Comics Reviews: Superman 322, Action 482, Jonah Hex 11

Superman 322 coverSuperman #322 – “Laser War Over Metropolis” – Martin Pasko/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

A quick recap: Parasite used a crystal to make Superman’s powers increase out of control which also made Superman act like kind of a dick. Parasite stole the knowledge of how to operate the top secret Laser Defense System and is threatening to obliterate Metropolis if he doesn’t get a billion dollars. Superman used some super sunscreen to diminish his powers so he could confront Parasite, but Parasite drained Superman’s powers and headed into space, leaving Superman to fall and be impaled on a clock tower. Got all that? As Supes is falling to his doom, he reasons that Parasite has never been able to fully drain his powers before, so he must’ve tricked Supermanboots off into thinking his powers had been augmented when they really weren’t. So when Supes used the super sunscreen to bring his power level back to normal, he was really cutting his power by half. This convoluted logic tells Supes he must still have some power left, so he pulls his boots off and exposes the soles of his feet to the sun (since he didn’t use any super sunscreen on his feet) and he absorbs enough energy to make himself somewhat invulnerable. So when he hits the clock tower, he smashes it instead of getting impaled, but the impact knocks him out. We check in with Lois and Perry, who are catching a lift from the Navy back from the lighthouse where the Laser Defense System is hidden. The captain explains that the LDS is being tested, but Parasite has hijacked it and will wipe out Metropolis if he’s not paid a billion dollars. Lois asks the obvious question: why not just stop the test? When Superman went nuts last issue, he smashed the manual overrides, so the military can’t stop the laser. At home, Superman washes showeroff his super sunscreen in the shower, while Parasite heads out to the island with the lighthouse and the laser controls. He uses Superman’s stolen heat vision to incinerate the guards and heads inside. Superman goes to his Fortress and realizes exactly what Parasite did to him. He checks his power level and it turns out his earlier speculation was correct: he’s still at half power. He heads for the island, hoping the sun will get his powers back to normal before he confronts Parasite. In Metropolis, the cops have the ransom money, but they only have fifteen minutes to get it to the island. As noon rolls around, Parasite prepares to blast Metropolis to atoms and Superman sees he’s almost too late. But Supes pulls one of those moves that sounds cool, but makes me roll my eyes like a slot machine: he flies down into the ocean and pushes against the Earth’s crust enough to move the Earth in orbit … just enough so the laser misses Metropolis. Then he puts the planet back in its proper orbit. Parasite is pissed off that he missed Metropolis, but he intercepts the chopper andSuperman vs Parasite steals the ransom money anyway. Superman jumps him, grabs his power prism, and smashes it. Parasite admits that Superman’s powers never really increased; he just used the prism to alter Superman’s inhibitions. He reasoned that Superman must constantly hold himself back from using his full power for fear of hurting people, so when he removed Superman’s inhibitions it made him stop pulling his punches, therefore making it seem like his powers has suddenly run amok. While they’re fighting, Parasite wraps Supes up in a net and prepares to finish him, but Supes blasts him with heat vision and busts free. Superman knows he has to defeat Parasite without touching him, wearing him down until his stolen power is exhausted. They engage in a heat vision duel and end up at an amusement park. Parasite is almost out of energy and Supes smashes a roller coaster car into him. Parasite conks out, then revives and crawls to the top of the coaster where Supes is standing. But when he turns around, it’s not Superman, it’s Solomon Grundy! (And he’s still wearing Superman’s spare “non-super” cape.) Grundy punches out ParasiteYeah, apparently Solomon was still stuck between two cars on the aerial tramway, so Superman went and got him and brought him to the amusement park when Parasite was unconscious. Grundy pounds Parasite and Superman takes him in. He takes Grundy to a low-gravity planet and leaves him to fly around; apparently, the reason Grundy was trying to grab Superman’s cape was because he thought the cape made Supes fly and he figured if he could fly too, he’d be able to beat Superman. I guess that counts as logic, if you’re Solomon Grundy. At the lighthouse, we see some one-armed military dude pissed off because Superman learned about the LDS. He swears he’ll make the Man of Steel pay for interfering. At Lois’s place, Superman gives her some Kryptonian mood ring that shows whatever the wearer desires; it shows Lois and Supes making out. I’m surprised it didn’t show them banging. Lois agrees to make dinner for Supes, so I guess their romance is back on.

Noticeable Things:

  • When Superman tests to see if he’s back to normal, he does so by punching through the glass door of his shower. Wasn’t there a less destructive way of checking?
  • When Superman’s in the shower, he’s thinking how embarrassing it was to have to ride the bus home in his costume.
  • I’m pretty sure changing Earth’s orbit, even for a short time, would cause catastrophic weather patterns all over the globe, just for a start.
  • When Parasite intercepts the ransom chopper, it looks like he grabs the rotor and stops it. Wouldn’t that make the chopper drop like a rock?
  • Supes says Grundy wanted his cape because he thought it would make him fly and he could then beat Superman. So, after Superman rescued him from the tram and let him keep the fake cape, why didn’t Grundy continue fighting him? If the sole reason he wanted the cape was to defeat Superman, why go all placid when he finally had it (and had the power to “fly” on the low-gravity planet)?
  • There’s another beef bourguignon mention.

Action 482 coverAction #482 – “This Is a Job for Supermobile” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

We start this issue with some exposition to catch us up. Some giant red sun supernova has sent energy across the galaxy and somehow that energy woke Amazo out of his dreamless sleep and took away Superman’s powers. Until the energy passes Earth completely, Superman is powerless, so he built a vehicle called the Supermobile to fight Amazo. It’s made of an almost indestructible material (Supermanium) and can duplicate all of Superman’s powers, so as long as he’s inside, it’s almost like he’s his old self. Amazo wants to return to his dreamless sleep and blames Professor Ivo for waking him (even though Ivo had nothing to do with it), so he’s threatened to kill someone close to Suprman if Supes doesn’t turn over Ivo to him. Superman is on patrol in the Supermobile and uses the telescope and super-ear to detect a break in at the Armory. AArmory fight couple of foreign agents are trying to steal high-tech weapons and they use a kick-ass flamethrower against the Supermobile. But the SMB can duplicate Superman’s breath weapon, so it blows out the flames and Supes grabs the two spies. Lana Lang and some non-Bill Nye science guy explain Superman’s power loss on WGBS and Supes worries about whether he’ll be able to maintain his secret identity the whole time the solar energy is washing over Earth. He arranged for Clark Kent to go to a biosphere thing out in the desert, but Clark is supposed to be giving a live report soon. Amazo chases Lois (in her oh-so-stylish culottes) into an alley, but before he can waste her, Superman shows up in the Supermobile and tosses Lois way up in the Lois airborneair. He follows and catches her, but Amazo comes after them and drop kicks them into orbit. The velocity is so high that they enter a space warp and Lois is close to death from the G-forces. Superman uses his flying power to slow the Supermobile (I guess being in the space warp shielded him from the red sun radiation) and they come out of the space warp in the asteroid field between Mars and Jupiter. Superman finds an uncharted asteroid with an oxygen atmosphere and takes Lois out of the Supermobile to revive her. But Amazo followed them through the warp and threatens to kill Lois if Superman doesn’t tell him where Ivo is. A voice comes from the pocket in Superman’s cape and Ivo jumps out and regains his normal size. Turns out Superman used the Kandorian shrinking ray to miniaturize Ivo andAmazo pounded had him in his cape all along. Amazo is about to waste Ivo when Superman takes a closer look at the stars. He then flies up into the air and comes down on Amazo’s shoulders, driving him into the asteroid. Lois and Ivo are stunned, but Superman explains that the space warp didn’t just move them through space, it also threw them forward in time about five days … long enough that the red sun radiation is past the solar system. They head home in the Supermobile, but Amazo is still inside the asteroid and he’s pissed off. We’ll see what he does about it next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Steve Lombard tries to scare Lana with some “Hulk hands” … except they aren’t green.
  • If you’re wondering how Amazo can use Superman’s powers while the red sun radiation is affecting Earth, Superman explains that the android is actually using Martian Manhunter’s abilities, many of which mirror those of Superman.
  • I’m not sure what the five day time jump will mean for Clark’s report from the biosphere. Did he miss it? If so, how’s he going to explain?

Jonah Hex 11 coverJonah Hex #11 – “The Holdout” – Michael Fleisher/Rich Buckler/Dick Giordano (and friends)

This one starts with four guys playing poker in a saloon. One of them is a farmer who’s getting cleaned out by two others. They ask Jonah Hex if he wants to play, but he says he doesn’t play with cheaters and points out that one of the guys has a “holdout rig” up his sleeve. He’s been using it to palm good cards and deal them to his friends so they could beat the farmer. The card sharps get mad about Hex’s accusations and are ready to fight, so he tells the farmer to go alert the undertaker that there’ll soon be three fresh corpses in town. One of the gamblerssaloon shootout recognizes Hex and backs down, but the other two end up getting shot. Hex takes the holdout rig from the main gambler (named Preston) and leaves. Later, a woman approaches the saloon and asks Preston and his henchman if they’ve seen Jonah Hex. They whip out knives and threaten to carve her face up. It turns out to be Joanna Mosby (who fell in love with Hex back in issue #4, but betrayed him). Her screams bring Hex, who beats the shit out of them but gets conked out by another henchman. Preston has his men tie Hex to the hitching post and then smashes his hands with a sledgehammer. Preston says he’ll be away for three weeks, but if Hex is still there when he gets back, he’ll kill him. The doctor sets Hex’s hands and says he’ll be able to shoot again, but it might take weeks or even months to fully recover. Hex and Joanna get it on and he sends her to buy him a derringer the next day.Hex and Joanna Hex goes out into the brush and starts practicing with the holdout and the derringer. He doesn’t tell Joanna what he’s doing, since she’s already betrayed him once. By the time three weeks passes, he’s deadly accurate with it, but only at close range. When Preston gets back, his men tell him last pageHex has left town every day but come back every night. Preston tells them to follow Hex the next day. They do, but Hex uses the concealed derringer to blow them away. Joanna is in the general store when someone comes in to tell Preston that Hex is at the saloon looking for him. Preston says he’s going to finish Hex once and for all. Joanna is freaked out and buys a shotgun. At the saloon, Preston confronts Hex outside, but before anything can happen, Joanna comes running up with the shotgun and blasts Preston. But as he’s falling, Preston shoots her too and Hex ends up carrying her body down the street.

Noticeable Things:

  • I guess whatever town they’re in doesn’t have a sheriff? I mean, Hex guns down half a dozen people, two guys almost carve Joanna’s face up, and Hex is tied up and brutalized right in the street. If they do have a sheriff, he ain’t a very good one.
  • I can see Preston being pissed off that Hex exposed his cheating, but to immediately start trying to disfigure Joanna with a knife seems like a hell of an escalation.
  • If Hex’s hands are too fucked up to hold a pistol, I’m not sure how he could ride a horse.
  • I always thought derringers were really underpowered as far as guns go, but Hex puts a bullet through one guy’s head and the other guy’s heart. Maybe at close range, a derringer is as good as a regular pistol.

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