A terrifying cover and an embrarassing moment for the Man of Steel – Superman #422
Brian Bolland has always drawn a mean cover, but this one may take the cake. I mean it. This is pure nightmare fodder. I love the black and white and the way the beastie’s eyes are red just like the “Superman,” but the teeth are what makes your heart skip a beat. They look like they’ll pop right off the paper and bite your fingers off.
Marv Wolfman, Curt Swan, Larry Mahlstedt and Tom Yeates bring us “Bad Moon Rising!” in this penultimate issue of the original Superman volume. We open with a Howling-esque transformation sequence:
The werewolf goes on a rampage — how predictable — and this draws Superman’s attention. When he tries to put a stop to the monster’s doings he gets his clock thoroughly cleaned. The werewolf makes his escape, but not before displaying a surprising regard for human life:
Remember that. It’s kind of important.
Superman takes a sample of blood left by the werewolf back to his Fortress of Solitude. His analysis falls into the “Well duh!” category:
He had to analyze the blood to tell if that thing was a werewolf? And that werewolf’s are supernatural? Come on, Kal. You’re better than that.
There are some scenes of the werewolf robbing armored cars and killing, and when Supes gives chase it escapes him yet again. He goes to see a group of scientists who say that they can answer his questions as to the origins of the creature:
Pretty soon Superman is again squaring off with the werewolf. It kicks his ass, and that’s putting it mildly:
Good…Lord. I guess Supes should consider himself lucky that he wasn’t sexually assaulted on top of everything else. I have to think that getting beat up and left nude and unconscious has to rank as one of his lowest moments. And to top it off that requisitioned outfit looks like something Paulie Walnuts from The Sopranos would wear.
Superman collects himself and uses some of his sleuthing skills to track down the human altar-ego (Thomas Lawrence) of the werewolf. Luckily for Superman the guy is in his human form, so don’t worry — our hero won’t get curb-stomped or anything. Thomas does some explaining, and the two of them go back to the lab to confront the group of scientists:
So it turns out Thomas was the “nice” werewolf from the beginning of the story that saved the woman’s life and spared Superman, while the evil scientists were the ones doing the dirty deeds. Thomas just wants to be cured, while the others are just looking to get rich. Go figure.
The were-scientists quickly overwhelm Superman, but before they can wreak fresh indignities upon him the good one channels some lightning onto them all:
Apparently electricity is a cure for werewolfitis, and they all turn back to normal. And Superman gets to keep his clothes this time.
Throughout the issue there had been allusions at the Daily Planet offices to Lois going out on a date wth a dashing Hollywood star. That sets up this groan-worthy final exchange:
It seems that this was the final appearance of the in-continuity Silver Age Superman in his self-named title, since the half of “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” that came in #423 was part of one of the old “imaginary” stories. Seen in that light, this is kind of an odd swan song for the guy — beaten up and stripped nude doesn’t seem like the best way to go out. But who am I to judge? I suppose it fits right in with the classic Silver Age goofiness.
A final personal aside — I can remember when and where I first read this issue. My parents and I were camping on a lake and it was amongst the comics I had brought with me. On that trip I went fishing with my father, and that was one of the few times he and I ever did that. I caught two rainbow trout that day and I wondered if it was really just one colossally stupid one that I managed to catch twice. We threw them both (or just the one) back.
Just a small memory.