Comics Reviews: Superman 320, Action 480, Jonah Hex 9

Superman 320 coverSuperman #320 – “The Absolute Power Play of the Parasite” – Martin Pasko/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one continues from last issue, with Solomon Grundy strangling Superman with his own cape as the Parasite watches from a nearby rooftop. But even though Superman is being choked, he manages to use his super-breath to push Grundy away, causing the cape to unwind and Supes to drill into the ground like a corkscrew. The cape then snaps Grundy back toward the Man of Steel, who gives him a super-punch that sends him flying. Parasite is amazed, since he used his fancy prism last issue to increase Grundy’s strength enough to defeat Superman. Grundy lands between two tram cars and the impact is so greatGrundy trapped he’s fused between the cars … at least that’s what the caption says. Superman realizes Grundy has been fascinated by his cape every time they’ve fought, so he goes home to get a spare (non-indestructible) one and ties it around Grundy. Parasite realizes why his prism couldn’t empower Grundy enough to beat Superman: because Grundy isn’t really alive. He was created when Parasite directed light through the prism into the sewers, so he’s technically not a living being. Parasite gets a new idea and shines the power-up beam on Superman as he flies by. Why would Parasite want to add to Superman’s power? Just wait, you’ll see. Anyway, Supes is heading off to Mooney Island to check out the huge robotic octopus that’s attacking the abandoned lighthouse. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yeah, that also happened last issue. Superman was asked to guard the lighthouse by some buzzsawArmy guys, but they were being really cagey about what might be inside and who might be attacking. But Superman’s the good guy, so when his telescopic vision showed the mechanized octopus attacking, he decided to go after it. At WGBS, Perry White finds Lois asleep at her desk, working on the Superman vs. Grundy story. She’s been pushing herself in order to keep up with Lana Lang (who’s now a newscaster for WGBS) and she admits to Perry she’s a bit jealous of Clark and Lana too. She talks about how her relationship with Superman has cooled off, but she’s interrupted by a big story about Mooney Island coming through on the teletype. We get Lois’s narration of events on the Island, which is weird, since we can see what’s happening in the panels anyway. Superman showed up at the Island, took a carousel from an old amusement park and carved notches in it like a buzzsaw blade, then severed the mechanical octopus’s tentacles. But he was shotSuperman doesn't know his own strength with some strange vibrating harpoons that pinned him to the lighthouse by his cape. Lois wants to head out to the Island to cover the story and Perry goes with her. On the Island, Superman sees the octopus-sub is manned by spies and figures out the lighthouse is a cover for some secret military operation. He gets all pissed off because the Army didn’t let him in on the secret and his anger gives him the strength to pull the harpoons loose. They fly into the octopus-sub and disable it, but an errant harpoon hits Lois and Perry’s chopper. Superman rushes to save them, but overshoots the chopper, then accidentally crushes it. It’s almost like he doesn’t know his own strength … which was obviously Parasite’s plan. He manages to rescue Lois and LDSPerry (and the spies in the wrecked octopus-sub) and checks out the lighthouse. It’s shielded from his x-ray vision, so he busts in and finds it’s a monitoring station for a Laser Defense System. This is obviously the LDS that Parasite was looking for last issue. Superman freaks out because the Army never told him about the LDS and he starts trashing it. We see Parasite in his hideout, gloating that the ray he hit Superman with will increase his power so much he’ll turn into an asshole and destroy himself. At the lighthouse, the Army shows up and tells Superman he’s under arrest for destroying government property.

Noticeable Things:

  • Apparently, Clark keeps some non-indestructible copies of his cape (and presumably the rest of his costume) at home.
  • When Grundy is fused between the tram cars, Superman rescues a wino who’s been using the tram car as a flophouse. If he has no money, how’d he get on? And wouldn’t someone notice and kick him off?
  • The two tram cars are pretty close together—close enough for Grundy to get stuck between them—but is that safe? What if it got windy? Wouldn’t they hit each other? You’d think they’d design them to be father apart.
  • Apparently, both Lois and Perry can fly a helicopter.
  • The LDS is supposed to be a space-based system for defending against alien attacks. Maybe this is where Reagan got the idea.
  • I get where Pasko is going with the whole “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” thing; Superman’s power—vast as it is—has to have limits, otherwise he might start thinking of himself as above the rules. But the whole idea of power corrupting is usually predicated on the fact that people know they wield the power, and that’s what corrupts them. If Superman gained more power but doesn’t know it, why would he be corrupted? It almost seems like Parasite’s ray affected Superman’s mind, but that goes against the idea of the power itself corrupting him.

Action 480 coverAction #480 – “Amazo’s Big Breakthrough” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts out on the JLA Satellite. Superman is on monitor duty, daydreaming away, when a giant fist crashes through the floor and knocks him on his ass. Yup, it’s Amazo, the android that possesses all the powers of the JLA. He’s somehow been reactivated and he proceeds to beat the shit out of Superman, first smashing him through the Satellite wall, then wrapping him in a meteor and sending him down to Earth. Supes lands in the South Pacific and seems to be in pretty rough shape. Not long after, we see Green Lantern and Hawkman on the Satellite, repairing the damage and wondering where Superman and Amazo could be. We soon see Superman emergingAmazo pounds Superman from the ocean and heading for his Fortress of Solitude. He dictates a memo about why Amazo woke up and why he (Superman) had so much trouble with him; apparently, some super-massive red star went nova eons ago and the radiation is just reaching Earth now. That’s what woke Amazo from his “sleep” and the red sun radiation weakened Superman to less than half power, explaining why he got pounded so easily. He sends the report to the JLA (all eleven of them), but they can’t respond. Turns out Amazo used a combination of GL’s ring energy and Superman’s super will-power (whatever that means) to shunt the Satellite and the League to another dimension. So it’s a weakened Superman who has to face Amazo alone. At WGBS, Clark goes to a meeting to see which reporter will be living in the Clark hypnotizes everyonedesert for a week, using some equipment from STAR Labs. Morgan Edge seems to think it’ll make a great story. Jimmy is the “lucky” winner, but Clark hypnotizes everyone so he can make it look like he drew the assignment. I guess he just wants to get away from it all, though things might get a bit awkward later, as the reporter has to undergo a full medical exam at STAR Labs after the assignment. Clark grabs a cab outside, but another dude jumps in with him. It turns out to be Professor Ivo, the guy who originally created Amazo. He says he’s gone straight, even changed his name (to Ives … very sneaky, Prof) and he’s afraid Amazo will blame him for waking him up. He’s hoping Clark knows how to contact Superman, but before Clark can say anything, Amazo shows up and pulls Ivo out of the cab. He does blame Ivofighting Amazo for waking him from his blissful “android sleep” and starts crushing him. Clark changes to Superman and rescues Ivo, but Superman is even weaker than before and they both get caught when Amazo melts the pavement. Amazo figures out Superman’s powers are on the wane and prepares to kill him and Ivo together. We’ll have to wait till next issue to see what happens, but I will tell you it involves the Supermobile.

Noticeable Things:

  • Since Amazo is an android, why don’t the JLA just pull him to pieces? That way, they wouldn’t have to worry about him coming back all the time. It’s not like it would be murder, since he’s not really alive. Unless he’s indestructible or something?
  • I’m not sure I buy the whole “radiation from a red star” thing; aren’t there red stars constantly going nova all over the galaxy? What’s so special about this one? Superman said this one was way bigger than most, but would a star that big actually go nova, or would it collapse? And as far as I know, the bigger the star, the shorter its lifespan, so a really huge star wouldn’t last long enough to go nova anyway.
  • I think the whole bit about Amazo using super will-power was a plot device to keep GL from bringing the Satellite back from the other dimension; it was just so Bates could get the JLA out of the way and have Supes fight Amazo alone.
  • The taxi driver for Clark and Ivo looks a hell of a lot like Cary Bates.Cary Bates
  • Ivo doesn’t look all freaky here like he does later. In fact, he kinda reminds me of Rudy from Six Million Dollar Man.

Jonah Hex 9 coverJonah Hex #9 – “The Carlota Conspiracy” – Michal Fleisher/Ernie Chan/Danny Bulanadi

This one starts with a Mexican bandit stealing Hex’s clothes and guns as he bathes in a river. He has a spare pair of pants in his bedroll (this is a Code-approved comic, after all) and chases the thief right into Mexico. He catches him—or her, as it turns out—but finds out it was all a set up. A bunch of Mexican soldiers are waiting for him and a guy named Colonel Sanchez tells Hex the theft was to lure him there for a little chat. Sanchez tells Hex about the recent history of Mexico: when Maximillian was Emperor, his wife Carlota looted all kinds of jewels and gold from the people. The loot was hidden in a cave nearHex trapped Vera Cruz, but when Maximillian was executed, Carlota went into exile and went nuts. The location of the loot was lost, but recently some old prospector stumbled across it. Sanchez says the government is willing to pay Hex very well to help guard the loot as it’s moved to Mexico City. Apparently, besides the bandits on the roads, there are plenty of people in the government who’d like to grab the treasure and make a power play. Since Hex is still wanted in the States, he agrees to help guard the convoy for the loot. Hex goes to a hotel in a nearby town to wait for nightfall. But he has an unexpected visitor … his old “friend” El Papagayo. The thief who set Hex up for Sanchez is an acquaintance of Papagayo and told him Hex was in Mexico. I’m not sure how she knew he’d be at that particular hotel, but whatever. Papagayo grazes Hex with a bullet (on purpose, of course) then takes him Hex escapesout to the desert and has him tied down so the ants can eat him slowly. Papagayo leaves a guard (because Hex is very tricky, don’t know you) and takes off. Hex sweats and gets ant-bitten for a couple of hours, then starts talking to the guard. He implies the guard’s momma is a big old slut and when the guard comes to cut his throat, Hex grans his crucifix and almost strangles him. Hex gets loose and wastes the guard, then prepares to head for Vera Cruz to escort the convoy full of loot. You gotta hand it to Hex, he knows where his duty lies … or maybe he’s just thinking of that big reward Sanchez promised. But Papagayo and his men have been watching and one of them gets Hex in the sights of his rifle. We’ll see if he fires next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • The woman (Estrellita) who steals Hex’s clothes for the Colonel and later helps Papagayo is implied to be a hooker.
  • I’m not sure whose horse Hex is on at the end of the issue; I guess the guard he killed must’ve had one.

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