It was part of an experiment, one that ultimately did not work.
But it was certainly fun and different.
I am babbling about Superman The Power Within, a trade paperback collection featuring work by Roger Stern and Curt Swan and of course starring Kal-El, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Now back in the long ago 1980’s, fans were looking for comics published at something different from the monthly format, knowing that some comics were published weekly decades ago. DC and Marvel looked into the weekly anthology format, and DC’s output was the rather ambitious Action Comics Weekly.
DC transformed Action Comics, a Superman title, into this concept which lasted almost a year before going back to being a solo book starring our fav Kal-El. Lack of sales seem to be the culprit. Every feature, from Green Lantern to Secret Six, had eight pages to tell their continuing storylines. But Superman was special here. The story was told in the centerspread two pages in the style of an old time newspaper comic strip.
The Power Within is about Superman stumbling upon a cult that worships him as a God, and a mysterious group who are hunting them. Clark Kent and Superman investigates and the usual twits and turns occur, including we finding out who the villain behind all this is.
The story is very much in the taste of those aforementioned newspaper strips, but with the then current Superman. It is fun and kinda lighthearted, so do not apply much logic or thought to it. Even the deeper idea of Superman being perceived as a God, or even an evil God, is only lightly dealt with. But the story is meant to be an adventure in a certain way, so I understand. My only real issue is the artwork of the late Curt Swan. I have never really been a fan of his work, and only occasionally does the art transcends the mundane to me.
The final two Superman chapters from Action Comics Weekly are a mini story just to cap off the run. It involves Superman dealing with racism and was very uplifting as you would expect.
Now DC must have felt that The Power Within needed something more, so they included The Sinbad Contract. This was a three part Superman story that came out a few years after Action Comics Weekly was around. The connection was obvious to longtime fans. Curt Swan was also the artist for this tale, and the theme of racism from the Weekly was picked up here as well.
The Sinbad Contract, written by William Messner Loebs, shows a family living in the Quraci section of Metropolis and how their young teen son develops telekinetic powers. And it picks up a plot thread from years earlier that writer Marv Wolfman had introduced. Quraci was a middle eastern country whose corrupt government had launched several terrorist attacks on Metropolis till Superman maybe crossed a line to stop them.
The young teen Davood accidentally gets a special belt that dramatically increases his powers. And Lex Luther the evil billionaire needs the belt. So the villain does many things to acquire it, including stirring up racism towards the Quraci people. Superman is trying to figure out what is going on, but is not trusted by Davood because of his past actions.
While the ending may not hold up fully, the subplots and themes dealing with identity and racism and the evil that prejudice brings about are explored. Several times I saw the real world reflected in The Sinbad Contract. Unfortunately Davood is rarely seen after this, with rumours of one last appearance before The New 52 allegedly being scuttled.
For some varied Superman tales that are fun and interesting, The Power Within is worth a look, especially with giving a taste of this era of the Man Of Steel. This could even serve as an introduction to younger readers of the greatness of Superman.
…is currently reading The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, the first book I have ever read on my kindle! And I am clutching Harry Potter And The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling very very close!