I’ve been out for a while cause I was focused on personal projects. I was planning to write reviews from the past issues of Action Comics, but I’ll wait when the final issue of Booster Shot arrives. So in the meantime, I decided to review an interesting comic from the 1960’s, “D.O.A. In Cold Blood” from the pages of Superboy, which already starts with Superboy confessing he killed Lana Lang. If you watched Smallville (a.k.a the biggest atrocity ever made to the Man of Steel), this is something that you probably would have liked to see.
What happens is that during his patrol night, Superboy sees lights turned on in the principal’s office in the Smallville High School. When he goes there to take a look, he is hit with a beam of light that makes him blind for a few moments, someone tries to attack him with a flashlight, he grabs this person, but accidentally by the neck and squeezes it and then finds out that it’s Lana. If it was in the Injustice Universe, things would have got screwed up earlier, but it’s Silver Age, so what Superboy does is take Lana’s corpse to the police station and confesses what he did.
Clark waits for the trial, sad and depressed over what he did. The cops show concern over how they will make sure Superboy won’t try to escape, but the Boy of Tomorrow assures that he will only get out of his cell when the situation is solved. So at this point we have Superboy in jail for Lana Lang’s murder, but there might be something that will help him, after all he still has to become Superman, the greatest superhero in the world, right? And yes there it is a plot twist (Superboy stories are set 15 years before Superman stories, so of course he would stay in jail forever).
Clark receives a letter in which the author says that he knows Superboy didn’t kill Lana, but he won’t tell anyone about that. Superboy calls for the cops to show the letter, but it pulverizes in his hand, becoming crystalline dust. When Superboy goes to Lana’s funeral accompanied by Captain Hall, he uses his x-ray vision to see Lana’s body and then finds out it became dust, just like the letter. Superboy tries to convince Captain Hall that he is innocent, but he doesn’t listen to him. Clark’s robotic duplicate, which analyzed the dust, tells Clark that the dust chemical materials used in photographs. Superboy deduces that the person who might be behind all of this is the free-lancer photographer Anton Lumar.
Using his x-ray vision, Superboy finds Anton’s studio and finds Lana there. With his super-hearing, Clark finds out that Anton faked Lana’s death by creating a duplicate with a sort of a super camera, and to make sure Superboy will stay in jail for the rest of his life he will kill Lana by throwing her in an acid vault. Superboy must save her, but how can he do that if he promised he would be in his cell until this situation is solved, so what does he decide to do? Simple, folks! Fly to Anton’s studio while he literally takes this cell with him. Really, this is what happens. Superboy goes there, faces Anton who uses his super camera to create a Kryptonite Kid duplicate to kill Superboy, but luckily Lana is able to use the machine to create a Superboy duplicate which defeats Kryptonite Kid, as it is immune to kryptonite radiation for having lead in his body.
Despite the whole nonsense with the jail, this is a great and a bold story, especially considering it was made in 1968, a time in which DC was avoiding going serious with it’s comics. It wasn’t everyday at that time you would see a story like that and one that would indeed show Superboy killing someone, even though it was a duplicate. Frank Robbins brought the simplicity of the Silver Age stories but with a strong and very mature story, exploring very well in a few pages all the turmoil Superboy goes through, and despite the climax being a little disappointing, is surely one of the best if not the best Superboy stories. And followed by the great script there is Bob Brown’s art. Dynamic, beautiful to look at, although sometimes he made the eyes too big, but still great and in some panels Superboy kinda looks like a young Christopher Reeve.
Superboy #151 is not perfect and has the famous Silver Age nonsense, but, be you a DC fan or a Superman fan, you definitely should read because despite some of the nonsense, is a story just as strong as the Boy of Steel.
(Review by Lord Fand Angus)