The Non-Stop Parade of Horrors That Is Superboy #105, Part One
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Back in the Silver Age, DC comics were generally produced in a format that allowed for two or three separate stories--or, on occasion, an astounding three-part novel complete in this issue--and one of them was pretty much guaranteed to be completely and utterly insane.
But every once in a while, they pulled off the hat trick.
That's the case with 1963's Superboy #105, a book in which each story is so monumentally crazy that I'm going to go ahead and devote the next three days of the ISB to reviewing the same comic book.
This is probably why I'm not as popular as Dave Campbell.
Now, on with it!
Last week, I reviewed a story from Action Comics #259, wherein Superman was forced to team up with--and of course, fight--a younger version of himself that was, to be charitable, somewhat lacking in the smarts department.
Well, he's back.
The lead story, as pictured on the cover, begins with Superboy rescuing some miners from a cave-in, and considering that this is a Jerry Siegel story, I'll let you guess which mineral-related plot contrivance is about to show up and wreck his day.
Yes, it's our old friend Red Kryptonite. Oh, Red K! Is there anything you can't do? I mean, besides stuff that doesn't involve making Superboy an idiot.
The answer, apparently, is no, as revealed shortly thereafter, when Superboy gets flagged down in order to repair a snack truck's custard machine so that the utterly helpless people of Smallville don't have to go without dessert. But it's a repair... with disastrous consequences!
Personally, I always read Superboy's dialogue in that panel as being really sarcastic. You know:
">Gasp!< Your heat vision melted all the custard!"
"Did I? Gee, I'm sorry. Really sorry. I promise I'll try and do a better job the next time I stop my anti-crime patrol to fix your Goddamn ice cream machine, you ignorant hick."
That's probably another Red Kryptonite story, though.
Anyway, later, Superboy runs into Lana Lang, who points out that he could've just frozen all the custard again with his super-breath, then strikes up a conversation with a nearby veteran about how dumb Superboy's been acting lately, and they proceed to play Armchair Super-Hero for a while.
Not that you can really blame them; Superboy goes on to blunder his way through a fire (using his super-strength to pull the alarm rather than actually putting it out) and a mishap at a local bank (where he counts money so fast that it bursts into flames, incinerating ten Gs in the process).
But here's the thing: None of those things actually require Superboy. We of the human race are perfectly capable of counting money, putting out fires, and, yes, even getting our own desserts and performing light machine repair. They're not even difficult tasks! And yet the well-meaning blockheads of Smallville go yelling for someone who can break the time barrier under his own power every time they have a flat tire.
No wonder Lex Luthor was so mad all the time.
Anyway, word of Superboy's idiocy eventually spreads to the criminal hotbed that is the small-town Kansas underworld, here represented by "Specs" McGurk and "Scarface" Malone, who concoct a foolproof plan to gain Superboy's trust and make him do their bidding:
Seriously? That little "Made in Japan" on the badges is hilarious.
Slightly less funny--at least, intentionally--is the Mobsters' plan for Superboy:
Oh dear Lord.
Yes, you read that correctly: The mobsters send Superboy to China to bring back a freight car full of opium. Comics Code Approved!
Fortunately, before young Clark can get around to dealing heroin on the street, the real G-Men show up, and he reveals that he actually hasn't been stupid at all! It's all been part of--and feel free to say it with me--an elaborate ruse designed to smoke out the gang's ringleader.
The actual effect of the Red Kryptonite? It gave Superboy an extra finger on each hand. Seriously, check out the panel with the Custard Truck guy.
So, to Review: In order to catch a gang of small-time mid-Kansas hoods, Superboy--who can see through walls, hear conversations from space, and move so fast as to be undetected by the human eye--relies on a plan that takes days to accomplish, involves acting (literally) like a complete idiot, and stealing a few tons of Opium from China, which I'm pretty sure somebody's going to miss.
Yeah, that sounds about right.
And it's not even close to being the craziest thing that happens in this issue.
Lana Lang gets fed to a shark.