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Superman 187
"Superman's First Fortress"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND (80 Page Giant #23) "A Look At Superman's First Fortress From The 1942 Story "Muscles For Sale!" June, 1966

Story: Jerry Siegel (?) Art: Joe Schuster (?)

Before Superman built his Fortress of Solitude, The Man of Tomorrow created a cliffside hideaway called The Secret Citadel, from Superman #17 (July - August, 1942) Superman admires his handiwork, as he gazes at the entrance bearing his "S" insignia, but there's still work to be done before it is completed! Moving at super-speed, his arms moves with the rhythm of pistons, until The Secret Citadel is finished. He enters the mountain Citadel, whose interior is filled with trophies from his many encounters against evil! Luthor's X-Ray Gun... Righab Bey's Turban... An advertising of his appearance at Jordan's Circus... a piece of a broken axe used on him by Pedro... a blanket given to him by Wacouches, The Boy Chief of The Chirroba Tribe... Count Bergac's Monocle... The Archer's Arrow... each and every item proving that crime does not pay! From the trophy room, to the exercise room, where even a Superman must stay in shape with a super-workout!

The acrobatics which The Man of Tomorrow practices, includes sliding up and down a rope -- backwards! Instead of doing regular chin-ups, Superman raises and lowers the bar to his chin! On a circular track, he races at such speed that there seems to be only one continuous body constantly on the track, and Superman jokes that at this rate, he'll meet up with himself at the finish line! A giant press keeps his shoulder-blades in shape, but a short-wave broadcast from the police about a robbery taking place at The Minton Museum soon has The Man of Tomorrow changing his plans in mid-leap, and he races to answer the call!

This two-page excerpt was published in Superman #187, an 80 Page Giant devoted to stories about Superman's Fortress of Solitude.

Either The Earth-One Man of Steel also had a Secret Citadel before he built The Fortress of Solitude, or The Earth-Two Man of Tomorrow was the one who had it, and never built a Fortress, as his counterpart would do.

There's something primal about the character of Superman in #17, in his manner of speech, and certainly in the early art, giving the sense of a being readers have never seen, and one capable of great feats, as well as being able to deal with unique threats which threaten his city, and the world, itself!

The Fleischer Superman cartoons are perfect examples of this early version of the character, who can leap one eight of a mile, and nothing less than a bursting shell can penetrate his invulnerable skin.

Luthor would have enough weapons to bedevil The Man of Tomorrow for years to come, and in particular, The Powerstone, which would rob Superman of his powers, and leaving him to use his wits in regaining them and defeating his nemesis.

The Archer was the character in the story which introduced cub reporter, Jimmy Olsen.

I've never read the stories of the others, but by Superman's description, and their places of honor in The Secret Citadel, they must be quite stories, indeed.

I know of the Powerstone from references to All-Star Squadron, where it is utilized by The Ultra-Humanite in the form of Dolores Winters to capture Superman, Firebrand, and Robotman, as well as taking place around the time that Will Everett, a.k.a Amazing Man was introduced by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway in an enjoyable retcon from the '80s.

I believe The Powerstone story was reprinted in Superman #252, and I'll hunt down a copy to savor this early clash between Superman and Luthor.

Originally, Luthor was red-haired, but when he returned in a later story, he was bald, and apparently, the writer and artist were confused by the bald henchman of Luthor's who threw an unconscious Clark Kent out of a window in that first story.

It's fun to watch Superman stay in shape, and I recall that in an Ask The Answer Man Column, it was asked if The Man of Steel had to exercise or if he was already super, thanks to Earth's yellow sun and lower gravity. If Supes didn't exercise, he'd end up looking like Jax-Ur, who has quite the gut, which I recall from a '70s Action or Superman story where Zaora releases The Phantom Zoners, but Superman is nowhere in sight, and when he does appear, we see that Jax-Ur is a scientist, not a fighter.

Steve Chung
"A Review At Superman's First Fortress!"