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Overlooked Comics: Superman 291 - But First, an Introduction
May 5, 2013, 10:16 pm

I love comic books - especially superhero comics. Since I was five, the monthly adventures of heroes and heroines from DC, Marvel and other publishers have captured my imagination with their unbelievable stories and amazing artwork.

The history of comic books is just as exciting as the adventures chronicled inside them and along the way there have been some key issues and events shaping that history. We all know that Batman debuted in Detective Comics #27 and that the Green Goblin threw Gwen Stacey off the Brooklyn Bridge (mistakenly named as the George Washington Bridge) in Amazing Spider-Man #121 but there were other comics on the racks those months too. I thought it would be fun to pick a key issue from comic book history, track down all of the other books on sale that month and read through them.

X-Men #94, which was on the comic racks in June 1975, marks the debut of the “all new, all different” X-Men in the regular title after first appearing in Giant Sized X-Men #1. This is a pretty big milestone considering that from issue 94, this new take on the X-Men would continue to grow in popularity until they dominated the comic book sales charts. So what other comic books were on sale the same month that X-Men #94 hit the stands?

According to Mike’s Amazing World of Comics, there were over 300 other comics on sale that month. Here’s what you can expect Overlooked Comics posts: I’m’ going to read through all of the other comics from June 1975 and write about my thoughts on each of them. For some I may be critical. For others I may just have some fun. Either way this should be a fun ride through comic book history that sits in the shadow of X-Men #94.

I’m quite looking forward to reading all of these comics, especially the romance comics. Reading 11 Richie Rich comics? Not so much. So, without further ado: up, up and away!

Superman 291 – “The Time-Powered Peril”  Superman #291

Writer: Cary Bates

Art: Curt Swan & Bob Oksner

Editor: Julius Swartz

Published by: DC Comics

Four years after Denny O’Neil’s revamp of Superman which depowered the Man of Steel in favor or more grounded stories, Superman #291 finds Clark Kent in the predicament of filming a “Rolova” watch commercial featuring both Clark and Superman. Clark pulls off the commercial using two Clark Kent cutouts and switching the crews sunglasses with 3-D lenses so the crew still thinks Clark is present when Superman arrives. During the commercial Superman takes the watch through several hazardous environments to demonstrate the indestructibility of the watch. Later, during a mugging, the watch falls into the hands of looser criminal Sylvester “Syl” Wyatt who discovers that he becomes “super-charged with time power” when he wears the watch near Superman.

After being clobbered by Wyatt, Superman once again uses some 3-D trickery to lure Wyatt into position so he can remove the watch via an extendable claw. Once the watch is removed, Wyatt suffers a heart attack. It turns out that Wyatt’s life-forces had grown dependant on the watch and Superman makes the decision to have doctors secretly wrap the watch around Wyatt’s heart. While glad that he has saved Wyatt’s life, Superman must make sure to never come near him again or risk charging Wyatt with more time-power.

The 1970’s were an interesting time for Superman. With the O’Neil revamp not quite sticking, Cary bates and Elliot S! Maggin came in wrote some fantastic Superman stories that skewed slightly more Silver Age than the O’Neil stories.  “The Time-Powered Peril” however, is not one of Bates best works on the character. (Check out Superman #261’s “Slave of the Star Sapphire”) Wyatt punching Superman through a wall is great cover gimmick but the 3-D trickery is too silly, especially when it’s used at the story’s climax. I wonder if Bates was influenced by the small resurgence in 3-D movies that was happening in the 1970’s when he wrote this.

The art by the Swan/Oksner team is quite nice. I find that I enjoy Swan’s pencil’s when inked by Oskner just as much as in the comics where he is inked by Murphy Anderson. It would have been nice to see more females in the issue since Oskner did so well with Supergirl and Lois Lane. Strangely, there are only four panels with a woman in them – two panels with an elderly woman and a nurse who is in two panels on the last page.

Favorite Ad in this issue: La Salle Extension University where you can prepare for the career opportunity of your choosing including Stenotype.

1975 Fact: Jaws was released on June 20th and summers were never the same again.

Next: Just what secrets do young brides have?



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