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Action Comics 354
"Captain Incredible!"


Story: Unknown Art: Al Plastino

Who is the mightiest, fastest, super-being in the world? The Man of Steel? Wrong! The new champion is a diminutive, thin fellow who can fly rings around Superman at super-speed, and who can out-fight him, too! He is the newcomer known as... "Captain Incredible!" On the splash page, Superman has been beaten to the ground by Captain Incredible, whose picture is taken by the press!

As a new day dawns in Metropolis, The Man of Steel comes across a bizarre alien robbing a jewelry store with its multi-tentacles! Superman's punch doesn't even faze the yellow-faced alien, who tells him that he, too, is from a planet similar to Krypton! Armed with identical powers, and caught in its grip, The Man of Steel is unable to break free! At that moment, a flying figure comes into view, and identifies himself as Captain Incredible! The alien turns to deal with the newcomer, but he is smashed by the small figure with one yellow-gloved punch!

The Captain lands and asks the alien if he wants to continue the fight, but the alien decides to flee Earth before an even bigger Earthman can attack him, too! Captain Incredible dusts off Superman's cape, and when he asks the newcomer where he came from... and how he got his powers, the Captain takes to the skies once more, assuring The Man of Steel he'll be around when needed. Superman takes to the sky, but even he is unable to catch the elusive flying form, and wonders how this small, slender figure could be stronger and faster than him? The following day at the Daily Planet, Clark reads about Luthor's latest escaped from prison, and receives an anonymous tip from a caller that Luthor's hideout is on the Southside section... The caller hangs up before Clark can find out who he is!

In the storeroom, Clark decides to check it out on the chance it's genuine, and switches to Superman! Flying to the Southside area, he uses his x-ray vision to search every building. One place is impervious to his x-ray vision... because it's lead-lined! Using his super-hearing, Superman hears Luthor's voice, and decides to crash through the ceiling, where Luthor's men are startled, but the criminal scientist has been expecting him!

Luthor had one of his men call Clark Kent with the tip. He fires a ray at The Man of Steel, then presses a button to open several lead wall panels... revealing Kryptonite, which begin to fly at Superman... adhering to him! The ray has made him a living Kryptonite magnet, and the Green K will stay with The Man of Steel until it kills him! Luthor is confident that this is one trap which his old friend will not escape, but then... bursting through the doorway is Captain Incredible! Luthor takes one look at the scrawny Captain and wonders if Mighty Mouse's kid brother has decided to join the fun!

Using his atomic breath, Captain Incredible vaporizes the Green K into harmless atoms, then reverses the device to remove the magnetic effect! Luthor and his men are caught in Captain Incredible's paralysis vision! When they regain motion once more, Luthor and his gang will be in prison once again! Superman watches him fly away with Luthor and the two thugs, and admits that "Incredible" is the word for him. Atomic breath... paralysis vision... the newcomer has abilities which even Superman doesn't have. The question remains... who is Captain Incredible... and where did he come from? In the next week, Captain Incredible is on the scene, stopping a getaway car with his invulnerable scrawny body, and putting out a burning fuel truck by drinking the flaming liquid!

At the Planet, Perry White regrets printing the story, whose headline reads, "Is Superman Washed Up As Captain Incredible Takes Over?" Clark doesn't relish the thought of Captain Incredible taking over for him, but as long as he's fighting the never-ending battle, he mustn't become jealous! During Superman's latest patrol in Metropolis, a water main has burst, and The Man of Steel is grateful to have arrived on the scene before Captain Incredible! The next moment finds The Captain using his super-heat vision to turn the water to vapor and seal the broke pipe below. He then repairs the sidewalk with super-pressure, then announces that he has one more task to perform... KILLING SUPERMAN! KPOW!

Staggered by the surprise blow, The Man of Steel swings at the shorter figure, who likens the punch to a marshmallow! The Captain punches Superman in the stomach, then grabs him by the cape, and swings him through a brick wall! Sensing that he can't take any more, Superman flees, with Captain Incredible wondering how he could have eluded him?

The Man of Steel wonders if Captain Incredible realizes that he left by flying through the time-barrier into the future? His costume has given Superman a clue to his origin! The costume's material was invented in 2600, and The Man of Steel knows this from his travels to the 30th Century! He finds the inventor, Dr. Dane Gnorr, who is surprised that The Man of Tomorrow has found him! It was he who created Captain Incredible and sent him to Superman... The Man of Steel is surprised to learn that his foe is not human, but a robot whose molecular structure is able to defy his x-ray vision! Long an admirer of Superman, the scientist created the Superobot to aid The Man of Steel in his never-ending battle...

Even Dr. Gnorr was amazed at the end result, as his creation's lightest punch was enough to smash the force-measuring machine, and Captain Incredible's might exceeded even Superman's! The Captain's orders were to fly to the 20th Century and act as The Man of Steel's bodyguard! His small stature and odd costume would fool criminals into believing him to be a lightweight, but he would retain the advantage of surprise! Dr. Gnorr tells Superman that the Superobot was programmed to respect and aid him, but instead, Captain Incredible attacked him! Reviewing his plans, Dr. Gnorr sees the Superobot's flaw... the time-travel trip has caused the programming to be reversed! Another trip through the time barrier would set The Captain right, and Superman knows just what to do! He must decoy Captain Incredible to the 27th Century... but it will mean engaging him in battle once more! With his super-abilities, he can kill Superman! (Holy Doomsday, Batman!)

Back in his own time, Superman heads to an abandoned farm near Metropolis, and uses his super-voice to challenge Captain Incredible! The Captain arrives and Superman urges him to try and destroy him! Kicking his legs at super-speed, The Man of Steel sends several logs at the scrawny figure, who is unharmed! One punch from Captain Incredible sends Superman plowing through the field!

The Captain watches as The Man of Steel whirls a piece of barbed wire fence, and finds himself roped! Captain Incredible flexes and the barbed wire fence is torn asunder, just as Superman makes his move...! Through the time-barrier they fly, and as they emerge in the 27th Century, Captain Incredible comes to his senses! Superman explains that there is a malfunction which causes The Captain to hate him when he first arrived in the 20th Century...

Captain Incredible must remain in his own time, lest he return to the past, and become a super-menace! The Captain sees only one solution... he'll have to be dismantled, but Superman urges him to follow... since he has an idea! Dr. Gnorr has re-programmed his creation, who thanks The Man of Steel for restoring his crime-fighting career! Now, in the 27th Century, Captain Incredible is the enemy of criminals everywhere... and his latest exploit finds him apprehending a gang of uranium thieves, who are dumped from their getaway craft into the waiting arms of the police flyer!

The cover to Action Comics #354 is by Curt Swan, which has Superman trying to impress Captain Incredible with his Sunday punch, but the small, scrawny, bespectacled figure is only yawning, to the bewilderment of the citizens of Metropolis!

Captain Incredible's appearance seems to be inspired by Wally Cox, who was TV's Mr. Peepers, as well as being the voice of Underdog!

His costume is green, with yellow cape and gloves, plus blue and white shorts. Red long-johns, green socks, and white sneakers complete the ensemble.

In The Silver Age, t'wasn't Doomsday who got Superman... t'was Captain Incredible!

The alien who caught Superman in his grip, is clad in a purple costume, and has yellow skin, red eyes, and four pink tentacles. Think of Mongul's kid brother who has more hair than his big bro, and this is what you'd get.

Luthor appears for only three pages, but he remains optimistic that he can defeat his super-foe.

Captain Incredible is not the only Silver Age character to give Superman a hard time. There was also Zha-Vam, who possessed the ability to call upon the abilities of the gods, as well as Captain Thunder, who would remind readers in the '70s of a certain Big Red Cheese.

Interesting that Superman was able to discern Captain Incredible's origin by his tailor. It makes sense that in the 30th Century, The Legion of Super-Heroes, with all of their costume changes, would be the authority on fashion.

This Review Is Dedicated To Bob Buethe

Steve Chung
"Captain Review!"