Turn Back the Clock
The Superman Family #211
Distributed By: DC Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
From 1974 through 1982, DC Comics ran a series that featured the supporting characters of the Superman series in specially tailored stories of their own. The Superman Family basically consisted of Supergirl, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Superboy, Mr. and Mrs. Superman (Earth 2 incarnations of Lois and Clark), Krypto, and more. The series began with reprints of titles such as Superman’s Girlfriend: Lois Lane, Superman’s Pal: Jimmy Olsen and the second series of Supergirl, with some new stories stuck in every six months or so. By 1977, all of the stories were new. The comic was thick with at least five mini adventures, each at least 9 pages long. The price in those days was about $1 U.S.
The Superman Family #211 first appeared in comic book stands in October 1981 and featured 5 stories. The first tale, The Man with the Explosive Mind, features Supergirl. In this story, Supergirl’s alter ego, actress Linda Danvers, is reuniting with an old friend from school, Lena Thorul Colby. Lena is the sister of Lex Luthor – note the anagram of the middle name – however, her family disowned Lex years ago once they learned of his evil schemes, a fact that Lena has kept to herself all these years. Lena is unaware of Linda’s alter ego and that, as Supergirl, Linda knows Lena’s true identity. Lena Thorul Colby possesses a power of her own – psychic ability. It is this power that New York’s newest villain exploits in his war against Supergirl.
Following this tale, we arrive on Earth II just as Mr. & Mrs. Superman receive an invitation to attend the wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle (Batman and Catwoman). In The Kill Kent Contract, Lois accidentally discovers that someone is going to kill a “Kent” at the wedding reception. We soon learn that it is not Clark that the would-be killer is after, but in fact, District Attorney Harvey Kent. You would know him as Harvey Dent on Earth I, aka Two-Face. Here, the horrible accident that created Two-Face on Earth I never happened and Dent is still a top notch District Attorney. It’s up to Clark to stop the assassin and learn the identity of the man behind the hired killer.
The Private Life of Clark Kent features the story Search for a Secret-Seeker. In this tale, Clark Kent receives a visit from Ralph Dibny, otherwise known as The Elongated Man. Ralph mistakenly believes that he was summoned to Kent’s home for a friendly lunch. When the two realize that Clark Kent made no such call, they immediately come to the conclusion that someone was setting them up in order to discover Superman’s true identity. The search comes to a close when Clark realizes that Ralph’s mistake was truly that – a mistake – and not anyone’s rogue plan to discover the Man of Steel’s secret identity.
Lois Lane: Hostage begins as most Lois Lane tales do, with the hotshot reporter getting herself into trouble to get her story. This time, she ends up tangling with some terrorists who have taken a train and its occupants hostage. In her attempts to cover the story at a closer angle, Lois finds herself captured by the hostage takers and used as their negotiator. With Superman on the far end of the galaxy, it’s up to Lois to get herself out of this jam.
Deadlier Than the Sword is a Jimmy Olsen tale. In this story, one of Jimmy’s feature stories comes back to haunt him. After reporting on an incident in which a civilian is wounded in a shoot-out between police and a robber, Olsen discovers that the civilian has a sorted past. Apparently, years ago, Harlan Lavery actually stole one million dollars from Unicard Corp. At the time, he was known as Shelby Drake. Drake never was arrested for his crime – he disappeared shortly thereafter. After Olsen’s feature story on Lavery’s past, Harlan loses everything he loves. He decides to exact revenge, hiring Jimmy Olsen look-alikes to defame him with family, friends and co-workers.
The Superman Family offers a variety of stories and gives readers a closer look at characters that primarily play second-fiddle to that of Superman in comics like Superman, Action Comics, etc. I always loved reading about the alternate universe of Earth II, thus the Mr. & Mrs. Superman story was my favorite of the five. Least favorite is the story featuring The Elongated Man. I thought it was silly and just a tad childish…never mind the fact that The Elongated Man has never been one of my favorite characters. I also enjoyed Deadlier Than the Sword which contains a message for all members of the press out there – that they should think before they report.
All in all, this comic book was a great value in its time. A single dollar bought you five enjoyable stories featuring excellent artwork. Of course, nowadays, issues of The Superman Family are not exactly easy to find. I made my discovery on Ebay. Some issues are a bit pricier than others, but for a true Superman fan, they would be worth the expense.
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