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Writer: Dennis O’Neil
Artist: Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson
Cover Artist: Neal Adams, Curt Swan, & Murphy Anderson
Page Count: 192
Colors: full color
What In Stock Trades Says:
Originally published in 1971, this story turned Superman’s status quo on its head by featuring a story in which all Kryptonite was destroyed! But that leaves The Man of Steel anything but invulnerable as his powers slowly begin to fade and a doppleganger Superman arrives on the scene with strange powers of its own. The first in the new DC COMICS CLASSICS LIBRARY line collecting memorable tales in their entirety, this volume contains SUPERMAN #233-238 and #240-242 and contains a momentous story for the Man of Tomorrow that you won’t want to miss!
What I Say:
So I actually picked up this one a while back when I saw it half-price at the Ithaca Comic Book Show. Before I talk about why I got it, let’s talk about why I waited until it was half-price.
I have really strong feelings about the whole “DC Classics Library” series that they put out. And it boiled down to two things: The price and the content. I myself only picked up three of the series, this one and the two ”George Perez Draws The JLA” series volumes. And those two I also got half-off, or else I wouldn’t have gotten them at all.
I just couldn’t wrap my head and my wallet around the exorbitant price of one of these volumes at full price. Not for the content of the issues within. For the JLA volumes the price of going out and getting fair grade copies of the issues, which are pretty easy to find, didn’t come close to the $80.00 they wanted you to spend for a hardcover reprint. And with little additional content, I could see why they were sitting on the shelf at most comic shops until some finally gave up and threw them in the 1/2 price boxes.
And the series seemed to me to just not make sense with the editions they produced. The Death Of Ferro Lad? The Flash Of Two Worlds? The Batman Annuals? All of these are some way or another in other hardcover collections, meant to be more complete for fans of those individual titles. And even if there isn’t, was there really a clamoring for having all of the Batman annual issues in their own collection?
And most of them seem to have some form of error in either their descriptions on the books themselves or their press packets. Even this one where it says on the back it collects Superman #233-237 and 240-242, when it actually includes issue #238 as well.
I guess I wasn’t the only one confused by the direction DC was trying to go with this series, as there doesn’t appear to be any more titles under the Classics Library banner being announced.
Now, with the Kryptonite Nevermore title, I had a 35-year personal reason for wanting to pick up this particular book. When I was in grade school, our school library had several comic book-themed books in its inventory. And one of these was a collected works book released by Bonanza Books called Superman: From The 30s To The 70s.
I have a copy of this book still on my bookshelf, along with the Batman, Wonder Woman, and SHAZAM! companion books. As the title suggests, it showed the evolution of the character through reprints of issues from each decade. The Seventies section was presented with, among other issues, the first part of the “Kryptonite Nevermore” storyarc from Superman Issue # 233.
But that was it. It was just the first part. So as a kid reading, and re-reading, this book I never found out what happened to that sand-duplicate of The Man Of Steel walking away at the end of the issue. I never saw him again or even knew his name until the Treasury Size Collector’s Edition story Superman Vs. SHAZAM! which also shares the same bookshelf in my mancave as those Bonanza Books.
So, this particular copy of the hardcover series actually held some interest to me, since it would actually be the first time I saw the whole story arc collected in a volume that was cheaper than collecting it issue by issue. By even at the original $40.00 cover price, I was squeamish about fulfilling a long standing curiosity from my youth. Thanks to Ithaca Comic Book Show, that was resolved!
After reading the stories, with Superman facing off against his duplicate from the dimension of Quarrm, the first thing that really kind of popped out after the classic issue was that the whole “Kryptonite Nevermore” has a story arc was a bit of a misnomer. Sure, the first part does set the Superman world on a new spin, with there being no survivng radioactive homeworld mineral left to plague Kal-El. But that’s just Act One of the bigger story that deals with Quarrmer (As he’s simply labelled in the very last page of the last issue of the arc) . The whole idea of removing the Kryptonite on Earth seems barely to be simply a McGuffin for the Quarrmer story, and just a convenient place for making a revamp change directed by new Superman editor Julius Schwartz.
The concept of removing Kryptonite as an almost-monthly plot device against Superman was something that Schwartz used to make some changes which, moving into a new decade, he felt were important for getting most of the titles away from the campiness of the stories from the 50s and 60s, as anyone who’s been through the covers at the Superdickery website can attest to. He wanted to see a more streamlined, modern version of the character, and with his first issue as editor didn’t waste any time out of the gate.
The issues after the first are also rather diverse “one-shots” as we would consider them in the modern sense with an overall storyarc subplot. The main stories deal with diverse subjects as giant ants, possible “angels”, and a strangely over-armed private owner of his own tropical island complete with erupting magma fissure that he seems to want to have go all volcano day on everybody. It’s the sub-plot of Superman getting slowly weaker and weaker with every encounter with Quarrmer, leading up to their inevitible confrontation, that links these issues together in any way.
In both instances, the great Dennis O’Neil delivers classic examples of tales of Superman that speak to the nostalgic bygone days of comics. And the art of Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson is pure yesteryear as I remember it. Every time I turned the page, I could almost imagine I was sitting there as a six year old thumbing through a copy of the latest stack of comics my brothers’ friends would bring by to keep the baby brothers they all had to drag along busy while they played basketball in the driveway on a summer’s day. Even the guest appearance of the de-powered Wonder Woman Diana Prince and her sensei I-Ching in the finale issues spoke to my carefree days of long ago.
And let’s face it. The Neal Adams cover of issue # 233 is probably THE most iconic picture of Superman to come out of that period of comics.
I was glad to finally see where the direction of the story, and that shuffling sand creature, was going in the storyline. Even if it did take almost 35 years to find out.
The Bottom Line: If you’re a longtime comic reader looking to reminisce in the Superman of your youth, or someone younger who’s looking for a prime example of the Superman of another time, then this is the book for you. Just don’t pay full price for it. Pick up a new copy at InStockTrades for cheaper, or a used copy at Amazon.com, or just wait until next month when they’ll have it in trade paperback format.
Grade: A solid A+. And the thanks of a generation of readers, and more.