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August 10, 2008



It's funny, that's exactly the pep talk I always gave myself growing up. "Maybe that girl laughed at you when you asked her out, but you're still earth's super-champion!"


Cool! And let's not forget this! Apparently, it was supposed to be a tie-in for the 1980 Olympics, but when the U.S. pulled out, it was shelved, then reworked and published as a miniseries.

Mark Engblom

Ah, the Contest of Champions! Yes, that definitely had an Olympic flair to it. I had toyed with covering it during the Olympics, but decided against it (not a whole lot of Olympic-like events....just brawling). But....it had a custom-built stadium!


Thanks for another great column, Mark. I've never read this story but after reading your synopsis, I will look for it. It is probably explained in the story itself, but one thing that strikes me as unusual here is Lana's featured presence, instead of good ol' Lois.

Michael Rebain

This was the first issue of Action Comics I ever bought (and the second "Superman" comic I read) when I was seven. I remember it fondly and recall trying to assimilate all the concepts featured in a typical one-off Silver Age Weisinger edited story, including this Lana Lang person (since I was fairly well informed about all the characters from the TV show, but she was never featured there) and Supergirl, who was the back-up feature.

Great Swan art as well.

Pat Curley

SLK, a mysterious beam carried Lana (in her TV news helicopter) and Superman to the planet where the Olympics were being held. Although it is never discussed in the story, I guess the idea was that Lana could report to Earth the result. Oddly, she never bothers to film anything (not much of a TV newser).

Basically her function seems to be giving various expressions of dismay as Superman fails. There were lots of other Olympic tie-ins by DC during the Silver Age; I feel a post coming on!

Pat Curley

BTW, Mark, the story is a wholesale swipe from Action #220, with only some name changes. The similarities include the power crystal trophy, the mysterious ray pulling Superman into space, the fact that Superman fails at each competition, etc.

The main difference is the ending; it turns out that Brunno, the winner of each event, was a robot being controlled by crooks who want the power crystal, and that the reason for Superman's ineffective performance was a piece of Kryptonite in the stadium.

Mark Engblom

"Oddly, she never bothers to film anything (not much of a TV newser)."

Check out the panel of the opening ceremony above. It looks like she's filming the procession...but that's about it. She's just too distraught for the remainder of the story to film anything else.

As for Action #220, I saw that during my little stroll through Superman covers and figured it was an earlier version of the story. As you know, this sort of thing happened often, especially in the era before big time comic book collecting, when there was almost no way kids would have ever seen the previous versions of the stories.


Thanks for the explanation about how Lana gets involved, Mark (I agree Lana was probably used because of her TV news job and the idea that she could film Supes).

Even so, it's kind of surprising because I don't think the adult Lana was ever really featured too much(sans Lois)in Superman or Action; the grown-up Lana Lang was basically used as a supporting character in Lois'comic. Nice to see Lana on her own here.

And it was interesting to see the adult Lana drawn by someone other Schaffenberger!

Pat Curley

Ah, good catch, Mark.

On the swipes, supposedly Weissinger figured that if it was six years old or more, nobody would have read it.

The odd part is the timing; why were they running an Olympics story in 1963 anyway? The earlier story was published in 1956, an Olympic year, and would have been on the newstands during the Summer Games.


Uh...I'm from Pittsburgh and a Steeler fan. I just want to know why Boscar is a deadringer for Hines Ward with a fake mustache !!!

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