Reign of the Supermen #480: Super-Beast

Source: Superman vol.1 #165 (1963)
Type: Transformation/Hoax
Superman with a lion's head? This is not to be confused with the story from Action Comics #243 (1958) which we exposed in Reign of the Supermen #112: Lion of Steel, even though that story too had him tangle with some version of Circe, the sorceress of Greek myth. In THAT story, Circe was the descendent of the historical Circe who was actually an alien. In THIS story... well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. All you need to know for now is that Lana Lang is planning to excavate various sites on the Isle of Crete to find Circe's tomb, while Lois Lane hopes to steal her thunder by being the first woman in space.
That's one small step for man, one giant leap backwards for women's lib!

Two weeks later, both girls are doing their thing, and Superman sees a meteor heading straight for Lois' Mercury capsule. "The meteor is as good as vaporized! Beat it, Krypto! I'll handle this myself!" Dang, Supes. Is that how you treat your dog? Why have him on the case at all? (Because he's part of the "solution" to this story, this is the Silver Age.)
So Superman doesn't manage to break the meteor apart when he first hits it, but he pulverizes it on his second attempt, bearing down on it with all his might. Lois makes a perfect landing in the South Seas, while on Crete, Lana finds Circe's tomb. Spoiler: She's a Disney princess.
And she's still alive! She claims Superman interned her there on one of his time travel trips because he wouldn't marry her (but again, this has nothing to do with that other Circe story where she made the same demands of him), so now she vows revenge and nuptials!
Oh Lana. And just a few pages ago, you seemed resigned to the fact Superman wouldn't ever marry anyone. Brought back to the States, Circe plans to humiliate Superman until he agrees to marry her, and proves her cred by reading minds and turning Superman's head into that of a lion, and then of a mouse (Lana's soon looking for a chair to stand on).
Superman pleads with Circe not to keep him away from his duties as a superhero, duties which seem to include digging up the foundations for the new City Hall (Metropolis must be rich thanks to all that super-cost-cutting). She'll let him, but only if he promises to jump through all the silly, humiliating hoops she throws at him. So that's how's he's only allowed to dig the foundations by getting a handful of gravel from 100 miles in the Earth for his mistress. Or how he has to stop criminals with a mini-tank while juggling balls, standing on his head.
Circe now realizes that he'll never marry her and because he's been a good sport, she returns to the past never to bother him again, fading from view. It's over, right? No, it's not.

SILVER AGE REVEAL #1: The last 24 hours have been observed by new members of the Superman Revenge Squad who unbeknownst to us, hit Superman with the (failed?) powerlessness ray responsible for him not destroying that meteor on the first try.
SILVER AGE REVEAL #2: Circe was actually Saturn Woman, the adult version of Saturn Girl.
See, Superman detected the Superman Revenge Squad saucer in orbit after his powers went all intermittent, so he had Krypto go get Saturn Woman from the future and build a fake tomb where Lana was supposed to dig, all so they could explain his screwy powers without the Squad knowing their plan had worked and initiating some kind of invasion/attack. So we know how "Circe" could read minds, but how did she managed transforming Superman into animals?

SILVER AGE REVEAL #3: Proty II sat on his head.
I'm not kidding. The metamorphic Legion "pet" fit his protoplasmic body around Superman's face and assumed different shapes on cue. (Unexplainable: How the lion form also had lion's paws. Further unexplainable: How Circe disappeared from view... Invisible Kid's serum?) But Superman DID seem to have his powers, right? So what DID the Squad accomplish exactly?

SILVER AGE REVEAL #4: "The Man of Steel" isn't just a nickname; Superman actually has magnetic poles like a bar of metal.
Believe it or not (and I don't blame you for not), the Squad's weapon only depowered Superman on one of his poles, so the only way he could use his powers was when he was upside down. Ergo, the COMPLETELY NECESSARY reason to have a friend pass herself off as a mythical sorceress bent on forcing Superman to stand on his head until he marries her.

Well it worked, didn't it? That weapon was junked rather than perfected, and the Squad members responsible were demoted.
SILVER AGE REVEAL #5: There's a Krypto Revenge Squad. That is AMAZING.


Martin Gray said...

Thanks, this was just wonderful - I've not read this story since I was ten, when it made perfect sense. Literal Man of Steel indeed!

Siskoid said...

What's next? Batman in Camelot? Green Lantern fighting for his life in the arena?


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