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Action Comics 261
"Secrets of The Fortress of Solitude!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND Story: Unknown Art: Wayne Boring

On the cover by Curt Swan, The Man of Steel is being attacked by wax dummies of Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Jor-El, and Perry White, animated by an evil force!

The Fortress of Solitude is The Man of Steel's home away from home! One may wonder why it is hidden in the Arctic, or why there is very little known about the items within The Fortress, itself? There are surprises galore within... "Superman's Fortresses of Solitude!" On the splash page, wax representations of Superman's friends and family attack him, under the bidding of an emerald entity, which has endowed them all with super-powers capable of destroying The Man of Steel!

Outside of Metropolis, a barker tells citizens to step right up and see Superman's Fortress of Solitude, and one tyke asks his mom if this is the real thing! Alvin's mom tells him that The Man of Steel has brought his Fortress here from its top secret location, and is giving guided tours, with the profits going to charity. Alvin then asks his mom why there are two Superman robots on guard duty, and she tells him that since Superman has so many enemies, the robots are using their x-ray vision to check for smuggled weapons, which can damage the Fortress. A visitor tells Superman that he's a welder who came on his lunch hour, and asks if he can eat on the tour. The Man of Steel smiles and tells him to enjoy himself. The visitor chuckles and offers him some coffee, which he graciously declines. "Big Bob" Kruger, an oil man, asks for Superman's autograph, which he is happy to oblige.

The Man of Steel leads the visitors through the Fortress, telling them not to be frightened by anything they see, for the proper precautions have been taken for the safety of visitors. Alvin's mother gasps at the sight of The Rainbow Jewel, which invigorates those who gaze upon it, and Superman offers to show the visitors an actual Kryptonian city! Alvin is aware that the planet Krypton exploded, but not before the baby who would become Superman escaped its destruction in a rocket. He hands a magnifying glass to Alvin, and tells him to look at the city in a bottle. The visitors see rockets passing through the sky over Kandor. Superman next demonstrates the Wotsis, a creature that compresses itself into a ball, then propels itself at its opponent like a living cannon ball, with spikes of steel, that fail to harm The Man of Steel!

In the next room, Superman has recreated a 3-dimensional tableau of the exact moment of Krypton's demise, and the rocket escaping the explosion. As the tour continues, Alvin asks about what's behind the locked doors, and Superman tells him that there are super-secrets which no one must ever learn, and all visitors are forbidden! An alarm goes off at the Fortress' entrance, and when Superman arrives, he sees one of his robots holding a man aloft with one hand, and showing his master the tiny transmitter, which is emitting a super-sonic signal, which is hidden inside a hollowed-out book! He knows that when he returned The Fortress to its normal location, the signal could have been traced with the aid of this device, and Robot Y takes the book-owner to the police! The tour begins again, but two men remain behind... the "welder" and the "oil man."

"Big Bob" pours the ink from his pen into the "welder's" thermos, and the "coffee" becomes a deadly gas! The welder places the thermos behind a statue, and if it is found before they are ready, he can claim that he forgot it. The cowboy laughs as the robots were unable to detect the dangerous chemicals in their component parts, but when combined, the gas will cause an atomic blast within the hour, courtesy of The Anti-Superman Gang! The two men's plot are witnessed by those who dwell in The Bottle City of Kandor, who are unable to warn Superman because their super-sonic signal is just so much static!

The Rainbow Jewel is the cause of the static, and is interfering with the super-sonic signal! They must continue to try, for not only the Fortress is in danger, but The Bottle City of Kandor, as well! The visitors stop before the bust of Urko The Terrible, and wonder what the story is with this character, but The Man of Steel prefers to keep it under wraps. He knows that the visitors would be surprised to learn what happened when The Fortress was originally placed in space, disguised as a meteor... but one day inside The Meteor Fortress, a strange space-cloud begins its approach, and to Superman's eyes, it appears to be alive and a menace!

The cloud surrounds the Satellite of Solitude, and Superman sees that some of the cloud has penetrated the Fortress. Urko The Terrible announces himself, a cloud-intelligence which hates all other lifeforms, including The Man of Steel! He tries in vain to get ahold of the smoky menace, who gestures, and causes the wax figures of Superman's friends to attack him, with super-powers capable of destroying even him! The Lois figure speaks of bringing death to Superman, while the Jimmy figure wants to destroy him, Jor-El's figure wants to wipe him out, and Perry's figure cheers Urko , while Superman doesn't have the heart to fight those who resemble his family and friends.

Since Superman is invulnerable to their attack, Urko urges his troops to attack the Earth, but to wait an hour before doing so. The Man of Steel knows that it will be an hour before Urko has enough control to have the dummies function over a great distance from the space cloud! The Man of Steel sends a blazing sun at the space-cloud by using his super-breath, and although he tries to flee, Urko is caught and consumed by the sun! The experience has taught Superman not to keep the Fortress in Space, where there are mysteries. In Kandor, their efforts to reach Superman are still being hampered by the Rainbow Jewel! The crooks are getting ready to join the other visitors, while the "welder" wants to gloat over the "coffee" which will destroy The Fortress!

The visitors are looking at a tiny flame-man, which is not alive and was created as a memory of an adventure which Superman once had. Although he doesn't tell the visitors about the specifics, The Man of Steel remembers how he sought to place The Fortress in the center of the Earth, but he is suddenly attacked by fire-people, who believe that he means them harm! He overhears their telepathic cries of protecting their home from the invading monster, and their fire-bombs have opened a fissure, with an underground stream beginning to pour through! The Fire-People attempt to flee, for fear of being killed...

Instantly, The Man of Steel digs a large crevice to divert the water away from them, and The Fire-People regard him as a friend. They ask him not to leave, for they admit their mistake, and apologize, but Superman sees that the center of the Earth isn't as quiet as he thought! "Big Bob" tells the "welder" to quit gloating and come back before their absence is detected, and the "welder" grudingly obliges, hurling the top of his thermos away! The tour has ended and the visitors depart, but two of them are certain that the Fortress will be but a fond memory in less than an hour! Within Kandor, contact is still being blocked by the radiation of The Rainbow Jewel, a radiation which can only be blocked by a lead barrier!

Superman uses the giant key to lock The Fortress, while The Mayor of Metropolis thanks him for the millions earned for charity, a cause which The Man of Steel is alway happy to help. He carries The Fortress back to the Arctic, while at the Anti-Superman Gang Hideout, the hoods watch the seismograph needle for the jump which will signify the atomic explosion that will destroy The Fortress! The Anti-Superman Gang continue to watch the needle, and in Kandor, Mars-Ol is told by Ra-Ho to try again, and moments later... the needle jumps, and the leader of The Anti-Superman Gang jumps for joy, for surely The Fortress has been destroyed, and he wishes aloud that he could laugh in the invulnerable face of Superman right now!

The hapless leader gets his wish, as The Man of Steel comes crashing through the wall of their hide-out, and even so, the crook is happy that the Fortress is destroyed. With a single wave of his hand, The Anti-Superman Gang are knocked off their feet by the wind brought up by the sudden motion, or is it because The Man of Steel tells them that The Fortress wasn't destroyed at all? The leader thinks that Superman is lying, for the needle jumped, but The Man of Steel admits that while there was an atomic explosion, which occured after he threw the thermos bottle into outer space, where the explosion couldn't harm The Fortess. The leader groans and asks when Superman learned about the plot, but that is his secret, as they are left with the Metropolis Police! In The Fortress, Superman is grateful to the Kandorians who succeeded in communicating with him, after he spotted a lead thermos bottle cap was covering the Rainbow Jewel! It was thrown by one of the crooks, and landed over The Rainbow Jewel, whose lead structure enabled them to communicate, while cutting off the static! Thanks to a criminal's carelessness, the warning went through, and Superman was able to save them and The Fortress, as well as find the crooks' hideout. The Kandorians are reassured that Superman will destroy The Rainbow Jewel so that it will not prevent contact between them again!

The wax figures of Superman's friend and family would seem to be fitting on a birthday cake, but by their reaction to The Man of Steel, he'd better blow them off before they have a chance to destroy him!

Craig Shutt, a.k.a Mr. Silver Age, once did an article on The Many Fortresses of Superman.

The Superman robot security guards would no doubt be a welcome sight at airport security checkpoints. At least with these robots, you wouldn't be waiting in line too long, and hopefully, any no-goodniks would give up at the sight of The Man of Steel.

Could the young boy, Alvin, be a hint to the writer of the story being Alvin Schwartz?

Superman's Fortress has attractions which would put Disneyland to shame.

The two members of The Anti-Superman Gang manage to make the coffee break a chance for even more mayhem against The Man of Steel!

Why couldn't any of The Kandorians leave The Bottle City and warn Superman in person?

Urko is an emerald gas cloud, who wears a crest like Starman, a uniform like that of Colossal Boy, and a symbol on his chest like Sunboy. His mustache and beard is enough to give Oliver Queen a case of green envy.

Urko was the name of the character played by Mark Lenard (Sarek on Star Trek) on the short-lived Planet of The Apes TV show of the '70s.

Superman's code against killing didn't apply to the gas cloud that was Urko. I'd love to have seen him come to Earth and wrestle with Los Angeles' smog. He wouldn't stand a chance!

Thankfully, Anti-Superman Gang members love to gloat, giving desperate Kandorians scientists enough time to point out the only way to get a signal through, and as soon as the way is revealed, lo and behold, there it is!

The Fire-People are armed with bazookas, and have no doubt learned that water is bad from using their weapons on their surroundings.

You think The Anti-Superman Gang got started when the members' girlfriends dumped them for The Man of Steel? I remember a cover where Superman is at a kissing booth for charity, and there's quite the line of ladies waiting for a chance to kiss him!

It's amusing watching the hapless hoods being intimidated by the gravity of their situation, as Superman takes them to the air, in the Wayne Boring classic style.

This Review Is Dedicated To Craig Shutt

Steve Chung
"Reviews Of The Fortress Of Solitude!"