Face Of Fear
In Action Comics #349 (April 1967), Superman encounters
a mysterious foe known as "The Mummy," eventually
revealed as an even greater threat, Dr. Kryptonite.
The story (possibly written by Leo Dorfman,
guesses the Grand
Comics Database, and definitely drawn by Wayne
Boring) begins with an introduction to Intercrime,
the "international crime syndicate and foe of Interpol."
In the organization's secret lab, a devious project is being
launched, and though it's been christened "Project
Green," we can already guess it would not win the approval
of Al Gore.
Months later, Intercrime's S.P.E.C.T.R.E. -like attempt
to hijack a U.N. plane full of "doomsday weapons"
is thwarted by Superman, and the evil organization's top
man is furious (like all good evil geniuses, he's bald of
course, and the hijack if successful would have netted him...say
it with me now in your best Dr. Evil voice..."one MILLION
dollars.") Eager for some positive news, he demands
to know what progress is being made on Project Green, so
the doctor in charge takes him to see for himself.
As the doctor reveals, the plan is to create a Kryptonite
Man by gradually replacing every drop of blood in a crook's
body with liquid kryptonite. As they visit the volunteer
patient, however, "a severe physiological reaction
to the kryptonite ions in his bloodstream" kills the
man. The doctor is confident, however, that with modifications
the process will work, and volunteers himself as the next
guinea pig. If he succeeds, he'll pocket a 2 million dollar
That's right...I'll live like a king! A king, I say! Pretty
girls and all the coconuts I can eat! Mwahhahahaha! Untold
months later, the process is complete and the evil scientist
presents himself to the assembled heads of Intercrime, ready
to launch his attack on the Man of Steel.
As a test of his new powers, "Dr. Kryptonite"
decides to lure Krypto into a trap; if
he can weaken Superman's pet, he reasons, he should be able
to defeat the Action Ace as well. Krypto is easy enough
to locate; the lead story on the front page of the Daily
Planet (in giant type, naturally) reports that Krypto will
be attending the graduation ceremonies at "K-9 College,"
a school for dogs (another slow news day in Metropolis,
From his thought balloons, we learn Krypto is more than
an honored guest at the graduation; he apparently was the
instructor at the school, teaching the other dogs to run
an obstacle course and to defeat human sparring partners
in the role of "intruders." After the ceremony,
Dr. Kryptonite, dressed like one of the "intruders",
pretends to sneak into an administration building (where,
no doubt, the rest of the dog faculty take their breaks
for coffee and Milk Bones), making sure to do it in plain
sight of Krypto. The super-dog responds as expected, zooming
in to stop the "burglary."
Okay, time out. Are dog training secrets really so valuable
that criminals are out to steal them? And if Krypto's the
teacher, what good would any course notes or curriculum
materials do you, when they'd all be "written"
in paw prints? Also, this is as good a time as any to mention
that Wayne Boring draws the most hideous, gruesome dogs
in all of comics. Krypto has a weird, elongated body, the
neck of a horse, bulbous eyes, the face of a gargoyle and
a tongue that hangs five inches out of the end of his mouth
every. minute. of. the. day. The other dogs in the story
look exactly like him, just different colors.
Anyway, Dr Kryptonite removes a glove and Krypto is immediately
weakened. Dr K takes him back to Intercrime HQ and considers
killing him before deciding he's worth more as bait to lure
That night, Superman is putting on a demonstration wrestling
bout against multiple foes when a surprise contestant enters
the fray. Wrapped from head to toe in bandages (which Superman
notices are "saturated with lead, so my X-ray vision
can't see who he is") and calling himself "The
Mummy," the mystery wrestler unwraps one lead-wrapped
finger, exposing a bit of kryptonite skin, and makes short
work of Superman.
The next day The Mummy calls a press conference to announce
how he defeated Superman, and Clark Kent attends. Removing
his bandages, The Mummy is revealed as Dr Kryptonite, who
tells the assembled journalists he is "a scientist...an
admirer of Superman. I was searching for a Kryptonite antidote
when my experiment backfired." In the rear of the room,
Clark is overcome by the Green K radiation and falls to
the floor. Using his super-breath to draw the discarded
"mummy" bandages toward him, he wraps himself
from head to toe, counting on the lead shielding to protect
him from the Kryptonite.
In the following week, a crime wave hits Metropolis, and
at every turn Superman finds himself running into Dr Kryptonite,
who apparently just happens to be in the wrong place at
the wrong time, again and again. First, Superman is unable
to pursue bank robbers when Dr K turns up ("I just
came in to make a deposit!"). Then he has to break
off his pursuit of escaped convicts in a stolen armored
truck when Dr K shows up on the same stretch of road in
his convertible ("But I was just going out for a drive!")
Finally, Superman is unable to stop the theft of a new Navy
weapon when Dr K appears on a nearby boat ("I just
happened to be fishing here!")
Incidentally, here's a look at that top-secret weapon:
Yes, by Gum, this time those boys in the lab have outdone
themselves! Those Commies will never expect a satellite
that travels underwater! I know what you're thinking; how
are we going to get high-altitude photos of Soviet installations
now? Not to worry, our next project is an Army tank on stilts!
Tired now of toying with Superman, Dr K prepares his end
game. He sends Krypto's cape to the Daily Planet along with
a note to Superman, telling him to come to Crater Mountain
if he wants to save his dog. Suspecting a trap, our hero
first dons a lead suit with a TV camera on the outside and
a monitor within, allowing him to see without eye slits.
Dr K is ready for him, however, and uses a laser rifle to
cut open the lead suit "like a super can opener".
As Krypto looks on, his helpless master is beaten silly
by Dr Kryptonite until the unexpected (and timely) arrival
of a flying saucer. Aliens emerge and Superman recognizes
them as residents of "the vegetation world, Flordis,
which I once visited." The aliens approach Dr Kryptonite,
saying, "There he is...the captive king who fled our
homeworld! Earth's environment must have altered his shape,
but his green color shows his chlorophyll make-up is still
unchanged!" They subdue him with "compulser rays"
and stick him in a cell to return him to their world as
Superman and Krypto look on.
Okay, this is one of those times I really wish comics came
with sound, because Superman's voice has got to be dripping
with false sympathy there. I mean, look at him, clearly
standing up (as he has been since two panels ago) and saying,
"Love to help you, pal, but I'm just too weak to get
up!" Wow, that's cold. What do you want to bet he never
bothers to make a follow-up visit to Flordis again, either,
even though he's already told us he knows how to get there?
As the ship flies away and Dr Kryptonite's cries for help
echo in the sky, Superman turns to Krypto: "What's
he complaining about? He wanted to be a king, didn't he?....What
irony! Because he was green, as they are, they thought he
too, was a plant being!" Yeah, mighty cocky there,
Supes, for a guy who was having his head handed to him before
that last-minute reprieve from left field. Just be grateful
those guys didn't stumble across the Hulk first...or Kermit.
Anxious to show what a tough guy he is despite losing every
single fight in the story, Superman yells out a threat to
his tormentors at Intercrime, as psychotic hellhound Krypto
makes his best "scary" face. Or maybe it's his
friendly face, with Boring it's hard to tell:
Luckily, this time there actually was someone watching
on a monitor somewhere, but trust me the old "yelling
threats at unseen foes" routine made for some pretty
awkward moments in the long haul. In fact, it's pretty much
why Lana Lang eventually stopped agreeing to dinner dates
in nicer restaurants.
So, what to say about this story? I applaud any effort
to come up with an opponent who's a physical match for Superman,
but the "battles" in this story are so lopsided
they always disappoint. Superman never once gets his licks
in and "triumphs" at story's end not by strength
or brainpower but sheer, dumb luck.
In all, this Mummy tale is more trick than treat. Extra
Halloween points, though, for giving us not one but two
mummies, one of which even flies!