Home > DC Comics, Somebody's First Comic Book > Somebody’s First Comic Book: Action Comics #438

Somebody’s First Comic Book: Action Comics #438

Wondering what Somebody’s First Comic Book is all about? The explanation is on this page!

TITLE: A Monster Named Lois Lane

Cary Bates
Curt Swan & Bob Oksner
Julius Schwartz
DC Comics

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: We all know Superman, we all know Lois Lane. We don’t know why Lois is trying to strangle Superman on the cover… or for that matter, why it seems to be working.

IMPRESSIONS: The story kicks off with Clark giving a sneezy Lois Lane an early birthday present, a glowing amulet which quickly turns her into a giant rampaging monster. Really, Clark, never give anybody an amulet. “Amulet” is pretty much synonymous with “curse.” Anyway, Lois goes on a tear, but then somehow disappears, leaving Superman on a search for his missing girlfriend that lasts for days. In a rather convoluted series of events, he tracks down the necklace to another girl, who he kinda flirts with when it becomes clear that it isn’t transforming her the way it did Lois. Really, Clark, just gonna go a redhead while Lois is walking around nine feet tall with fangs?

Anyway, for reasons that don’t make a hell of a lot of sense, Superman briefly pretends that he’s transforming into a monster too, luring Lois out and saving her by inventing a cure for the common cold. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Well… Cary Bates could, but not the rest of us. The good news is, I understand the story perfectly. If you have even the slightest awareness of the Superman/Lois Lane dynamic, you’ll have everything you need to understand the story. What you won’t understand is why Superman doesn’t immediately turn over his cold cure to the FDA for analysis and distribution to the general public.

Hey, there’s another story here…

TITLE: The Man Who Tape-Recorded the Atom

Martin Pasko
Dick Dillin & Tex Blaisdell
Julius Schwartz

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: None. The opening scene shows a mad scientist holding a cassette tape with a tiny little superhero in it, so the “Atom,” I guess, is a tiny superhero.

IMPRESSIONS: In the story, our mad scientists has captured a young woman named Jean Loring, apparently as bait for the Atom. It seems he’s slowly shrinking, and thinks the Atom can save him. She calls up her boyfriend, Ray Palmer (who happens to be the Atom), and Ray shrinks down and rushes to her aid by – riding along the telephone wires? And then he gets trapped in a tape recording? Wait a minute, huh?

Okay, he escapes, he stops the bad guy, but what? How does making you tiny let you ride along on electrical impulses? Comic book science is specious, I’m sure, but this goes a little too gonzo for my taste. The story is easily understandable, but the whole “riding the phone line” thing grinds you to a halt with a serious “WTF?” moment.


  1. July 13, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Atom riding the energy pulses through telephone lines sounds like the coolest thing that happened in this issue! We like what Frank Miller did with him in DK2, maybe just because it was so totally gonzo. You know, fighting a microbe and riding cell phone signals – how’s that for a tech upgrade?!

    Too bad Atom could never carry his own title. DC tried but it never really came off. He gets small. After turning invisible, it’s the second lamest super power. Great supporting character though.

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