Comics Reviews: Superman 314, Action 474

Superman 314 coverSuperman #314 – “Before This Night is Over, Superman Will Kill!” – Martin Pasko/Curt Swan/Dan Adkins

This one continues directly from last issue and there’s a lot of plot convenience in the first few pages. We get a recap of the story so far: Amalak sent an alien named Jevik to a news conference to infect everyone with some kind of space plague and Superman figured out Jevik was “disguised” as a stray dog that Steve Lombard’s nephew Jamie picked up. But most of Superman’s “logic” is explained in captions or thought bubbles, and it’s quite a stretch. He says that the plague manifests in people who are scared or angry (as it does in Jamie when he’s mad at superman for threatening his dog), but does that mean every one of the dozens of people who were infected was pissed off at the time? That’s hard to believe. Superman also says he can kill Jevik because he belongs toSuperman fights Jevik a species that exists in two forms, one living and one technically already dead. Since Jevik is in the “already dead” form, Superman wouldn’t really be killing him. Like I said, pretty convenient. Amalak stimulates Jevik’s life cycle so he’s alive again, which means Supes can’t kill him. Jevik rampages through town, freaking people out and causing them to get all plagued up again. Superman beats the crap out of Jevik and knocks him out, but there are too many plague victims to be cured easily. Supes heads up to the JLA Satellite and finds Flash and Green Lantern almost dead. Amalak is on the Satellite and challenges Superman to meet him in the trophy room. They fight and Amalak does pretty well for himself, using Dr. Light’s ray machine to hit Superman vs AmalakSupes with green K rays and blinding him similar to what he did to Supergirl last issue. But Superman (swinging blindly) hits Kanjar Ro’s space gong and the noise conks Amalak out. Now things really get wild as Supes whips up a tranquilizer to stop the outbreak of the plague, seeds it in the clouds so it rains all over Central City, and tosses Jevik right across the galaxy back to his home planet. Back on the Satellite, Amalak is dying and tries to make Superman think it’s his fault, but Supes noticed the lights dim, so he concluded that Amalak used a death ray to kill himself … another fantastic leap in logic. Amalak dies (supposedly) and Flash and Green Lantern show up with Supergirl, who they found drifting in space (after Amalak’s ship blew up last issue). Back on Earth, Clark visits Lois in the hospital where she (and everyone else are recovering from the plague thanks to Nam-Ek (remember him?) Lois says she isn’t moving to Central City after all and Clark proposes to her. She says she’ll say yes if he admits to being Superman, but of course he doesn’t.last page So there’s no marriage and now Lois seems to believe that Clark really ISN’T Superman … and I can’t follow that logic at all. We’ll see what happens in the next issue of Days of Our … er, I mean Superman.

Noticeable Things:

  • Superman thinks about how he figured out Jamie’s dog was Jevik last issue; the dog’s breath didn’t leave any condensation on the lens of Clark’s watch. But last issue, Clark made no mention of suspecting anything like that, so it seems like that’s another convenient plot device.
  • When Superman is fighting Jevik, they smash up a restaurant called “McTavish’s”. It’s obviously meant to be McDonald’s … it has arches as a logo, a sign saying “over 11 billion served” and Superman even makes a “you deserve a break today” joke.McDonalds
  • If Superman could throw Jevik back to his home planet, why didn’t he do that before instead of philosophizing about killing him?
  • If you’re wondering how Amalak survived the explosion of his ship last issue, he apparently teleported out at the last minute and ended up on the Satellite. He gloats about Supergirl being blown up, but she’s basically invulnerable, so that was a pretty obvious fake out by Pasko.
  • The whole romantic screw up at the end of the issue is weird. If Lois really thinks Clark isn’t Superman, does that mean she would only marry him if he WAS Superman? And if Clark really loves her, why not tell her the truth? She’d have to find out after they were married, one way or another.  The whole thing is just confusing; I’m not even sure if they’re broken up or not (though I assume they are).

Action 474 coverAction #474 – “Will the Real Superman Please Show Up?” – Cary Bates/Kurt Schaffenberger/Tex Blaisdell

This one starts with Superman fighting C’thulhu (or an approximation) in the Atlantic. He kicks its ass and heads to WGBS studios for an appearance as Clark Kent on the Midnight Show with Johnny Nevada. But Clark goes on stage dressed as Superman (but wearing the Clark Kent’s glasses); in fact, everyone on the show is dressed as Superman, including the host, Johnny Nevada himself. Why, you ask? Because at one time, each guest (and apparently Johnny himself) has been suspected of being Superman. Besides Clark, there’s Jimmy Olsen, Greg Reed (from the Superman TV show), an SF writer named Rock Stirling, Steve Lombard, and Mike Talbot, an Olympic athlete-turned-cartoonist. But one of theLight in studio audience members is there for something besides entertainment … he’s Dr. Light in disguise and he figures the real Superman will show up in the audience. But when he uses his light device to isolate the only non-human in the studio, he finds out that Superman is none other than … Mike Talbot? Yeah, that’s what Light’s gizmo says, and he definitely believes it. He disguises himself as a cabbie and kidnaps Talbot, but gets attacked by the real Superman. They fight and Light uses red sun radiation to cancel Superman’s powers, but Supes counteracts it and destroys Light’s projector. Light threatens to kill Talbot, but Superman beats him to it, obliterating the Supes annihilates Talbothelpless hostage. Light doesn’t know whether to shit or go blind, and Supes wraps him up in his cape. Supes then flies Talbot—who isn’t really dead—home. On the way, we get an explanation of how Supes saved him by punching the bars of Light’s photonic cage and using his heat vision to create a vivid explosion, therefore lulling Light into turning off the photon cage. We also find out why Light’s gizmo pegged Talbot as Superman; Clark recognized Light in the audience, vibrate at super speed so the detector rays would pass through him, and deflected them onto Talbot so Light would think he was the real Superman. He then shadowed Talbot until Light made his move. Simple, huh?

Noticeable Things:

  • Johnny Nevada is obviously meant to be Johnny Carson (as in Carson City, Nevada, I guess); he’s not really drawn to look like Carson, but the announcer does look a lot like Ed McMahon and even yells “Heeeeeere’s Johnny” at the start of the show.
  • When Light mugs Talbot in the taxi, he says the cab wasn’t real, it was made of solid photons … or something.orphanage
  • The backup story is a Private life of Clark Kent thing where Clark has a winning lottery ticket and the guy who runs the newsstand where he bought the ticket realizes it’s a winner and tries to steal it back. Clark suckers him and rubs salt in the wound by telling him he donates every lottery ticket he buys to the orphanage.

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