the Bottle City of
Kandor, the two pals shrink themselves and parachute into
that ill-fated city of Krypton (famously shrunken by the
villain Brainiac and stored in a bottle like a hobbyist's
Once in the city, Superman is greeted
with hostility by rioting Kandorians, who throw jeers
-- and worse, stones -- at their former hero. Superman
and Jimmy are forced to flee for their lives into the
Kandorian forests, with an angry posse in close pursuit,
led by a pack of telepathic hounds which can track them
by their thought patterns!
II: The Dynamic Duo of Kandor!
By sending out thoughts of themselves
taking a different course, Superman and Jimmy misdirect
the telepathic hounds and elude their pursuers. Our heroes
find refuge at the home of Nor Khan, former friend
of Superman's parents Jor-El and Lara.
is revealed that a scientist named Than Ol has
found a way to enlarge Kandor, promising the inhabitants
a shot at life outside that musty old bottle. The first
few men to be enlarged by Than Ol's process were, as Superman
had guessed, the super-crooks encountered in part one
of the story. Than-Ol has launched a smear campaign against
Superman, convincing many Kandorians that Superman has
intentionally kept them in the bottle so as to avoid having
competition from additional super-powered Kryptonians
on Earth. As a result of Than Ol's lies, Superman is now
Kandor's Public Enemy Number One.
Deciding to break into Than Ol's lab and
learn whether the enlarging process is genuine, the vilified
Superman assumes a masked identity to ensure his safety.
Taking a page from Batman's book, he becomes the darkly-costumed
Nightwing (based on a night-flying Kryptonian bird)
and Jimmy becomes his "Robin"-like partner,
Flamebird. Flying into town with jet-belts, they
spot one of Than-Ol's raiders on his way out of the bottle,
engage him in battle and capture his personal enlarging
device. After examining it, Superman deduces that Than
Ol's technology means doom, not salvation, for Kandor.
Pretending to be his "distant kinsman"
and perfect lookalike Van Zee, Superman gains entry
to Than Ol's lab and tries to destroy his machinery. However,
Than Ol sees through Superman's ruse and knocks him out.
III: The City of Super-People!
Back at Nor Khan's house, Jimmy grows
concerned when Superman fails to return from his mission.
The real Van Zee appears and reports Superman's capture.
Soon after, the Superman Emergency
Squad (a team of Kandorians who have saved Superman
numerous times in the past) appears at Than Ol's lab and
demands that Superman be released into their custody to
be tried by the Kandorian courts. Than Ol complies, but
suddenly Superman is snatched from the Squad's "custody"
by "Nightwing" (actually Van Zee) and Flamebird.
The Squad feigns shock, but are actually willing participants
in Superman's escape plan.
Van Zee and Jimmy fly the injured Superman
out of the bottle into the Fortress of Solitude, where
he regains his powers and instantly recovers from his
injuries. He and Jimmy return to normal size and, realizing
the raiders will be along shortly, buy some time by projecting
themselves into the Phantom Zone! The raiders do indeed
appear, enlarge themselves and smash out of the Fortress,
taking the bottle city with them and setting out to enlarge
it somewhere on Earth.
In a short while, a timing device releases
Superman and Jimmy from the Zone. Enlarging a miniature
version of the Eiffel Tower, Superman demontrates what
will happen when Kandor is enlarged: all buildings and
living creatures will disintegrate in three hours!
In an unhabited area, Than Ol succeeds
in enlarging Kandor, and its citizens revel in their new
super powers. Superman shows up with Brainiac's reducing
ray gun in a desperate attempt to shrink Kandor once more.
The Kandorians resist, attacking him with kryptonite bazookas.
Suffering a direct hit, Superman is weakened and placed
before an execution squad. At the last moment, he gets
a reprieve when the three-hour deadline arrives and Kandor
begins to crumble. Acting quickly, Superman manages to
shrink the city and return it to the bottle. The grateful
(and no doubt embarassed) Kandorians ask forgivenes for
their disloyalty and erect a statue in honor of Nightwing
and Flamebird. For his part, Superman vows "I'll
never cease trying to find a safe way to make you
What's really wild is that this issue
was pretty standard for the time: during this period there
were no limits on where you might go or what you might
see in a Superman story. Where other comic book characters
were limping along with formula stories and maybe one
or two memorable villains, Superman had an embarassment
of riches, a sort of "Superverse" so big and
populous he didn't really need to even interact with any
costumed characters outside his "family" of
titles. At one point in this tale, Superman ducks underwater
to elude some super-powered enemies, and even though he's
only submerged for one panel, he runs into mermaid Lori
Lemaris and her fellow Atlanteans, who offer to help!
Of course there are some big flaws with
the story. First, if Superman suspected trouble from Kandor,
why didn't he just contact the ruling council from outside
the bottle, instead of parachuting right in? Once he confirmed
that the raiders were from Kandor, he could've
just put a better stopper on the bottle! Second, if he
knew he'd need a disguise to enter the city, why not disguise
himself as an old man or a beggar or something equally
low-key, instead of as a flashy superhero, a concept presumably
new and amazing to the people of Kandor, and sure to attract
attention? Third, hiding in the Phantom Zone may not have
been such a good idea. If the raiders had decided to smash
the projector, Superman and Jimmy would've been stuck
in there forever. Fourth, why waste three hours demonstrating
the negative effects of the enlarging ray to Jimmy, when
it's crucial to stop the raiders ASAP? Finally, if all
Kandorians are enlarged and powered at story's end, then
why don't the Emergency Squad, Nor Khan and Van Zee fly
to Superman's aid in the final battle?
Then again, if you're gonna be that
nit-picky, you'll never have any fun. One great detail
here is that even in Kandor, Superman is something of
a genius, analyzing Than Ol's technology as efficiently
as Batman might have, or more to the point, as Jor-El
would have. This seems to prove that Superman's brilliance
is not dependent on a yellow-sun environment. Among the
oddities here are the lack of hyphens in Kryptonian names
(Van-Zee becomes Van Zee, for exampe) and the unusual
outfits of the Emergency Squad, who in their earliest
appearances wore Kryptonian "street clothes"
and later switched to miniature Superman suits. In this
story they have a sort of "Transitional" outfit
of standard Kryptonian tunics and pants, but all of them
in blue with red trim and sporting a skinny, triangular
variation on the "Superman S."
Anyway, this book's lots of fun. Providing
you allow yourself to read it with the wonder and open-mindedness
of a twelve-year-old circa 1963, you can't help but have
-- READ "Superman in Kandor" at "Superman
Through The Ages"!!!