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Action Comics 371
"The President of Steel!"


Story: Unknown Art: Curt Swan and Jack Abel

On the cover, the President of the United States is being called for his press conference. From behind the doors to the oval office, he tells his aide that he'll be out momentarily, the commander-in-chief finishes applying make-up to his face... confident that no one will guess that he is Superman's other identity!

On the splash page, the man of steel strives to recall what his other identiy is... a rich man... a poor man... a beggar man... or... The President of the United States? As readers, we know that Superman is really Clark Kent! But the man of steel can't remember this fact, and goes in search for his other identity... one which has him trying out the role of... "The President of Steel!"

At his office in the Daily Planet, Clark Kent is working late and is dictating a story into a recorder... The man of steel had left a gift from another dimension... a super-computer which can solve many problems and produce many useful rays... Unbeknownst to Clark, an intruder comes towards him from behind, intent on seizing the computer for his spy organization to decode government secrets! The blackjack strikes Clark's head, which slams against the keyboard... and the spy intends on taking Clark's place once he has disposed of him! The mild-mannered reporter is only pretending to be kayoed... or else reveal that he is really Superman! An invisible ray from the computer shines on Clark's head... causing his mind to become fuzzy... The spy takes Clark up to the roof where he parked his helicopter... Using a remote-control device, the spy sends the copter out of the city... where it will crash! A groggy Clark can't recall what it is he's supposed to do...

Far from town, the helicopter crashes... but as the flames burn his outer garments, he is unhurt and is revealed as Superman! He recalls that he was dressed in different clothes, and therefore must have another identity he can't remember. The computer has struck the man of steel with an amnesia ray which even his super-memory is vulnerable to. Before flying to Metropolis, he sees an abandoned cabin and finds some clothing there! Clad in a red shirt, green pants, and brown shoes, the amnesiac wonders if he looked like this in his other identity or if he'll be recognized once he returns to Metropolis. On the streets, he wonders if he was a rich man... a poor man... a beggar man... or the police chief? He has no way of knowing.

The governor's motorcade passes by on a tour of the city and the amnesiac man of steel sees that the official didn't recognize him, and theorizes that he used makeup to disguise his face. In an alley, he changes to Superman and heads to Washington D.C., theorizing that he may have told the President his secret identity! At the White House, the man of steel is told that the President is away on a top secret mission, but his super-hearing listens to rumors of the commander-in-chief's disappearance! Unfortunately, telepathy isn't one of Superman's powers or else he'd learn from the guard that the President is on a secret mission at sea and not due back for a week! The man of steel believes that his other identity is that of the President!

Flying through an open window, he plans to try on the Presidential wardrobe and if the clothes fit, he'll know he's right! (Holy Emperor's New Clothes, Batman!) The clothes are a good fit and spotting a make-up kit for TV press appearances, Superman uses this to alter his appearance so that no one will guess he's the man of steel. Soon, he is identical to the photo of the President... "The President" tells the guard that his secret service men have returned him from the airport through a back entrance. Guarded by secret servicemen, "the President" sees pictures of all the former presidents... and muses that his photo will be added when his term is over...

In the presidential office, the machine which duplicates his signature has broken down, and there are hundreds of letters to be signed! Telling the secretary to take her coffee break and dismissing his guards, the President of steel signs at super-speed, then uses his x-ray vision to see that a broken wire is responsible for the malfunction. He then uses his heat-vision to wield the wire back in place, so that the secretary can duplicate his signature on the rest of the correspondence. "The President" shows Miss Blaire that the machine was jammed, and how he ran off the letters on it. In the presidential office, he learns that a little girl is trapped inside Friendship-7 John Glenn's space capsule on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution! A call has been sent for Superman, but how can the commander-in-chief change with those two secret servicemen at his side! He asks to be taken to the Washington Monument for a view from the top!

At the base of the monument, the secret servicemen keep guard while the President rides the elevator to the top alone! He changes out of the executive outfit, then soars through the trapdoor in the elevator roof! He then ties the cables so that the elevator is stuck between floors... so that they'll think that the commander-in-chief is trapped while he goes into action! The man of steel soars through the top of the Washington monument at super-speed, promising to repair the hole when he comes back from saving the girl at the Smithsonian!

At the space capsules exhibit, he learns that the door slammed shut when the girl was inside, and the curator asks Superman if he can get her out without damaging the valuable historical exhibit! He uses his super-fingernail to cut a neat round hole in the side so that she can crawl out, then uses his heat-vision to weld it without leaving a "scar." Seeing that the poor child is hysterical, the man of steel plans to calm her down with a tour of the place! He shows her Lindbergh's plane, which made the first non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic in a 3,300 mile-trip! They see a Saturn-5 Rocket which is similar to the one which will launch three men to the moon some 240,000 miles away. He shows her a replica of a Eohippus, a prehistoric horse no bigger than a terrier!

With the girl no longer hysterical, Superman flies back to the Washington Monument, where he uses super-pressure to force the broken stones back together as new! Inside the stalled elevator... after unknotting the cables, the man of steel changes back to the "President." He tells the waiting secret servicemen that he never reached the top because of temporary electrical trouble which stalled the elevator! The evening finds the President of Steel at a ball for foreign and American correspondents. He is to choose a partner from among the girl reporters for the first dance... and is attracted to one in particular...

It is Lois Lane, who has been his girl friend for years! She tells him about Metropolis and senses something familiar about him, just as "Clark Kent" cuts in... He is in reality Espionage Agent Zero-Zero, who has fooled even Lois into thinking he's the mild-mannered reporter! A second false correspondent sues the opportunity to hurl a grenade at the commander-in-chief, who sees that it's a harmless smoke bomb! "Clark" catches it, not knowing that it's harmless, then hurls it out the window!

When the fake correspondent tries to escape... the "President" uses his super-suction breath to hold him until the secret servicemen to grab him! The following day at the Presidential Press Conference... the "President" awards the Presidential Medal of Valor to "Clark Kent!" Later in the evening, in his private study, the "President" of steel hears a coded message from the real President to the Pentagon Intelligence office! Changing to Superman and flying out to sea, he learns that the President's secret mission was the signing of a peace treaty! Greeting the commander-in-chief, the man of steel asks to speak with him alone, and the two men adjourn to his private cabin! He tells the President how he assumed his role due to amnesia wiping out his true identity from his mind! The President is grateful for the masquerade which stopped rumors of his mysterious disappearance, then asks for one more favor...

Superman flies the whole ship back to port to save time! He says goodbye and now knows that although it was exciting to be the President, it wasn't easy changing identities with the secret service always around. In Metropolis, the man of steel sees a news story about a missing Superman Wrestler... who wears a mask to conceal his appearance!

When is a secret identity secret? When even the super-hero in question doesn't even know it!

In the Silver Age, President John F. Kennedy pretended to be Clark Kent in order to prevent Superman's secret identity from being revealed.

Astronaut John Glenn was another who managed to go up...up... and away in his space capsule back in 1962.

Howard The Duck ran for President back in 1976.

Captain America declined his supporters request that he run for the office of the presidency in Captain America #250, but in What If #26, we got to see what might have happened if he became President in What If #26, by Mike W. Barr and Herb Trimpe.

This Review Is Dedicated To Mike Norwitz

Steve Chung
"The President of Review!"