Bronze Age Superman Foes

Is there consensus as to when the "Bronze Age" started? I'll say it was when Jack Kirby left Marvel and returned to DC, where he introduced his "Fourth World" characters. This coincides with other changes in the Superman comics, such as Clark Kent becoming a TV newsman and the destruction of all Kryptonite on Earth.

#233 (January 1971): "Superman Breaks Loose"

Thing from Quarrm
Superman is blown into the desert by a powerful nuclear explosion which, happily, changes all the Kryptonite on Earth into iron. However, the imprint he left in the sand gets up and starts following him. The explosion has cracked into the extra-dimensional realm of Quarrm and tied an entity from Quarrm to him, and the Quarrmian is draining his powers, becoming more like Superman.

#235 (March 1971): "Sinister Scream of the Devil's Harp"

Ferlin Nyxly Pan
Museum curator Ferlin Nyxly toys with a recently found harp of unknown origin and wishes he had musical talent. Suddenly, he does, but elsewhere a great pianist loses his talent. When Superman unintentionally distracts the audience from Nyxly's musical premiere, Nyxly starts wishing for powers like Superman, gets them, realizes the harp is the cause, and dresses like Pan to start taking everything he'd ever wanted.

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #142 (October 1971): "The Man from Transilvane!"

Count Dragorin

What seems to be a modern vampire appears in Metropolis, searching for a man named Dabney Donovan. Jimmy Olsen and Superman investigate and learn Donovan was a researcher who created a miniature planet as an experiment and projected horror movies into its skies, causing the culture there to follow their influence. Now Donovan is planning to wipe the planet clean of life for a new experiment, and Count Dragorin is trying to stop him and save his people.

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #144 (January 1972): "A Big Thing in a Deep Scottish Lake!"
Angry Charlie

Angry Charlie is an artificial life form, created by agents of Darkseid. He attaches himself to one of the cloned Newsboy Legion kids (don't ask) and becomes something of an awkward pet.

Charlie never actually fought Superman, but he was one of the few Kirby "Fourth World" characters who did not yet have a micro, so I made one for this site.

#248 (February 1972): "The Man Who Murdered the Earth!"

Galactic Golem
Luthor creates an artificial life-form powered by galactic energies, then sends this "Galactic Golem" after Superman. But when the Golem seemingly beats Superman, it then turns its attention to Luthor...

The Golem returned, more humanoid due to aliens performing "accidental plastic surgery". I'll do that version some day.

#248 (March 1972):"The Challenge of Terra-Man!"

In the mid 19th century, Toby Manning's bandit father was killed in an encounter with an alien. The alien adopted Toby, who, as he grew, adapted the alien's technology to fit the Western lifestyle he clung to. After killing the alien, Toby took the name Terra-Man, from his origins, and eventually found his way to Earth -- only to learn his life had been extended and that the West didn't stay the way he remembered it...

World's Finest Comics #210 (March 1972), "World of Faceless Slaves!"
Effron the Sorcerer
Effron the Sorcerer controlled the magic-using population of the prehistoric land of Veliathan.

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #147 (March 1972): "A Superman in Super-Town!"

Victor Volcanum

Victor Volcanum was a 19th Century scientist whose exploratory balloon was wrecked on a volcanic island. He discovered a number of rare elements here and over the years built an underground technological paradise, prolonging his life (and increasing his size) through a solution he developed. The Newsboy Legion's Whiz Wagon ends up on this same island, just in time to witness the start of Volcanum's plan to return to civilization -- as "Master of All He Subdues!" (as it says in the next issue's story title).

#253 (June 1972): "The Kid Who Saved Superman!"

Ferlin Nyxly

Ferlin Nyxly, seeking a new way to regain the power he'd tasted, travels to the site where his harp-weapon had been found and discovers an alien structure fading in and out of existence. Getting inside, he finds a suit of armor with an energy-sling weapon. (He doesn't last long against Superman with this new weapon, either. The weapons are later determined to have come from Mars.)

#257 (October 1972): "Superman Battles the War-Horn!"


War-Horn: alien warrior with a weapon which adapted itself to all threats it faced.

Superman #260 (January 1973), "Keeper of the Eternal Flame!"
Valdemar of the Flame: descendant of Vikings who lived in a hidden valley in Maine, his magic sword gave him great power.

Action Comics #420 (January 1973): "The Made-to-Order Menace"


Towbee: space-faring minstrel who attacked Superman because it made a good story. Really. Towbee's a special case, because his second appearance was in a Superman novel (Miracle Monday, by Elliot S. Maggin) which seems to have been in continuity with the comics.

Action Comics #421 (February 1973): "The Fantastic Feats of Captain Strong"

Captain Strong
Hey, fans of 1940s Fleischer Bros. cartoons, ever want to see Superman fight Popeye? Apparently Cary Bates did, as he invented this Popeye-analogue who gained his strength from an alien seaweed called sauncha.

#262 (March 1973): "The Skyscraper That Screamed for Its Life"


Ninukab: interstellar "ghost" which possessed first a building then the man who built it

#263 (April 1973): "Man of Molten Steel"

Doctor Phoenix
The Abominable Snowman
The man calling himself Doctor Phoenix was actually a Yeti who was convinced that the world around him was a terrible dream. He took on human form and began to specialize as a dream-researcher, trying to find a way to end the dream he was trapped in. Having, as Dr. Phoenix, gained some special dream energy from a Superman-hater named Simon March, he returned to his normal form in a sequel story and began to end the world. Superman stopped him and placed him in suspended animation, leaving him dreaming he was in his proper world again.

#265 (July 1973): "Attack by the Army of Tomorrow"

Calixto The Army of Tomorrow
Calixto: scientist who engineered the creation of a generation of mutants (The Army of Tomorrow) whose powers he could control. The mutants later gave Perry White special cigars which gave him temporary super-powers and which were used in two additional stories.

Action Comics #427 (September 1973): "The Man Who Never Lived"


Goblin: spirit from the future created by a reluctant assassin in an attempt to erase his own family line and thus himself

#269 (September 1973): "The Secret of the Eighth Superman"

B. B. Farnum Superman Puppet
B. B. Farnum: ringmaster who learned the ability to animate puppets which could drain powers from others

Action Comics #430 (December 1973): "Bus-Ride to Nowhere"


Quakerer: evolved chameleon from the future

Action Comics #440 (October 1974): "The Man Who Betrayed Krypton"

Michael J. Coram
Dr. Thomas Woodrow

Philanthropist Coram has been financing the education of bright children for years. Actually, he's been recruiting the best for his criminal enterprise, and Dr. Tommy Woodrow was the best of the best. Together, they take on Superman.

#282 (December 1974): "The Loneliest Man in the Universe"

In the "World of Krypton" backup story in this issue, we learn of Nam-Ek, a scientist who sought to prolong his own life through the abilities of the Kryptonian rondor, whose horns emitted a radiation which sped up healing. Nam-Ek turned himself into a human rondor and kept himself alive all right -- even through the destruction of Krypton, in which he was hurled into space, still living but drifting helplessly. (Remember Krypton had a red sun, so he had no super-powers to enable him to fly away.)

Action Comics #432 (February 1974): "Target of the Toymen"

Toyman II
Winslow Schott, the former Toyman, long ago reformed and retired. But a new Toyman appears on the scene. Schott tries to stop him but Toyman II convinces him to team-up and gain revenge on Superman. It turns out to be a ruse, and Schott helps Superman capture his would-be successor.

#296 (February 1976): "Who Took the Super Out of Superman?"

Mister Xavier
First mentioned in November 1972 as Clark Kent's never-seen neighbor, Mr. Xavier is actually Xviar, an alien scout who's been observing Kent/Superman in preparation for an invasion by his people. Xavier is most puzzled by Superman's need for a dual identity and prepares a final test: Would Superman still be a hero without his Kent persona? 

Action Comics # 457 (March 1976), "Superman, You're Not Clark Kent, and I Can Prove It"
Whirlicane: weather researcher who used his knowledge for crime.  He could spin, like the Flash foe, The Top.

Action Comics #458 (April 1976): "Make Me a Super-Hero!"

Sam Tanner, head of the rival UBC TV network, is sure WGBS's success is due to Superman somehow being allied with them, so he directs Dr. Peter Silverstone, his staff technical expert, to make UBC its own ratings-grabber. Silverstone comes up with an antenna weapon which can allow the wielder to transmit his body through television signals, among other abilities, and UBC gets its hero: Blackrock. But Blackrock doesn't want to share the spotlight with Superman. It turns out Silverstone took Tanner's "Make me a super-hero" directive literally and hypnotized Tanner into becoming Blackrock, but Tanner's competitive drives and distrust of Superman lead him to actively oppose Superman, rather than just rival him.

Blackrock returned a couple of times, next as Tanner's hypnotized nephew, then as an artificial being controlled by Silverstone.

Action Comics # 460 (June 1976), "Superman, You'll Be the Death of Me Yet!"
An alien hero from a planet in the Andromeda Galaxy, Karb-Brak had a rare condition whereby the presence of other super-powered beings set off an allergic reaction of madness in him. He came to Earth hoping to escape such beings, then found Superman was setting off his reaction, so he engineered a plot to send Superman back in time.

#301 (July 1976): "Solomon Grundy Wins on a Monday!"

Solomon Grundy

Solomon Grundy was a corpse somehow reanimated and super-powered by contaminants in the swamp waters in which the body lay. He was originally a Golden Age Green Lantern foe, which in DC continuity meant he lived on the parallel world of Earth-2, but he often crossed dimensions, here to fight Superman and turn Metropolis into a swamp. Supes returns him to Earth-2, grateful that, though many Earth-2 characters had counterparts in the main modern DC universe (Earth-1), there was never an Earth-1 Solomon Grundy. But, in the swampy residue in Metropolis's sewers, a strange reaction is taking place...

#303 (September 1976): "When Lightning Strikes... Thunder Kills!"


Lightning and Thunder were two forms of the same being, one with electrical, the other with sonic, powers. He/they worked for Whirlicane in exchange for a promise to return him/them to normal, but Whirlicane had lied -- they were actually androids, and when they found out, they destroyed themselves and took Whirlicane with them.

Action Comics #464 (October 1976): "Superman, I'm Going to Re-Run Your Life!"

Purple Pile-Driver
Purple Pile-Driver: minor nuisance with an energy-helmet which let him ram things.

#305 (November 1976): "The Man Who Toyed With Death!"
Toyman I

The retired original Toyman saw what he thought was Superman destroying his life's work, so he returned to crime to take revenge. Turned out the "Superman" involved was actually Bizarro, but the Toyman never quite grasped that and stayed villainous.

#310 (April 1977): "The Man with the Kryptonite Heart"

Metallo II Metallo II
Metallo II: brother of the original Metallo, tricked into become a similar Kryptonite-powered cyborg

Action Comics #471 (May 1977): "One of Our Phantoms is Missing!"

Faora Hu-Ul

Man-hating serial killer from Krypton. Also a master of klurkor, a karate-like Kryptonian martial art.

#312 (June 1977): "Today the City -- Tomorrow the World"

This Silver Age foe was last seen convincing an alien to hate all things Kryptonian. This mania somehow transferred to him in this incarnation.

#318 (December 1977): "The Wreck of the Cosmic Hound"

Pegleg Portia
Pegleg Portia: space traveler who turned out to be an ages-old prisoner of the alien canines who accompanied her and who only wanted to be allowed to die naturally.

#323 (May 1978): "The Man with the Self-Destruct Mind!"

Atomic Skull
Atomic Skull: scientist who turned to crime in an attempt to relieve, and then harness as a weapon, his crippling brain seizures

#328 (October 1978): "Attack of the Kryptonoid"


Kryptonoid: Kryptonian "bacteria" which could organize and imitate other forms; here fused with a human who hated Superman.

DC Comics Presents
#4 (December 1978): "Sun-Stroke"


The major enemy of the Metal Men, Chemo appeared three times in pre-Crisis Superman stories, starting with this team-up with the Metal Men themselves.

#331 (January 1979): "Lockup at 20,000 Feet!"

Master Jailer
Master Jailer: prison expert who turned his talents to the challenge of caging Superman

#334 (April 1979): "The Man Who Stole Superman's Eyes!"

Opticus: villain who stole Superman's eyes and gained his vision powers. Another hoax.

Superman #339 (September 1979), "Nuclear Nightmare!"
NRG-X: A STAR Labs engineer who found his consciousness trapped in a robotic form he previously remote-controlled by a mental connection.

#341 (November 1979): "The Man Who Prevented Disaster"

J. Wilbur Wolfingham

Here we get the first appearance of the Earth-1 version of Superman's old 1940s foe, the conman Wolfingham. And we learn why it's taken so long for a modern Wolfingham to appear: he's just not much of a challenge.

Superman #355 (January 1981), "Momentus, Master of the Moon!"
Momentus, Master of the Moon: Science writer Asa Esaak developed a formula to turn himself into a semi-liquid form in which he could control gravitational forces.

Action Comics #522 (August 1981): "The Time-Tornado of the Clockwork Man"

Clockwork Man

Clockwork Man: robot who attempted to help his creator keep on time by slowing down time

Action Comics #525 (November 1981): "Neutron Nightmare"

Crook whose attempt to rob a nuclear power plant turned him into sentient energy contained within his suit.

Action Comics #527 (January 1982): "Sorcery over Stonehenge"

Lord Satanis
Lord Satanis and Syrene: battling extra-dimensional sorcerers who each tried to trick Superman into making him/her the supreme ruler of their world.

Action Comics #535 (September 1982): "Enter--the Omega Men"
The Mole

Mole: criminal with a drilling machine, who only gave Superman a hard time because he had lost half his powers.

Action Comics #537 (November 1982): "Half a Superman"

Jackhammer: criminal with pounding gauntlets, who only gave Superman a hard time because he had lost half his powers.

Superman #378 (December 1982), "The Man Who Saved the Future!"
Colonel Future II
NASA scientist Edmond Hamilton has precognative flashes of future events when he is near death, and uses his considerable intellect to try to try to prevent future disasters -- not always with the cooperation of Superman.

He's "Colonel Future II" because a previous "Colonel Future" had been invented a few years earlier as a foe of the Golden Age (Earth-2) Superman.

Superman Special
#1 (circa April 1983): "Beware the Ultimate Man!"

the original Ultimate Man
The Ultimate Man: scientist who believed humanity needed a jump-start to further our evolutionary growth, so he started on himself. This is his original human form. He evolved twice during the course of the story.

DC Comics Presents
#58 (June 1983): "The Deadly Touch of the Intangibles!"
The Intangibles
The Untouchables
The Intangibles are a gang led by a Hollywood special-effects designer who thought he wasn't earning enough from his inventions, so he reserved his best invention, a suit which lets him become intangible at will, for himself.

"Intangible" means "unable to be touched", so it was natural for a later writer to bring back this gang with a '20s gangster motif as "The Untouchables". Amusingly, being movie people, they think of this as just their latest reinvention of themselves. Maybe next time they'll use a cowboy motif...  (Nah. "Untouchables" was a hit among comics readers, and they kept this identity.)

Superman #387 (September 1983), "The Conqueror from the Past"
The Planeteer

The Planeteer: master of magnetic forces, he believed himself to be the reincarnation of Alexander the Great and sought to conquer the world again.

#396 (June 1984): "The Battle for Superman's Brain!"
Intellex, the Brain Bandit

Intellex, the Brain Bandit: sort of a Brainiac who collected brains rather than miniaturized cities.

Action Comics #559 (September 1984): "The Once and Future Peri"

Yellow Peri
Yellow Peri: adult version of a would-be sorceress who gave Superboy a hard time