BHOC: ACTION COMICS #442

Another issue of ACTION COMICS. I missed the previous two for some reason–likely I just couldn’t get to a store while they were on sale–but I was there for this issue a few months later. Bought at my local 7-11, as usual.

Like the earlier issue with Captain Strong, this one was built around a joke that I didn’t get as a young boy. This one was built around a thinly disguised version of Johnny Carson–Metropolis’ version was named Johnny Nevada–and the Tonight Show. As I had never seen the Tonight Show and had no interest in it, the references went right by me.

The story opens up with Clark Kent’s perennial nemesis Steve Lombard hosting the Midnight Show as a guest host for the absent Johnny Nevada. I found Steve’s bad joke about the Flash pretty funny. The whole story takes place over the course of the Midnight Show, with Clark Kent backstage as one of the guests, but with flashbacks to earlier events as well.

And earlier that day, Superman and Metropolis had been rocked by sonic booms. Investigating, Superman located the cause: professor Pepperwinkle, a character from the 1950s ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN television show. Pepperwinkle has come out of retirement and created a device that creates sonic shockwaves.

While he’s defusing that situation, Superman hears gunshots with his super-hearing. He apprehends some criminals, but learns that an entirely different group has abducted Johnny Nevada. Another character from the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN TV series, Inspector Henderson, tells him that the ransom is ten million dollars, and the show that Lombard is hosting will be used to send a signal to the kidnappers that the ransom will be paid.

As the minutes of the broadcast tick down, Superman makes a few attempts to locate the kidnappers, but all in vain. He’s only got one option left: to appear on the broadcast himself, and reveal the truth: that Johnny Nevada and Superman had traded places for the day!

This is all a ruse, of course–we’ve already seen Superman in action earlier in the issue. But when the kidnappers go to shoot their hostage, Superman ones in on the sound of the gunshot and races across the city faster than a speeding bullet…

…arriving in time to save Nevada’s life. And, as collateral damage, Lombard is left without his final guest, Clark Kent, and is forced to vamp the finale of the broadcast. It’s a pretty fun and clever story, with parodies of a number of then-contemporary celebrities as Lombard’s guests, and a good super-stunt right at the end. So I enjoyed it.

The back-up tale was a Time Pool tale in which the Atom descended into that temporal aperture to locate the missing page of a dead millionaire’s diary, winding up in the days of the Orson Wells War of the Worlds broadcast, and being mistaken for an alien invader.

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