Action Comics #176 “Muscles for Money!” (part 2 of 2)

In fact, Clark Kent’s editorial is such a huge thing that it even makes the front page of some other newspaper called the Gazette. But you just know they’ve got a grudge. I doubt anybody’s lining up to buy the Metropolis Gazette when the newspaper across town is scoring Superman exclusives left and right.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

And now comes a montage of Superman doing lots of super-deeds for hire. First comes Superman entertaining “spoiled rich kids” by flying their swing set around, which one of the kids gleefully describes as a “playground in the sky!” Next up, he’s using his super-abilities to quickly seed a farmer’s crops.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

Okay, I’m really trying not to get too freaked out by this, but I can’t be the only one disturbed by the fact that Superman is vomiting up seeds, can I? I mean… eww. I’m surprised they didn’t show seeds pouring out of his butt hole while they were at it. The next time there’s a big E. coli outbreak, I think we’ll know who’s to blame.

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It seems Superman is earning so much money these days that he’s taken to wearing a “money belt”.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

Ah, yes, the problems of rich guys. Am I right, fellas? If it’s not one thing it’s another. Either your private plane’s minibar has been carelessly stocked with 50 year old Glenfiddich instead of 80 year old Chivas Regal, or your local Bentley dealership doesn’t have a Brooklands in the exact shade of taupe you wanted, or someone just outbid you on that diamond-encrusted dinosaur egg auction. Or, your money belt is just too damn small. Regardless, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? And so, Superman is forced to carve a vault out of a mountain.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

I love how Superman’s vault actually has a counter above the door that tells you how much money is inside. Most vaults don’t have that. Instead, they just have giant neon signs flashing BREAK INTO ME.

And hey, just by pure coincidence, Lois is walking up right when the counter hits one million dollars exactly. That must have taken Superman a while, considering every person he rescues only earns him $5,000 a pop. If there are 200 people in Metropolis in 1953 willing to shell out that kind of cash, then perhaps the whole city is full of people with rich guy problems.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

Come on, Lois, everyone knows the first million is the hardest! Cut Superman a little slack.

The next day, Lois is at the Planet, and somehow, she gets access to all the letters from people looking to hire Superman. She then promptly tears them all up. Okay, remind me to never place a classified ad in the Daily Planet.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

Wow. It’s those seven little words every man wants to hear: “Do you still want to marry me?” Was a more romantic sentiment ever expressed?

I’ll even give Lois the benefit of the doubt that Clark actually did ask her to marry him at some point, and she didn’t just mishear him asking her to pass the salt. Interestingly enough, Clark never gives a straight yes or no answer, but Lois starts making plans to announce their engagement anyway.

Once she leaves, we see that Clark is no fool, and he immediately starts putting all the letters back together at super-speed. But I’m sure he’ll come to regret this. There must be hundreds of job offers in that pile, and what will he do once all his money no longer fits in his vault? Then he’ll really be screwed!

Lois returns, happily telling Clark that the office is throwing them an engagement party tomorrow.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

I can see this is going to be quite the healthy marriage. Honestly, have Lois and Clark ever even gone out on a date? I’m pretty sure the panel above is the first time she’s ever uttered the word “love” in his presence.

I would say the main thing I’ve learned from Silver Age Superman stories, other than the fact that Superman is a dick, is that Lois Lane is a psycho.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

Oh, x-ray vision, is there nothing you can’t do? Seriously, Superman uses it to do everything. He decides to come to the aid of Old Man Jeffers, a wheelchair-bound rich guy.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

Yeah, chill the fuck out, old man. Superman already said he’d look out for all the bloodthirsty murderers constantly surrounding you and looking for any opportunity to kill you. What are you getting so agitated about? Unfortunately, Superman finds the work a bit on the dull side.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

Darn. Isn’t it so very unfortunate that Clark can’t make it to his own engagement party which he never actually said he would attend in the first place, to celebrate an engagement that he never actually agreed to?

Just then, Superman uses his x-ray vision to peer through the wall, where he sees Old Man Jeffers hasn’t moved for an hour. I’m sure most people working in the personal bodyguard industry would be concerned by this, or at the very least, would walk into the other room to check that the guy’s not dead. Instead, Superman happily says, “This may be the break I was looking for!”

Superman races over and finds crooks breaking into his super-vault, and easily foils their caper.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

Okay, am I really supposed to believe Superman can’t just get out in front of the car and stop it with his bare hands? What’s with this “super-magnet” crap? Now he’s just being lazy.

And now, at long last comes the big twist that will explain everything.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

Yep, Old Man Jeffers is really Million-Dollar Marvin. As he flies Marvin and his cronies to jail, Superman explains how his whole money-grubbing attitude was all just an elaborate trap to catch Marvin. The super-vault was the bait, given the well-established fact that Million-Dollar Marvin “only pull[s] jobs that net at least $1,000,000!” So, he’s sort of like the Ladders of two-bit crooks.

Marvin pretended to hire Superman as a bodyguard, to keep him distracted while Marvin and his gang robbed the vault. But of course, Superman was onto him the entire time.

So there you have it. Superman destroyed his reputation, pissed off his friends, and alienated the woman he loves, all for the sake of catching some guy named Million-Dollar Marvin. Was it worth it, Superman? Was it really and truly worth it?

Later on, Perry White has a very good question for Clark.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

Good point. I don’t think anyone would expect Superman to risk so much unfavorable publicity, because it makes no fucking sense!

If all he wanted to do was lure Million-Dollar Marvin into a trap, why didn’t Superman just arrange a fake art exhibit or something, with a painting worth a million dollars? Or why didn’t he just borrow money from some guy who already has a million dollars? Or why didn’t he build the super-vault and just pretend like there was a million dollars in there?

You know, I think I’ve discovered the secret of Silver Age comics. The creative process all started with the covers. And once somebody came up a suitably insane cover, only then would a writer be hired to write a story to match. That’s the only way to explain the incomprehensible and ridiculously convoluted plots you find in these issues.

And with that, Lois goes right back to forgetting that Clark Kent exists.

Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!" (part 2 of 2)

If you ask me, maybe Lois is just put off by the ridiculously oversized suit that Clark is wearing. Or maybe his head just got smaller. Maybe that’s where he was storing all those seeds. Either way, it seems the wedding is off, just like that. Those crazy, fickle women, huh?

Well, that does it for this installment of Bizarre Silver Age Comics. Will there be more? That all depends on whether or not I can find more deranged stories from the Silver Age of comics to write about. And really, how many more could there possibly be?

Multi-Part Article: Action Comics #176 "Muscles for Money!"
Tag: Bizarre Silver Age Comics

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  • Egalez

    great comic. it’s the tale of WWII. why America?

  • Tsuionsushi

    Actually, many Silver Age comics were written covers first.