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Superman 138
"Titano, the Super-Ape!"

Story: Otto Binder
Art: Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye

The splash echoes the Kurt Swan/Stan Kaye cover: a flying Superman recoils as a gigantic gorilla, who's climbed the Daily Planet building and is tearing off the trademark globe, stares him down with Kryptonite vision! (Jack Selegue, please note! Green K's properties are specific and effective even when removed from their material source!)

The introductory paragraph mentions that this is in fact the return appearance of the Titanic One, and we cut to a leisurely day at the Fortress of Solitude. Supes is examining a device he found on the planetary site of a long-dead civilization. It seems to be a TIME-TELEVISION SET! He finds that the left-hand dial focused the set on a scene of prehistoric earth, featuring beasts that could be taken for a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Brontosaurus. Oddly, the other dial does nothing. As he scrolls to other prehistoric scenes, he's startled to have tuned up a giant ape, as he knows full well that apes didn't exist in the age of dinosaurs. Then, he recognizes the giant beast as Titano, who "wasn't really born in prehistoric times! He was born in 1956..." which itself is nearly prehistoric by now, as our old issues crumble.

A page of flashback tells us that it all began as a publicity stunt. Toto the chimp, famous for stage acts, was about to be shot into space, by arrangement of his manager! Toto hugged Lois Lane, who once treated him kindly, winning his devotion. Manager asked if she could coax him into the nose cone, and she did so. In orbit, Toto peered out the window of his "air-conditioned capsule" and saw a collision of two meteors: one, radioactive uranium, the other, Kryptonite! After the capsule made a soft landing on earth, apparently near to the launch site, Lois, Manager and Superman watched as he emerged, growing in size all the while! Supes mused, "It's a known fact that radioactive rays make plants grow bigger! The uranium meteor's rays did the same thing to Toto!"

The big guy lifted Lois aloft. As Supes rushed to her rescue, he was felled by Toto's Kyrptonite vision! Ever the pro, Lois said, "Toto is still my friend and won't harm me! I'll call him TITANO in my scoop!" Later, after Titano became an accidental menace, we saw him imitate her act of putting on sunglasses by donning a pair of his own...with lenses of lead! Supes took the cue and hurled Titano at super-speed through the time barrier, where he could be with creatures his own size. But, Superman's reverie ends suddenly as the screen shows Titano fading from view! Just then he notices an inscription on the machine, and his super-wits instantly translate the alien language. Left hand dial, focus; right hand dial, builds cosmic charge to bring object in focus from the past to the future! Well, darn! Just then, the bell on his World-Wide Alarm System clangs away!

As Superman hurridly approaches Metropolis, he sees Titano up to his old destructive tricks, this time ripping a huge prop bowling ball off the top of a bowling alley. Snarling disappointment, Titano flings the ball away, which by chance is toward a passing airliner marked "Metropolis Rams!" Supes overtakes the ball and gives it a swift kick, to cheers from the football team aboard the plane. Nearing ground, Supes is overtaken by Titano's Green-K vision and lands hard, to be crushed under Titano's foot. But! The pavement gives way, Supes falls to the top of a passing subway train, and soon is safely away.

Reeling from the Green-K rays, Supes changes into Clark Kent and beams his x-ray vision to his apartment, to activate a robot to continue the fight. But! No can do, because painters are in to decorate his flat. What a problem! And here comes Titano, feet the size of the cars he's crushing as he heads for the Planet building. Soon, the big boy rips the Daily Planet globe from the top of the building in which Kent has taken refuge. Odd, he thinks, that Titano is seeking out the round things. Meanwhile, Titano flings the Planet globe toward the ocean, coincidentally following the direction of the bowling ball Supes had kicked.

Clark hastens to an unused storage room and, after changing back into costume, retrieves a special leaden suit he once hid there for emergencies. It's bulky like the original Iron Man armor, though with a cool little TV antenna atop the helmet. This receives the images transmitted by the TV camera, at belt level, and displays these inside the helm about an inch from his eyes.

Meanwhile, Titano's fist rams through the wall right where Lois is standing, and he grabs her before moving on. He looks affectionately at her as they go, but she slips out of his hand and leaps to a nearby warehouse roof. Moments later, Titano's hand bursts through the ceiling and in her direction. She decides to hide in one of the animal cages stored there! But it does no good! Titano grabs the cage, whose door's bolt snaps cooperatively shut, and he grabs a length of rope as well. This he uses to secure the cage around hIs neck!

Just then, the lead-suited Superman flies to the rescue, shielded from the Green-K rays. Unfortunately, he changes trajectory suddenly to avoid a giant clutching paw, and the air-friction MELTS HIS LEAD SUIT CLEAN AWAY!!!

All this while, the military has grouped for battle on the rolling hills outside of town, but Superman flies down to deflet a tank shell, explaining that they can't use their gear without endangering Lois. He'll just have to find a way on his own.

Soon, Titano catches sight of a big helium balloon with passengers suspended from a basket. He lunges for the balloon, bursting it. Superman speeds to the nearby amusement park and pulls the roller-coaster tracks out to catch the passengers in one of the roller cars, before putting things back together with not a moment lost in the ride's timetable! Titano then grabs a bathysphere off a tugboat in Metropolis Harbor! Superman, all but out of sight underwater nearby, thinks he's worked out the puzzle. If he's right, Titano will toss the bathysphere in disappointment, as he did with the other orbs.! Supes uses his super-breath to cushion its landing, for the benefit of the oceanogoraphers within, then heads back through time to "the exact spot" where he saw Titano on the alien TV. There, he finds huge round objects that were, in fact, visible back on page 1, and brings them back to 1960. It's a giant species of coconuts! Titano had gathered them and was fighting the dinosaur to protect his dinner!

The big guy cracks one of the coconuts open and leans his head back for a long-awaited drink. Superman takes the opening to rescue Lois, then knocks Titano silly with a good one to the solar plexus. Titano is returned "where he belongs," back to the distant past. Supes then rebuilds the Planet globe and teases Lois with a crack about her next scoop, that of being a pet animal's pet, as Perry and Jimmy stare reverently at their paper's grand, shiny icon. The end!

House ad: The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, issue 2! Festooned with teenage slang that never was, as imagined by an editor (no doubt) well past 40. A summer swimsuit situation under a full moon, attractively drawn by Bob Oksner, who clearly did remember what it was to be young.

So Lois sent her trusting friend Toto into space in order to get a scoop, eh? And he loved her still. I've heard that women like their guys big and dumb, but gee...!

The World-Wide Alarm System features two hemispheric maps, marked with a few key cities. Metropolis looks to be on Manhattan Island.

You'd think a gizmo as cool as a Time-Television Set would plunk the selected object right there in the room with you, instead of at a ratio of distance equal to that between the Arctic and Metropolis. But no. Maybe they would have fixed it in later models if their civilization hadn't been wiped out.

Superman must have been less than happy with the Time-Television, since he chose to fly back to the exact prehistoric time and place, rather than trust it to retrieve the coconuts.

On the cover, Titano seems to be 12 stories tall. The splash puts him closer to 8 stories. When fighting the Tyrannosaur, he's as tall as it is while it's crouching. As Supes approaches Metropolis and sees him, Titano drawfs all but the tallest building in town... what, 60 stories? As he destroys the bowling alley, he's about three stories tall; climbing the Planet building, I count 18, even taking into account the forced perspective. Perhaps disorientation causes him to lose height? That's how it always works with me.

That "special leaden suit" did in fact appear in an Action Comics cover story a year or so earlier, which was reprinted in an early 80 Page Giant Superman issue. Posslbly #11.

Tom Orzechowski