Clark Kent, Get Out Of My Life!
Superman is troubled by dreams in which
tragedies and injustices go unprevented while he indulges
in a selfish life as Clark Kent. He vows to spend 24 hours
a day in his Superman persona to see if he can do without
There are plenty of crises to keep him busy,
and meanwhile the world wonders what's become of Clark Kent.
Lois, now in love with Clark, is worried he's been killed
by Inter-Gang. The gang's leaders are due to go on trial,
and without Clark's testimony, the outcome of the case is
very much in doubt. In fact, an Inter-Gang hitman is
sent to Kent's apartment, but he has the misfortune of finding
Mr. Xavier instead, and is blasted to atoms.
Superman approaches Lois, then later Jimmy
Olsen, to discuss a problem, but finds little sympathy.
A supervillain is on the loose; why isn't Superman on the
job? After a spectacular battle, Superman outwits the villain
(who uses a solar-powered costume to match Superman's powers)
and muses that he now knows which identity to hold onto
for all time. (But we don't!)
Back at Clark's apartment building, Mr.
Xavier is ready for the final phase of his plan; the destruction
of Earth (As if it could be anything less. This is a Superman
comic, you know).
The Double-Or-Nothing Life of Superman!
We learn the details of Xavier's mission;
he's to destroy the Earth to make way for a teleportation
route through our solar system. His job is to find the planet's
greatest power source to make this happen, and he has; Superman's
body! Using the space jewels he stole from Clark's apartment,
he will somehow harness that power towards his goal.
Off at the Fortress of Solitude, Superman
prepares for his future life in one of his identities (we
still don't know which!) when an alarm goes off. Using his
X-ray vision, he spies nine of his greatest foes hanging
out in Clark Kent's apartment! Speeding to Metropolis, he
finds the villains have left, but a sudden hunch sends him
to the Egyptian pyramids, where he defeats three of them:
Toyman, Terra-Man and the Prankster.
Stopping off at the WGBS offices for a spare
suit of clothes, Superman goes to court to deliver the essential
Inter-Gang testimony as Clark Kent, and discovers he still
has super-powers, even though he's dressed in Clark's clothes!
He then realizes that someone has tampered with all the
clothes in his apartment, somehow treating them to block
the rays of Earth's yellow sun, thus making him powerless
as Clark. But whoever it was could not have treated his
spare suit at the office, so the plot is revealed.
In the Rocky Mountains, Superman subdues
the next three villains; Mxyzptlk, Luthor and the Parasite.
Then he's off to a forest to battle Amalak and Brainiac.
Finally he takes on Kryptonite Man. Out in space, Xavier's
alien masters wait for Earth to blow up, but Superman has
tumbled to their plot. He has deduced that Xavier is manipulating
events to keep Superman expending great amounts of energy,
and that by punching Kryptonite Man, he'll trigger the blast
that shatters Earth. To get around this, he's put on his
treated Kent clothes under his super-suit, so when he kayoes
Kryptonite Man, it's as a normal man, not a Superman.
With Earth saved, Clark goes back to his
old ways as a perpetual milksop, leaving Lois -- and probably
a lot of readers -- frustrated. But balance is restored
as Clark Kent and Superman once again exist together in
It's probably hard for today's readers to
understand the appeal this story held 24 years ago. In today's
comics, Clark Kent is a football hero, a prize-winning author
and a fashion plate. But in 1976, Clark was an utter wimp,
and had been for decades. For all us Walter Mitty types,
he was a point of identification, the long-suffering nice
guy who wasn't very coordinated or athletic, was awkward
around women and generally got the short end of every stick.
Having Clark finally punch out Steve Lombard,
much less date Lois Lane, was akin to having Charlie Brown
finally find a Valentine in his mailbox, or kick that darned
football before Lucy could pull it away. Somehow we knew
that at story's end, everything would go back to normal,
but it was fun while it lasted. At least we'd always have
that one week when Clark cut loose, and that night when
Lois showed up to cook a romantic dinner (to this day, the
words "beef bourguignon" will get a smile from
fans who were there!).
Aside from the wish-fulfillment, however,
this storyline served as a thoughtful examination of why
the Clark/Superman arrangement works. Many writers and readers
had struggled for years wondering why an all powerful being
would want to pose as a powerless wimp. Was he mocking Lois
and the others, laughing up his sleeve at their inability
to see through the disguise? Was he trying to teach himself
something about humility? Was he in fact deranged, actually
believing he was more than one person?
Here Bates and Maggin offer perhaps the
most appealing and logical answer: Clark Kent is what keeps
Superman grounded, and maybe even what keeps him sane. The
Clark Kent disguise allows Superman to interact with human
beings on their own level, to talk to them as an equal.
As Superman, he is expected to have all the answers and
work constantly on everyone else's problems. But as Clark
he is allowed to relax and take comfort in the company of
friends. Is that a selfish indulgence? Does Superman even
have the right to relax while even one life, somewhere,
may be in danger? The answer given here is "yes."
Without the occasional break, being a Superman would be
too hard for even Kal-El.
Besides, he's earned it.
a digitally restored version of this story at SUPERMAN
THROUGH THE AGES!