We cleaned a good part of the house this week amidst a few distractions so all I have for you this week is another crosspost from BW Media Spotlight‘s “Scanning My Collection” series. I had just gotten this comic as reviewed it as I went along. It speaks to a pet peeve I have when discussing Clark Kent as a secret identity for Superman. Enjoy.

This is going to be an interesting edition of…

Scanning My Collection logo

…for a few different reasons. One, this isn’t something that has spent years in my longboxes. I picked this up last week for the heck of it. Two, I haven’t read this yet, so you’ll be seeing a “live” blogging as I go through it, kind of like I do with “Chapter By Chapter”. Three and finally, the subject is one that makes me shake my head–the continued belief that the Clark Kent identity is just a pair of glasses.

There is more to Clark than spectacles. He acts differently as Clark than he does as Superman, dresses differently (obviously), and speak differently. Look up the voice work of Bud Collyer or watch Christopher Reeve’s acting in the movies. Anyone who plays Superman, either by voice or in the flesh needs to remember that they are playing two separate identities, something most Bruce Wayne/Batman portrayers get but too many Clark Kent/Superman portrayers mess up. See my Clutter Reports review of All-Star Superman the movie. I picked up the old serials finally and the actor there does a good job as Clark but Superman thus far hasn’t gotten a lot of lines. This was something I should have pointed out in the review of DC Comics Presents #50, where the two identities became separate people for a time. It works because (1) nobody suspects Superman HAS another identity, (2) Clark is so weak and mild-mannered (although a little less so post-Crisis) that nobody would suspect him and (3) if they can’t guess Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow with the same distinct goatee and little to no change in personality they’d never figure this one out. (Lest you think the Marvel Universe has the only stupid people. They just have more stupid citizens per capita.)

So let’s read this one and see what the “big secret” is to how Kal-El pull this off, according to 1978.

Superman #330

“George Reeves?”

Superman #330
DC Comics (December, 1978)

“The Master Mesmerizer of Metropolis”
(try saying that title three times fast)
WRITER: Martin Pasko
(based on a script concept by Al Schroder the third)
ARTISTS: Curt Swan & Frank Chiaramonte
COLORIST: Adrienne Roy
EDITOR: Julius Schwartz

Hey a splash page. You don’t get to see those anymore without being ironic. I’d show it to you but I’m really hoping this isn’t part of the villain’s costume we’re seeing but some portal he also has the power to jump through. Which would explain why he’s flying.

The actual story starts off with a satellite about to crash into the WGBS building because this is Metropolis. Lana, Lois, and Jimmy turn to Clark and tell him to switch to Superman immediately and that they don’t have time to buy the “‘queasy stomach’ routine”. The scene ends with Jimmy ripping open Clark’s shirt to reveal a Superman outfit, and why Chris Sims hasn’t blogged about that (unless I missed it) is beyond me.

I say the scene ends because it turns out to be a nightmare, one that has ol’ Clark spooked and wondering why his disguise works, even going over the usual comment that you don’t look all that different without your glasses. Foo, I say. Here’s what I look like with glasses.

ConnectiCon 2012-9

(I’m the one on the left. I know, all of us glasses-wearers look alike.)

And here’s how I look without them.

Orlando Bloom as Legolas in Peter Jackson's li...

What? So I’m taking up archery as a hobby. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Actually, I’ve fooled people by not wearing my hat. I suppose something can be said for casting a shadow with a brim. Anyway, Clark muses about this all the way to the bus (wait, when did he start taking the bus to work rather than flying there as Superman after his morning patrol?) when the driver starts going nuts. The reason…oh god that IS part of his costume! Prepare yourselves, kids.

Superman #330 Spellbinder

Somebody call Project: Rooftop. This guy needs help.

Meet Spellbinder, people. I’m not so sure we’re going to be happy about that by the end of this story. If you were expecting the guy from Batman Beyond we should be used to disappointments from DC by now. Clark drops into a sewer, confusing a sewer worker and possibly a ninja turtle or two, and flies after him, giving Spellbinder a “light tap”. Except Spellbinder’s helmet has a “super shock-absorbin’ chin guard”. Because Superman pulled his punch that much? {shrugs} He then uses his hypnosis powers to put a little girl in danger, distracting Superman long enough to put a whammy on the Man of Steel. Supposedly this shouldn’t be possible. Oh, and that disk doesn’t help with his mind control schtick, because with in “in front” of it that shouldn’t work or make sense. No, it helps him fly. Because you see, science used to work that way. Some of you are too young to remember.

After a brief introduction of a new addition to the WGBS family (delayed after some incident with Metallo in #317), we see…this.

"Somebody really wants us to watch Super Friends."

“Somebody really wants us to watch Super Friends.”

And here’s where things get weird. The purpose of the flying TV set is to warn everyone about Spellbinder (the mayor has declared a state of emergency, a certificate he probably keeps a stack of copies for) and to offer a solution. He will hypnotize everyone into temporarily keeping them from being hypnotized. I assume to keep certain entertainment hypnotists employed. Going to a wardrobe room to change, Lana and the guy from before walk in and are surprised to see Superman dressing as Clark. He’s also wearing his glasses, and I have a feeling that will be important, since this is about how the glasses work. Still, the S costume is showing and that’s enough to convince Lana that he’s Superman but she says he looks nothing like Clark. Also, new guy is smoking a cigar in the wardrobe room. With all of those clothes that can catch on fire and are hella expensive I’d bet knowing Morgan Edge.

After pushing to see why Lana doesn’t see the resemblance after suspecting Clark and Superman were the same person since the Superboy days, Clark decides that Spellbinder won’t fall for it either–ignoring the part about it WORKING FOR YEARS EVEN AFTER as Clark notes himself HE BECAME A TELEVISION PERSONALITY FOR ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR NEWS SHOWS IN THE COUNTRY! This seems more forced that we’re supposed to believe the glasses are. This better have a good payoff. Anyway, Superman decides that his only hope is to hypnotize himself to create the same block he did for the people of Metropolis. So he can hypnotize himself although nobody except this new villain can. Okay.

Superman confronts Spellbinder and no shock he caught the broadcast that was on every television in the city and the giant flying television. Also it worked as the guard at the electronic place he’s robbing was unaffected. So Spellbinder shot him. OK, I wouldn’t have thought of that consequence either so I’ll give Superman a break on that one. Spellbinder is still able to use his powers to block Superman’s (unless he’s faking) and then gives his origin because the story is almost done. It seems he used to be a Gotham hood who got his butt kicked by Batman in Detective Comics #358 but while in prison Spellbinder escapes and a ricocheted bullet from a cop’s gun makes Superman realize he still has superpowers. So why didn’t his trick work?

Well, the Action Ace tracks him down and after Spellbinder went on and on about how much he liked sound an idiot could figure out how he was able to hypnotize people. Apparently he has a record player on his chest that plays mind control sounds so high even Superman couldn’t catch it unless he knew what to listen for. Superman defeats him thanks to a makeshift echo chamber and we still don’t have our answer to the cover mystery. I guess that’s coming now.

Superman takes him away and releases everyone from the hypnotic block to the relief of some psychiatrists, and thanks to a sketch artist we start getting our answer.

Superman #330 guise

“That explains why my first girlfriend was a mermaid. Still can’t brag about that, though”

So how does this happen? Let’s brace ourselves….his very glasses! Yes, it really is the glasses made from the window of the ship Kal-El crashed in that happened to form a shape suitable for glass frames. Because science. Apparently they boost his super-hypnotism so if anyone is looking at him they see a more frail person as he wants them to. The hypnotic block stopped Lana from being influenced and that’s why they blocked him from putting a super-whammy on himself. Apparently the effect lingers so when he’s out of sight or those times he lost his powers for the hell of it the trick still works. See, the glasses really are his disguise!