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Action Comics 311
"Superman, King of Earth!"


(Originally Reviewed On 8/10/01)

Story: Unknown Art: Curt Swan

On the cover, King Superman sits on his throne and is wearing an ornate crown, unimpressed that the gifts from the countries of the world are not going to win any favors from him, and as ruler of the world, his first command is for each nation to replace their flag with a Superman insignia flag! (Holy Cameron, Batman! This guy thinks he's king of the world!)

The Man of Steel is carving his image on the side of a mountain, while Lois Lane and Mild-Mannered Reporter Clark Kent watch, and when she asks him if this Superman is an imposter, Clark knows that this is the real Superman, and there's nothing he can do to stop him! (Holy Double Indemnity, Batman!) Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen are reporting on a story of a coronation in a tropical kingdom, where Clark is bemoaning the fact that the people must bow whenever their king passes, and when Jimmy tells him that they should bow also, the no longer meek Clark does not comply and tells the guards that he shouldn't have to grovel since he's an American! (Holy American Tourist, Batman!)

The guards detain him and escort him across the border, while Jimmy is suprised that his normally meek friend is too proud to bow to anyone, and has to cover the story by himself. Once out of sight, the mild-mannered reporter changes to Superman, a necesity since he had spotted trouble at his Fortress of Solitude. With Supergirl in the future at the side of The Legion, it's up to him to answer the call! His inter-galactic danger-detector has identified an unknown menace in the sector of Alpha IV, which is approaching the planet fast! (Holy Inspector Detector, Batman!) Using his telescopic vision, he sees a swarm of Red Kryptonite in the area, and re-checking the detector, he sees that there's no error regarding the menace. Knowing that Red K always has a bizarre and unexpected effect on him, he decides to use an Red K antidote made from a piece which once made him into two beings, a good non-super Clark Kent and an evil Superman!

Using a powerful acid on the piece, he theorizes that the fumes will protect him from the Red K forever, but the next moment finds The Man of Steel splitting into two men, Superman and Clark Kent! The Man of Steel turns to his alter-ego and tells him that there's no 72 hour time limit, with their separation being permanent, whle the meek Clark tells him that maybe this time it is the reporter who has the powers, not him! Superman kicks down the Fortress's door and carries Clark outside to see if this is true, and while The Man of Steel is unaffected, Clark is blue with cold! Once back in The Fortress, Superman seals The Bottle City of Kandor, and contains The Emergency Squad inside! (Holy Mantooth, Batman!)

Next, The Man of Steel destroys his robotic dopplegangers, while Clark sees that he's become ruthless, and when the mild-mannered reporter seeks to use the Phantom Zone Projector, Superman crushes it, and nearly Clark's hand in the bargain, but stops short of killing him since he may be killing himself in the bargain! Superman flies Clark from the Fortress, and the reporter is unable to withstand the cold air, while The Man of Steel is reluctant to wrap him in the cape, and soon, Clark faints! He awakes to find himself on a coast-guard ship, left there by his alter-ego, and the ship's captain tells him that Superman told him to listen for a radio message in an hour, while Clark demands to be taken to the radio room at once!

He hears that Superman has asked for an emergency meeting of The U.N. in a day for a special announcement, while Clark knows that The Man of Steel is up to something sinister! Clark is forced to ride in a helicopter, knowing that the hour trip would be one which he could travel in an instant as The Man of Steel! In Metropolis, he joins the others at The Daily Planet, where Lois and Jimmy are ready to hear Superman's announcement, but when he enters and is given a standing ovation from the world's delegates, Superman demands to be made King of Earth! (Holy Oscar, Batman! You'd think he was making an acceptance speech!) Clark theorizes that the other day when he saw the king getting crowned, the subconscious mind has his super-self sharing this desire!

The U.N. believe this Superman to be an imposter, but he removes his boot and slams it on the podium, shattering it, demanding to be made king in 48 hours or they will suffer the consequences! (Holy Queen For A Day, Batman!) Across the nation, folks watch the developments on their black and white tv sets in disbelief. Once The Man of Steel has left, the delegates head to meet with their leaders, while Clark heads to meet with the American one! He tells him that he has a plan to block Superman's desire to be made king...

Addressing the joint chiefs of staff, Clark opens a security vault containing weapons which contained weaspons he considered too dangerous, but Clark knows the combination, especially since he's The Man of Steel, and shares their memories. Opening the vault, he sees the green and gold kryptonite, not affected by it, thanks to the Red K, but the joint chiefs are against him using it on Superman since The Man of Steel hasn't committed any crimes and is entitled to his rights! The following day finds the U.N. voting, with some saying "Aye", some saying "Nay" and others abstaining.

50 votes for Superman and 50 votes against him, and the following day will find the deadlock broken, while The Man of Steel plans to do some electioneering of his own! (Holy Chad, Batman!) He plans to show them what will happen if they don't elect him, and the demonstration is to take place at 10 West Longitude and 250 North Latitude. One of the delegates tells the chairman that they will monitor Superman's progress from a military base! In the desert, The Man of Steel uses his super-breath to create an ice bridge to a nearby off-shore island! (Holy Mentos, Batman!)

Clark sees it on tv and knows that The Red K must have amplified his super-breath to its utmost. At the U.N., the delegates ask for more time to debate, while he asks them to use a satellite to monitor his next feat at 50 East Longitude and 50 North Latitude in 60 minutes, and Clark knows that coordinates as Red China! The telephoto lens is activated and in an area of Asia, soldiers see The Man of Steel heading for a mock-up of New York City, which they have set up for a weapons test!

Superman dives past the target, but then the "city" begins to shake, as if in the throes of a massive earthquake, which Clark knows is an implied threat, as he, Jimmy, and Lois watch at the U.N. big screen. When Superman arrives, Clark asks Lois to reason with him, and The Man of Steel is reluctant, but agrees to see her...

At her home, she shows him pictures of trophies he's earned from grateful worlds, but these mean nothing to him, and with a sweep of his hand, they are knocked off the counter! His only desire is to become King of Earth, and prepares to explode a nuclear bomb at the White Sands proving grounds! Clark and Lois are there at the proving grounds to watch the test, and Superman arrives, intending to fly the warhead to the target mountain, himself! Lois sees the feat and compares him to a missile, while Clark knows that his other-self has become a force for destruction! (Holy Faster Than A Speeding Bullet, Batman!)

The explosion shatters the mountain! The following day finds Superman unanimously elected to be King of Earth, and invites everyone to attend his coronation, implying that those attending had better bring gifts! The following day at a marble quarry, he builds a palace and erects statues of himself. At his coronation, King Superman is arrogant, as members of other countries bring him gems and rare metals, but he is unimpressed, demanding that they adopt the Superman banner as their official flag! (Holy Flag Day, Batman!)

At the U.N., Superman Flags are flying, and the organization is dissolved by King Superman! Clark vows as citizens of a free world that they shouldn't bow to a tyrant like that, while Lois is impressed by the now unrecognizable reporter! Dawn finds a massive wall and dome erected at King Superman's palace, designed to ward off Kryptonite bombs, but the mild-mannered reporter is confident that even this structure cannot long withstand the cause of justice! Evening in the Daily Planet basement finds Clark, Jimmy, Lois, and Perry standing among old leaden press plates which will keep them from King Superman's sight, and he proposes forming an anti-Superman underground to rebel against this dictator. Perry agrees but wonders if the reporter is the right man to lead them in the revolt? Clark wonders if he can successfully overthrow The Man of Steel, especially without the aid of his super-friends? (Holy Hanna-Barbera, Batman!)

A stunning cover by Curt Swan, who reigns as The Superman artist in my opinion.

Clark is not wearing his blue suit, but a purple one in this issue.

Red Kryptonite is such a bane for The Man of Steel, but fun for the readers.

Both sides are quite literally at war with one another.

We have glimpses at Red China, Atomic Bomb tests, and black and white television, a slice of life in the Silver Age, and also around the time that my mother came to this country, give or take a month.

Even though those lead plates would block his vision, wouldn't King Superman's super-hearing have caught their plans? Even so, The Man of Steel would seem to be out of his mind, and believe The Daily Planeteers to be no threat whatsoever.

I recall that Chris Juricich reviewed this two-part story some time ago and this review is dedicated to him and his Shed of Solicitude.

Steve Chung
"Superman, King of Review!"