Comics Reviews: Superman 318, Action 478, Warlord 10

Superman 318 coverSuperman #318 – “The Wreck of the Cosmic Hound” – Martin Pasko/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one seems kinda goofy at first glance, but turns out to deal with some pretty deep themes. Unfortunately, it starts with that stupid storytelling device of having something dramatic happening (in this case, Superman is being crushed by cosmic energy bands shaped like a gigantic dog’s head), then using flashbacks to catch us up. I hate it when they do that! Just tell the damn story already! I know they want to start with a big dramatic thing on the first page, but Lana getting hired as Clark’s co-anchor at WGBS was pretty dramatic; they could’ve just picked up the story from there. In fact, the first part of the flashback covers that, showing Lana and Clark talking about her surprise hiring. She mentions her obsession with Clark being SuperboySuperman in space warp and says she’s over it, but Clark immediately tells her he has to take off … way to avoid suspicion there, Clark. He got a telegram from some scientist at an observatory who’s found a weird anomaly in space. It’s a strange light out by Uranus (tee-hee) that shouldn’t be there. Superman goes to check it out and flies through a weird vapour cloud on the way that makes him feel weak. He gets to the strange light and finds a rip in space leading to another planet. He goes through and finds a lamp orbiting a planet and shining through the space warp. He recognizes the planet as being in another galaxy, which means the space warp crosses thousands of light-years. There’s a downed spaceship below (ship being the operative word—it looks like an old-fashioned pirate ship from Earth), but when Supes tries to check it out, a weird energy barrier surrounding the planet animates into the form of a dog’s head and starts chomping him. That’s where we came in. Superman can’t resist the energy and falls to the planet below, where he soon finds himself surrounded by hundreds of dogs—real ones this time. Portia freaks outHe blacks out and wakes up inside the pirate spaceship. The captain comes in and the pirate motif continues, as she looks like an Earth pirate … eyepatch, peg-leg, and all. She even speaks English, but she thinks Superman is an illusion and tries to kill him with an axe. He convinces her he’s real and she tells him her story. She was from a planet called Aquaterra and worked as a collector of animal specimens throughout space. She landed on the dog planet and fucked up her leg and eye. Luckily for her, the dogs were sentient and tried to help, but they have no fine motor skills (obviously) so she had to amputate her own leg. She says the dogs used their psychic abilities to suppress her pain, but a different pack of dogs didn’t like them fraternizing with a human and forced all of them to leave the planet in Portia’s ship. They crashed on this planet and Portia sent up her “warp flare”—a device that opened a space-warp and shone through the light that Superman saw.  Superman offers to take her home, but the dogs show up and go after him. He fights off their energy bands easily, not beingdogs attack Superman weakened from the cosmic vapour this time. Portia admits the dogs need her to fly the ship, but won’t let her go home. Superman slaps a space-suit on her and flies her back to Aquaterra. But he recognizes this planet too, this time as a place where the entire population was wiped out by a solar flare 300 years ago. Portia admits she’s 347 years old (and looks it when she takes her helmet off) and that she originally left Aquaterra because she was suffering from an incurable disease and didn’t want to infect everyone on her planet. He found an isolated planet on which to die, but the dogs were there and kept rejuvenating her body. They couldn’t cure the disease, but they kept her from either dying or aging. But over the years, she’s come to wish for death and now she can finally die with some dignity. But she’s interrupted by her pirate ship showing up at Aquaterra. She freaks out, thinking the dogs have come to prolong her torment. Superman busts into the ship and finds the dogs (or one of them, anyway) are able to communicate telepathically. The dog explains that when they attacked last pageSuperman back on the planet, some psychic feedback gave them telepathy and telekinesis, with which they piloted the ship. Superman asks them to restore Portia’s youth, but the dogs have read her mind and know what she really wants. They put up a barrier to keep Superman away from her while she dies. Of course, Superman freaks and wants to save her, but finally realizes that sometimes you just have to let death take its course. Portia dies and Superman leaves the dogs to mourn her. This was a long way to go for a story that’s basically about euthanasia/assisted-dying, but I think the resolution made up for the convoluted approach.

Noticeable Things:

  • Lana talks really weird, calling Clark “dear heart” and “luv”; I don’t remember her talking like that before. I guess her time in Europe made her pretentious.
  • Superman tells Portia that an illusion can’t cast a reflection, but I’d say it can. I assume he meant a hallucination can’t cast a reflection.
  • Portia says the dogs could “influence my body in certain significant
    innuendo
    Sure saves on peanut butter!

    ways”; obviously she was talking about the reduced aging, but it sounded vaguely sexual when she first said it … or maybe that’s just my sick mind at work.

  • Superman theorizes that Aquaterra must’ve had a parallel development to Earth, hence the pirate history shared by both. I’m not sure that would extend to Portia speaking English, but I guess if Star Trek can use that trope (several times) then so can DC.
  • When Superman first attacked the dog-piloted pirate ship on Aquaterra, I thought he was actually trying to honour Portia’s wish to die. But I guess I should’ve known better … although he did come around in the end.

Action 478 coverAction #478 – “Earth’s Last Day” – Gerry Conway/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with Morgan Edge giving a farewell broadcast on WGBS. He gives us a recap of last issue (huge storms over the Northern Hemisphere, all the super-heroes absent except for Superman, and Supes himself whisked off-planet by aliens), then signs off and heads up to the roof where everyone is gathered. They watch the water rise in Metropolis, thinking the end is near. Meanwhile, Superman is on the moon, a prisoner of the Lunarians. The leader, Trena, explains that the Moon used to be the primary planetary mass and the Earth was formed from it. Now, the Lunarians need lebensraum so they’re eradicating life on Earth and settling there. Superman freaks and starts pounding them, but gets zapped by a crazySuperman freaks ray-gun. Trena’s second-in-command (and lover), Ormong, says Superman should be finished off, but Trena’s feeling kinda warm for his form, so she says she’ll keep him alive … maybe even marry him. She basically implies that Ormong is a boring lay and figures Superman might be able to thrill her gorilla. Of course, Ormong ain’t too happy about that. On Earth, Perry White and Jimmy Olsen are saying their goodbyes as they try to keep from drowning outside the Daily Planet Building. Jimmy wonders where all the other super-heroes are and we’re reminded that the Lunarians set up some ind of memory suppressor last issue that makes all the heroes forget their own identities. We see proof of that in Gotham, as Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth help wounded people and wonder where Batman is … apparently, the memory suppression makes Alfred forget Batman’s identity too. On the Moon, Trena tries to put the moves on Superman, but he’s not interested … until he finds out that her consort can ask for Superman vs Ormonganything he wants. He says if he challenges (and defeats) Ormong, he wants the Lunarians to stop fucking with Earth and leave the solar system. Trena agrees, but she’s planning to use the memory suppressor to make sure Superman stays with her forever. Supes challenges Ormong and they start fighting. Ormong’s weapon is the same type that zapped Supes before; he theorizes it must channel red sun energy. Superman destroys the weapon, but Ormong grows to huge size and starts pounding him. Supes realizes the Lunarians are hyper-sensitive to yellow sun radiation; normally, they’re shielded by their armour, but Ormong stripped down for the fight, so he’s all hulked up now. They smash through the roof and start fighting outside, on the Moon’s surface. Weirdly, Ormong’s transformation gets Trena hot for him instead of Superman … fickle broad. Superman figures the only way to defeat the Lunarians is to give them an alternative to settling on Earth, so he leads Ormong to the asteroid belt where he starts putting together a planetoid. He then knocks Ormong toward the sun to get some breathing room, and goes back to theultimatum Moon with the planetoid. He tells the Lunarians they can add to the planetoid until they have a big enough planet for all of them to settle on (and leave the solar system in) or he’ll drop the planetoid on the Moon and kill everyone. They buy his bluff and agree, immediately stopping their assault on Earth. Superman builds some rockets for the planetoid and the Lunarians take off. Trena is still regretting not having a chance to bang Superman, and it seems as though he’s maybe thinking the same thing.

Noticeable Things:

  • The flood waters in Metropolis are up to the third floor of all the skyscrapers. Even after they receded, the damage must’ve been astronomical, and it’d be the same in all the other cities.
  • The scene of Trena trying to seduce Superman and him fighting Ormong afterwards has a very “John Carter” vibe to it. No wonder Gerry thanked Burroughs (and Lieber) for the inspiration last ish.
  • When Superman gets mad at Trena, she’s kinda into it … I get the feeling she’d be up for some BDSM.

    seduction
    Now tell me I’m a dirty girl!
  • The Lunarians probably should’ve realized Superman was bluffing about annihilating them, since destroying the Moon would’ve basically doomed Earth anyway.

Warlord 10 coverWarlord #10 – “Tower of Fear” – Mike Grell

This one starts with Morgan, Mariah, and Machiste traveling through Skartaris, still trying to get back to Shamballa (and Tara). Mariah’s giving them a lecture on the evils of capitalism (and monarchism) when they see a woman in a valley who’s about to be sacrificed. They ride to her rescue, but Morgan jumps ahead as usual, and slaughters everyone before the others get there. The girl they rescued says her name is Ashiya and she was a willing sacrifice. She tells them her people lost their sacred symbol, the Mask of Life and her sacrifice was supposed to return it. Morgan asks why they can’t just take it back, but Ashiya says the Mask is at the top of the Tower of Fear, where no mortal can get it. Morgan says they’ll try and they head for the Tower, which looks very … phallic. Morgan tells the women to stay outside while he and Machiste go in to get the Mask. Naturally, that pisses Mariah off and she bets them that she can get the Mask before they do. Morgan accepts the bet, but locks Mariah out of the Tower once he and Machiste are inside. They head upstairs and are attacked by some C’thulhu-esque creature that tries to eat them alive.creature attacks Morgan wastes it and they continue up the stairs. Just before the top, a weird energy warp appears, disgorging a bunch of demons. Morgan and Machiste fight, but the demons just keep coming, so they slip past the energy vortex and open the door.demons The light from the other side banishes the demons and Morgan and Machiste head inside. Guess what they find inside? Yup, Mariah beat them to it. She noticed the statuary outside the Tower rested on floating discs, so she just hopped on one of them, pushed the statue up, and floated up Mariah triumphantthe outside of the Tower. She has the Mask and the three of them leave—taking the easy way down. They give Ashiya the Mask and she leaves. Mariah calls in the bet she made and later we see that Machiste has shaved his head. Elsewhere, we see Ashiya turning from her hot young form into her true form—an old hag. She puts the Mask on a corpse and does a ritual that brings the corpse back to life. When he takes the Mask off, it turns out to be … Deimos! Told you he’d be back. We’ll see what happens with him two issues from now, as next issue is a reprint of Warlord’s debut in First Issue Special #8.

Noticeable Things:

  • This whole issue has a Robert E. Howard vibe to it, especially when they’re inside the Tower.
  • I’m not sure why only Machiste shaved his head after losing the bet. As far as I can tell, Morgan didn’t have to do anything … unless he had to bang Mariah or something, but that’s hardly a chore.
  • I said it before and I’ll say it again: Mike Grell’s art is amazing.sacrifice

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