Reign of the Supermen #506: The REAL Clark Kent

Source: Superman vol.1 #198 (1967)
Type: Impostors
In memory of Al Plastino who passed away this week and who drew this story for writer Cary Bates.

Two Supermen for the price of one in this installment of Reign of the Supermen, and it all begins right there on the cover of Superman #198 when a ragged, bearded Clark Kent walks into the Daily Planet offices and uses an x-ray gun to prove to everyone the clean-shaven Clark Kent is really Superman in disguise! Wha--?! Clark-1 briskly takes Clark-2 out of there for a chat, where we learn what's REALLY going on (not much chance of that is there?):
What we think we know is WRONG! Superman is an evil alien who came to Earth, found his perfect double and locked him up for years in a dirty basement! Three years later, an earthquake freed the real Clark and armed with an x-ray gun found in the basement's wreckage, he limped himself to Metropolis. No, everything this Clark THINKS is WRONG! Superman proves it by bringing him to the Fortress of Solitude and showing him home movies of him as Superboy.
He's been at this a lot longer than 3 years, man! This Clark must be from another DIMENSION! Yes, that's it. And they go out looking for the dimensional warp Clark-2 evidently walked through. And they find it, crossing over to an alt-Metropolis where Superman, back in disguise as Clark Kent, draws the attention of alt-Superman who tries to kill him. Evil Supes is surprised to find everything he thought was true is WRONG! Whoever this Clark Kent is, he's got powers and is able to fight back!
They then have a two-page fight, during which alt-Superman seems to be getting weaker and weaker until he loses. Or does he? Because whichever Superman survives goes on a rampage until...
...he blows up alt-Metropolis with Silver Age SCIENCE! So this is the evil Superman then, right? WRONG! It's the real Superman who next calls out whoever perpetrated this hoax and built a fake Metropolis filled with androids. A Superman Revenge Squad saucer uncloaks and cops to it, but how did Superman know?! The clues are... iffy. For example:
If Clark-2 had been trapped in a basement for years and then walked into the sun until he got to Metropolis, yeah, I think sunburn would have been a problem. A sun TAN might have been suspicious. Then the alt-Superman didn't have the normal temperature for a human being, but then neither of you are human beings, are you? And finally, there was no dust or erosion in Metropolis, which meant the whole thing was a fake. Ok, granted, and I guess we can't feel sorry for human-like biological androids (because no x-ray vision clues like gears and circuit boards) who are programmed to believe they're real people, can we? Even though Superman could have just called the villains out with the city standing behind him. Or even flown away to other parts of the planet to prove it was all an illusion, or did the Revenge Squad actually duplicate all of Earth? Oh Silver Age, you like to shock us so. So why did they go to all that trouble? Because they've got satellites in orbit that will cast a force field able to trap Superman on this now-empty world, and it took a few days to calibrate them properly, so you know, super-elaborate diversion. Superman escapes the barrier by following the saucer out of its exit hole, but the saucer mysteriously and conveniently (yes, Clark, IRONICALLY) explodes. Superman then returns to Earth the old-fashioned way, so this was NOT another dimension, with out problem left to solve. His co-workers all saw how the x-ray gun showed Clark Kent was Superman. Here's the fix:
Well, I'm convinced. What is never very convincing is the Superman Revenge Squad's convoluted revenge schemes. They know Superman's real identity, can create x-ray guns, huge quantities of bio-androids that look and think like real people, a facsimile of an entire city, Superman doubles that have all his powers (albeit that require better batteries), localized space warps, planetary energy barriers that are Superman-proof, and THIS is what they come up with? They'll never get revenge at this rate.


SallyP said...

Now that's a story! At first I bought it completely, because if Superman insists on hiding his cousin in an orphanage, of course, he would lock up the real Clark Kent!

But you just can't beat a fake Metropolis full of androids and a gun that projects a giant "S".

Siskoid said...

In stores in time for Christmas!

Martin Gray said...

Sally's logic is spot-on. I read this as a reprint in a UK black and white title in the early Seventies,Super-DC, so it's a treat to see it in colour. And it all makes perfect sense!


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