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Superman 208
"The Case of the Collared Crime-Fighter!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND In memoriam to the Man in Black...

July 1968
Frank Robbins (Script), Curt Swan (Pencils), Jack Abel (Inks)

Always on the cutting edge of technology, Perry White is testing a new innovation to boost newspaper sales... RDP: Radio Daily Planet. No, Perry isn't planning on becoming the next Bob Grant. He's issuing powerful walkie-talkies to his reporters so that they can cover stories on the spot, and call them in as they're happening. He's chosen Clark Kent to field test the new equipment, and sent him to a coal mine to test the radio's range. Perry stresses that the office is off-limits to Clark all day, as he plans to put the radio system through its paces.

Or rather, Lois Lane will. It's the Planet's annual "Editor For a Day" event, and Lois is filling in for Perry this year. Looking very professional in a green and black striped mini-dress and black go-go boots, Lois orders Clark to head for the airport, where Superman is due to receive an award for rescuing the crippled Flight 113.

Moments later, Superman arrives at the airport, and is presented with a special Super-Pilot medallion, a purple medal attached to an elaborate and bulky orange-and-purple collar contraption. The moment it's snapped onto Superman's neck, though, the presenters laugh and rip off disguises, revealing themselves to be "Gimmicks" Cronin and "his side-drip, Dodo!" It was all a trick to get the collar on Superman, who is warned that any attempt to remove it will trigger one or more bombs hidden in public locations throughout Metropolis. "Gimmicks" demonstrates by telling Superman to give the collar a tug, an action which causes an empty plane to blow up.

What's the gimmick? The collar also contains a tracking device, which "Gimmicks" will use to warn his fellow criminals whenever Superman is approaching... for a hefty insurance fee, of course. Superman thinks that he's got an additional problem, as well. The thick collar will be impossible to conceal under his Clark Kent clothes... a fact that also springs to Lois's mind when Clark radios in the story.

Lois tells Clark to head for City Pier, where the ocean liner Victory sank under mysterious circumstances. Clark replies, "On my way, Doll Boss!" ("Doll Boss?" Does this sound like Clark Kent??!?) But a second aspect to the RDP project involves closed circuit TV cameras stationed at key locations in the city, and Lois will be able to look in on Clark at the pier. She tunes in the pier's camera, but doesn't see Clark... until a figure in a diving suit rises from the water, and Clark radios in to tell her that he checked firsthand, and found that the Victory's plates buckled after riding out a storm on her last voyage.

Lois then orders Clark to his next assignment, to interview striking workers at the Metro Steel Company. But on the way, her overhears a police call about a gunfight at Center Warehouse. He streaks over as Superman, carefully holding his speed down to avoid causing a sonic boom that could damage property. "Gimmicks" takes advantage of this fact and radios the Houston Boys, who are robbing the fur warehouse... but the "numbskulls" underestimate the Man of Steel's speed, and are nabbed by him moments later.

Shortly after, Lois tunes in on the steel mill, and finds Clark... wearing a sandwich-board picket sign, so he can mingle with the workers and get their stories. Foiled again, Lois notices a story coming in over the teletype. She tells Clark to head over to the ballpark, where the Johnny Cash Gang has been spotted. Clark switches to the old red-and-blue, but is too late to nab the Man in Black. The gang got Cronin's warning, and skedaddled from the stadium before Superman would have made them walk the line right into those Folsom Prison blues. Meanwhile, Lois scans the park for Clark... and finds him in the dugout, wearing an umpire's chest protector so he could sneak onto the field.

After filing the story as Clark, Superman takes to the skies to ponder his problem, and comes up with a solution. He drops in on a radio supply store and borrows some electronic equipment, which he assembles at super-speed. He flies around the city, scattering mini-transmitters beaming signals at the same frequency as his collar. Unable to identify which is the real Superman, Cronin is taken by surprise as the Metropolis Marvel, using his "super-hearing to home in on the beam (Cronin) transmitted to keep tracking (him)," bursts in on Cronin's HQ. (Super-hearing to track a radio signal? A tracking beam being transmitted by a receiver? What th'?) A burst of heat vision disables the control panel and prevents Cronin from detonating the bombs. Superman apprehends the two criminals, and forces Dodo to reveal the locations of the bombs... a subway tunnel, a park statue, etc.

As the work day ends, Clark personally reports back to the Planet offices, to tell Lois how Superman captured Cronin and Dodo, and managed to shed the deadly collar. He heads off to find a typewriter, as Lois contemplates how she'll pin him down someday.

-- Bob