Comics Reviews: Superman 317, Action 477

Superman 317 coverSuperman #317 – “The Killer With the Heart of Steel” – Martin Pasko/Curt Swan/Dan Adkins

This continues right from last issue, with Metallo gloating about how he beat Superman and how he plans to use Superman’s super heart to power his own android body. Metallo leaves Superman to die, surrounded by kryptonite. When will these villains learn, you never walk away and assume the hero will die; once you’re out of sight, all kinds of crazy shit can happen. Case in point: after Metallo leaves, some water dripping from the ceiling (Superman and Metallo fought in a limestone cavern, remember?) revives the Man of Steel enough that he crawls to an underground river and tumbles in. The current takes him away from the kryptonite, saving his life. As he’s recovering, he ponders all the stuff that’s happened lately and Recap part 1we get a two page recap of the last few issues. As he’s heading home, he’s distracted by an armoured car. I’m not sure why it caught his attention, but when he tries to look inside, it’s shielded with lead. That makes him even more suspicious, so he drops a tree in front of it. The guards pop out and fire an anti-matter rocket. It misses Superman, but he’s forced to chase it, since it’ll explode violently if it comes into contact with positive matter. Superman flies slightly ahead to clear a path for the rocket. We see Metallo scheming at his hideout and find out he’s the one who stole Albert Michaels’s experimental device, which turns out to be a teleporting ray. Metallo mentions that Michaels is a SKULL agent who’s been smuggling stuff out of STAR Labs for a while, but before he could smuggle out the teleporter,Recap part 2 Metallo stole it. Metallo’s been using it to kill SKULL agents, by beaming rocks (painted to look like green K) into the SKULL agents’ chests and beaming back their hearts. He does it again, this time targeting the two guys who shot the anti-matter rocket at Superman. Metallo plans to use the teleporter to grab Superman’s heart, but the caverns he left Supes in are too far away, so he goes to retrieve the body. Meanwhile, Superman uses his suction breath to slow the anti-matter rocket right down, which somehow cancels its anti-matter properties so he can grab it and dismantle it. He heads back to the truck and finds the two SKULL agents dead. When he opens the truck, it’s full of kryptonite and he barely manages to get the door closed quickly enough to save himself. In the caverns, Metallo is pissed off when he finds Superman is gone. At WGBS, Superman wonders why Metallo always strikes between 4:00 and 6:00 AM and why he seems Korda's officeto fight more effectively in caves and tunnels. As soon as Clark comes in, his new producer Martin Korda, gives him the story about the dead SKULL agents. An hour later, Lois shows up and says WGBS is using her notes on SKULL (from a story she did in Superman Family #184)  for the late-breaking story. Clark wonders how Korda knew about the story an hour ago if it just broke, then realizes who Korda must be. He rifles through Korda’s office and finds some interesting books; I think the only one missing is “Super-Villainy for Fun and Profit”. Lois gives Clark shit for snooping, but she also inadvertently gives him the last piece of the puzzle and he takes off. We see the last three members of SKULL having a meeting. They’re interrupted by Metallo, who uses his teleporter to “disappear” a big chunk of the wall. Lois shows up with the cops, Superman having told her to get them, but the cops have their own instructions from Supes, so they just sit back and wait. Superman comes it and starts fighting Metallo before he can waste the last three SKULL guys. Metallo uses his teleporter to steal Superman’s heart and put it inside his body, replacing it with his own kryptonite heart. Superman turns greenSuperman blasted from kryptonite poisoning and keels over, causing Lois to freak out. Metallo goes after the SKULL agents, whose blasters get melted somehow. Before he can finish them off, the cops outside all turn on their radios, which causes Metallo to have a seizure and keel over. Superman is fine (much to Lois’s relief) and explains his brilliantly convoluted plan. Once he figured out who Metallo was, he eavesdropped with his super hearing and heard Metallo’s plans. He went to Kandor to find a kryptonite heart (from a recent accident victim) and when Metallo used his teleporter, Supermaan made sure it was the Kandorian’s heart that got switched with Metallo’s, not his own. Since he had the heart in a lead case, Metallo’s kryptonite heart went in there; Superman applied green makeup at super speed to simulate green K poisoning. Supes reasoned that Metallo’s body and the teleporter both worked with energy waves, so a strong bombardment of radio waves would screw it up, hence him arranging for the cops to all activate their Michaels revealedradios. Supes realized Metallo went underground to “change his heart” because he wanted to avoid radio interference, and he was most active in the early morning because most radio stations were off the air then. See how simple that was to figure out? Unfortunately, Superman didn’t figure out everyone’s secrets, so he’s taken by surprise when one of the SKULL agents whips out a gun and grabs Lois. It turns out to be Albert Michaels and he forces Supes to set Metallo’s teleporter so he can get away. Later, we learn the real Martin Korda was found alive and Morgan Edge still wants to hire him once he’ssurprise recovered. And speaking of new employees, we finally find out who Clark’s mysterious new female co-anchor is. Have you figured it out yet? I’ll give you a hint … her initials are L.L. Yup, that’s right, Clark’s new partner is intrepid newswoman Lana Lang! Huh? We’ll find out what’s up with that next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Wouldn’t the anti-matter rocket be in contact with positive matter as soon as it left the rocket launcher? The air molecules would be made of positive matter, so it should’ve blown up as soon as it was fired.
  • Superman bends a bridge out of the way of the rocket. I’m no structural engineer, but I think the bridge would shatter, not bow up like that.bending bridge
  • Metallo says after he kills the two SKULL agents in the truck, there’ll only be three left. If SKULL is down to its last few men, why were they carrying a truck full of kryptonite? And why were they even still around? They should’ve gotten the hell out of town.
  • When Metallo is at his hideout, his face is constantly in shadow. Since we already know he’s Roger Corben, that’s a big hint that he’s adopted a new disguise as someone we’d recognize.
  • When Metallo teleports part of the wall away, the resulting hole has very square corners; is that a side-effect of the teleporter?
  • The SKULL agents mention a “kryptonite pipeline” that they’ve been running for a while. We’ll learn more about that in upcoming issues.
  • For the younger readers out there, radio (and TV) stations weren’t always on 24/7. They used to “sign off” at a certain hour every night, then start up again in the morning. So Metallo timed his crimes for when most stations weren’t transmitting to avoid radio interference with his own android system.
  • The Neal Adams cover for this issue is a classic.

Action 477 coverAction #477 – “The Land-Lords of Earth” – Gerry Conway/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

As you can tell from the cover, this one’s a bit weird. Gerry thanks Edgar Rice Burroughs and Fritz Leiber for the inspiration, and I can see why; this is a very … pulpy story. We start with Superman flying home and noticing a gigantic hurricane-type storm that stretches all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. Metropolis is under a deluge and Supes arrives just in time to save Steve Lombard, who’s in the WGBS blimp. The rescue is observed by a hot alien woman, who claims to be responsible for the crazy weather. She also seems to have the hots for Superman, after seeing his heroism. Supes changes to Clark Kent to do the nightly news. Lois is on a remote at a dam upstate, but when the dam bursts, Clark takes off, saying he can’t bear to watch. He switches toplugging dam Superman and zips upstate in time to plug the dam and save Lois. An earthquake hits moments later and he takes Lois to safety, then takes off to find out what the hell’s going on. He notices new fault lines in the Earth’s crust and when he gets high enough, he spots a huge vortex of clouds at the North Pole. He figures the vortex is causing nature to go wild, tearing the Earth apart. He finds a bunch of machines manned by aliens in spacesuits. They zap him with a ray that superheats his body, then supercools it, over and over at lightning speed. Superman’s invulnerable body stands up to the punishment, but his psyche is overloaded and he keels over vortexunconscious. He’s thrown on a rocket and sent to the Moon … more precisely, under the moon. Yup, turns out the Moon is hollow (so is Earth, as you know if you’re a Warlord fan). The aliens (who call themselves the Diode) say the Moon was actually settled first and Earth is simply an offshoot. They’ve decided to take over the Earth to make room for their burgeoning society. The alien woman makes Superman a more personal offer … when the humans are all wiped out and she’s Queen of Earth, Superman be her king! We’ll see how that goes next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • If you’re wondering where the rest of the JLA are, Superman tried to call them, but no one responded. We see Barry Allen wondering where the Flash is, and later learn the other heroes’ minds were clouded by the aliens.
  • The whole “Moon came first” theory flies in the face of science, but then this is supposed to be pulp.
  • The back up story is a “Private Life of Clark Kent” thing where he’s
    fan club
    MJ Watson, Deb Whitman, and that blonde could be Gwen Stacy … maybe this is the Peter Parker Fan Club!

    forced to give a studio tour to his fan club, which seems to consist exclusively of attractive young women—including Mary Jane Watson lookalike Terri Cross. Clark keeps trying to ditch the girls, and when a fire breaks out, he has to use some high speed trickery to make it look like Superman and Clark are both in the room at the same time. It works and he ends up walking off with all the girls, probably for a little group action.

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