What I Remember:
Nothing but the cover, which jogged my memory when perusing the dollar bin at my local comics shop, Royal Collectables. I purchased this copy without a back cover and as I found a few unsightly staples in the attaching the front cover to the book that I had to remove in order to read the story.
Superman Special #1 “Behold! The Ultimate Man!”
Story & Art Gil Kane
Letterer: Milt Snapinn
Colorist: Tom Ziuko
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Superman Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: 1983
Cover Price: $1.00
Re-Collection Price: $1.00 (missing back cover)
The story begins with Superman in space, fighting an energy creature in a vacuum. Superman manages to reverse the vacuum and escape.
In Metropolis, the newsroom of the Daily Planet is glued to the tv watching an attempted military coup on the government of the United States by an aide to the president, Bently Wayland. As the rest of the Army mobilizes to stop the coup, Clark Kent sneaks away from the newsdesk and Superman appears in Washington.
Wayland has his finger on the nuclear button, threatening to nuke the entire US if he’s not allowed to take power, Superman thwarts the attack, lectures Wayland and turns him in.
Watching from a distant observatory, a scientist laments that Superman needs other powerful beings to join in protecting mankind and wants to create an army of Supermen, beginning with himself. He straps himself to a machine that speeds up his evolution, taking him to a more cerebral state.
The new Ultimate Man telepathically addresses the people of Earth. He claims that he and only he, can have the solution to the planet’s problems and he must be obeyed. He creates a volcanic explosion and tsunami to demonstrate his new-found power.
Realizing that Superman would resist his plans to in order to save a few lives, he sets up a series of distractions for the Man of Steel to contend. Superman saves a city in the path of the lava and goes after the Ultimate Man, who then mentally projects an image of meteorites headed to Earth.
Superman breaks up the meteors and the Ultimate Man counters with a powerful explosion. Superman diverts the explosions away from the planet as the Ultimate Man evolves further and creates a bolt of Kryptonite to attack the Man of Tomorrow. The bolt ties up Superman and hurls him into deep space. Superman once again spins counter to the vacuum and escapes.
Superman is finally able to confront the Ultimate Man at the observatory where he’s hiding. While his enemy begins evolving yet again, Superman uses the large magnifying glass from the observatory to deflect the energy from the machines, devolving the Ultimate Man.
Continued After Ad:
I had mixed feelings about this story. I felt that the first two bits with Superman in space and the attempted coup on the United States were rushed. Especially the coup could be an entire story in itself, but Superman ends it in the span of a few pages.
The parallels between Bently Wayland and the Ultimate could have been highlighted better. It took me a little while to get the connection between the subplot and main plot. They’re both people that think that they know what’s best for the country and humanity and are willing to destroy everything in order to exert power.
They both have inflated egos and think that “they alone” can solve everyone’s problems. (sound familiar?) They justify the limitation of freedom for security. Both view totalitarianism as the only way to achieve their agenda.
Comparing them to Superman, who has all the power in the world at his disposal and never abuses it, is what makes this story interesting. Superman once again proves himself incorruptible. He could enslave humanity with his power but instead seeks to protect it and even serve it. Superman’s power never gets to his head and that’s what makes him so special, not the powers. The Ultimate Man is wrong in his assessment that we need more Supermen because as Wayland and Ultimate Man prove, power corrupts.
This was a fun little story but I think would be better told in today’s lengthened format with the subplots fleshed out and the science better explained. This could be a four part mini-series. It’s a cheap, but fun read with some really cool art by a comics legend. Check it out if you can find it.
The Hulk battles it out with the Jack of Hearts in the Incredible Hulk #214 ! See you next week!
There is none!