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Superman 193
"The Stolen 'S' Shirts!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND (80 Page Giant #31) January/February, 1967

Story: Unknown Art: Al Plastino

"S" is for Superman -- but it also stands for strange! Strange indeed are the seemingly senseless crimes which hit Metropolis! Just as athletes win their letters, so do the letter-men of lawlessness steal their letters! (Holy Orzechowski, Batman!) The man of steel must find out the sinister secret behind... "The Stolen 'S' Shirts!" On the splash page, a thug shows his criminal crony the shirt he has stolen from Superman himself!

It's morning as the ferryboat Susquehanna docks in Metropolis Harbor... and a ferry fireman sees a man overboard! He dives to to the rescue, but the "victim" and his partner have tricked him, and steal his jacket! The next day, a Speedy Delivery Service employee is running an errand... he removes his jacket, not knowing that the heat is due to the concentrated sunlight from a mirror! The next moment finds two thieves stealing the employee's jacket, and leaving the satchel filled with cash behind! News of this second crime reaches the staff at the Daily Planet... Clark Kent asks the editor if he can follow up on the story of crooks stealing cheap coats and shirts, but Perry figures that readers wouldn't be interested in the small-time hoods. The mild-mannered reporter is sent to cover the polo game between the Skylarks and the Rovers! At the game, Clark wonders about the reason for crooks stealing cheap clothing, and Lois sees a Skylark player falling from his horse! It looks to the girl reporter that someone has sabotaged the saddle-girths!

Lois heads for the player and the story, while Clark pretends to be afraid of the panicking horse. Beneath the grandstand, the mild-mannered reporter has changed to the man of steel, and as he corrals the runaway horse with sections of fence, two thugs steal the polo player's shirt! The horse is corraled and Superman's x-ray and telescopic-vision sees that one of the crook's has a list of S-Garments to be stolen: Smith's Shirt, Sultan's Robe, and Superman's Shirt! He knows that they can't steal his shirt -- but he wonders why they would want to steal the other S-garments...

Oddly enough, even the crooks don't know why... as they knock on the door of Stanley Stark, who is paying them five thousand dollars for the S-shirts. In the living room, Stark gives them the money and promises them ten times that amount for Superman's shirt. In the loft upstairs... Stark places the S-shirts on mannequins, and the two hoods wonder why the man would want such things at all. In the end, all that matters to them is the money, and as they leave, Stanley Stark smiles. They think he is an eccentric collector... but they and the rest of the world will soon learn why he is collecting S's. In Metropolis, the man of steel has figured out the Smith who would wear an S on his clothing... "Swifty" Smith, the star shortstop of the Southville Sentinels Baseball Team, who are playing a game in Metropolis today!

Superman meets with Smith in the players' locker room at Metropolis Stadium... He wants to take Smith's place and wear the player's uniform to catch the crooks who'll try to steal it! With a baseball cap pulled down, the baseball fans are unaware of the special player in their midst. The two thugs are in the stands with a camera, and are discussing the five grand they'll get from Stark for the shirt. So intent is the man of steel on capturing the thieves, he forgets his own strength and hits the ball out of the stadium! (Holy batman, Batman!) He must retrieve the ball before it lands hard somewhere, but first, Superman runs the bases! The two crooks know that only the man of steel could have hit the ball so far! The inning will have to be replayed in fairness to the two teams, and Superman will give the explanation after he brings back the ball! After the home run, the man of steel heads for the locker room, where he changes to his uniform, and gives Smith his baseball uniform back. Hundreds of miles away... Superman catches the ball before it can strike a village with the force of a bullet!

At the stadium, the crooks photograph Smith, who is blinded by the flash! When the man of steel returns, Smith tells him how the hoods grabbed his shirt, which is now on display in Stanley Stark's loft. At Metropolis Arena, the announcer introduces the Sultan -- who will wrestle the Masked Marvel! Unbeknownst to the wrestler and the audience, the Masked Marvel has agreed that Superman take his place, so that he can protect the Sultan from the crooks! In the ring, the two adversaries face one another... The Sultan is determined to tear the mask off of his opponent... and his head with it! The "Masked Marvel" has to watch his strength, as well as the Sultan's S-Robe!

The Sultan hurls the Masked Marvel into the ring-post, and the impact has bent the steel post! The Masked Marvel is again thrown by the Sultan, and the Marvel's arm has gone right through the floor! As the Sultan lands on top of him, the disguised man of steel sees the crooks stealing the wrestler's robe! Carefully freeing himself from the Sultan's wrestling hold, the Masked Marvel unmasks... and knows that since he had to be careful not to injure the wrestler, the hoods were able to get away! Outside, the man of steel sees the two crooks entering a truck! The vehicle knocks out a girder of the elevated track... and a train is coming! Superman must fix it before he can grab the hoods! Two other criminals appear and use a water pistol to stop the man of steel...

The water-pistol sprays a Kryptonite solution, weakening Superman, who will need all his strength to save the train! He removes his shirt and heads for the train, while the hoods head off with the discarded shirt! The man of steel replaces the rail with his own body... and uses his telescopic-vision to follow the crooks. His theory about the S-Thefts is confirmed. When the train has passed safely, Superman repairs the track and girder... while a couple of citizens don't know what to make of the bare-chested man of steel! The car has headed along the North Road, but he can't grab them since he'll become weak in the proximity of the Kryptonite-splashed shirt! His telescopic-vision confirms that the man of the house is Stanley Stark, a scientist with a criminal record! Inside, Stark sees that the S-shirt is the real thing, while the crooks laugh about taking the shirt off of Superman's back!

They ask for the $50,000 for the S-Shirt and Stark heads for the safe, his collection is now complete! Above the house, Superman uses his heat-vision on the lock of the safe, making it jam! Stark is unable to open his safe, but the two thugs see that the scientist has a cutting torch in his lab, and will use that. While they are distracted, the man of steel uses a long wooden pole and a line to snag his shirt. He heads for the nearest thunderstorm... where the lightning burns out the Kryptonite, and Superman knows that this is doing laundry the hard way. Moments later... the man of steel is again wearing his shirt, and heads for Stark's...

In the house, the crooks see that Superman has his shirt back, and Stark is confident that he won't be implicated in the thefts since the two won't testify against him! (Holy Ingersoll, Batman!) Having been paid well, the two hoods agree with Stark about not testifying, but the man of steel reveals why the criminal scientist wanted his S-shirt... The crooks think that Stark wanted Superman's shirt because he's an eccentric collector, but that's just what Stark wanted them to believe. The man of steel tells them that his costume is made of fabric from Krypton. It is an indestructible super-fabric and Stark wanted the shirt for analysis and reproduce it! They see that the cutting torch doesn't even mark the "S" shirt. Stark would have made a fortune by selling clothing made from the fabric to the underworld! The scientist had them steal other S-garments so that they wouldn't suspect why he wanted Superman's! The two hoods are now upset with the zany collector who has been revealed as a dirty crook! They agree to testify against Stark and give him an "S" he didn't plan on... a Squeal! All of them will be receiving an "S" they didn't expect -- a nice, long sentence!

"Letterman" was a feature on the Electric Company, a children's public television show in the '70s. The character would remove a letter from his shirt and insert it into a word to save the day.

Jim Croce wrote a song about "You Don't Tug On Superman's Cape," but these crooks have stolen the shirt off of the man of steel's back!

The Susquehanna Hat Company figured into a comedy routine of Abbott and Costello.

In the Golden Age, Rod Gaynor was a polo player, as well as the mysterious hero known as The Whip!

In the Silver Age, Stan Lee co-created Tony Stark with artist Don Heck, as well as many other Masked Marvel at the other company across from the Distinguished Competition.

After being exposed to Red Kryptonite, the man of steel lost his memory, and became a baseball player named Bud Mack.

El Santo was a real-life masked wrestler who appeared in comic-books published in Mexico.

J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck did a homage to "Thunderball" when they created a villain called the Sultan for Captain America. The villain operated from Thunderhead Island, and it took the combined team of Cap, Spider-Man, and Nick Fury to thwart the villain's plans in 1982.

Superman's uniform was made from the blankets placed in the rocket by his parents. Under Earth's yellow sun and lighter gravity, they have become as invulnerable as the man of steel, himself.

Steve Chung
"The Reviewed 'S' Shirts!"