This is the Great Comic Book Detectives, where readers send in requests for the names of comic books that they remembered reading years ago and I try to find them for them! Send any future requests to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Reader Pedro F. wrote in to ask about the following story:
We’re talking about a short story – I suspect, along the lines of 12 pages – and in it there is an actor who plays Superman in a TV show detailing his adventures.
He is extremely envious of Superman’s power, and using a mystical device actually swaps bodies with Superman – the body swap is accomplished via a hand-shake, the actor having implemented a mystical symbol on his hand.
Upon the body swap, Superman realizes that the actor was secretly disfigured due to a fire years earlier (from which he was actually saved by Superman), and that’s the real reason for his hatred. The actor is unable to control Superman’s power and accepts to revert the body swap.
I remember vividly the beginning of the comic (Superman saving the actor – disguised as Superman – from a tiger; and the moment Superman, already trapped in the man’s body, looks in a mirror and sees the burned face and body he now is inhabiting. And the end – Superman analyses the actor’s burns and thinks he can help him, but this will depend on the actor accepting help. And the burnt man, in tears, begging Superman to help him.
The disfigured actor and that last panel of him kneeled in front of Superman asking for help (and the fact that Superman, despite everything, was willing to help him) really marked me…
The comic you’re thinking about Pedro, was published in 1972’s “Action Comics” #414…
The story was drawn by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson and written by Cary Bates. It opens with Superman saving a movie star who is playing Superman in a movie from a tiger on the loose…
The actor has used some black magic to come up with a spell where Superman will switch bodies if he shakes hands with the actor (who is hiding a magical brand on his hand)…
The actor, now in Superman’s body, begins to tear about the costume worn by Superman (now in the actor’s body) to show why he hates Superman…
Superman’s like, “What? How is that MY fault?” The actor explains that he did the stunt for a Superman movie, so it was Superman’s fault that he had to do the stunt in the first place (hey, the guy’s obviously insane, so he doesn’t have to necessarily make sense).
However, the guy doesn’t realize Superman’s strength…literally! Apparently, if Superman doesn’t actively avoid doing so, his body has so much mass that it just starts knocking the guy’s house off of its foundation. It begins to slide down the hill and the actor doesn’t know what to do, so Superman (who has figured out the whole “magic brand” thing) quickly tells him to take his hand and he’ll help him out, knowing that the guy is so out of it that he’ll do it. He does and Superman gets his body back and saves them just in the nick of time.
And since Superman’s a swell guy, he tells the actor that he thinks that he can cure his injuries for him…
So there ya go, Pedro!
If anyone has a story that they’d like me to track down, drop me a line at email@example.com!
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