1 (this first tale is Earth-one) “The Thing from 40,000 A.D.”
One night a strange being lands near Metropolis, seeming to have come from outer space. It has no form, looking like a weird eyed ditto more than anything. Like a ditto it seems to be able to change form, as it does so- shifting into a tree shortly after landing. It is sentient, as it takes in the life forms around it, and thinks that they must be extinct in 40,000 A.D, which is when it is from.
Though it is not know what has landed the people in the city known that something has. Clark is sent to report upon it. As Clark changes clothing so he can make better time he notes that this is especially important as the area was to be used for bombing test soon, which had made the army cordon off the area. The thing takes on the appearance of one of the men that pass it, thinking that the fact humans are the predominant life form will make things easier for it. As it will have no trouble from the primitive species.
Superman arrives and is told that the fallen object seemed to have vanished. But, seeing the thing pass by shortly before the man it had copied, lets Superman and the captain into the thing’s secret. The thing escaped, and Superman began to search for clues, finding that there was a trail of slime from a place that looked like a tree had been recently and where he had seen the thing looking like the private.
We then see the being robbing the town of radioactive isotopes, using it’s shifting abilities. But Superman cannot follow up on this right away, as Clark has another assignment, reporting on the world’s largest synthetic diamond. As Clark leaves he is seen by the thing, who thinks he would be a valuable identity to use. That night it used Clark’s form to steal the diamond. Superman finds the large diamond using his x-ray vision, and then loudly proclaims no human could lift the stone, so he must be the fake.
Having followed it to it’s headquarters he finds the thing is making an atomic time machine. His foe creates a landslide that Superman has to stop, but first Superman gets the thing to reveal it’s plan to take over his time, with it’s great abilities and explain that it had been driven to the past as those from the future had feared it. When he next finds the thing it has taken the form of Superman. The two begin a ferocious duel, the thing having Superman’s powers along with his shape. Superman lead the thing back to where it landed, and as he had hoped it was unable to adapt to the explosion in time, and so only one blue clad figure survived.
One day Clark is asked to report on a showing of gems, but as he already knows all about the show as he is the one who has been asked to transport and protect them, he decides to check on an atomic engine. He sees it is about to explode, so he wraps it in his cape and lets it explode there. Soon afterward Superman makes the wrong move in dealing with a small fire, and accidentally causes more damage than he would have prevented. He is able to fix it up with little to no problem, but he wonders if his thinking may have been impaired by the explosion. (dude you made one mistake- lighten up)
He goes on patrol later and finds a yacht in danger of crashing due to a dead motor and the tides. He smashes the rocks they are about smash into, without realizing one of the bridge supports is in them. He holds up the bridge while he waits for the repair crew. A rival paper spoke with the mayor and the city planned to test Superman to see if he will be allowed to use his powers. He agrees and the test begins. He is first asked to make a cruel man love his dog, and does so by staging a rescue by the hound. Next he is told to stop a rock slide, but he is not allowed to melt the rocks with his heat vision, nor blow the boulders back uphill also he must do it from a distance. He forms a giant container from a boulder,melts iron inside it and pours the mixture on the rocks. Then he makes a large magnet and lifts them out of the way. Finally he is made to count all the grains of sand in a patch. As there was a time limit he compresses it into a brick and has it weighed. Using that information, plus a small sample he was able to measure and count in time allows him to calculate the rest.
Superman wonders about the ‘mistakes’ he had made, and wonders if things may have been set up. So he goes to look and finds that the rocks where the bridge support was were covered with lead, and that there was tampering at the scene of the fire as well. He figures that the reason he had been made to seem incompetent was so he would be taken off guarding the gems. He rushes back to the show and recovers the gems.
“The Prankster’s Greatest Role”
Clark Kent is walking down the street when he hears a cry for help, saying the Prankster is back. Barely thinking he strips his outer wear, not even bothering to conceal himself first. Nearly gave me a heart attack that did. But we see in the next panel that Clark has been asked to play Superman in an upcoming play. We continue with the flashback seeing Clark-dressed as Superman- being hoisted by a wire, and capturing the ‘Prankster’ as practice for the big night.
The real Prankster is furious at being put in the play, and vows to make the role of Superman trouble for Clark. At the next rehearsal Superman sees that some of the people who have come to watch have rotten eggs, tomatoes, and other prime throwing material along with cards saying they are from the Prankster. Clark rushes backstage and spins the backdrop, hurling the rotten food back at the Prankster’s men.
Angry at their failure he Prankster says he’ll handle it himself, and his anger rises again as some fellow crooks mock him. He shows the hoodlums who’s boss and sees on the paper that the first showing of the play will be in a swampy town outside of Metropolis. Oswald cut out a section of the bridge, and disguised it so when Clark and the rest of the play’s crew passed over it they fell to the murky water below. Superman manages to make it seem as though a rope in the car had tangled around his leg, and he fell over a support beam, the momentum snapping them over again- so saving the car and his identity.
Finally the opening night. Police guard the entrances, as now they are expecting trouble from the Prankster. Of course though the real Prankster has taken the place of his double and sticks up the crowd while Clark dangles from a wire. The wire ‘breaks’ and Clark lands on the floor, sending a barrel flying onto the prankster. He takes out the lights with a chunk of lead and tears off the fake costume for his own. He then paints a picture of himself? and makes a cage. When the lights come back on he swoops down and gathers up the crooks. Superman got accused of being Clark in reality, but the wax figure of Clark (there was one for each cast member) and ventriloquism allied suspicions.