Monday, June 01, 2015


If this series of posts on comics that will never be made into movies has proven one thing, it is the fact that Superman is just that, a super Man, not a super Jesus as many would have him. But just in case there’s still some confusion out there, then this Superman/Hawkman team-up from World’s Finest #209 should really drive the point home.

The story begins as many Hawkman tales do, with the Thanagarian policeman beating the crap out of a bunch of common thugs. Now, this is back in the days before Hawkman was being written as a bloodthirsty neo-fascist, so the winged wonder doesn’t automatically crush anyone’s skull with a mace. But that all changes after one of the crooks drops a heavy sandbag on his head, after which the injured Hawkman hears a tiny whisper in his ear…

While the police convince an enraged Hawkman to stop battering the bad guy, The Tempter stands by content that his plan to corrupt Earth’s heroes is well underway. But as fine a hero as Hawkman is (one of my favorites, actually, when he’s done right), The Tempter has an even bigger target on his “to tempt” list, Superman. Traveling to Metropolis, the invisible menace finds his prized prey in the midst of apprehending a small time hoodlum known as The Oddsmaker (what, they can’t all be Lex Luthor).

Unsurprisingly, Supes makes short work of the third-rate thief, but upon delivering his prisoner to police HQ, finds the officer on duty somewhat less than enthusiastic about getting around to booking the criminal. Sensing an opportunity, The Tempter attempts to appeal to Superman’s vanity. Of course, being a Christ figure, surely Superman is able to withstand such an assault just as Jesus did in Gethsemane, right? Nope, not at all. In less than a second, the Man of Steel folds like a cheap suit.

Having wormed his way so easily into the psyches of both Hawkman and Superman, The Tempter then turns his attention towards their loved ones. First he riles up Hawkgirl, convincing the female flying fury that her husband is a complete insensitive jerk (remember, this was back before that actually became his default personality) oblivious to her homesickness, and then he gets inside Lois Lane’s head, inflaming her righteous indignation after Superman angrily brushes off her questions regarding his failure to enlarge the shrunken bottle city of Kandor.

As it turns out, Superman actually has figured out a way to enlarge Kandor, but hasn’t done so because his calculations have indicated that only one place on Earth could possibly sustain the super city, the very piece of real estate that is currently occupied by Hawkman’s home town, Midway City. Unfortunately, an evil Kandorian scientist named Kro-Al has recently arrived at the same conclusion and has escaped with a plan to replace Hawkman’s home with his own.

Through a convoluted series of machinations, The Tempter manages to trick a conflicted Hawkman into helping Kro-Al build his enlarging machine AND kidnap Lois Lane. All this goes unnoticed by Superman who, at The Tempter’s urging, has traveled to Midway City in order to accept an award. Kal-El’s plan to get a little ego boost goes awry, however, when it turns out that every freaking kid in the street somehow seems to know about his inability to enlarge Kandor (and no, that’s not a euphemism).

Just as things are about to get nasty, Jimmy Olsen arrives on the scene to inform his pal that Lois has been abducted and needs rescuing, an event which the now deluded Superman sees as the perfect way to win back the admiration of his fans. As the Man of Tomorrow engages the escaped Kandorians in mid-air combat, Hawkman temporarily regains some clarity and flies to his fellow Justice Leaguer’s aid. The Tempter has been at work, though, and just before he can enter the fray, Hawkman receives a call from his wife informing him (untruthfully) that they have been ordered back to their home planet of Thanagar. Convincing himself that Superman can handle things on his own despite the fact that he’s severely outnumbered, Hawkman leaves the scene.

With Hawkman gone, Supes easily gets his butt handed to him by the super-powered Kandorians, on national TV no less as the W-HA-HA news chopper is on hand to gleefully broadcast his beat down. Infuriated at the public humiliation, Superman becomes easy prey for The Tempter’s final ploy. In his most cajoling tone, The Tempter convinces Superman that the solution to all his public relations problems would be to wipe Midway City off the face of the planet and enlarge Kandor in its place. Of course, being a Christ figure, surely Superman is able to withstand such an assault just as Jesus did for forty days in the desert, right? Nope, not at all. In less than a second, the Man of Steel succumbs quicker than a cop at a donut shop.

With Superman about to toss a boulder into the Midway City atomic power plant and the Hawkcouple abandoning Earth forever, it appears The Tempter has won. Earth’s heroes, or at least three of them, have totally given in to his evil enticements. At the last minute, however, Hawkgirl feels the pangs of conscience and decides to confess the truth to her husband rather than realize her desire to return home by trickery.

Inspired by his wife’s honesty, Hawkman snaps out of his own delusions and rushes to rescue Lois and thwart Kro-Al. With the aid of some Kryptonian weapons, the now less-than-enraged Hawkman gently beats the snot out of the Kandorians and agrees to fly Lois to Superman. It’s a good call as only the thought of his lovely Lois dying a horrible radiation soaked death is enough to bring Superman to his senses.

Utterly defeated, The Tempter can do nothing more than lie on the ground crying his invisible tears. So disheartened is he that it would be 33 years before he showed back up again, this time tempting a group of dieters to eat themselves to death before being banished back to hell by Batman’s favorite magician, Zatanna. As for our heroes, they take the time to thank God for the gift of their loved ones.

You know, it’s so nice to see some superheroes giving thanks to God for anything at all that it’s a shame to have to point out that they get things just a wee bit wrong. As the Catechism points out, it’s not actually our loved ones that ultimately save us from giving in to temptation. As it explains, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, so that you may be able to endure it. Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony.”

See, now Jesus knew how to get rid of The Tempter, and he was able to do so without almost giving in and murdering an entire city. Maybe Superman should live up to his Christ-like reputation and try that strategy next time he hears little whispers in his head, you think?

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