“Kryptonite…well, maybe a little more.”

§ October 11th, 2023 § Filed under superman § 8 Comments

So I had a copy of this comic fall into my hands the other day, Action Comics #485 (1976):

…which caught my eye as it was the Whitman variant, and would be worth a little money if this copy hadn’t been around the block a bit. But still, it’s nice to see, with its Neal Adams cover reminiscent of Adams’ cover for Superman #233 (1971):

And reminiscent it should be as the Action issue is a reprint of that Superman issue. Despite having run across plenty of copies of that Action over the years, I never bothered to look inside as I figured “just a reprint of Superman #233, move along.”

But this time I did look inside, and lo and behold, there’s a new framing sequence by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Josef Rubenstein:

Three pages at the beginning, which segues into the reprint of the the older Denny O’Neil/Swan/Murphy Anderson comic after Superman is zapped by a weapon in the intro:

…and we see the then five-year-old classic tale of the End of Kryptonite, an attempt to revamp the book by both removing the story crutch of that deadly mineral and depowering Superman slightly:

And then Flashback Over, as Superman awakes and defeats the bad guys in the last page (with one new panel drawn at the bottom of the last page of the reprints as a transition).

As you see, 1971’s Superman #233 is the issue where Clark Kent moves over the WGBS to be a TV reporter, a change to the status quo that’s still active by the time the story’s reprinted in Action a few years later. Unlike the whole “end of Kryptonite/Superman is weaker” business which, I believe, was over and done with fairly quickly. In fact, it’s a little surprising this story was chosen for reprinting as that particular shake-up to the Superman mythos was unshook as fast as it was. But still, it gave them a reason to run another variation of that Adams cover, a popular and eye-catching image, and it’s a good story regardless.

And I’m glad I took a peek inside the comic this time and found some surprise new-to-me Curt Swan work. We’re not getting any more new art from him, so it’s good to treasure what we have.

8 Responses to ““Kryptonite…well, maybe a little more.””

  • Sean Mageean says:

    I definitely recall buying that reprint story with the iconic Neal Adams cover when I was a kid. It is very odd to see Superman literally eating Kryptonite, even if the point was to show it had become harmless to him at that point. Matter-Eater Lad I could see eating some Kryptonite, but for a Kryptonian what would be the incentive for eating a piece of one’s destroyed planet, by Rao! Maybe it wasn’t Denny O’Neil’s greatest idea…
    Also, I find it slightly amusing that one of Supes’ “potential killers” actually resembles Morgan Edge a bit–based on Swan’s drawings. I also wonder if Neal redid either of those two covers a few years back when he was redrawing a lot of his classic covers as homage variants for DC Comics?

  • Chris K says:

    I was just thinking about the WGBS / Morgan Edge era of Superman recently. That was a status quo that lasted a good 15 years,yet it had literally no impact on the general public at all. If you had told tha average non-comic reading person during this time that Clark Kent was a TV anchorman they would have looked at you and said “what the f*”” are you talking about?” And now it’s virtually forgotten.

    I feel like Kryptonite was gone for a few years at least. I think they phased it back in around the reintroduction of Metalllo in ’77 or so? Now I’m curious…

    The reduction on power I don’t think was ever officially reversed so much as just forgotten about.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    I’ve always loved comparing that Neal Adams Superman 233 cover to the Iron Man 47 cover done a year later by Gil Kane. Both are such iconic “chain breaking” covers.

  • Thom H. says:

    I like both covers, but I think the Superman version is better. There’s something about bursting chains with only your torso muscles that says “power.”

  • Oliver says:

    Making Clark Kent a newsreader was a terrible idea, but still not as terrible as the idea that Clark was unknowingly hypnotising everyone watching TV into not thinking he’s Superman!

  • Sean Mageean says:

    RIP Keith Giffen.

    I guess you will have a posting about his passing and career soon. “The Great Darkness Saga” from LOSH will stand the test of time as one of the finest moments of the Levitz & Giffen team, and Ambush Bug is still a hoot. Then, of course, there’s Rocket Raccoon, Lobo, and all of the Justice League stuff as well. Thanks for enriching comics and for the laughs.

  • Oliver says:

    Paul Levitz & Keith Giffin didn’t create the Legion of Super-Heroes, but they did utterly transform it — from being in the shadow of the Superboy comics to a popular and acclaimed title in its own right. Ultimately, Giffen contributed to the Legion for longer than Kirby was on the Fantastic Four, to the extent that it never really felt the same once he left.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “The Number One Best Selling Comics Magazine”.

    By that time period? *Doubt*

    “If you had told the average non-comic reading person during this time that Clark Kent was a TV anchorman they would have looked at you and said “what the f*”” are you talking about?” And now it’s virtually forgotten.”

    True! I’ve seen a lot of stories w/him as news anchor, though. I wonder if that was done partially because of the popularity of “Mary Tyler Moore”?

    “RIP Keith Giffen.”

    SHIT! When did that happen? I will love Ambush Bug forever!