The Other Silver Age "Supermen"

Analog Heroes of Superman

 

NAME:
Winki Lamm of Uuz

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Mr. and Mrs. James Flint (parents, deceased)

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Superman #58 (May/June 1949)

Regor

Created by Wayne Boring
Regor's origin mirrors Superman's. When Regor returns to Earth, Superman becomes his super-trainer. From Superman #58 (May/June 1949); art by Wayne Boring.

Regor was the first super-hero created as an analog to Superman. He was described as the "Second Superman," and his origin story was the same as the Man of Steel's. What's more, many of the details of his story were recycled repeatedly throughout the Silver Age by editor Mort Weisinger.

The story began by reminding readers of Superman's own origins: his father Jor-El was ignored by the leaders of Krypton when he warned that the planet was going to explode. He prepared a rocket ship for his infant son and launched the boy, Kal-El, to Earth. Because the planet was smaller than Krypton (thus lesser gravity) and orbited a yellow sun, Kal-El became the incredible Superman.

Well if that's all true, then wouldn't a native of Earth would also have super-powers if they lived on a smaller planet?

James Flint was a rocket scientist who lived on a secluded island with his wife. Upon a violent volcanic eruption, the island was deluged and Flint placed his infant son inside one of his rockets. He intended for it to land in the United States but the shifting Earth sent it off into space instead!

The rocket landed on the frigid, sunless planet called Uuz, where it was found and adopted by a welcoming couple. There he was named Winki Lamm and because of the lighter gravity and physical differences on Uuz, the boy had super-strength and could see through walls. When he was an adult, the boy adopted an alter ego: Regor.

He lived a double life, working in (with a woman named Loria) broadcast and fighting crime. But after suffering a humiliating defeat to Bantor, Regor decided to leave Uuz for Earth. Superman intercepted his rocketship and put Regor through rigorous training to increase his strength (and confidence).

They returned to Uuz together and Superman helped redeem Regor's public image by impersonating him and mopping up Bantor's gang. Before he leaves, Superman decided to change the climate of the freezing cold planet. By compacting two planets together, he unleashed atomic power and created a pseudo-sun. (Superman #58)

Notes

Regor made no further appearances. The concept of the baby rocketed from Earth to another planet was reused in the origin stories of Power-Boy and Mighty Boy (below).

Regor and theses characters were all reinvented by Grant Morrison in The Green Lantern #9 (Sept. 2019). Here, they were members of a group of alien heroes called the United Planets Superwatch.

Powers

While he was on a planet smaller than Earth, Regor possessed super-strength, flight and a measure of invulnerability.

Halk Kar

NAME:
Halk Kar of Thoron, aka Hal Kar

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Superman #80 (Jan./Feb.1953)

Halk Kar

Created by Edmond Hamilton and Al Plastino
Superman jumps to the conclusion that Halk Kar is his big brother! From Superman #80 (Jan./Feb.1953); by Edmond Hamilton and Al Plastino. Compare these scenes to Mon-El's origin.

Before the well-known Legionnaire called Mon-El, there was the adult Mon-El: Halk Kar! This hero's appearance predates Mon-El's (Superboy #89, June 1961) by eight years but the story was transparently recycled.

Halk Kar was from Thoron, a planet in the same solar system as Krypton. Fate led him to make an emergency landing on Krypton, where he met Jor-El (Superman's father). Jor-El used the his own technology — invented to send his own son to Earth — to upgrade Kar's ship, and gave him the schematics.

This was just before Krypton's doom, and as Kar's spaceship departed Krypton, the shockwaves from the planet's explsion knocked him into suspended animation. His ship followed the same course as baby Kal-El's but it arrived on Earth in the time of Superman.

Superman rescued Halk from his rocket but the man was amnesiac. He found Jor-El's notes and jumped to the conclusion that Halk Kar was his long-lost brother!

Superman delighted in showing Halk around Metropolis, but he noticed that whatever their situation, his "brother's" powers weakened much faster than his own. Eventually Halk was captured by some crooks and subjected to a high voltage shock. It restored his memories.

After learning the true story, Superman knew that Halk's powers were less than his own because Thoron was a smaller planet than Krypton. In Earth's gravity, Halk was still mighty, but not as much as a native of Krypton. Superman helped Kar prepare his ship for a trip home, and they never met again. (Superman #80)

Notes

This story was unmistakably reused as the origin story for the teenaged Mon-El (who eventually joined the Legion of Super-Heroes). The two stories were created by different writer/penciller teams, but they were both overseen by the heavy hand of editor Mort Weisinger. Weisinger was known to freely recycle stories from years past (see more below).

"Thoron" is radioactive isotope of radon, a name made to parallel krypton's being a chemical element.

Because of its date of publication, some fans have assigned this adventure to Earth-Two, ostensibly making Halk Kar the "Earth-Two Mon-El." This is conjecture only, as the character never made any other appearances. Read more about the 'cut off' date between Golden Age and Silver Age Superman continuity.

The Green Lantern

This character was revived, as "Hal Kar," by Grant Morrison in The Green Lantern #9 (Sept. 2019). He is member of a group called the United Planets Superwatch.

Powers

Halk Kar demonstrated many of the same super-powers as Superman, but to a lesser degree: super-strength, invulnerability, flight and super-speed. He did not have xray vision, or demonstrate any other super-senses.

NAME:
XL-49 alias Jack Wilton, Futureman

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Superman #121 (May 1958)

Futureman

Created by Jerry Coleman, Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger

XL-49 from the future proposed to Lois Lane. From Superman #121 (May 1958); by Jerry Coleman and Kurt Schaffenberger.

XL-49 was a historian from hundreds of years in the future who was interested in the "missing history" of Superman's life. In particular: did he ever marry Lois Lane?

Future scientists gave XL-49 super-powers like flight, super-strength and invulnerability and sent him in a bubble-shaped time machine back to 1958. He temporarily adopted a secret identity of Jack Wilton to prepare for his first meeting with Lois Lane. When he saw her, he arranged an 'accident' and then moved in to 'save' her — at the same time as Superman.

He ardently pursued her, asking her to marry him quickly after they met. Lois eventually decided that she didn't want to miss her chance at happiness if Superman was never going to propose. But Futureman had created a special 'goodbye card' for Lois, signed by her friends and Superman. When Lois read the card a certain way, it revealed the hidden message: "I love you, Superman." She immediately ejected from the time bubble and returned to Metropolis and Superman. (Superman #121)

X-Plam

In Superman #136 (April 1960), another future-suitor visited Lois. X-Plam came from the year 2360, where he lived in a strange valley where gas from a comet had given everyone super-powers — and transformed them to green-skinned freaks!

But when X-Plam reached our time, his appearance became normal, though he still had his powers. Handsome now and personable, Lois accepted his proposal of marriage. But right after the ceremony, when they returned to his home valley in the future, X-Plam resumed his true appearance — and Lois also became a super-freak.

X-Plam decided at once to give up his own happiness for Lois However, in refueling his time-machine, he handled a deadly amount of radioactive fuel, and thus sacrificed his life to return Lois to the 20th century, where she became normal again. (Superman #136)

Notes

Futureman was an early analog hero. His future-story and time bubble resemble the story of the Legion of Super-Heroes, which appeared just one month before, in Adventure Comics #247 (Apr. 1958).

 

NAME:
Chester King of Oceania, aka Hyper-Man

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Unnamed parents (deceased), Lydia Long (wife)

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Action Comics #265 (June 1960)

Hyper-Man

Created by Otto Binder and Curt Swan

Superman meets his mirror image, Hyper-Man of Zoron (and Oceania). From Action Comics #265 (June 1960); by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and John Forte.
Superman recognizes "Meteor X" as the agent of Hyper-Man's doom.
Hyper-Man dies content, with his wife Lydia Long at his side.

Hyper-Man was born on the planet Zoron, a world of heavy gravity. Like Jor-El, his father sent him to another planet upon Zoron's destruction. On Oceania, the boy gained super-powers because of its lighter gravity, and was adopted by the King family. He was named Chester King and he used his powers to fight crime as Hyper-Boy. In adulthood, he moved to Macropolis and became a television reporter.

Using his powerful telescopic vision, he observed the life of Superman on Earth for years. When Hyper-Man got into a personal jam, he came to Earth to ask for Superman's help.

Inside the Fortress of Solitude, Superman ran a search about Oceania using his Super-Univac computer. It verified Hyper-Man's story — and more. The Univac secretly diagnosed that exposure to "Zoronite" was slowly killing Hyper-Man. Indeed, when they ventured to Hyper-Man's underwater Fortress of Secrecy, Superman spotted the poisonous mineral; it was displayed in his collection of curiosities.

Superman took pity on Hyper-Man and agreed to play along with his scheme to protect his secret identity from Lydia Long. Instead, the Man of Steel plotted to bring the two of them together, in order to make Hyper-Man's last year of life his happiest.

Superman deliberately derailed Hyper-Man's plans. For example, Superman was asked to perform some feats in outer space for the Fifth of July celebration. During the super-fireworks display, Superman allowed a Zoronite meteor to pass near Hyper-Man! He knew that this dose would eradicate the hero’s remaining powers and force him into retirement.

Superman left Oceania “in disgrace,” but his plan worked! Chester married Lydia and they lived happily and undisturbed by super-criminals until his death. Before passing, Hyper-Man figured out the truth of the poisonous meteor for himself. He died with Lydia at his side. (Action Comics #265)

The Green Lantern

Hyper-Man was reinvented by Grant Morrison, as a member of a new group called the United Planets Superwatch, in The Green Lantern #9 (Sept. 2019).

This group also included the Hyper-Family of Juno. There is no known relation between the first Hyper-Man and the Hyper-Family. However, in The Green Lantern: Season Two #4 (Sept. 2020), it was suggested that the Hyperman of Juno may have, at some point, posed as Chester King on Oceania.

Powers

Hyper-Man possessed the same powers as Superman. He demonstrated flight, super-strength, invulnerability, super-senses. He was vulnerable to the radiation from Zoronite.

NAME:
Oogamooga of Roxnon

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #18 (July 1960)

Astounding Man

Created by Jerry Siegel and Al Plastino
Astounding Man reveals his wizard, Oogamooga! From Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #18 (July 1960); by Jerry Siegel and Al Plastino.

Astounding Man was an insistent suitor who has woshipped Lois Lane from across the galaxy. When he finally made the trip to Earth, he enticed Lois to board his spaceship. She was whisked away into space, where he revealed himself and professed his love for her! He asked her to marry him, arguing that Superman never would. She agreed to give it 48 hours and accompanied him back to the planet Roxnon.

She found that he was obsessed with her, had built a shrine to her, and was jealous when anyone else showed her admiration. Despite his overbearing behavior, she was wooed. and accepted his proposal.

Naturally, it was all too good to be true.

When "Astounding Man" revealed his secret identity to her, Lois was shocked to learned that her fiancée was nothing but an android! He was just the puppet of a withered old man named Oogamooga.

Lois honored her promise to marry him, but sent a message back to Superman to help her wiggle out the arrangement. She secretly purchased a robot duplicate of her own, one that was controlled by a "love-starved" old woman named Geena. Thus, Geena married Oogamooga by proxy, and each got what they desired, in a perverse way. (Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #18)

NAME:
Irn Brimba of Soomar, alias Super-Male

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #41 (May 1963)

Super-Male

Created by Kurt Schaffenberger
Unlike Lois, Crystal can't stand her super-suitor's advances. From Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #41 (May 1963); by Kurt Schaffenberger.

Lois Lane had apparently learned nothing from her From her adventure with Astounding Man. When another spaceship appeared in Metropolis, it bore an invitation for Superman. Since he was away, Lois boarded it instead and was transported to the world of Soomar!

There she met two people who were dead ringers for herself and Superman, with one big difference. On Soomar, reporter Crystal Ganyrog wanted nothing to do with the handsome Super-Male, who pursued her endlessly!

As fate would have it, Crystal fell ill and Lois agreed to masquerade as her for the Daily Globe while she sought treatment — but under no circumstances was she to encourage Super-Male's overtures.

In everday life, Super-Male was the meek Irn Brimba, a fellow reporter who wore a red wig. Circumstances made it impossible for Lois to be as cruel toward Super-Male as Crystal usually was. Lois even found a spiteful journal about him, leading her to have sympathy for the hero. When Super-Male approached her next, he also caught a glimpse of the note and decided to leave her alone. Naturally, Crystal was intrgued then. Back on Earth, Lois decided to try the reverse psychology on Superman. (Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #41)

Powers

Super-Male is considered a mutant on Soomar. He has powers of super-strength, flight, heat vision and microscopic vision — only under a red sun, and is powerless under a yellow sun.

Notes

Both created by Kurt Shaffenberger, Super-Male's costume has some of the same features as Futureman's (Superman #121, May 1958), like the shoulder piping and boot style.

Hercules I

NAME:
Alcides (born), Herakles (renamed), alias Hercules (Roman)

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Zeus (father); Alcmene (mother, deceased); Iphikles (half-brother, deceased); Amphitryon (step-father, deceased); Megara (first wife, deceased); Deianira (second wife, deceased); Hebe (half-sister, third wife, annulled); Hestia, Demeter (aunts); Hades, Poseidon (uncles) ; Ares, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Dionysus (half-siblings)

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Wonder Woman v.1 #1 (Summer 1942)
Wonder Woman v.1 #105 (Apr. 1959)

Hercules II

NAME:
Hercules, alias Tarkus, Roger Tate

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Unnamed family members

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Adventure Comics #257 (Feb. 1959)

Hercules of Earth-Two: The Amazons

From Wonder Woman #45 (Jan./Feb. 1951); by Script Robert Kanigher and Harry G. Peter.

Hercules I could be considered the "Earth-Two" DC version of this character. This Hercules is the classic, ancient Greek demi-god who is associated with Wonder Woman and the Amazons. He was depicted as a part of Amazon history, but did not recur as a 'modern day' adversary, as in post-Crisis continuity.

The Amazons' origin was told in Wonder Woman #1 (Summer 1942) and #45 (Jan./Feb. 1951). In Wonder Woman, Hercules was depicted as bare-chested, wearing a blue-and-gold kilt, and the impervious hide of the Nemean lion.

Hercules (actually the Roman name for the Greek hero, Herakles) was a "demi-god" (half-god), the son of Zeus and a human woman named Alcmene. Hera, the wife of Zeus, was enraged when she learned of Zeus' dalliance, and plotted against Herakles from his birth, but the boy confounded her time and again because of his great strength.

After Hera drove Herakles to murder his wife and their three sons, the hero visited the Oracle at Delphi, who instructed him to perform twelve punitive labors. One of those labors was to steal the girdle of the Amazon queen, Hippolyta (the mother of Wonder Woman). Hercules led an army to the Amazon home, the Aegean island of Themiscyra. Hippolyta challenged him to single combat — and defeated him thanks to the magic girdle, a gift from the goddess Aphrodite. Unfortunately, Hippolyta was seduced by Hercules; he stole the girdle and enslaved the Amazons.

Hippolyta prayed to Aphrodite, who helped the queen regain her girdle, and guided the Amazons to a new home: a Paradise Island. For as long as the female warriors remained there, they would remain eternally young. (Wonder Woman #1, 45, 105, 204)

In Wonder Woman #10 (Aug. 1962), Hippolyta told her daughter about a time before the Amazons' move to their island. Hercules once came to her and instigated a tournament to compete for her hand in marriage. He was defeated by a challenger in full armor — who was Hippolyta herself!

Post-Silver Age: Hercules Unbound

In the 1970s, the legend of Hercules was reimagined for the apocalyptic age, in Hercules Unbound (12-issue series, 1975–77). This Hercules' adventures were set in a parallel universe, one that was post-nuclear war/World War III. This continuity was at one point associated with the continuity of the Atomic Knights, which was also not canonical to the mainstream DC universe.

This version of Hercules reappeared in a dream sequence in DC Comics Presents #57 (May 1983). When Superman saw this black-haired hero, he remarked that the Hercules he had previously met had red hair — verifying canonical Silver age Hercules (II, below).

The character from Hercules Unbound was created by Gerry Conway. Hercules was the immortal hero from ancient Greece, still alive and active in the modern day. When Conway wrote the Wonder Woman series (1977–81), he introduced a modern-day Hercules, and borrowed the character design from Hercules Unbound. In Wonder Woman v.1 #259–261 (Sept.–Nov 1979), Hercules had been invited to live on Olympus. He was commanded by the god Mars to go to Earth and battle Wonder Woman.

Powers

The original Hercules possesses unimaginable strength and is virtually immortal. Only a force of immense power can even momentarily stun or harm him. Hercules has the ability to call upon his fellow gods in a manner which involves extradimensional communication. He uses a war club, is a master of ancient forms of weaponry, and possessed the invulnerable hide of the Nemean Lion.

Earth-One: Silver Age Hercules

Everyday people are transformed into legendary strongmen. From Superman #112 (Mar. 1957); by Bill Finger and Wayne Boring.
Superboy travels to the past to help Hercules and Samson. From Adventure Comics #257 (Feb. 1959); by Otto Binder and Curt Swan.
Capricious Lana Lang summons Hercules, Samson and Atlas to do her bidding. From Superboy #110 (Jan. 1964); art by George Papp.
Oops! Instead of bringing back his friends, Superman transports evil men from a parallel Earth. From Action Comics #320 (Jan. 1965); by Otto Binder and Curt Swan.

The Hercules who appeared in the Silver Age (Earth-One) Superman mythos is identifiable by his short red hair and yellow leopard-print strongman outfit. Editor Mort Weisinger found a variety of ways to apply the template:

  • The first Hercules (II) was a modern-day man who was given powers by a special ray, in Superman #112 (Mar. 1957).
  • The look of that character was applied to the better-known Hercules (III), a red-haired hero from ancient Greece, in Adventure Comics #257 (Feb. 1959). This version also appeared in "imaginary" tales. He was usually teamed with other legendary figures like Samson and Atlas:
  • Hercules IV was a criminal counterpart from a parallel Earth (Action Comics #320, Jan. 1965).

The man that Superman knew as Hercules came to the 20th century from ancient Greece. It is unclear whether he was the true demi-god of myth, or perhaps one of his many descendants. Regardless, he lived in Greece and befriended the mighty Samson, a hero of Biblical times. They lived in the time of King Zarl, a greedy ruler who taxed his people into poverty. Zarl forced Hercules and Samson to serve as his royal guards to watch his treasure in a cave. Note: "Zarl" was also used as the first names of Power-Boy (Superboy #52, Oct. 1956) and Mighty Boy (Superboy #85, Dec. 1960).

Instead, Hercules and Samson gave the king's jewels away to the poor and adopted secret identities — Tarkus the stablehand and Merrio the court jester, respectively. To prevent Zarl from discovering their scheme, they invented a story about an "avenger" who overpowered them and stole the treasures. The king held their families hostage until the heroes could defeat this avenger.

The desperate duo consulted a seer, who looked into the future and discovered the wondrous exploits of Superboy. Believing that Superboy had an elixir for invulnerability, Hercules and Samson went via magic spell into the future. They attracted Superboy's attention by performing in an impressive sideshow at the Smallville County Fair.

It took some convincing, but they eventually realized that Superboy could share no miracle for them to attain invulnerability for themselves. But Superboy returned with them to the past and crafted a ploy to deter King Zarl. Using his pet, Krypto, Superboy staged a scene to convince Zarl that no one could defeat the avenger, and he must give up on his lost jewels forever. Hercules and Samson were reunited with their families. (Adventure Comics #257)

Some time later, Hercules and Samson were summoned against their will back to the 20th century, by Superboy's friend, Lana Lang. When Lana inhaled the scent of the so-called "hate flower," she used a magic mask to bring various heroes from the past. She called Hercules, Samson and Atlas to a science institute, and promptly returned them to their own eras. (Superboy #110)

Hercules returned years later, after Clark Kent had moved to Metrpolis and begun his life as Superman. When Lex Luthor was in prison, he created a time-ray that he used to draw Hercules from the past. Luthor tricked Hercules into helping him escape and to fight Superman, whom he described as "an evil king."

Hercules helped Luthor "retrieve" gold that was "stolen" from him — from Fort Knox — before he discovered that Lex was deceptive. Hercules turned on Luthor and helped to reimprison him. Superman recognized Hercules from their meeting in Smallville, but Hercules' memory of it had been erased by the time travelling.

Hercules asked if he could stay a while in Metropolis, and Superman agreed. Disguised as Roger Tate, Hercules met Clark Kent — and took a special liking to Lois Lane. But when she spurned him in favor of Superman, Hercules instigated a competition with Superman to win her affections. (Action Comics #267)

As Roger Tate, Hercules was assigned to cover a festival in Athens. He made a detour to visit an oracle, who summoned the gods of Olympus. They agreed to grant him great powers, but only to be used for honorable intentions. When Hercules defied them, he incurred the wrath of Zeus and Aphrodite.

Superman eventually decided that it was time to return Hercules to the past. As he had hoped, Hercules lost all memories of the future and resumed to his normal life. (#268)

That was Superman's last encounter with the Earth-One Hercules. On another occasion, Superman was forced to call three heroes from the past (Hercules, Samson and Atlas) to stop a gang of criminals menacing Metropolis. He soon discovered that these were no heroes; he had accidentally drawn them from a parallel world where all the heroes were villains! (Action Comics #320) Note: This was noted to be the same universe as the "evil Legion," from Superboy v.1 #117, Dec. 1964).

Imaginary Stories and Other Versions

Some of Hercules' appearances were "Imaginary Stories," that is, they were not a part of regular (canonical) Superman continuity:

  • Superman's first published encounter with Hercules was presented as a "tall tale." As told by a member of The Liars Club, Superman was summoned by a Professor Button, who had created an amazing time machine. However, the professor had just weeks to live and he wanted the impervious Superman to test the machine. As the tale went, when Superman arrived in ancient Greece, he completed the twelve legendary labors that were attributed to Hercules — and the demi-god took credit for them. (Superman #28, May/June 1944)
  • Another imaginary Hercules appeared (with Samson) once in Jimmy Olsen's dreams (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #16, Oct. 1956). He was not drawn like one discussed above.
  • In the last, Lois Lane became engaged to Hercules and Lana Lang to Samson! (Action Comics #279, Aug. 1961). This character was depicted the same as the red-haired hero described above.

Impostor Hercules

  • Once, before meeting the "real Hercules," Superboy had adopted the identity of Hercules, Junior to help a sea captain who was famous for helping others. (Adventure Comics #223, Apr. 1956)

  • Professor Milton invented a ray that could make a person "almost as strong as Superman," in Superman #112 (Mar. 1957). Milton recruited three men to become Strength Incorporated: Atlas, Hercules (II) and Samson (??); they worked for a fee and lost their powers after Milton was captured by Superman and destroyed his ray.
  • In one tale of the Adult Legion (Superman #155, Aug. 1962), Cosmic Man and Lightning Man disguised themselves as "Hercules and Samson."

Other Early References

  • Over at rival Fawcett Comics (which was acquired much later by DC Comics), Hercules was a patron of Shazam, who bestowed Hercules' strength onto Captain Marvel. This story began in Whiz Comics #[1] (Feb. 1940).
  • Quality Comics (another publisher whose properties were assigned to DC) featured a hero called Joe Hercules, who appeared in Hit Comics #1–21 (July 1940–April 1942).
  • As a popular fictional and mythological figure, Hercules was referenced as such many times in DC comic book stories.
  • Batman fought a villain called "Dr. Hercules" in Batman #42 (Aug./Sept. 1947).

Powers

Hercules possessed tremendous strength and stamina. Unlike Superman, he was neither invulnerable nor immortal.

Appearances

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

  • Action Comics #267, 279 (imaginary), 320 (criminal)
  • Adventure Comics #257
  • Superboy #110
  • Superman #28 (imaginary)
  • Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #16 (imaginary)

NAME:
Samson, alias Mighty Youth, Merrio

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Unnamed family members

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Adventure Comics #257 (Feb. 1959)

This profile is incomplete

Samson

. From Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #19 (Aug. 1960); by Otto Binder and Kurt Schaffenberger.

The name "Samson" is used often as a surname for a variety of characters. The historial Samson appeared a few times in DC's Golden Age tales:

  • "The Story of Samson" was illustrated in National's Picture Stories from the Bible Old Testament #2 (Winter 1942).
  • In one Sandman case, Crime Carnival (by Simon and Kirby), Sandman and Sandy must solve a series of unusual crimes being committed by members of the Mammoth Circus, who seem to always elude members of the Police with a getaway car that converts into a truck. Adventure Comics #84 (March 1943)
  • On a Justice Society case, Green Lantern fought three thugs who were transformed into Thor, Samson and Achilles by drinking a strange serum, in All-Star Comics #31 (Oct./Nov. 1946).

In the "Earth-One" era, Samson was a guest-star in the Superman mythos:

  • The historical Samson (I), from 10th century BCE, appeared several times, first with Superboy, in Adventure Comics #257 (Feb 1959); then again in Superboy #110 (Jan 1964), and Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #79 (Sep 1964).
  • Professor Milton invented a ray that could make a person "almost as strong as Superman." Milton recruited three men to become Strength Incorporated: Atlas, Hercules (III) and Samson (II); they worked for a fee and lost their powers after Milton was captured by Superman and destroyed his ray, in Superman #112 (Mar. 1957)
  • "Faux" Samsons appeared several times:
    • An "imaginary" Samson appeared twice, with Hercules, in Jimmy Olsen's dreams: Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #16 (Oct. 1956) and #29 (June 1958).
    • Lois Lane's had a hallucination about being in the time of Samson in Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #19 (Aug. 1960).
    • In an imaginary tale where Lana Lang became engaged to Samson and Lois Lane to Hercules: Action Comics #279 (Aug. 1961).
    • Samson and Hercules appeared once in a tale of the Adult Legion: They were actually Lightning Man and Cosmic Man in disguise: Superman #155 (Aug. 1962).
  • Samson III came from a parallel Earth: Action Comics #320 (Jan. 1965).

The story of the biblical Samson, is portrayed in the book of Judges (chapters 13–16), and set circa 11th century BCE. An Israelite, Samson was a man known for his great strength. For religious reasons, he had never cut his hair and believed his strength was due to his devotion to God. If his hair were ever cut, his strength would leave him.

His legendary downfall came when he fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who seduced him, cut his hair, and handed him over to his enemies, the Philistines. When his hair — and strength — returned, he brought down their temple and was killed as well.

The Greek hero known as Samson was not the biblical hero described above. Evidence suggests however that he could be his grandson or grandnephew. It is very possible that, when the first Samson was captured, some of his family fled to Greece, where they settled. So what then is known of this hero named Samson who battled evil 3000 years ago?

Samson's first contact with the 20th century comes during his teen years. Jimmy Olsen is contacted by a man named Kasmir, who convinces Jimmy that he is a time policeman from the future. Kasmir tells Jimmy, who is an honorary member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, that the Legion have detailed him to assist Jimmy on a vital mission into the past. He brings Jimmy to the Legion time bubble, and offers to allow him to take the controls. Kasmir instructs Jimmy to take them about 3000 years into the past, where he will explain their mission. Once there, Kasmir draws a heat-blaster gun. He tells Jimmy he is really a criminal from the future, who escaped and stole the time bubble. The complex controls stumped him, but luckily the automatic controls were set for the late 20th century. Kasmir figured that Jimmy, being an honorary Legionnaire, would know how to operate the device. He fires the heat-blaster, but Jimmy dodges the beam, which hits the time bubble instead. This, in turn, sets fire to an adjacent pile of logs. A teen arrives, saying it took him all morning to cut that timber. Jimmy, who has spent time in this period before, understands the youth's language. He is amazed when the teen easily kayos Kasmir with one punch.

Jimmy asks the teen what his name is and why he is wearing a turban. The teen responds that it is his business, that a wise man had warned him to keep his real name secret or his enemies would destroy him and his parents. He introduces himself instead as Mighty Youth. Jimmy explains that he is from the future, and asks Mighty Youth's help in hiding the time bubble. The teen brings Jimmy and the time bubble to a secret room within the walls of the city. He then lends his stranded guest some clothes and gets him a job with a shepherd. After a hard day's work, Jimmy comes up with an idea to make more money, but ends up being arrested instead. Later, his new friend rips the bars out of the dungeon wall. Mighty Youth's turban is knocked off, revealing his long black hair underneath. Given the time period, the long hair, and the teen's strength, Jimmy concludes he must be Samson. Mighty Youth admits that Jimmy is correct, but tells him that a Seer had foretold that he would have a giant's strength only as long as he never cut his hair. Kasmir overhears this secret and devises a plan.

As Mighty Youth and Jimmy pass a small shop, the lovely Delilah comes out and stops them. Mighty Youth tells her he is in a hurry and cannot stay. Although Delilah admits she finds him very attractive, Mighty Youth says he has no time for romance. Jimmy, incorrectly believing this is the biblical Samson, reflects on how Delilah will someday cause Samson's downfall. Later, as they sleep, Kasmir attempts to cut off Samson's hair. Superman arrives just in time, having followed the time bubble's locator signal. Kasmir throws a vibro-grenade, whose vibrations begin to shake the place apart. Superman braces himself against the columns to protect his friends. However, at that very moment, the guards arrive to arrest Jimmy. Superman tells his friends to go, while he pushes down the supporting columns. The whole city wall topples, preventing the guards from following. Jimmy introduces Samson to Superman. Superman notes to himself that he has already met Samson as a grown man. Superman then flies Jimmy and Kasmir back to their proper eras. (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #79 (Sep 1964)

After reaching adulthood, Samson abandons the Mighty Youth identity. He continues combating evil under his real name. In the years that follow, Samson meets and befriends Hercules, another hero of his own era. They eventually find themselves under the rule of King Zarl. Zarl is a greedy miser, who taxes his people into poverty so he can increase his royal fortune. Zarl forces Samson and Hercules into being the royal guards at his treasure cave, day and night. They are unable to appear elsewhere to aid others, except in disguise, hence they adopt secret identities. Samson becomes Merrio, a court jester, while Hercules becomes Tarkus, a stablehand. They begin to secretly distribute the King's fortune to the poor. To keep Zarl from entering the cave and finding the jewels missing, they make up a supernatural tale of the Avenger, who they claim has taken over the cave. They tell the King that even their great strength cannot defeat the powerful spirit. The King informs the heroes that he will keep their families as hostages until they think of a way to defeat the Avenger. If they fail, both Samson and Hercules will be executed.

Desperately, the duo consult their friend, the Seer, who peers into the future with his crystal-ball. They observe the exploits of Superboy, who they soon learn is invulnerable. Believing he has an elixir which could bestow invulnerability on them, the Seer casts a magic spell which transports the two heroes into the future. The spell also apparently gives them both the ability to speak modern English. 12-year-old Clark Kent attends a sideshow at the Smallville County Fair, starring Hercules and Samson. Clark soon learns that they are not actors, and later confronts them as Superboy. The two heroes try to learn the secret of the invulnerability elixir, but soon realize that no such potion exists. Their only hope is for Superboy to return to the past with them. The magic spell will soon wear off, so Samson and Hercules blackmail Superboy into coming with them, threatening to reveal his secret identity if he doesn't. They hurry to a predetermined hilltop, where the sunset draws them all back into the past. They then explain the situation to Superboy in more detail, who says he will try to think of some way to save them both from execution.

Samson and Hercules don their secret identities and head to the royal arena, where a big show is scheduled for King Zarl's entertainment. Superboy is forced to reveal himself when a stray war club almost strikes the kind Queen. Zarl believes that Superboy can defy the Avenger and tells him that, if he succeeds, it will save Hercules and Samson from execution. The two disguised heroes hurry back to the cave, so that they are there when the King arrives. When Superboy attempts to enter the cave, he is thrown out by the magic of the Avenger. Suspicious, the King insists on seeing the cave for himself, with the three strongmen as his bodyguards. Suddenly, the Avenger appears! Neither the heroes nor the King's soldiers can defeat the supernatural menace. The Avenger soon chases off the King, telling him the jewels are lost to him forever. Superboy then reveals to his allies that the Avenger is really Krypto, his Super-Dog, who he had summoned from the future. Superboy had supplied the Avenger's voice with his super-ventriloquism. Superboy and Krypto then fly back to their own time, leaving Samson and Hercules to free their families.

Some time later, Samson finds himself drawn one more time into the future. When Lana Lang breathes in the scent of a weird tropical plant, called the hate flower, she develops a deep hatred of Superboy. Using a magic mask from the supernatural section of the Smallville Museum, she summons various people from the past. The magic of the mask compels those summoned into doing whatever Lana commands. At one point, she calls upon Hercules, Samson, and Atlas. She commands them to destroy the Smallville Scientific Institute, then sees to it that the destruction is blamed on Superboy. After the deed is carried out, the three heroes are returned to their own eras. Eventually, Lana is cured by her father, Superboy, and Krypto.

Powers

Samson possesses tremendous strength and stamina. Like his namesake, Samson loses his extraordinary power whenever his long hair is cut.

NAME:
Van-Zee of Kandor, alias Nightwing II

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Sylvia Van-Zee (née DeWitt, wife),  Lyle and Lili (children), Dik-Zee (twin brother), Thara (niece)

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #15 (Feb. 1960)

NAME:
Ak-Var of Kandor, alias Flamebird II

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Thara (wife)

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Action Comics #336 (Apr. 1966)

Nightwing II and Flamebird II (Van-Zee and Ak-Var of Kandor)

Created by Otto Binder and Kurt Schaffenberger

Van-Zee of Kandor gives his wife Sylvia super-powers. From Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #15 (Feb. 1960); by Otto Binder and Kurt Schaffenberger.
Lois learns what it might be like to marry Superman when she meet's Van-Zee's twin brother, Dik-Zee. From Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #21 (Nov. 1960); art by Kurt Schaffenberger.

Van-Zee was a "distant kinsman" of Superman's, from the bottled city of Kandor. One day, he was conducting an experiment with a "hyper zeta ray" at the same time that Superman used his x-ray vision on Kandor. This produced an unexpected result: Van-Zee was enlarged (only the second to achieve this) inside Superman's Fortress of Solitude. Because of the accidental nature of Van-Zee's enlargement, Superman could not duplicate the process to restore the rest of the Kandorians.

Van-Zee was also a dead ringer for Superman, and he revealed to him that he was infatuated with Lois Lane. Superman gave Van-Zee permission to court Lois, but she only had feelings for the real Man of Steel. Lois suggested that surely she must have a duplicate somewhere in the world, which inspired Zee to sear h for her. The path quickly led to Sylvia DeWitt.

Sylvia was also the spitting image of Lois Lane, a Midwestern heiress who was betrothed to a stuffy older man. She fled on a passenger ship to Metropolis, where Van-Zee discovered her.

After a quick courtship, Sylvia legitimatley fell for the Kryptonian. Van-Zee swept her away to space, where he honored her with orbiting tributes. Their plan was to settle in Kandor, but the Fortress of Solitude was infected by an alien bacteria, so they had to wait. They settled on Venus and soon Sylvia was pregnant. They bore twin children, Lili and Lyle, on a planet called "Urth."

Sylvia was overwhelmed by raising super-powered children, so Van-Zee found a way to create a novel super-serum from element Korium-66-Beta. She became a "Superwoman." Eventually they were able to safely return to Kandor. (Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #15)

Once, when Van had to switch Sylvia for Lois Lane, Lois met his twin brother, Dik-Zee. Dik was also a ringer for Superman, and they hit it off. He asked Lois to marry him, but before she could respond, she and Sylvia were switched back to their rightful places. (#21)

Van-Zee soon made his own version of Superman's "Exchange Ray." He and Sylvia sometimes took a peek at life outside Kandor and one day noticed that Lois was in mortal danger. Van used his ray to switch the two women. (#24)

The Zees made several brief appearances. (#22, 27, 51)

Superman hoped that in partnering with Van-Zee, a great scientist, they could finally discover the way to enlarge Kandor. Jimmy Olsen agreed to take an adventure into Kandor and changed places with Van-Zee. They failed to find the solution. (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #53)

Another Kandorian scientist named Van-Ol did invent a method of enlarging himself, and used the process to explore Earth. He searched for elements he needed to make a ray that could restore the entire city to full size. Superman knew that Van-Ol's technology was unstable, so Van-Ol turned public sentiment against Superman.

Nightwing, Flamebird and Ak-Var

After learning that his girlfriend is now an old married woman, Ak-Var makes a new friend in Van-Zee's niece, Thara. From Action Comics #336 (Apr. 1966); by Edmond Hamilton, E. Nelson Bridwell, Curt Swan and George Klein.
When Kandor is enlarged on the planet Rokyn, Van-Zee becomes a key leader in their reconstruction effort. From Superman #338 (Aug. 1979); by Len Wein, Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte.

Superman (with Jimmy Olsen) was forced to go undercover, as Nightwing and Flamebird, the "Dynamic Duo of Kandor." Then Superman dressed as Van-Zee to infiltrate Van-Ol's lab. and went undercover, but he was found out. Van-Zee then became Nightwing, and rescued Superman with the help of the Kandorian Superman Emergency Squad. The Kandorians eventually realized their error and renewed their faith in Superman. (Superman #158)

According to Krytponian law, anyone sentenced to the Phantom Zone must be released at the end of their sentence. Superman honored this law when he released Ak-Var, who was originally from Kandor. Superman introduced Ak-Var to Van-Zee, who welcomed him. When Ak-Var proved that he had reformed, Van-Zee made him his assistant. Ak-Var fell in love with Van-Zee's niece, Thara. (Action Comics #336)

Superman and Jimmy Olsen shared only a few adventures as Nightwing and Flamebird. (Superman Family #183, Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #69, World's Finest Comics #143)

After that, Van-Zee took up the mantle of Nightwing regularly, and Ak-Var became his new costumed partner, the second Flamebird.

... (World's Finest Comics #240) zee only sep 76

New Krypton

After many years of failed experiments, Superman finally devised a method to restore Kandor to normal size. He invented a device to collect the energies of a nova star, and used it in a ray to enlarge the city. Instead of Earth, the Kandorians chose an unihabited world under a red sun. They named it Rokyn, which in Kryptonian meant "God's Gift." Most citizens agreed that it would be bad to have a whole city of super-people on Earth.

But Superman's ray had a side effect: non-metal buildings disintegrated after enlargement! Superman wanted to stay and help rebuild, but Van-Zee forcibly sent him away. You see, Rokyn was a "Phase-World" that existed in another dimension. At regular intervals, it would synchronize back with normal space. (Superman #338)

On Superman's next return visit to "New Krypton" (Rokyn), he was keeping one step ahead of the Superman Revenge Squad, who took mental control of the Kandorian population. While the powerless Superman was made to fight Van-Zee, his wife Sylvia (from Earth) was unaffected by their controls, and she helped to defeat the villains. (Superman #414)

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

  • Action Comics #336
  • Krypton Chronicles #1, 2
  • Superman v.1 #148 (cameo), 149 (cameo), 158, 336, 414 
  • Superman Family #183–194 (as Nightwing)
  • Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #15, 21, 22 (cameo), 24, 27 (cameo), 51 (imaginary)
  • World's Finest Comics #240

» SEE ALSO: